Intuitive Eating Review

I'm a little late on reviewing the Intuitive Eating Challenge but better late than never, no?

I came away from the 21 Day Intuitive Eating Challenge with so much more insight about myself and my eating habits. I knew that my relationship with food was in the gutter. While I eat healthy most of the time I knew that there were times my eating was 'out of control.' I was eating for emotional reasons. I was eating out of stress, anxiety, frustration and sadness. I wasn't taking care of my body as best as I could. I was tired of it but I didn't know how to handle changing my habits on my own.

At the beginning of the challenge I learned to give myself permission to 'eat what I want'. No more restrictions. No more "good food/bad food." I'd set so many food rules that it was hard letting go of the fear of eating something I had deemed "bad". I noticed that after allowing myself to enjoy whatever food that was that it lost its power. I no longer craved it or overindulged because I learned that I could enjoy it whenever I felt I really wanted it.

Once over that hump I learned how to really tune into what my body was telling me. What was it I really wanted? What did I crave? This is something I come back to frequently when deciding what to eat. Rather than choosing something simply because I'm hungry and it's there I try to tune into what my body is telling me it really wants and needs. Everyday is different and that's perfectly normal. There isn't a wrong or right way to eat throughout my days as long as I check in with myself. Beyond choosing foods that will satisfy my bodily needs, I also learned how to tune into the satisfaction feeling. I grew up in a home where we usually cleared our plates. My grandfather taught us from a young age that food was not to be wasted as there were plenty of starving people in the world. That mentality has stuck with me my entire life. But now I have accepted that it's ok to not overfill my body simply because there is more food to be had. What good will that do me if I feel sluggish and bloated? Or if I have food guilt over eating too much? It's ok to save leftovers and enjoy that tasty meal a second time around.

And more than just dealing with food this challenge touched on intuitive drinking, exercising, and living. I'm not a frequent drinker so that part didn't really hit home for me. I did know that beyond repairing my relationship with food I needed to focus on learning to listen to my body in an effort to not overexert it. I'm competitive with myself. I like challenging my body in ways I haven't tried before (most recently with Insanity). But at some point I stopped listening to what my body was telling me and allowed my mind to take over. I was in a mess of pain most days but kept pushing through it. Not smart! Then it struck me that while certain workouts were challenging both physically and mentally I wasn't having as much fun as I really wanted to have. And if it's not fun what is the point?? After a month of Insanity I decided to get back into the weight room more frequently instead (I hadn't given that up altogether but had slowed down). I enjoy being in the gym. I enjoy lifting weights and pushing my body there. That is fun for me. I also got back into running. I run because I love it. I run because I love being outside. I run because I can. I run because it is my personal time. It's my getaway. It ignites me. It's my friend when I need it. I want to fill my life with more activities that excite me, that make me feel and make me feel alive.

Which then brings me to intuitive living. I took off two days of work in the last two weeks. Normally I have most of my days off planned out. I'm crazy, I know. But these days were different. I checked in with myself, decided what it was I wanted to do in that present moment and then did it. I went with the flow and while it's so out of character for me it felt amazing. I didn't feel restricted. I didn't feel pressed for time. I placed no limitations on what I could do and it was wonderful. I'm incorporating that into my everyday life as well. It ties in with my post about slowing down. Digging down deep and doing things that make me happy and fulfilled and at peace are what I want and need more of in my life.

I know that this challenge was simply the a beginning. There isn't an end point to reach. It's about being more in touch with your body and your mind. It's about shedding the restrictions that society places on us regarding food, exercise, beauty, and an overall manner in which we "should" be living our lives. Who knows better what you need than you? Who knows what will bring you satisfaction and fulfillment more than you do?

I would highly recommend Jamie's 21 Day Intuitive Eating Challenge to anyone in need of change. If you have a poor relationship with food and body image then this is a great start. Not only do I feel better overall about my eating, exercising and the way in which I live my life, I have finally accepted myself for who I am. I've banished the word "fat" from my vocabulary. I no longer view my body as some sort of aesthetic fixture for people to gawk at. It is my vessel. It allows me to live, love, breathe, run, learn, drive, eat, and be happy. It's more than meets the eye. I finally feel free.

Thank you to Meg @ A Dash Of Meg for inspiring many of us to sign up for this challenge. I know it's changed a lot of lives.

Slow Down.

Two weekends ago I made a trip to North Jersey to visit my family. It's not a far drive but it gets a little monotonous. And while I've been doing my best to enjoy the scenery and time to myself I do sometimes have a slight lead foot. I'm not talking whizzing by every single car or driving recklessly but I was going over the speed limit. And then it happened.

An undercover cop made his presence known to me.

I slowed down but was still nervous. Even more so when he pulled behind me and then alongside me. I must have cashed in tons of karma points that day because instead of being pulled over he got on the loudspeaker and told me to slow down. I nodded and did as I was told for the rest of the drive. And you know what? It made a huge difference in the experience.

Simply slowing down.

His words have stuck with me since that morning. As I've gotten older I've lost a lot of the road rage and racing-to-get-to-nowhere tendencies. I really have. There is just something about the parkway and turnpike that make me impatient. But getting off with such a quick warning struck me hard. Not only have I applied this with my driving, I really took it to heart.

I've been striving for some time to be more present and this fell in line with that. I take the days one at a time. I enjoy the simple things more. I don't rush out the door in the morning. I pay better attention to my surroundings. I don't speed through my work. I take the time to really touch base with my friends throughout the day. I sit down and fully enjoy my meals. I make the time to call distant relatives. I skip the gym in favor of lying in bed watching tv with my niece. I am learning to be patient in what comes next for me once I leave this job in a few weeks.

Simply put: I am better learning the value of time. I am digging deeper to find what nourishes my soul, and I feel more complete because of it. All it takes is slowing down.

I'm sure plenty of people will think that is easier said than done but I assure you it is not. When you feel yourself tensing up and experiencing a level of stress or anxiety, just stop and breathe. When you feel rushed, stop and breathe. It really is as easy as that. Breathe.

Remember, driving faster, working faster, eating faster.. none of these things will make you feel better once they are over. You won't get to where you are going or achieve what it is you hope to feel by not fully experiencing that moment. You'll continue to rush through the motions and in the end you'll be left feeling flat.

It takes patience and practice to be fully present in this moment. I assure you, though, it is possible and it is one of the most rewarding things you can do for yourself.

Living Intentionally.

Oh how true this is. I have always known who I am at my deepest core. I am a giver. I am a servant (not in a religious fashion). My goal in life since I was a child was to help people and make the world a better place. The problem was that I felt there were so many ways in which to do this that I felt lost in my life's purpose. How do I help others and help the world in the most fulfilling way possible? Where do I start?

I think starting is the hardest part of anything. Knowing where to line up takes patience and time. Here I am now at the age of 29 and it's finally happening. I have finally begun to figure out from where I need to launch. I made a promise to myself that this year would be it. It would be the year in which everything changes. It had to. I have felt stagnant for too long, felt too afraid to really seek and jump. Then something happened at the end of last year. I met someone who would become a huge advocate for the changes I needed to make, a friend who has grown to be so dear to me and I to him. He was the force I needed to have standing behind me, pushing me constantly to challenge myself and live my life with intention.

Intention (n): a determination to act in a certain way : resolve; significance

Yes, I can now say that I am honestly living my life with intention. How did I do it? There isn't a right or wrong way. You have to do what you feel is best for you in your present situation. What worked for me is:

1. Figure out what you're passionate about and do it. For me I knew I was passionate about wellness, nutrition and fitness. I decided to become a certified personal trainer to start so I enrolled in a five week program at the local community college. It's a great launching pad in this field and I've been learning that this field is as wide open as they come. I can do basically anything I would like to do.
2. Make the necessary changes that are in line with this passion. Probably the scariest thing I have ever done, I recently resigned from the job I've held for over seven years without having a solid platform to fall back on. I haven't ever felt so irresponsible yet so free. I can now reinvent myself. I can work any job, become anything I want to be without restriction. I am no longer tied to a position that does not serve or fulfill me.
3. Don't give up! I have my moments of doubt and impatience. I am human and I have fears. But how we use that fear is important. I've chosen to turn it around and face it head on. I have no idea what lies ahead for me and I fully embrace that. I embrace all of the unknown possibilities because I know they will be presented with purpose. Every situation with which we are faced is a lesson to learn and to grow. I have been extremely blessed with support, encouragement and love. That helps to keep me on my feet when I feel like falling down.

The next few weeks are going to be a true testament to my personal strength and my drive toward living a life of meaning. I am both terrified and excited for what's to come.

Intuitive Eating Week 1

It's called a challenge for a reason and that is exactly what it is. Since beginning the Intuitive Eating Challenge I have begun a pretty hard journey toward listening to my body rather than my mind when it comes to food.

Food has long been a comfort and a stressor for me. I eat when I'm bored, tired, upset, hating myself although not too frequently when I feel I'm in a fine state of mind. Then that nasty guilt sets in and I hate everything about everything and want to hide under the blankets until I'm done feeling like a fat mess. An issue I have been facing in the last few months is a frequent physical feeling of hunger. I know it started when I began taking hormones to reverse amenorrhea and stay with me while I took a regular low dose birth control pill. I've since stopped since the hormones were making me feel legit crazy but that physical feeling of hunger still plagues me some times. What gives?!

I often blame my conscious self. Maybe it's all in my head. Maybe it's a cover up for whatever I'm feeling deep down that I'm struggling to deal with on the surface. But what if it's more than that and I'm beating myself up for nothing? What if my hormones are still a bit out of whack (which I do sort of believe)? How do you become more in tune with your physical body when you aren't really sure what could be going on in there?

All things considered I think I'm doing pretty well so far. I've been learning to put down the food and walk away (most times) when I catch myself overmunching. Sometimes though I go with it until I feel a little more than full, then I feel guilty and vow to remember that feeling so that I won't become a repeat offender. I had my lack of control tested over the weekend when I went out to eat with Dad and surprisingly did not have any guilty feelings afterward - not even for eating a few fries! I'm still working on figuring out cravings and deciding what I really want to eat over what seems practical and available. I'm only a week in but I do feel as though I've taken some big steps forward.

From where I was a year ago beginning ED recovery I don't think I could have imagined being in this place right now and having so much support in building a better mentality toward food. I had sort of resigned myself to the belief that food would always be, in some way, a struggle for me. Now I know that isn't the truth at all.

Recovery was step one.
The next, learning to eat and live intuitively.
I think I am more than ready.

Terrible Tues.

I'm not entirely sure what it is about Tuesdays lately but they leave me feeling flat. I have been on cloud nine recently. I was overly excited about every little thing in life just last night. But this morning, this particular Tuesday, I woke up feeling unlike my 'new norm.' I also woke up with food guilt.

Yesterday was Day One of  Jamie's 21 Day Intuitive Eating Challenge. I signed up for this challenge as a means to finally, after so many dirty struggles, repair my relationship with food. The objective yesterday was to eat whatever you want whenever you want. I struggled a little with giving up on measuring all of my foods but I did allow for plenty of wiggle room. I was fine with my eating all day... until I walked in the door at midnight with a slightly grumbly tummy. While I didn't gorge on junk food I was remorseful for eating too much of the good stuff. I woke up with that guilt lying right beside me. Welcome to Day Two - Let's Stop Judging Ourselves. I most definitely, no matter how far away from ED I have come, still feel pangs of self judgement from time to time after I eat. That is definitely part of the problem today.

And I hate it. Not that anyone would love it. But I truly loathe this feeling.

I have spent countless hours reading on eating disorder recovery from medical type books and articles to memoirs and blog posts. My old therapist told me I had a really good handle on my recovery process because of all of this. So why do I still worry about food? And furthermore why do I still worry about that God forsaken scale?

I've read a few blog posts lately with the same theme - thinking that when you reach a certain weight your life will really begin and you will finally be happy. Well, I've been a decent amount of numbers all the way down to 102 and let me tell you happiness cannot be measured in numbers. Yet I still have that nagging feeling way down deep in my brain. That does not mean I am not happy in this present moment. I most certainly am. I have accomplished so much in even just the last few months let alone the last year. I finally feel like I am right where I belong and working toward achieving so many goals I have set for myself, and I'm looking forward - without fear - to what else is going to come my way. My positivity has bred more positivity. I am absolutely IN LOVE with life. But I guess when things are going so well there has to be some sort of bump in the road to keep things interesting, right? To remind you that you are still human and falter? To remind you of your strength and how you got to this very moment?

Today's objective is a tough one for me. I struggle with self judgement even beyond my eating habits. I have long been a perfectionist - my own worst enemy - and only recently have I been learning how to be my own best friend. How do you wave a white flag when it comes to yourself? How do you resign yourself to just being who you really are in this present moment? How do you begin to believe in yourself 100% based on who you are and what you are capable of and not judge yourself based on what you look like, weigh or eat?

29 Things To Do Before 30

I've seen several bloggers in the past make up a To-Do list each year on their birthday. A countdown list until the next notch is reached. Back in January I turned 29, inching one giant step closer to 30. Last year was a rough one. It was a huge learning experience and I wanted to start this new age with some positivity and focus. So, here's my "29 Things to Do Before 30" list:

* Find a new job
* Run three 5K races

* Say “I Love You” more

* Meditate at least three times a week 

* Visit family more frequently 

* Find another freelance writing gig 

* De-clutter bedroom; donate clothes 

* Take a yoga class

* Schedule a Reiki session

* Cook one new meal a month

* Read 20 books & read more poetry

* Visit New Orleans again

* Consistently run a mile in under 10 minutes

* Write Morning Pages (

* Try a new hobby

* Eat whole foods (nothing processed) for 30 days

* Make a new friend

* Cook dinner three times a week

* Create a recipe box

* Explore new places

* Be able to do 10 unassisted pull-ups

* Dance around more (& in my underwear!)

* Learn new makeup techniques

* Volunteer
* Get tattooed 

* Be more spontaneous 

* Eat raw for 7 days 

* Increase savings account
I realize it's April 1st and only one thing is scratched off, however, there are several I am actively working on (becoming a trainer, reading more, being spontaneous, decluttering..). It feels great to be present and accomplish little goals along the way. This year is off to the best start.