Part 2: HOW to Eat Intuitively

Saturday, September 16, 2017
I have been putting this one off for a little while now because intuitive eating is not a step-by-step "program" or plan, it's just a way you live and that is hard to explain to anyone (without sounding totally crazy).

In a nutshell. YOU are the best person and the only person who knows best about what to eat, when to eat, how much and what to avoid. Yes, YOU know this whether you think you do or not. If you don't believe this then you do not trust your body and your God given instincts, which is totally normal and common for most people and it's how we end up in this place to begin with.  Our natural instincts are disrupted and over ruled and disregarded and we no longer know how to eat or how to listen to our bodies. We don't trust ourselves and our body to not go crazy with food.

The basics: 

-Get rid of all of your ideas about diets and plans and programs. Be done with them. The longer you listen to a plan or a diet or diet expert about what to eat- the further and further away you are getting from being able to listen to your body about what to eat. Before you eat anything, honestly ask yourself what it is that you truly feel like eating. When you pay attention to your body's cues you may notice that your body will naturally crave foods that are nourishing and healthy. Your body is not going to tell you that it truly wants to eat 10 oreo cookies. Not because oreos are bad, but because your body knows how it will feel after you've eaten that amount of a sugary processed food.

-Eat at the early signs of hunger- do not let yourself get truly hungry. That is when you are most likely to over eat, binge, eat until you are stuffed etc. I always carry around a snack in my purse to avoid getting to that point of hunger when out and about.

-Food is not your enemy. Even sweets. Or those savory snacks. Stop labeling foods into categories of "can" and "cannot" eat or "should" and "should not" have. If you TRULY want  something, you will be able to eat it and be satisfied and move on. Those oreos I mentioned above? No, you will not want 10, but you may want one or two if you are feeling the need for something sweet, that is totally ok! Food is not good or bad, and you are not good or bad by what you eat.

-Listen to your body when you are eating. You will know when to stop eating. You will know when you have had enough and need to stop.

-Pay attention to your feelings. Pinpoint those times that you are feeling emotional and instead of eating, intentionally choose to do something else. Choose to be in control. Take a walk. Pray. Clean or organize something. Call a friend. Water your plants. Journal. With everything, sometimes we just simply have to say no and resist the urge. Food is not the answer to emotions.

-Exercise. FEEL good. Not militant exercise or doing it out of obligation. Exercise because of how it makes you feel. When you feel better about yourself and in general, this will spill over into all areas of your life.

A good place to begin is to wake up in the morning and before planning out breakfast or mindlessly eating- ask yourself what your body truly wants to eat that morning, and eat just that. Don't eat because you feel that you have to, if you are not hungry, don't eat. At the same time, don't let your hunger get too far and you get to the point where you are out of control with your eating because you are so hungry. Do not eat to the point of being stuffed- listen to when your body tells you that it's comfortable. Choose foods that you know are nourishing and healthy but also taste good.

You will find that after a while this becomes easier and easier, your body will tell you what it needs and if you are not at your natural healthy weight already, your body will begin to shed pounds naturally to get you there.

I know that this is completely foreign and crazy and opposite of everything you've probably ever done or thought to do when wanting to lose weight, and some of you may not be able to mentally let go of the dieting mindset right away which is why I have given a calorie cap to begin with, and remember that it will take time for your body to shift from "dieting" and restriction to being fed what it needs and wants. It's not an overnight change but eventually you can get out of the mental strain that dieting has on you! Part 3 to this "series" is going to be about just that: WHY do this and NOT what I/WE have been doing???

Part 1: So, what IS intuitive eating?

Friday, September 8, 2017
Over the past week I have been asking questions and taking polls, trying to get a feel for where the ladies in my group are at mentally with weight loss and body image. I have mentioned intuitive eating a handful of times and so now I'm going to begin a blog post series about "what" it is, "why" it's important, and "how" to become an intuitive eater.  Starting with, what IS it exactly?

God designed us, every single one of us, with an instinct to feed ourselves when we need fed and how much we need fed, and when given choices even what we need fed. Think of a brand new baby. They are born knowing exactly when to eat and how much to eat as needed for their growth. But our culture has disrupted that instinct and it starts at birth as well, when the nurses tell you to feed your baby every three hours. If they are sleeping, wake them up. I remember with my first baby the nurse would even take off my daughters clothing so that she would respond to the coldness- to wake up and eat.  Don't let them fall asleep eating, make sure that they are eating __ amount of ounces or feeding for ___ amount of minutes on eat side. Disrupting from birth their natural instincts to eat intuitively- when and how much their body needs. With my last few babies- I learned to tell the nurses what they wanted to hear and let my babies eat when they were ready, they never starved and they definitely will let you know the second they want to eat. I understand that there are situations where a baby may need to gain weight quickly for health reasons or premature issues or an upcoming surgery etc, and of that I am not referring to. Just an average, healthy baby.

The disruption only continues through our lives. Start solids at ___ months old, even if she shows no interest in them yet. As we get older our portions are given to us and our diets micromanaged by someone else. If we wake up at age 5 and tell our mom we are not hungry, she makes us eat anyway. Disruption. If your child is not hungry for breakfast, they will not starve to death. This pattern continues and worsens with age when the cultures standard of thinness and health begins to influence us and all of sudden, we don't know how to eat anymore. We can't listen to our God given instincts, we've never in our lives been able to. This person eats this way and look how amazing they look, this person raves about this diet or this program. It all begins with that disruption and we are here. Overweight and looking for answers, trying to figure out HOW to eat, HOW to lose weight and keep it off, trying every diet and program available only to gain the weight back.

Intuitive eating is so well described here :

"It means eating until full and satisfied; without the need to envision ‘fullness scales’, ‘hunger charts’ or chewing each mouthful in a slow, meditative trance; stopping at 80% full (whatever that is) and re-evaluating in 20 minutes. It means aiming for complete and utter satisfaction: a stomach that has no desire to eat more. It means relying on your body to gauge fullness signals well, without second-guessing or panicking about getting it ‘right’ down to the exact mouthful: knowing that if you eat too much at one meal, you will be less hungry at the next – and vice versa: that your body will sort it out."
So intuitive eating is getting back to the place where we listen to our bodies cues and trust our bodies instincts to eat when we need to eat, how much and what. Your body wants to be healthy, and if you pay attention to it- you will naturally eat when you are hungry, you will naturally eat foods that are nourishing, you will naturally stop eating when your body is "full" (and that doesn't mean when you feel full/stuffed). 
So how does this work with losing weight? First, you have to throw away any preconceived ideas about how much you should weigh based on any charts from any organization. Throw them away.  Your body will settle you into your natural healthy weight and it is most likely not what the online charts tell you you should weigh, because they continue to lower the standards of the BMI charts. 
In the book "Health at Every Size", the author writes about her time as a PhD candidate at the time the BMI standards were lowered.  Her mentor was on the NIH Obesity Task Force. The author expressed her surprise and concern about the standards being lowered (when I say standards being lowered it means that if the chart currently says you should weigh 145lbs, they are now lowering that weight and saying that now you should be smaller-etc). There was significant evidence in support of raising the standards, not lowering them. She presented her review to her mentor, which was laughed at. In the end, her mentor told her "we were pressured to make the standards conform to those already accepted by the World Health Organization." The decision to lower the standards of the BMI charts and tell you that you need to be even smaller, was made for political reasons. Not because it was supported by science or for the betterment of health.  Stop looking at charts and online weight calculators.  Also in her book she traces back further with the WHO BMI standards and it becomes even more disturbing. I cannot recommend this book enough. 
Second,  you have to accept that what your natural body weight is may not align with what YOU want it to be.  Just because YOU want to be 130 lbs doesn't mean that is what YOUR body should weigh (and is also the reason why if 130 is not your natural body weight, you will have to fight forever to maintain that weight). Often, our expectations are not realistic for our bodies OR genetics. 
If you are eating intuitively, eating when your body tells you and only eating as much as your body tells you, your body will stabilize and maintain at it's natural healthy weight. If you are 160 pounds and begin to intuitively eat, and your natural healthy weight is 150, your body will naturally shed those pounds because you are giving it exactly what it needs to do that. 
There is so much to explore in this subject and I am excited to be exploring it all alongside my current group! In part II I am going to explore HOW to start this way of life. 

finding the true balance

Wednesday, August 30, 2017
I want to start this off by saying that every single person and every body is different. With that, each person has their own preferences and styles and certain things that work for them. I do not believe that there is any one perfect way to lose weight and keep it off as long as it's a program that is focused on foods that nourish, forming good relationships with food and good habits to sustain you through life. And when you add in all of those qualifications, your list of "programs" becomes very slim. You know my mantra on things like shots, shakes, pills,drops and restrictive food lists and now after three years of being in the dieting world, battling obesity and being able to keep the weight off, I am changing up the game, per say.

I am no longer a macro-tracking advocate.  There. I said it. It's not because tracking macros is bad. It's not because it doesn't work or that it's unhealthy or any of the above. If you are cutting and trying to lean out for something like a body competition, a weight lifting competition, to have six pack abs or be "cut", then I do indeed believe that macros is the best plan you can follow! You can also add in people who have an OCD personality and/or mentally need to meticulous about every aspect of their diet to that list. But for people who are not going for the "cut" look, or trying to bulk up or have no desire to have that bikini competition figure- we do not need to be that detailed and controlling over our diets. 

What do we need? True freedom in our food choices. It's too easy to get caught up in the numbers and rules, obsessing over the weight of a food and forget to trust the instincts God gave us to know what our body needs and when it needs it. Not to mention, I was tired of my face always being in my phone trying to figure out my numbers for the day!  I don't know about you, but in the past two years tracking macros I have encountered many different unhealthy relationships with food and the way we think about it. I have eaten much too many weird combinations of food because it was all that "fit" my numbers that day. I have been so tired of protein, so tired of it. But I couldn't swap meats out for healthier things like beans because I didn't have enough carbs for beans. Did you ever turn anyone down for lunch out or a slice of a friends homemade bread because you couldn't track it correctly or you just didn't have room for it? (raises hand). Totally not ok. Not only is it not ok, but even the Lord thought it was important enough to write about:

“When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is provided for you.”

— Luke 10:8

When you are going to enjoy food with someone, you do not want the conversation to be about your diet. You also do not want your host or friend or family to worry about offering something that you "can" or "cannot" eat.  Let's not make it all about us and our diet- enjoy the time and eat what is provided. That doesn't mean that you cannot make wise choices- moderation and portions are key to being able to live in balance. They offer you a slice of pie, that doesn't mean that you need to eat 3 and 4 slices, it doesn't even mean you have to eat one entire slice. It's totally appropriate that you could have a few bites and leave some on your plate. Listen to your body.  No whipping out your phone or asking for recipes to track your macros. No worrying about how much that pie weighed. Eat and move on. 

Tracking macros can be a very slippery slope into obsession, especially if you do it for a long period of time. If you cannot imagine your day without tracking your food, something needs to change. 

So what do I do now? 

Eat intuitively. Eat what you want. Bare with me here, I know most of my readers are actively trying to lose weight, 

There are different types of "intuitive eaters". Ones who chug soda and binge on cake all day and do gain weight, and ones who eat healthy but allow themselves the freedom to have really whatever they feel like having. If you tune into your body and really ask yourself every day what you truly feel that your body needs that day, rarely ever will you end up eating 2 rows of Oreos because you know how icky that is going to make you feel afterwards. However, if you fill your body with foods that nourish you and make you feel good all day and then a friend ask's you to get ice cream- you have the freedom to grab a small ice cream completely guilt free/track free/macro free. If you want a banana before a long run, you do not need to think twice about your carb allotment that day, eat the banana. Now- there is a little more to it than this which I will cover in other posts like "binging", fear of not being able to trust yourself, and how will I know if I'm eating too much? 

Really, this is how everyone should be living. There shouldn't be a term that names balanced eating because it should be natural to us like walking and talking (and actually, it IS natural to us but we've strayed so far from that). I am excited to begin helping women get back to eating. To get back to health. To get away from the numbers and tracking mentality and get back to having a healthy relationship with food. The Lord gave us food for nourishment and also for enjoyment, open up your bible and you will find that it is full of eating and sharing in meals together. Food was never meant to be bondage, it was never meant to be obsessed over and tracked meticulously. Let's get back to eating the way we were intended to eat- let's get back to the JOY of eating and how you can do this and still meet your weight loss goals because weight does play a role in your health and wellness! 

facelift, changes & more

Saturday, August 26, 2017

    I am ecstatic to announce that the Healthful Pursuits brand will be getting a facelift! Not only does this facelift mean a new look online, but also it's purpose. I am just a few weeks away from celebrating a full year of coaching women in weight loss and nutrition- using my own experience in fighting obesity, losing 100lbs (and keeping it off) and endless hours of research, trial and error. I have been blessed to be able to help these women become healthier versions of themselves, it is truly my passion.

When I began my goal was to get a nutrition certification and continue coaching and hosting groups, but over the summer I decided that I wanted to push it further. I want the most knowledge that I can get so that I can help people on a deeper and broader level. Most certification programs are not highly spoken of, you basically pay for a certificate and the word "nutritionist". There is no regulation in our state for "nutritionist". Meaning, anyone can call themselves one. Honestly, that is not something I want to be a part of. I want to know the science.  So next month I begin my first semester in a Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) and will eventually graduate with a Bachelors in Food and Nutrition to become a Registered Dietician (RD) from the University of Alabama (they have a distance program for my course of study, so all of it will be online except clinic hours!) is it too early to yell ROLL TIDE?!

The fact that it takes FIVE years to become a registered dietician proves just how amazing food and nutrition, and the impact they make on your body is! There is no way you can truly learn all that is needed to get the full scope of nutrition and your body in one book and quick test! I am blessed because I have such a flexible study schedule because I am at home with my kids,  I can create a study schedule that fits into my days.

In the meantime I will still be doing coaching and educating women and teens with all of the science based information that I can, but with focus being on wellness- not solely weight. My groups will be a little different because of that, but for the better! Because diets don't work. 

So be on the lookout for a bunch of good changes and follow along! My next group Joyful Eating is 10 weeks to a healthier and happier relationship with food and your body.  There are just TWO spots open right now and we begin September 1st. So if you want a spot, snag it now!

what to do next?

Tuesday, August 8, 2017
We have three weeks left in this challenge!

So many have seen such great results and I am a firm believer that you get out what you put in. Those who put in the most have seen the greatest results! Those who are putting in a portion of effort are only seeing small portions of results, if not even a bit of yo-yo-ing! If your effort yo-yo's, so will your results. If you are off track and on track, off and on, do not expect your results to be anything different. I can't do the work for you, I can't eat and exercise and shop for you, YOU have to put in the work. I hope to see 100% effort these last few weeks, remember why you began this!

My next challenge will begin September 1st, labor day weekend, and it's going to be a scale-LESS challenge! We will weigh in AND take photos ONCE at the very start, weigh in once at the half way point (week 5) and then at the very end weigh in and take the last set of photos! Over the summer I took a big break from weighing in and it was so freeing! I could not tell you my exact weight right now, but I can tell you that if you continue to stay on plan and workout- you WILL have results. There is no reason to be obsessed with the scale, to get upset over ounces and let it consume you. However, weighing IS a great measure of progress and that is why we are not completely giving it up. The goal is to stay on track with our eating and exercise, and to discover that weight loss is possible without weekly weigh ins and that changes in your body CAN and DO happen without loss on the scale. I cannot wait!

A friend recently told me that she was taking a break from dieting (healthy! healthy!) but that after one week she needed to go back on it because she cannot handle NOT being on a diet. Ladies, that is super unhealthy. It is NOT normal and not ok to always be on a diet and to always be dieting. This is the exact mindset that I am passionate about breaking. It's healthy and ok and good to lose weight, but we have to be careful about how we are doing this and to what extent we are letting it consume us!

As always, spots are open FIRST to current ladies in this group! Then as we approach labor day I will open it to everyone! If you are thinking of joining another round, be ready to GIVE IT YOUR ALL!


Group Dates: September 1st to November 3rd
Rate: $75
-3 weigh ins
-4 challenges with prizes
-weekly 1:1 personal evaluation
+ everything that is normally in the challenge groups: your plan, exercise, motivation, group support, MFP log checking, weekly discussion topics and workout challenges.
Open to 8 ladies!

why do i need to eat all of my calories?

Monday, August 7, 2017
There can be such confusing information about "under eating" or, not eating all of your calories. Some say it's good- the less you eat the more weight you will lose. They are right, to an extent.  But not eating enough also leads to other success dampers.  The main one being binging.

This is one of my biggest reasons for telling my clients to please, eat all the calories you are given in a day! If you can eat 1500 calories, eat them! They are set to 1500 for a reason. Eventually, you are going to get hungry. Your body needs those 1500 calories- that is already a deficit for you and your body is in stress eating just that 1500- it's using every single calorie! So when you are eating even less than you are told, you are putting more stress on your body. You will eventually get hungry and it will lead to you binging one day and completely ruining your entire week in ONE day! OR you may not do it all in one day, you may be a snacker and ruin your deficit over days by going over a little each day to create one big deficit by the end of the week. Even when I don't "feel" hungry I always try to make sure I get at least 50 calories within my goal because I know that if I let myself get to the point of feeling that hunger- I am putting myself at major risk of over eating and making poor food choices.

There is also an issue with under eating when it comes to plateaus.

If I tell you to eat at 1500 calories, when you hit a wall, and you will, I need to lower your numbers. So the next level down let's just say would be 1400. But wait, you've already been eating at 1400 because you haven't been following your numbers. So 1400 wont get you moving again, I have to put you even lower than that. And it's a cycle- you end up eating LESS and LOSING LESS. You quickly go from losing at 1500 calories to not being able to lose at 1250.

Trust your coach. Eat what you are told! That's why you hired someone, to tell you what you need to do to be successful, so listen! If you are not losing weight and following your plan 100%, there are SO MANY reasons and factors for this! Your coach would be the best person to evaluate and help you figure out the WHY and get you back on something  that will work. Sometimes, you have to go UP in calories to get your body moving again.

Happy Monday, ladies!

self control

Wednesday, August 2, 2017
Many times throughout the past three years on this "journey" I have gotten weary. I have wanted to stop and "just eat like a normal person",  I would say.  What did I really want? To just eat and not worry or think about how much I was eating or what I was eating, I wanted to be "free" of that but also be able to do that and not gain weight.

So lately I have been thinking about that, especially as I took the majority of my summer off from tracking and weighing and I've been able to examine my eating habits after two and a half years. My thoughts may be all over the place but hopefully you can get an idea of where I'm coming from.

Self control is the key. People who are dieting are successful because they are controlling their intake of food. They have self control. People who do not track or "diet" and just eat (without gaining) also have self control. They do not go crazy and eat everything in sight. They find a balance in their diets and exhibit self control by not over eating, therefore allowing themselves to be able to "just eat" and not gain weight. They have self control.

Therefore, there is no such thing truly, as eating completely freely for anyone. Just because I want to eat 10 oreos with milk every day does not mean I can or should, and this is true for every single person alive whether you are 100 pounds or 500 pounds (unless you are TRYING to gain weight, of course).  We cannot do and eat however we feel, because in doing that it leads to where? Where almost everyone who reads this blog is or has been: overweight, battling food addictions and trying to lose weight.

The same goes for so many other things in life. You cannot do whatever you want because you want to or because you feel like it. Yes, there will come a time when your calories can go up a bit more and you can train a little less and maintain your weight. Will there ever be a time where you can eat anything all day for weeks and expect not to gain? No, most likely not, and this is even MORE true for anyone who has been obese and lost a large amount of weight (another post on that to come). You will always have to live with self control, whether you are tracking and trying to lose or just maintaining your weight.

So get into practice that this, being in control of your food choices, is lifelong. It is TRULY a lifestyle, there is no end. If you do end it and you lose that control you are going to go back to where you were.

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