Let’s talk for a hot sec about self care.
I spend tons of time harping on the importance of self care with my clients because unlike the gazillion dollar diet industry that’s rooted in self-control, the non-diet mentality is rooted in self compassion. You can’t build a good relationship with food without working on your relationship with yourself.
Self care is different for everyone. For me, it’s waking up to the birds chirping and walking to the coffee shop with my boyfriend for snickerdoodle coffee and blueberry muffins. It’s going on a hike with my best friend and not documenting it on social media. It’s leading the life I want to live, not should live.
It’s those things you do where your mind is quiet and your heart is warm and fuzzy. It’s that fluttery adrenaline rush where you’re like, “Woah. This moment is so frickin’ awesome!”
Beyond self care, we talk a lot about ditching the all or nothing mentality. Eating squeaky clean for three weeks and working out eighteen times for some people can lead to going out to eat for three weeks straight and working out two times. That leads to low self-esteem and self-doubt. We work a lot on not just eating intuitively, but resting, exercising, and most importantly, living intuitively. When you give yourself some grace and flexibility in your food choices, when you eat the taco in the damn taco shell you’re craving instead of over greens, you learn how to slowly but surely satisfy your soul with the simple pleasures in life.
Let’s take a closer look at exercise. Movement. Going to the gym every morning at 5am may work for some people, but that kind of rigid routine can be super negative for a lot of people. Just like I wake up on Monday craving eggs and toast and on Tuesday craving a smoothie, some days I have more energy than others. We’re not robots. Honoring your workout cravings is no different from honoring your food cravings. If you’re not someone who eats peanut butter and banana toast every single day for breakfast, you’re also likely not the person who can be happy with a rigid gym routine.
So a crazy thing happened. I slowly but surely stopped asking for no cheese or no bread or this and that on the side at restaurants when I knew it would make the meal twelve times more delightful. I stopped ordering what I thought I should eat and started ordering what I freaking wanted. And guess what?
I felt so FULL. I started really loving myself. Whereas I used to feel a weird sense of pride when I ate really well all day, I now feel that same pride when I have dessert after dinner. My clothes may be a bit more snug, but that’s because eating really “clean” all the time and being a little too strict with my intake likely had me lower than my natural set weight. I don’t want to be at a weight I have to sacrifice living for to maintain. I just want to be me.
Low and behold, I’m a whole lot happier and insanely more satisfied in all areas of my life now. I don’t know how much I weigh because I can’t remember the last time I weighed myself. I finally got to a point where I literally had zero desire to step on the scale. I used to weigh myself every week or two. I wasn’t ever obsessive about the scale, but I did weigh myself. Sometimes it would be a few pounds higher and that scary, guilty feeling would rush over me. “You need to get it together this week!” Sometimes it would be lower than usual and I’d have a similar guilty feeling, but guilt because I knew I was finding joy I shouldn’t in taking up less space.
It was a harsh realization to come to, that of needing to break up with scale, but if it wasn’t an issue it would’ve been super easy, right? And saying it was easy would be a lie. It was new and it was surely out of my comfort zone. It was the beginning of a long road of breaking up with what I deemed my routine.
I realized that I really needed to start practicing what I preach. The scale (along with being a slave to any kind of number—calories, macros, etc.) is a big no-no with my clients. I’ve seen the negative effect it can have (whether it’s a higher or lower weight than anticipated) on my clients time and time again. You can’t eat intuitively when you’re trying to weigh a certain number. That in itself is counterintuitive.
One of my favorite clients was really, really struggling with finding her natural weight. She’d practice eating intuitively, feel semi-confident, and then lose it once she stepped on the scale. If it was heavier than she’d hoped, she’d give up and binge eat. If she was lighter than she’d expected, she’d binge eat. She was basing eating on an external factor (the number on the scale) rather than her own hunger cues. Your body doesn’t crave three Weight Watchers points or a 475 calorie meal. It craves food. No strings attached.
Once I let go and embraced ordering Nutella pancake balls rather than oatmeal that didn’t actually sound satisfying at Sunday brunch, I felt an overwhelming, insanely liberating sense of freedom. I had this newfound sense of satisfaction that transcended into every other aspect of my life beyond food. It was like a new sense of fullness spilling into everything.
I felt more fulfilled by my relationships because I started doing more. I started LIVING intuitively. When my heart wanted to spend Saturday in nature and my brain wanted to schedule social media for the blog, I went hiking.
When my heart wanted to binge watch Bloodline and order pizza and my brain wanted to do laundry and go to the grocery store, I Netflixed my butt off. Food was just a gateway for me to realize what else I was too hard on myself about. It’s still a laundry list, but I’m actively working on it.
I have my clients to thank for my new sense of contentment. I felt like a big phoney not being a living breathing example of eating, exercising, loving, and living intuitively. And I’m proud to say that now, I am.
When the old me contemplates drinking a smoothie I’m not really in the mood for at home and the new me gets really excited about going out with a friend for the world’s best blueberry scone, I have the confidence to choose delight over deprivation. And it’s not happiness over health. Happiness is health. There are plenty of days where I totally crave smoothies and salads and all things fresh. I like to work out and stay fit and I honor that. It doesn’t have to be one or the other, all or nothing. No. Living without extremes is a beautiful way to be!
And it’s so, so okay to still hear those old voices. I’m not ashamed of my past. I don’t silence the noise. I’ve learned so much from it. It’s been my best teacher.
My biggest hope for my clients is that someday soon they’ll be able to just be. They say that teaching is one of the best forms of learning. I see that truth unfold loud and clear each day that I spend time explaining how to honor hunger rather than silence it with raw vegetables.
Every second you spend living in a box is a moment you won’t get back. I know from experience that once you set yourself free, each and every moment will be exponentially more blissful. I can’t wait for you to be there!