An illustration: Eating Disorder to Intuitive Eating

Okay wow. This is the hardest thing I've ever had to share... but. Here it goes.

To all my ladies (and gents) out there who are constantly engaging in internal war-fare with food and their bodies: thinking once you reach this pinnacle of thinness or this aesthetic look, you will be happy. And thus, you subject yourself to diet rules, formulas, calorie restriction and food shame- which only leads to binge eating and purging and a vicious, painful cycle.

When will it end?

When will we put an end to the madness?

Dieting to achieve a desired weight is one of those things that we’ve been taught by our society.

Food restriction is socially acceptable and even applauded. I’d go even further and say that women have developed comradery around this diet mentality. (Just watch a Weight Watcher’s commercial for proof of this).

How messed up is it that we are taught that your body has to be abused into submission in order to line up with the world’s standards of beauty?

F*** that.

I’m here to tell you: it doesn’t have to be this way. There is freedom to be found in food. Freedom to be found in who you are- just as you are. Your worth is not defined by a number on a scale or the amount of calories you consume in a day.

Once this idea sinks in, you are free to stop the war with food- and thus, you are free to enjoy life to its absolute fullest. Your mind and body get realigned- they meet again and there is beautiful and respectful relationship between the two. You get reacquainted with your hunger cues- you respect them instead of wearing them as a badge of honor. you do not wear it as a badge of honor. No food is “good” or “bad” or “off limits”. You don’t feel guilty about being full—it feels like being NOURISHED. And that’s what you want.

You no longer worry about being skinny. You give your body grace and love it for all of the things it does right for you. You want to be STRONG, capable, empowered, confident.

You let go of your need to control. You free your body from the power your mind possesses over it. You give your body permission to eat.

All of this being said- just as you did not get where you are at over night, neither can recovery from this toxic mindset occur over night. But it IS possible. I am living proof. It is 100% possible to eat normally again. Can you imagine that? Can you imagine NOT obsessing over every single calorie you put into your mouth? I know I couldn’t. I said to myself all the time, “I’m going to eat like this forever.” Thank the Lord someone told me I didn’t have to.

(I’ve told this story before here.)

I look drastically different in each of these photos. They represent a change (for better or for worse) in my food, exercise, mental state and lifestyle in general. However, nothing is so dramatic as the change that occurred in my mind- the physical change you see was an outward manifestation of what was going on the inside.

Photo 1:

Summer 2010.

Summer 2010.

This photo represents insecurity. I was 20 and extremely uncomfortable in my own skin. Years of under-eating combined with binge eating created this “skinny fat” version of me. I was OBSESSED with control over my food by counting calories and macronutrients. I was well acquainted with the “good food” / “bad food” game. I thought if I was “good” enough, I could get where I wanted aesthetically. I hated working out, but I did it daily- and it consisted of only cardio. I had slowed my metabolism down and unwittingly trained my body to hang on to calories and store them as fat. I was disassociated with my hunger and satiety cues- they meant nothing to me. Every day was a test of will power. I was in my first year of undergrad studying nutrition- yet I could not apply any of it to my own life. I was using nutrition as a weapon against my own body instead of a foundation for wellness. I was eating around 600- 800 calories a day (more for times I binge ate of course) and had no intuition about my body or what it actually needed. I hated myself and I reasoned it was my due to my lack of will power that I could not achieve the aesthetic look I wanted. 

Photo 2:

Summer 2011.

Summer 2011.

This photo was only a year later- I was 21. It reminds me never to tell someone how “skinny” they look- because you could be feeding the internal fire on the inside that is eating them alive. How skinny you look is not a reflection of how healthy you are- mentally or physically. In this photo I was in the absolute trenches with a full-blown eating disorder. My lifestyle was out of control. I was home from college in this photo and this is the one time in my life of disordered eating that I can remember thinking- I FINALLY MADE IT. I actually got to that number on the scale. Finally achieved the aesthetic look I was going for. Guess how long this lasted? For about a week. To achieve this I was eating <500 calories a day, exercising for over an hour daily (again, mostly cardio), and sleeping an average of 5 hours a night. My lifestyle was atrocious. I was in adrenal exhaustion. Why did this pinnacle last for only about a week? Well, you can only be satisfied with un-satisfying foods for so long. Starvation and deprivation can only go so long before natural instinct over powers will power. With the kind of self deprivation that was needed to get me to this place, I taught my own will power to over-write my natural intuition. Food deprivation is a form of self starvation, and when your food needs are decreased, food cravings only increase. Paired with a wrecked metabolism, this leads to fast rebound weight gain. I was obsessed with food- but in a bad way. I loved food, but it pained me to eat because all I saw was CALORIES. Not nutrition. This continued for a few more years….

Photo 3: 

Present.

Present.

… until someone said- you don’t have to live this way. A friend I met showed me the way out- the way to freedom. He had recovered and he was the inspiration that I could too. I believe many of us in this perpetual cycle of self loathing and deprivation just want someone to tell us- there is another way. Deep down, I think we want someone to give us permission to eat more—because we can’t do that for ourselves. For the first time in what seemed like forever I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. TODAY, I am proud to say that I am not longer a disordered eater, but an intuitive eater. This means that I listen to my body- and it tells me what I need to eat- not the other way around. I am concerned with nutrients and nourishment instead of weight or calories. I am comfortable and confident in my own skin. I eat around 2000-2500 calories a day, do weight lifting, yoga, and some HIIT exercises. (I REALLY wore myself out on cardio!) I maintain my weight without ever focusing on it. My body composition has changed COMPLETELY. I actually have muscles, and I feel STRONG. I feel empowered. There is nothing more powerful than a woman who has a healthy relationship with herself and her body. The world is at her fingertips.

Yes, the physical difference in me in undeniable, but the psychological differences are ever more so. I am HAPPY. I am happy in my own skin. In a world that begs to differ—we women have better things to preoccupy ourselves with than their standards. The world would love us to preoccupied with diets and weight loss and being skinny than actually being badass bitches. I think they are scared. Ladies – embrace your thin, embrace you thick, but whatever you have- ROCK IT.

This story is the foundation for the start Nourishing Minds Nutrition. I am extraordinarily passionate about guiding others like me to that place of intuitive eating. It is a journey- but it is 100% possible. It truly changed my life. Please reach out with any questions about my journey, intuitive eating, or working with me. 

Also if you want -- join our Nourishing Minds Nutrition Tribe!: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1347074941997201/ This is a place for like-minded people to come together and learn and grow from each other. We discuss things such as intuitive eating, hormonal health and digestive issues.