How I Started the Process of Intuitive Eating and the Challenges I Faced

Good-morning ladies! <3

Last week, I wrote a post titled “If You Were in Charge of Healthy Hits the Spot” and asked what you girls most wanted me to talk about.

Many of you voted on this post: “How I Started the Process of Intuitive Eating and Challenges I Faced.”

So, here you go! Today, I’m going to be talking all about that. If you want some back story & have extra reading time today you can also read “My Story.” If you don’t have that extra time, that’s okay too and I’ll write a bit about it here!

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My Intuitive Eating journey has been a long one, which is so normal. First things first, girls, this takes a while. You start somewhere, and then you let it roll. This is not an overnight process. It takes support, it takes internal work, and it takes time…

Let’s back up a moment for those of you who are thinking “what is this whole Intuitive Eating thing?” 

I love this definition from the Intuitive Eating website:

Intuitive eating is an approach that teaches you how to create a healthy relationship with your food, mind, and body–where you ultimately become the expert of your own body.   You learn how to distinguish between physical and emotional feelings, and gain a sense of body wisdom.   It’s also a process of making peace with food—so that you no longer have constant “food worry” thoughts.  It’s knowing that your health and your worth as a person do not change, because you ate a food that you had labeled as “bad” or “fattening”.

SO. Where did I start?

From 2005-2010 I struggled heavily with obsessions around food & my body. Calories in, calories out (exercise), my weight… these were all things that were constantly weighing on my mind.

One Sunday in 2010 I found myself in Church after a really hard & down Spring Break. I hadn’t made the best choices, and I “just wanted something good” in my life as I’d described it. So, I called my cousin and asked if I could join her at Church.

That Sunday the Church talked about not judging others.

I was shocked, honestly. I had always thought that the Church did judge people (sadly, some do, but not mine, and not the Church that I believe in). Hearing that sermon was so eye opening to me. What was even more eye opening was how happy people seemed there… Even the ones who were having a hard time (like I was)… They had this deep joy that I’d never noticed so clearly before.

For the first time in a LONG time I found myself feeling at home. For that first year, I got so attached to my Church that there were times that I thought “I wish they’d have a Church gathering every day.” I felt so good & so full being there.

Throughout that year dieting became less & less important to me, and I didn’t think much about what I was putting into my body.

I found this to be such a relief, until late in the year when I started to notice my body again and realized I was uncomfortable.

So, here’s where my Intuitive Eating story takes a different route than what you’re used to seeing (adding in all of your forbidden foods at once).

I did two things: (1) met with a free women’s counselor through my Church & (2) started seeing a Naturopath.

In January of 2011 my Naturopath put me on a No Grains, Cheese, or Sugar Cleanse to reset my tastebuds & help me fall in love with healthy, whole foods again. He let me start after the Holiday’s thankfully :).

I fell in love with this cleanse 10x over.

This cleanse felt like anything OTHER than a diet to me. It was more of a spiritual, internal work experience. It felt SO freeing to me.

I learned to love whole foods, and for the FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE, I was enjoying food, feeling healthy, getting to my bodies most natural weight, and NOT counting the calories of the food I was eating.

For me… this was heaven, and I felt TRULY happy.

It wasn’t just the cleanse though. I was also developing a close relationship with God, which was so fulfilling to me. I was journaling, having down time, and treating myself SO well. I was being gentle, kind, loving myself, talking well to myself, doing the things that made me feel good and pampered (hair, nails, getting ready, etc.).

In February, I wanted to share this story with the world. I wanted other women to know that healthy eating FELT GOOD, was DELICIOUS, and there was a way to do it without focusing on NUMBERS!

So, I started “Healthy Hits the Spot,” and today, 4 years later, you’re still reading :). 

So, after 7 weeks of doing the cleanse, I was ready to add other foods back in. I was excited & nervous at the same time.

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The first food I wanted was a burrito. I can still remember that first bite! It was heaven. This is the exact burrito :).

This was also the first time that I had eaten half of a burrito and been okay with it! I didn’t find myself needing to “binge” on it because it was “bad” and I was “bad” for eating it (burrito’s used to be a guilty food for me). 

Instead, I enjoyed every bite. I cut it in half, put it on a plate, and fully savored, tasted, and enjoyed each bite with a huge smile on my face.

From that day moving forward, I began to realize just how important it was for me to be careful with my body, be gentle with her, & continue to honor her.

I had fallen so in love with the way I felt that I KNEW I needed to be intentional and listen to those little whispers that my body would send me (you know, the ones that say “you’re full, you know you’re full, it’d be okay if you stopped here” OR, “Paige, you’re really not hungry right now – there is probably another area of your life that needs your attention.”).

I began to see how much restricting & bingeing had taken away from me being able to love myself. 

I also saw how GOOD it felt to be loving myself so much.

I continued to fill my body with vibrant, fun foods, and started to modify the more “indulgent” ones (things I used to restrict like: bread, cheese, sandwiches, sugar, chips, etc…). I wanted to allow myself to honor ANY craving that came my way while still eating in a way that left my body feeling good.

Let me share some examples of photos from this EXACT time – things that I did that made my body & life feel so full and good!

It’s not all about the food, you’ll see. There were a lot of pleasures going on at this time.

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I’d give myself treats each day & call them “Petite-Treats.” Who remembers? This reminded me that I could have fun with food! Sometimes it’d be a little bowl of ice cream, other times it would be getting more creative with my yogurt. It was WHATEVER I was in the mood for.

I truly ate the exact foods that I craved. 

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Potato skins? When I was dieting you would have never seen me eating this UNLESS I was in “binge mode” and had totally given up (on myself & dieting) for the day. And I’d be eating about 6x this many.

NOW, with listening to my body, I had permission to eat them. I knew eating about 1-2 would leave me feeling well, so that’s what I did. My Dad made these from scratch, and I still remember how special it was to be able to eat these and not say ‘NO.’

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I also ALWAYS kept snacks in my purse so that I would KNOW that I could honor my hunger if it hit while I was out running errands, etc.

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I kept my soul fulfilled with quiet times (this is also when I first started journaling) & being involved in things that I cared about. This is me teaching Sunday school with my cousin Holly.

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I made everything I did more special. I used napkins like this that made me happy.

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I made everything look prettier & FEEL special. That was the important thing. Everything had to feel special to ME. Not anyone else’s special, I had to get in touch with what was lovely to me :). Which, by the way is so fun to experiment with!

Seem like I’m talking in past tense?

I still do these things – now, they’re a way of life. In the beginning, it was an effort that I put forth. Now, it’s what I do. I buy the notebook that makes me smile. I am regularly involved in Church & spending the time with the friends who are the best and supportive. I love what I do each day. I still wake up with my most special cup of coffee, spend time with God, journal, and align myself each day with how I want to feel and who I want to be.

I still practice all that I began with, I just don’t think about it like I did then.

Now, let’s talk about the challenges. Because it wasn’t all easy.

There’s not that much in life that I all easy. Really… Most things take work & effort.

Challenges that I faced were:

  • getting comfortable with being uncomfortable when friends wanted me to diet with them – I had to learn to say NO, which I wasn’t used to (I mean, I used to BE the friend that would start diets with my best girl friends – it was like a hobby!) – note, there were  a couple of times throughout the last 4 years that I DID diet (Tone It Up was one of them, & I had to correct myself, & turn back to listening to my OWN body – it NEVER did me well to turn to a diet. If this happens to you, it’s OKAY. Just come right on back.
  • finding new groups of friends that supported me, loved me unconditionally, and had the same wants/ideas/hobbies as I wanted to have & now have.
  • I had to be really careful/gentle with myself. I believe this is where I developed a more calm mindset.
  • I had to practice patience, and being less impulsive. I had to WAIT to make decisions, commitments, etc… to make sure that I really cared about them. I wanted to take my YES’s seriously and same with my NO’s.
  • I went through relationships, break-ups, hard family struggles, etc… and had to deal with all of this without turning to food & dieting as my comforts/controls. I had to actually face life’s BIGGEST problems.
  • I couldn’t hide from the hard life stuff by dieting, which FELT like something I could control when everything else in life was completely, and I do mean completely, out of control.

To be completely honest with you girls… I find myself in tears as I write this last part. 

I wish no one had to endure these painful life experiences… Especially so young… I don’t share about my personal hard life stuff on the blog, mainly because there are bullies out there, and they like to pick on these things. That can’t be avoided… So, I keep that stuff close to my heart and between my family.

I just want to encourage anyone right now who is going through a really, really hard time. Food is not going to be what helps you through it. It might feel like it for a moment or two, but when you’re done eating, the issue will still be there, and it will still be uncomfortable.

Dieting is also not the answer. I used to think “no matter how bad things are, no matter what happens, at least I’ll have my diet, and I can control that (and the size of my body) as much as I want to.” Sad, right?

I’m sure there are other girls out there who can relate to this. 

If you want support, come see me or find a great counselor. Someone who can really support you and hold your hand through this.

So, ladies… as this post was requested, you may have been thinking it would just be full of tips and to-do’s around food… but gosh, Intuitive Eating and ending the restricting/bingeing cycle is just so much bigger than tips and to-do’s.

Here are the ways I want to support you with Intuitive Eating:

  • I want you to leave a comment & share with me – did you relate to this post? Do you have questions as you read this? Post them below, or email me at healthyhitsthespot@gmail.com.
  • sign-up for emails from me – I’ll give you extra tips, worksheets, videos, and special discounts on my Programs/eBook, etc…!
  • sign-up for a free Health Consultation by jotting down your name on my list – we will talk through where you are, where you want to be, and I will share honestly if I am the right support system for you.
  • I also would love if you’d share this with a friend who will be able to relate!

Encourage one another. It’s so important. Be the friend who makes the change to loving yourself more. Be the example. Don’t be the friend whose leading your other friends down the path of dieting & deprivation  (like I was).

If you love Healthy Hits the Spot, share it with a friend. We’re a community <3.

xo, your coach

PaigeSignature

Love, Paige
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