For those of us working on getting our weight in check we are told by everyone “in the know” that we must reduce our caloric intake while increasing our level of activity in order to lose weight. This is not true. Let’s look at all the things the body uses calories for:
- Cellular division
- Cardiovascular function
- Reproductive system
- Respiratory system
- Processing of thought
- ALL forms of movement
- Endocrine function (producing and using hormones)
- Immune system
- Helping children with homework
- Brain function
This list goes on forever because calories are needed by the body for EVERYTHING. There is not one thing accomplished by the body that does not require calories. Calories, very simply, are fuel for the body. Calories are found in the foods we eat regardless of what type of food – play or healthy – that we consume.
When we reduce our calories in an effort to lose weight we are actually shooting ourselves in the foot. Why? Because when the body does not have the fuel it needs to accomplish what it needs to accomplish it must make some hard choices and begin to
- Shut down processes that do not directly effect the living of the person (like the reproductive system. A human being will still live even if the reproduction system is not functioning. The cardiovascular system is one of the last systems the body will shut down.)
- Store fat to live off of until you get your senses back in order.
The body is smarter than the brain and knows what it must do in order to survive. It will even turn one into a “crazy person” in it’s attempt to accomplish this single goal. It will turn on a level of craving that it impossible to ignore and you, despite your best effort, will eventually give into the craving. The only way to stop this cycle is to stop restricting calories.
Some of you may say to yourself, “I’ll just use a weight loss plan, pill, powder, drink, special diet, etc to increase my metabolism and suppress my appetite because I’m smarter than my body.” Are you sure about that? What is going to happen when you have reached your “goal” and you no longer need that? What have you learned during your journey that will help you in the long term. It has been my experience that NOTHING – no weight loss plan, powder, pill, drink, special diet, etc – teaches anyone about their body and what it needs because what it needs is for you to listen and respond to its fuel need signals.
I’ve been using the Intuitive Eating principles in my own life and have been so very excited with what my body has proven to my brain. Here’s the short version of my story:
I was “that” girl growing up. The one in high school who could eat anything – and I usually did – in whatever portion she wanted and was skinny as a post. At times I would enjoy an entire 1 pound bag of Doritos all by myself….in one sitting. At that time I felt that I was underweight. I was trying to gain some weight but I wasn’t obsessing over it. I was 121 pounds until the day I discovered that I was pregnant with my first child. On that day I was 135 pounds and I liked my body much better. I went on to gain 50 pounds during that pregnancy eating whatever I wanted and what I wanted most was SALAD.
A short time after my son’s birth I still had 15 pounds to lose (or so I thought). I talked to my doctor, (you know as we’re told to do when we plan on making a change to our diet or exercise habits) and she told me to use Slim Fast. “A shake for breakfast, a shake for lunch and a sensible dinner.” That’s when my weight challenges began. I did not know then that my breastfeeding body knew what it was doing and that I’d naturally lose the weight if I simply listened to and responded to my body.
Here I am 26 years (and 8 kids) later, overweight but not as overweight as I was last year (or last month) all because of the Intuitive Eating principles I use and have begun to teach to others. It falls right in line with my work as a Dr. of Natural Health. True natural health includes emotional, mental and spiritual health along with physical health. There is nothing natural about dieting. There is nothing natural about counting calories, restricting food, exercising (for hours), weighing food, measuring food, etc. I enjoyed chocolate chip pancakes, sausage and a tall glass of milk this morning with my daughter and enjoyed EVERY bite. THAT was natural and THAT was healthy on all levels because I listened and responded to my body and what it wanted. What it wanted today was to share a quiet breakfast with a daughter who’s celebrating her 10th birthday today.
At first, it can be scary to think about giving yourself permission to eat all the time if that’s what your body wants, especially after years or decades of being told that food is the enemy and the less of it you consume the more likely you are to lose those pesky unwanted pounds. The absolute truth is that that’s a lie and it’s actually gotten you where you are today. Release yourself from the cycle by first rejecting the dieting mentality and then honor your hunger. Let your body know that you hear it and that you will respond to it. It will take time for you relearn how to trust your body and it will take time for your body to relearn how to trust you but as that trust is being rebuilt, you will reconnect with yourself in a way that is glorious and healthy.
Intuitive Eating is not about weight loss. It is about returning to a truly healthy person. The person you were born to be….