I am a little over six months into my intuitive eating (IE) journey, and turns out rejecting diet culture is harder than I thought it would be. One might think rejecting society’s beauty standard for what a woman should look like and simply eating whatever you felt like when you felt like it would be fun and free. And it was – until my pants no longer fit like they once did.
When I started this journey, I was very much of the mindset that I would just buy new clothes for wherever my body landed, and that worked for the winter months. In truth, I had been either pregnant or nursing every winter for the past four years, so I needed new in-style clothes anyways, so I was living my best life in my new bigger and cuter wardrobe.
The trouble really began when I went to put on a pair of shorts that were loose last year and were very much not loose this year. They were loose at one year postpartum, so in my mind, it made no sense that they should be too tight now. I hopped on the scale (don’t do this!), and my worse fear was confirmed. I had gained 15lbs. I now weighed more than when I gave birth … both times. I immediately boarded the self-deprecation train headed straight to dietville! I was embarrassed! I thought there was no reason for me to weigh that much. I must have gone really far off track.
What I learned after talking to my nutritionist is that I was actually right on track. I’d spent so many years dieting and restricting my food that my body didn’t trust that I wasn’t going to do it again. It was storing anything it could for the next time I starved it. Insert quick reminder here that IE isn’t about losing weight, and I knew that. I just didn’t expect to gain so much. I was working my way through the 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating, and I’d arrived at the space where I was ready to tackle gentle nutrition and joyful movement. I’d done the work to unlearn the good food/bad food narrative, I’d tackled my inner food police, and I’d begun to move my body again— not as a way of punishment or weight loss but because it improved my overall physical and mental health.
The gentle nutrition principle is one of the last for this very reason. You have to unlearn before you can even attempt to work on your nutrition, or you’ll slip right back into restrictive dieting. I was ready to choose fruits and vegetables at meals because of how they made me feel, not because they are lower in calories.
Entering the second half of my one-year goal of staying committed to IE, I’m feeling good! My body isn’t an apology. I am not sorry for eating food that I like. I am not sorry that my body is different now. But I do want to be my healthiest me at whatever weight that ends up being. No, I won’t be jumping on the scale again – it’s just a number that doesn’t define me. But yes, I’ll be fueling my body with what it needs to live my best and longest life.
My big goal for this second half is getting back into running. And as any good runner knows, you need more food, not less.