Friday, October 19, 2012

Listening to your body.

First off, how is everyone doing on their goals?  I hope that you are taking my advice to set goals daily and do your best to attain them.  This goal setting can be used for both weight loss issues as well as just other life issues!  Morning is a PERFECT time to review yesterday's goals - did you meet them?  If not, WHY?  And how can you meet them today.  Now make a list of what you want to accomplish today.  Trust me, it helps get you organized and focused.

Ok, today I want to talk about listening to your body.  As I've said many times before, now that I'm in maintenance, I don't want to have to go through life counting calories and analyzing everything I eat.  I realize that this works well for some people, and that's great.  But for me,  I want to have a more flexible and normal life. 

Here's what it comes down to - our bodies tell us the TRUTH.  It is our minds that are LIARS.  So the huge challenge for me is to differentiate who is "talking" to me on any given day. 

Let's take cravings for example.  Yesterday morning of all times, I woke up and was craving Ketchup.  Yup, ketchup!  So when I ate my fried eggs I put some ketchup over them.  As I analyzed what my body was trying to tell me my guess is that my salt level was low.  As a runner, I need more salt and I probably didn't have enough so I was craving it.  Indulging in this craving was a no-brainer - very few calories and it satisfied what my body wanted.

Now, that was a real craving direct from my body.  Now on the other hand, if you pass a box of donuts and see and smell them and then you want a donut, that is most likely you mind telling you that you have to have a sweet empty calorie indulgence.  Your body rarely craves something that is so useless nutrition wise.

I also need to listen to my body when it comes to being hungry.  Some days I will be STARVING for seemingly no reason.  I have to stop for a minute and see what is going on.  If I'm bored, or stressed out, or tired or pissed off, chances are that it's my mind telling me to eat to feel better.  However, if I'm in a good place emotionally, then there is a good chance that it is my body telling me that I need more fuel. 

Going to bed starving is not a sign of victory.  It is a sign that something is wrong with your plan.  Letting yourself get to a point where you could eat your arm off is unhealthy and puts you at risk of a binge or eating the wrong thing for a quick rush.  Try to see food as FUEL for the body. 

My biggest challenge in listening to my body is when to stop eating.  I don't seem to have an off switch.  That's one of the reasons I weighed 344 pounds.  But your body DOES know when it is full and will tell you to stop.  Some of the ways that I have tackled this problem is slowing down.  I now focus when I am eating.  I actually watch the clock and my goal is to eat my dinner in no less then 20 minutes.  Why 20 minutes?  This is what experts say is the time needed for the sensation of food in the belly to get to the brain.  In my previous life, I powered down my food, swallowing large chunks and not even focusing on enjoying the meal.  Not any more!

I make sure that I chew my food thoroughly.  I don't put anything in my mouth until the previous bite was swallowed.  I take short "time outs" while eating, like physically putting my fork down and doing something else for a few seconds.  This has helped me get to the point where my body can tell me whether I need more to eat or not.  Plus, I actually enjoy the food more!

I think - I hope - that with more practice this will get easier, and will become second nature. 

And this listening to your body thing?  It also works for things like exercise and sleep.  You feel too worn out to exercise?  Is that your BODY telling you that, or is it your lazy mind?  You feel exhausted?  Does your body need rest or does your mind want to escape something?  Stop, take a minute and listen.


  1. As a recovering bulimic and anorexic, I had a REALLY hard time with this for a long time. I, too, have a new salt craving after taking up marathoning. I NEVER craved salt before that, and was terrified of it, but now I NEED It, and it took such a long time to not be scared of it. The last time (and final time) I set out for recovery, I gave myself to eat whatever I wanted, and go with my cravings. They were odd at times. You know those blueberry scones from starbucks? They have like 460 cals.. and I wanted one EVERY DAY. And ate one every day. For like, a month. Then, I just didn't want it anymore. I've learned if I just go with it it will run its course. If I don't, it becomes an obsession. Sometimes pasta of all things, still scares me, but if I'm craving it, I've given in a few times. And then it's satisfied and goes away. Oddly, my weight hasn't gone anywhere in 3 years so it's just taken me a long time to TRUST my body. I was so scared that if I ate what I wanted, I'd eat ALL THE FOOD (and as a bulimic, I did), but 3 years of really LISTENING helps.

  2. Glad to know that other people experience this, too! I recently had an INTENSE food craving that turned into almost an obsession - like shaking I wanted it so bad, but knew it wasn't good for me. I ended up eating it and now I could care less about eating it again - sometimes I think you just have to give in to it!

    Sounds like you are doing fantastic! Congrats on your recovery and your 3 years of maintaining!