Give Yourself the Gift of ‘The Experience’

Recently, through the magic of computer networking, I was reconnected with a close friend from high school.  It has been nearly 30 years since we last spoke so it was fun to reminisce and discuss the different paths our lives have taken.

Taking the time to catch up turned out to be a good lesson for me.  It was enlightening to reflect upon my life experiences.  We learn and accomplish many things along the way, but sometimes we forget or don’t acknowledge our achievements. Looking back can heighten your awareness of how much you actually have done and in turn make you more confident in your abilities to take on new challenges.

From the perspective of a practicing Intuitive Eater, remembering my high school days with my friend was eye opening.  It was during this time that many of my struggles with eating formalized.  I was a chubby teen trying to fit it.  I was an emotional eater (although I didn’t realize it then) stuffing down uncomfortable feelings with large amounts of food and following it with punitive exercise.  As I reflected upon this, it became very obvious to me how easily these patterns developed.  At a time in your life, when you are willing to do “whatever it takes to fit it”, even abnormal behaviors seem normal.

Looking back I was amazed at how long the “food police”, food rules and restrictive eating were a part of me.  In my mind, I was never good enough, and never would be, until I weighed that magical weight.  Now, sadly, I think about all the wasted time… all the worry, all the missed opportunities that didn’t happen because I was unhappy with my appearance.  But I also realized something else… by re-examining my life’s journey I was able to think about how far I have come, how much I was actually able to overcome and how, because of this experience, I can now view my world in a much healthier way.

Like the lessons of life, learning to become an Intuitive Eater is a process.  There are many roads you can travel; may ways to get to the same destination.  When we stop and think about how we got here and what we have learned along the way, even the “wrong” turns are right.   These moments are the valuable ones.  Reflecting upon the choices we made and why we felt they were or weren’t the right ones for us is when true learning takes place.  It has been my experience that these “wrong way adventures” are always the pre-cursors to personal growth.

We learn a lot from books but while the knowledge you obtain is valuable and necessary, it is really your experiences that are the best teachers.  Giving yourself the chance to try new things builds confidence and gains trust.  One of the fundamental pieces to Intuitive Eating is learning to trust yourself… trusting your internal cues for hunger and satiety.  Trusting that your body knows what is good for you to eat.  Trusting yourself to believe you can change your behavior.  But there is fear in that.  I understand this fear because I lived it.  It is scary to have to “break a food rule”.  But how will you know that you can stop at one piece of chocolate if you never allow yourself to eat any of it?  Experience teaches you that you can.

Think of the new mother who wonders if she will ever figure out how to sooth her crying infant.   She has no choice but to keep trying.  With patience and nurturing, mom and dad learn what is best for their child. Learning Intuitive Eating can be like that too.  You have to be patient and kind.  It is not always going to be perfect; there is no “right way”.  Your journey to becoming an Intuitive Eater is as individual and unique as you are.  It is a process that takes time.  Be gentle with yourself as you learn what works best for you. Enjoy your journey!

Feelings of trepidation and insecurity are normal when learning something new.  But think about all the things you may have missed out on if you let fear stand in your way!  Giving yourself the experience enables you grow as an individual.  Have faith in your abilities.  Reflect upon your past and remind yourself that you have conquered many new challenges before.  Think about some of your life’s proudest accomplishments.  More than likely you are proud of them because there was a time that you weren’t sure you could achieve your goal.  Acknowledge the fact that you did then and by believing in yourself, you will again.

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