“Listen to your body.”
Are you confused, too? Like, yeah, what does that even mean anymore?!
Friends, I’m still learning, too. In fact, getting in tune with my body is the one thing I have the hardest time with! Learning to listen to your body isn’t easy, but a few key things can help you along the way.
Yep, that’s right. For as much as I say, “Just listen to your body!”, I still struggle with it!
In the last year or so, the emphasis on “clean eating” in social media has slowly started to dissipate. More health and wellness bloggers are focusing on intuitive eating, intuitive movement, and intuitive living and I’m SOOOO on board with that! (I wish the media thought the same, though.)
When blogging and health coaching and women in fitness became the next big thing, the definition of what it meant to “live healthy” became a blur. Readers and clients were told that in order to live healthily, they needed to eat clean, eliminate sugar totally, and exercise every single day to burn calories.
I’ll admit it to you: I got caught up in it all so easily.
In 2012, as a senior in college, I fell into the clean eating trap hardcore. I was vulnerable to any and all information I could get my hands on when it came to “getting fit and lean.” The majority of information available 5 years ago focused solely on clean eating. So I changed my ways, eliminated sugar, and ate tuna straight out of the can (don’t recommend it). I became obsessed with eating clean, which ultimately ended in a binge-eating disorder.
Now that it’s 2017, things have taken a drastically different turn. I believe that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to wellness and health, but it took me a long time to learn that. There is no one solution to healthy living and a healthy body. That’s the beautiful thing about being human!
So in the blogosphere, we’re starting to move away from “clean eating” and rigid exercise in favor of “listen to your body!” Now I wholeheartedly believe our bodies will tell us what they need.
When you’ve come from a background of disordered eating, clean eating, or a rigid exercise regimen, “listening to your body” can seem elusive, a totally foreign concept. “Hey that’s great, but what does it all mean and where the hell do I even start?”
Listening to your body isn’t easy to explain either. It’s living for what makes you feel good, which means different things for different people. Complicated, right?! But I promise you CAN learn to listen to your body with some time, love, and grace.
And let me tell you: I AM SO NOT PERFECT! I am still struggling with this! But I hope these practical applications prove useful in your own journey!
You have to learn to listen to your internal hunger and fullness signals and eat accordingly.
This is SO tricky, especially if you come from a background of disordered eating. Like, seriously, this is the hardest part. You really have to hone in on these signals to know what your body needs from you. It can sometimes take years to overcome the calorie-counting or “less is better” mindsets. Eat to nourish your body, which means consuming whole foods most of the time. But don’t forget to indulge (!!) and be okay with letting yourself have those indulgences. You shouldn’t feel guilt or shame by eating food that just sounds good at the time. Just remember to give your body the nourishment (vitamins and minerals) it needs.
Give yourself grace on this one. I personally think it’s the most difficult!
learn how exercise makes you feel.
I mean, seriously, how does exercise make you feel? Do your workouts make you feel energized? Do they fill you with joy or dread? Do you look forward to working out because it makes you feel good, or is it just another chore? Or do you workout solely one way because you think it’s the only way you’ll maintain your body shape?
Those are KEY questions to ask yourself!
If we really mean to listen to our body and what it craves, then it also includes listening to what it desires for movement.
I’ll give you an example. I’ve been an avid weightlifter for 5 years. It typically gives me energy, and I love challenging myself to lift heavier weights. It makes me feel good to push my limits! Recently, though, I haven’t been feeling as motivated to lift weights. Instead, I’ve really felt pulled to try yoga again. I’ve done it a handful of times in the past, but the more I read about it and the more I learn about the benefits, I’m SO eager to try it again!
I’ve never been full-fledged into yoga, but at this point in my life, my body and my soul crave it. I want to maintain and even increase my flexibility. I want to feel less anxious, more open-minded. I want to learn what it feels like to pay attention to my breath, to meditate. I want all those good-for-you benefits, and it’s a feeling that lights my soul on fire!
What does your body crave?
Are you exercising only for the goal of weight loss or to achieve a certain look? I’ve been there! I’ve soooo been there. I started lifting weights because I wanted to look like a fitness model, and that’s what kept me going.
Things have shifted a little now. I want to take more walks, go for more bike rides, practice yoga, try a barre class, try Crossfit just once, and incorporate more functional training. My exercise wants and needs have changed, and I’m okay with that.
Expect that your wants and needs for movement will change. Do something that brings you true joy. Ditch the mentality that you’re only exercising for weight loss, and start to explore movements that make you feel your best.
develop your own definition of health and wellness.
Social media has blown up, which doesn’t make health or wellness much easier. It’s so easy to look at someone else’s diet or exercise regimen and think, “I should be doing that so I can look like her.” Or to look at someone else’s diet and think, “I’ll be skinny or more healthy if I eat just like she does.” I’ve been that girl, too!
But it’s just not the case. Our bodies all require different things!
We need to get ourselves away from the mindset that what someone else does is what’s best for us; it’s so misleading! Case in point: I felt TERRIBLE listening to advice that told me to consume 1000 calories per day, and eat 100 grams of carbs. YOU need to do what’s best for YOU and YOUR body. If you KNOW that your body doesn’t do well on a low-carb diet, then don’t eat that way. If you hate running and it just makes you feel sluggish and bored, don’t run!
When we focus on what other people think we should do, then we lose the meaning of living intuitively, and doing what’s best for our own bodies. Get in tune with what YOU need – listen to your body and respond to what it’s telling you. Sometime it’s a quiet whisper, so listen carefully!
Now it’s your turn!
What other ways have you found helpful to learn to listen to your body?
Leave your comments below! They’re always appreciated because it helps me understand what YOU want to hear more of!