When I begin to work with clients around intuitive eating, I know something they don’t fully know yet…
It’s about so much more than eating.
I want to share a client’s story with you.
No, actually, we both want to share her story with you.
Haley’s story shows just how powerful and life changing intuitive eating can be.
At the time of this writing, Haley was only 6 weeks into my private coaching program, and yet you’d think we had been working together for years.
When I first met Haley, she reminded me of my younger self.
She told me how she felt compelled to work out 2-3x a day. She’d stress all day about how to get her workouts in.
Her Apple watch taunted her to burn more calories, so that became her priority: burn more calories.
She told me how she wished she could eat things like pizza, but she couldn’t because it wasn’t healthy. She had to stick to her salads and chicken and veggies and hummus and smoothies…
She told me how she wished she could just go out to dinner with her friends, but was always stressed out if there would be anything healthy enough for her to eat on the menu.
She described how constantly distracted she was by food and exercise thoughts.
Little-by-little, Haley and I began her intuitive eating, body positive journey based in the transformational coaching method.
In just six weeks, I was with Haley as she celebrated her first week without running (something she realized she truly hated and dreaded, yet felt addicted to) and as she enjoyed her first cheeseburger in 9 years, a food she had fond memories of from birthday parties growing up, but wouldn’t allow herself to eat.
Haley sat across from me, glowing as the food was set in front of us on the table. She was so happy we had to capture the moment, so we took this picture.
The joy and freedom she is feeling in this photo is something you can only understand if you, too, have come from a place of strict food rules and restriction.
When for 9 years, you don’t allow yourself to eat a burger due to fear… being able to order one, without guilt and enjoy one, without guilt, without exercise penance or skipping meals… is a very big deal.
In fact, Haley sat across from me, enjoying each and every bite, and told me how she cancelled the cycle class she had planned for that night because she knew she wanted to go to yoga instead (something she never would have done previously: not enough calories burned).
In fact, yoga is something Haley said she never would have done before. She always ran or did other high intensity workouts. But yoga? That as not on her radar.
Now, Haley allows herself to move in ways she actually enjoys, which includes cycling and a whole lot of yoga. She also allows her body to rest. Something she never used to be able to do.
It Haley hard this week, how intuitive eating really is so much more than just about food and exercise.
She had just taken the MCAT and submitted applications to medical school this past month: something she had worked so hard for and planned on for a long time.
When she got her test score back: they weren’t what she had hoped for.
This could have sent her into a tizzy. In fact, it would have sent the old Haley into a tizzy.
But the new Haley saw her life from new eyes.
She realized how tightly she was trying to control every area of her life: from food to exercise to her career… and just as she felt liberation in finding food freedom… this quickly translated into the rest of her life.
She sat across the table from me telling me how she was ready to trust what the Universe had in store for her.
Haley wrote about what she now is calling, “The Best Week of Her Life.” Here’s what she had to say:
“This last week, I noticed how many thoughts I had that were against what me and my body wanted. I’ve realized there are no literal laws written about what food is good or bad, how much one should exercise or what one should do to exercise, or what career path makes someone successful. I realized the feelings of freedom, relief, and happiness is what made me, and my life, feel like a million bucks. Not the workout I did, not what I ate that day, and not what my career path was going to be. Instead all those things brought me stress an anxiety even though my mind has tried to teach me that those are what bring happiness.
I realized how I was never fully satisfied because I was always worried about the next step and how I would attain it perfectly, instead of just enjoying the journey of life and being happy with the path I am naturally meant to be on.
So, this week I tried something new. I tried taking a deep breath, taking a step back and literally asking myself throughout the day, all day what I genuinely wanted in the moment. What would really make me happy? I noticed how many times what was going to make me happy was different than what my mind was telling me made me happy. I told myself this one week, I needed to try to listen to purely my body. Just give it a try for one week and then I can go back to being controlling if I felt the need.
The second I told myself this on Saturday after being so upset about my MCAT score, I felt the BIGGEST sigh of relief. There are no words that can describe how free, relieved, and HAPPY I felt right in that moment.
I just felt un-stuck. I felt free to do activities and things that make me happy and ditch what doesn’t. I felt free to realize there are so many careers that involve medicine and there is one out there that is meant perfectly for me. I felt free letting my body tell me what to do, NOT my mind.
It’s crazy how much I got to experience in this beautiful world in just one week. How much I was holding myself back from.
I need to stop being so tense, stressed, and high strung. I need to go with the flow and enjoy each and every moment without worrying about what’s to come next. Taking this mentality gave me the most freeing week of my life.
Each moment of each day I would ask myself what I really want. Do I want to work out? If so, what do I want to do. Am I hungry? If so what exactly is my body craving? Do I want to force myself to do something for medical school that makes me stressed and miserable? If not, what do I feel like doing with my time instead that makes me feel satisfied? And let me tell you, I thought for sure I would want to go back to being controlling, but after the immense freedom and relief I felt, I want to live with this mindset and lifestyle forever. I have such a great desire to continue to re-wire my brain to now agree with my body instead of having a mind of its own.
I did things this week I NEVER in a million years thought I would get to do in my life for no other reason than my mind would always tell me not to.
This week I decided to look at the many career paths involving medicine and realized there are so many that encompass a way for me to reach my goals in a fashion that is best suited for me and my happiness. Ones that don’t require me to force myself to do things that make me miserable. I also had the best and most satisfying meal of my life. A burger and fries. Holy cow it was incredible.
The freer I feel to satisfy what I am craving in the moment (food, exercise, social life) the happier my life will be. When I think about it, it sounds so silly to do things for an ideal path or image. Why am I trying to satisfy others or satisfy what the culture defines as successful instead of satisfying myself and satisfying my own definition of happiness?
We are all different which means it’s impossible to have one ideal successful career path or body image or exercise routine or food diet. If I am satisfying others’ lives, then I don’t get to enjoy it because I am not living their life I am living my own.”
Intuitive eating is about so much more than eating.
And that is why I coach.