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Middle Fork Sno RiverWell hmmm!  I unintentionally took a mid-winter break of sorts last week with no post!  As much as I relish this Sunday writing ritual (and I hope you all do too!) I do enjoy a mental break a couple of times a year.

I went on an amazing hike last Sunday – my first ever winter hike – along the middle fork of the Snoqualmie River.   From the gorgeous scenery, the patches of snow on the trail and the sounds of the beautiful rushing river below, this is a must-see.  And it’s not a super extreme kick-your-ass type of hike either.  I was glad for that.  J does quite a bit of hiking, while I in contrast have 10-year-old hiking boots I’ve probably worn 10 times or less, so I’m definitely a novice.  I’m just not a super outdoorsy person, despite living a short drive from so much to explore outside of the city and suburbs.  So it was nice doing a radical change of scenery while feeling safe and having fun with someone who knows his stuff and how to navigate the twisty turning access roads like a champ.  Who knows…I just might rediscover hiking this spring and summer!

On the Intuitive Eating front I feel like I lapsed back a bit these past couple weeks…back to my habit of unconscious eating.  Meaning, eating lunch or snacking while I’m at my desk at work, or absent-mindedly munching on pasta for dinner while on my couch watching TV.  Or inhaling a protein bar while driving to work.  Just not really paying any attention to the food itself, how it tastes or how full I’m getting.  And all of this is perfectly OK!  I know it deep down and the assurance of my coach sealed the deal.  My life has been full of lots of additional stresses and noises, and it’s only been a growing crescendo recently.  I’m wrapping up my current work engagement in T-minus 4 days while interviewing for another one.  I love the experience that interviewing provides, and I have a lot more confidence doing it this time around, whether it’s over the phone or in-person with a panel.  My work engagement was a roaring success with an amazing team…they’re gonna be a hard act to follow!  Contrast that to when I was out of work a few years ago.  I felt broken and empty. My self-confidence had taken a beating after 7 or 8 months of not working.  THIS time around it’s a different story.  It’s energizing…but exhausting.  I come home from work mentally fried after fielding an interview or two that same day.  And I haven’t been exercising as regularly as I’d hoped I would to blow off that stress.  I finally got back in the gym yesterday for the first time this year!  What a joy that the typical New Years crowds have died down!

My coach recommended a wonderful exercise to practice when I’m feeling in a whirlwind, fried and running on adrenaline. It’s 3 minutes of mindfulness…of sensing my body, where it’s touching surfaces like the floor or a chair…then noticing the sounds I hear around me…and lastly what I see.  And a few deep breaths!  That’s the high level content of the exercise and yes, it works!

I thought I’d post today about one of the 10 principles of Intuitive Eating.  Sometimes (rather, often times), writing things down helps the ideas and concepts seal into my brain. 

Principle 1:  Reject the diet mentality.  Yeah, this one’s a DOOZY, especially this first part of the year when it seems just about everyone is making resolutions to lose weight and trying all sorts of diets or cleanses and gleefully posting about them on Facebook or in water cooler chit-chat at work.  Here’s what the authors have to say about this oh-so-challeging-to-grasp first principle:

“Throw out the diet books and magazine articles that offer you the false hope of losing weight quickly, easily and permanently.  Get angry at the lies that have led you to feel as if you were a failure every time a new diet stopped working and you gained back all of the weight.  If you allow even one small hope to linger that a new and better diet might be lurking around the corner, it will prevent you from being free to rediscover Intuitive Eating.”

Hoo doggy…how’s THAT for a polarizing few sentences?  Flies right in the face of what most of us (well, many I know) have been taught through society expectations and peer pressure, doesn’t it?  What do YOU think about this first principle? 

Yep…”get angry at the lies.”  That’s powerful stuff!  When a diet ‘failed’ and I gained back all of the weight and then some, I immediately pointed the finger at myself, that *I* was the once who blew it.  Know what?  It was the DIET…NOT ME!  I’m really trying to get the clanging gong in my head once and for all that DIETS DON’T WORK! They are THE quickest way to short-circuit a healthy relationship with food. And like my coach says, “once you have made that mental shift, you can’t un-ring the bell.”  It reminds me a bit of the workshops I did last spring which celebrate men and women and our differences.  Talk about an illuminating new point of view!  Once you really let it sink in, there’s no going back.  Ever.

There’s much, much more about this first principle in the book…and there is a very detailed 4-step process on how to go about rejecting the diet mentality.  I promise you, this content is worth reading through several times.  We are so diet-obsessed in this society and readily identify with a choice to diet no matter what it is…and yet the Intuitive Eating process is quite often met with confusion or dismissal.  Listening to internal cues, eating what my body wants when it’s hungry…and stopping when I feel full.  How can this be so foreign and hard to grasp? 

One poster on an IE online discussion forum I peruse frequently sums it up great, with a little tongue in cheek:  “It’s hilarious that people can post about what urine they are injecting to lose weight, or what barely legal speed pill is the new miracle of weight loss, but any mention of eating according to natural hunger and you are a zealot and unacceptable.”  I love it.  And I hope she doesn’t mind me anonymously quoting her post.  It’s a gem and worth sharing.

I’m just barely turning a corner on this journey, leaving dieting behind forever.  I know this is the right path for me. 

No one knows my body better than my own body!