Intuitive eating never felt difficult for me.
It felt impossible.
I couldn’t comprehend how “normal” eaters could simply feel their emotions or desires, and then eat based on their biological cues. Oh, and that whole fullness thing? How does one get there? I always knew when I was hungry, but fullness? Reaching that appropriate level of “doneness” was such a mystery to me.
Any amount of food that wasn’t written on a meal plan was not an appropriate amount, regardless of whether it was a spinach leaf or five cups of blueberries. If it wasn’t written down and emailed to me from a diet coach, then it wasn’t acceptable.
Breaking these beliefs down that I had learned and acted on for over three years was more than just difficult. It was nearly impossible.
But I was dedicated, and I had an eager heart.
Over and over I prayed, “God, change my heart. Change my heart.”
I didn’t ask God to simply take away my meal plan; I needed to dig deeper and find the root issue. I needed a full blown change of the heart, and one that would feel so good, so satiating, and so “full” that I wouldn’t want to feel empty again.
Change my heart, Lord.
After a full year of praying this prayer (and having my parents pray it too) I started acting on my intuition. I felt like I was being guided by something bigger than my over-obsessing mind and strict set of should’s and should not’s for life. I couldn’t ignore it any longer and I began to take steps that my intuition told me to take.
It wasn’t always just in regards to food and movement either. It dealt with gratitude, intentions, meditation, relaxation, frivolous TV watching (without feeling guilty for it), reading books and paying closer attention to people when they talked.
When I began to practice these things, intuitive eating became more natural and intuitive living followed along with it.
Today, I practice intuitive living without consciously trying, though I still stop in my tracks some days and think, Wow, did I really just trust my gut without over-thinking it?
It hasn’t ceased to surprise me.
Here are 4 surprising ways I have experienced intuitive living…
1. I don’t schedule or pre-plan the order of my day.
Sure I have a to-do list, but I definitely no longer have a to-do-in-this-order-list. For example, I’ll go to the grocery store exceptionally early or exceptionally late. I’ll stay up and watch TV simply because I want to. I’ll read a book for way longer than I would normally think I “should.” I’ll do emails at night because I enjoy them more then. I’ll listen to 6 podcasts in a day. I’ll stop working at 3 o’clock. I’ll work all day. I have finally given up the idea that my life needs to be structured the same on a regular basis….which was very difficult for me and my all or nothing mindset. The less I schedule things on my calendar, the more I rely on my gut to tell me what’s next.
2. I read books (and listen to podcasts) until I don’t want to anymore.
Again, with my all or nothing mindset, I have finally learned to put down books that lose my interest. Same with podcasts and articles. Once upon a time, I would keep an article in a browser on my desktop for a week because I thought it would force me to eventually finish an article that I started reading (because I hated stopping something I started) but I have learned that if I have to keep an article up in a separate window to force myself to read it, it’s probably not something that’s going to serve me in the future. Close it, and move on.
3. I have a better judge of character.
Using my intuition to know if somebody is going to lift me up or bring me down has come easier to me. I no longer hang out with people out of fear that I will miss out on something if I don’t. I used to want to hang out with people simply because I felt that I needed to get more plugged in, but today my online life is so gratifying (readers, co-coaches, communities) that I feel fulfilled by your presence enough. I don’t spend time reading the work of people I don’t like online, so why would I spend time in the presence of someone I don’t thoroughly enjoy in person? I doesn’t make sense anymore. I can now listen to my intuition knowing she will guide me to the right people…the right tribe.
4. I do movement that makes me feel good in the moment.
My pole-dancing studio has an online scheduler that I generally schedule a day or so in advance, yet the only catch is, if you cancel your spot anywhere within 12 hours of the class time, you are considered a late cancel and get charged for the class anyways. The other day, I really felt like I “should” do a certain class, but my intuition was saying No babe, go for a hike tomorrow by yourself. You’ll enjoy the quiet time. I tried to shut her up for an hour or so until I came to my senses and realized I wasn’t honoring her guidance. I hit “cancel” on the class, went for a hike the next morning and experienced one of the best hikes of my life. It was beautiful, and I realized that this same practice could be applied to any type of movement. If I chose to neglect my intuition, pole dancing would turn into bodybuilding- something I scheduled routinely out of fear of missing out, or the “what would happen if I didn’t go” thoughts. Pole is so much fun for me that I would never want that to happen.
In attempts to keep my intuition headstrong, I have to be pro-active about listening to her in regards to everything- not just food. Whether it’s people, events, books, movement, or food, your intuition wants to guide you.
Are you going to let her?