"How much should I be eating?"
For most women, the knee jerk answer to themselves is almost always:
Let me ask you this: How has this approach worked out for you in the past?
Did you white knuckle your way through hunger, restriction, maybe a bunch of running or cardio for a period of time, skipping sleep, missing out on social events, harnessing your willpower and feeling the euphoria of victory when you were finally able to force some weight off your body?
Ok...and what happened next?
Did you learn to eat in a way to support this new body so that the extra weight stayed off relatively effortlessly over the next 5-10 years?
Or...did you go back to eating what you ate before and, frustratingly, the weight crept back on slowly but steadily?
You know I'm not being flippant here. SERIOUSLY guys, this obsession with LESS absolutely stinks. It stinks because IT DOESN'T WORK.
And by "doesn't work", I mean it hurts us physically, emotionally, and psychologically. It undermines our ability to fully connect with others because we can't fully connect with ourselves.
The yo-yo cycle results in hormonal imbalances, micronutrient deficiencies, obsession with food, poor body image, a lack of trust in ourselves, inability to be a role model for our kids, and a continual drain on our spirits and mojo.
The obsession with LESS is toxic and abusive. But for most of us, it's all we've known because it's all we've been taught.
So. Where does that leave us? Does it mean we should just settle with things being just as they are?
Nope. Settling is probably not healthy either, especially if you have health issues (PCOS, hormone imbalances, insulin resistance, CVD, autoimmune disease, etc.)
What we should do instead: FOCUS ON MORE
MORE listening to our body (am I hungry? am I tired? am I anxious? am I sore/over-exercised? am I stiff from lack of movement?)
MORE listening to our emotional needs rather than numbing them with food
MORE focusing on showing up as our authentic, vibrant, intelligent, generous, creative selves
MORE connecting with others in a meaningful way
MORE trust in our strength to do hard things
MORE faith that we deserve the nourishment required to perform optimally and feel amazing
MORE attention on food QUALITY rather than on food quantity (fresh, organic, grass fed, wild caught, locally sourced, etc.)
MORE gentle exercise (walking, yoga, playing outside with our kids)
MORE priority on rest, relaxating activities, and sleep
MORE time preparing delicious, healthy nutrient dense meals that we genuinely WANT to eat so we can feel truly satisfied and energetic, rather than rushing through preparing boring, bland "healthy" (bleh) food that we think we HAVE to eat in order to make our body look a more acceptable way.
MORE snootiness about food quality. If you're going to treat yo'self, don't settle for bulk tortilla chips from the Mexican restaurant, grocery store ice cream, leftover food off your kids' plate, or non-food from a drive-thru. You deserve SO much better.
MORE grace for our bodies which are doing their absolute best for us despite the fact we've alternated between starving it and overstuffing it with nonsense. They're patiently awaiting the moment we're willing to finally give it what it needs to be strong, healthy, and so full of energy we can't NOT move more!
HOW DO I KNOW THIS APPROACH WORKS?
I've shared many of the details about my own health and dieting journey but, suffice it to say, this focus on MORE has been my own personal ticket out of diet prison.
I'm equally happy to say this approach has been how so many of my clients have lost excess weight, reversed chronic health conditions, restored energy and vitality, regained fitness, and rediscovered their excitement for life.
SOUNDS GREAT....BUT HOW?!
If you eat a whole foods/Paleo template and listen to your body's signals, you are well on your way because this allows you to tune into your body's hunger and satiety signals.
If you eat a diet of mostly whole, real food and you're hungry between meals, eat more of these same kinds of foods.
Don't restrict. Eat MORE. This will very likely settle out as your metabolic flexibility improves and your fear of restriction dissipates.
Learn to trust your body, which is doing its absolute best for you in every moment.
Learn to trust your strength, which has powered you through so many challenging situations.
Learn to let go of willpower, white knuckling, and shame. These do not serve you.
MORE love, for yourself, your body, and those who care about you.
THIS is the answer, even if you don't believe me quite yet.