I have worked on being aware of my body. I created my own personal Indulgent Awareness Plan. I began listening to what it says to me in aching knees and swollen joints, sinus headaches, and sneezes, tossing and turning nights. It seems like some days my body wants to collapse into bed and never get back up because it’s just so tired. So I began asking my body to tell me what I needed to do to get my energy levels back up, to feel better and have less pain. I had come to the conclusion that there was more to this than just the feeling. That what I was eating and what I was doing to my body was trying to fill the hopelessness, emptiness the pain and discomfort of being large. I have spent the last year really listening to what these symptoms were telling me.
I decided to be indulgent. I didn’t shy away from the things I wanted. I ate what I chose without shame or guilt, but I had a few rules:
- I had to eat sitting down at a table.
- I had to eat it slowly, and think about the process.
- I had to savor each bite, taste it, enjoy it, experience the pleasure of eating good food.
And, afterward, I had to ask my body how it made me feel. I had to check in and see how I was feeling an hour after, that evening, the next day.
And so I ate cake. And chocolate, and pizza, and meatloaf and mashed potatoes, and all my favorite foods. Ice cream, and peanut butter toast, cupcakes, and spaghetti, fresh apples, and fresh vegetables. I ate whatever I wanted, when I wanted it. I didn’t count calories, I didn’t write it all down, I just listened to my body and paid attention to how I felt. Before, during and after. And I learned so much. And the beauty of the process is that this guilt free indulgence was relaxing, and soothing, and my body responded and I have changed.
I think we all have different body shapes, and types, and we respond to food and exercise differently. And I know after trying this that your body will tell you what it needs to be healthy and it will guide you if you listen and respond to it. At the one extreme we believe dieting is the only way, at the other extreme we know that overeating serves no purpose and helps us to support if not gain more weight. I wanted to prove to myself that both extremes are bad. If my body was telling me to diet, and cut my calories down to a measly 800 calories (the average calorie intake for any of the drastic diets we read about) then I would learn from that and start yet another diet. But I knew in my heart, that diets don’t work and I wanted to prove it to myself and to you.
There are a few “rules” to losing weight, getting healthy and feeling better…like drink more water, get moving, be kind to yourself and others, and what is rarely said…enjoy the process of loving and caring for your body. Being Indulgent.
And I learned so much about my body. Here are just a few:
1) When I slow down, food tastes so much better and interesting. I do love food, and I want to enjoy it more. No more stuffing it down just to eat. I tend to eat for any kind of feeling and emotion, and at the end of it I can say I didn’t really taste it. Which means I consume and don’t enjoy my food. Rule 1: Be more indulgent. Enjoy eating.
2) While enjoying that slow process, I eat less, but feel so much more filled, fulfilled and full. I breathe, and can enjoy the conversation and turn away from my plate without finishing it all. I can feel my stomach fill and expand and I know when I am full. It’s an amazing feeling. Enjoy your meal, engage in conversation, breathe and be still sometimes. Slow Down.
3) Sweets aren’t always so sweet. I don’t feel good the next day when eating them. In fact, I have arthritis and I feel more pain in my knees after a sugary meal. One slice of cake as indulgent treat is fine, but I can’t always stop and the pain the next day isn’t worth it. When I practice Rule #1 and #2, I am too full for the piece of cake, and while my sweet tooth may crave a little something sweet, I can get through it, or downsize the food portion.
4) Carbs leave me bloated, grouchy and uncomfortable. My favorite food is pizza and the after affects are painful. I was eating pizza at least twice a week. Now I weigh the need for pizza and eat it less often. I can no longer consider it a treat because a treat should make you feel good right? Nothing right for my body type about pizza.
5) All food is good whether it’s healthy, flavorful, sweet, sour, crunchy or chewy, they all serve a purpose for me. The key is learning to indulge, to make sure what I eat is the best and say no to the substitutes. If I am going to eat candy, it’s going to be the best, ONLY. Indulgent.
6) Fruits, Vegetables and Water are what my body craves more and more. And the more I eat them, the more I truly love them. And my body says “YAY! Taryn, give me more!”
Each of us have to listen to our body, pay attention to how it feels, think about what we need to be able to listen. I urge you to figure it out for yourself. Create a few rules, test a few beliefs, and enjoy selfishly indulging your BODY.
Be indulgent and see what you learn.
PS. Did I tell you that I lost weight through the process? And I had fun doing it! Think about creating your own Indulgenet Awareness Plan and come back and share what you learned about your body.