Photo Cred: Ander Burdain
What would it feel like to start with joy? So many of my clients believe there has to be pain involved when it comes to healthy eating. They want to upgrade their eating habits but they know it’s going to hurt because they won’t be eating their favourite foods anymore. One client I saw recently, let’s call her Kate, drew on her experience from when she was consistently running in the morning and avoiding fast food because she didn’t want to “ruin” all her hard work with running. She felt amazing, her best ever actually. She was feeling the exhilaration of doing a one-eighty from her previous habits of no exercise and fast food every night. But then this thing happened. Kate missed a run and then before she knew it, she was rolling down her window at the drive-thru. One little cheeseburger combo couldn’t hurt, could it? You likely know how the next part of the story goes. Quickly, her mindset shifted back into old gears of waking up just in time to make it to work where she gave it her all then at the end of the day rewarded herself with the drive thru on her way home. She came to me wanting to find a way to get back into running and avoiding the drive-thru.
I was Kate once. I wanted perfection and if I couldn’t have it, well then… what’s the point? But I realized, it wasn’t just about getting it perfect, it was also about living life in reaction mode. When I talked to Kate, I asked her what it was about running she loved the most. Her first answer? I think you guessed it… she had reached the weight where her body felt it’s best. She was running farther with ease and was feeling great. She wanted to get back to that place.
What we then discovered together was that at that time, her job was manageable, the weather was turning from blustery cold into cheerful spring and she was sleeping well. You see, life was running smoothly so she could spend her energy on willing her way to good habits. There’s nothing wrong with that. But when work demanded more hours and the days got shorter and colder, her conviction on her new found habits plummeted. She also missed the delight of treating herself with the drive thru.
So would if you start where you are? What if you start with what gives you joy, not just the relief you get when you stop hitting your head against the wall? What if you create the life you want instead of living in reaction mode? What do you need right now to bring you joy? That’s step number one. Don’t know what brings you joy? Consider it a life-long experiment. This means you can’t make any mistakes, just observations on what makes you feel your best under the circumstances. Over time, you learn how to pursue joy, not just run and hide from pain. Experimenting means giving yourself full permission to try anything you think would suit you. It keeps you curious and helps avoid the traps of judgment that can lead us down the path of living for the past or the future instead of the present moment.
Together Kate and I found out she wanted to feel good but it wasn’t really about achieving her ideal weight, it was about what she could do to feel good right now. She realized she loved running for reasons other than the size of her body. She loved running because it gave her another way to release built up frustration, it helped clear her mind. It helped her find the space she needed for, you guessed it, joy! She also loved how invigorated she felt when she built up a good sweat followed by washing it all away with a refreshing shower. Suddenly, she wasn’t dragging her feet, she had bounce in her step to start the day. She also felt more energetic at night and took advantage of some batch cooking she did on weekends to make weeknight meals she enjoyed when her evenings were pinched for time. One huge milestone Kate shared with me was being able to ENJOY the drive-thru when she wanted it. She no longer felt it was a guilty pleasure, it was simply a pleasure!! It also didn’t negate the great feelings she experienced from her morning run. Eureka! She was learning to live in the present and really understand how to meet her needs even when life was stressful including longer work hours and shorter daylight hours. She was connecting to what made her feel good. She was running towards pleasure instead of running away from pain. She started with joy.
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Want to learn how Intuitive Eating may help you find your joy? I would love to chat more with you! Just shoot me an email to let me know you would like to claim your complementary Nutrition Clarity Call with me, no strings attached. We will discuss your next steps to finding your joy with eating. If you’d really like to dive deeper, we can also discuss the approach I use to help guide my clients through a customized step-by-step program I offer through Right Step Nutrition.