Using Your Intuition for Lasting Weight Loss
by guest contributor, Paige Burkes
I used to think that I had to follow rigid diet regimens and exercise programs to lose weight and get in shape. In the early days I measured my food and counted calories (I can get a bit anal with this stuff). I calculated how many calories I ate and how many I burned in every activity throughout my day.
I would get so focused on “getting it right” that I never noticed whether the whole program was “right for me.” Some programs seemed to work better than others but I usually ended up back where I started – with both my weight and frustration level.
After years of this, I realized that most of these programs weren’t meant to be maintained on a long-term basis. They were too focused on a small group of foods to completely feed my nutritional needs. I either didn’t like what I was eating or wanted more variety but variety meant “cheating” and I didn’t want to do that.
I also realized that none of these programs were made for me and my individual physical, nutritional, lifestyle and emotional needs. No wonder they didn’t work.
Instead of continuing the insanity of following more programs not designed for me, I decided to take responsibility for my own health, weight and well-being.
I did extensive research on health, nutrition, foods, medicine, traditional and alternative therapies and various types of exercise. My husband and I were our own guinea pigs. We learned the science behind how and why all the programs I had tried did or didn’t work. As part of our learning process, we slowed down and began noticing how different foods made us feel in the short term as well as the long term.
It’s one thing to read about the negative health consequences of eating lots of “white foods” (processed wheat flour, rice, potatoes, pasta, refined sugars, etc.) and another to feel it in our bodies as well as the effects on our emotional well-being.
I learned how to simply look at food and feel how it would make me feel before it passed my lips.
For example, pasta and fresh bread were some of my favorite foods and I ate them often. As part of my experiment, I removed these from my diet for a few weeks (a very difficult thing to do) replacing them with more fruits and vegetables.
When I ate them again at a wonderful Italian restaurant, I felt like I had swallowed a lead balloon. The taste was exquisite but I felt horrible for hours. Lesson learned. From that point on, whenever I looked at a delicious loaf of fresh bread or plate of pasta, my brain would think “Delicious!” but my True Self knew better and said “No thank you.”
I did the same kind of experiment with red vs. white wine. I used to be exclusively a chardonnay drinker until I noticed that it turned me into a cranky witch after about a half glass. Red wines didn’t have this effect on me. Now I only drink reds.
By combining what I had learned about health and nutrition with a more mindful approach to eating, I began to understand that my True Self, my intuition, always knew what was best for me. I simply had so slow down and quiet my monkey mind and emotions long enough to listen.
The Pull of Emotions
By being more mindful of the foods that served me, I also became more aware of the thoughts that were coursing through my head telling me what I should or shouldn’t eat based on my fleeting emotions.
Feeling sad or depressed? Gorge on comfort foods.
Feeling stressed? Mindlessly eat salty, crunchy foods.
Feeling under-appreciated? “Reward” myself with plenty of decadent sweets.
But every time I indulged these emotions, I felt worse physically and emotionally in the long term.
Slowing things down again, I learned how to address my emotional needs in ways that served me instead of looking for a quick cover-up.
I took responsibility for my own emotional desires rather than waiting for someone or something to do it for me.
The Joys of Movement
When it came to exercise, I was far from consistent. I would take a walk and tell myself that I should do that every day but never made the time. Or I would go to the gym for a week, telling myself how good this was for me only to never return after that first week.
Then I found yoga. I knew nothing about it so I went to the bookstore and got a couple books and a video. I started small with simple, deep breathing and some easy poses. Feeling better by simply breathing fully and being mindful of how my body felt with each movement had me hooked.
I noticed that the “bad back” I had for decades didn’t bother me anymore. I noticed how the self-awareness in my yoga practice had shifted into other parts of my life. I began to see how my moment-to-moment choices added up and affected my life. I also noticed that my body yearned for yoga on the days that I didn’t practice.
I had found the form of movement that worked for me.
While yoga may or may not be what you’re looking for, know that there is something that will make your unique body and soul sing.
I hate to call these things exercise because the word “exercise” carries so many negative connotations. I prefer “movement.” How can you move your body in ways that feel good to you on a consistent basis? Maybe it’s one thing or maybe it’s a variety of things. Once you find the movement(s) that work for you, it will be much easier to make time for them because you know you feel good whenever you practice them.
A New Beginning
The key is to find what works for your unique body in this phase of your life. Your body changes. Your lifestyle changes. The ways that you move your body will change too. Listen to your intuition and allow those changes to flow.
Trusting my intuition to guide me in what, when and how much I eat and how I move my body has made it infinitely easier to maintain my ideal weight and have plenty of energy throughout my day.
Keeping all that I’ve learned over the last decade to myself would be a huge disservice to everyone looking to get off the diet-and-exercise merry-go-round. That’s why I created a program that anyone of any age can use to help them create the happy, healthy body they’ve always yearned for. The Mindful Body program uses mindfulness to help you identify the most effective way to achieve and maintain your ideal weight and your ideal body. It’s much simpler than you think.
Do you struggle with your weight? What has been working or not working for you? Ask Paige for advice!
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P.S. Learn how to easily tap into your intuition – click here!
Paige Burkes inspires her community at Simple Mindfulness to see the world in a new light through mindfulness. Download her FREE Mindful Living Guide to discover the simple steps you can take to create more joy, peace and happiness in your life. Check out her new Mindful Body Program, a comprehensive program that uses mindfulness to transform your health and generate more happiness.
Picture credit: Losing Weight (Photo credits: www.mydoorsign.com)
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