When I am most successful and most “in the zone” on my weight loss journey, I am finely in-tune with my body. I know exactly when I’m hungry and when I’m not. I know exactly what my body needs. It’s a beautiful thing.
Too bad I have such a hard time sustaining it.
Truly listening to your body is challenging. When it’s good, it’s really really good. When you stop listening, the rollercoaster begins. Part of the reason I think listening to your body is a challenge is it goes against most social convention because so much of our life revolves around food and eating. My husband likes to eat late – 7:30pm to 8:00pm. I like to stop eating by 8pm. He likes to eat late because his challenge is snacking all evening. I like to eat earlier because, well, my body tells me that’s when I should be eating. I’m about to go away for a week vacation alone. One of the things I want to try that week is eating on my schedule – or, rather, my body’s schedule. I have a sneaking suspicion my body wants to eat around 4-5pm. My guess is I can easily do 24-hour fasts of just bulletproof coffee in the morning (yes, I know that’s not really fasting, but it works for me) and eating around 4pm. I’m going to give it a go. But I’m also going to listen to my body. If it says, “Nope. Need something now!” I will respond. I am going to try really hard to get in tune with my body and find its natural rhythm even if it means going off track when I get back to real life.
Learn to Listen
So, what does it mean to listen to your body? Here’s how I see it.
- Have a Constant Dialog. Yes. It’s weird. But find a quiet moment and listen to your body. Is it hungry? Is it full? Is it satisfied? Is it gurgly? Start to recognize different states of your body. Recognizing that state is the first step in listening. Don’t try to act on it. Just learn to listen. Keep asking your body questions. Am I hungry? Did that handful of nuts sit well in my stomach? Am I thirsty? When’s the last time I had some water? Just talk. Maybe not out-loud (that would be weird). But learn to have a conversation with your body.
- Develop Responses. Set yourself up for success. Know the responses your body needs. My body often asks for certain things. Greens for one thing. When I have been having a bit too much eggs and bacon, my body will say, “Whoa Nelly! I need some greens.” I don’t always respond. I need to. Pay super careful attention to your hydration. I cannot stress enough how important this is. I have gotten bad at this. I monitor my hydration by the color of my pee. I freak out when it’s dark yellow and it’s been dark yellow way too often lately. Less coffee – more water. But know the responses to your questions that work for your body.
- Act or Don’t Act. Regardless the time of day, act on those responses. If you are hungry – eat. If you are not hungry and it’s noon and everyone’s going out, find a way to deal with that but don’t eat. This is the hardest part. I’m increasingly finding I’m not hungry at the “right” times – the times when everyone else in my life eats. That’s my new challenge – dealing with that. But if you are thirsty, drink. If you are hungry, eat. If your body wants greens, eat them. But act. Or, don’t. I have found at times when I am really in tune with my body, I will turn an 18-hour fast into a 24- or 36-hour fast just like that. Because I listened.
It’s not easy to always listen to what your body wants – especially when external pressures dictate otherwise. The best decision I made over the holiday season was to eat nothing at the big family Christmas party. Nothing. I pre-gamed with some bacon and eggs and I was not hungry and I listened. I wish I did this all the time, but, alas, I am not perfect. I know, for a fact, that artificial sweetener makes me crave carbs. I made the most awesome Keto pecan pie this holiday. It is so amazing. It also made me put on 2lbs because as good as it was, it made me crave. Weird thing is, the go-to craving for me is popcorn. Thankfully, I have none in the house. I managed to stave off that craving. The rest of the pecan pie is going in the trash today. I’ve had my fill.
But what about cravings?
Ah, responding to cravings is listening to your body right? Cravings are the devil. I believe, and I have zero scientific evidence for this (maybe it exists, I’m not going to look), cravings are not natural. If you are feeding your body what it needs – you shouldn’t crave things. And while I sometimes “crave” greens, it’s not really the same thing as craving popcorn. When I “crave” greens, it’s more like a mandate in your head. Like a little foreman saying, “Your body NEEDS greens.” When I crave popcorn, the foreman’s evil twin is saying, “Your body WANTS popcorn.” It’s not a craving when your body needs it. No body ever NEEDS popcorn or sugar or pasta or rice. It needs greens.
So, while I say, listen, respond and act to what your body is saying, learn the difference between a need and a craving.