Stop and think about this.... Everything is a practice! It always has been and it always will be.
This thought has been highlighted for me personally recently, which I'll share more about at the end.
But let's really get into this...Practicing starts literally from the time that we are born and has continued with us until this very moment. As we're learning how to walk, we may hold onto a loved ones hand as we practice walking. Then maybe we just hold onto their fingers. And then finally we start practicing walking on our own. Sometimes we might fall down but we get back up and we try again, we're practicing walking. Soon walking becomes a habitual practice, meaning we do it without thinking about it, until we don't. Have you ever had ankle, knee, hip surgery? What happened then? You had to go back to practicing walking right?
After I had my ankle surgery last year, I also had to practice being very intentional with how I was walking.
Have you ever played sports? Or played the piano? Or have practiced yoga? Or learned a new skill? Or ever stayed calm in a tough situation?
What do all of those have in common?
Simple.... One must practice to be able to be the person who does them.
If you're a sports player, like a football player or something like that, that person does not just go out there and just do everything. They have to attend practices. If you are someone who is a book writer, you may have to practice your writing. If you're playing piano, that's a skill you might have to practice at. This can be as simple as even things like cooking or being comfortable to try a new recipe.
And sometimes it's not just actual things that we're "doing" that need practice. It can also be how we're speaking. We can practice taking out filler words or we can practice slowing down. We can practice being intentional with our words. And then we can also practice how we think about our thoughts. And yes, we think about our thoughts. We are actually the thinker of our thoughts so we can practice how we think. And we can practice awareness. We can practice shifting our attention. We can practice focusing on feelings and increasing vibration. We can practice literally anything.
When you stop and think about this.... what are you currently practicing right now? Even just today, what are you practicing? (Whether you intentionally were practicing or not)
And now that you are aware of this.... What would you like to put your attention towards in terms of practice?
Are you somebody who is learning about intuitive eating (or maybe you frame it as "doing intuitive eating")? Or are you somebody who is working on your body image? Both of these are... you guessed it... a practice.
You may have been accustomed in the past to going on XYZ diet and then going on that other diet next, which promised that every so famous false hope of "having a finish line". Diets like to appear as if they are very finalized. However, that's simply not the case. They are circular and most often lead right back to where you are and then some. So in reality, even doing diets in of itself is a practice. It's a practice that has served you, maybe hasn't served you, or served you in that timeframe but no longer serves you no. It was a practice of the past and now you're looking for what is next.
Because of our habitual past practice to think diets have an end result, we can get stuck in a thought loop that intuitive eating comes with "an end result". Have you thought... "I will be an intuitive eater when I never have anxiety about my food choices" or "I will be an intuitive eater when I just completely and totally love myself"? And then when you are not yet "there", you are left in that little shame cycle of not yet being good enough.
Are you thinking... yes! OMG... so now what?
First off... I get you! I hear you!
And just know.... YOU ARE NORMAL! Frequently when people start the practice of intuitive eating, they may think, "okay, I'm going to get through the 10 principles of intuitive eating. And then I will be an intuitive eater." However, here is the reality my friend.... intuitive eating and learning to love your food, love yourself, and love your life is a practice! Your relationship with food and how you're feeling about your body is a practice! Showing your body love and respect and all of the goodness... is a practice!
And reality is... life might creep in a little bit and life might say, "Hmm, we're going to throw this at you". And in that moment, you do not stop the diet, because you are NOT on a diet. So... aghhh! What do you do????? You utilize the tools you have cultivated (through practice) to practice your awareness. You have to be able to practice your self-compassion. And then you think about how are you going to practice, in that moment, how you are going to continue being an intuitive eater? Your brain may want to pull you back to something you have known in the past, but you get to make the choice and there is no wrong way to do this when you are practicing. Practicing means learning and evolving. No matter your choice, it will help you to learn and evolve.
You may be thinking… yeah right. What do you know? You already love your food & love yourself. What do you know about my situation!
While I whole-heartedly understand that we all have different backgrounds, stories, and histories, I firmly trust in our ability to make a choice to heal and lean into practicing. I am not immune to the need to practice… I even had to practice recently over and over again.
Many of you know, I had COVID back in January, I have now fully recovered according to my doctor yesterday. I don't have any residuals from the potential concerns that we thought there could be with my heart and such. So absolutely over the moon thankful! Through my time of healing, I definitely had to practice self compassion for myself because I was not able to move my body as much as I was used to during that healing time frame. I was able to take short walks, but I even had to slowly work up to that. For a time I could not even do yoga because I was having on/off dizzy spells. I wasn't even able to take a bike ride without feeling like my heart would race or getting dizzy and just a lot of different things like that happening. So I had to practice being really self compassionate with myself. There were days where I could easily be really frustrated potentially and go down the negative self talk, but that would not help me.
Another area where I have had to practice self-compassion and lean into intuitive eating is around my body. I don't check my weight on a scale because I do not subscribe to being tied to that number. I like to listen to my body and the numbers often just get us caught back into the diet mentality and because of the nuances of those numbers they are quite useless (except for a few key medical indications, see this blog for more info). So I practice listening to my body and sometimes my body can be a signal to say, “Hey, there's something going on within your body, stop and listen”.
And lately, I have been hearing it. I have tried to make sense of it through trying to learn about the inflammatory response post COVID as it relates to weight; however, there is not a lot of good research out there because all the research that you can find just tries to correlate, someone's at higher risk of COVID if they have a certain body weight, which is absolutely not good research by the way, but that's a whole other topic. (More info on that here). Anecdotally, I am seeing that that is happening with most people that I know who have had COVID. And unfortunately we just, we don't have a lot of research around that to explain how our body is responding. Instead, I have heard so many mock the “Covid 19 pounds” and now we just need to get on the bandwagon of restriction again.
With all that said, that is not the direction I am going, because I know it does not lead me anywhere helpful or nice. I will be honest though… sometimes when I get dressed my clothes aren't comfortable. Sometimes the clothes that I've been wearing recently just don't really feel that great on my body. One of the principles of intuitive eating is body respect, which includes dressing your body in clothes that feel really good on your body. So... I've had a lot of experiences lately of just really, really needing to practice self compassion for my body and for dressing it even. Sometimes I just take a deep breath and say to myself, “it's okay that I'm going to change my clothes because you know what, when I change my clothes, I'm going to feel a lot better”. And ultimately how I feel is much more important. I could go down the road of thinking, Oh gosh, gained weight. It’s time to buckle up buttercup. I just need to get this weight off. My body's ugly. I need to hide it. Once again, I'll be honest with you, those thoughts try creep up under the surface from where they have been buried for years, but I dismiss them (much different than resisting them) and each day I am making an intentional shift to practice self compassion towards myself and my body.
Now, does that mean I don’t have to “care” about my body? Absolutely not! That's not what this is about at all. This is about being okay with today and respecting my body in it’s current and then slowly making some shifts towards fun body movement, which is principle nine of intuitive eating. Slowly making those shifts where it feels good to me both physically and mentally. For example, I have made a declaration that I will be getting into an adult dance class starting this summer! And I may do Zumba as well. I just want to join a dance class because thinking about doing that, that gets me out of bed. That's like, heck yes, I am going to rearrange my schedule to make that happen! To be clear…. I am NOT going into it thinking about how I am going to do a dance class because it's going to shrink my body. Nope. Not at all! I'm going to go into that dance class because it is going to be fun! And I know that it's going to give my heart a workout, which is a form of respecting my heart that works around the clock for me. I also am committing to a weekly yoga practice as well, because I also know that my body feels so much better when I stretch it and I breathe with it.
You may be asking… if all this is so important, why is she not starting this week or right now?
To be honest with you (again), there's been some shifting in my life that needed to happen in order to get to where I can make those commitments and that my self-care is my number one value in my life. I could so easily beat up on myself and say, “You know your body feels good doing yoga, I can’t believe you haven’t prioritized that yet”. It can feel so easy to chastise ourselves for all of the things that were, you know, not doing, but guess what? Being nice to ourselves can be just as easy. It doesn't help us to be hard on ourselves. It doesn't help us to be a critic. Right. So sometimes if you literally don't have “time in your day” to implement parts of intuitive eating and loving your food and loving yourself, what can you do?
Have I mentioned… You be compassionate towards yourself? Can it be as simple as, “you know what I'm going to go buy two new pairs of pants that I feel really good wearing. And that will raise my vibration and help me feel a little bit better today”. It can also be, I'm going to set up something within my life, maybe two months down the road to where I now know, I will be able to do the fun body movements that I know my body so desires and until then, what can I do? How can I maybe reduce my sitting time?
And guess what…. all of this that we're talking about, all of it is a practice. It is a practice shifting that mindset around what can I do? If I were to recommend one thing to practice that will really help you lean into learning how to love your food and love yourself.
I would say focus on “what can I do today that will help me move just one step further and adopt that as a mindset, and make that a practice”.
And of course, practicing journaling is a phenomenal practice to adopt. :) But if that even feels too much for you, what can you do right now? Just think about what it is that you want to put into practice. Where would you like to take one little step towards adopting a practice? What is maybe one thing that you could adopt for practicing learning to love your food and love yourself and maybe even loving your life?
PS Someone once said… “practice makes perfect”, but that is just hogwash. There is no such thing as perfection because we are humans and we are constantly evolving. So, yeah just practice...
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