Easier said than done, right?
You probably have heard more than once or twice about intuitive eating. Many people in this day and age follow many different protocols to their dieting. Tracking calories, counting macros, and of course there is the more intuitive approach.
There are MANY different styles to monitoring your intake; being that it is something of significance in physique sports and or personal physical goals. I decided to take you along my journey in discovering a new approach and becoming uncomfortable for the right reasons.
A little about me…
I myself am a religious macro-counter. I have been counting my macronutrients consistently (as in every day) for about three years now! Keep in mind, I have big plans for the stage in the NPC figure category. I have physique goals that need that consistency of intake/training. It has never bothered me to track macros, actually quite the opposite. I actually really enjoy it (call me crazy); it gives me some kind of pleasure of organization and sanity. I like to hit my numbers consistently, it honestly keeps me sane knowing I am doing what I need to do in terms of my nutrition to progress towards my goals.
However, I’ve been counting them for THREE years now. It wasn’t that I was getting tired of counting them, but I decided there should be a change in how I approach things. There are more than one ways to skin a cat and there are plenty of ways to approach your daily intake. As we all know, life happens. You have family events and occasions to attend and memories to be made. I think it is so important for us to be able to “eyeball” things and feel confident and comfortable with your decisions…WITHOUT freaking out.
Intuitive eating is basically just listening to your body’s signals and making decisions based off of how you feel. I think this has a time and a place for some people, but at the same time you must know where you stand with this. If you are prepping for a show, this definitely is not the recommended approach. Someone has been living this lifestyle for years; it was appropriate for me to test the waters of something new. I have a pretty good idea of where my intake is right now and feel comfortable making decisions throughout the day without weighing every gram on my food scale.
I aim keep the basics in mind if there is a day where I want to simply be more intuitive.
Example: This might be day a day of travel or when I meet up with some friends for lunch or dinner.
Eating every 3-4 hours is something I have always done and will continue to do (for maximizing protein synthesis and managing blood sugar levels throughout the day). I will always opt for something with higher protein content and keep in mind of the carbs/fats in a meal.
If I know I am going to have dinner later, I will aim to keep protein the main source of food throughout the day so I can enjoy more options later and have more “wiggle room” in my caloric intake for that day without potentially having negative impact on my goals.
Did this make me uncomfortable at first? The answer is YES. I am completely going outside of my comfort zone to learn something new. I am still learning the ropes every day to this approach. I wouldn’t even say I am quite completely intuitive at this point, BUT I am progressing.
I won’t hesitate going out to eat if I don’t have it as my “free meal” or something more calorie dense. I can simply make decisions that I am confident with and don’t stress about. I am confident more than I ever have been with eyeballing things at a restaurant. I am completely in tune with how I feel during the meal and after. Even when I do have something more calorically dense and will likely take me over my necessary caloric need for the day; I DON’T HAVE TO GORGE.
Intuitive (even if I am tracking or not) means you base your eating off of how you actually feel. So, for anyone reading this, I HIGHLY encourage you to slow down and enjoy the food, surroundings and most importantly, your company.
I have never been one to have a mindset that fears food or fear is having it control over me. One thing I have observed recently through practicing a more flexible approach is that I am much more relaxed. As I mentioned earlier, I love tracking and knowing I am hitting my numbers. I am getting more comfortable knowing that when I go out to eat I can control whatever I want to do because it is MY choice and MY body! Whether that’s if I choose to eyeball portions for a meal with friends or choose to enjoy something more calorically dense. I feel fine and confident EITHER way!
I wrote this because I want to encourage you to make yourself a bit uncomfortable by practicing new habits like this. When you think about it, almost everything in life requires us to get a bit uncomfortable in order to improve. You might be used to that feeling with training in the gym, maybe a new job opportunity, etc. I wanted to personally improve in the area of my control over eating. I have learned to slow down and be present in the moment with how I feel. I am learning that I can still enjoy foods at restaurants and I can trust myself to eyeball portions without gorging.
What funny is, it’s almost as if my consistency is hard to break. This is something I wanted to do for myself. The consistency is needed for contest prep or a physique focused athlete…but for those aiming to be healthy, have more energy and overall be the best version of themselves intuitive eating is a win.
This lifestyle to me is important for LONGEVITY. I want to practice health in ALL aspects of my life. This is why we call it “The OMNI FIT” isn’t it? 😉