What if I just listen to my body?

If asked, I would say that I have a pretty good relationship with my body. I don’t beat myself up for gaining weight from time to time. In fact, I tend to fluctuate about 30 pounds at any given point in the year. I like the way my body looks, both at the high and low end of the scale. I have been lucky enough to have seen a way to give myself permission to love my body for what it is – a gift.

Yet, there was always that little voice telling me that I’d better get back down once my celebration of food added some walking around weight. I would then hop on the diet train, which got me to my destination at a reasonably predictable rate. The path was this: 1. Track my food intake and exercise with a weight loss app. 2. Increase exercise whenever possible – for the purpose of weight loss. 3. Intermittent fasting. Read: Obsess and track to lose weight.

Somewhere along the way I realized that this dieting behavior didn’t match my true relationship with my body. It was probably a leftover response to the constant, subtle messages that exist in our society that thin is beautiful. In looking at my true intentions, I discovered a new path to a new goal: Listen to my body to feel good.

Here’s what may be surprising. The only part of the formula that stayed was the intermittent fasting. I ditched the app, the scale, and exercise for the purpose of weight loss. I still exercise, but now I do it because it feels good.

Intermittent fasting has always felt good to me. I have naturally done it most of my life.

Even as a kid, I didn’t eat breakfast. This meant that I would have dinner with my family around 6 and wouldn’t eat until noon at lunch at school the next day. It’s what my body has always wanted. Trying to force it to conform to other types of eating schedules, perhaps to match those of the people in my life, has always ended with extreme discomfort for me.

Sometimes, I want to extend my fasts for a 24-36 hour cleanse, when I really want a nice detox. Listening to my body, I have found that anything past 36 hours actually leads to mechanical issues – my hands don’t grip well, for example. In the past, I always used fruit juices as my fasting sustenance. But that didn’t satisfy my new requirement to feel good with what I put into my body. The bonus for me is that I am the co-founder of Taking Stock Foods, and the simplicity and high quality ingredients of the bone broths feel good in my body. I feel completely full while drinking them on fasts and have even extended them past 36 hours.

Learning to listen to my body and finding a healthy relationship with food has been a journey, and one for which I have gratitude.

Food has been and always will be a very important part of my life. I am contented that I have learned how to use it as sustenance, nourishment, and perhaps most importantly, a joyous interlude that I can share with my loved ones.