For most of my life, I genuinely had no idea what “listen to your body” meant. I thought that if I listened to my body, I’d crawl into a burrito-binge hole and never come out.
I used a great deal of control to “manage” a body that I didn’t think I could trust. Raw veganism? Sure! 90 day juice fast? Ok! Anything but simply liking myself, or heaven forbid…listening to myself.
But when rigid control and self-loathing failed to result in contentment or freedom…I had to give up. I gave up trying so goddamn hard and just ate what I wanted…and started listening. Instead of rigidly insisting that I was “paleo” or “fruitarian” (yep, been down both of those rabbit holes!) – I just ate a “Rande Diet”. Because…y’know…my name is Rande.
Here’s what I learned:
You might want to punch me in the face for saying that but acceptance is kinda magical. Acceptance shifts the body from a constant, judgment-fueled stress-response to a more open and softened relaxation-response (and interestingly, a body in the relaxation-response metabolizes food with a lot more ease). Not only that, instead of viewing food through a “this will make me fat” or “this will make me thin” lens, you get to see it all as neutral and genuinely begin to notice how your body responds.
Decide how you want to feel (I want to feel free, turned on, resilient, and lit up. You?) and then notice if the way you eat supports that.
See your body as a friend and choose to work with it, rather than constantly trying to force, control, or mold it. The body naturally wants to be vibrant and it will be if we remove anything that stands in the way of that vibrancy. It’s a gentle trial-and-error process that requires flexibility, not perfectionism. Get curious about all aspects of being in a body – digestion, emotional needs, social needs, hormonal response, energy levels, moods, and levels of focus and clarity. Even health challenges are a doorway to something that’s asking to be explored. Rather than feeling angry or betrayed by your body, decide to treat the challenge as a quest. An adventure in experimentation and curiosity.
And most importantly, no matter what you choose to eat, be so, so kind to yourself. Self-compassion has far more nutrition in it than the most organic, raw, blessed-by-fairy-dust kale on the planet.
What does “listening to your body” mean to you?