Listen and Trust Again

Almost a year ago, I started recovery from an eating disorder. Twenty years of daily food obsessions, starving and/or purging, had finally taken its toll. I was exhausted to the depth of my soul. I wanted to finally be free. Free from hating my body, free from weighing and analyzing everything I put in my mouth, free from calorie counting, just FREE from everything associated with diets. I especially needed to be free from the shame and guilt of having an eating disorder that controlled every aspect of my life, a private self-created hell.

I remember going through days of desperation and fear as I began to gain weight and all of my clothes were too small. Fighting every day to not go back to old patterns that did not work I became determined to get my weight under my control. And this would just be a story that no doubt has been told many times before, maybe one you have even experienced yourself, except I can say that today is a much better day than one a year ago or even a couple months ago. Those old habits do not just go away, but their voices do quiet and become less convincing.

Every day I ask my clients to listen to their bodies, to pause just long enough in their stressed-filled lives to check-in with themselves. I ask each person to think about the question, “What do you need emotionally, physically, and mentally? I remember hearing myself express those words, and I had to ask myself, when did I stop listening to MY body? When did I stop trusting MY body? When did I stop asking myself, “What do I need?”

The change was when I realized that with absolute certainty, the one thing I had to immediately do was to disconnect from all the weight loss blogs and Facebook gurus I had been following for years. Stop picking up every magazine that promised a new way to drop those pounds. Stop looking for the magic pill or formula that is going to work forever this time. If any of them had any merit would obesity still be a rising epidemic? The diet/fitness industry is a billion dollar industry, and we have created it.

What do I need? The answer is mine to choose. Today, I eat very healthy. I generally eat only organic foods, cook most of our meals, stay away from processed foods, etc. However, I have learned that that too can become an eating disorder called Orthorexia which is an extreme fixation on choosing the “right” foods. What is the answer? How does one develop a healthy, happy relationship with food?

I heard myself saying those words again, “Listen to your body,” and I knew it could really be that simple.

Weight management is extremely important. Our bodies are designed to move. They are beautiful machines that crave stimulation and activity. And yes, at times our bodies do crave quiet and rest. It is just as important to listen to that voice too. Our bodies also tell us what we need nutritionally. Although I love to eat a delicious dessert as much as anyone else, I do not want to live off of sweets or any other nutritionally empty foods, or I will not feel at my best.

When I stopped listening to the incessant internal and external dialogues, and listened, really LISTENED, to my body cues, I discovered something else. I began to trust that I could make the right choices about food and exercise, and in doing so I started to rekindle of love for myself.

Rebekah Butler, LMBT
Urbana Wellness Spa