I Waited Decades for Someone to Say, “Eat When You’re Hungry”

I’ve had a complicated relationship with food and my body for about as long as I can remember. Believe it or not, I haven’t always been a clean eater – nor even a particularly healthy eater. Growing up, food was often a source of comfort: “Had a hard day, honey? Let’s get you some ice cream.” Other times my parents gave it to me as a reward: “Great report card! Let’s go out to dinner to celebrate.” Throughout my childhood, I watched my mom, who has never been overweight, take over-the-counter diet pills. For years I just assumed that was something all women of a certain age did.

My struggle with eating and what I thought I should look like resulted in me being, at different times in my life, underweight and overweight – and NEVER satisfied with what I saw in the mirror.

In my mid-30s, that began to change. I attribute that to two things: 1) Pregnancy and childbirth – and seeing and appreciating what my body was capable of doing; and 2) Body Back.

When I started Body Back three years ago, I saw it as an opportunity to clean up my act, so to speak. I wanted to do something that was not only going to benefit me, but my children as well. I’ll be honest and admit I was motivated to lose the last of the baby weight, which didn’t come off as quickly with baby number two. But I also wanted to get strong and, perhaps most important, model an active lifestyle and healthy eating for my kids.

I loved everything about Body Back from the very first class, but my biggest take-away came in the form of four very liberating little words: “Eat when you’re hungry.” I honestly don’t think I’d ever been advised by anyone to do that before. It sounds silly, but it was if I needed this permission I was suddenly given to properly fuel my body.

And eat I did – and still do! For the past three years, I have eaten clean – keeping most processed food and added sugar out of my diet. I don’t miss any of the crap I used to ingest – much of it mindlessly. For one thing, getting the processed food out of my body quickly changed my palate. I can now really taste food. And I love that. But also because I’ve found satisfying replacements for the not-so-healthy foods that once offered me so much comfort or made me feel like I was worth celebrating.

As a Body Back instructor and marathon runner, I am often asked what I eat, how much I eat, when I eat, whether I eat carbs, etc. I am not a dietician nor nutritionist, so I cannot offer a lot of advice about what others should do. I also believe every individual body has very different needs. And that what works best for me may not be advisable for others.

But I’d love to spend the next week having a forum about food. I will share some of the staples of my diet – my “power foods,” – and I’d also like to open up a discussion about nutrition: What are your go-to clean-eating foods? What food issues from childhood/adolescence do you hold onto? What keeps you from committing to clean eating for an 8-week stretch? Why is it so hard to say “no” to sugar?

Looking forward to a great week talking about something I can finally say I’m no longer afraid of: FOOD.

Body Back: Fusion Olympia
302 Columbia St NE
Olympia, WA 98501

Stroller Strides (Late Spring-Fall): Pioneer Park
5801 Henderson Blvd SE
Tumwater, WA 98501

Stroller Strides (Late Winter-Spring): NW High Intensity Training Center
1202 Black Lake Blvd Suite E
Olympia, WA 98502

Fit4Baby: Babies'R Us
1000 Cooper Point Rd SW
Olympia, WA 98502