Don’t Monitor Your Body

dont-monitor-your-body

Ok, I admit that I’ve been procrastinating on writing this post for a couple of weeks now. I feel compelled to address this topic. Because it’s absolutely fundamental to being healthy. To having a healthy relationship with food, a healthy relationship with your body, being a healthy eater.

It’s something that I know as truth. But I’m struggling to articulate the concept clearly. I’ve been procrastinating until I have the perfect words to express it. Did you notice that I didn’t send you a message last week? Yup, I was deep in procrastination.

Why am I procrastinating so badly? Because it’s such an important concept that I want to communicate it clearly and you’ll understand completely.

The perfect words have not revealed themselves to me. Yet. However, I feel compelled to act. I can no longer keep this concept to myself. Or, shall I more accurately say, keep this concept between myself and the clients who work with me one-to-one in my 40 Days to a Happy, Healthy You program.

So here I go with my attempt to communicate this truth with you. And what I’ve decided to do is share with you, each Friday on Facebook, others who I see are walking on this path too. For clarification. For inspiration. Because maybe I don’t have the perfect words to express this to you. Maybe one of these other folks will create the “ah-ha” moment for you.

So what’s this concept that has me so worked up that my perfectionistic tendencies have me paralyzed?

Experience your body. Don’t observe it.

As women in our culture, we’re so disconnected from our bodies. We’re taught that our bodies are something to observe, to monitor, to control. How do we know what our bodies are doing? We weigh ourselves on a scale. We look at ourselves in a mirror. We read the labels on our clothes to see what the size is. We write down what we eat (on paper or in an app). We wear trackers to count our steps, to record our heart rate.

NO! Our bodies are our selves. They aren’t something separate from us. They ARE us. Mind-BODY-soul, that’s what makes a human being. Okay, you may not believe in souls, but the mind and body are still there. How can we know what our bodies are doing? We’re aware while we’re doing it. We feel emotions. We feel sensations. The concept of mindfulness captures this, except it’s named badly. Because I want you to get out of your mind and connect with your body. Perhaps it should be called “experience-fulness”.

Want to see “experience-fulness” in action? Watch a baby dance to music. They aren’t thinking “step left, step right, I know my body will look attractive if I bend in this direction”. They aren’t thinking at all. They’re feeling the music, experiencing the music, enjoying the music, and their body responds.

Consider the flip-side that I see so often when working with women.

When I’m working with women, the hardest things for them to do is to stop weighing themselves every day and stop writing down what they eat every day. They hold on to these so tightly because how else will they know if they’re being “good”, doing the “right” thing? The answer is so obvious, yet so different from what we’ve been trained to do. Take the actions that I’ve given them in their action plan. If they did them (i.e. experienced it), then they’ll know that they were “good”, did the “right” thing. The action-taking, the experience, is the proof – not some monitor.

Or, take for example the phrase that I hear women say so often: “I forgot to eat today.” NO! Eating isn’t a cognitive thing. Remembering to pick up the dry cleaning is a cognitive thing. You can forget to pick up the dry cleaning. You body sends you the feeling of being hungry to stimulate you to eat. You can’t forget to eat. You can disconnect yourself from your body’s sensations and not eat.

Liberate yourself from the shackles of monitoring your body to experience the joy of health.

P.S. Join me in Facebook for inspiration.

Posted in Dietitian Victoria BC, Healthy Habits, Weight Loss Tagged with: , , ,
4 comments on “Don’t Monitor Your Body
  1. Laura Werner says:

    Yessss!!!! Fabulous article Kristen☺

  2. Julei Stephenson, RD says:

    Well said, Kristen.
    It’s high time we trusted our bodies. We don’t need to measure every morsel or movement. (Not a very fun way to live!) We do need to pay attention and make healthy choices. That doesn’t require food records or fitness trackers, just good decisions in the moment.

  3. Kristen,

    Thank you – I appreciate you sharing something before it’s “perfect” – you are bold and brave!

    I’m also curious what is behind the ‘cognitive’ approach to our bodies and food. When someone says “I forgot to eat today”, what is really going on with them?

    For me to say that I would have suppressed the hunger pangs and told myself it wasn’t important…

    • Kristen Yarker says:

      I appreciate your kind words Danielle.
      Yes, this separating ourselves from experiencing our bodies is a learned behaviour. So what’s “going on” with a person when they’ve forgot to eat is that they’re doing what they’ve been taught to do by our culture. Infants are born to recognize the sensation of when they’re hungry and when full (notice that I use the term “sensation” have because it’s a bodily feeling). Yet as children, we’re taught to eat two more bites of broccoli at dinner, etc and we learn to look to outside cues to “know” what to eat (notice that I use the word “know” here because this is a cognitive concept). Diets, cleanses, detoxes, meal plans continue to tell us how much we should eat, further separating us from the feelings of hunger and fullness. The not listening to hunger and fullness cues starts overt. It might be for many reasons (none of which I believe are actually true) such as not important, not lady-like to eat so much, fear of getting fat, not healthy, not right, not good, distrust of the body, etc. Many people I work with have become so good at it that they do it subconsciously now. They honestly don’t feel the feelings. In working with them I teach them to re-connect with their body to feel the feelings again.
      Kristen

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