I don’t know about you, however for me, I grew up with a number of messages about being a female and how I ‘should’ act. As an athlete, I pushed my body hard. Yes I wanted to be the best I could be and in the end I lost connection with my body. There were many reasons for this, however this evolved in to losing contact with the flow of my menstrual cycle and the many benefits of being connected with it However, over the years, step by step I reconnected to my menstrual cycle.
The Menstrual Cycle
The process of having a period happens on average of once every 28 days, although this can vary from woman to women. The correct name for this process is the menstrual cycle and the discharging of blood is called menstruating. Following are four phases of the menstrual cycle and a brief explanation of each phase.
Phase 1: The Menstruation (Bleeding) Phase –
The menstruation phase is the beginning of the menstrual cycle. If the body has not conceived (or had a fertilised egg implanted), the uterus lining is eliminated (i.e. through bleeding / period). The lasts between 3-7 days (as all women are unique). During this phase, women may experience a range of symptoms including cravings, lower back aches and fatigue.
Phase 2: The Follicular Phase –
This phase starts the day bleeding stops up until ovulation. In the follicular phase, the ovaries are being prepared to release another egg. This phase lasts approximately 7-10 days.
Phase 3: The Ovulatory Phase –
The ovulation phase of the menstrual cycle is the shortest phase and lasts better 2-4 days. It is the stage where your body releases an egg for fertilisation (which is great if you are wanting to have a baby).
Phase 4: The Luteal Phase –
The final phase of the menstrual cycle is the luteal phase. This phase lasts between 10-14 days. If the egg is not fertilised, a period occurs. This might be the time you experience pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS). Symptoms of PMS include cramping, headaches, bloating, irritability and cravings.
How Did I Reconnect to My Menstrual Cycle?
I started tracking it through my journal (I journal the majority of days) and also using an app. Yes it took a little bit of effort to start with, however I think it is worth the effort. I now know when I am paying attention to my body, taking care of and listening to my body, I can make more informed choices. I feel as though I am more in flow with life. I also feel much more in flow with Mother Nature (which I feel is very important for the world).
Reconnecting to Mother Nature
Over to You…
I hope this has given you some insight in to the menstrual cycle and how I reconnected to my menstrual cycle. If you have any questions, please write them below.
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Don’t you love the adventure of life? On 11/8/19, I broke my toe on the side of my bed (yes I coughed and walked in the dark at the same time – I learnt my lesson 🙂 ). Since I broke it, I have learnt to have a greater acceptance and appreciation of my body and what it does every day.
What is Body Acceptance?
Up until last week, I hadn’t really thought about it (I had used the term body gratitude). However, after my accident, I began to explore deeper about body acceptance and found Tracy Tylka’s definition. She defines body acceptance as –
“accepting one’s body regardless of not being completely satisfied with all aspects of it.”
When I read that definition it resonated, especially in regards to my current situation. Yes, I would prefer not to have a broken toe, however I have chosen to accept the situation and do what I can as I didn’t want to create further challenges, With daily awareness, self-compassion and mindfulness, I am accepting my broken toe, not resist it (like I had done so many times before) and welcome the experience as much as I can, just like a guest house.
Aversion – avoiding or resisting what is going on,
Curiosity – starting to turn to the discomfort with interest and curiosity,
Tolerance – safely enduring,
Allowing – letting the discomfort (feelings) come and go,
Friendship – seeing the value of all experiences and befriending your experiences of life (i.e. sitting down with the guest and listening to what the guest has to say).
It is important to note, this is not a linear process – it is dynamic. The stages are about awareness and learning to have a new relationship with life as it is and the feelings/emotions and thoughts associated with it – moving from resistance to acceptance. As resistance creates suffering and acceptance alleviates it.
Shifting from Body Resistance to Body Acceptance
This past week, I have reflected more on my life and my body (as I have had the time 🙂 ). I can see how much resistance/aversion and lack of acceptance I have had around my own body. Growing up, I was told many times (from numerous well-meaning adults and professionals) that I couldn’t eat certain foods, needed to train in certain ways and certain number of hours, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to be a professional tennis player. Until now, I didn’t see the link.
Unconsciously, this started a resistance/aversion within my body (as I couldn’t accept it the way it was – yes I was told several times I was not the right size to be a tennis player and my skin folds were too high). Over the years, this developed in to a lack of trust and not listening to my body. Wow oh wow!
I now know, why I coach the way I do and help people tune back in to their bodies and trust themselves, so they can be the expert in their own lives. Who would have thought, breaking my toe would have led to this insight and awareness? Am so grateful!
Please note, I am also grateful for all of the help and support I had over my years as an athlete (and I choose to live above the line and be responsible for my own life). In my heart, I do know everyone was doing the best they knew how to do at the time. However, when you know better you do better and that is why I am curious, why people don’t support you to listen to your body and trust your own inner wisdom more (maybe that’s a post for another day).
Over to You…
I hope this post has give you some insight in to body acceptance. What can you do now to start accepting your body? If you’re interested in finding our more about body acceptance, you are welcome to join us in Dare to Love Your Body! Click here to see more details 🙂 For me, I am going to continue to care for my toe and respect and accept what I can do each day as it heals in my NOW body.
Tylka, T. L. (2011). Positive psychology perspectives on body image. In T. F. Cash & L. Smolak (Eds.), Body image: A handbook of science, practice, and prevention (2nd ed., pp. 55–64). New York. doi:10.1016/b978–0–12-384925-0.00104-8
There are a number of different eating styles or personalities. Eating mindfully and intuitively is the intention of eating or “normal” (not perfect) way of eating, however many of us don’t start out there. Following is a guide to find out what kind of eater you currently are, so you can start your adventure of eating more mindfully and intuitively.
What Kind of Eater Are You?
In their book Intuitive Eating, Tribole and Resch discuss the following eating styles –
1. The Professional Dieter
The professional dieter is the person who is continually dieting. This person usually has tried many diets, weight loss gimmicks and/or read the latest dieting book. They know alot about the ingredients and calories/kilojoules of foods, the latest “dieting tricks” and portion sizes of foods. They are often looking for the next best diet, as the ones they just tried has not worked and almost every eating choice they make is about losing weight.
2. The Careful Eater
The careful dieter is quite vigilant about what foods they put in to their bodies. These people can appear to be the “perfect” eaters as they are focused on nutrition and are health and fitness oriented. Some of the behaviours a careful eater exhibit can include –
scrutinising food labels at the supermarket,
asking the waiter what is in the food and how is it prepared when eating out,
excessively planning out the next meal or snack, or
being guided by times or events (i.e. being a careful eater during the week and splurging on weekends).
3. The Unconscious Eater
The unconscious eater is the person who is often engaged in other activities whilst eating and are unaware of their overeating. For example they could be watching TV and eating, driving the car and eating or reading a book whilst eating. These people are usually the ones I work with. They are a number of types of unconscious eaters.
The Refuse-Not Unconscious Eater
The refuse-not conscious eater is challenged by the mere presence of food. For example – food that is available at meetings, lolly jars or the bread basket on the table before dinner. This type of eater is often not aware they are eating or how much they are eating.
The Chaotic Unconscious Eater
This type of eater often lives an over-committed life. They have too many things to do and subsequently will grab whatever food is available (i.e. from a vending machine of fast for outlet). Even though nutrition and diet is important to this person, it is just not in the critical moment.
The Waste-Not Unconscious Eater
The waste-not unconscious eater values money and how much food they can receive for their money. They are also likely to “clean their plate” and possibly food from other family members.
The Emotional Unconscious Eater
This is a quite common eating style. The emotional unconscious eater type uses food to cope with emotions. This could be because the person is feeling stressed, lonely, bored, anger, overwhelmed, sad or even happy.
4. Intuitive and/or Mindful Eater
The intuitive or mindful eater is someone who is tuned in to their own biological hunger. They trust their own inner hunger, fullness and satisfaction signals, instead of relying on external sources like diets or food rules to tell them what to eat. This is the “normal” way of eating, however many of us have forgotten this and have developed other eating styles. However, in saying that, it is not about being perfect mindful or intuitive eaters, as that space does not exist – we are human beings after all 🙂
Over to You…
I hope this post has given you some insight in to the different kinds of eaters. If you have any comments, please write them below or if you have any questions, please contact us and we would be happy to help.
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Intuitive Eating is a non-diet approach to nutrition and wellness that helps people start to trust their body wisdom and its signals, break the cycle of dieting and change your relationship with food (and maybe their life). According to Tribole and Resch, the authors of Intuitive Eating, an intuitive eater is defined as a person who “makes food choices without experiencing guilt or an ethical dilemma, honors hunger, respects fullness and enjoys the pleasure of eating.”
The 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating
According to Tribole and Resch, Intuitive Eating is made up of ten core principles. The 10 core principles are –
Principle 1: Reject the Diet Mentality
Have you ever felt cheated from the diet books and magazines that offer you false hope of losing weight easily, quickly and permanently? Don’t worry you are not alone. Research indicates that dieting can hurt your psychological health and wellbeing.
Principle 2: Honour Your Hunger
Learn to recognise your biological hunger signals and feed it with adequate energy. By learning to honour your hunger, you can start to rebuild your trust with yourself and food.
Principle 3: Make Peace with Food
Are you ready to stop the food fight and give yourself unconditional permission to eat? When you tell yourself you cannot have or should not have a food, it can lead to feelings of deprivation and food cravings.
Principle 4: Challenge the Food Police
Have you recognised the voice inside your head that labels you as “good” for eating a salad for lunch and “bad” for eating dessert? This is the voice of the food police and it monitors the unreasonable rules that dieting has created.
Principle 5: Feel Your Fullness
Listen to your body signals when they let you know you are no longer hungry. One way of doing this is through the hunger-fullness scale.
Principle 6: Discover the Satisfaction Factor
Have you ever felt physically full but not satisfied? It can happen and if you are not satisfied from eating, you may continue to keep eating and eat up overeating, which is why it is important to discover the satisfaction factor.
Principle 7: Cope with Your Emotions Without Using Food
Even though emotional eating is common, it is important to find ways to nurture, comfort and attend to your emotions without using food. In the short-term, it may appear that food can help appease emotions, however in the end food will make you feel worse in the long run and doesn’t resolve challenges.
Principle 8: Respect Your Body
It is important to respect and accept your body. Respecting your body means accepting your genetic blueprint and your current body shape. When you do this, you can feel better about who you are.
Principle 9: Exercise – Feel the Difference
Instead of thinking about the exercise you think you “should” be doing, focus on what types of movement feel good to you. Forget about the calorie burning effect of exercise or how it can assist in weigh loss, focus on how it feels after you have moved your body.
Principle 10: Honour Your Health – Gentle Nutrition
When choosing to eat, make food choices that honour your health and taste buds. Aim for progress, not perfection and remember, it is what you eat consistently that is important.
“it also encompasses a broader philosophy, addressing the issues of cognitive distortions and emotional eating. It includes seeing satisfaction as a focal point in eating, physical activity/movement for the sake of feeling good, rejecting the dieting mentality, using nutrition information without judgement, and respecting your body, regarding of how you feel about its shape.” (p.232).
For people who are struggling with eating challenges, both mindful eating and intuitive eating can help facilitate normal eating.
I hope this post has given you some insight in to what is intuitive eating and some of the research behind it. If you have any questions, please feel free to write them below.
allowing yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through food selection and preparation by respecting your own inner wisdom;
using all your senses in choosing to eat food that is both satisfying to you and nourishing to your body;
acknowledging your responses to food (likes, dislikes or neutral) without judgment; and
becoming aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decisions to begin and end eating you can change your relationship to food.
Someone Who Eats Mindfully –
Acknowledges that there is no right or wrong way to eat but varying degrees of awareness surrounding the experience of food.
Accepts that his or her eating experiences are unique.
Is an individual who by choice directs his or her attention to eating on a moment-by-moment basis.
Gains awareness of how he or she can make choices that support health and well-being.
Becomes aware of the interconnection of Earth, living beings, and cultural practices and the impact of his or her food choices on those systems.
Practices mindfulness to promote balance, choice, wisdom and acceptance of what is.
Why Mindful Eating?
Why are people turning off their phones, televisions and other plug-in devices and tuning in to the taste of food?
Growing research suggests that distraction while eating prevents a person from enjoying the bite in the mouth. Coined “mindless eating,” this innocent behavior has been linked to overeating, stress and increased anxiety.
How would you know if you are eating in a mindless or distracted way?
One quick way is to recall what you ate at your last meal. Can you describe the flavour, the taste, the texture? If you are struggling to remember any of the specifics about your choice, you are not alone. Mindful eating helps individuals learn how to check in with their direct experience when eating. Reconnecting to your direct sensory experience can become the start of a food and eating awakening. People often discover that the flavour of common foods can be transformed by bringing a mindfulness practice to the meal.
How does mindful eating change a meal?
Pausing and becoming curious focuses the mind. Questions stimulate the mind and create a focus on the bite in the mouth. Mindful eating cultivates becoming grounded in the present moment’s awareness of eating. Many people who try eating mindfully discover that mindfulness may be just the perfect seasoning for any meal.
Is it Time to Try Mindful Eating?
The nutrition clients I work with are often out of touch with their feelings of hunger and inner signs of fullness that they cannot remember the last time they felt hungry. They often eat when they are stressed, distracted or just because the food is there.
By breaking the habit of eating without awareness (mindless eating), you can rediscover your physical feelings of hunger and satiety. Rediscovering your hunger cues, your non-hunger eating triggers and by choosing foods you enjoy eating, you can help resolve the love-hate relationship many of us have with food.
Are you ready to ditch the “diet” mindset and start to eat mindfully?
If so, you may like try one of the following 3 simple ways to introduce mindfulness into your mealtimes.
1. Learn to Meet Your Needs Without Food
As you start to observe your eating, you may notice your food craving is emotionally driven. If this is the case, you may like to HALT and ask yourself if you are hungry, angry, lonely or tired. Once you have identified this need, you can then make a choice to meet your need in another way if it is emotional and not fill the void with food.
2. Before You Eat, Check in With Your Breath and Your Body’s Hunger Levels
Are you really hungry or just think you are hungry? To work it out, next time you are contemplating eating, you may like to stop and take a few deep breaths. Once you are present, check-in with your body and see if there are physical sensations of hunger. If you are hungry, how hungry are you? What are you hungry for? Is there a particular food or drink you would like to have? Listen to what your body is telling you.
3. Slow Down
Slowing down while you are eating can help you enjoy your food more as well as help you be aware when you are getting full. A couple of simple ways to slow down whilst eating includes pausing and taking a breath between bites, chewing your food completely or putting your knife and fork or spoon down between bites.
I hope this post has given you some insight in to mindful eating and what it is! If you have any other questions or ways to eat mindfully, please write them below in the comments section or on our facebook page here.
If you are ready to take yourself on the adventure of getting to know yourself (your true self), why not join the Toolkit? A place where I share tools, inspiration and ideas to live a courageous and openhearted life.