Hungry Haley

it's more than food

"Rules"? No Thank You!

Haley HansenComment

Much of the time I spend in front of my computer is devoted to learning – learning about nutrition, fitness, and food, that is. Now that I’m taking an online nutrition class for school, I’m spending even more time in front of the screen. But like I said, it’s all educational so my brain is growing so it’s good. Soooo yeah.

Also, as a birthday/congrats-on-finishing-your-first-year-of-college present, my cousin bought me some awesome books to encourage summer reading and inspire me to write cool, life-changing words someday, too. Thanks, cousin Scott – you’re really cool.

These books fascinate me and have the power to keep my wide-awake until 2:00 am (which has happened about twice in my whole life and is practically impossible), turning the pages, absorbing all the information like a thirsty sponge.

Before I even started reading “The New Health Rules” and “Eat Pretty”, though, I already knew that I’d have to filter the information and make sure I keep in mind that our bodies are all different, and therefore need different amounts of different things. While I’ve learned more about food and it’s magical powers in the past 6 months than I ever have, I’ve learned even more about my own body and what it wants, what it needs, and how I can keep it running in tip-top shape.

If you read my last post about my eating disorder, you know that my journey with food and fitness has been anything but smooth. Yes, I’ve recovered and gained a healthy amount of weight, but I still struggle occasionally with eating – with eating the right amount of food, with understanding that I don’t need to eat perfectly, and with knowing that my body and it’s activity level needs more than what certain “fad” diets can provide.

To help me feel as close to my best as possible, I’ve realized something pretty important. Without further adieu…

·      Don’t follow the “rules”.

o   Wait, what? Yeah, all those “rules” about eating and certain foods and diets and all that jazz that nutritionists, magazines, and doctors throw at us should not be called “rules”. Rather, “guidelines” or “helpful tips” might be a better name. “Rules” sounds too strict, huh?

o   So, don’t disregard these guidelines completely. They are extremely beneficial when we keep in mind that our bodies all function to the beat of their own drum – meaning that we each need different amounts of different foods to feel our best. A simple example would be allergies: some people are allergic to peanuts and their bodies cannot tolerate them, while others don’t exclude them from their diet because they can tolerate them.

o   Bottom line – think of absorbing these guidelines like you would swallow a pill – with a big glass of liquid. The information from nutritionists and doctors is important, but you must be flexible and understand your own body’s needs above all else.

·      Listen to your body – it knows what it wants and how to tell you that.

o   I’m guilty of often ignoring my body and completely missing the vital communication it wants me to understand, and I have several ways of committing this sin. Sometimes I overeat and my body tells me that via stomachaches, constipation, fatigue, etc. Sometimes I push my body too hard – I set my alarm early for a 7 am workout when I worked (slash served hangry-waffle-wanters) for 8 hours the day before – and I don’t realize I did so until I’m lying on the couch mid-afternoon with a headache, under-nourished system, and exhausted muscles.

o   The idea of my body communicating with me still seems a little weird sometimes, because, like, my body is part of me, so am I communicating with myself? Yes! Your body has it’s own way of responding to each action, bite, and sip it takes. Listen up! If you’re feeling full halfway through a meal, set your fork down for about 15 minutes – even if it’s your favorite dish. If your alarm goes off in the morning and you can barely open your eyes, rest at least 10 more minutes and opt for a light workout that day.

Now, just embrace the fact that you don’t have to follow the rules! WOO HOO FREEDOM! Love your body and treat it well. Listen to it the way you’d listen to your best friend or your parents (ha…). When you feed on whole, clean foods more than the processed ones, your system will crave the former and let you know which ones it likes best.

Let this be an opportunity to polish your powerful body so that it can function at its highest potential and shine it’s brightest!

As always, comments and questions are welcomed and answers can be provided. Email me, talk to me on twitter, or tag me and #hungryhaley on instagram!