Marcia’s Story: Trusting Your Wisdom
Like many women of 62, Marcia had been on various diets. “I had been down that path over and over: Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig…the usual. I even got thin a few times, but I always gained the weight back, plus more.”
Marcia was diagnosed with hypertension when she was 58 years old. She hired a personal trainer who put her on Body for Life. “It was a very rigid regime of eating; six strict tiny meals a day. Of course it worked-except that I felt tired all the time! I got sick of worrying about every bite of food I put in my mouth and obsessing over what to eat at restaurants. I felt like a prisoner inside myself.” When she couldn’t tolerate the rigid dieting anymore, she gained the weight back like before. Fortunately though, this time she had rediscovered her love of exercise and was able to continue it because it made her feel so much better.
The Wisdom of Experience
Marcia had been a human resource manager for thirty years. While negotiating health care contracts, she noticed that costs kept going up and recognized that their company needed to get ahead of the curve to contain costs by promoting wellness. So Marcia took matters into her own hands, first becoming a certified personal trainer, then a wellness coach.
Nonetheless, she continued to struggle with her own eating. That is until she caught a teleseminar where Dr. Michelle May provided an overview of the Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating Cycle. This model really made sense to her, resulting in a shift in her way of thinking about eating and exercise. Marcia explained her aha this way:
I am a well-adjusted person with the skill set to feel good about myself and practice good self-care-but I didn’t. I was intrigued by Dr. May’s statement that the ‘The Why determines the What.‘ It led me to wonder about the factors that were causing me to not make healthy choices even though I knew better. I knew I wasn’t alone since I’d seen many employees going up and down just like I was.
The Wisdom of Letting Go of the Old
Marcia decided to trust her instinct to take the Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating Masters Class offered through Wellcoaches. She says the process was ‘self-affirming’ unlike the rigid approaches she had tried for years. “I don’t have to obsess over ‘eat this, not that’ or not being able to eat anything on the menu.”
One example of a “why” that Marcia uncovered was the realization that growing up, food represented both love and concern. “My mother was a Home Economics teacher so she was careful about preparing delicious, healthy meals. At the same time, she imposed rules like, ‘Eat all dinner before you get dessert’ and ‘Don’t waste food.’ I think that’s one of the reasons I had so much difficulty recognizing the right amount of food to eat.”
Through Am I Hungry®?, Marcia has been able to change her underlying beliefs. “I now feel that it’s more wasteful to eat food I don’t need because it comes with all of the unwanted side-effects. It also costs more if I eat too much and have to spend 30-40 dollars a month for blood pressure medications-not to mention the cost to my energy and health.”
The Wisdom of a Paradigm Shift
A surprising aspect of this shift for Marcia was how much she prefers this instinctive approach. “I began to watch the people I used to admire for their control; I used to feel like a failure in comparison. Until now, it hadn’t occurred to me that they were over-dieting the same way other people were overeating. Their attention was focused on food instead of trusting their bodies. It was very freeing to realize that I really didn’t want to be like that.”
Marcia continued to notice significant changes in her personal and professional life and loved that Am I Hungry? provided the necessary structure that was lacking in other mindful and intuitive eating programs. She made the decision to become an Am I Hungry? Facilitator and share what she was learning with her clients.
The Wisdom of Mindfulness
“I’ve realized that awareness puts me in charge of my choices,” Marcia says. “It is so great to have these tools to help my clients and me.” She shares a few of the key lessons she has learned through using the Mindful Eating Cycle:
Why do I eat?
- “I have resolved my thoughtless eating and eating without intention.”
- Marcia doesn’t find herself eating for emotional reasons anymore because she has the skills to recognize and cope with her triggers.
When do I feel like eating?
- “I became reacquainted with the feelings of hunger. If I’m NOT hungry, I say to myself, ‘Really??? What am I then?'”
- Like others who’ve read Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat, Marcia discovered that she can trust her body wisdom. “If I eat more one day-like birthday cake-I’m just not as hungry the next day. It balances itself out naturally.”
What do I eat?
- “Initially, when all the dietary restrictions were lifted, I had an adjustment period. I think that’s normal and it has since worked itself out.”
- Marcia also instinctively knows what and how much she needs to fuel her one hour workout. “I eat carbs before my workout and protein after because I know what works for me, not because somebody told me I had to.”
- Now instead of obsessing about what to order when she goes out to eat, she’s intentional about asking, “What do I want and what do I need?”
How do I eat?
- Marcia admits that at first, it was difficult to break her habit of distracting herself by reading when she was eating. She says, “My life is not always intentional or mindful, but I am so much more mindful about eating and aware of how I feel about eating. I’ve gradually lost thirty pounds and I’ve found a path that I can follow the rest of my life.”
How much do I eat?
- “I eat a smaller amount of food now. It turns out to be similar to what I was eating on some of my healthier diets but now it’s by choice, not by decree.”
- “The Hunger and Fullness Scale has been really helpful. I rarely ever eat past a ‘6’ anymore because I don’t want to feel sleepy, sluggish, tired, or have heartburn.” This is yet another example of Marcia’s newfound ability to trust her body wisdom.
- Marcia prefers lunch-sized portions and orders dessert when she wants it.
- Marcia says her husband supports her even when she leaves up to two thirds of her food uneaten. He says, “If that’s all you need, then that’s all you need. It costs the same whether you eat it or leave it on your plate.”
- Marcia says her clients also really like the fist and balloon analogies she shares with them for deciding how much to eat.
- Because of her background, Marcia has to be intentional about not letting her old “calories in, calories out” tapes turn back into a restrictive eating cycle.
Where do I invest my energy?
Eating this way has become a natural state of being for Marcia now. “I feel privileged to share Am I Hungry? with my coaching clients. Self-efficacy, in other words ‘Can I do it?’, is the most important question they need to answer because they’ve tried so many other things that didn’t work long term. This fits well with the coaching model because people are finally able to see that they really can relearn to trust their body wisdom–like I have!”