I have one main question for you to consider today:
What if you are just hungry?
What if your late night binging, your belly bloat, your mushy muscles, your puffiness, your mood swings, your endocrine stuff, your metabolism, your diastasis recti, your achey back ...
What if you are just hungry?
What if you’ve been taught for so long that exercise and wellness has everything to do with cutting out and cutting away, rather than building in and building up?
I’ve been doing a bit of one-on-one training lately, mostly to satisfy my CEU needs, but I’ve continued doing it since because it has been teaching me SO SO SO much. One major take away has been the following:
NO ONE IS EATING ENOUGH.
I mean it! You might be like, dudette, I eat a sh*t ton, especially after kiddo bedtime. In fact, I eat like three days worth of meals in two hours and under each and every night. Trust me, I eat enough.
Trust me, you don’t. Here’s what I’m seeing:
- Most women with whom I have been working basically don’t eat much all day long, except for crusts of leftover sandwiches and random terrible snacks and lettuce and nuts and, well, coffeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. And, then, at dinner time, they’ll eat a meal with their family and while they don’t feel hungry, their bodies are quite literally in starvation mode at that point. That means that their bodies have started to discover, after enough consistency in this pattern, that it’ll only get food at 6pm and after. And, so, the normal daytime hunger pains and the normal bodily signals for I NEED FUEL dissipate entirely. I know this because ALL of these women say - myself included - I’m just not that hungry. To this I say: Bull hunky, you aren’t feeling hungry, but that’s because your body is having to figure out how to fuel itself in other ways because it does not trust you will give it food. Which is why you want to eat all the things at night. Your body is storing up for the next day of starvation.
- Most women with whom I work eat like tiny birds when they do eat. We’ve scrapped all sorts of food groups and opted for all kinds of restriction, haven’t we? Most important to this discussion is CARBS. We’ve all - myself included - made the decision that carbs are just awful for us. It was like the fat free phase in the 90s, which is now proving to be completely harmful to our health. I fear that we will learn the same thing in years to come about being completely carb free, especially as active busy mommas. But, let’s get real for a second: The reality is that most wof us are not actually carb-free, but we feel like we should be. And so we try to stay away all day from the grains and the carbs and then at nighttime, our dear sweet bodies are like, Ok, I’m gonna need some easy energy and some serotonin, like STAT. And we start craving carbohydrates like mad, such that very few of us can actually ignore. So, we dive in and we binge on carbs. Then, we quietly and secretly start our day the next day and say to ourselves, TODAY IS THE DAY THAT I AM A CARB MAGICIAN. We don’t tell anyone why our faces are puffy and our digestion is sh*t (pun intended). We just pound some more coffee and munch on carrots and convince ourselves that we are stronger than, um, the biological need for fuel from carbohydrates.
- Most women do not consume enough calories. We’ve - myself included - been taught that input/output is the name of the game. And, while that is very true, I will caution every woman reading this to remember that existing is a calorically taxing event. YOU, just by being you, require calories to breathe and walk and think. So, you don’t need to be labeled an athlete to need lots of calories. Screw that, you are an athlete. Think about the daily activity you endure. Sure, it might not be socially lauded as an actual athletic pursuit, but dang it, it is! More than that! And, to top it off, you’re basically trying to function at a high level with serious, torture-level sleep deprivation, which means your brain desperately needs some backup to fund it’s day. The bare bottom truth is that we still, in 2018, think that we are “just” moms and we are lazy and we don’t exercise enough. I will beg you to remember that while you probably don’t strengthen yourself enough, you exercise enough. And, yes, you need more calories.
- Most women are not getting enough nutrients in order to heal their tissues and build muscle. I think it could be possible that there is a reduction in healing of postpartum conditions like diastasis recti and prolapse because we are neither eating enough nor getting enough nutrients and protein. We seem to be lost in a weird social nonchalance when it comes to being pregnant, giving birth, and then feeding/carrying/bonding with babies and children. And then we blame the female anatomy and a weak core for ALL of our postpartum pain and troubles. I'm witnessing another facet of this issue that involves the fact that our tissues are not able to heal because our body is utterly depleted. This is a more complex issue, that digs into blood sugar and inflammation, but all in all, at the end of the day, it comes down to the fact that most women are not feeding to heal or build and have been able to get by on stress hormones as our only cushion for survival. This is why we are magically immune to our kids viruses and able to somehow make it on a few hours of sleep.. This is also why, as soon as you go on vacation or relax in any way, you get super sick. This is NOT a way for women to live. We cannot have nervous systems that are distracted by basic needs right now. We need our nervous systems focused on helping us do and think to the best of our ability. And we deserve to have connective tissue that is elastic and resilient, a prime aspect of what makes us feel good and able each and every day.
- Most women I know have a strange relationship with being toned that, when accomplished, is actually a very weak state of being. Women that I train who have a six pack and sculpted muscles most often simply have gotten to dangerously low body fat levels. You know you’ve been there ... I know you know what I am talking about ... After a stomach bug or a few days of not eating enough, and you start to feel a light, panther-like energy, right? You feel sleek and toned, even if you don’t look different, right? And, if we are all honest, most of us like that feeling. I can’t even begin to guess why, but I do know that we need to investigate this in ourselves. Because that feeling is not built upon a foundation that will help us do the incredible work we are here to do. Rather, it’s a euphoric, lithe sensation that comes when we have experienced deprivation. Period. The feeling that we deserve to experience is actually far from toned and aerodynamic - we deserve to feel sturdy. Full. Grounded. Satisified. With reserves. Enough.
Bottom line: We need to eat enough nutrient dense food to build us up so that we can experience a nutrient dense life that is built up.
And, don’t worry, I’ve been guinea pigging myself, after doing some research here. I’ve been chatting with key people in the industry and the basic message is EAT MORE REAL FOOD. I’ve been hearing scary things like “white rice is not bad” and “six meals a day” and woah, mind-f*ck. I have also been hearing things that I agree with wholeheartedly: Just because you need to eat more doesn’t mean you need to eat badly.
This is important. We assume that when we are told to eat more that it is time to hit the drive-thrus and the donut holes until we can’t breathe. We think that being free with food means being abusive with food. No, we need to live in the tension between the extremes here, which is the beautiful, mushy, wide-open space between not eating enough and eating destructively.
What is that tension? That is the tension of being willing to feed yourself and to feel full. It’s the tension of answering the call of hunger and responding with grace and love. It’s the tension of dropping all the crazy rules you have read and instead simply, delightfully, but terrifyingly believe that your body knows what it needs. It’s the tension of saying no and yes to foods you need and want. It’s the tension of believing that you, amazing momma, do enough and are enough to eat enough.
So far, for me, this experiment has been incredible. I feel better all around. I have a long way to go. But, eating enough has made everything better. I move better, I have less inflammation, I poop better (sorry, but true), I can think more clearly, I feel my muscles developing more, my mood swings are less, my afternoon crabbiness is gone, my thyroid and autoimmune flares have diminished, and my nighttime cravings for all sorts of awful food has completely vanished.
What if YOU are just hungry?
I know. Mind boggling.
Let's be real here: I come from a long line of disordered eating and eating disorders. Most women I know have as well. I have this weird acquired belief system that tells me that I need to be beautiful, but small. Powerful, but “still” feminine. Strong, but sexy. I also have clinical OCD, which means that I have read just about every single thing about food you can imagine, to a degree that is genuinely insane. In fact, I went through a phase in my early 20s where I basically started to think ALL food was going to poison me. I’ve come a long way from then, where food and I are enjoying a really awesome marriage. It has become a huge ally in my life. MommaStrong and it’s value system is the expression of that. This fact is a miracle. A miracle! However, with all that said, I have acquired a language of women’s health that includes some ways of eating that I want to challenge and investigate. And because of the relationship I have developed with food, I know I can lead the way. And I know it will help you and it will help the world, as all of us women begin to pry the boots off our necks and claim our space on this beautiful planet.
Join me on Feb. 5th for The Hook: 28-Day Challenge, in which I will be building myself up in all areas from exercise to food to sleep to fun. I am scared. I know basically NOTHING in this arena, but I'm gonna learn. You can watch me and see if I turn into a wobbly blob or what. It’ll be at least entertaining. 15-minutes a day, only $2.