What does it mean to honor and listen to your body? Delving into what intuitive eating means…

What does it mean to honor and listen to your body? Delving into what intuitive eating means…

Some of my friends who read my blog posts ask me what it means to honor and listen to your body. To be frank, listening to your body is a medium that is incredibly hard – harder than the extremes. Based on my experience, restricting or overeating and not exercising at all or overexercising is a lot easier than practicing “moderation.”

Across my recovery, I’ve been recommended to practice intuitive eating, but let me tell you intuitive is very difficult when you’ve been practicing disordered eating. Listening to your body requires a lot of time, patience, and effort.

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To me, listening to my body means to not eat ice cream because I know that my body does not process dairy well. I know that the sluggish and queasy feeling I get in my stomach after eating dairy is not worth the momentary pleasure of eating ice cream. This is not restriction. Restriction would be not getting ice cream because I know there are too many calories in ice cream.

To me honoring my body means going out for an easy run when I’m itchy for some movement. I know that I have been sitting down a lot throughout the week and want to stretch out and give the range of motion my body wants. This is not exercise addiction. Exercise addiction would be exercising despite injuries, despite your body feeling weak and tired.

To me, intuitive eating means not getting seconds because I am aware that my wanting to get seconds is emotional: I had a rough day at school, I have friend drama going on, I have a big test looming ahead. I am aware that my physical hunger has been satisfied. This is not restriction because restriction would be to not eat when my stomach is asking for more food.

Indeed, this is not easy. It’s hard to take the time to reflect, pause, and listen to what your body wants. And even when you are trying to listen, sometimes you are confused as to whether you are listening to your physical self or your emotional self.

This took me an incredibly time (maybe an upward of two years) and I’m still not near perfect. Intuitive eating is never about being perfect and listening to your body every single time. Intuitive eating is about progress, about continually getting better at listening to your body. Because sometimes, you may be physically full but you just might need a little sweet to pick you up. And that’s completely fine.

Going into intuitive eating is first a huge step. To completely ditch the calorie counting in your head, to ditch the “obligation” to exercise, to completely ditch all the rules from society but to only listen to yourself. And even when you decide to practice intuitive eating, it is a hard principle to follow. But read my examples above. Getting to that point took a lot of time, patience and effort but at the end, I feel much more energy and love and self-respect for my body.

You only get to live with your body once. Honor it. Listen to it. No matter how hard it gets.

What will you do today to honor your body?

Xoxo,

Stephanie

What are you willing to fight for?

What are you willing to fight for?

To those who are struggling with eating and/or their body image, I ask, give me 3 minutes.

There have been many times where I wanted to restrict myself again. There are times where when looking at myself in the mirror, I do not love myself nor accept myself. There are times where I forget the emotional and internal hardships of restricting myself to a mere 1,200 calories every day, of saying no to anything processed no matter the occasion, of losing control of myself both mentally and physically.

But I stop myself.

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I don’t let myself redownload MyFitnessPal. I don’t let myself skip meals. I don’t let myself binge. I let myself be.

Amidst all the self-hate, I know that the happiness and satisfaction these restrictions will give me is temporary and short-lived. Yes, I may achieve society’s skinny and fit into size double zero clothes (to note, body image is whole spectrum so an unhealthy body image for someone might be another person’s healthy frame). But along comes a little to none self-esteem and constant noise inside my head. I can never eat peacefully, exercise peacefully, or live peacefully. I will continue to steer clear from social events in the fear of eating too much. I will continue to ignore my body and what my body needs.

And that’s all that takes for me to not turn back. While I don’t like where I am currently, I know that moving backwards won’t be any better. All I can do is continue moving forward, step by step with the faith that there is light (recovery) at the end of this long and dark tunnel.

So think long. Think hard. Think about what you want to fight for.

Learning from Travel part 2

Learning from Travel part 2

Yesterday’s blog post centered around why I think Japan is known to be such a healthy country from my visit to Japan.

Today’s post is centered around something more personal. If you have been sticking along on the blog for awhile now, you probably know that I, Stephanie, struggling with body image and self-love. As discussed in many posts previous, I am slowly and slowly inching myself to complete freedom. I’m still far but I’m not giving up.

Nevertheless, I’ve been able to make huge steps through my trip to Japan. Who knew that travel was also good for the struggling-with-self-love-and-body-image soul!

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Going to a completely new school where the majority of the student body and teachers spoke Japanese (a language I had no experience in), wearing a uniform, as a complete foreigner was terrifying. Again, as someone who struggled/struggles with body image and self-love on the first couple of days, I was extremely self-conscious about my body. I wanted to appear as thin as possible because a) the uniform was mercilessly unflattering and b) I knew that Japanese people were slim and I didn’t want to be an outsider already from appearance.

But what I was surprised was how much my host’s friends and classmates just didn’t care. Period. It’s hard to describe in writing or even through speaking, but you just know and you just feel it when people are #highkeyjudging.

But I felt none of that. I remember on my last day, all my new friends were saying how much they were going to miss my smile, my sweet demeanor, and my genuine curiosity in Japanese culture. And I believe them. Not once did I feel someone “scanning” me or having that judge-y face or feeling. They truly treated me as just me. As they only saw my inside and never the outside. (Now, important disclaimer: I never ever want any of my readers to think that being larger should be a social hinderance. NO. It’s just that in my own personal thoughts, as an individual, as Stephanie Yoon, I have always had that unhealthy and incorrect idea that thinner is better. Again, I’m still working on switching that attitude.)

I was so struck by this. I don’t know why, but I never felt this much sincerity of actually valuing what you have on the inside than the outside. It’s a sad reality I know. I’m someone who is very hard on myself and felt like only a handful of my close family and friends really valued me from the inside. So this experience in Japan was powerful.

And with this experience, I’ve been able to change as well, for the better. I’ve been able to really treat and value and only consider the inside of my family and friends. As much as I’m hard on myself, I am quite judge-y. It’s definitely something that I’m not proud of but is quite true. However, ever since I’ve been treated differently, I’ve been influenced to treat other differently too.

So with travel, I have first-handed experienced that what matters is NOT on the outside but on the INSIDE.

Do you 120% believe that what matters is on the INSIDE?

xoxo,

Stephanie

The Journey to Self-Love

The Journey to Self-Love

Happy International Women’s Day!

In commemoration of this holiday, I want to talk about self-love. This is a topic that I think that every woman in this world should hear.

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A couple of my friends at school make fun of me that it’s easy to identify which posts are mine because they see the #everythinginmoderation #bodylove #bodyimage whether it’s on this blog or on my Instagram. While they make fun of me and I smile outside, inside, I’m frustrated because they don’t know the struggle I went through and still going through with my body.

I’m embarrassed to say this, but I’m not too confident on my body. There are many times when I stop in front of the mirror and ask why I’m not thin and why I’m not skinny when I eat so healthy and when I exercise often. Perhaps my friends never struggled with their body image. But I have. Loving my body the way it is and loving it from the inside out is something that has been very hard.

So in this post, I’m not going to talk about how to find self-love because I haven’t achieved it or even close to achieving it myself. However, I want to share and how that maybe this could be a platform where other women can share about their struggle and journey to self-love.

I find that it’s hard to open up on my story. As I mentioned above, whenever I post something on Instagram that’s remotely linked to this topic, my friends back at school make fun of me. Only a handful of friends know my story, and only one back at home asks me every time I come home for break and checks up with me. And I’m forever grateful to have such a friend like that.

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I do have to add that when I had my myriad of injuries this fall – including a stress fracture – I was able to gain a new perspective. I realized how blessed and how lucky I am to have a fully functioning and healthy and strong body that allowed me to do whatever I wanted to. Being in that boot for 6 weeks allowed me to gain a new perspective in that being thin, having that thigh gap, having a flat stomach, having slim arms, that’s all OUTSIDE the point. My body for 16 years and counting has been giving me energy to run, walk, sleep, laugh, hang out with my friends, travel, study, dance, and more. And I should be loving my body. Note the word “should.” As soon as I got off that boot, however, I tried to get back into running as soon as I could so I could get back into shape. I know, not much of a progress, but I just wanted to share a little anecdote.

I really hope that our community, our friends, our world can be a more accepting place and a place where all women can share their struggle and journey to self-love. Since I personally think that it’s so black and white. It’s either lose weight! Be like this celebrity! Change your body because it’s not good enough! To the other end of the spectrum which advocates to completely loving every inch of your body. There is no in-between and frankly, a lot of women are in that gray area.

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I know..:) Kind of a funny picture! But just wanted to show my face for once that I’m serious about this post. Dead serious. (Although I had to do the sunglasses b/c my parents are still a bit hesitant of having my face on the blog haha. Hopefully it’ll change)

So while we may never come to achieving complete self-love, I hope that through discussions and transparent blog posts, we can slowly and slowly inch towards that goal.

What has your journey to self-love been like?

xoxo,

Stephanie

“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.”

“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.”

“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.” – John Steinbeck

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Personally, I think this is such a powerful quote. As one who is a perfectionist, I always want to do things perfectly. Perfect grades, perfect work ethic, perfectly organized desk, perfectly organized room, a perfect life. And of course, this perfectionist attitude took a toll on me (and I’m sure with others too), when I wanted a “perfect” body.

Now “perfect” is such a relative word. How do you measure what is perfect and what is not? Most times, if not all times, it’s the image that society and the media show. Those tall and lean girls with toned abs, thigh gap, and no bat wings – that’s what we deemed as “perfect.” Now, I’m not going to talk a lot about body image on this post because 1) I’ve talked about it on the blog before and 2) there’s a lot on the Internet about this topic.

So I want to address the second clause of this quote: “you can be good.” I lost a significant amount of weight over the course of three months in order to reach my “perfect” body. I was determined and resolute that this would make me happy and fulfilled. But as I lost my body, I lost my self-esteem and my self-confidence together. I started putting my worth as an individual on the number of calories I ate that day, the number that was put on the weighing scale. My happiness and my self-esteem solely came from those factors: that I was skinny enough and that I was eating only 1,200 Calories.

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Eating to my heart’s content – eating what I want to eat, NOT what my calorie limit tells me I can.

But when I hit the low point of this “perfect” body – I was losing hair, my hands and feet were getting increasingly cold when it was the middle of summer, I haven’t a period in four to five months, I was constantly tired despite clocking in 8 hours a day. My doctor, my family, and my friends were warning and advising me that this was extremely dangerous for me – that this is not the Stephanie they used to know and should not be the Stephanie that should follow. So long story short, I realized that I don’t have to have the perfect body. I don’t have to have that thigh gap. I don’t have to have perfectly toned abs, it’s fine and normal that I have flab hanging over my stomach when I’m sitting down. I don’t have to have slender arms, I can have a mini bat-wing or angel wing (whatever you want to call it). I don’t have to be perfect, I can be simply good. And for me, good means not the physical appearance but the internal state. To nourish and fill myself up with nutrient-dense, fresh, green, and clean foods. To give my body the nourishment, the physical activity, the rest, and the meditation that it so needs and deserves.

So again, mini-rant here today, but remember, GOOD, not perfect. GOOD.

Have you had to switch your mindset from perfect to good before?

xoxo,

Stephanie

This Thanksgiving, LOVE and THANK your body

This Thanksgiving, LOVE and THANK your body

Happy Thanksgiving!

To be honest, I love Thanksgiving more than Christmas. After going to school away from home and spending the majority of the time somewhere NOT home, Thanksgiving has become a whole new holiday for me. Don’t get me wrong, I was always thankful for my family, my parents, my friends, however, I didn’t know how thankful I was from them until I left home. I definitely took them for granted.

In the same sense, I want to take the time and shift our focus to our body. On this blog, Serena and I talk a lot about improving your body. We talk about how to eat cleaner and healthier so you can have a body full of vigor. We talk about how to have self-control so you don’t gain weight. We talk about how to lose weight (in the healthy way of course). We share recipes that are uber healthy in order to make your body better. We talk a lot about progress and things that will happen in the future.

In the midst of all this, not only on our blog but around us as well with the media and peer pressure, we are pushed to think that we need to be better. However, let us all take at least a day to be thankful of where our body is now.

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Instead of bashing your legs, thank them for being strong during your run, thank them for being tough while you did squats in the gym. Instead of wishing you had a flatter stomach, thank them for powerful to do those multiple crunches, sit ups, bicycles, and planks. Instead of bashing your arms, thank them for being able to carry those heavy groceries, thank them for being able to hug your loved ones. Instead of criticizing your body for being so fat or for being so thin, be grateful that you have a functioning body that lets you move and be free. Be grateful that your body, fat or thin, is healthy enough that you can go along your day with no restrictions.

We definitely take our vital and vigorous bodies for granted. Some people don’t have this ability. Some people can barely walk and have to use a wheelchair. Some people may be able to walk, but have poor knees that they can’t run or do squats. Some people may not have the stomach to even eat the amazing (and sometimes naughty) foods we eat because they have such sensitive stomachs. Some people may not be able to carry their children or grandchildren because their arms too weak. Some people may have debilitating bodies and may just wish to have a complete and functioning body.

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So this Thanksgiving, STOP bashing on your body. YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL JUST THE WAY YOU ARE. Thank you body for being so energetic, so lively, so vigorous and strong that it can accompany you on those long runs, on those hard workout days, or just life in general.

Happy Thanksgiving and have safe travels to and from home!

xoxo,

Stephanie

Girls, oh, girls

Girls, oh, girls

I was planning for another post today, however, after an incident this past weekend, I decided without a second thought that I wanted to share something serious but oh so relevant in this world today.

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My two cousins (9 year old and 4 year old) from North Carolina visited my family this past weekend. They left NC on Thursday morning and arrived in DC (where I live) at around 4 in the afternoon.

My 9 year old cousin named Lily and I were in my room and we could hear our mom’s cooking dinner downstairs. Lily mentioned something about how it smelled good downstairs and I replied back, “I know, I’m so hungry! Aren’t you?”

“No. I’m not hungry at all. I didn’t even eat breakfast or lunch. I’m fat,” Lily simply answered as she poked her stomach to indicate how “fat” she was.

At that instant I was shocked. As someone who is still recovering for over a year from restrictive eating, I was not expecting my 9-year old cousin to say that.

I of course know eating disorder is a prevalent thing these days, but I never expected someone as young as nine to be thinking those things. In my mind, 9-year olds should be enjoying life. They should be able to eat what they want and play tag, go swimming, and go outside without the burden of “burning calories.”

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Out of shock, I immediately started ranting to her about the importance of eating. I don’t know how coherently I spoke because at the end of my rant, Lily was looking up at me dumbfounded. I was embarrassed to wit’s end. Did I go too far? Maybe she was saying that she was fat as a harmless thing but I overthought it.

Luckily, our mom’s called the house for dinner so Lily shrugged her shoulders and left the room. I stayed there for a few minutes just trying to process it all. Now mind you, I’m an overthinker. I think way too much. And I do think that’s what kind of happened that day.

However, Lily’s words stuck with me throughout the weekend. And I kept on thinking over what Lily said. As Lily is a rising fourth grader, I went back down memory lane to when I was in fourth grade.

I remember in fourth grade how when we sat criss-cross applesauce on the carpet for morning meetings, I would compare the size of my thighs to other girls thighs.

As we would wear black watch plaid shift dresses as uniforms at my school, I remember counting how many checkered squares fit across my body and then how many fit across another girl’s body. The less squares, the skinnier, the more squares, fatter.

And so while all this time I thought that Lily was way too young to be thinking these things, I realized that I too fell under this trap when I was her age.

Even more so, I remember when I was in kindergarten relishing on my skinniness. Until third grade, I was the lanky kid. I was the girl who would eat a lot – I would seriously eat two bowls of rice for all three meals – but all that food went vertically but never horizontally. I was super tall (although not anymore) that I always had to wear clothes that were 4 ages up than my actual age. But while these clothes fit in length they gave no form to my already formless body. And I remember feeling good about myself for being skinny when I saw one of my best friends who was a little bit on the chubby side.

I don’t know why or more importantly how I became to think this way. My mom definitely did not teach me that. But somehow, the human brain, learns instinctively that being skinny is good.

 

But why oh why is that?

 

I truly fell under this trap as I lost 20lbs. last summer based on the sole reason that I believed I was fat.

 

But with those 20 lbs., I lost my confidence, I lost my happiness, and I lost the ability to think for others and my wellbeing. A demon and monster grew inside of my head. My actions were solely based on being skinny. I became angry at my parents when they took me out to dinner because I knew I would binge-eat. I became angry at my mom when dinner was a couple minutes late because I was starving from not eating enough calories. I backed out of social events and movie nights with my friends since I knew there would be junk food. I started living a meaningless life. Who was I living for? Certainly not myself.

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It’s a well-said phrase and for good reason because it’s true: We’re our harshest critics. We bash our thighs. We bash our stomachs and the list goes on and on. I don’t know of a way to solve, but I hope that we can remind ourselves today and really everyday that we’re are beautiful. Beyond beautiful and unique for words. Girls, oh girls….

 

How do you deal with society’s pressure on body image?

xoxo,

Stephanie

 

What does “Intuitive Eating” Mean?

What does “Intuitive Eating” Mean?

My favorite type of YouTube videos, podcasts, or Instagram accounts revolve around the topic food (shocker I know …). Anyways, these days, I’ve been seeing the topic “intuitive eating” on these social/entertainment platform a lot. After watching a handful of videos and podcasts (there’s seriously so many of them that are all readily and freely available to us), I have decided to jump on the the “intuitive eating” bandwagon myself.

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Now you may be asking, what is intuitive eating? Intuitive eating is at its simplest, “Eat when you’re hungry, stop eating when you’re full.”

 

Isn’t that so simple? However, I know from my own experience and obviously from the astounding number of videos and podcasts on this topic, eating intuitively is not as easy as it sounds.

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The Principles of Intuitive Eating … sounds simple, in reality: NOT

When we were babies we were intuitive eaters. I know this because when I eat with my five to seven year old cousins, they don’t have three meals a day. They just eat whenever they want to eat (and also when their moms are willing to cook something for them) which means it could be anytime of the day eating any size of a meal. However, why is that when we become adults, we choose to have three square meals a day? Like where did that number three come from?

 

Serena and I can both attest to getting “food greedy” when something is too good for lunch or dinner that we get seconds despite obviously feeling full. Along this health journey that I took and am still taking, I realized that both quantity and quality matters. However, I’ve been obsessed so much about the quality, that I lost control of my portions. Calories are still calories and if you eat more than you need, you’re going to gain weight. You can still gain weight by eating clean foods. You can still lose weight by eating junk foods.

 

However, as you guys may know from my “Healthy Journey” post, I have decided that my motivation to eat healthy and be active is NOT so I can be a certain weight or appearance. I am motivated to eat healthy and be active because I want to feel energized and happy as well as nourish my body with the nutrients and activity it needs (key word = what MY BODY needs, not what I think my body needs)

 

And this nourishment that I’m talking about is not only physical nourishment but emotional and mental nourishment too. Personally, this means slacking up on my food quality. It means that sometimes, if I want peanut butter, if I want to eat a cookie, I can and have perfect freedom to eat it.

 

So that’s why intuitive eating attracted me. The “diet” (ugh I absolutely despise that word) seems to urge people to listen to their body for hunger and fullness cues. To be honest, I feel like my hunger cues have been so messed up after my extreme diet and weight loss this past summer.

 

But you know what? Just because my hunger cues are messed up, I’m not going to mess them up even more. I’m going to stop and turn around and work towards making myself a more “in-tuned” eater.

 

I decided to write about this topic because Serena and I ran a 5k race “together” (together isn’t quite the right word because she ran a good 3 minutes faster than me). However, after the race, we went straight to brunch and while I was going to straight to the food, Serena paused and said, “I’m actually not that hungry right now.”

 

This struck me because for me, I thought in my head: ran a race = burned calories = able to eat something. While Serena thought: ran a race = not hungry = should I eat?

 

Serena’s logic makes much more sense and “normal.” The fact that my eating has to be justified because I burned x amount of calories is ridiculous. The fact that I stop eating because I know I reached my calorie limit is ridiculous. I mean who lives like that? Life is meant to be enjoyed.

 

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Look…the foods I crave are all different. Some are “healthy” and some are “unhealthy”

 

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This is the beauty of intuitive eating.

 

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Isn’t the color of this persimmon divine?

 

Anyways, summing up this rant, I hope you guys, whoever you are: whether you’re like me who is recovering from an unnatural or restrictive eating lifestyle or someone who is perfectly in peace with food, were able to learn about intuitive eating and the freedom and happiness it can give to people like me.

 

How do you eat? Intuitively?

xoxo,

Stephanie

 

P.S. : If you do eat intuitively, what are your tips to reach intuitive eating? Or do you have any success stories to share?