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

TEDx: Do you already love yourself? | Discussing what it means to practice self-love

TEDx: Do you already love yourself? | Discussing what it means to practice self-love

Today was quite an emotional day for me.

I gave a TEDx speech about my eating disorder and how it helped me learn what self-love truly means.

While yes, I did slip up during my TEDx speech, standing in front of the audience and finally putting into words my eating disorder was an overwhelming experience for me.

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I’m so thankful for having the opportunity to talk about how my eating disorder shaped me and ultimately discover what self-love truly means.

For those interested, below is the transcript of my TEDx speech.

Hope you enjoy!


 

It was exactly around this time four years ago that I started my eating disorder. While I can’t pinpoint the specific start date, what I do remember is this. I was currently taking a week-long trip in Rome during spring break with my Latin class and was eating well. And I’m not taking that “eating well” lightly. I was eating rich pastas and gelato every. Single. day. But eating well was common to me. Growing up, my food consumption always went into my height. I never had a problem with my weight or my self-confidence. This is not to say I was arrogant and self-centered, it’s just to say that I never really paid much attention to my appearance.

 

But coming back from the Rome trip, I decided to lose some weight. Part of the reason was all that pasta and gelato I indulged on. But the bigger reason was that I started noticing I was a bit chubbier than my other friends who happened to be all stick thin. Now, for someone who grow up not paying attention to her weight that much, these foreign and unfamiliar thoughts overwhelmed me.

 

Nevertheless, not knowing any better, I downloaded the MyFitnessPal app. For those who don’t know MyFitnessPal, this is an app that tracks your caloric intake to lose weight, gain weight or maintain weight. Of course, in my case, I was using it to lose weight. I put in my current weight, goal weight, my activity level.  Being the “goody-two shoes” girl I am, I religiously followed the 1,200 calories that this app instructed for me to eat.

 

It became a routine. Half a bagel for breakfast. A meager salad for lunch entailing a handful of spinach, cucumbers, and tomatoes and of course, no dressing. And another meager salad for dinner. No drinks except water. No snacks no matter how hungry I was. No cakes, no processed food, only this and nothing more. I did this for three months while running track, or at least attempting to run track given how little I ate.

 

And soon enough, Food consumed my life. When I wasn’t eating, I was drooling over my next meal. When I was eating, I became guilty for eating too much. My mind was always noisy. Voices of “Stephanie, don’t eat that. Stephanie, you are fat. Stephanie, you need be hungry or else you’re not doing it right.” My calorie counting became another class for me. I obediently counted and measured my food logging into the MyFitnessPal app. A good day meant that I went under my 1,200 calories. A bad day meant that I went over my 1,200 calories. My life became purely numbers: the 1,200 calories, sub 100 pounds on the scale, the size double zero on my clothes.

 

But I am not here to storytell about my eating disorder. While I do not consider myself fully recovered, I feel enoughly distanced and detached from it now that I can talk about it with a fresh perspective. I’ve realized how much food is a representation of myself, of ourselves. It’s how we take care of ourselves, it’s how we view ourselves – whether that is subconsciously or consciously.

 

As someone with a perfectionist and Type-A personality, I wanted one more aspect in my life to control, to perfect. And that perfect standard meant being skinny, meant restricting my food choices, meant over-exercising, and ultimately, losing a sense of myself in the process to become society’s perfect.

 

But as much food is a representation of ourselves – whether that’s the perfectionist side of ourselves or the more complacent side of ourselves – in this modern 21st century we’re living in,  it’s so easy to believe what we’re supposed to be. We’re supposed to be the health nut who lives on kale salad and avocado toast. We’re supposed to be fitness maniac who loves going on morning runs. We’re supposed to be a certain size and live this supposedly “healthy” lifestyle that ultimately makes us feel unhappy and unfulfilled.

 

Doubting our ability to provide the best for our own bodies, we create habits—or, more accurately, unrealistic and restrictive rules that we impose on ourselves. We trust others’ rules and opinions to fix our own bodies—but why? The culture assumes it has the authority to show how we’re taught to love ourselves. The media and current slew of weight-loss programs teach us that our habits will ultimately allow us to love ourselves. We have to eat green smoothie with kale and spinach and whatnot, and we should only eat desserts that are made from all-organic, vegan ingredients. If we don’t, we’re taught to believe that we are not taking care of ourselves or valuing our bodies.

 

However, in reality, I believe that our love reflects our habits. The true order is actually switched. We already love ourselves. Let me repeat that, we already love ourselves.

 

Our habits do not lead us to feel self love. No, our already existing self love forms our habits.

 

We do not eat well to feel self love. We do not exercise to feel self-love. We are constantly bombarded with fat-free, low-carb, low-calorie food ads. But these ads are simply for us to be in the illusion that by eating these foods, we will in the future, love ourselves. That we will in some unforeseen future, will finally accept ourselves.

 

But the truth is, we already accept ourselves. We already love ourselves. The fact that you are living right now. The fact that you are breathing right now goes to show how much you love yourself.

 

Once you realize and fully believe that you do indeed already love yourself, the food you eat simply becomes a reflection of this acceptance and abundant love for yourself. And so, no food is bad or good. There is no moralizing involved because we are already good, we are already loved, we are already enough.

 

By no longer having to quantify our worth, we no longer eat excessively to feed our inner psychological need, nor do we over-exercise to reach a certain body type built upon elusive happiness. Instead, we eat for physical nourishment, and we exercise for physical vigor and strength.

 

We eat a green kale salad to honor our body’s physical needs. But we also eat a hamburger to respond to our body’s natural emotional need. We exercise to give the movement and strength our body wants. We live life not to love ourselves, but we live life to affirm this great love for ourselves. I already love myself. You already love yourself. We already love ourselves. And that should be enough.

 

 

 

 

 

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

“Healthy”

“Healthy”

Today was sort of a scary day for me.

I had a massive stomach ache.

Now usually, stomach aches are normal for me. I’ve had gas problems as a child so my tolerance for stomach aches are quite quite high.

However, today, after having lunch with my mom, I had a massive stomach ache. Something that I was not used to tolerating.

Initially, I thought it was just that I ate a lot. That what I was feeling was fullness. Like literally as we drove out of the restaurant I was like, “Darn it, Stephanie. Why did you eat so much? Remember: hara hachi bu! Only eat until 80% full. You stuffed yourself.”

But after a couple of minutes, I felt a pang in my stomach. It was different to fullness – no, I’m a common customer for fullness. I literally stuff myself full like every other meal lol. No, it wasn’t fullness.Was it gas? No – I’ve been having gas problems since 5 years old and this was definitely not gas. Then what was it?

It was really hard to diagnose what I had and even looking at water made me want to vomit. I just couldn’t fathom putting anything in my mouth.

Short end of long story, the pain decreased after 30 minutes. By then, I could tolerate it. And this again, remind you, is my high tolerance for stomach pains. But after about 2 hours, it was completely gone.

I still don’t know what that incident was and I probably won’t know in the near future, but what I do know is that my wellbeing is the utmost priority.

It’s at times like this that I realize I take too many things for granted. I nitpick at the thickness of my thighs, the “wings” on my arms, the flab on my stomach. I suck in my stomach whenever I pass the mirror. But at times like this, I realize that I was shallow.

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If you couldn’t tell…my fingers are forming a heart. Giving much love and kisses to those who need love because we are all beautiful.

As mentioned in my self-love post a few days ago, I’m still in the process of loving my body. Loving it truly the way it is right now. That the reason I’m eating healthy and that I exercise is NOT because I hate how my body looks and I want it to look a certain way, but because I want to feel nourished and empowered and healthy. That word, healthy is abused so much here, but today, this incident reminded me what healthy meant.

Healthy does not mean a certain number on the scale. A certain number on the label of your clothes. A certain number of how many calories you’ve eaten. Healthy does not mean your appearance. For the better or worse, healthy means different to everyone. It’s such a relative term which is why I think it’s been abused so much.

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But as I’m slowly moving forward in my self-love journey, I start to build my own definition of healthy. And so far this is what I have: being healthy means to enjoy life without any limitations.

I really don’t want to get that stomach ache ever again – a stomach ache that I could barely sit still with. A stomach ache that I truly felt helpless and out of control with my body.

So yep. That’s what healthy means to me thus far. I’m sure as I add more years and experience to my life, this definition will change. But so far, that’s it: to enjoy life without any limitation. To feel powerful and confident.

What does healthy mean to you?

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