When I started reading the “fatosphere,” intuitive eating was the first of many new concepts that I encountered. The idea is that you one should, ideally, eat what one wants when one wants it. If I want to eat all Thin Mints, all the time, I should go for it. But once I’ve stopped thinking of some food as “good” and some as “bad,” I will probably stop craving “bad” food all the time.
It makes sense to me, and some of what people write about intuitive eating really rings true for me. (Kate Harding – at least, I think it was Kate – told a story a while ago about stopping by a gas station on her way home from a night out with friends. Her boyfriend got some beef jerky and asked if she wanted something. She didn’t, and she realized how far she had come in intuitive eating – there was a time when she would have gotten SOME kind of junk food, anything, because her boyfriend had so she could too. It made me realize how often I do things like that. Carrie had dessert? Then I can, too.)
But. Sometimes I feel as though I am out of step with the rest of the fatosphere. The women (and it’s almost all women) who write these exercise regularly and really, truly, honestly prefer salad to steak. (Actually, I prefer salad to steak too, but ignore that for a minute. I prefer cookies to salad, and cake to salad, and pretty much anything else with either fat or sugar in it to salad. Steak is just an outlier. Whatever.) They don’t seem to be overeaters. They’re just fat, even though they do all the right things.
I don’t really do the right things. I snack. A lot. I usually don’t get the daily recommended number of fruits and veggies. Most days, I forget to take my multivitamin. My portions? At dinner, at least, are definitely much larger than I like to admit. I have no problem polishing off giant-sized restaurant meals. I have never in my life taken half a Chipotle home.
I do a little better on exercise. My workout schedule, if I followed it perfectly, would look like this: Monday – water aerobics (60 min), Tuesday – gentle yoga (30 min), Wednesday – water aerobics ( 60 min), Thursday – gentle yoga (30 min), Friday – easy water exercise (45 min), Saturday – Bodyflow (60 min), Sunday – off. But most weeks I miss either Monday or Wednesday (or both), and I’m almost always late to the water aerobics classes, so those 60 minutes are really more like 45, and I don’t really push myself.
Point is? I’m not sure that intuitive eating or intuitive exercising (I’ve never actually heard someone use that term, but the concept is the same – do exercise that makes you feel good; don’t do exercise that doesn’t) really works for me. I’m pretty sure that, left to my own devices, I’d sit in my apartment and eat nachos all the time.
Take this week. It’s been rough. I’ve been pretty down. Struggling at work, feeling blue. And I came up with excuses to not work out on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. Monday I had to work, but I probably could have gotten out of it if I wanted to. Tuesday I just didn’t feel like getting up early enough to do yoga before I left for the office. Wednesday I actually drove all the way to the gym and then decided I was too tired. Friday I decided I was too tired before I even left my desk.
And, up until about a year and a half ago, that was EVERY week. Until I discovered water aerobics and then Bodyflow, I probably worked out a total of, I don’t know, six times a year.
So I’m hesitant about the whole intuitive eating/exercising thing. (I realize that I haven’t really talked about eating here. It’s easier for me to swallow – ha! – because I’ve had the experience of eating a bunch of junk and eventually craving something “better”.) Kate has written about being afraid that if she just let herself eat what she wanted that she would “devour the world“. I guess I’m afraid that if I let myself work out only when I want to do that I’ll let the whole world pass me by.