Over the years, as I've helped people lose weight and spoken to groups of people about my journey, I often hear the phrase, "Listen to your body." What does that phrase mean to you? Let’s all assume that the phrase doesn't mean to listen to the sounds your body is making, but rather to pay attention to your body's needs and be in-tune with your own personal health. Does listening to your body have a part in weight loss? Or is it just a way to say, "Do what feels right"?
When I was morbidly obese, I listened to my body say things like the following:
- You really need that last half of the cheesecake.
- Exercise is for thin people.
- People who eat healthy are just trying to make the rest of us feel bad.
- Don't get up and answer the phone, let one of the kids bring it to you.
- Chocolate is good for you. Cocoa beans make the chocolate, peanuts are healthy, and the candy coating is green like lettuce.
As you can see, listening to your body is only helpful if your body cooperates and tells you things that are good for it, not bad for it. Herein lies the potential danger in relying on your body to tell you what it needs. It seems to me that a lot of people who struggle with weight issues haven't learned to discern whether their body is telling them the truth or misleading them down the wrong path.
Am I saying that listening to your body is bad? Not at all. I'm just saying that you may need to retrain your body to appreciate the good, before you can rely on it to tell you what it needs. As I was in the process of losing all of my weight, I was very focused on the weight loss, because 300 pounds is hard to carry around. But, as I lost weight and started to hear the good things my body was telling me, I started to broaden my focus from the number on the scale to my own personal health.
I began paying closer attention to the freshness of the foods I ate. How close was the food to the original? Candy isn’t really all that close to anything in nature. Fresh fruits and vegetables became the norm, replacing canned ones. I made brown rice, whole wheat breads, and whole grains the staples of my diet. And while I still bought processed foods, the amounts diminished.
For me, listening to my body was a process of trust. I had to trust that what I was hearing was in my own best interest. For years, I had listened with half an ear, ignoring the healthy messages and focusing on the unhealthy ones.
As you go about your day, I’d like to encourage you to be aware of whether you are ready to weed through the junk food messages your body may be sending you and find the truth.