Today’s guest is Jenna Free, who is one of the two lovely ladies behind The Body Love Society! Listen in as we discuss thoughts on diet culture, intuitive eating when you want to lose weight, and how to accept your body!
Jenna is passionate about body love, and uses the terms “un-dieting” as she shares about her passion for self-love and self-acceptance on this wonderful episode. (Be sure to check out IG to learn more about The Body Love Society’s free challenge too!)
Wellness Without Obsession
The Body Love Society works with women who are interested in intuitive eating and un-dieting. Usually, their clients have struggled with social messaging that tends to lead to obsessions around food, which includes eating, dieting, and body image. At The Body Love Society, they’re passionate about living a life of wellness without obsession. Jenna also clarifies that intuitive eating and un-dieting are not code words for “just give up” or “quit caring”. Choosing to eat intuitively is a way of honoring and caring for yourself, and is not about just throwing in the towel!
Jenna and her partner desire to live an abundant, vibrant, and energetic life….but without restricting or obsessing about it! They’ve found that women are often fearful about letting go of control of their food. This seems to be connected to the idea that we can achieve some sort of “ideal state” when focus on our weight. The reality is, however, that there is no connection between losing weight/controlling food intake and being abundant, energetic, and feeling great!
Dieting isn’t saving you from food obsessions. It is CREATING your food obsession. And as you’ve probably experienced for yourself, dieting never “ends” with you feeling wonderful and being free to live your life. Instead, it constantly requires more, more, more. It’s never ending, exhausting, and. completely unnecessary!
The BIG Question Everyone Has
“Is intuitive eating just eat whatever you want, whenever you want?”
Well….yes and no.
If you’ve had a dieting mindset for most of your life, you’ve internalized so many messages about what you can and can’t eat, what foods are “good” and “bad”, and how you can control your food intake. You’ve also gotten used to constantly restricting and binging. A lot of obsession and control are involved!
If you move from that dieting mindset straight into intuitive eating, sometimes you do start eating everything…but you miss the whole “listening to your body” part. Instead, you’re in “rebellion mode”. (That can be part of the process, but it’s not where you’ll stay!)
As you do the mindset work and recalibrate yourself, you begin to experience the freedom of eating anything you want as a part of listening to your body and its needs.
So YES — once you’ve done the mindset work, intuitive eating does mean eating whatever you want. It’s just that the way you understand that (and practice it) is significantly different once you get out of your “dieter’s brain”.
The next most common question is often: Is intuitive eating healthy?
Intense, Restrictive, Consuming
Jenna describes herself as the “cute chubby one” as a 16 year old. Looking back she can see just how cute she was…but at the time she decided she needed to get on a diet and start exercising. And if eating more veggies and moving more was where it stopped, it would have been fine! However, weight loss and dieting lends itself to a “never enough” mentality.
In her life, this led to food regimens and workout routines that became more intense, more restrictive, and more consuming. (Can you resonate?)
Jenna became all too familiar with the dieting lifestyle, and experienced falling off the wagon (and climbing back on) over and over again. She found that her world was her body, and she was consumed with thoughts about food and eating. During this time she would have “cheat days” and binge on huge amounts of food, then not eat anything for the rest of the week.
As an intuitive eater, she’s been able to move towards mindfulness, creativity, and awareness of the present moment instead. Rather than obsessing about food consumption and rule following, she is able to release all that in favor of practices that actually make her feel good!
Reaching a Place of Peace
While trying on her bathing suit years ago, Jenna realized that her preoccupation was with the 5 pounds she needed to lose so that everything would be “perfect”. Rather than focusing on how fun her upcoming vacation would be, she was devising ways to lose weight. It was an “aha” moment to recognize that every moment seemed to be marked with what she needed to fix or change before she could fully enjoy her life.
After a few of these “aha” moments in a row, she decided that her body looking a certain way wasn’t going to “fix” her life in the ways she kept thinking it would. As she journeyed through this process towards becoming and intuitive eater and un-dieting once and for all, she realized that she had suffered through the dieting lifestyle for nothing!
Dieting is like holding on to a ledge SO tightly, with extreme fear about falling or losing control. And then when you finally let go…
the ground is 3 feet away.
All that fear, control, and obsessing are unnecessary.
When you’re engaged in the dieting mindset, what you’re searching for (weight loss) isn’t the answer you need. What you truly desire is usually something like: worthiness, love, acceptance, energy, wellness, confidence, and more. And you can have ALL of those things without having to diet or be a certain size.
Weight Gain Fears
Sharing about intuitive eating and un-dieting isn’t as simple as showing before and after pictures that show weight loss! After all, that’s not the point of this lifestyle. So what attracts people to it, and what fears threaten to hold them back?
Well, many women express lots of fears about possibly gaining weight if they give intuitive eating a try.
Jenna shares that The Body Love Society approach is to remove the hyper-focused attention on weight. After all, many women have lived in that weight-based mindset for 10, 15, 25 years. Years! So if your biggest concern is weight gain, the first question for you to consider is…
What has your obsession with weight given you so far?
When you can recognize that it hasn’t provided anything desirable so far, you’re free to choose somewhere else to focus your time and energy. And remember: You’re not just giving something up. You’re gaining something too!
With intuitive eating, your body may lose weight, gain weight, or stay the same. However, that is the LEAST interesting part of this journey. The newfound sense of freedom (and the dieting baggage you leave behind) is where the fun is!
It can be scary to STOP focusing on something you’ve obsessed over for years…
but it feels SO good once you finally let go.
Consciously Make the Choice
At some point, you can decide to change your mindset and refocus your life. Every single day you can shift your thoughts from control, restriction, fear, and obsession. Instead, you can choose to embrace freedom, self-love, courage, and acceptance of your body exactly as it is.
Just a reminder – this is not about giving up on taking care of yourself.
When intuitive eating, you still get to think about feeling good, and you’re still taking care of yourself. You’re just doing it from a place of self-care and compassionate listening, rather than pursuing weight loss as the magic cure.
When you stop dieting, you might experience changes in your body. That’s to be expected! Coming off of years worth of dieting is going to involve some shifting and recalibration. That’s normal, and nothing to stress over! Let your body find its groove, and prioritize balance and self-care. Expect ups and down, and learn to listen to your body’s needs through the process.