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Natural Awakenings South Jersey

Intuitive Eating + Yoga: A Healing Combination

Aug 31, 2019 10:25AM
Kathleen Schwarz, PT, RYT, never would have found yoga had it not been for finding her way out of the disordered eating and exercise habits that had consumed her life for over 20 years. As a physical therapist, she had convinced herself that the countless dollars spent on Weight Watchers and fancy gym memberships were necessary “for her health”. But, in actuality, her habits were anything but healthy. She ignored her hunger signals all week, eating too-small meals to stay within her “points” and exercising vigorously to earn a few more, only to binge on greasy food and alcohol all weekend long. Vacations and holidays became an excuse to overeat until she felt physically ill. As ashamed as she was about her behavior, she couldn’t seem to control it... until she gave up dieting completely.


This radical idea was not her own. In 2015, she read a book called Intuitive Eatingby Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, and she learned that dieting was having the exact opposite effect that she’d hoped. Any successful weight loss would predictably lead to her regaining even more weight over time, leading her to start yet another diet. The book not only had a scientific explanation for why this was occurring; more importantly, it offered an evidence-based solution. Schwarz was more than ready to find freedom from the food and body shame and anxiety that had plagued her for over 20 years. 


Establishing a healthy relationship with food required her to quit exercising for about a year, and when she finally felt ready, she wanted to do something completely different. That’s when she discovered the power of a gentle yoga practice. Somehow, an hour of focusing on her breath left her feeling more relaxed, happy and empowered than ever before. In contrast, the decades spent sweating on the treadmill or in the aerobics room left her feeling dehydrated and defeated, seemingly always miles away from her “goal”. Once she established a regular yoga practice, she was finally able to do what she once thought impossible: accept and appreciate her body as it was, not as she wished it to be. She felt so confident that she started yoga teacher training just six months after that first practice. 


Simply put, Intuitive Eating (IE) is the way humans were born to eat. Bodies send signals regarding what, when and how much to eat, but dieting teaches people to ignore these natural signals to the point where they’re often suppressed. Dieters are taught to reject entire food groups that contain vital nutrients that their bodies need to run optimally, and to only participate in exercises that result in weight loss or body change. The goal of IE is improving one’s relationship with food and their body by promoting healthy thoughts and behaviors, not losing weight. Like yoga, it is a practice, not a fad or a quick fix.  


There are 10 IE principles, but the process can be summed up as follows: Eat and move in ways that feel supportive of health―including mental health. Avoid feeling too hungry or too full. Be patient and forgiving. Aim for satisfaction, not perfection. 


Schwarz offers affordable coaching packages for anyone looking for personalized guidance. Her passion is educating and inspiring others to break up with chronic dieting and body hatred—forever. It’s the healthiest decision she ever made. 

 

For more free information and support, visit CHSYoga.com, sign up to receive Intuitive emails or join Schwarz’ Facebook group Intuitive Eating: Radical Acceptance.