Discovering intuitive exercise, body image, and intuitive eating

Good Things Utah

We’re told to listen to our bodies, which can apply to our bodies, exercise, and eating. Julie Newbry, The Intuitive Trainer shares her tips to achieve that.

Why Julie works from an intuitive approach to food, exercise, and body:

The first memory she has of being teased about her weight was when she was five years old, she started her first diet at the age of 10, and by age 16 she had developed an eating disorder that she battled for almost 20 years. During her recovery, she learned about intuitive eating. Julie learned that she didn’t need to spend her life hating her body, eating chaotically, punishing herself with exercise, and always trying to achieve the perfect body. She began focusing on health-promoting behaviors, seeing her body as an ally and not her worth, exercising to feel good and take care of herself, and letting her body settle into its natural weight range instead of trying to force it. She made peace with food, exercise, and her body and her life became fuller and richer than she ever knew was possible. Julie’s story isn’t unique as far as so many people can relate to these struggles. She now works as a personal trainer, body image coach, and intuitive eating counselor because she wants people to know there is another way of approaching health and another way of seeing the purpose of their body.  

What is Intuitive Eating?

Most people know the struggles of trying to diet and lose and keep weight off. For many, this becomes a lifelong struggle that often leads to negative health outcomes, negative body image, and a stressful relationship to food and exercise. Intuitive eating offers an alternative to this struggle. Intuitive Eating is a science-based way of eating that focuses on a holistic approach to health, helps you make peace with food and body, takes the stress, shame, and anxiety out of eating, and focuses on self-care vs self-control. It was created by two registered dietitians in 1995 and has over 125 studies. 10 main principles help the individual increase their interoceptive awareness and also to manage the thought patterns, obstacles, and rules that can interfere with our ability to have attunement with our physical and psychological needs.

It’s not a diet, but a way of getting away from focusing on extrinsic results and instead focusing on how one feels and one quality of life.

What does it mean to exercise intuitively?

Like intuitive eating, exercising intuitively is a way of moving our bodies that prioritizes intrinsic motivations, our bodies cues, our quality of life, and overall well-being. It frees you up to find ways of moving that you enjoy and that help your quality of life instead of only exercising as a way of earning food, burning calories, and losing weight. It’s so common for people to tie exercise to weight loss. Focusing on exercising only when actively dieting. Only doing the form of exercise that burns the most calories. For most, this is not sustainable long term. When the scale stops moving most people stop moving to fail to realize that all the health benefits we can get from exercise are available to them whether or not the scale changes. Intuitive exercise allows you to focus on goals that have nothing to do with your appearance such as, running a 5k, doing a pushup, decreasing chronic pain, building endurance, increasing flexibility, and building strength. We can track progress by seeing these improvements, looking at health marker numbers such as blood pressure and cholesterol, quality of sleep, are normal daily activities getting easier, less stress and anxiety, and overall better well-being. Studies have also shown people who exercise for these reasons have a better body image. They learn to appreciate their body for how it helps them accomplish tasks, and focus less on its appearance. 

How can we improve our body image?

For most people, the thought of loving their body can seem impossible. Can you aim for feeling neutral about your body? Or perhaps respecting your body. “Fixing” our body will not fix body image. It might help you feel better temporarily, but eventually, you will find another “flaw” to fix, you may regain the weight lost, and your bodies will change several times throughout your life, making it very hard to maintain a youthful thin body ideal our culture celebrates. Can you instead change how you view the purpose of your body? Is it to be attractive to others, or is it to help you accomplish tasks, experience things, connect with others, and live a full and meaningful life. When you can see your body as your ally, not your enemy, you can begin to respect it and take care of it. You can see all the amazing ways it supports and communicates to you and you can begin to be less critical of your body, and more critical of our cultures’ messaging on what bodies are supposed to look like, and the hierarchy of placing certain body types as more valuable and worthy than others. You’ll know that you’re here and now the body is worthy and deserves to be taken care of.

Small simple steps viewers can take today:

If this approach to food and body piques your interest there are a few things you can start doing right away to move in that direction. You can buy the Intuitive Eating book, download a podcast episode on intuitive eating, write down a mantra that reminds you that your body is your ally and good, get rid of one food rule you have, add in one food you’ve restricted. Write down all the ways dieting and punishing exercise has negatively affected your life and what you think you might gain from focusing on intuitive eating and exercising to feel good.

Additional Resources:

The Intuitive Eating book and workbook by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, Intuitive eating and anti-diet podcasts, Intuitive eating, and anti-diet social media accounts.

Find Julie online, and IG.

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