F*ck Food Rules Part 2: Shamanic Journey & Intuitive Eating

If you missed it, here’s Part 1 – it will probably help to read these posts chronologically.

A big part of my journey as a whole is the spiritual aspect. I mean, a couple years ago I didn’t even believe in a God never mind practice any kind of spirituality. Spirituality, not to be confused with religion, is a relationship between a person, their true self, and god… some would say all 3 are the same thing but that’s a whole different blog post. If you want to read more about my journey in realizing “there is a God” check out my memoir, Until Recently. For now, all you really need to know is that building on my spirituality and my relationship with God has made healing from the traumas of my past a whole lot easier. So when I had the opportunity to take a Shamanic journey and meet my spirit guides, I took it. If you don’t roll with this type of thing, i am probably going to lose you here, if i havent lost you already. Feel free to rejoin us later in Part 2 when i talk about intuitive eating, or skip this post entirely and wait for part 3 lol

Before taking the journey we were told to think about some areas we were looking for clarity in and of course one of the first on my list was figuring out this weight thing. As i mentioned in Part 1- i was already at the point of knowing there is no way it HAS to be this hard. There’s no way a life of counting and number obsession is the ONLY way to maintain a healthy weight and body fat percentage. I was excited about what kind of clarity this journey might bring me.

A shamanic journey is an experience where a person or group of people listen to rhythmic, ancestral sounding music and practice special breathing techniques that allow their soul to escape to a higher level of consciousness. The closest thing i can compare it to is to magic mushrooms, minus the drugs. You are literally out of your body, like I can see myself, from outside of myself. My experience was freaking mind blowing and enlightening in so many ways, but for the sake of this post we’re going to focus on two specific parts, meeting my spirit guide and birthing knowledge.

First came birth. What i experienced was swimming underwater in a crystal clear spring, nude. When my face emerged from the water for a breath I realized i was no longer in a spring, but in a birthing pool. Instantly i began to feel the physical pains of labor. My physical body was shaking and sweating and I was literally screaming. It felt like I was birthing a baby, but to my surprise when it was finally over, i did not receive a baby, but rather, wisdom. I have yet to find the right words to describe the feeling of unwavering knowledge that suddenly filled my brain. I knew that my body is a vessel simply provided to me for learning lessons. If i have yet to learn the lesson I need, it doesn’t matter what I do in the physical world to change my body. It will not change or if it does, the results will be short lived. I knew that this information was pertaining to my weight and as much as i thought I had mastered major weight loss, I was wrong. My circumstances were not just a product of my mindset or reality, but of the lesson i had missed on my way down from 300lbs. I had become obsessed with numbers and willpower and completely missed the ideas of unconditional body love (aka loving your body exactly as it is, for no reason, vs loving your body because you’re proud it lost weight or changed its shape or ran a race, etc.) I had also missed the train on intuitive eating, but at this point I still didn’t have a clue what that was so i didn’t understand or recognize it.

Next i met my spirit guide. She called me on my shit. She told me that I use veganism and nutrition as means to restrict & that restriction of any kind is not the answer I seek. She said “Nothing you eat is going to kill you. Nothing you eat is going to save you. You can’t possibly exercise enough to save you; you can’t possibly be dormant enough to kill you.” Now obviously we all know food and exercise DO have health benefits, but i knew her point was that i didnt need to analyze every little tiny thing. I didn’t need to aim for a completely clean diet in order to be healthy. It wasnt necessary to keep up a crazy workout routine to be healthy. I dont need ANY EXTREMES to be healthy. It felt like she gave me permission to stop beating myself up every time any morsel of what I had deemed “poison” entered my body. I had been battling with whether veganism was still my best option, but ignoring those feelings for months due to ethics, ego, and fear of judgement. I also didnt trust that if i dropped veganism I wouldnt kill myself with all of the diseases prevalent in meat eaters (more on this topic to come in part 3.) She told me over and over, to the point it seemed like it was the theme of my entire workshop that weekend, to “follow your intuition.” I thought this advice was intended for me to follow for business or life in general, not weight loss and food, but sooner or later I would realize she WAS talking about food.

I left my workshop that weekend feeling a sense of calm, relief, and enlightenment. I had faith and trusted that i would continue to be guided along this journey, and I was. The next day I was inspired to pull a book off the shelf that i had purchased nearly two years prior, but never got around to reading. The book Visualization For Weight Loss by John Gabriel, was about the authors experience using visualizations to lose over 200lbs. He perfectly explained how visualizing your body in a certain way will allow it to easily achieve its ideal weight without the fight we had all become accustomed to. I loved his outlook and wisdom about visualizations, but the chapter about Leptin resistance resonated with me even more.

Leptin is the hormone in our bodies that tells us when to stop eating. It helps the brain and the stomach connect to understand “I am satisfied. You can stop now.” If you are like me and rarely ever experience that feeling, to the point sometimes you wonder if youre actually a bottomless pit, you probably have leptin resistance. This happens when the body is in a state of restriction. Whether it be restricting calories (I was down to 1100 calories a day, while also working out, thanks for My Fitness Pal) or fasting regularly, essentially not honoring the hunger ques makes it so the body believes me are starving and in a state of famine. We lose our sensitivity to this hormone so that we can eat our faces off so the body can store sugar and fat until our next period of restriction. If we have enough will power, we will not give in to those cravings and we will lose weight. For many of us, that works. But the problem is eventually the will WILL run out and then what? You’re left with the inability to tell when you’re full and cravings that set you into a tailspin of eating junk. The vicious yo-yo cycle begins. John suggests that while you begin practicing the visualizations you stop restricting entirely. Yes, he says, you may gain a bit more weight, but in the long run it will be worth it once the brain is retrained that it is not actually in a state of famine and following the bodies natural hunger and full ques becomes much easier- or as John calls it, effortless.

This is where I was at when the May 2018 Belize Retreat rolled around. I knew that like my guide had said, it was my duty to share my new lessons, but I worried about judgement. How can I tell anyone the key to their weight is to stop restricting, as i stand before them 40lbs heavier, with no physical proof to show them yet? I was so worried, in fact, that i manifested a physical panic attack the day before my participants arrived. However, when i woke up and headed to breakfast on the first day of the retreat, a giant blue butterfly fluttered past me. I should mention that a blue butterfly was one of the forms my guide told me she would visit me in. I knew right away that it was my sign and the segment of the retreat that had formerly been dedicated to nutrition was shifted to no longer restricting. The portion previously dedicated to creating your own fitness routine shifted to self love and body positivity. The segment about excuse busting and willpower would now be replaced with visualization and meditation. It was time to share the side of myself I had resisted sharing for so long. I finally understand and trusted that my lessons were meant to be shared, regardless of how those they’re not meant for may judge me.

My spirit guide in butterfly form!

To my surprise, the participants received the new messages SO WELL. The ladies finished off that week exclaiming they had never felt better about themselves before and they looked forward to applying these new things when they got home. One of the participants said in 20 years of attending workshop after workshop for her nursing career, she had never been to a retreat that had impacted her on the level this one did. Another participant called her experience “soul shaking.” I am sure these ladies came with the idea that we were going to spend the week beating into their heads what they already knew- that they needed more willpower and their lack of it was their problem. Now they knew that wasn’t the case and I knew I was on the right track. My guide was right, I did have to share.

Upon my return from Belize I was not quite ready to spill my beans to the world, yet. I took a few more weeks to feel out and analyze my own feelings behind my new mindset and plan before I subjected myself to anyone else’s opinion of it. But then finally, i felt brave enough to share what I was going through and did so over several days in a series of instagram posts:

Last time I weighed myself, I had gained 40lbs since last summer 😱 HOW?! I ate my feelings (I published a memoir and spilled all my own dirt about working as a prostitute for 5 years, my mom moved in next door after not living in the same state for almost a decade, I met my biological father, I ended a toxic relationship with someone I love dearly, I found out I have a thickened endometrium [endometriosis not confirmed, but the idea it’s even a possibility I might struggle to have children literally makes me sick to my stomach] someone I was dating got someone else pregnant, and the list goes on) and eventually eating the emotions I wasn’t ready to process resulted in about 15lbs gained. But then I focused ALL my energy on “omg I am gaining weight” and how to “make it stop”… consequently manifesting more and more weight gain (“what you focus on expands!” EOB quote) . By the beginning of 2018, I was feeling like shit about myself… I couldn’t stop eating, I couldn’t get back into a regular workout routine and I suddenly realized all of this self love I thought I had embraced was CONDITIONAL. I had fallen in love with my ability to lose weight. I loved myself for crushing my goals. I loved myself for doing the thing I thought was impossible…. but how about LOVING MYSELF FOR ABSOLUTELY NO REASON? I was receiving a lesson. A lesson in unwavering unconditional love. I deserve my own love and affection no matter what shape I am in or how far I can run or what size I wear or how much weight I can squat. . So I got to practicing loving myself unconditionally. The way my grandmother loves me, the way my dog loves me, the way God loves me. I stopped focusing on what I was doing that was “wrong” and rather, what I was doing that was right. I scrapped all of my exercise regimes and eating rules (I no longer identify as vegan 😱 blog post coming on that soon!) I got back to doing and focusing on what makes me feel FREE. Today, I feel good about myself. & it feels good to feel GOOD. . 5 Star Memoir is available on Amazon- link in bio. . @live.love.healthy.retreat now booking for January 2019! DM for details! . #thickfit #lifestylechange #bopo #selflove #selfcare

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Day 1 of the #BeYouBravely @newfigureforward Yoga Challenge 🧘‍♀️ Today’s pose is #lotus which was funny to me because it’s a pose I’ve never been able to do past beginner level. I’ve got short and thick legs that haven’t quite embraced pretzel form yet and like most of us, I stick to sharing poses I am good at. So day 1 and I’m out of my comfort zone already! Lol today we are embracing loving our bellies, so rather than changing my pants because I knew they’d give me a muffin top on this pose, I said “fuck it” and took the dang picture! Part of LOVING MYSELF UNCONDITIONALLY (see previous post) is not only sharing pictures that are flattering & not “hiding” until I have a before and after for comparison “it’s okay that I used to look like that, because now I look like this.” Nope. Not today Satan 😋 It’s okay that I look like this. It may be different than I have become accustomed to, but it is equally as beautiful 💜 . The amount of public support on my last post is OVERWHELMING! The amount of private concern is also a little overwhelming. I’ve gotten a handful of DMs from ladies who are concerned that I am quitting and asking me to please not hurt myself by making unhealthy choices. For anyone who may have misinterpreted, please understand that I am in a great space. By letting go of my eating and exercise rules I have not decided I will no longer eat healthy food or workout. I’m not quitting. On the contrary, I am making much better food choices than I was when I was eating clean half the time and binging 10,000 calories in a few hours, the other half. Since giving up on my rules I have also been more physically active than I was when I was committed to 5-6 days a week and skipping 2-3 of those and then beating myself up for it. I get that what I am doing is hard to understand and seems counteractive to healthy lifestyle but I promise it’s not. It IS healthy lifestyle. What it’s opposite of, is #DIETCULTURE, which we’ve been brainwashed to falsely believe is healthy lifestyle. 💜 . #selflove #bopo #thickfit #lifestylechange #healthy #effyourbeautystandards #choosehappy #balance

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I used to say I couldn’t do moderation. That if I had just a little, once the flood gates were open, it was over. So I did my best to avoid trigger foods by all means necessary. I went 109 days without consuming a single gram of added sugar, once. Then on day 110 I probably ate 200g sugar 🤦‍♀️ When I said #FuckFoodRules and allowed myself to eat whatever I wanted, I definitely ate a whole bunch of unhealthy food the first few weeks. But rather than beating myself up for it I practiced loving and forgiving myself every single time. Then something AMAZING happened. I didn’t really want unhealthy food any more. My body went back to craving healthier food most of the time. The last few weeks have been eating bliss for me. I feel like for the first time in my life I am eating like a “normal” person. I can have ONE brownie and not eat the pan. I had a bag or tortilla chips in my house for two weeks recently 😱 those used to be one serving over here. No longer restricting, and not only loving myself through it but not beating myself up for it, is helping me to stop binge eating. This past year I ate and ate and ate and continually failed at forcing myself to stop. But “what you resist persists” so it makes perfect sense. Once I stopped resisting what I was experiencing and just allowed it to happen- WITHOUT JUDGEMENT OR PUNISHMENT- it ended. It feels weird right now, to feel so content, knowing only a few months ago my all day, every day, was consumed with thinking about and planning the next thing I would eat in shame. This feels like FREEDOM! . It’s Day 3 of #BeYouBravely yoga challenge with @newfigureforward! Today we’re doing #downwardDog and embracing back rolls! Never thought I’d have them again, but guess what? I do! & I’m not going to stop living in and loving on this body because of it! . 5 Star Memoir is available on Amazon- link in bio. . @live.love.healthy.retreat now booking for January 2019! DM for details! . #weightlossjourney #lifestylechange #yogaoffthemat #effyourbeautystandards #selflove #selfcare #thickfit #choosehappy #howbiggirlsgetfit #dietculturedropout

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THIS IMAGE IS SOME BULLSHIT! OMG it triggers TF out of me! & what’s crazy is I used to love (& share!) tips like this! Here’s the thing- this image- intended to be helpful, I know – suggests just one cookie or one soda or my favorite- two pieces of chocolate per week should be avoided because it adds up. If we avoided it we could save ourselves a whopping 25,000 calories over the course of a YEAR. Is that a joke? 25,000 calories over a year is NOTHING. I can clear 25,000 calories in 2-3 binge sessions! What’s true for me is that if I allow myself a couple treats per week, I actually save myself from consuming HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of binge calories over the course of a year. If you’re like me, and find yourself binging after you’ve been restricting, do your best not to take advice like this. The cure to end binge/restriction patterns is not MORE restriction. Go ahead and eat the cookie, drink the beer or eat the chocolate – especially if for you that means you’ll avoid eating the whole tray later. Moderation will not kill us, but #dietCulture just might! 🤬😡🤬 am I making sense or nah? . . #weightlossjourney #lifestylechange #motivation #eatclean #thickfit #effyourbeautystandards #plussize #binge #bed #diet #dietculturedropout #moderation #balance #eatlikeanormalperson #keto #weightwatchers #bingeeatingdisorder #bingeeatingdisorderrecovery

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Again, to my surprise and delight, they were very well received. Even better, someone reached out with a book recommendation that she said really lined up with the way I was thinking and what I was going through. I checked out the book, Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. I got the book right away and my mind was BLOWN. Not only did the book cosign what I had learned on a soul level during my journey, it also cosigned Gabriel’s argument against any kind of restriction and made perfect sense of my exact experience with major weight loss. I also couldn’t help but notice the title was perfectly aligned with what my guide had been stressing to me: follow your intuition.

This book is about the idea that humans, just like animals, know what and how to eat on an intuitive level. Through different circumstances we have learned to restrict our food and eat according to rules vs hunger that our bodies have fought back, attempting to keep us safe from the famine its become so used to experiencing. This book helps to explain how the very things that have brought people who’ve lost weight success, are the very things that set them up to regain their weight. This is why even people who have had weight loss surgery will usually gain their weight back within 5 years. I thought because I did not have weight loss surgery I would escape those odds. But here I am, 6 years later, having the same experience. This book talks about how in every other industry, if we buy or use a product or idea and it doesnt end successfully, we blame the product. But in the world of weight loss when we are not successfull, we blame ourselves and our lack of willpower.

But its not about willpower. There are tons of people, children especially, that maintain a healthy weight who are not obsessed with food or numbers. They people us dieters watch eat and think “if i ate like that i would be 400lbs.” Yea, metabolism and genetics do play a roll, but most of us have slowed our metabolisms down with years of dieting and no ones genetics require them to be obese or severely overweight. On the contrary, the way their brain thinks about food, whether they’re eating healthily or not, has the biggest effect on how their body will react to food.

I never considered myself a restricter or a dieter, but this book helped me to realize i was soooo wrong. Because I wasn’t following a fad diet and i counted calories according to an app i thought was trustworthy, I did not consider myself to be on a diet. But I had an arsenal of food and eating and lifestyle rules much larger than i even realized. Many of these rules I didnt even realize, until i committed to not following any rules and would catch myself in the act.

Myself, and people like me, have been following rules about eating for so long that we actually believe we dont know how to eat. Instintcually, we know what our bodies need and how much they need of it. But because of my pattern of binge eating and having a taste for junk, i have never trusted myself to make my food choices. I have always looked for guidelines somewhere externally.

For many of us, this starts in our infancy when we are put on an eating schedule. X amount of ounces every X amount of hours. It doesn’t matter when you feel hungry or how hungary you feel, you eat according to the schedule your parents or caretakers have given you. As I got older I started to experience restriction. Certain foods in the house were only allowed to be eaten in certain amounts and certain foods were supposed to only be for my stepdad. They were off limits and forbidden to us kids, only making the desire to sneak and eat them that much more tempting (I talk about this in my memoir, Until Recently.) Growing up I continued to eat according to schedule, never honoring my true hunger. Breakfast when you wake up, lunch at school or at noon, snack when I got home. Dinner when it was ready. Snack before bed. I never considered whether I was actually hungry or not. And i was soothing my emotions with food since childhood. If it was time to eat, I ate. We also didn’t do food waste in our house. If it was on the plate, we ate it. As a little kid i remember stuffing myself to satisfy this rule at my grandparents house, but as i got older, it just became habit to always clean the plate regardless of my hunger level or how much i enjoyed the food.

By high school I had began dieting and really getting good at demonizing some foods as “bad” and glorifying others as “good.” I started to develop the diet mentality of “I’m good if i eat this, I’m bad if i eat that” I did weight watchers and low carb for the first times and quickly made good and bad associations with food according to the carbs or points. When I got out of high school i gave up on dieting and for the first time ate whatever I wanted, but i realized i was “out of control” when given that permission. I didn’t realize the diet mentality and restriction themselves were what made me so ravenous to begin with. I truly believed I didnt know how to eat intuitively and from then on I never stopped following some kind of eating rules whether it was veganism or vegetarianism or calorie counting or no gluten or whatever.

As i got a bit older and experienced homelessness (also in Until Recently) I only further removed myself from my ability to eat intuitively. When I had money i would find myself binging as i wanted to “fill up while I can” not knowing when i would have the opportunity to eat again. Once i had a home i continued to experience financial instability for years and the habit continued. I had so many weeks and months and years of eating what i could afford vs what i craved or was good for me, that i fell further out of touch with my ability to eat the way my ancestors had.

This book was a game changer for me because it gave me the confidence to do what my guide and John had suggested. It wasnt that i didn’t trust them, but i didnt fully trust them! I was terrified that in ditching my food rules i would experience nothing but weight gain and with time end up embarrassed and judging myself for eating my way back to 300lbs. When I got Intuitive Eating it not only broke down the entire science for me, but it also gave me more specific direction opposed to “just eat whatever you want and trust the process.”

Here are the stages of becoming an intuitive eater (in short.)
To best understand this philosophy, i recommend getting your own copy of the book.
1- Hitting the diet bottom. This is where you realize you cannot possibly go on with the struggle of losing and maintaining weight for a day longer. You know there has to be a better, simpler way. You realize that the very same processes that you thought were to blame for your success are the very same processes that keep you in this rat race chasing a seemingly unachievable goal, or when you do reach that goal, its short lived.
2-Exploration. This is the stage where you eat whatever you want, whenever you want, as much as you want. Make peace with food, forget your rules, and allow yourself to eat unconditionally. There shouldn’t be any regard for nutrition, rules, judgement or ethics. In this phase you practice hyper-consciousnesses in that you will want to pay attention to all of the things we’ve buried when we traded our intuition for diet culture. You will want to pay attention to how much food it takes to feel full. You’ll eat when you are hungry regardless of what time it is or when you ate last. You’ll eat when you’re not hungry, but desire to eat, and instead of judging yourself, observing why it is you desire to eat now. You will discover which foods taste good and bring pleasure to you, likely noticing forbidden foods are often less appealing when they are not forbidden. You will pay attention to how eating different foods makes your body feel physically. You will experiment with foods you may not have eaten in years, to identify your true desires and tastes. You will practice honoring your hunger, respecting your fullness, and not judging yourself when you do not. This stage can take months to undo years of attachments to food rules and diet culture.
3- Crystallization. Hyper-consciousness is no longer needed. Your practice of honoring your hunger, respecting your fullness, and not judging or punishing yourself based of your food choices becomes easier and starts to feel like a behavior change. You no longer feel obsessed with food. You are beginning to trust yourself, your body, and your instincts. You’re beginning to feel more satisfied with your meals. You can now feel the difference between biological and emotional hunger.
4- The intuitive eater awakens. You consistently choose what you want to eat when you’re hungry. You’re unlikely to over eat because you trust that there is no fresh start tomorrow or reason to binge today, this food is available to you at all times. You’re choosing healthier foods not because you should, but because your body feels better when you do. The desire for previously forbidden foods has nearly diminished. You’re noncritical or your food choices as well as of your body.
5-Treasure the Pleasure. Your inner intuitive eater has been reclaimed. You feel no guilt related to food choices and respond to chocolate in the same way you’d respond to an apple, they’re both just food. The burden of exercise has been lifted and you desire to move your body because like eating nutrition rich foods, it makes you feel better. When you reach this stage your weight will have settled to what is naturally you, a place appropriate for your height and frame. (keep in mind nature does not create obese people- it only gives extra weight to those in a state of restriction or famine, and those days are over for you.) You do not have to fear that your natural body shape is an unhealthy weight. You will maintain this weight effortlessly.

I am currently in stage two, with glimpses of stage 3. Here are my most interesting observations and experiences so far:

I realized when i dont have to “start fresh” tomorrow there is no reason to binge or over eat to get it out of the house and enjoy one last taste, today. When you realize the food is not going anywhere and you can eat it any time without judgement or punishment, there is no need to overeat it today.

I realized I have no idea what i am hungry for. One of the suggestions in the book is to identify what youre actually craving so you can eat exactly that vs stuffing your face nonstop looking to satisfy a taste you cannot pinpoint. I used to do that ALL THE TIME. i knew i wanted something but didnt know what. So id just eat everything in sight hoping to kill the craving. Well, id have a bellyache im so full and still craving something i didnt identify. Ive been using my hyper conciousness to pinpoint what i am craving. I still dont have it but i am at the point where i atleast know whether i want sweet or salty or spicy. I had no idea that I didnt even recongnize my own cravings.

i realized just how many food rules I have. There were soooo many times in the first few weeks where i’d look in the mirror and think “Omg i have to DO SOMETHING.” Knowing i had committed to not restricting calories or food groups i would start considering other rules in my head “i could make a meal plan or start drinking shakes once a day. or stop eating after 7pm no matter what” NO ASHLEY. NO FOOD RULES.

i realizes there are situations where it is NORMAL and OKAY to over eat. For example, if youre on vacation or eating dinner at a friends house. If you actually cannot eat this food any time it is okay to honor that it will not be around and this “is your only chance.” the dieter in me would beat myself up for that (i didnt eat ANY true french cuisine while in france because my food rules did not allow) when in reality its super normal, healthy, and okay. I used to judge others for indulging on vacation too, thinking they were giving themselves and excuse to “be fat” and i would pride myself in having a “mess up free vacation” and coming home having lost weight. THANK GOD those days are over. I cant wait to eat a QUAHOG on my next trip to massachusetts!

i realized if dieting and restriction are what have inspired the problems i am having, there is no way they can also be the solution. I realized the very system i have been following and crediting with my success is the system that has gotten me to the weight i am. i realized i dont have to beat myself up for somehow losing my “willpower.” Scientifically and energetically this is EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENS TO ALL DIETERS NO MATTER HOW GOOD THEIR INTENTIONS. the ONLY way to get out of this cycle is to learn to eat intuitively.

i realized that diet culture puts all this weight on whether or not we have willpower. That is no fair. Naturally thin or average weight people are not using willpower. Their psychology and hormones are different than those of chronic dieters. Instead of blaming the dieters for not having willpower, which the naturally thin may not have either, why not change the psychology of the dieters to match that of the people who are not obsessed with food? THIS IS WHAT INTUITIVE EATING IS!

Some days i still want to stuff my face with everything possible. It is hard to honor these days without judgement. It is scary to honor these days at all. But i realize this HAS to be done. I have to relearn that forbidden foods are truly available to me and i can have them anytime i want. Yesterday i ate mostly junk (turkey bacon, egg and cheese bagel for breakfast [ive learned i prefer turkey bacon vs regular bacon- not a diet rule], sesame noodles with chives and egg rolls for lunch, macaroni and cheese for dinner) but then around 8pm I started thinking about celery and hummus. I wanted it sooo bad, so i ate some. It was super cool to see the proof that if i listen to my body, eventually it will direct me properly. My body knew i needed some clean nutrition by last night and it let me know. A couple days ago i ate a 16oz bag of kale over the course of 2 days, for no reason other than I craved it. I may not be out of the “i want to eat previously forbidden foods” stage, but i am definitely entering the “my body knows it needs nutrition” stage. That makes me feel hopeful!

I have used dieting as a means to avoid social situations. When i was on a roll with a diet i would skip going out to dinners or birthday parties because i didnt want to mess up my diet. I didnt want to drink the calories or be tempted by the food, so often times i just didnt go. I also used this as an excuse not to date. Nope, can’t meet you for a drink, its not cheat day. Sorry, can’t come to dinner, its not part of my meal plan. I am 30 years old and desire a family. I have spent so much time and energy and money working through my daddy issues and without even realizing, i have allowed food and dieting to continue to keep me from experiencing a healthy relationship with a man. I will tell u right now, that is over.

I woke up wanting to exercise the other day and was about my hit the road when i realized i was hungry. My first thought was to ignore it becuase if i did cardio on an empty stomach id be more likely to burn stored calories. I caught myself though and honored my hunger. I had fruit, nuts and coffee before my workout.

I stopped eating my chipotle halfway through because i was full and knew i could finish it later if i wanted to. ive always heard people talk about how chipotle provides a serving size big enough for several meals, but i hadnt ever experienced that before! I decided i wanted to try the queso, having restricted all meat and dairy for the past 6 years. The queso was gross. I would take vegan cashew queso over that shit any day. Historically, if i had paid for it, already “broken my diet with it” and was planning to “get back on track tomorrow” i would finish eating something i didnt even like. I threw away the queso.

I’m getting in touch with how food makes me feel. The bacon egg and cheese bagel was amazing in taste, but my belly felt so heavy and churned up afterward. It feels better to have an egg with fruit and nuts for breakfast. it is cool to know i CAN have the bagel any time i want. That will make it easier to choose the lighter option more often.

so far, everything seems to be happening exactly as the book said it would. Some days i desire to eat healthy, some days i don’t. practicing not judging myself in the meantime is the biggest challenge. But i am reminding myself that how i am eating right now is not how i will be eating forever. this is simply part of the process i have to go through to break through the diet mindset.

Now, if tou’re thinking “Ashley, veganism is WAY MORE THAN A DIET. how can you just drop it because youre dropping your food rules and attachment to diet culture? especially after SIX YEARS a vegan, over a decade of vegetarian or pescetrianism, and not eating red meat in 18 years? HOW DO YOU JUSTIFY THIS?!!!” if you’re screaming this at me, you will love Part 3!

check back for:
Part 3: Vegan No More
Part 4: Diet Culture Drop Out