Dear body, thank you for taking on these extra 5 pounds.

This winter, I gained a solid five pounds. Maybe a couple more, I’m not entirely sure to be honest.

Initially, I was kind of upset about this extra weight. But lately, I’ve gained a tremendous, deep appreciation for it.

I talk to women all the time about body image and I believe that our bodies tell a story. When we naturally lose weight, it is typically a result of us being relaxed, happy, and less stressed in our lives. Many women talk about losing weight on vacation when they are chilling out and at ease. When we gain weight, it is usually a sign of something else going on. Stress, boredom, lack of excitement in our lives, overwhelm.

I’m pretty in touch with my emotions and how to take care of myself on all levels, but I have to say that starting a business threw me for a big loop. As hard set I was on keeping some sort of peace, balance and sanity during this new venture, I’ve quickly learned that I have to get used to NOT necessarily having those things right now. I’ve become increasingly comfortable with this, but I struggled with it at first. And I see the reflection of that in my body.

However, when I look at my body, with the extra weight it’s holding onto, I look at it in such a loving way.

When I look in the mirror, I see a body that supported me starting a business from scratch.

I see a body that had my back as I faced a lot of fears and took a lot of risks.

I see a body that was with me through making some of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make with little idea as to how to make them.

I see a body that supported many sleepless nights when my brain wouldn’t stop churning about who knows what.

I see a body that helped me get up after those sleepless nights and devote my full attention to talking to my amazing clients all day.

I see a body that gave me energy to keep my relationships strong, exciting and healthy during times when I felt worn down.

I see a body that took me for runs when I needed to clear my head and let me sleep like a baby when I truly needed it.

I see a body that fueled me to go out dancing with my friends for hours on end when I needed to let it all go.

I see a body that let me eat cereal at 3am to get me through a project I needed to get through, and occasionally rely on ice cream to mentally check out when I just didn’t know what else to do.

When I look in the mirror and see that my cheeks are a little fuller, my thighs a little thicker and my stomach a little rounder, I see a girl who ventured into unknown territory and a new phase of her life and a body that supported that.

I’m not superwoman (dang, wish I was), and although I talk about emotional eating and self-care, I also tell people that sometimes you just have to do the best you can. Sometimes we get thrown curve balls, or we move into a new chapter of our lives and aren’t quite sure how to handle the new lifestyle and challenges that it brings. We need to relearn how to take care of ourselves, how to adjust, and how to grow.

Although I have taken care of myself in the best way that I know how, I’m still learning as I go through a new phase of my life, and I’ve learned that the best thing I can do for myself right now is be understanding, patient, and compassionate with myself. There have been days that I’ve overeaten to comfort or distract myself, weeks when I haven’t gotten enough sleep, times when I haven’t managed my stress as well as I could have, and many days I haven’t gotten outside and stretched my legs as much as I know my body has wanted to.

But I’m still here, and I’m still kickin’.

And I’m starting to get the hang of it. And I know that each day I’m learning more about what I need and how to make this all work. How to balance taking care of myself, taking care of my business, and taking care of everything else.

So for now, here is a little letter to my body…

Thanks for being patient with me and supporting me through so much unknown and uncertainty lately. I look at those extra 5 lbs and I see them as a reflection of everything we’ve pushed through in the last several months. I know I haven’t treated you perfectly, but thank you for being there for me anyway. We’ve accomplished a ton, and I couldn’t have done any of it without you. As I get used to this new life and keep figuring it all out, I know that I will be able to  focus more and more on taking care of you and giving you what you need. Thank you for hanging in there with me.

I want you to look at your body the next time you’re in front of the mirror and thank it for something. For something it has gotten you through. Are those extra pounds a reflection of something you’ve gone through and an example of where your body has taken one for the team? Did you eat to get through something, or stop working out because you were dealing with another area of your life that needed attention? Is that extra tummy roll there because you can’t stand your job but you’re doing it anyway and constantly hitting the M&M jar to get through the day? Are you going through changes in your life and still trying to figure out how to take care of yourself under those new circumstances? Where has your body supported your decisions and kept you afloat? Where has it taken on some physical weight because it was too hard for you to take on the emotional weight? Can you compassionately thank your body for that?

Weight fluctuations are normal. We go through things in our lives and constantly have to adjust. We go through break ups, we deal with extreme joy and pain, we change jobs, we move, we build families. And its normal that as we go through changes, our bodies do too.

So what’s next? How about these 5 pounds?

Well, I’m not too concerned about the weight. I know that it will go away eventually, and my number one job right now is to just keep working on creating a lifestyle where I am able to pay attention to my body in the way it deserves. In these past few weeks I’ve felt like I am kinda sorta getting better at this new entrepreneurial territory I am swimming in, and I am going to continue to just keep figuring out how to make it all work for me.

I plan on sharing a series of posts over the next several weeks explaining what lifestyle changes I’ve been/will be making in my own life in order to take care of myself even better. It will be a combination of what has worked for me in the past plus new strategies that I’ve been trying out lately. It’s going to be a lot of little things, no drastic changes, but I figure I might as well share how I’m learning to take care of myself with a very unstructured schedule and a lot of uncertainty, change and unknown going on in my life right now.

So if you’re interested, stay tuned!

I’d love to hear from you. Regarding the questions above– can you compassionately thank your body for something its helped you get through, even if it has taken on some weight? Do you have any ideas of something you can shift in your life right now in order to create more room for taking care of yourself and giving your body more of what it needs? 

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Meditating through an Ice Cream Cone

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(This is a recycled pic but I got this exact same cone yesterday, so just roll with me here…)

So yesterday I had an interesting experience with this ice cream cone that I’d like to share.

It was a warm day in the city (finally!) and I was coming back from meeting up with a friend in Union Square at around noon when suddenly the thought of having a vanilla ice cream cone with chocolate sprinkles sounded like the absolute best idea.

As soon as I got off the subway, I went ahead and got it. No questions asked.

And let me tell you… this ice cream cone was amazing.

Once I got it, I slowed down my pace, walked really slowly over the three blocks to my apartment, and just basked in the sun and the pure enjoyment of the ice cream. I felt like a little kid again, licking all the sprinkles off first and catching the ice cream as it dripped off and melted.

I was so immersed in the experience. I didn’t notice anything around me, and for the first time in weeks, I realized that I wasn’t thinking about work, or where I needed to be, or my to-do list. My mind was completely present and I was extracting every ounce of pleasure from the experience.

The next thing I knew, I was on the wrong block. I started laughing to myself, because I was literally so involved in the ice cream cone joy that I forgot where I lived and started walking down a different block.

Now if that’s not true “presence”, then I don’t know what is.

When I got back to my apartment and finished the last bite of my ice cream cone, I felt on top of the world. I was beaming. I was so happy. That ice cream cone, although it only lasted a few minutes, gave me so much satisfaction. And I enjoyed, literally, every single second of it.

I’m joking when I say that I meditated through the ice cream cone, but my point is that being totally present and immersed in our food can bring us so much joy, satisfaction and pleasure.

And when we realize how much enjoyment we can get from our food, we don’t need to eat as much of it. Alternatively, if I had walked back to my apartment thinking about a million different things, the cone would have been gone before I knew it, and I would not have even noticed the amount of pleasure I could have gotten from it. Then, I would have been left feeling unsatisfied and wanting more.

So my challenge for you is… the next time you eat something today, try to be FULLY present and extract as much enjoyment as you possibly can from it. Whether you are sipping on a cup of coffee or eating a sandwich off the side of the street, spend at least a few extra seconds focusing on the food. The taste, the feel, the texture, the smell. And see how much more satisfied you feel afterward. Maybe you even find yourself eating less, but that’s not even the point. I just want you to walk away feeling happy and saying to yourself “damn, that was good”.

Have you had an experience like my ice cream cone experience lately? And if you give this a shot today, tell me how it goes! 

Final Day Reflections on The Feb 21 Day Intuitive Eating Challenge and GiveAway Winner

I want to cry! The Feb Challenge is over.

You guys may know by now that I am the sappiest person alive, so of course I am getting emotional as I just typed up my last daily email to the Feb Challengers.

The 21 Day Feb Intuitive Eating Challenge has been my baby since one sleepless night in January when the idea hit me at 2am like a load of bricks. I wanted to start to express to you guys and to my clients what I really honestly believe is the way to approach our eating, weight and body issues. I don’t believe in diets, but I do believe in US, in listening to ourselves. And I decided to take a chance and just start talking about Intuitive Eating.

And the Feb group took a chance and gave it a shot.

I am so inspired by the Feb group. They have shared so much with me about their own issues, have supported each other, have celebrated their successes, have pushed themselves way outside of their comfort zones, and have opened themselves up to a whole new way of thinking.

They have struggled, they’ve questioned things, they’ve taken steps backward, they’ve gotten tripped up. And so have I. All the time.

But it felt like a real community. I knew that when I had a hard time with something, I could share it with them. And when I was proud of something, they’d be open ears. And I think everyone felt that way.

Each email I sent meant something different to each person. Some concepts resonated big time with some people, and other concepts made an impact on other people. Everyone took something else away from it.

But I think at the end of the day, I realize that what people have said they took away from it was a new perspective, a release of control, guilt and judgement, a sense of awareness of themselves that they had been ignoring for a long time, a desire to feel really good in their own skin, and a trust in themselves that they know the right answers for what they need. (If you want to read  what some of them have said about the challenge, there are a bunch of quotes from them at the bottom of this page)


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And just like that… the 21 days are over. Thank you to my February group for inspiring me more than you know and allowing me to come into your lives for the past 21 days. You are all amazing, courageous and I am really proud of all of the accomplishments you’ve all seen in the last few weeks.

And for the March challengers… get ready!! 🙂 The sign up closes today at 6pm so if you’d like to still sign up, I can still take a couple more people today. Check out this page if you’re interested. 

Finally, the winner of the Chocolate Giveaway is:

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Joanne, I love that “self love” comment! I’ll email you to get your address and these chocolate bars will be on your way!

A Little Known Fact and Lemon Cornmeal Pancakes

These pancakes have a story behind them, and in order to tell you that story, you’ll need to know a little known fact about me:

I am an outdoorsy freak.

I’ve done some really weird stuff in my day, including but not limited to spending a month in the Alaskan mountains hiking, camping each night, and hangin’ out with the bears. I also spent that same month without a single shower, a toilet, a mirror, and barely a change of clothes. I told you… weird.

I can put on heels and a dress, but I am just as happy in hiking boots with a super cool waterproof Timex watch strapped to my wrist.

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That’s part of my group in Alaska. I did a NOLS trip after my freshman year of college. It was by far the most intense experience of my life. If I had known how crazy it was going to be, I don’t think I ever would have done it. In fact, my ankles were so ruined after the month, that the doctor told me I couldn’t workout for 6 weeks. And see that tape on my ears? That’s because we all got some weird skin rashes throughout our time there, so you know, we just threw on some masking tape and life went on.

I’ll never forget the first day when they went through my backpack that I had brought. I thought I had brought very limited clothing according to the packing list. But they quickly started tossing half of my stuff out.

“you won’t be needing this, or this, or this, or this”

Let’s just say they left me with two pairs of underwear and one sports bra for an entire month. I know, gross. The whole experience was absolutely insane, but one of those experiences I will never ever forget.

I’ve never worked my body or my mind so hard.

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I’ve also done a crazy amount of hiking.

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This is me in my happy place. Exhausted after a hike.

My Dad and I have a goal to hike a part of the Appalachian Trail in each of the states it passes through. We’ve done about 5 or 6 at this point (out of 14), and have created so many incredible memories along the way.

Put me on a trail with a backpack, some trail mix, a couple water bottles, good hiking shoes, plenty of blister bandaids, a fleece, and I am one happy camper… literally.

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I’ve also been convinced to go ice climbing. For someone who hates the cold, this was not my ideal sport, but I have to say it was REALLY cool. Being able to jam your spikes into some ice and literally climb up it was a very cool feeling.

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I’ve also played around a lot on ropes courses and taught the ropes course at my camp a few summers ago:

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And done my fair share of rock climbing, both indoors and outdoors:

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I think I have my very first boyfriend to thank for a lot of this. He was the kind of boyfriend who bought me a climbing harness as a birthday present and was SOOO excited about it. I guess he saw a little adventurer in me at a ripe age of 16, and for the past 10 years, that spark has never died. I am in love with the outdoors.

So what does this have to do with pancakes, you may be asking?

WELL, in Alaska, during that month that still makes me shudder, we had to cook all of our own food.  A plane would come each week and literally drop us bags of food. Looking back on how ridiculous this was now makes me laugh!

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And of course, being the foodie I am, some of my most vivid memories from the trip are of the food we ate. One of my favorite meals was these cornmeal pancakes that we made.

We had to eat a ridiculous amount of calories when we were there. I probably ate between 3000 and 4000 calories each day just to keep up with the rigor of the hiking. We spent our entire days climbing mountains, paving our own trails, and wading through rivers flowing with glacier water.

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The rivers were my favorite part. I loved the challenge of slowly getting from one side to the other, knowing that at any moment you could be easily swept away. The adrenaline rush was like nothing I’ve ever experienced.

Anywho, back to the pancakes!

So, we made these cornmeal pancakes and coated them in TONS of butter because, well, we needed all of the calories we could get. We had to get creative in our cooking because we were given basic materials (flour, oats, cornmeal, dried milk, etc.) and had to just come up with our food.

I’ve actually never made cornmeal pancakes for myself before, but it’s always been in the back of my mind that I’ve wanted to recreate these. Yesterday was the day. These taste a little like cornbread in pancake form, but don’t have all of the unhealthy butter that cornbread has.

I used a little bit of butter to coat the pan, and used whole wheat flour with the cornmeal.

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Aside from the butter, these are vegan. I made them with almond milk and didn’t use any eggs.

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The experience of eating these in my pajamas was a little different than out on the mountains as we geared up for another 8 hour hike straight up a mountain while doing bear calls to avoid getting eaten alive.

But other than that, the experience was pretty similar 🙂

Whole Wheat Lemon Cornmeal Pancakes

  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup + 2 T almond milk or regular milk
  • 1 t honey
  • 1 t lemon rind (optional)
  • 1 t baking powder
  • sprinkle of salt
  • 1/2 T butter

1. Mix flour, cornmeal, baking powder. Add lemon rind, honey, salt, and milk. Mix all together.

2. Heat up a skillet and use butter to coat. Pour mixture onto pan, flip the pancakes once they’re bubbling slightly.

3. Add a little more butter when done, and syrup on the side.

Enjoy! 🙂

Are you an outdoor lover? What do you like to do??

Chocolate Giveaway: With Love from Me to You

Happy Valentines Day!!

I got you a little present.

It’s really cliche, but I couldn’t resist.

Look how pretty!

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Everyone needs a little chocolate, and this is my favorite kind.

I’ve tried almost every flavor and they all have their perks. Some are spicy, some minty, some are strong, some more mild, some fruity, some nutty.

So I chose six flavors and they’re all yours.

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I wanted to share some love on this Valentines Day because you have all been so good to me over the past year. It’s because of your support for this blog that I now have my own business and am doing something I love. It’s because of you that I have this outlet to share my thoughts and experiences, and it’s because of your openness that I have the opportunity to try to help some of you in making positive changes in your lives.

I think I owe you a few more chocolate bars for that.

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I hope that you take some time today to not only show your love for everyone around you, but to also take some time to love on yourself. Do something just for you today. Because loving yourself should be your number one priority. It is only when you really love yourself and fill up your own bucket that you can show everyone else how much you truly love them.

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And now I’m rambling about love, so I’ll stop and just cut to the chocolate chase.

To enter in the giveaway for these Chocolove Chocolate bars, just leave a comment on this post telling me one way you’re going to love yourself today. It could be anything… from eating something you love to listening to your favorite music while driving home. Whatever it is that fills up your bucket. Share it with me!

AND if you’d like to tweet about it, you get an extra entry. Just tweet something about the giveaway and add my twitter handle in there (@studioeats14) and the link to this post so that I know you’ve tweeted.

I’ll keep this giveaway open for 4 or 5 days and will announce the winner mid-week next week.

YAY for chocolate and for this day of love and especially for you.

And if you haven’t signed up for my 21 Day March Intuitive Eating Challenge, but are interested, go on and sign up! We are getting an amazing group going and I can’t wait for it to kick off.

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21 Day March Intuitive Eating Challenge

*Note, if you’d like to sign up for the next month’s challenge, head over to this page*

On February 1st, I started running the first 21 Day Intuitive Eating Challenge. 45 brave souls decided that they wanted to work on their relationship to food, their weight, and themselves. I think it’s safe to say that the challenge has been a learning and growing experience for all of us, and I’ve loved being able to support everyone each step of the way.

Starting March 1st, we’re doing it again…with a few tweaks.

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Here is more information about the challenge:

The point of the 21 Day Intuitive Eating Challenge is to make steps toward becoming more Intuitive Eaters. This means:

– breaking the Diet Mentality

– listening to our own bodies instead of outside rules telling us what and when we should eat

– eating what we want when we are hungry

– respecting when our bodies are full and satisfied and reducing the amount of times we overeat

– eating mainly for the purpose of physical need and reducing the amount of times we eat for other reasons (emotional, etc.)

The Challenge is for you if: 

– you feel like you constantly need to control your diet and exercise

– you deprive yourself and then overeat/binge

– you often times eat for reasons other than pure hunger

– you know what you “should” eat to lose weight, but aren’t able to

– you feel guilty when eating unhealthy food

– you have a constant chatter in your head telling you what you “should” and “shouldn’t” eat and you just want it to stop

Here is what the challenge entails: 

Two 15 minute one-on-one coaching calls with me. One will be before the challenge starts. During this call, we will hone in on your personal, specific struggles with emotional eating, overeating, controlling your diet, and intuitive eating and figure out how you should personally approach the challenge to get the most out of it. The second 15 minute call will be at the end. This will give us a chance to debrief and recap how the challenge went for you, discuss any questions you have, and talk about how you can work on being more Intuitive in your life going forward.

– Daily newsletters from me that arrive in your inbox every single morning at 6am. Each newsletter outlines a different topic and lesson pertaining to Intuitive Eating and challenges you to try to incorporate the lesson into your life from that day going forward. The newsletters have a flow to them – they strategically guide you so that the lessons build on one another.

– Personal one-on-one coaching with me through email. I respond within 24 hours and coach you through your own personal struggles, questions, and successes. Some people like to email me daily to check in, others email me with road bumps or situations that are specific to their own lives and schedules.

– Access to the private Intuitive Eating Challenge Facebook Group. This has been really active with the February group- people have posted pictures of their food, how they are taking the lessons each day and incorporating them into their day-to-day, “ah ha” moments that they have, and questions for the group. It is not mandatory to be part of this group if you want to remain private. 

The cost of the Challenge for the month of March is $49.

The challenge starts March 1st. If you’re interested and want to be on the list, please email me at jamiemendell@gmail.com

I can’t wait to have you be a part of it 🙂

The 21 Day Intuitive Eating Challenge (Starts Feb 1)

Hi everyone!

I am really excited for this post. I’ve done a lot of thinking and have come up with all the details for the 21 Day Intuitive Eating Challenge that I’m hosting starting Feb 1. I’ve casually posted about this a couple of other times, but here are all of the details.

The 21 Day Intuitive Eating Challenge

What it is: 

For 21 days, starting Feb 1, I am going to be focusing on fine tuning my own Intuitive Eating skills and invite anyone who would like to join me to do so as well. (Here are two posts I wrote last week about Intuitive Eating: Intro to Intuitive Eating and the 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating.)

We will be focusing on the 10 Principles and in a nutshell, we will be freeing ourselves from the Diet Mentality, eating what we actually want and crave throughout the day, paying attention to our hunger- eating when we are hungry and stopping when we are full- and trying to make every single meal as satisfying, enjoyable and delicious as possible. We are going to let our bodies guide as, trusting that they know what we need.

What Joining the Challenge Means: 

It’s totally free, and is all done through email. I won’t really be posting on the blog about it;  instead, it will be lead through emails that I’ll send out each day for 21 days. You can remain completely anonymous throughout the challenge, meaning that nobody besides me needs to know that you’re in it.

What To Expect: 

  • A detailed email right before the challenge starts giving you more in-depth information about Intuitive Eating, my own experience with it, and how to get the most out of the 21 days. 
  • Emails from me in your inbox bright and early each morning with either a tip about incorporating IE into your life, an experiment for you to try that day/week, a story from my own journey or an experience one of my clients has had with it, a practical tactic for keeping up with the principles, a strategy, or some other nugget of good information.
  • Complete email support with me for those 21 days. I will get back to you within 24 hours. You can email me with daily wins and successes, questions, confusion, any “ah-ha” moments, or any struggles.
  • There will be opportunities to interact with the other people involved- sharing experiences, asking questions, and offering/receiving support. Again, you don’t need to be a part of this part if you want to remain private. 
  • We’ll have a hashtag (I’m thinking #IEChallenge) to post pictures, successes, things we are proud of, thoughts, or really anything to the same place. Sometimes it’s easier to feel motivated when involving others and social media outlets.
  • Depending on how things go, I may host a call halfway through to discuss our experiences and answer any questions that I can.

What I Hope You Get Out of the Challenge: 

I’m working with one of my clients on incorporating Intuitive Eating into her life. She called me today for our scheduled session and she said “Jamie, I am just so HAPPY. I am eating what I want, going out to dinner and ordering exactly what I want. And I feel more satisfied than I’ve felt in years. I am just so happy, and notice such a difference in my mood and spirit. I am just really really happy!” She couldn’t stop saying how “happy” she was. It was so cute and put such a big, goofy smile on my face.

This is what I hope for you. I hope that by doing this challenge you open yourself up to the possibility of ditching diets, nutrition “rules” that get thrown at us everyday, and learn to just trust yourself and your body. I hope that you drop into your intuition and out of your head. Into your body and out of you mind. I hope that you give yourself permission to eat foods that you thought you “shouldn’t” eat. I hope that you start to observe and understand and know your body better- what it likes, what it doesn’t, what makes it feel good, what doesn’t. I hope that during these 21 days you start to trust yourself again.

And if you’ve been practicing IE for awhile, and already feel that you are a pretty good Intuitive Eater, I hope that you use this challenge as a time to really focus on your hunger, cravings, and do some fine-tuning. That’s what I’ll be doing and can’t wait to have you on board as well.

How You Can Get Signed Up: 

Send me an email at jamiemendell@gmail.com with “IE Challenge” as the subject and I’ll add you to the list. Or, you can just leave a comment on this post and I’ll add you.

I’m seriously psyched about this challenge and can’t wait to have you be a part of it. Woohoo!

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Intuitive Eating: The 10 Basic Principles

Good morning everyone 🙂

Another Intuitive Eating post today. I have to say, I have been blown away and so touched by some of the emails you’ve sent me about Intuitive Eating and your interest in the 21 Day Intuitive Eating Challenge. So many of you are tired of the diets, want a new approach and are open to this concept. I was already excited about the challenge, but now I just can’t wait to get it started.

I’ll be formally announcing the details of the challenge sometime next week, but you can continue to email me at jamiemendell@gmail.com with the subject line “IE Challenge” to get signed up.

Forging onward! I feel like the next step is to outline the 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating (taken directly from the book, Intuitive Eating) and my interpretation of each one. This lays the groundwork for the concept as a whole and the challenge as well.

So here we go:

Principle 1: Reject the Diet Mentality

This one is huge. In order to let IE in, and use our body as our guide, we have to let the idea that “there is a diet out there for us” go. Diets provide us with an amazing sense of control which can be empowering at first, but ultimately defeating when we get fed up with following some plan or we “fail”. And by the way, it’s not our fault that we fail at diets. We fail because most diets go against what our bodies actually want, and that inherently feels wrong.

I’ll be honest: you will probably get annoyed or fed up with IE at some point and resort back to a diet for a few days. IE takes longer, you have to be patient. It’s about the journey, learning about yourself and what works for you and what doesn’t. There is no “plan” to follow. In the past 4 or 5 years, I have had moments of “this is way too hard, I just need a diet, a plan, someone else to tell me what to do”. And I’ve gone back to diets. But overtime, I learned that they just kept not working for me, and IE was always what I came back to. Now, diets aren’t even an option.

Principle 2: Honor Your Hunger

We should be eating when we’re hungry to keep our metabolisms going. Hunger is GOOD. I love being hungry, because then I eat! This principle is all about trying to level out the periods of restriction followed by overeating. Keeping yourself fueled throughout the day with foods you want and love is essential.

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Principle 3: Make Peace with Food

This one is fun but scary. Making peace with food means giving yourself permission to eat what you actually want and crave. You know those lists you have of “good food” and “bad food”. Say goodbye! 🙂 There is no such thing.

A common question I get about this one is… but if I eat whatever I want, then I’ll just eat junk all the time and I’ll blow up (or in the case of my Dad, he is convinced he would just eat hotdogs and cheeseburgers all day, everyday). To that I say… yes, you definitely may eat a lot of “junk” (higher fat, sugar, calorie) food at first, but over time you’ll learn that you body just wants to feel good, and feeling good will come from incorporating nutritious food into your diet too.

A friend told me a story recently about someone she knew who started following Intuitive Eating several years ago. She started eating 6 Dairy Queen Blizzards every single day, because that is what she had been depriving herself of for years. Eventually, she needed less and less ice cream, and her body finally said “Enough of this, I need real food”.

I went through this too, and I’ll be sharing some of my experiences with this during the 21 Day Challenge.

Principle 4: Challenge the Food Police

Release the guilt that you’ve associated with eating “bad food”. As the book mentions, the food police is ingrained deep into our psyche. This principle is about controlling your thoughts and not letting in those thoughts that say you are making a bad choice. Just let it be. You are experimenting, you are learning, and you’re listening to you.

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Principle 5: Feel Your Fullness

Another huge one! This is about learning what it feels like to feel full and stopping when you’re full. I know this is a tough one for all of us, because… sometimes we just want to keep eating! The food is so good. I’ll also be addressing this in the 21 Day Challenge.

Principle 6: Discover the Satisfaction Factor

This is one of my favorite principles. As I just wrote in an email to someone today “you deserve to enjoy every single thing you eat”. The motto that the IE book has is:

“If you don’t love it, don’t eat it, and if you love it, savor it”

We don’t need to be eating things we don’t like. As you’ve probably seen, I eat a lot of vegetables but I make them in a way that I love. I used to eat them in a really boring and unsatisfying way, but what’s the fun in that? I also eat a lot of chocolate, carbs, fats, and my fair share of ice cream and wine. This is a key principle. Pleasure and enjoyment are crucial! 🙂


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Principle 7: Cope With Your Emotions Without Using Food

Okay, so, this one is a doozy. It really is. If there is one principle that I think is the hardest, it’s this one. Honestly, I wish the book spent more time going through this, because I think this was a missing piece for me for a while after I started trying to incorporate IE into my life. It wasn’t until I focused here (which took me a long time), that everything kind of came together for me.

This is tough… so many of us eat because we are bored, or we are distracting ourselves from a long day of work, or we are stressed out or overwhelmed. Or we are at a dinner and the conversation is boring so we just keep finishing our plate even though we are no longer hungry.

It’s essential to develop strategies and tools to deal with this outside of food. I’m going to go over some things that worked for me in the 21 Day Challenge, but I would just say that this is a part of Intuitive Eating not to discount. From my experience, I’ve found it to be really important to focus on developing these coping skills.

Principle 8: Respect Your Body

Phew. This is another big one, and one I have a lot to say about. But here is the gist: this principle is all about self care. It doesn’t matter how overweight you are, how badly you’ve treated your body in the past, or how far away you think you are from your goals, you deserve to treat your body with respect NOW.

This means feeding it with delicious food, dressing in clothes you love and that are comfortable, moving your body in a way that feels energizing, looking in the mirror and only allowing yourself to tell yourself positive things (even if you aren’t where you want to be yet), and stopping comparing yourself to other people.

The book mentions:

“Body image expert and psychologist Judith Rodin notes in her book Body Traps, “You don’t need to lose weight first in order to take care of yourself. In fact, the process actually happens quite in the reverse!””


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Principle 9: Exercise- Feel the Difference

Move your body in a way that you love. Walk if you like it better than running. Dance, do yoga, and if you don’t want to go to the gym, just put on some tunes and dance around your apartment. Just move in a way that feels good.

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Principle 10: Honor Your Health– Gentle Nutrition

This one is important to go over because I think a common misconception about Intuitive Eating (from my experience in talking about it with people) is that you ignore all nutrition guidelines. It’s really not the case. In fact, to me, IE is all about doing what feels best for me. And what’s best is often times really nutritious food. However, it took me a long time to get here. I had to go through letting go of the “bad food” judgement first and letting myself eat exactly what I wanted and when I wanted it. Overtime, things level out and our bodies just naturally want a mix of high nutrition food and food that may be lower in nutritional value but that we just enjoy. The leveling out does take time and from my experience, it’s important to go through the process to get there.

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And that’s that. There is SO much more in the book about each principle and the authors do a great job of incorporating real life scenarios throughout the book. I could also say so much more about each principle and how it has played into my own experience with Intuitive Eating. In the next week or two, you will hear from a couple of my friends and people I’ve worked with who either practice the IE concept or have given it a shot, and then in the challenge, you’ll hear several tips and pieces of advice that I have for practically incorporating IE into your life.

Have an awesome day and if you get nothing else from this post, I hope you at least give yourself permission to eat something today that you absolutely love 🙂

Simple Winter Pasta in a Light Coat of Butter

When I was a kid, I used to always order a huge plate of ziti with butter and parmesan at restaurants. Tiny bit of sauce on the side, but JUST a tiny bit (I was very “particular”). Regardless of the variety of food on the menu, if you put some pasta and butter in front of me, I was cool as a cucumber.

These days, I am still fond of my pasta and butter combo. Some things don’t change…I knew what was up as a youngin’.

There’s just something about real butter, you know? It’s not necessarily the healthiest thing you can eat, but it’s so delicious. And we all deserve deliciousness.

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Real butter goes a long way. The plate you see only has half a tablespoon of butter, just enough…and totally necessary.

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The whole wheat pasta, sweet potato, peas and spinach provide wholesome nourishment, and the butter gives you that closed-eyed “mmmm” feeling of richness.

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Simply seasoned with some salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes for a little kick, and you’ve got yourself a comforting winter meal.

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Topped with parm… what more could you want?

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The little kid inside of me was so happy with this meal. She even got some extra nutrition today with all the veggies. Win-Win.

Enjoy! 🙂

Simple Winter Pasta in a Light Coat of Butter

(serves 1 or 2)

  • about 1.5 cups of whole wheat pasta shells, cooked.
  • about .5 cups Maple Rosemary Roasted Sweet Potatoes
  • handful of spinach
  • handful of frozen peas
  • dashes of salt, pepper, crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 T Butter
  • parmesan cheese

Mix all together in a pot over low heat. Enjoy the taste of real butter.

P.S. If you’re interested in participating in my 21 Day Intuitive Eating Challenge starting Feb 1st, (more info at the end of this post), remember to email me at jamiemendell@gmail.com to get signed up!

Intuitive Eating: What Does This Mean, Anyway?

In the summer of 2007, I picked up a book that completely transformed the relationship I have with myself:

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A deep statement, huh? Well, there are few things that I can speak incredibly passionately about, and this book is one of them.

So I’ll tell you why.

When I first picked up this book, I was searching for answers. I was in the middle of a grueling internship where I was working around the clock, and my eating habits were all over the place. Stuck in the office at 3 or 4am, we would snack on anything that wasn’t nailed down just to keep us awake. I was so exhausted that I’d reach for sugar constantly. I needed more control, so I ventured into the book store to figure out some sort of diet plan.

This book popped out at me, and as I began to read about it, I just knew deep down that this book was my answer. Not temporarily, but for good.

The concept of Intuitive Eating (IE) first talks about completely scrapping the diet mentality. Who knows what is “best for us” anyway? One day you read something that says to eat a lot of protein, and then you read other books and research that says that animal protein causes cancer. Some research shows that dairy is an essential part of our diet and that it helps with bone strength and digestion, but other studies show that we should stay away from dairy as it causes breakouts and inflammation. So what the heck are we supposed to eat? Why are we trying to follow so many “rules” and guidelines from what we read?

In most cases, diets simply don’t work. It is widely quoted that 95% of people who diet end up failing, and so many of the people who temporarily lose weight just end up gaining it back and more.

Instead of dieting, Intuitive Eating proposes that we get in touch with our own bodies. Our bodies are insanely brilliant systems that know how to operate optimally. When we listen to what we actually crave, honor our hunger, and stop when we are full, this is when our bodies can thrive. And this is when natural weight loss occurs. Think about little kids– kids are intuitive eaters by nature. Before they learn all of the “shoulds” (what they should eat, when they should eat, etc.), they run around eating when they want, stopping when they are full, and maintaining healthy figures.

“Intuitive Eating provides a new way of eating that is ultimately struggle-free and healthy for your mind and body. It is a process that releases the shackles of dieting (which can only lead to deprivation, rebellion, and rebound weight gain). It means getting back to your roots- trusting your body and its signals. Intuitive Eating will not only change your relationship with food, it may change your life” – from the book, Intuitive Eating

At first, the concept of eating whatever I wanted seemed so scary to me. I thought for sure that I’d just eat bagels and ice cream all day. And to be honest, that is all I wanted for a while. I had deprived myself in my mind of so many things, that these are the foods I wanted to eat when I let myself. But over time, the need for all of the carbs and sugar went away because my body knew that it could have it at any time. There were no more rules.

Over the past few years, I have worked hard at this concept of adopting the Intuitive Eating principles. Intuitive Eating means trusting yourself, and trusting that your body will guide you in the perfect direction, knowing what is good for you personally.

Some things that I’ve personally learned about my own body through this process:

  • I’m a carb girl. I need them, I love them, and when I don’t have them, things get ugly.
  • I need a lot of fat in my diet – at every single meal.
  • I don’t always love eating breakfast right when I wake up. Also, on most days, I like eating lighter during the day and more in the evening. This goes against some standard nutrition advice, but it works well for my body.
  • I like some animal protein. Although I’ve tried veganism and vegetarianism at different times, it doesn’t work for me. My body craves some meat, on most days, but definitely not at every meal.
  • When I crave a lot of sugar, it almost always means I’m overwhelmed. I do other things now to take care of myself.

I could go on and on. It’s been a process, but this is what I truly believe is the answer for our issues with weight and diet frustrations. It’s about forgetting the information that is coming to us from the outside, and instead, looking inside. We have all of the answers we need, we just need to listen.

When I started getting really good at Intuitive Eating and listening to my body, the extra college weight just started falling off. I exercised intuitively too, in a way that felt good. I just keep eating in a way that felt good and exercising like that too, and everything just flowed. All of a sudden, weight loss was easy. I never feel deprived. I eat what I want, I (usually) stop when I’m full, I give in to all of my cravings, and I trust that those cravings are also in line with what is best for my health.

I’m going to be talking a lot about Intuitive Eating in the next couple of weeks. It has transformed my relationship to food, my body and my health completely, and not to get too deep on you, but it led to me trusting myself in every single area of my life and has brought about some amazing changes for me in those areas. People who teach Intuitive Eating say that IE is a gateway to Intuitive Living. I completely believe it. It’s all about looking within and trusting our intuition. Nobody knows us as well as we do.

I’m also going to be hosting a 21 Day Intuitive Eating challenge starting February 1st. During this challenge, I am going to focus on fine tuning the principles of Intuitive Eating in my own life for those 21 days, and I invite anyone else to participate with me. We will focus on thinking about what we crave throughout the day, eating what we want when we are actually hungry, stopping when we are full, and letting our bodies guide us. Throughout the challenge, I’ll send daily emails with practical tips about how to incorporate the IE principles into your lives, and I’ll provide 21 days of email support to help you through it. To sign up now, email me at jamiemendell@gmail.com with the subject line “IE Challenge” and I’ll get you on the list.

As my friends and family know, I have been talking about Intuitive Eating for years and feel so strongly about it. I could literally talk your ear off about it if I was given the chance. I hope you like these posts and get something from all of the talkin’. I have so much more information for you to come in the next couple of weeks! Stay tuned.

I’m curious– have you heard of this concept before? Is it something you practice in your own life? What specific questions, if any, do you have about it that I can help answer over the next couple of weeks?