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 🙂

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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?

My Health Journey: The Ups, Downs and Where I Am At Now

Oh boy, get ready for a long winded post. Sit back, relax, grab some coffee. I knew I had this post coming for a long time and have definitely resisted it. But here goes nothing… layin’ it all out there.

I think that it’s interesting to know the background behind someone’s writing. Why does someone believe in the things that they do? Why do they have a passion for what they do? Where does that come from?

So since I write a blog about food and healthy living, I want to tell you a little bit about my story.

Although I can say that I have a really healthy mindset regarding weight, food, and my body now, it was certainly not always like this. Not even close.

I grew up really thin. Thankfully, I have good genes and am by nature a very active person. I was always really skinny and generally didn’t really worry or think too much about my body prior to senior year of high school. Right around this time, a couple of things happened. First of all, I became very very serious about school. AP classes started, the pressure of college was laid on us hard, and I grew up in a very strict household that focused a lot on getting the best possible grades. I was good at school, so I quickly fell into a very serious mindset, trying to achieve as much as I could and work as hard as I could. I could sense myself getting irritable, more serious, and overall stressed out, but I thought it was par for the course.

The other big thing that happened at this time was that my boyfriend at the time and I went through a really messy breakup. It was hurtful and the whole thing just knocked the wind out of me.

With the breakup and the stress from school, I think these two things led to my first experiences with emotional eating. It wasn’t anything major at the time, but I remember knowing I was eating because I was bored, upset, stressed, or just generally down. I did gain some weight from this, but I was still very thin. However, I knew that something was off, and it was then that I learned about dieting. My first diet was Body for Life. It spelled EVERYTHING out for me– workouts, eating, everything. During a time when I felt like I was adopting strange eating habits, and I was starting to feel a little lost, I needed some control. This did it for me for a short period of time.

Throughout senior year, I dabbled in various diets, and very strict exercise programs. I just tried to control everything. Control was the theme of this time in my life. I was about to head off to college and wanted to look and feel awesome. The summer before college was definitely a restrictive time. I ate super healthy and worked out a ton. I left for college looking and feeling great… except for one thing…

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(right before I went to college)

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(beginning of college)

Do you know that feeling where you are being SO restrictive and/or SO extreme with yourself that you know you can’t possibly keep it up and you are just waiting for the ball to drop? Well I definitely had this when I went to college. I knew deep down that there was no way I was going to be able to keep up with such a clean diet and constant workouts. I was just waiting like a ticking clock until I lost it. What a horrible feeling.

College. Oh man. I won’t delve into all the details here, but it was really just constant up and down with my weight, tons and tons and tons of diets (really, I think I tried all of them), trying to make exercise “click”, trying to make a certain diet “click”, eating when I was stressed, eating when I was upset, eating when I was bored. I was a hot mess.

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(sophomore year, had gained some weight at this point)

On the outside? Everything looked peachy. Other than my weight fluctuations, I honestly still had a great college experience. I was generally happy, I excelled in school, I got great internships and had a lot of accomplishments, I had a lot of incredible friends, things were great. I’m not saying at all that I had a horrible time in college, but deep down, I was NOT a happy camper. The inner turmoil that I put myself through with all of the dieting, the disappointment, the bad body image, the helpless feelings, the ups, the downs, the inability to deal with my emotions… these things took an immense toll on me in so. many. ways. I left college feeling good about my life and its direction, but torn up on the inside with some pretty bad self esteem. Everyone always told me how confident I came across, and its true, I was confident about certain things, but so not confident about other things.

Post College:

(graduation)
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(sometime after college, this is probably at my heaviest)


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(right after college)

I knew that there had to be a better way. I have a really positive attitude on life and I just knew that there was a way around all of the struggling I had gone through and there had to be an easier answer out there.

This is when I reached out to a “nutritionist”. I wanted to lose weight before starting my first job. I had gained about 25 pounds in college, and just didn’t feel good. Well, the Universe works in interesting ways, because it led me to a “Health Coach” named Cora who changed my life, seriously, forever.

When I had my consultation with Cora, she said “I want to get you to a point where you can listen to yourself and your own body instead of dieting, restriction, deprivation, etc.” I probably cried when I heard these words. I was so tense and so stressed out about finding the right diet, and how good did it sound to just find my own answers, learn how to pay attention to my body instead of ignore it, and most importantly, learn why I was turning to food for emotional reasons. I knew I needed help, deeply, and I was so relieved to hear that Cora sensed that and was going to help me.

Well, she helped me more than anyone has ever helped me before. She opened up my eyes to a hell of a lot of self exploration and for the past four years, I have delved into a serious journey about understanding myself, peeling back my emotions, peeling back my habits, peeling back my thoughts about how things “should” be, and getting to the raw, pure sense of who I was. I learned to trust myself, to come up with my own rules, to live from the inside out. To live “intuitively”.

So where am I now?

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I am constantly learning, changing, and growing, but I can honestly say that I am finally at peace regarding food, exercise, my weight, and the image I have of myself and my body. 
I’ve lost most of the weight I gained in college, but beyond losing the weight, I’ve lost the need for control, the anxiety regarding food and my weight, or the thought that some “diet” or some rules out there are going to make it all right. I have total trust in myself, in my own intuition, in my own cravings, in my own body. I don’t ever have anxiety about food anymore. I eat what I want, when I want. I exercise when I want in a nurturing, fun way. I don’t put pressure on myself.

I feel free. Free from all of the stuff I tormented myself about for so many years.

Most importantly, learning to trust myself with food/dieting has also helped me trust myself in every other area of my life. So although my “struggle” had to do with food, the journey and the outcome had to do with my entire life.

It has been a hell of a ride and I am still on the ride. I will always be on the ride. I’ve worked really hard to get to the point where I am at. I’ve worked with people, I’ve read a crap load of books, I’ve experimented, and I’ve done a lot of trial and error. Turns out that my issues ran so much deeper than food. It was about understanding myself, living a life that I truly want, being confident in who I was – not who I thought I should be- , and living intuitively. This is tough stuff, and it opened my eyes up to a lot of not-so-pleasant realizations, but in the end, so many beautiful, incredible and life changing realizations.


I wouldn’t change ANYTHING about my journey. I am happy I gained weight in college. I am happy I did all of those diets. I am happy I went through it all. All of my “issues” were clues, they were a way for me to peer into myself and really understand who I was, what was truly bothering me, and what parts of me needed to be nurtured and taken care of. We all turn to different things or fall into different habits when we are struggling. I definitely developed unhealthy habits, and once I realized that I was using food and diets as a cover up for something that was wrong, I decided to jump in head first and figure it all out.

It’s because of this journey that I am now determined to help other people. For the past ten years, I have gone through a lot of ups and downs, and I can’t explain how life changing it feels to be at peace with all of this. I want to help other people find that, and it’s because of this story that I feel so deeply committed to doing whatever I can to make an impact.

If you got to the bottom of this post, thanks for listening. Now, go fill up your coffee 🙂