On Monday, after long discussions with Sam about her experience with Precision Nutrition’s Lean Eating Program, I started my one-year commitment to the program. If you’re not familiar with it, see Sam’s detailed review here.
I’ve been doing and enjoying Intuitive Eating for a year. When I started the Intuitive Eating approach, I was obsessed with food and weight, weighing myself daily, gaining instead of losing, and generally feeling crappy about myself after years and years of the diet roller coaster. I didn’t think I could handle one more climb to the top of that hill even if the “wheeeeee!” of going down felt great.
The Intuitive Eating solution was to stop focusing on weight–no more weigh-ins (read about that here). It felt very nurturing to me, and much more in line with my feminist principles than the obsessive focus on seeing a certain number on the scale. The central principles of honoring my hunger and respecting my body really altered my attitude and refocused my attention. Self-awareness increased.
And yet, over the course of that same year, I’ve become more interested in triathlon. I’m training harder to prep for the summer season, with regular swimming workouts, three-times a week running, and on-going resistance training in addition to my yoga practice. And that’s not even fitting cycling into the equation (it’ll be back in the spring). And though I have gone on record saying that to me, sports nutrition counseling is like dieting in disguise, I feel as if it’s time for me to make some changes.
One of the principles of Intuitive Eating–the last principle, in fact, because it is so loaded for so many chronic dieters–is “Honor your health with gentle nutrition.” I don’t want to exaggerate. It’s not as if I’m living on junk food and soda pop or anything like that. But I do feel as if I’ve not quite mastered nutrition since I became vegan just over three years ago. And while I’ve been focusing on a more intuitive approach to eating, nutrition hasn’t been the main guiding principle in my choices.
And truth be told, I’m ready for a change. From what Sam has told me about the Lean Eating program and from everything I’ve read, it’s not a diet and it can be compatible with an intuitive eating approach to food. So let’s just say that this year, I’m honoring my health with the re-introduction of gentle nutrition. Nothing extreme will work for me.
One of the things I like most about the Precision Nutrition approach is the focus on healthy habits. In week one, we’re not even changing anything about eating. We’re just committing to a schedule of working out and active recovery, and adding one “five-minute action” to our day. It can be anything. Mine is at least five minutes of meditation before I sit down to work each day.
Sam has blogged about habits. Habits work well because they’re things you can do without having to think too much. At first you need to be hyper-conscious, but after a time, they become a part of life. This kind of approach strikes me as entirely compatible and consistent with Intuitive Eating.
I like the sense of community, support, and camaraderie I’m experiencing already on the PN Lean Eating forums. So far, I’m liking my coach (Janet) a lot too, as well as the mentors in my group, who are helping to orient us newbies.
What am I most worried about? Though we haven’t started yet, I know that tracking progress is an important element of the program. They want weekly weight. body fat, and body measurements, and I think it’s monthly photos.
After a year of staying away from this kind of tracking, I’m going in with a new attitude: that it’s just information. If I can maintain a neutral attitude to that information, I’ll be happy about that.
Of course, I could skip that part. But I have made a commitment to do the program “as directed” for at least the first three months. If I’m struggling with any aspect of it, I’ll approach the coach, the mentors, or the group through the forums. There are quite a few women (over a hundred) in my group, so I’m sure I’ll be able to find some like-minded people along the way.
I’m also kind of excited this time about learning to eat in a way that supports my activities better, and also, to be perfectly honest, about the prospect of getting leaner and stronger as I go into the home stretch of the fittest by fifty challenge and prep for a summer of triathlons and 10K races.