Sometimes I feel like a salmon, swimming upstream to fulfill its biological imperative, getting bloodied and battered in the process. Although my spawning days are long gone, I do feel pushed, compelled, called, however, to send the message to any woman (or man) willing to listen: Our bodies, your body and mine, have innate wisdom. Among many things, they will tell us when to eat, what to eat, and when to stop.

In the midst of the profusion of diet and weight loss programs, this message of the quiet wisdom of the body often gets lost. Did you see the nonstop commercials in January? Back to back ads promising weight loss and body perfection through teas, pills, supplements, and a myriad of exercise programs.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a believer in taking control of our individual health. We all know the negative consequences of obesity. Chronic illnesses, a shortened life span are just two. However, it’s important to remember that there are many women who are considered “plus size” by the fashion industry, women whose numbers (blood pressure, glucose, hdl, ldl, triglycerides) are within normal range and who are considered healthy.

As a society, though, how did we get so large, so unhealthy? How did we disconnect from the innate wisdom of the body? There are many theories out there, but I will offer you a few.

~ Bodies were made to move. Otherwise we wouldn’t have arms and legs. But we don’t move regularly. We sit in front of the TV at night and snack. Our kids are on the computer instead of the playground. And our lives are so stressed and overextended that we don’t have the physical or emotional energy to exercise.

~ We let others tell us how much food is enough for us. On one hand, diet programs tell us to restrict our calories for weight loss success (a set up for weight gain, by the way). On the other hand, restaurants serve us double and triple the portions we need to feel comfortable/ full. And we eat what they tell us to eat or put in front of us!
~ Bodies and brains need nutritious foods (complex carbs, proteins, good fats, fruits and vegetables) to function at optimal levels. They respond like race car engines when given proper fuel and sputter along when we eat doughnuts for breakfast. But we are often lured by the drug-like effects and the yummy tastes of high fat, high sugar, high salt foods.

Why do we override our innate wisdom and want to fast track our way to body beautiful or to a life of ease? Here’s my take on the answer. We are a quick fix society. It’s so hard to sit with our anxiety, our discomfort. We want to fit in. We want relief. So we go on a diet, take a pill, eat a cookie, have a drink, get a new spouse, buy a new car, and expect that all of our physical and emotional issues will go away. And here’s the rub… they often do! But only for a few minutes! The truth is that the quick fixes just don’t work for the long haul. And we know this. Deep down inside, in our wisdom place, we know this.

But we live in a society that tries to sell us magic. Every day, on TV, in magazines, we see thin, beautiful, smiling women, with flawless faces and bodies, selling us something that promises to make our lives better, easier, and happier. (Oh, by the way, you too could be in one of those ads if you had a make-up artist, hairstylist, and clothing designer. If you were airbrushed, photo-shopped, and elongated!)

I’ve said this before and I will until my last breath, we are the magic. The magic is the innate wisdom of our bodies, yours and mine. I challenge you to pay attention, learn the language, and respond appropriately.

More on body wisdom and intuitive eating next month.

Author's Bio: 

Ilene Leshinsky is a licensed, clinical social worker with over 15 years of counseling experience. In her Plattsburgh-based private practice, she works with women of all ages who want more joy and fulfillment in their lives. Ilene’s BodySense program is open to women of all ages who are in conflict with weight, eating, and body image. She can be reached at 518-570-6164, or