“You don’t always have to do. You can just be.” – Kat

“How can I stay focused when I’m dealing with personal issues – whether unexpected events, moving, work or relationship problems, or even feelings of depression?”

-Tons of people

There has been a cultural push to #grind it out and if you’re not doing that, the message is that you’re lazy.

Life is not always going to be easy and those messages can be really helpful and encouraging at times, but it can also lead to a toxic place because it doesn’t show the necessary rest and recovery (physically, mentally, and emotionally) that humans need and often already feel bad for partaking in.

It often falls in line with the messaging and pushing of specific body types, diets that are unsustainable, and those perfect meal prep Sunday pics.

I started my career very much in that mindset, but have shifted to focus on asking the question of “what is realistic?” And what does “just be[ing]” look like?

What is really going to help?

What is going to promote wellbeing (physical, mental, and emotional)?

What does winning look like for you on a daily basis? Is it realistic? Does it help you to show up as more authentically yourself?

Do you really have to #grind every minute of the day to be successful?

What is going to allow you the energy and time to show up to your life?

Where is the line and when does promoting “wellbeing” turn into the guilt and shame-inducing toxic wellness culture of “shoulds”. You SHOULD do this. You SHOULD eat this. You SHOULDN’T eat this.

Who and what are you SHOULD-ing for?

Can you still be healthy (again, physically, mentally, and emotionally) with a more gentle and self-caring approach that provides you with a balance of push and rest for recovery and reflection? Hint: The answer is yes.

You are enough without should-ing on yourself.

We need to break down the all or nothing ideas around health and nutrition. That’s what we’re doing at IronMVMNT. The messages out there can put an unnecessary emphasis on long, intense training and a strict diet when being healthy doesn’t require that.

You don’t need to train or eat like an Olympian or Games Athlete to be healthy.

You don’t need to train intensely everyday to be healthy.

You don’t need to crush yourself and feel so guilty for taking a rest day or having less intense practices related to your intentional movement or nutrition.

So how can we “just be” and what does it look like?

Through my years of nutrition counseling, I have seen a collective initial understanding that eating mindfully and intuitively is equivalent to “letting yourself go”, when it’s honestly a very challenging thing to do and if implemented according to their intended principles, is the very opposite of letting yourself go. Eating intuitively and mindfully is a dynamic interplay of instinct, emotion, and rational thought <- something most people don’t realize at first.

For me, “just be[ing]” is a peaceful place you can escape to when feelings of overwhelm come up. It’s a safe place where you give yourself unconditional love and support. It’s a place where you can give yourself the space to check in with yourself and recognize when things are headed in a direction that will need support. It’s a place where you can lean on your plan for nourishment and Minimum Energy Performance for times when you’re experiencing extra stress or illness.

A Plan for Nourishment

A plan for nourishment is something written about in the original Intuitive Eating book and workbook as there are times, like when under chronic stress, intense training, or illness, when we can’t rely on hunger cues alone to adequately nourish our body. It requires some intentional thought beforehand when you’re feeling well rather than waiting until you’re experiencing those times. 

1. The foods and meals you eat need to be adequate in energy to sustain your body. So a good mixture of protein, fats, and carbs.

2. It’s generally best not to go longer than 4-5 hours without eating, at least during the day, (that’s how long you can generally maintain your blood sugar levels at a normal level during waking hours, depending on how much and the composition of what you ate at the previous meal was). Some people, however, feel true hunger signals after 3-4 hours without eating.

3. It’s best that what you plan to prepare also matches your energy level at the time. For example, if you are drained and exhausted, you will likely not want to cook an elaborate meal, even if you usually enjoy cooking. What can you have on hand that will ease your struggle and still give you balance?

4. A general pattern of eating that works is to have at least 3 meals and a morning and afternoon snack (this is a suggestion and not a rule).

Activity: reflect on meals that are easy for you to prepare (or pick up), that are appealing, and that usually sustain your body for a few hours. Make a list of meal and snack ideas to have ready to choose from when you don’t have the energy to think of new meals and snacks.

Minimum Energy Performance

MEP is the minimum you need to do in order to promote overall wellbeing when life is happening and you’re feeling overwhelmed. Pick 1 MEP activity for nutrition and 1 for intentional movement (inside or outside the gym).

Maybe that’s focusing on getting one meal with veggies? Or maybe it’s adding some protein or healthy fat with your otherwise-carb-only snack?

On the movement side, maybe it’s taking a 10 minute walk with the dog or kiddo? Or maybe it’s doing 10 mins of yoga at home one time a week.

If you do more, great! If not, oh well! You can always try again…it might help to have a coach on the side to help you game plan!

Once life calms down a little, you’ll already have a solid foundation to build on rather than starting from scratch.

Remember that it doesn’t need to be perfect.

Invite the discomfort as feedback to learn what’s working and what’s not. And instead of stopping there, use the feedback and data for your benefit. Learning how to lean into the uncomfortable seasons is how we grow nutrition-consistency skills long-term.