Ask a Health Coach: What is your body trying to tell you?
Hi Guys! This week, PHCI Curriculum Leader Erin Power is answering your questions about cheating days, how to manage hunger during intermittent fasting, and what best to do if you get chills. Keep asking your questions on the Marks Daily Apple Facebook group or post them in the comments below.
“I’ve been fasting intermittently for a few months and it works fine, but after about 14 hours I get hungry. Wondering if it is best to try to satisfy hunger when I feel like it is setting in, or should I just eat? “
There are several ways to practice intermittent fasting, and all of them have been shown to be disease-fighting and anti-active. There are the popular 12:12, 16: 8, 18: 6 and 20: 4 methods, fasting on the second day, fasting for several days, and really any way you can slice a period of time. The best way to find out which method is right for you is to experiment.
An extended fast may have worked for you in the past, but the human body is a miraculous and adaptable organism. What felt great at one point might not be in your best interest right now. And if you’re tempted to push yourself to resist eating a few hours longer, it’s better to think more. Let me remind you that the person who can fast the longest does not receive an award. You also won’t let your IF card draw if you choose to eat outside of your original window.
Everything about our culture seems to keep us from listening to what our body is telling us. We kind of believe that others know us better than we do.
Listen, if something doesn’t work, my body will tell me and I will trust it. I try to teach my clients the same thing: to trust the signals they are receiving from within; instead of relying on what a scientific paper, influencer or so-called expert tells them, it will extend their lives or give them optimal health.
So instead of overcoming the pain (or, in your case, hunger), what if you took that hunger as a sign? What if you honored your body by listening to your growling stomach and sluggish energy, and giving it the fuel it asked for?
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How do you recognize your body’s signals?
- Stop a few times a day and take stock of your body. Identify all of the sensations – what is happening in your stomach, jaw, shoulders, focus, and mind.
- Write down the negative and positive feelings you observe, then connect the dots. Is your focus starting to wane because you haven’t eaten in a while? Are your shoulders tense from not going outside all day?
- Adjust as needed. What if you decide to break your fast with an epic protein-forward meal instead of continuing to build muscle from hunger? Are you satisfied and full instead of unfocused? Experiment with responding to your body’s signs and see what happens.
As I mentioned before, I’m a huge fan of listening to my body. When I’m hungry, I eat. I don’t starve to death or fight hunger pangs just because I’m following a program that generally says I should. That being said, you might want to wonder if you are really hungry or if something else is involved.
Does your hunger kick in when you feel stressed out at work? Are you trying to avoid a task? Or when you are bored? Or is it 14 hours and your body is ready for fuel? Only you know the answer and once you start really listening to your body you no longer have to guess whether or not it is time to eat.
“Someone said they had a ‘Carb Cheat Day’ for Menu Monday on the Keto Reset Facebook page. Can you explain how a carb cheat day works in the first place?”
There is some research to support “carbohydrate intake” for those who are insulin-sensitive or who do high-intensity exercise regularly, especially women. But declaring a full day as a scam day is, in my opinion, an excuse to regularly allow bad diet and lifestyle habits.
The whole concept of a cheating day just doesn’t suit me. And when you put the term “carbohydrates” into that sentence, it really enlightens me.
Why carbohydrates are not the enemy
Carbohydrates come in many forms, from mandarins and beets to twinkies. And remember, food is not good or bad. You only have consequences. If you have a regular diet of processed foods, you will likely be on the fast track to disease, while eating a piece of fruit or a root vegetable is called balance.
Depending on how that person consumes carbohydrates, they might find themselves rushing into highly processed, nutritionally empty foods under the umbrella of a “cheat day” and feeling justified believing they deserve to be pampered for 24 hours as a reward to leave for their dial-up diet the rest of the week.
To answer your question, a carb cheat tag might look like a large bowl of oatmeal and fruit, followed by grilled sweet potatoes and squares of dark chocolate. Or it could look like pastries, pizza, and beer when repeated.
You shouldn’t have to cheat
I think the bigger question is why does a person need a cheating tag. I usually avoid using this term because it strengthens the diet culture mindset that what you do the rest of the time involves suffering or hardship in some way. That you have to ignore all of your body’s cues 6 days a week in order to achieve your goals. Which is totally BS in my opinion. White ankle all week can and will result in a consequence, trust me.
Personally, I am a person who lives in the moment and believe that life is nothing without treating yourself. But treats should be indulged in occasionally rather than devoting a full day to derailing just to solve your problems. I’d rather see someone with a healthy and balanced mindset so that “cheating” isn’t even on the table.
“If, from a primal perspective, you get chills with a fever, it is better to listen to your body and seek warmth, or it makes sense to go the other way and immerse yourself in cold temperatures in order to adjust the function of the immune system trigger? ”
There are some benefits to allowing your body to adjust, but in general I would take your chills as a sign that you should take steps to warm up. Every time your body fends off something, it reacts by increasing your body temperature. Soak in an ice bath or cold shower and your body will work harder than necessary.
I find it interesting that even when we feel terrible and have limited energy, we believe the answer is to push ourselves. Feel cold Let us try it. Tired? You should probably combat the urge to sleep. Hungry? Go ahead and starve to death for an hour or two.
Ignoring needs is a learned behavior
It’s ridiculous how much people ignore their inner signs. As if giving in to the sensations you are feeling in your body makes you kind of weak. But blocking these sensations or convincing yourself that you are suffering from them is a learned behavior. And it’s something that can be unlearned.
What if you allowed yourself to notice what was going on in your body and take action? Life shouldn’t be suffering. It doesn’t make you any less bad to be in touch with your feelings. And it doesn’t make you any less primal to grab a warm blanket when you have the chills.
Practice listening to your body and seeing what happens. You might be really surprised what it tells you.
Do you listen to your body in a team or are you more used to ignoring your internal cues?
About the author
Erin Power is the coaching and curriculum director of the Primal Health Coach Institute. She also helps her clients reestablish a loving and trusting relationship with their bodies – while restoring their metabolic health so they can lose fat and gain energy – through her own private health coaching practice, eat.simple.
If you are passionate about health and wellness and want to help people like Erin for their clients every day, you should consider becoming a certified health coach yourself. In this special information session hosted by PHCI Co-Founder Mark Sisson, you will learn the three simple steps to building a successful health coaching business in a maximum of 6 months.
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