On “Listening to Your Body”

“Listening to your body” is a phrase that’s wholly overused in the blog world for myriad reasons: not eating much, eating too much, not exercising enough, exercising too much.

I’m sure I’ve been guilty of it a few times myself, but I try not to use this phrase. Why? If I listened to my body, it would tell me to sit on the couch and order Chinese food and drink a glass (or three) of wine.

Four years ago, I decided to change my life for the healthier. That meant more exercise, and less takeout. That went well, and I lost 50 pounds.

Since reaching my goal weight three years ago, every single day is a fight to make the healthier choice. Most of the times I do, but not always. I really like wine, bagels and French fries and never want to cut any of those things out of my diet 100%.

There’s been a lot going on the past few months, and you could say I’ve been “listening to my body.” My body said “drink more wine, eat more crap, exercise less.” I listened to my body.

I went on two awesome trips in the past few months, and I brought back some more weight from both of them, and then there’s some of the life baggage that is currently taking up residence on my stomach and thighs.

I stepped on the scale on Monday morning, and it said a higher number than I’ve seen in a longer time: 148. That’s 9 pounds higher than what my original goal weight was, and about 13 pounds higher than my ultimate lowest weight. I generally don’t freak out about my weight much (oh hai gaining 50 pounds between 2001-2009), but seeing a 9-pound weight gain made me a bit nervous. Nervous that it would be a slow slide back to where I came from. That I would be one of those statistics of people who lost a lot of weight and gained it all back.

Let’s just say I’ve been very social lately, and that I love wine. Well, that loving wine has led to, quite honestly, a lot of poor food choices, on top of wine not being the healthiest choice in the world.

I know that alcohol (and certainly wine, with lots of sugar) can contribute to bloat, so I’ve been trying to eat as many whole foods and few processed foods this week and stay away from the wine.

This morning I got on the scale, and it read 143. HOLY BLOAT. I was holding on to at least 5 pounds of water weight from poor food choices. I’d still like to lose a few more pounds, because I also just feel mushy around the edges. I’m not going to do anything crazy, but just continue to be cognizant of making healthy decisions and taking care of myself

Moral of the story: weight maintenance ain’t always easy, wine bloats you like crazy, I cannot actually “listen to my body,” because my natural inclinations are not to be healthy, and it is a battle I fight every day. Some days I lose the battle, but I won’t lose the war.

40 comments on “On “Listening to Your Body”

  1. Shauna@Pleasure, not Punishment

    I could have written this post. My body tells me to eat like a 10 year old boy at his birthday party. My translation of “listen to your body” is “imagine how good your body feels when you eat a tangelo instead of three pieces of cold deep dish pizza.”
    Shauna@Pleasure, not Punishment recently posted..Crash

  2. Nikki

    I am feeling the same lately! I am feeling better about things today, but stress has been huge and it tends to cause me to make horrible choices! Good job on the recent weight loss and definitely congrats on your original weight loss! You will do great and so will I!

  3. Maureen

    Yeah, right now my body is telling me to buy one box of each flavor of the Girl Scout cookies. It’s also telling me to sleep in every morning instead of working out. So I CAN’T listen to my body at the moment!
    Maureen recently posted..My Own Worst Enemy

  4. MB

    Oh I can totally relate to this. If I listened to my body, my diet would consist mainly of carbs, peanut butter, and margaritas. It’s hard to accept that the struggle to make healthier decisions may never go away.

  5. Katie @ Live Half Full

    I feel the same way. Desserts, wine, beer and good food has been calling my name way too much lately. The good news is, our bodies know better and remind us how good it is to feel our best! This is helping me reel myself back in. Sounds like you are too!
    Katie @ Live Half Full recently posted..WIAW: Planning Ahead

  6. Ari @ Ari's Menu

    I never imagined I would be one of those people who gained the weight back, but I’ve been dealing with similar feelings lately. Except, instead of being social, I’ve been drowning sorrow over not running in boxes of girl scout cookies, which doesn’t seem so bad in the moment, but then the idea of how quickly maintenance can get away is scary. But you know, you are way too aware at this point to completely go back. We all have stumbles, but sometimes it just takes the stumble to get us back on track.
    Ari @ Ari’s Menu recently posted..Whopper Cookies

  7. Sarahf

    Thank goodness someone else has this problem! I always think other people’s bodies must just give better messages than mine. Mine always chooses chocolate, and sometimes chips… Time for a change.
    Sarahf recently posted..Oomph

  8. Caroline

    Great post! I’ve been on a roll losing weight, and was finally in the 130’s, then last week after a night of wine drinking I couldn’t believe what the scale read! 144! I’m going to have to continue not drinking until my next weigh in on Saturday. Do you think some people bloat/gain water weight more than others? I swear I can fluctuate so easily… Also what alcohol is the “best” to drink to avoid bloating?

  9. Meg

    Thank you for posting this! It makes me feel so much better that I’m not the only one who deals with this. I lost 35 pounds about a year ago and keeping it off has been harder than losing it! Gained about 10 last summer and had to re-lose it. I loved your final line — “Some days I lose the battle, but I won’t lose the war”.
    Meg recently posted..Life After Paleo Challenges

  10. Jess

    Such an honest post, I adore that about you. And I have to say I agree on the ‘listen to your body’ thing — I’m with you: if I listened, I’d be eating pizza at least weekly, drinking FAR more wine than I already do (#lush alert) and eating chocolate chip cookies every time I bake them for my husband. But instead, I choose moderation and try VERY HARD to opt for fueling, nourishing (and also tasty) foods vs. the less nutricious (but also tasty) foods that sometimes creep onto my plate too. Like you said, it’s hard to make good choices sometimes and hell we’re all HUMAN and allowed to make imperfect choices now and then too. The trick is to make that choice and NOT let it ruin your day or week or dashing your confidence. I love that stepping on the scale just a few days later showed that MOST of that ‘gain’ was actually just bloat. Proof that you weren’t as far off the ‘wagon’ as you thought. xo! (wow, holy novel length blog comment, sorry!)
    Jess recently posted..The bottom line: sweat

  11. Emily Semmelman

    “Since reaching my goal weight three years ago, every single day is a fight to make the healthier choice.”


    Keep fighting the good fight!

  12. Gianna

    Oh how I can relate – and appreciate your openness and honesty!
    I am down about 70 pounds from my all time heaviest and over the past few months put a few pounds and am now actively trying to lose them (didn’t even attempt it while marathon training…marathon appetite is no joke!)
    But I also understand bloating…I have awful hydration issues and can fluctuate 10 pounds in a day between running/eating/water consumption! You’ve got the right attitude though…we slip up a bit but you need to confront it head on and nip it in the bud!
    Gianna recently posted..Traveling Fun and Workouts

  13. Liz

    Funny, I started dating someone new and drank a LOT of wine last month and have been feeling the consequences as I try to get back on track. Listening to my body has always been a huge challenge for me too, and I really appreciate the honesty of this post!

  14. Allison W.

    Haha, I recently moved to NYC and was going to ask if you’d like to meet for a drink sometime. There’s always so many drinking occasions here! Which I love. But those wine calories add up. Maybe a run or yoga class instead.

  15. Casey

    Thank you so much for this post! It was exactly what I needed to read today (as I sausaged myself into a dress to hide the fact that my pants feel a little too snug…). Your honesty is refreshing and you are so amazing.

  16. Nicole

    It’s a daily struggle. I’m holding on to a few extra lbs and it’s messing with me. I’m more toned than ever so some days I tell myself muscle weighs more than fat–other days I don’t know if it’s water gain, or real deal weight gain. I’m trying to stress less…
    Nicole recently posted..Wednesday Words

  17. Carra

    Thanks for this post! I lost 25 pounds about 3 years ago and have lately felt myself slip. I know it happens, be it social obligations (also love my wine!) or illness or whatever! But it’s nice to hear your take on it. Gonna go make myself a healthy lunch now 🙂

  18. Diane

    Thank you SO MUCH for writing this post. I am in the midst of trying to lose weight (have lost about 30 +/- so far and still have about 30 +/- to go) and I am having trouble “listening to my body.” My body want to stress eat at night (to a point sometimes that may be considered a binge) and there are days I really do not want to exercise (I do like exercise, but sometimes weeks I have trouble peeling myself off the couch). My success has been from making small changes, like you, that have become lifestyle changes but mentally, I sometime was to revert back to old habits. This was a very refreshing post and good luck getting back on the wagon!

  19. Naomi

    Amen! Weight maintenance isn’t easy and sometimes it almost feels like a “bad word” to say that I’m trying to lose a few lbs. But clearly it’s a battle that so many of us fight. Thank you for writing such an insightful post!
    Naomi recently posted..February Recap, March Goals

  20. Julie

    Growing up, I never listened to my body. I ate till I was over full. I ate awesome fast food though. But my tastes have now changed. I went through a period of anorexia and I didn’t listen to my body either. Unfortunately, I can’t really listen to my body now. I try to eat intuitively but realize I don’t eat very much.
    Julie recently posted..High Five Friday: Liquid awesome

  21. Becky

    The wine comment is interesting. I live in New Zealand which is awash with wine so not easy to avoid. Our brands only have natural sugar here (if you’ve ever tried making your own you’d be horrified how much sugar has to go into it) so the sugar count strangely isn’t huge – but I’ve never thought of the bloating.

    1. Theodora Post author

      Interesting – do you know if that’s the case with exported New Zealand wines? Marlborough sauvignon blancs are my favorite wines 🙂

  22. Marc

    I can relate to freaking out on the quick water weight increase. When I first started monitoring my daily weight more closely, I noticed that when I would have the occassional cheat meal – for me most often ice cream or key lime piece 🙂 – that I would see my weight spike 6 pounds in the subsequent days. But since it was water weight, similarly it was a transient increase. I have found using a daily fat caliper to track my fat gets me better consistent measurements on cheat days like these since it is largely independent of the water weight fluctuations.
    Marc recently posted..The Best Exercise Equipment for Abs: What Ab Gadget Should I Buy?

  23. Mo

    As an RD, I will tell you that most wines have little to no sugar (unless you drink Riesling or white zin.). The natural sugar from the grapes is converted to alcohol. So really, wine isn’t the cause of bloat. Extra calories or poor food choices, yes – but wine itself, would act more as a diuretic.

    I try to keep to a wine or dessert rule on a daily basis. That way I have some “treat” without overdoing the calories.

  24. Jackie W

    So HAPPY I found your blog through Carrots’n’Cake! I love this entry, specifically. And the excuses one. Both resonate with me and I’ve send myself some Theodora quotes to keep myself in check. Thanks for the inspiration.


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