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About seven years ago I wrote a blog titled “The Gumption Project.” I felt I was in a place where I needed a bit of a reminder that I was great just as I was and I wanted to rekindle that spark inside of me. You know, that spark in all of us when we feel we can conquer the world and we love ourselves for who we are – flaws and all. Fast forward to the here and now and I would say I’ve grown a great deal in the past seven years. I enjoyed writing that blog finding inspiration in the simple day-to-day moments. I thought I would bring The Gumption Project back as a series to be featured on this blog.

To kick off the series, I’m talking about my progress with Intuitive Eating. I gave up dieting and began eating intuitively in February of this year. I explained my decision in this post – Throwing Away the Diet Mentality. In the beginning I wasn’t sure what would happen when I gave up dieting altogether. Would I start eating doughnuts every morning for breakfast and burgers for dinner? Would I slowly forget to focus on the healthy habits I try to maintain, such as drinking enough water and eating enough fruits and veggies?

When I finally stopped thinking about what I should eat and actually started eating when I wanted, an immense weight was lifted. I stopped stepping on the scale. I stopped having a goal weight in mind. I listened instinctively to what I was craving and my various hunger cues. Sometimes I wanted a Jimmy Dean turkey sausage sandwich and other times I wanted homemade nachos for dinner. When I dined out, instead of having the old mentality that I must eat the bread basket while going back and forth on what I should and shouldn’t order, I started ordering what I was in the mood for at that moment. Sometimes that didn’t involve the bread basket at all and, at times, I order salmon or miso-glazed sea bass as it simply appeals to me. Do I eat doughnuts? I actually do eat doughnuts since I no longer look at them as a “bad” food group. Where I work our wonderful maintenance man brings in doughnuts every week. My colleague and I look forward to Friday mornings when we walk down to the staff kitchen for a doughnut and a coffee. It’s the small things.

I feel more confident in my life than I’ve ever felt. After a few weeks of not dieting, clothes began to fit that I haven’t been able to wear for years. I’m not talking about wearing a size 6, but a size 10. I don’t worry about the size of my clothes any longer, but how my clothes look and make me feel. I feel free and I’m really enjoying my life not having a weight goal on my mind. Instead, I am focusing on enjoying every moment of my life.

That doesn’t mean everything is always a bed of roses. I noticed I do still look at photos and cringe a little. I saw photos of myself at a work event last week and actually contemplated deleting a photo, but then I thought against it. Why would I do that? This is who I am right now and I’m proud to be me.

You are not supposed to weigh yourself when practicing Intuitive Eating. I was standing in my Mom’s closet recently and found myself stepping on the scale breaking that rule. I was interested in what the number would read. I was down about ten pounds since I quit dieting. Will I weigh myself in the future? Probably so. What I do know is that I do not live and breathe by the scale. It doesn’t control my happiness. What constitutes my happiness now is laughing uncontrollably, smiling every moment I get, taking chances I wouldn’t normally take, and surrounding myself with good-hearted people.