This picture has nothing to do with the topic. But it made me LOL heartily. So deal!

There were some really awesome blog posts about the fitbloggosphere about getting one’s ass up and workouting even though you might totally not be into it.  At all.  Like doing the dishes sounds way funner.  And Zliten knows how much I LOVE and keep up with doing dishes.  I must have missed the day they handed out the gene where funny smells in the kitchen bothered me.  Same with the day they handed out the  skinny gene.  What was I saying?  Oh – yeah.  Some great posts.  I needed them a lot and wanted to first say thank you thank you thank  you.  Instead of skipping my cardio goodness last night I went for a wonderful run outside because the weather was fantastic and said “hello” to the cute yellow house with the red door and saw that the tiny public pool is empty again (never got to go, sadface), and the school and the churches and all the beautiful trees.

But that’s not the posts that really got in my head this week.  There’s been a lot of “what’s normal” posts.  It’s got me wondering – what’s “normal” (health and fitness-wise) and where do my habits fall?  Well, let’s go frolic around google and see what it has to say…

What Is Normal Eating?:

First, a sparkpeople article had this quiz (Correct answer in bold, my comments in italics.):

1. (True) or False: It is normal to eat when you are hungry and stop when you feel satisfied.

Easier said than done, at least at the beginning of a change in lifestyle.  I can now trust myself to listen to my body most of the time to maintain my weight, but 2 years ago?  I had no idea what satisfied meant.  My satisfied then was stuffed.  I didn’t know that it was normal to stop eating until you could barely stand.

2. (True) or False: People should trust their food preferences to guide them in making healthy food choices.

Obviously – just like Atkins was a big fail for me, because I’m not a huge meat eater to begin with, you won’t succeed being restricted to all but a few things you hate.

3. True or (False): To lose weight, you must adhere to strict goals for daily calorie intake and exercise.

The comments here are about having one “bad” day and having to make up for it.  I think that it’s true that you’re not going to blow it FOREVER by overeating one day, but if you don’t adhere to your goals most of the time you’ll be in trouble.  Think this one is a little misleading.

4. True or (False): It is abnormal to eat for any reason other than meeting your body’s nutrition and energy needs.

It’s nice that sparkpeople recognizes that having dinner with friends or going out for margaritas or whatnot as a normal part of life.  One of my big stipulations on starting to remove the fluffy layers was that it could not make me socially retarded and unable to eat/drink in public with friends.   All those no alcohol no white food no carb no fun diets are perhaps great for the more dedicated, but that’s just not me.

5. True or (False): “Good” foods should be eaten regularly and “bad” foods should be avoided as much as possible.

I do like that they don’t vilify any food and make the comment that a healthy body has the ability to use and process just about anything – just in small amounts.  There are just “always” foods and “sometimes” foods and “special occasion” foods.  And that can change.  Peanut butter used to be a “special occasion” food, but now that I can control myself around it, it’s now a “sometimes” food.

6. True or (False): Since you have to eat fewer calories than you burn to lose weight, you should expect to be a little hungry most of the time.

I feel hungry at certain points of the day.  Generally, an hour before lunch, I begin to feel peckish and then hungry and sometime before I begin to nibble on my desk, I head to lunch.  I get peckish in the afternoon and sometimes my fruit is enough and sometimes it isn’t.   However,  I rarely eat a full meal though and not feel full though, so I’m pretty much in agreement with this one.  I think it’s normal to get hungries.  I used to be terrified of hungries so I’d overeat at meals.  It’s silly – I mean, OMG I worked in an office with a vending machine and had snacks in my drawer, WHAT WOULD I DO if, dear fluffy lord, I felt HUNGRY?  Now I know that I don’t really need to worry about it.   Hunger isn’t the end of the world.  And if I’m REALLY HUNGRY there is a rare time that something healthy-ish to nosh on isn’t within my reach.

This was my next stop and it was a doozy.  Some good quotes quoted by the author.  My comments still in italics.

Ellyn Satter writes (EDIT: and I think I recognize this being quote on Feed Me I’m Cranky – in fact I think she got to this very topic a few weeks ago.  Sorry for the yoink and thanks for the idea…):

“Normal eating is going to the table hungry and eating until you are satisfied. It is being able to choose food you like and eat it and truly get enough of it—not just stop eating because you think you should.

I am not normal in this respect.  I have to impose some sort of mental idea of how much food I can eat or I WAY overeat.  My brain is trained to recognize a serving size now, but if someone held a gun to my head and said “eat until you feel full”, it would be MUCH MUCH more.  I eat fast, and it takes me an extra long time for the fullness to kick in.  So yeah, I have to stop eating because I think I should or I’ll be 2000 lbs again.

Normal eating is being able to give some thought to your food selection so you get nutritious food, but not being so wary and restrictive that you miss out on enjoyable food.

Yes, yes, this is good.  I am normal here.  I trend towards good healthy stuff that makes my body feel good, but don’t skip out on yummy, not so healthy food of which I can enjoy a small portion (delicious homemade birthday cake last week, for example).

Normal eating is giving yourself permission to eat sometimes because you are happy, sad or bored, or just because it feels good.

Slippery slope here.  Not sure I agree that it should be normal to emotionally eat.  I’ve worked very, very hard to not eat because I have nothing better to do or have had a bad day at work and I “deserve” a burger and fries.  If this is normal, I’m that weird cousin at the party looking creepily on as everyone laughs and jokes.

Normal eating is mostly three meals a day, or four or five, or it can be choosing to munch along the way.

Eating how YOU feel comfortable eating.  Not just set breakfast lunch and dinner, or in 6 little meals because someone tells you it’s the right thing to do.  Like it.  Feel it.

It is leaving some cookies on the plate because you know you can have some again tomorrow, or it is eating more now because they taste so wonderful.

Um, how about “having a small portion of the cookie and savoring it, but knowing that cookies are probably not something you should eat every day”?  No?  Ok… then not normal.

Normal eating is overeating at times, feeling stuffed and uncomfortable. And it can be undereating at times and wishing you had more.

Hate them both now.  They both make me feel poopy.  I definitely try to stay between satiated and mildly hungry as the extremes don’t do anything beneficial for me.

Normal eating is trusting your body to make up for your mistakes in eating. Normal eating takes up some of your time and attention, but keeps its place as only one important area of your life.

Well, I see this now, just lately.  I overate, and then I was so full of energy I*JUST*HAD*TO*WORKOUT unlike most people/me before, where I’d just food coma on the couch.  When I workout too much and don’t eat enough, I get SUPER FATIGUED and C-C-COLD which tells me to rest and chow on something, dummy.  Eating, however, does take a lot of my time and attention.  I plan my meals for the week, make a grocery list, go shopping, and then do my best to stick to the plan and track what I eat.  I know this is not normal.  Eventually I will give up the tracking.  I just think that I’ll never really be able to go without a meal plan.  It’s just convenient to know what I’m going to eat, so it takes the hemming and hawing out of what to do each day.

In short, normal eating is flexible. It varies in response to your hunger, your schedule, your proximity to food and your feelings.”

Karly Randolph Pitman writes:

I eat foods that make me feel good. I like a steak every now and then. A pizza is a favorite treat. I love colorful salads. Risotto is my idea of heaven. These things make me feel good, so I eat them. Sugar makes me depressed and wacks me out. Fried eggs give me the willies. Too many fake foods—think lots of processing and packaging—make me feel icky. So I usually abstain.

Yay!  I have found that even some not-so-healthy things like a good quality burger and fries or a slice or two of deep dish pizza or a mexican combo plate, in conjunction with the rest of the day balancing it out with nice healthy food, make me feel good.  Some things like a morning donut or fast food or certain chinese buffets make me feel icky, so I skip them.

I eat what I really want. What I want to eat today may be different tomorrow. What I want in the winter may be different than what I crave in the summer. How nice that I can choose; that I don’t have to eat the same four things from a “good foods” list over and over again. Right now I’m in a raw fruit and vegetable phase, stemming from the heat wave we’re currently experiencing. But as the weather cools I crave warm, cooked vegetables and hearty soups. A few weeks ago, when my baby was going through a growth spurt (I’m a nursing mother), I had a hankering for nuts and nut butter. I followed my craving, got a spoon, and dove into the almond butter, without any guilt, shame, remorse or thoughts of calories.

Sorry, not normal here.  I almost was down with it and then the “thoughts of calories” thing came up.  If I dove into the nut butter with a spoon (or more likely my fingers) like that, I’d not be happy with the results.  I suppose if I was in a “raw fruits and vegetable phase” I wouldn’t really have any issues, but I fully expect to keep my figure for the rest of my life, I will have to have some conscious idea of how many calories I am consuming even if I am not specifically tracking each bite.

I enjoy my food. I love food. I always have. And I’ve come to glory in that, rather than feel ashamed by it. Who started the lie, anyway, that women shouldn’t have an appetite? I’ve always had a hearty appetite, especially when I’m exercising regularly and nursing, as I am now. I have no qualms about getting a second helping, rather than undereating to be socially acceptable.

Totally.  I have an appetite.  I eat like I workout – attacking my prey (whether it be the treadmill or that plate of food).  Just like I missed the skinny gene, or the kitchen smelly gene, I missed the “eat daintily” boat too.  Food is to be eaten, not played with.

To sum it up:  I am not normal but I’m getting there.  I have 2 years of practicing how to be a normal, healthy eater under my belt and have had success maintaining a healthy lifestyle when I take the training wheels off for a while and intuitively eat, I don’t do too badly.  It still takes some thought though, and that’s apparently NOT normal.  I’m well aware that normal eating doesn’t involve running to a web page to enter food every time you eat, but I think it should involve mindfully thinking: is this good for my body?  If it’s not, then do I really want it?  If I do, then will it fit in my day (maybe I’m craving a milkshake, but if I ate pizza earlier, it probably needs to wait for a different day)?

Maybe normal eating means that happens naturally.  I’m getting there, but it’s still conscious.  How about you?  Do you eat normally?  What do you consider normal eating?