Q&A with Kelsey Miller of “The Anti-Diet Project”
Ever since I started this blog over the summer, something has become abundantly clear to me. Rather than promoting veganism, I strive to promote learning to listen to your own body to find the style of eating that works best for you. Each individual body is different, and my journey to a plant-based lifestyle certainly had many twists and turns where I tried countless different diets and remedies before I found what worked best.
And, if you read the blog regularly, you know that I am still messing with my diet, eliminating and re-adding foods, working with a nutritionist and studying health/nutrition on my own in order to further discover the way of eating that will make my body thrive and feel its very best.
So when I stumbled upon Miss Kelsey Miller’s column, The Anti-Diet Project, on Refinery 29, I knew I had struck gold. Remember when I mentioned her in my “8 Inspirational Stories of the Week” back in December? Well, I’ve been stalking the crap out of her column ever since, and I finally had the opportunity to interview her about her experience with Intuitive eating.
Kelsey made the decision to ditch the cycle of diet-cheat-exercise-cheat-diet that we all know much too well in favor of Intuitive Eating. Intuitive Eating is an approach that teaches you how to create a healthy relationship with your food, mind and body – where you ultimately become the expert of your own body. Essentially, you work to get rid of the diet-addled notions you’ve developed over your years as a functioning human being in our society and strip back down to the basics.
(Photo Source: Ruby Yeh for Refinery 29)
Intuitive eating is a mind-blowing phenomenon – something that very much aligns with my principles: A) listen to your body, B) give your body what it wants, C) don’t compare your diet to the way others eat, D) each individual body is entirely different, and E) let go of the frickin’ stress that surrounds eating and ENJOY your food!!!
Plus, Kelsey is a ridiculously talented and hilarious writer, so she totally has me hooked. Some of her article titles are, “Last Supper Eating Syndrome” (umm, hello, yes!), “No One Looks Cute on the Stair Master,” and “Eating Breakfast with the Diet Rebel.”
Let’s see what she had to say…
(Photo source: Ruby Yeh for Refinery 29)
Q&A with Kelsey Miller:
1. Can you tell me a little bit about what your food and exercise habits were like before you turned to Intuitive Eating?
When it came to food, I cycled between strict adherence to a diet and absolutely out of control emotional eating. It was a mess. I couldn’t trust myself without a diet because I’d been on one (or cheating on one) all my life. Same with fitness — I was all or nothing. For months I’d been working out twice a day like a maniac thinking, “Look at me! I’m a person who goes to the gym!” Then I’d go for a year without breaking a sweat.
2. Did you have a “breaking point moment” where you knew you needed to make a change? If so, what did that look like?
Boy, did I ever. On a group trip I got roped into trying a “warrior” workout and wound up nearly collapsing in the woods after like six minutes of running. That was the end. I knew this cycle wasn’t working and I just how far I’d gone down the wrong path and how needlessly my body (and brain!) had suffered. I knew I needed to get it together and tackle my food and body issues legitimately – not just use a diet to skirt around them.
3. How did you end up choosing the Intuitive Eating path?
I’d heard a little bit about it and always thought “Oh, that sounds great, I’ll be sure to get into that just as soon as I lose fifty pounds with Weight Watchers.” When I finally got it through my head that there are just no shortcuts, I realized Intuitive Eating was really the truest, most common-sense thing I’d ever heard. It’s about eating based on your internal cues and your body’s needs — including things like taste preference, energy level, and the way food makes you feel — and it just resonated with me so perfectly. It spoke both my my particular food issues and with the problems created in our diet-centric culture in general. It felt like I was leaving some crazy food cult and remembering the truth for the first time in years.
4. How was the transition into your new lifestyle? Biggest challenge?
I think I’m very much still in transition. After all, I’m un-learning a lifetime of disordered eating (and exercising). However, when you’re learning how to do something that your body (for the most part) wants to do anyway, it is easier. It’s been great! The first few weeks was like a carbohydrate bonanza, as I’d just been let off the leash and was literally allowed to eat whatever I wanted for the first time, um, ever. But it evened out soon after and now I crave a mix of foods. And, man, I love my new fitness routine. My whole energy level has changed. No afternoon crashes, and no endless struggle to fall asleep. I may have some days when it’s a pain in the ass to drag myself out of bed and get my heart pumping, but I always feel better in mind and body (and mood!) when I do. That’s what keeps me going.
5. What are your food and exercise habits like now that you have been doing this for a few months?
I exercise five days a week, two of those days with a trainer. Some days are super challenging and others are slightly less intense workouts. I know now that it doesn’t help my body to go crazy hard every day — and also that it’s not sustainable. The point is integrate fitness in a manageable, daily way, and I feel like I’m doing that, finally.
Food is still an exploration. I still have my triggering foods, like baked goods and ice cream. But, now I approach each interaction with those foods with mindfulness and curiosity (instead of judgement and panic), and that’s greatly eased my relationship with them. For the most part I enjoy whole foods now (more often than not, I actually crave healthier foods than I ever would have imagined). Even more surprising, I find myself eating seasonally without even trying. This winter I was itching for kale and root vegetables and citrus fruits like crazy. I mentioned that to my Intuitive Eating specialist, Theresa Kinsella, and she says it’s not uncommon. After all, in-season foods taste better! Because my eating is based both on what I want and how I feel when I eat certain foods, my diet has naturally begun to balance itself. For someone who never thought they could eat “normally” without a diet, it’s incredible to see this transformation happening.
6. Favorite meal on earth?
Oof, that’s a toughie because my favorite foods evolve by the WEEK these days! Right now I want broccoli with everything. I’ve been on a broccoli streak for weeks. Broccoli in omelets, sauteed broccoli with chicken, and just raw broccoli in hummus. So, I think pizza with broccoli, mushrooms, sauteed onions, and egg or chicken on top would be my favorite meal right now. I like the kind of pizza that’s top-heavy with vegetables. In terms of sweets, I love a fresh, homemade brownie (and I make a really good one).
7. What have you learned the most from Intuitive Eating?
That it works. Honestly, even for me, it was hard to get fully on board at the start. It seemed like it was simply too good to be true. But it is true. It’s not easy, but it’s completely possible to de-program yourself from the yo-yo diet cycle and really learn how to eat in a healthy, satisfying way. And, you don’t need to leave your life and go away to Intuitive Eating rehab or anything. This is a radical shift, but it is doable in day-to-day life.
(Photo source: Ruby Yeh for Refinery 29)
8. What is your favorite topic to write about?
Well, this is not at all Anti-Diet related, but in January I took a big leap and wrote a story about Woody Allen. The piece went up right before the renewed interest in the case began, and it’s a topic that I’ve felt personally passionate about for years. It was controversial and a little scary, but it hit home for a lot of readers. It made me realize just how much people appreciate an honest, considered opinion.
And, I love writing The Anti-Diet Project. It’s such a deeply personal journey for me, but it’s one that so many people relate to, and I’m so honored and thrilled to share this with them. It’s created a community for all of us, and there’s nothing like that kind of support — when you feel understood. This is something we can be real about and talk about the big, tough issues, but we can also be funny and lighthearted. I like to let the columns be conversational and personal. I think that’s a big part of why readers dig it.
** Check out Kelsey’s journey & be open to letting her inspire your own! Goodness knows she’s inspired me since I started following along. She was even the inspiration behind my #sweatygymselfie kick on Instagram. Let’s all learn to ditch the diets, listen to our bodies, enjoy our relationship with food and get this damn journey goin’ already!