boundaries: want vs need

Ever since I heard about “intuitive eating” and “hunger/fullness”, I have wanted to be one of those people. Oh I have wanted it so badly.

Yes, I learned some valuable things during that period of time (like that I can have any food in the house and resist the urge to scarf it all down). I also learned how to let go of “diet mentality” and to stop condemning myself when/if I overeat. I discovered that I’m a pickier eater than I thought I was. Apparently I do have some physical cues that are mostly reliable (like foods my body doesn’t react well to and I can now recognize true physical hunger). And, I learned to put the scale in its proper place.

Unfortunately, I also gained about 30 lbs or so when I removed all food boundaries and gave myself permission to eat whatever/whenever. Granted, I did eventually stop gaining weight, but then my weight just fluctuated about 5 lbs up and down.

Why? Because my hunger/fullness cues are still a mess from years of ignoring them or confusing them with emotional cues.

And yet, I kept trying to rely on my messed up hunger cues because I wanted hunger/fullness as my boundary. I begged (and I do mean BEGGED) God to fix me so I could know when I’ve had enough to eat. If I even considered other boundaries, I would feel like I was “giving up” on my dream of being an intuitive eater.

Failure felt like a daily occurrence as one meal I would undereat and the next I would overeat. Most of the time I wouldn’t realize I had under or over eaten until I was ravenously digging through the pantry or hurting from too much. It seemed like the boundary line of “fullness/satisfied” was illusive at best and subjective at worst. For me anyway. Add a little chaos to life and the lines were blurred beyond recognition.

And that’s when I decided to list out my “needs” in regard to boundaries. I came to the conclusion that I need a boundary line which:

  • doesn’t move based on my feelings or emotions or whatever
  • is clear enough to warn me when I’m approaching the perimeter so I can adequately recognize and address the temptation to cross the line
  • breaking the boundary involves a conscious decision on my part to do so
  • allows me to eat with the rest of my family
  • has some room for real-life events involving food
  • is less likely to trigger “diet mentality” or my old “starve/binge” behaviors
  • still requires me to turn to God for help with keeping the boundary (renewing the mind, truth journaling, taking lies captive…etc)
  • makes what I gain (health, weightloss, peace of mind) worth any sacrifice involved
  • results in the opportunity to release excess weight when lived within

woman-praying

I needed clarity. I took this list before the Lord. He added the word, “accountability” and I pictured myself stepping on a scale at a meeting… yep, you know what meeting I’m talking about.

Fear gripped me and then pride reared it’s ugly head. No way would I step back into another Weight Watchers meeting. No. No. No.

“But God, I’ve renounced WW! I’ve sworn I will never go back! I have many blog posts here on that very declaration!” (didn’t our Mommas tell us to never say never?)

The truth was, as much as I hated tracking my food all those years ago, this boundary really did fit my list. Although I did not want to admit it, I needed more structure.

And then I rebuttled with, “what if I can’t lose weight on the new plan… or worse, what if they change the plan on me again?”

To which God reminded me, change is inevitable in life but if I keep my eyes on Him Who is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, I will be just fine. He reminded me I am not transformed by choosing the perfect boundaries, but by the renewing of the mind.

He reminded me my personal history shows I can lose weight within any set of boundaries I actually keep, but it will be fleeting unless I replace the lies with His Truth.

He told me to humble myself and walk back into that old meeting room… the meeting where I had reached “goal” and made “lifetime”… and now would return with many (but thankfully not all) of those “lost pounds” having found their way back onto my body.

I arrived in the parking lot early the day of the next available meeting… nervous. I prayed for the Lord to renew my mind about it because I did not want to be there. I did not want to be vulnerable. I did not want to step on that scale. I did not want to track what I eat. I wanted to hide.

He told me to trust Him.

I hoped no one would remember me after all these years… but of course they did. And you know what? They embraced me.

Yes, I’m currently using the WW points system for my boundary. Yes, I’m attending the meetings. But this time is very different. This time, the points are just a boundary line. The meetings are just accountability. I’m not placing my hopes in a man-made system.

My hope is in the Lord Jesus Christ. Any transformation I experience comes about because He brings it to fruition. I need to keep this in the forefront of my mind lest I start to rely on my own strength or the boundaries themselves. So, I plan to renew my mind prior to and following every meeting/weigh in regarding this specifically.

I can still practice listening to my body’s cues and who knows, maybe eventually God will transform me into an intuitive eater. For now, I will trust that He has me where I need to be.

I have been hesitant to do a post on this topic because I didn’t want to inadvertently influence anyone to question their own boundaries. However, recently I was asked what my boundaries are. After explaining why I switched, I decided that perhaps a post on this might be warranted.

I still stand by my previous post where I state:

My food boundaries are my food boundaries. Your food boundaries are your food boundaries. The one thing we may share is the need for those boundaries.

If you are clinging to a set of boundaries simply because they are the boundaries you “want”, then perhaps you need to reevaluate things. If, however, God has clearly told you what boundaries you “need”, stop searching for the perfect set and start renewing your mind about the ones you already have.

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11 thoughts on “boundaries: want vs need

  1. Great post, Jules. I also lost my weight with Weight Watchers. The weekly weigh-in was also very motivational to me. I love the way you shared that your hope is still in God, not a man-made system. No matter what boundaries we use, God is the One who transforms us and helps us follow them.

    • Thank you so much, Barb! I remember reading that you lost your weight with WW. Goodness, you aren’t kidding about the weigh-ins. I completely agree with you – God is the answer to it all. I am so grateful for the message you continue to share about renewing the mind to the mind of Christ. This has dramatically altered my life. Thank you!

  2. I was SO excited when a friend shared this blog post with me. I feel like you wrote this about me. I have also tried to follow Intuitive Eating with the Thin Within principles, but the boundary line was so foggy that I kept giving myself permission to go outside of my boundaries, or at times not eat enough. When you talked about years of diets messing that hunger/fullness line up, I could relate very much. I would tell people that I couldn’t always tell when I was full or if I was truly at a zero/hungry, and they didn’t really get it. I think I often chose to eat at the slightest twinge of hunger, or emotion that I didn’t really know when I should eat or what true hunger felt like. I think I was afraid of true hunger and eating when I felt it. I also had recently felt the Lord telling me I needed accountability, but I was worried that following WW (which I had lost 25 lbs a few years ago on) would be out of His will because I was supposed to be able to eat intuitively. I was also concerned that WW would be my focus and not God, but I have been following TW long enough that the “diet” mentality has broken off (Praise God!), and I know that WW is a tool that He allows some people to use, and He is the main source of freedom. But, I was believing that WW was going back into bondage (Galations 5:1) I’ve also read through some of Barb Ravelings books multiple times, and one of the things that stood out to me is that it’s not the boundaries that set us free, but the renewing of the mind. I felt like I was letting God and myself down if I needed to use a tool like WW to stay within those boundaries. It doesn’t matter what boundaries we follow, they can all be broken, but with Christ we can be healed from the inside out and become whole. I appreciated this post SO much! Thank you!

  3. I was So excited when a friend shared this blog post with me. I feel like you wrote this about me. I have also tried so hard to follow Intuitive Eating with the Thin Within principles, but the boundary line was so foggy that I kept giving myself permission to go outside of my boundaries, or at times not eat enough. When you talked about years of diets messing that hunger/fullness line, I could relate very much. I would tell people that I couldn’t always tell when I was full or if I was truly at a zero/hungry, and they didn’t get it. I think I often chose to eat at the slightest twinge of hunger or emotion that I didn’t really know when I should eat or what true hunger felt like. I think I was afraid of true hunger and eating when I felt it. I also had recently felt the Lord telling me that I needed accountability, but I was worried that following WW (which I had lost 25 lbs a few years ago on) would be out of His will, because I was supposed to be able to eat intuitively. I was also concerned that WW would be my focus and not God, but I have been following TW long enough that the “diet mentality has broken off (Praise God!), and I know that WW is a tool that He allows some people to use, and He is the only source of true freedom. But, I was believing that WW was going back into bondage (Galations 5:1). I’ve also read through some of Barb Raveling’s books multiple times, and one of the things that stood out to me is that it’s not the boundaries that set us free, but the renewing of the mind (God’s Word). I felt like I was letting God and myself down if I needed to use a tool like WW to stay within those boundaries. It doesn’t matter what boundaries we follow, they can all be broken, but with Christ we can be healed from the inside out and become whole. I appreciated this post SO much! Thank you!

    • Joy, I am so glad! I can relate to the feelings you’ve expressed. When God brought me to this place I felt relief at switching boundaries. Yes, I can still break them, but at least I know where they are and it is clear that I’m making a choice outside my boundaries. I still practice listening for my hunger/fullness signals, but that isn’t my boundary for now. ((hugs)) We also have an online support group for people who are wanting to renew their minds about their food struggles. Let me know if you want more information about that.

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