What the heck is normal?

What's normal? (Other than a setting on the washing machine.)

It's a common quote ya may have heard somewhere around the interwebs. It's so common, in fact, that "normal is a setting on the washing machine" has become somewhat of a cliche.

As much as we individually seek our own unique voices and expression, we all also desperately want to feel normal.

We may disdain those who we believe fit some sort of mold; a normalcy which seems against everything WE want for ourselves. (I've done it myself; when a 20something in NYC, I turned my nose up at those from my graduating classes who chose to go the more "normal" to me route of marriage and children.) But... we crave connection with others, a tribe, a community, a sense of self and home and familiarity with others. (Even as I turned my nose up at them, I was also secretly questioning every choice I'd made, wondering if I should have gone the more "normal" route.)

Seeking normalcy can cause us to continually question... everything.

So, while I do sometimes sense that we do not want to be normal, in other ways... we also spend a large chunk of our efforts on discovering the secret to feeling normal. It leads us to therapists' couches, chats over margaritas with friends, and Googling all sorts of "strange" things late at night (usually the things we're too scared to talk about aloud, but wonder... "is this normal?").

One thing I acutely desired for many years (which seemed so incredibly ellusive) was a normal relationship with food and my body.

I just wanted to be able to eat whatever I wanted whenever I wanted without feeling guilty or wrong or like I needed to immediately juice or exercise or regret all my choices and do penance in the form of restriction or over exercising (which typically led to a binge).

I hear the same exact desire echoed now in the work I do helping women, and so I want to alleviate any concerns you may have about your relationship to food.

If you've ever wondered at other seemingly happy and healthy women loading up their grocery carts with foods you deem bad, or...

If you've ever stared at a restaurant menu for what felt like hours, trying to figure out which thing you should have, or...

If you've ever sat down with a few chips and then found yourself drawn back to the bag time and time again, eventually downing the entire bag, or...

If you've ever eaten a piece (or more) of cake and felt immediately guilty or as though you've done something wrong, or...

If you've ever worked out and then wondered... what should I eat? or...

If you've ever started a new diet or felt any sort of frustration with food and your body...

You may have wondered what it's like to have a "normal" relationship to food or your body.

Rather than calling it a normal eater, I like to call it being a healthy hedonist, prioritizing pleasure and feeling good.

Here are some tendencies of  healthy hedonists, aka "normal" eaters:

Healthy hedonists don't try to control their body weight through controlled food intake and restriction.

They can eat when they're hungry and grab whatever is on hand without stressing over if it's the most nutritious, healthy, or least fattening food.

They can listen to internal signals to guide their food choices rather than external signals of diet and health culture.

Healthy hedonists trust their bodies to regulate their weight without excess exercise, pills, potions, powders, and dieting.

They can eat whatever they want whenever they want and move their bodies in ways that feel good.

Healthy hedonists naturally ascribe to the mantra of food sanity:

I can eat as much as I want of whatever I want as long as I'm fully present.

This weekend I'll be sending out a quiz to my community to help you determine where you lie on the "normal eater" spectrum, and next Wednesday, May 30th, I'm offering a free workshop to help you clear the noise, stop the madness, and show you a better way to move from dieting into a normal relationship with food and your body. One of the greatest myths we've come to believe as women is that dieting is the solution to our body woes. You can grab a seat for that here.

Above all else remember: keeping happiness at the heart of healthfulness is what's up.