Intuitive Eating: How to Listen to Your Body for Nutritional Guidance [Episode #856]
This week’s topic is: Intuitive Eating: How to Listen to Your Body for Nutritional Guidance
This is such an important topic because when we learn to be in tune with our food, we start to connect more to our body, to the amazing, unique energy inside of us. We learn how to best care for ourselves and our expression in the world. Because we all have different bodies and different makeups, it’s only when we really start to intuit what’s exactly best for us, that everything turns on to the highest level. Our energy, our creative expression, our digestion, our skin and hair health, and our ability to just feel really good throughout our day.
I’ve always said that food isn’t the end all be all, however, it’s a very important ingredient in our overall wellness journey. How we eat affects our energy and our outlook on life. It affects our emotional health, our mental wellbeing, and our ability to sit and meditate. I’m very excited about this topic and provide you with some research and tangible tips and tools to help you intuitively eat better throughout your day and cut through a lot of that confusion so you can start to employ it in your own life, and in your body, and in your diet.
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Kimberly: 00:01 Hi everybody, and welcome back to our Thursday q and a show. I am so excited that we are videotaping the podcast now. So if you’re listening to this on audio, you could also check it out on YouTube. If you’re watching this on video waving to you, I’m so happy. This has been a dream of mine for a long time, just to make it feel even more intimate as we talk about these different subjects. And today, our topic is all about intuitive eating, which is such an important topic because when we learn to be in tune with our food, we start to connect more to our body, to the amazing, unique energy inside of us. We learn how to best care for ourselves and our expression in the world.
00:58 As we all know, we all have different bodies, we all have different makeups, and it’s only when we really start to intuit what’s exactly best for us, that everything turns on to the highest level, our energy, our creative expression, our digestion, our skin health, our hair health, our ability to just feel really good day to day as we move through our day. So I’ve been talking about food for over a decade, but as I’ve always said, food isn’t the end all be all, but it’s a very, very important ingredient in our overall wellness journey. How we eat affects our energy. It affects our outlook on life. It affects our emotional health, our mental wellbeing, our ability to sit and meditate. So I’m very excited about this topic to provide you, as always with some research and then some really tangible tips and tools to help you intuitively eat better throughout your day.
01:59 And our official title is Intuitive Eating, listening to Your Body for Nutritional Guidance. So I just want to hit on that quickly because in a world where there’s so much information and there’s so many charts and there’s so many different diets, it can be really confusing. So the purpose, my intention with today’s show is to cut through a lot of that confusion, and again, to leave you with really tangible day-to-day tips that you can start to employ in your own life and in your body and in your diet. Before we dive deeper in, wanted to give a little reminder to please check out our website, my sauna.com. Over there, there are tons of other podcasts I think you’ll enjoy, as well as recipes, very much in attunement with this show. I always encourage you to modify the recipes. The recipes are a base if you want to try different spices, different herbs, different seasonal veggies, but the recipes are really great for helping to spark creativity as well as guided meditations, articles and more.
03:00 It’s all over email@example.com. Sauna again means the sun and the moon. It’s the wholeness in the universe, the wholeness that is you. It doesn’t mean that the night or the moon is a lack of light. It means it’s a different face. So the more we embrace wholeness, the more we embrace this total true self energy and the more we feel our best day to day.
Question around the topic of:Intuitive Eating: How to Listen to Your Body for Nutritional Guidance: Kimberly, l love the podcast. I have been hearing more and more about intuitive eating and would love to know your thoughts on it and the benefits.
So our question today comes from Jillian who lives in Nebraska. Jillian, thank you so much, my love for leaving us a question. I always love to hear from you, and chances are that many of you have the same questions. So sending you a big virtual hug to Nebraska, which is a state I’ve never been to yet, but I would love to visit, and you write question. Kimberly, I love your podcast. I have been hearing more and more about this term intuitive eating, and I would love to know your thoughts on it and benefits.
04:06 So once again, Jillian, thank you so much for bringing this to mind. And I love the idea of using our intuition, which is using our internal wisdom and our internal guidance. So what this means is not relying 100% on quantitative analysis, not relying completely on numbers and the numeric nutritional charts that we see on the back of our food boxes or that we read about online or in apps. Those can be helpful guidance, but how our body digests food and the best foods for our body are going to supersede numbers alone. So when we think about intuition, when you think about that feeling inside of you, which you may feel in your heart or deep down in your gut, it doesn’t just come down to necessarily lists and what your best friend is eating or what your mom said she read about in a certain study.
05:03 Although we’ll get into research in just a moment. There’s going to be this part of this, and I’m going to help you connect to it. That’s very unique to you. So the more we learn to tune in and listen to our intuition, the more guidance we’re going to have around our diets and as well as our relationships and the next best step to take in our work and in our careers, and the best thing that we can do to maximize our time when we have a free day where we’re guided to. And it’s not something that anyone else can give to us. We all have this wisdom inside of us, and we want to start to cultivate that and bring that more forward. But that being said, there’s a little bit of research that I do want to share with you to ground this and all of this research, all these studies, if you want to go deeper into them, they’re going to be listed and linked to on our show notes, which again is my, so luna.com, S-O-L-L-U-N a.com, if you like to read research and studies.
Research and Studies
06:04 So the first one is from the Journal of Counseling and Psychology. This is back from 2013. And this found that when they measured college aged men and women and they studied their eating habits, and they found that when they were able to rely on more emotional reasons, reasons that weren’t just about their BMI or their caloric needs, these men and women relied on more intuitive eating, and this was able to allow them to feel more satiated and more fulfilled in their food, in their diets, and they were able to actually feel more fulfilled across their lives. And these were college aged students. What this says to me, and having worked with clients over a decade is that it can be very stressful when we only look at charts. And let’s say this used to happen to me. I would say, you know what? I ate all the calories I was supposed to eat for this meal, but I’m still hungry.
07:06 And then we get into guild or shame and we start to play these number games. We start to get into starvation mode or food starts to become a distraction in our lives versus a support system. So like I said, we want to make sure that it may be helpful to know how many grams of sugar we’re having in a meal or how many grams of protein we’re ingesting overall, but we don’t want to just rely on those charts. And research does show this also the Journal of Science in the same year, 20 20, 20 13, found then when people ate more intuitively, they actually had lower body mass index, their BMI was better, and they had greater interceptive sensitivity. They were more in tune with their foods and their nutritional needs. And there’s more of this free flow, which I notice where some days you may wake up and feel really hungry, and it depends on your metabolism, what you ate yesterday, what’s going on for you, stress-wise for us ladies, the time of the month, our menstrual cycles.
08:19 So we don’t want to be so rigid. Intuitive eating is about this flow. It’s about letting go of rigid control. And when we do that, what I’ve noticed in my work is that our digestion does function a lot better, and it means that food doesn’t become another source of stress. It’s there to support us. And I definitely adjust my diets. There’s time in the summer, for instance, it’s really hot. I’m more drawn to eating fruit in the morning in the GGS. And now that it’s wintertime for me, I’ll have that GGS, I had a smoothie this morning, but then I’ll need heavier foods. I’ll need that wrap, that almond flour wrap with the hummus and the avocado. I’ll need that fat and I’ll feel that in my body. So this intuitive feels like the ways of the ocean where there’s no rigidity, there’s no trying to latch down and make things work.
09:14 It’s more how do we support what’s happening inside of us? And the study at the Cambridge University Press found that there was a positive impact of intuitive eating and on healthier food choices and eating behaviors, emphasizing the importance of flexibility. I’ve noticed in my work with clients this real parallel between stress in life, stress in work, thinking we have to be in a certain place in our life, certain place in our career, we’re supposed to be making a certain salary, we’re supposed to be married at a certain age and have a certain number of kids, and that sort of rigidity played out in their diet. I see a real rigidity stress if they can’t get a certain food or their favorite restaurants closed, or the place where they get their coffee isn’t available that day, right? So everything in our life is interconnected. So if we could start to train ourselves to relax more, to trust our bodies more, to be more flexible in our diets, we could start to see that translate in a more open approach across the board into our day-to-day lives.
10:26 And this stress response, if you see if you’re watching this, my shoulders, this tightening means there’s more cortisol production. It means that there’s more stress hormones. It means that blood flow and circulation is literally being pulled out of your GI tract. It’s being pulled out of your vitality. It’s being drained. We don’t know all the answers. We don’t know everything. So when we approach life with this really strong sense of trying to control, we can actually block the best things from coming in. We can block the best solutions and things that we couldn’t see. So we want to just have a much more open approach across the board. And this means more flexibility in our day-to-day diet. And that’s where intuitive eating really comes in and means, I don’t have to follow this chart exactly. I’m actually hungrier at lunch today and not as hungry at dinner, or vice versa, or whatever it is.
11:25 And then we’re more in tune with this flow. It’s sort of like in the river how the water goes around the rocks, right? There’s this beautiful synergy. Everything’s working together versus this very forceful way of pushing things along long and the studies go on and on. I’m just going to highlight a few more here before we get into our tips, which are the most exciting part. I love to really give you guys how you can live this, what’s helped me. But two more things I wanted to point out is the American Journal of Health Education more recently in 2020 found that there was a relationship between intuitive eating, physical activity, motivation, IE being more excited and motivated to exercise and move our bodies regularly. And BMI finding that when we are more in tune with our body’s needs, we get excited about the rest of our lifestyle.
12:26 We get excited about exercise. It doesn’t feel like robotic drudgery. And as a result, our body composition tends to balance more anyways in a better way. Our fat, our musculature for our particular individual structure becomes more balanced. And again, this shows that the mind wants us to be rigid and thinks it knows what’s best. But beyond the mind is this intuition, which comes from the heart. It comes from the gut. It comes from the deeper place inside of us. And when we tune into this wider place of looking at our diet, we really do get better results. And the last study I want to point out is from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. And this found that chronic dieters, those who were very rigid about their diet, had a higher risk of metabolic and cardiovascular risk factors as well as lower psychological states of wellbeing.
13:32 So we look at what’s really important in wellness, what does wellness really mean? It’s not just how much we weigh, of course, it’s not just these numbers. It’s not just our BMI, it’s not the salary that we make, but it’s this state of overall wellbeing, joyfulness, a state of ease, a state of creativity, a state of self-expression where we can be the truest aspects of ourselves. And so we want this intuitive eating to support us. And again, this is why it’s so important that it’s flexible and it changes day-to-day, moment to moment instead of taking a very rigid approach. So the first thing, now that we highlighted some of this research, because I want you to see that this has actually been studied. This intuition isn’t just intuitively good for us, but it’s actually been studied and measured in science with real human subjects. And we found that it really does have a positive impact, not just on your mental health and emotional wellbeing, but on your body and how well your body will digest and utilize its nutrients.
Intuitive Eating: How to Listen to Your Body for Nutritional Guidance: Understanding Hunger and Fullness
14:39 So when it comes to intuitive eating, the first thing that we want to start to understand about ourselves is the basics. When are we really hungry and when are we really full? And you’d be amazed when I’ve worked with clients now for over I think 14 years, this basic question that comes up is almost a hundred percent I get this answer. I don’t really know when I’m truly hungry. And that’s across the board. Men, women, people of all ages. We’ve lost track and touch with our bodies. So we need to start to tune in. What does hunger really feel like versus I’m trying to self-soothe a feeling of stress. The moments we want to reach for that cookie or that chocolate is often because we feel like we need a treat or we need a pick me up, or we want to feel soothed. We’re having a busy day at work, or we’re running around as a parent, and the day is feeling like a lot.
15:41 There’s a lot of tantrums that’s not real hunger, and it’s okay to understand that and to still want that macha latte or that bag of chips, but we want to just start to be in tune with when does my body really need food? And to understand that it’s good to establish a baseline of under understanding emptiness and fullness. So what I mean by that is you can take a couple days, and this is what I’ve done with my clients, to make sure that we remove snacking for a few days. You’re going to get up in the morning and you can try this yourself, even if it’s just one day, you’re going to get up in the morning. And ideally you would have water room temperature, water, you would have hot water with lemon. You would take your SBO probiotics. You do your basics, and then you would really wait and notice, because we’re putting attention on it, when do I actually start to feel hungry?
16:38 Meaning there’s bodily cues, there’s rumbling in your stomach, you keep getting drawn back to your stomach versus I’m in my kitchen, I’m making lunch for my kid, so automatically I’m just starting to eat a bowl of cereal with them, or I’m just starting to eat this banana because I happen to see it. We want to just start to reset. When am I really hungry? So depending on your body type, and Ayurveda talks about the Kapha body type, for instance, which is a more earthy type, can go all the way almost to lunch and not really feel hunger. Their body doesn’t need hunger or food. I’m a Vata body type. I have a lot of air and space. I tend to run thin, to be honest. I’m starving by 8:00 AM, right? I eat food in my stomach, and if you’re Pitta like my husband, more of a fiery type, your digestion is pretty steady, but he gets hungry a little bit later, more like nine 10.
17:33 He could even go till 11. He does a little bit of his own sort of intermittent fasting. So we just want to pay attention to what hunger really feels like. Then we want to eat that first meal as we start to eat it. For many of us, the community, it’s the glowing green smoothie with lots of fiber in it, over 10 grams of fiber. Or let’s say you’re having avocado toast or a granola bar, whatever you happen to eat, you want to eat to the point where you’re first of all chewing well, and that includes the smoothie so that you start to actually assimilate. Remember, we are not what we digest. We are not what we eat. We are what we digest and assimilate. So you want to chew, which makes you slow down and mix the amylase, the digestive enzymes in your mouth with your food so that it starts to just integrate more with your body’s energy.
18:27 We don’t want to chug smoothies. We don’t want to gulp down our food because again, it starts to distort hunger and fullness. So you want to take time to chew, ideally, and I know that this is really hard in the morning, you want to take time to eat your food. Now, listen, I multitask in the morning. I’m not going to lie. I’ll be having my smoothie while I’m making my kids’ breakfast, right? But there’s just moments to connect with your food, to take a moment to be grateful for what you’re eating. It’s important that we’re not doing any of this unconsciously. Then we would take time instead of getting into that cycle of keeping a bunch of food on your desk, snacking mindlessly. Remember, especially the first day, we want to take extra time to really pay attention. And then you would do the next thing.
19:18 You would notice when is my body really hungry for lunch? And then you would eat your lunch, ideally not stare at your computer screen or whatever, but if you would just take a couple moments, sit outside or at your kitchen table, change the channel a little bit, slow down, and then notice when real fullness comes into your belly. Now, there’s a term, and I believe I’m pronouncing it correctly, but I may not be, is Ikigai something like that? It’s a Japanese term, which means not completely full. And that’s one of the principles that Dan Butner discovered in the blue zones. One of the blue zones, the areas where people live the longest and have the lowest rates of degenerative diseases is Okinawa, or it was traditionally, unfortunately, a lot of places in the world are now changing and shifting, but in Japan, they don’t eat to complete fullness.
20:09 They eat to about 80%. So you can start to play with this. So we don’t go overboard into, oh my gosh, I ate so fast and now I’m so full. I feel gross. I feel dense. I feel so heavy. This is a terrible feeling. Want to slow down. So we start to notice, actually, this is so intuitive. This is so individual when I’m actually really full, and same thing, many of us, there’s a long stretch between lunch and dinner. So you may need that afternoon snack, or you may want to play with really intuiting your own hunger until you get to dinner. If you can do this for a day, you will start to be better attuned to your real hunger and your fullness needs. And this starts the process of just being more aware. My husband loves food. Sorry, I’m not trying to throw him under the bus, but he’ll be the first to say this.
21:06 He says this on the podcast where we come on. And so we have to do resets from time to time, and we’re doing a reset right now where he’s like, well, I just ate this huge meal, but I feel like I’m still hungry. The stomach can get distended, portion sizes can get out of control. That’s what we see a lot in the United States where people sometimes balloon to hundreds of pounds beyond their natural weight. So there is this intuitive resetting, connecting with your food and starting to be aware of natural portion size. And it happens over time, and this starts to happen along with meditation in the morning when we can just sit and be more still with ourselves, because otherwise we’re projecting all of our emotional issues into food. And the second we feel reactive in our bodies, this came in, oh my gosh, it’s almost the end of the month.
22:02 I have all these deadlines, or Oh my gosh, all this stuff is happening. We start to project that into something physical that gives us that immediate sense of relief, that chocolate, that pizza, that really tangible, delicious smelling thing that we can eat. We want to start to separate. We want to have other tools for dealing with the stress, and we have many other podcasts that we’ll link to around these topics. My third book called The Beauty Detox Power actually went into the nine top food cravings and the emotional counterpart. So for instance, really spicy foods, wanting a sense of excitement, getting out of a dull routine, not feeling fulfilled at work or that sweetness, wanting to feel this almost like an emotional hug or the fat with the sweetness IE ice cream. Something really fatty that has a lot of sugar versus like a lollipop.
23:01 Fat is a stabilizer. So if we’re starting to feel out of control in the whirlwind of our life, there’s a lot of things that feel out of our control that fat provides a real denseness in our bodies, and the sugar is like a soothing hug on top. So we just want to start to be aware of our emotional mindset and slow down, do some of our breathing practices that we share on our audio tracks. We have a lot of free meditations for you guys, and we just ran that meditation study, our heart aligned meditation, where participants did this eight minute meditation four times a week, and after one month, their coherence went up 29%. Coherence is focus, better mental functioning, better decision-making, including with our diets, discerning when we’re hungry, when we’re full, when we’re not. So this awareness of our body, this intuitive eating isn’t just about what you’re eating.
24:00 It also means stress management, slowing down, having stillness practices, journaling, meditation, the other aspects in our emotional wellbeing, corners down that we talk about, and we have so many tools for you guys over on the website to explore. Along with that, there’s this tuning out. We’re tuning in, and we want to tune out so much of diet, culture, and maybe turning off the news, the feeds, the social media accounts that are promoting this more frantic way, desperation, this chaotic way of eating, especially for the time being that feeds into fear. That feeds into, well, if I listen to the body, I think I’m going to get really fat, or I don’t really trust my body, or whatever it is. We don’t want too much of that information coming in when we’re resetting, and some of you have heard me talk about this, but I love to share.
25:01 I think it’s important we all share our journeys. I was a chronic dieter before I shifted over into this Cel Beauty detox way of eating. It really did rule my life. I was tracking everything. I tried everything from low carb, low sugar eating, counting my calories. I never was able to sustain the weight loss, and I never felt really good. It was just a huge part of my mental focus. No matter what I was doing, even in the conversation, it was always sort of there. And then when I shifted over into this intuitive way of eating and focused on digestion and started taking my probiotics every day, did food combining my weight has not shifted more than a few pounds except for when I was pregnant, of course, for the past now almost 14 years. And when I do have to weigh myself when I go to the doctors or whatever it is, it’s always around the same.
Intuitive Eating: How to Listen to Your Body for Nutritional Guidance: Rejecting Diet Culture
25:57 So I share this with you just to share that when we let go and when we trust and we start to reset and we reconnect with our bodies, and yes, we have more fiber, which fills us up, it’s a natural form of portion control, and that’s built into our recipes. The body’s high level of intelligence and wisdom starts to get turned on. So I encourage you to move away from the magazines again, the people you’re following on social media, you can mute them for a while or whatever it is that are encouraging this rigid, chaotic way of eating, and you will be so much better off, I promise you, that’s not going to get you where you want to go. In our holistic wellness sense, which isn’t just your weight, but this sense of enjoying your life, peacefulness, creativity, that means a lot of your brain that’s been leaked into just thinking about food will get redirected into your creative projects and into your family life and into your loved ones, right?
26:58 So we want to do a little bit of detoxing as far as what information is coming on and when it comes to cravings, and I touched on this a little bit, this is where self-awareness and growing our intuitive knowing can be really powerful. I did this in the beginning in introspection, Paramahansa Yogananda says, you’ve heard me say this quote, I love it, is one of the most powerful forms of self-improvement. If we don’t turn that light back into ourselves and wonder, why am I really, really wanting those tacos today or these chips, or maybe it’s my period, but maybe it’s because there’s just so much stress in my life right now, or I’m feeling really down on my expectations for my life, goals not being met, or there’s so much going on with my kids. I feel like I don’t have any time for myself, whatever it is, here in the corner of my office.
27:55 I opened this drawer the other day and I saw so many of my journals, and I thought, wow, this has helped me so much. Because when you look at the written word, and for me, I like to write by hand, but sometimes it may be easier for you to put it in the notes app on your phone if you’re moving around when I look at what I’m writing and no one else has to see it. So there’s this intimacy with myself. There’s this mirror back to myself, and I say, wow, whoa. I didn’t really know how much I was reacting, and it was coming out in my food choices, but it was also coming out in my voice. It was coming out in maybe drinking more wine during that period, or just feeling really frazzled. And then I also noticed that my skin wasn’t looking so great.
28:43 We can just start to connect the dots and we can start to see, I need to create other ways slowing down in my schedule or outsourcing things, or really being on top of meditating or my breathing, whatever it is, so that I’m not just getting overwhelmed and then piling it onto food. So if you can keep better track of your journaling and your cravings and what’s going on, and not in a way that feels onerous sometimes it’s like, oh, I have to have my food journal. Make it fun. I always have journals where I love the cover. It’s beautiful for me. I have my favorite pens, and it just feels like a real moment with myself. I like to do it in the evenings. Sometimes when I’m stretching, I do my journaling, and it feels like a real ritual. So I encourage you to do that because that’s a really important part of intuitive eating is this reflecting back.
Intuitive Eating: How to Listen to Your Body for Nutritional Guidance: Self-Reflection and Self-Care
29:37 And then also self-care beyond food is a really important part of intuitive eating. When we are more connected to our bodies, we’re better able to actually feel the body’s cues to feel that moment when our heart is racing and our stress response is going, and our sympathetic parasympathetic and our sympathetic nervous system is starting to get imbalanced. It’s those moments where we start to tune in and we start to notice, boom, that’s where I’m reaching for more coffee, or that’s where I’m reaching for more of this. Treat whatever it happens to be. Self-care means a lot of things, and we won’t go into all of it, but we have so many podcasts that we’ll link to about a Bianca, for instance. An important way to connect with your body is to actually physically touch your body. This is an Ayurvedic practice of self massage. It could even be as simple and paired down for you as massaging your feet in the evening, connecting with the nerves in your body.
30:37 When we touch the skin, which is the largest organ in the body, we actually do help to bring us back to this moment and to bring us back to what is going on with us. There’s so much attention going out all the time onto our phones, onto our friends, onto social media and emails, and everything’s flowing out. So self-care, connecting, also scent. I’ll show you guys, I almost always have some essential oils on my desk, and when I’m shooting, scent really wakes up different parts of your brain and it brings you here into this moment slowing down texture. I love really soft clothes. All these simple ways that you can feel like you’re really nourishing yourself starts to nurture back self-worth self love. And then we can be more in tune. Because the truth is, when we aren’t in tune, it is a form of abuse.
31:34 When we’re just not really aware of how much food we’re supposed to be eating, really what’s good for our bodies, we burn out our life force when we eat too much, and you’re far too precious for that. There’s only one of you in the world. We’re built to be here to bring forward this wisdom that only you can bring, and we want to really honor that. So, and your morning practice, which we won’t get into now, but again, we have full dedicated shows where you can, usually, when I go work with clients, we go into the morning, practice, what you’re doing in the first hour of your day, and usually I see significant change when we start to stack a few wellness routines in the morning. Very simple, as I mentioned, a few of them. Drinking hot water with lemon, hydrating with a glass of room temperature, water.
32:24 Having your SBO probiotics, getting your gut health and check right at the beginning of the day, taking a few moments to breathe down into your heart, your belly, doing even eight minutes of meditation. It will put you into a more positive mindset and energy for the rest of the day. And then we’ll start to be more in tune, intuitively eating, and otherwise, with our bodies and with our unique selves. So thank you so much for tuning in with me today. And if you’re watching this right now, it’s a very special day. This is our first show that we’re taping, so I’m very excited. I think it’s nice to have that intimacy, the visual, as well as the audio. If you like the audio though, and that’s more convenient for you while you’re walking your dog or driving, we’ll always have it as well on the audio form, as we’ve always had on Spotify and Apple and so on. So you have your choice now, and I’m just so excited to be offering this to you. As always, I’m so honored to be on this journey together, and you can check out all these other resources, as I mentioned on our website, my sauna.com, and also you can find me on social media at underscore Kimberly Snyder. We’ll be back here Monday for our next interview podcast, as usual. So until then, sending you so much love and so much support. Namaste.