Do you "monitor/control/restrict" what you eat, or do you choose?
For myself, as a person who enjoys seeing muscle definition, I choose to eat and move in a way that keeps my muscles pretty visible. I could choose not to. I'm eating to appetite either way, physically hungry before meals and fully satisfied after, but keeping the dents and striations requires eating to appetite with more awareness and consistency over a longer period of time. It also requires more of an eye toward gentle nutrition and enjoyable movement. I know from past experience that if I snack more, or my meal timing becomes more haphazard, or I'm eating when I'm not hungry (or too hungry), or if I'm adding enough extras that I'm past satisfied fairly often, I'll drift toward the higher end of my range and look softer. Nothing wrong with that! Sometimes I gladly choose it.
It was a breakthrough realizing that I had a choice. The diet cults will tell you that restriction and tight monitoring of everything you eat is absolutely necessary, that you can never achieve a lean and fit body "intutively." The body-acceptance crowd will tell you that releasing all control of outcomes is absolutely necessary, that you can never achieve food peace if you have one eye on weight or appearance. I tend to agree more with the body-acceptance people. If you put outcomes first, it's likely to end in a fiery wreck. BUT if you put thoughts and behaviors first - feeling your best, eating with awareness, honoring hunger and fullness, treating yourself with kindness, questioning painful stories, eating in line with your values, etc., it sure can lead to positive outcomes in health and fitness.
It was a bit of mental gymnastics to enthusiastically choose the way I wanted to eat every day versus doing it out of some lingering fear or obligation. Sometimes I want to snack more, indulge more, move less, and think about it less. Vacations and holidays come to mind, the dead of winter. Sometimes I'm very happy to spend more time outdoors, be more active, more mindful, and really dial in the consistency. I can be doing either, still be basically the same size, and still be perfectly happy. Generally, I exist somewhere in the middle. Plenty of nutritious whole foods every day, quite consistent mealtimes, not much snacking, truly delicious meals, regular social eating, frequent desserts, a longish overnight fast. When people talk about eating "whatever they want," that's what I want. I look forward to it!
Just some more thoughts. There's not a whole lot of talk about the mindset of happy/intuitive leanness (or weight loss, or maintenance). The internet tends to erupt into torches and pitchforks if you put some of those words in the same sentence.