It was a bit of a revelation to me that eating "whatever I want" didn't actually mean stuffing myself full of candy and fast food all day and never eating vegetables again. That's not what my body wants. That's not what I want. I want to feel great, be healthy and fit, and enjoy my food. I don't want any rules or drama, but, wow, those are clingy. The one that tripped me up the most was the idea that I could be a happy, intuitive eater if I lost weight doing it or stayed below a certain weight. The irony! I basically made non-dieting my new weight loss scheme, set up a paradigm where, like any other diet, it may or may not "work." Trusting my body and eating to appetite is an acceptable approach unless I gain past a certain weight (I called it my "oh, shit" weight), and then restriction becomes necessary or justified. Anybody see the problem there? Diet thinking, diet threat, impending diet, guilt, shame, mental restriction. Nobody eats "normally" under those circumstances. What we're experiencing in that fearful state is not a reflection of what truly eating intuitively or trusting your body can be. The real deal is far more relaxed and effective than my whacked out conditional diet version, but it took me a couple of years to tease them apart.
Something that helped tremendously was becoming unconditionally ok with myself. Not, "I'm ok if..." I'm always ok. I always deserve to be treated with respect and kindness. I always deserve to eat when I'm hungry and rest when I'm tired. I take care of my body like it's a child or beloved pet. There's never a point where it's ok to become abusive or neglectful. Getting this through my "no pain, no gain," willpower and discipline mind took time and effort, but it's an extremely worthwhile pursuit. Being a jerk to yourself is never going to solve your problems or make you happy. There's never a scenario in which it becomes a good idea.
So, with that out of the way, how do I treat myself? That's when things really began to change for the better.