There’s no trick to finding the discipline to be fit. Or more accurately, there are a thousand tricks, but they don’t all work for every single person and even when something does work for you at one point in your life there’s no guarantee it will work forever.

Lately, nothing much has been working for me. The transition from working in an office to being home full time has resulted in my complete and total inability to keep out of the kitchen at night. I eat healthfully during the day, but after 9:30 PM all bets are off. Once the laptop is finally shut for the night, I sit and snack in front of the TV until it’s time to head to bed.

I know why this is going on—it’s a reward, it’s a habit, it’s about so much more than the food itself—but I don’t seem to be able to stop. Even last night, after a weekend of crappy food and telling myself I had to get on top of this thing, I still dug into kids’ chocolate bunny crackers while JB and I watched a kung fu movie.

I mean, we’re talking a full movie’s worth of bunny crackers, okay? Not, like, a small serving-sized handful.

(And I don’t even really like bunny crackers.)

(Well, and also. Also, there were Reese’s Pieces, Saltines, and a pile of dried banana chips.)

I’ve been asking myself how much I really care about this. Like I said, I do eat well most of the time, and I work myself to the max at CrossFit a few days per week. I am, in general, a strong and healthy person. So I’ve been thinking, well, maybe I can have this one goddamned thing, you know? I don’t drink, I don’t shop, I don’t even have date nights anymore. I spend my days corralling two hyper kids and chasing down celebrity news and cleaning the house and cooking dinner and writing corporate newsletters and planning homeschool activities. Maybe I can just own that nightly carb-fest, say yeah, this is my vice and it makes me happy and you know what, I’m okay with that.

The thing is, though, it doesn’t make me happy. I suppose it makes me happy while I’m mindlessly gnawing my way through an episode of 30 Rock, but the repercussions are piling up. There’s the weight gain, which I could almost see as worth-it collateral damage except there’s no sign that I’ll just hit some acceptable set point and level off. There’s the way all my clothes feel, and the way I find myself tugging at my waistlines and shirts and abandoning certain outfits altogether under the excuse that it’s just more comfortable now to dress casually, instead of admitting the truth: those jeans just don’t fucking fit any more.

Worse, there’s the increasing fatigue and my reliance on Red Bulls and coffee and iced teas throughout the day. There’s the chemical fuckery of high-glycemic foods that results in headaches and sinus issues and ongoing crabbiness and impatience with the kids. There’s the feeling that I’m losing something important to me, that even though I feel good about everything I accomplish during the day I am continually losing control every night, and I hate that most of all. I hate stepping in the bath at night and catching sight of my puffy self and thinking, oh god, why. Why did you do that again.

I think, where’s that girl who gutted out the pain of training for a marathon? Where’s the girl who learned that all the very best things in life are hard as hell? Since when can a bag of crackers kick my ass?

Maybe the one trick that always works is deciding to say yes, I do care about this. Yes, it’s worth giving up something I don’t want to give up. Yes, I’m willing to start over for the thousandth time.

Yes, I want to feel better, and I know what I need to do so.


83 Responses to “Deciding to care”

  1. eve on October 7th, 2010 7:24 am

    I totally relate! I followed you onto the primal blueprint bandwagon several months ago, and I KNOW that I absolute feel and look much better when I follow that eating plan. And yet… I feel guilty when I give in to my carb cravings and end up binging on bread and cereal and sweets. I’m also a recovering alcoholic, and I sometimes feel like I deserve a treat, since I don’t have the option of relaxing with a few drinks at the end of the day like “normal” adults do. I don’t know what the answer is, but I love reading your posts. You inspire me.

  2. Angella on October 7th, 2010 7:52 am

    I find that the trick for me is not even starting (I’m more of a chip fan, but still). If I let myself have a handful, before I know it I’ve eaten the entire bag of Doritos.

    You’ve done it before and I know damn well that you’ll do it again. Cheering you on.

  3. MLB on October 7th, 2010 8:21 am

    I don’t mean to give “assvice” as it were, but here’s the thing that works for me otherwise I do the exact same thing as you – knit or solitaire. I need to do something with my hands while watching tv/movies otherwise I do the evening snack thing and it’s horrible. If you can figure out something mindless to do with your hands, that might help a lot. Even folding laundry works and in my house at least we have enough to create its very own diet plan.

  4. Kate on October 7th, 2010 8:36 am

    Instead of snacking try doing your nails while you watch tv. Once you start you either won’t be hungry b/c of polish smell or nail dust, or, you can’t touch stuff with wet nails. As a bonus, nice nails!

  5. Teree on October 7th, 2010 8:43 am

    My thoughts? I understand. I just got through getting rid of the ‘comfort food’ ass, so bascially I feel hungry all the time, but honestly I’d rather feel hungry (physically) and fit into all my pants. It’s all about figuring out what I want to control in my crazy life. Getting older is a bitch, man…

    Also? Banana chips are the devil’s handiwork…they are loaded with fat and calories so step away.


  6. Jessi on October 7th, 2010 8:47 am

    I’m dealing with this too and it sucks. I know I’m doing it, I decide I’m still gonna do it, then I feel shitty I did it.

    I hope you pull out of your funk too.

  7. Jennifer on October 7th, 2010 8:57 am

    You were my inspiration for cutting out my high-fat snacks (4 years ago when I went on a low-fat diet to get my cholesterol down). I remember your evening-snack advice was to eat fruit; strawberries & cool-whip, right? It’s not strawberry season now but how about orange sections? Cantaloupe chunks? Apple pieces and low-fat caramel dip? I bet there are other appealing snacks that would be a better substitute for chocolate cookies. Get thee to the produce aisle!

  8. Amy on October 7th, 2010 9:12 am

    A nutritionist once told me that if it’s past 8:00pm and you’re hungry, it’s really just your body telling you that you need sleep. Have you tried skipping the TV and the snacks altogether and just getting some more rest? Even if it seems lame to go to bed at 9:30, it might help with the fatigue and the need for caffeine, not to mention the late night snacking.

    My problem is the mid-afternoon snacking. Telling myself “no” to a handful of chocolate chips or half a peanut butter sandwich is just torture.

  9. Lindsey on October 7th, 2010 9:39 am

    Yup, I get there occasionally. The only thing that helps me divert from that pattern (except time) is to pour myself a small bowl of the snack instead of bringing the box with me. Usually once I’m sitting down I can get engrossed in something enough that I don’t think (too much) about missing the rest of the mindless eating. And I’m usually too lazy to get off my butt and go into the kitchen to get a second serving, saving me from myself.

  10. Pinkie Bling on October 7th, 2010 9:59 am

    I am SO with you. I worked my ass off this past spring to compete in a bikini contest in a bodybuilding league. I was BY FAR in the best shape of my life, and the experience of setting a really difficult goal and finding, every day, the determination and willpower to get it done, was one of the most self-affirming experiences of my life. Cut to four months past the competition, and I’m completely back to the way I was before I started that goal. A lot of it is due to change in my routine and situation, like yours. And I can’t…quite…get a grip!! How did I get here AGAIN? Where did all that motivation go?

    I have to admit that I’m happy it’s not just me. I’m sure you’ll end up kicking ass on this…and I have to believe that I will, too!

    It’s a journey, for sure.

  11. kristi on October 7th, 2010 11:33 am

    I can completely relate to the “food as reward while watching tv at night” thing. I think a lot of moms can.

    But as many have said, if there is junk food in the house I know I will eat it, so therefore, I don’t buy it. And the crackers, chips, cookies, etc. aren’t good for kids either, so I don’t feel badly about not buying the stuff for them.

    Hang in there. You’re an incredibly strong person, so I am confident you’ll figure this out.

  12. Chloe on October 7th, 2010 11:37 am

    I have been working on caring for about 6 months now, and I’ve lost 20 pounds. I will admit that I have found the progress you made in the past motivating… for instance, seeing your pictures convinced me that, regardless of what “the ideal” is, you can work out only three times a week and look and feel awesome and in shape. And, it’s true. I have a personal requirement of working out 3x a week (for myself) and I am in the the best shape I’ve been in for a long time, if not ever. I am also counting calories to lose fat, but I know that’s not for everyone.

    If you like snacking, can’t you find something tasty that won’t make you gain weight to eat during your evenings relaxing, like popcorn, carrots and peanut butter, etc? Or, just take one serving with you instead of the package, and then switch to grapes.

    I know that advice is nothing new, but fitness is not an all-or-nothing thing. It sounds like other than the late night snacking, you’ve got a healthy lifestyle going on, so why not make a few minor changes in your diet to keep yourself at a weight you like?

    It sounds like you’ve made that decision yourself. Good luck!

  13. smook on October 7th, 2010 11:46 am

    Could be the weather change and life change. But good for you for noticing it. I spent 10 years of my life ignoring by body and now I am playing catch up. I am 40, chunky and also taking CrossFit. Picture that!

    Just a thought (and I am sure you know this) – before you grab the sugary snacks – try drinking 12 oz of water. Then follow with whatever. With all the caffeine – maybe you are dehydrated. Also try and match a protein with the carbs. It would help. Good luck!

  14. Michelle on October 7th, 2010 11:55 am

    I hope this comment comes off as helpful and not preachy or anything, but perhaps you should look at fueling your exercise/workouts differently? I know when I’m doing frequent, intense workouts, I get nasty carb cravings, especially when I’ve been *good* all day. You probably know this, but high intensity exercise burns through glycogen stores like crazy. You may need to up your intake of carbs around your workout, or at least post-workout, and perhaps consume more healthy calories overall to fuel your workouts and lifestyle. I’m guessing you’re more active now that you’re not sitting at a desk. Maybe give it a shot and see? If it was me, I’d eat a nice big helping of carb after workout – oatmeal, potato, rice, cereal – with a bit of protein, and maybe try to fit in another healthy snack during the day in addition to what you normally eat. You deserve to be healthy and fit, not to eat junk food!! :)

  15. Stacy on October 7th, 2010 12:52 pm

    I could have written this myself, only, not nearly as well.
    I know what works for each person is different but, can you share what works for you?
    I’m really struggling right now with motivation and importance and priorities and all that bullshit.

  16. Lily on October 7th, 2010 2:42 pm

    These are some damn good encouraging words. It really is as simple as Deciding to Care. I decide to care right at this moment!

  17. Amy on October 7th, 2010 3:34 pm

    Disclaimer: I’m a fatass. However, I know that for me it’s better to really go for it than piss away calories on something I feel “meh” about. So I’d rather eat a serving of Ben and jerry’s than mindlessly eat crap I don’t even like, because I wait for it and then eat it and then I’m satisfied and done for the night. It probably works out to be fewer calories and it’s satisfying, is what I’m saying.

  18. Lesley on October 7th, 2010 3:45 pm

    Been here, done this a million times over.
    I’m nearly resigned to falling off and getting back on the food wagon. Short of cutting out my stomach, my hands and my tongue, or moving to a remote Survivor show location, there doesn’t seem to be a permanent fix.

    I’ve met only one person who never falls off but she has a syndrome (I won’t name) that makes her not only perfect in her eating and working out, but right about everything. She “doesn’t understand” people like me.

    (I’d like to ram a crowbar down her throat.)

  19. Amy on October 7th, 2010 3:46 pm

    Oh, and a lighter option that still satisfies the craving: hot chocolate. 2T. cocoa powder, 2T. sugar (substitute), mix with a splash of water and boil. Add 1c. milk, heat, top with cool whip. It’s rich and chocolatey, takes a while to kill, and cures my cravings.

  20. Sarah on October 7th, 2010 4:08 pm

    I am SO there with you! I knw I need to do better. I curse myself on a regular basis for failing…but when it comes right down to doing what I need to I fail. Like you…I’m NOT happy, but I don’t know how to change.

  21. kate on October 7th, 2010 4:56 pm

    when i gave up smoking i decided to have hot drinks instead to cure the oral fixation. i like herbal teas and decaf coffee to keep me busy. maybe try something else with your hands like knitting? good luck!

  22. JAB on October 7th, 2010 8:36 pm

    Your honesty is so refreshing and SO relatable!!

  23. wealhtheow on October 8th, 2010 5:14 am

    KNITTING! Seriously, cause I have this same problem, but if I have something to keep my hands busy it helps so much. And I am NOT a crafty person. IF you feel up to cross stitch check out–you can make beautiful obscenity-laden phrases to frame ad put up in your home.

  24. Redbecca on October 8th, 2010 7:52 am

    How about something that looks like a lot but doesn’t add up to much, like popcorn? I mean, the plain nothing on it kind, not the loaded with artificial movie theater good God what is that crap? kind. I do this at work when I get the munchies in the afternoon and it seems to help.

    At home I am fortunate in that our Man Cave is down in the basement, so if I want to get food from the kitchen for TV watching, I have to bring it down with me or haul my ass off the couch and go up and get it. Keeps the snacking to a minimum. Maybe just don’t let yourself go in the kitchen?

  25. Trenches of Mommyhood on October 8th, 2010 9:40 am

    I absolutely could have written this exact post. The doing well all day and then foraging in the kitchen at night. The feeling gross. The endless cycle.

  26. Rebekah on October 8th, 2010 9:58 am

    I’ve never commented before but I’m going to echo some of the other readers and tell you how much you’ve inspired me – I’m running my first race, a half, in January at Disney World (ironically, all that pain will occur at the happiest place on earth). And I’ve kept telling myself that I’m SINGLE and all I have is a JOB so if YOU can get your ass out of bed to run, then I have -87 excuses. All that to say —

    I just read this book (I’m a geek so books help me – I know this isn’t for everyone, Hungry by Allen Zadoff. It’s thin and the chapters are sometimes just one page. He talks about how there are three kinds of eaters – normals (food is whatever – they eat till they’re full), problem (they comfort eat – have struggled off and on with weight gain and overeating but still have it somewhat under control) and overeaters (who are addicts – and he is one). He talks about eating to cope with feelings – crazy, bad, great, change, the cable was out, the sun was shining, whatever – and how he copes with his addiction. It helped me….clarify things I guess. To see that sometimes, discipline and self will and all those pep talks don’t work – they’re masking a deeper issue. And to address that before I decide to tell myself how I am EPIC FAILING AT LIFE RIGHT NOW. Because that’s about as helpful as a hammer in the face.

    Fingers crossed that the above was in any way coherent – it’s Friday. And my brain is full of cotton balls and Lady Gaga on repeat, for some “awesome” reason.

  27. discopitbull on October 8th, 2010 10:37 am

    I hit 300 lbs. making a habit of late-evening carbs and caring for the family/kids more than myself. I lost 110 lbs cutting sugars down and finally working out but damn is it hard to maintain that good habit! I put 20 lbs back on over the last year and am trying like hell to get it back off, redefining my eating habits that crept back in. It’s a life-long thing for us carb addicts! I agree with the folks that say replace the kid’s bad snacks with healthier stuff or stuff that you don’t like. I buy my boys crud that I wouldn’t touch even in the depths of a monster crap-carb craving (like sun-chips, ugh!) and also stuff that I won’t kill myself by eating (popcorn, 80% dark chocolate, raisins, low cal veggie dip). It’s so, so very hard to eat right, those bad habits creep in so innocuously! Good luck!

  28. Lisa on October 8th, 2010 6:12 pm

    I could have written this post. Sigh. I wonder how fat I have to get to really knock this shit off??? I’m a total late night snacker and have long thought that if I would just Go To Bed at 9pm I would not only be well rested, but THIN! :)

  29. caradawn on October 8th, 2010 6:28 pm

    I’m going to sound like a whackjob saying this, I’m sure, but a targeted boost of amino acids might help with cravings and the carbfest.
    See? Told ya it would sound crazy. But you’re into nutrition, so maybe less crazy?

  30. Nicole on October 9th, 2010 2:49 pm

    I have Night Eating Syndrome which means that I binge at night. I’m getting better but for me the key is a steady stream of protein during the day and turning off the carbs early as possible. 5-HTP is an amino acid that I take at lunch and dinner and I supplement with a two phase melatonin at night. So I agree with caradawn. For me this seems to be a serotonin related issue and the 5-HTP boosts seratonin which helps me not munch on carbs.

    I also just buy healthier things to fail on when it happens. I found little pouches of pumpkin granola with flax seeds. I just put out a pouch of granola and a babybel cheese on the stove so when I fail it isn’t spoonfuls of nutella.

  31. Jamie :) on October 10th, 2010 10:44 am

    You might want to read “Women, Food, and God” by Geneen Roth. I was hesitant to read it at first because it had “God” in the title and I’m not the most religious person, but it’s not preachy and the “God” that she talks about can be anything/any thought. Geneen Roth provides a revolutionary look at the way we eat and the reasons why we eat. It’s definitely a worthwhile read. In addition, she has a workbook to go along with the book, that you can download at

  32. Jennifer on October 11th, 2010 1:36 pm

    OMG. If I were as witty as you, I could’ve written that post. I have genetics on my side and I do work out fairy regularly so I look trim and fit, but you have described my biggest weakness, my dirty little secret–healthy eating habits. The nightly carb fest to “reward” myself from the constant craziness of stay-at-home mothering of 4 boys is truly out of control when I feel like crap in the morning and hate myself for not being able to control myself. If I would simply go to bed instead, I’d be so much better off-better rested with no carb binge-and yet I don’t because I tell myself I wouldn’t get a chance to appreciate the quiet time without the kids demanding my attention all day. It is a viscous cycle. Am trying desperately to get out of it because I want to enjoy and appreciate my life more.

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