Exercising My Self-Control

Oddly enough, this summer all I wanted to do was bake. Odd because it was a really hot summer. And we lived on the top floor. And we had no air conditioning. The convergence of these conditions led to our apartment being hotter than 100 degrees on more than one occasion. Thank heaven for box fans and otter pops. Still, I couldn’t stop myself from firing up the oven to bake up some cookies or brownies or cake or whatever. And then I couldn’t stop myself from eating the baked goodness. Especially during August when the move was upon us and I worried about what Micah would think of the apartment, and would we have enough people to help us load and unload the truck and would the painting be done on time (that worry didn’t last too long). Before I knew it, I’d gotten in the habit of reaching for a cookie when I didn’t want one, and doing other things that I hadn’t done in ages (if ever), like eat balls of frozen cookie dough straight from the freezer. (Abby, I blame you.)

What happened to the person who could go days without sweets? Who could talk herself out of eating a cookie with a celery stick? No matter how earnestly I told myself I was not hungry, it was only a matter of minutes before I would cave into myself and just “get it over with.” It was like running, only opposite. I used to spend all day trying to talk myself into a run, thinking about how good it would feel, how it doesn’t take that long, how it was worth it to change my clothes and put on some shoes. With sweets I spend the time telling myself how awful I’ll feel, how it would be better to save it for later, how it wasn’t worth the fleeting taste. And just as giving into the urge to run made it easier to go out the next time, giving in to the urge to eat made it easier to do the next time as well. My self-control has atrophied and I’m ready to get it back in shape.

So, what’s the plan? I don’t really know. Part of me wants to do a complete sugar-fast for a few weeks, not only to prove to myself that I don’t need the sugar (in a “Take THAT!” kind of way), but also to see if has any effect on my complexion. (My skin hasn’t gotten the memo that I’m no longer 15 years old.) The other part of me says, “There’s nothing wrong with a cookie now and then. Moderation in all things. Maybe if I just limit myself to ______.” But I don’t really know where to draw the line. In college a friend and I had a no-cookie contest to see who could go the longest without a cookie (all other sweets were fair game), so I could do something like that. (No chocolate, no candy, no ice cream, etc.) Or I could go the Michael Pollan route and say I’ll only eat sweets on days that start with S. Or I could say I’m just going to get back to “normal,” which is basically Micah and I having dessert two or three times a week.

Any other ideas? Does anybody want to join me? I’ll let you know what I decide on once I get some feedback.

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3 Comments

  1. Hmmmm…. This is a hard one — I tend to avoid limiting myself or going on a “no treats” binge cause then you have to end your goals at some point and start the vicious cycle over again.

    My rule of thumb is only cook treats/or eat treats on special occasions and for group gatherings. If I have leftover treats, I try to give them away so Will and I don’t eat them. Some weeks this equates to a few treats a week. But most weeks it’s a once a week thing…. I’d be interested to know what other people do.

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    lizzie Reply:

    I think that is a good rule of thumb. Where it gets hard for me is that I’m trying to involve my kids in the cooking, and that means we make at least one treat a week. Plus I really love baking and trying new recipes as well, so it is kind of a hobby for me. I just need to give away more of the goodness rather than selfishly hoarding it.

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  2. I’ve already decided that starting Monday I’m going on a no-sweets diet until my birthday EXCEPT on the weekends. I’ve done it before and I know I can do it again, it’s just a matter of gearing up and just doing it. But once your mind is set on it and you begin then it’s not nearly as bad as you think (kind of like running for me). I’ve become a sweets junkie after getting pregnant with Claire and the scale sure can tell.

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    lizzie Reply:

    Thanks for giving me a support group to latch on to. I think it is a good amount of time with a nice ending built in. I appreciate you making my decisions for me because I really couldn’t have done it on my own. Seriously. 🙂

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  3. I’d have to replace “sweets” with “salty snacks”. I don’t find sweets all that tempting, but I’m ready to scream after all my friends left varieties of chips at my house after a gathering, and the resulting lack of self-control.

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    lizzie Reply:

    I’ve definitely gone overboard on the saltiness as well, but I find it much easier to say no to them than to sweets. I’m not sure which problem I would prefer, though. Salty snacks somehow seem healthier, but I know that I feel worse if I indulge in them too often.

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