Food & Fitness

Life Lessons: The Case of the Cookie Calling My Name

It’s the holiday season, and we all know what that means- FOOD. Food galore! And not the healthy stuff, either. No: everything needs to be slathered in butter, dripping with oil (it doesn’t matter if it’s olive oil! If you can see the oil, there’s probably already too much in the dish. And if your plate is swimming in oil, then there is definitely too much!), and/or coated in sugar. Yum-my.

No one is immune to the goodies, really. If you work outside of the house, clients likely are bringing in homemade cookies, caramel popcorn, or boxes of really good quality chocolate. Friends love to bake and will bring it all over for you. In short, we’re all destined to succumb to the scourge of deliciously unhealthy foods, right?

Well, hopefully not.

I really love cooking and baking. Now that the term is finished, I have more time to indulge in having fun in the kitchen. But this also means that I have lots of food leftover, so I wind up being a part of the whole cycle of pawning my homemade goodies off on other people. Whoops.

Although the current 200 Reps Challenge is useful for keeping somewhat in shape over the holiday season, it is not so useful when it comes to avoiding the cookies and caramel popcorn that are, as we blogspeak, filling up every shelf in the mini fridge just down the hallway at my work office.

I’m a sucker for shortbread. Especially when it is dotted with milk chocolate chips. As for caramel popcorn, well, that’s just heaven in a sugar cluster!

So we’re adding in another wee challenge this month. A refresher course on keeping your head this holiday season. The challenge is this: every time you go for a cookie or a bite of that caramel popcorn, stop. Stop for five minutes. If you had waited this long to eat it, I’m sure you can wait another five minutes (even if this means you have to get a padlock and try to attach that to the fridge. Or put duct tape across your mouth. Though both of those seem a little bit unnecessarily drastic).

During those five minutes, you are going to:

1) Drink a glass of water or a cup of tea

2) Do just ten jumping jacks, push ups, crunches, or any other exercise of your choice

3) BREATHE a few deep breaths

4) Ask yourself exactly why you want to eat the cookie

(I know. I’m watching the second hand tick by, too).

Now that those five minutes have passed, you may do as you will. Maybe you eat the cookie. Maybe you don’t. But you’ve thought about it, and you’ve thought about what exactly was the reason for wanting that cookie. Now that you’re more conscious about it, you can perhaps make educated decisions in the future!

If you don’t really want it, don’t bother having it. Like I said, I’m a sucker for shortbread. That is what I like to indulge in, not the so-so cookies that leave you feeling kinda empty (or overly-stuffed) inside. And think about what you want! Maybe it’s not something sweet at all; maybe you just think that you’re supposed to want something sweet because that’s the holiday thing to do. If you’d prefer something savoury, go for the pistachios. Or the nuts and bolts that your mother dear cooks so very well every year. Whatever it is, make sure that you’re eating what you want to eat!

The other thing to remember is that it isn’t an all-or-nothing situation. Sometimes just half a cookie will be satisfactory (oh stop laughing). Sometimes you’ll need the whole damn thing and three more to boot. This is something I’ve learned since my roommate moved in: he’ll leave bowls and plates with food on them in the fridge from what he started to eat the day before and then decided he didn’t want anymore of. It will be random food, too, like bowls of oatmeal. But it makes sense: just because we put a certain amount on the plate which we believed to be a reasonably-sized portion of food, doesn’t mean we still have to eat it all.

Go to it and have fun! What’s your strategy for avoiding the goodies? Are you also guilty of pawning off goodies onto other people, like I am? Share all!

Day 14 of the 200 Reps Challenge

20 Incline Push Ups (targets the pectorals, shoulders, and triceps)

20 Bridges (targets the glutes)

Complete this set ten times for a total of 200 Incline Push Ups and 200 Bridges!

For the Incline Push Ups:

1. Prop your toes up on a bench/chair/edge of a bed, and position your body so that your hands are flat on the floor and your body is extended out straight, feet and hands shoulder width apart. You want to be in regular push up position but with your feet raised about a foot or two above the ground.

2. Bend your arms to lower your chest to the floor, keeping your core stable. Get as low as you can to the ground without touching your chest to the ground. Reverse the position so that your arms are out straight again. This is one rep.

TIP: Make sure you feel this movement in your chest, not so much in your elbows. Also, keep your body straight as a ruler the entire time; don’t let your back arch or sag. Keep that core engaged!

For the Bridges:

1. If you have access to a stability ball, rest your feet (and the back of your calves) on top of one with your back flat on the ground. If you do not own a stability ball, lie down on a mat with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground.

2. Keep your arms at your side. Press through your hands as you raise your body at the hips off the ground as high as possible, so that your thighs try to reach the same level as your knees. Your torso and thighs should make a nice straight line.

3. Reverse the move until your back almost grazes the floor but doesn’t quite touch the ground. This is one rep.

TIP: Keep your core engaged for extra balance.


  1. charlotte

    Great tips! My fave way to avoid eating sugary snacks is to do the EMI (the hand/face tapping) thingy. I don’t know if it is because it really works like they say it does or just that it is so silly it distracts me from my craving but I swear it help:)
    PS> I will eat ANYTHING involving popcorn. Mmmm…

  2. Cammy@TippyToeDiet

    I make deals with myself. IF I get my exercise in, have a clean eating (my version) day, and get XYZ chores done, I can indulge. Otherwise, off-limits. I have no idea why this works for me now, when it didn’t for the previous 10-15 years. 🙂

    I love the strategy of partial servings. Just because 2 cookies are listed as a serving size doesn’t mean you have to eat both of them. Nine Hershey’s kisses are a serving, but one or two is always enough to soothe my chocolate beast.

    Great post, Sagan! Timely, too. 🙂

  3. The Candid RD

    I like the idea of stopping to think before you eat these holiday treats. Just breathing, doing jumping jacks, drinking some tea or water, it should theoretically help! If you still eat the treat, than that’s ok because you obvisouly really wanted it, and if you weren’t going to eat it then, you’d eat it sooner or later! IF you deprive yourself you may binge, which isn’t good.

    I try to hand out healthy treats, like granola and oatmeal cookies. At least they have some healthy qualities to them! It’s hard during the holidays, motivation and self-control are key.

  4. Sagan Morrow

    Diane- These are definitely the kind of strategies that we want to be using year-round! But they do end up coming to the forefront more frequently during this time of year, don’t they? 🙂

    Charlotte- Popcorn is my crack. I have to implement the face/hand tapping thing into this little strategy, hehehe. I’ll try it next time I’ve got a craving and let you know how it goes for me!

    Westwood- Am glad you approve 🙂

    Cammy- It’s so funny how sometimes things will just start working when they didn’t work for years before… I guess we change and as we do, the strategies that work for us change as well.

    Dr. J- Mmm bread. Yes please.

  5. Miz

    for me it was life changing when I realized that I needed to eat the cookie (YADA YADA YADA FOR ME) as my tendency was to eat lots of other stuff (even good stuff) and end up back at the cookie anyway.

    PLUS hundreds of calories consumed in trying to distract myself.

    oops 🙂

  6. Andrea@WellnessNotes

    I really like the strategies to see if you really want something. And if you do, go ahead and have it. I think a problem often arises this time of year because we eat so much stuff we really don’t care for all that much… But since it’s there, we eat it…

    And I love all your exercises!

  7. Sagan Morrow

    Ashley- It’s WEIRD, isn’t it, when people bring that kind of stuff to a doctor’s office? Though I do love the homemade stuff 🙂

    Hanlie- Hence the “pawning off on other people” strategy 😉

    Miz- Oh I’ve TOTALLY done (do?) that before. Nowadays I’m trying to get myself to think HARD about what I *actually* want so that I don’t need to go through that whole process of eating tons of stuff and then winding back up at that cookie anyway.

    Andrea- I’m glad you’re enjoying the exercises! And yes, we do tend to eat things for no other reason than “because they’re there”.

  8. Richard

    Tsss, screw that. I’m taking cookies at whims. Consequences are things that the future me has to deal with. He’s smelly anyways. Plus, I have people making delicious baklava for me. Why would I NOT want to eat that in monstrous amounts? The gorging of the holiday season just inspires me come January.

  9. Sagan Morrow

    Richard- Ha! And yes, you shall receive your baklava soon. I think. Whenever I make it.

    Carla- I’m all about the healthy fats too!

    Mary- That kind of thing works well for me too. I think we appreciate the cookies more if we wait!

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