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    I'm a 20-something, recently married, runner who recently moved to New York City. Questions? Email therunnerwife (at) gmail (dot) com!

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Habit Making vs. Habit Breaking

I’ve kept a food log pretty consistently for the past 4 years. It’s taken me down 20 pounds and back up almost as many. This boomerang trend proves I’ve developed some bad habits.

1. To lose the weight in 2006/07, I exercised compulsively and limited myself to 1200 nutrient-free calories per day. Talk about a sucker punch to my system! As I lost weight, my skin became dull, my hair was brittle and thin, and I was miserable.

2. I was weighing myself multiple times each day, weighing my food, and altering my meals to immediately affect the number on the scale.

3. I became overly sensitive about my meals and food choices. No way could you have a bite of my dinner! I’d carefully calculated those calories and they were mine!

4. And you better have gotten out of my way when it was dessert time. That ice cream/dark chocolate/bowl of trail mix may be 600 calories, but it was mine!! I’d allotted those calories and didn’t I deserve one enjoyable food? Except I wasn’t even enjoying dessert anymore. Scoops of ice cream were devoured in seconds so no one would notice how much I’d had, or ask for a bite (heaven forbid!).

When I started regaining weight, each and every binge was documented. At first, I got in the habit of beating myself up for my ‘failures’ every day. Then I started developing some healthier habits. I began reading other blogs, experimenting with healthier food choices, tried my first green monster and even got a juicer for my birthday!

Even though I haven’t lost any of the weight I regained last spring, my weight has been steady for about a year and I think it’s time to start tackling one of the few bad habits that remains from the beginning of my food journaling days: TOO MUCH DESSERT!

I’ve noticed that, like many people, my munchy time is after dinner. Whether I’m watching a movie, studying, or chatting on the phone, I like having a snack. And there’s only one thing I love more than snacks – dessert! Dessert is this perfect, planned excuse to snack on sweet, decadent treats. But do I really need to have dessert every day? Rather than something I’m entitled to, shouldn’t I see dessert as a true treat?

When reviewing my food log for the past two months, I saw I was eating progressively smaller (and certainly more hurried) dinners, just to get to dessert. That’s no way to live! I’m finally learning to make good dinners so I should be enjoying those too!

So, for the next 14 days, I’m going to pass on dessert in honor of appreciating what should be the last real meal of the day. And I’m going to keep logging my food to see if any changes occur naturally. Will I crave sweeter foods throughout the day? Will I lose my sweet tooth? At the very least, I’m hoping I’ll eat dessert a little more mindfully when I do reintroduce it. We’ll see!

Do you always eat dessert? If so, why?