I lived for years with the looming “Diet starts on Monday” mentality and I recognize how daunting this day can be for others doing the same. The worst parts of this notion are 1) That it induces a Sunday (or perhaps all weekend) binge on every deliciously heavy, sugary treat you can get your mitts on. Because you’re promising yourself you won’t have them again. And 2) That when you break this Monday promise to yourself, you are weakening your self trust. You are slowly but surely weakening your resolve. Because in truth, you don’t need a special day to start living well, you don’t need to give everything up at once either. But the looming promise that you’re going to be harsher and stricter on your body and your life sets you up for failure. No one looks forward to becoming their own food police and boot camp leader on Monday morning. That’s what Jillian Michaels is for.

This is where motivation steps in.


A Monday came for me, right around the time when I weighed myself at the YMCA after my sophomore year of college, when all of it stuck. I sat down with a pen and paper. I listed all of the things that I loved about my life as it was. Beside it I listed the parts of my life that I did not love. Most notably, the 135lb marshmallow coating on my body. The things I jotted down ranged from superficial to super-meaningful.

When I had finished writing, I read that list aloud to myself. It’s amazing the difference between simply reading and speaking the truth out loud to yourself. I heard both sides. Hope and fear. Ambition and obstacles. I reread it five times.


I picked up my pen and wrote again, but this time about the life I wanted to lead. Not in five years, not in ten, not in twenty. I penned the things that I thought defined a life well lived. I thought about the dreams I wanted see through, the adventures I wanted to go on, the energy I’d need to achieve them, the way I’d laugh with my friends, the ease of being that would come when I no longer felt so painfully aware of my size, that exhilaration I’d feel if I just put myself out there, took risks, and stopped waiting for the perfect thin moment. My dreams did not have a prerequisite of thinness, but they also didn’t include eating a box of Swiss Cake Rolls before getting started.


What I wanted most was to be ‘normal.’


I know the reaction when I use that word, ‘normal.’ I know it’s different for everyone; I know full well that there is no one definition, nor do I want there to be. But be honest with me here, we know what we think of as normal eating. Aside from the whats, the whens, and the hows, it’s the style of eating that involves an ease of mind and body. The one without hesitation and regret and panic when the options your mom puts on the table are anything but light. The fear that comes from thinking you cannot be trusted around Little Debbie.


I felt an urgency. A deep desire to find a way of balancing what I loved to eat, with what made me feel good, with what I had available to me. I wanted fun and freedom and flexibility.


What I realized was that I could live that life. I would live that life. The only obstacle was me.


I wasn’t wishing to change the essence of me- not the core of my being- just the things that kept me sad, kept me scared, kept me guarded in weight. And on a very serious health level, I wanted, I needed, to save my own life.


I looked to the list of things I disliked about my then-current life. I thought about the stories I told myself- the excuses, the ‘if only’s,’ the reasons I believed I was destined to be big, the lamenting sighs that I was not this or that. What if I dropped each and every one of them? What if right in that millisecond I stopped building a mountain against myself? Most importantly, what if the moment when I started to feel an emotion that overwhelmed me- sadness, anxiety, confusion, you name it- I just let it come, and didn’t distract myself with food?

I didn’t change overnight. But I did start to think differently about the way I was spending the minutes, the hours, the days of my life. So much of what we do is dictated by our thoughts, our emotions. What if believing a different truth for ourselves was the answer?

I told myself I wasn’t a monster. I wasn’t weak-willed or wallowing in self doubt, self pity, self loathing. There was no reason to be scared. I wasn’t going to be bowled over by any emotion if I just let it sit beside me on the couch. Just because I had lived one way for twenty years didn’t mean that I couldn’t live another for the next twenty. People can change. I could change.

This may sound too easy. Too good to be true. I promise you it isn’t. There will be a point for you, if you’re in need of losing weight, when you will realize that there is no need to carry around a backpack of self-defeating prophecies.

The thing is, you know what you want out of life. I’d even guess that you know what you’d have to do to lose weight and get healthy, if that’s what you need at all. You probably have a sense of the bare bones of nutrition and movement. So I encourage you to think about those things; think about your life. What do you love? Write it down if you can. What parts of your life do you want to change? Be very clear. Be honest with yourself.

You don’t need to wait until Monday to start your new plan. You don’t need to wait until you are thin to live well. You just have to be present and willing in your own life.




50 thoughts on “Motivation

  1. Anneka Gerhardt

    Hi. You are amazing.

    Also the pictures of the nachos made my mouth water–one thing the French haven’t been able to do is decent tex-mex. :)

    Miss you!

  2. Shanna, like Banana

    Sundays are exactly that for me. I tend to gain 2-3lbs every single weekend because I overeat and then plan to get back on track on Monday. So for example, this Sunday, I dined on Chipotle, Starbucks, snacks galore, candy, popcorn, etc. I have a hard time breaking that cycle…really hard. thanks for your words!

  3. AllieNic

    This is such a great post! Thanks for sharing!

    It’s taken me a really long time to get out of the “Monday’s the day” mentality– to start thinking of the way I eat as a lifestyle and not a diet…I still indulge on the weekends, but my indulging is part of my life and not “breaking my diet”.

    P.s. I reeeeeally want nachos now…

  4. biz319

    Loved reading this post, especially the part where you said “the only obstacle was me.” So true!

    When I gained my weight, it wasn’t until I stopped to think why I did. I didn’t write it down, but when I got pregnant with my daughter, I told my then boyfriend of 3 years that I was pregnant – his reaction was “if you have this baby, your life will be miserable, you’ll never have a boyfriend, let alone get married.”

    Obviously he did not want to be a part of our lives, so I was a single mom – as the years went by, I got fatter and fatter, not really realizing it at the time, but I figured if I was fat, no one would want to date me and I couldn’t be hurt like that again.

    While the diagnosis of diabetes kick started my weight loss in 1999, I lost 70 pounds in a year – I loved myself inside and out! Three weeks later I met my now husband of almost 10 years – its funny, but as soon as I loved myself again, love found me!

    Great post chica – and that I got to look at amazing nachos while reading was icing on the cake!

    1. Can You Stay for Dinner

      Thank you so much Biz! This comment was so thoughtful and so inspiring that I nearly cried. I’m so happy to have ‘met’ you- you really are amazing. Thanks for being you and for always encouraging me. I am in awe of all that you’ve accomplished as a mom, a woman, a cook, a wife. Cheers to you!

  5. Sarah today is my monday

    I read your arrival in womans world bought it and decided that today is my Monday I weighed myself today and saw 223 on the scale my 75 lb coat need to be shed for my two little girls who need a healthy mom.

    1. Can You Stay for Dinner

      You’re going to get there, Sarah! It’s beautiful and inspiring to know that you are going to change your life for the better- for you and your two little girls (because the example that you set for them is just as important)! I wish you the best! Believe in yourself!

  6. Sarah

    This is a great post! It only takes one healthy habit to start a new behavior.

    Your nachos looks so good. I love making my own chips as well.

  7. lisaou11

    I love that you put that the change (mentally or physically) didn’t happen overnight. I think so many people expect to have this “willpower” or for there mindset to be completely healthy and normal–when it reality, you got those bad habits through your lifetime of being unhealthy. It takes a while to change those–and in effect—change your body.

    People need to be patient, persistent and believe in themselves when trying to change their lives.

  8. M.J. Jacobsen

    I bought Woman’s World today; your story was very inspiring. I just know others will benefit from it. Your posts just capture the essence of the struggles we share trying to lose weight, and find ourselves. You are young enough to be my daughter, and I love learning from your perspective. Thank you for your help, and insights!!!!!

  9. Lo

    You are an amazing writer. You hit the nail on the head each time. I haven’t been honest with myself lately and I think that might help quite a bit!

  10. Kristy

    Your story is so touching maybe becuase I am relate so well? You are further along with your growth and development than I am but I enjoy your perspective so much!

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  12. adventuresofpretendcook

    Love this post. I can really relate because I used to be the same way. I used to binge on the weekend (and just about every other day) and say that I was going to “start fresh” on Monday. Keep up the great work. Love your blog.

  13. Erin @ Pieholes & Plyos

    Terrific post.

    One thought that helps keep me from gorging on bags and boxes and half gallons of things at home, as well as oversized portions at restaurants is: “OhmygodthisisSOgood. And if I don’t eat it all now, I can have it AGAIN tomorrow.”

    Also, while I agree that change doesn’t happen overnight, I really do believe that just a few days of sticking to a path to health (or whatever your goals are) are enough to change the way you feel about what lies ahead, and make your tasks seem less daunting. Even 48 hours without overeating or taking in a lot of overprocessed foods can improve your energy and mood, and clear your mind enough to convince you that you are better than your bad habits. That you can beat them.

  14. kace

    Wow….this is eerily well timed. I only need to lose 15-20, but I seem to always find reasons to procrastinate, push it to monday. Perhaps its a sign??? Thanks for the motivation!

  15. Fervent Foodie

    I’ve fallen into a rut that past few months with my exercise routine dwindling from 3-4 times a week to practically nonexistent. Yes, I have been INSANELY busy with work, but deep down I’m not satisfied with that justification. I need to work on finding the motivation to keep up the things that are important to me and not put everything by the wayside once things get crazy at work.

    Thanks for the post!

    1. Can You Stay for Dinner

      You’re right- it can be so hard when everything in your life is jam packed, to find the time for exercise. So nice to hear that you’re in tune enough to know you miss it and want to bring it back! Thanks Mary!!

  16. Renee

    Just found your blog because( confess) I was looking at the muffin recipe. I read all my feelings right there in your post.

    I’ve dieted up to an un- healthy 60 pounds over the last 15 years. I never had a weight problem before, now it’s not just the weight, it’s high blood pressure and the works.
    I cook for a living which doesn’t help, being surrounded by food all day. I start again each morning with resolve, then end it with a binge, and make jokes about it to cope.

    I’ll have to read more of your inspirational posts, maybe I can make it through lunch!

    1. Can You Stay for Dinner

      Hi Renee! Thank you so much for your comment, and for sharing. It can be so so hard to get your resolve each morning to stick through the day, and onto the next, and then the next after that. But I’d say this: if you give it three solid days, honestly just three straight days of eating well and maybe doing some walking, you will notice that it’s markedly easier. I’m so glad you stopped by!

  17. barb7802

    YUM! My favorite food, Avocados! You have my attention. Do you think we over-think what we eat, especially when starting a diet or new eating plan? It takes just as much time to shop for healthy food as it does unhealthy stuff. It takes the same amount time or maybe less to prepare healthy food. The gratification while eating it, Priceless! Thanks.

    1. Can You Stay for Dinner

      Excellent point Barb! I think we tell ourselves it will consume us and that the path of dieting or losing weight will be grim and hard and therefore we psych ourselves out a bit. It’s honestly not too much more effort at the store, or in meal planning, so it’s more than worthwhile. It’s all in what we tell ourselves and what we believe. Thanks for such a great comment!

  18. candicemccoy

    Wow – I really like this post. And I totally agree with everything you said.

    Just found your blog from Second City Randomness, although I think I stopped by before bc of Project Food Blog. Anyway, love your writing!

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  20. LG

    You are an incredible, honest writer. Thanks for this post; it sure has me thinking and journalling.

    Also, the photos of your recipes are A-Mazing.


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