Q: hi there, i just found your site and its so amazing. you’re way ahead of me. i just ate 4 cookies.

i just really would love love love to know something: how do you tell yourself no at the appropriate times and yes at the appopriate times? i can’t seem to generate a ‘NO’ loud enough for what i need in my body. help.

Boy… I hope those were great cookies. I mean, I genuinely hope they were so delicious that they were worth every bite.

Because if they were cheap cookies, they probably tasted like crap, didn’t fill you up at all, and might’ve even left you worse off than you began… because you were still hungry after the fact and then had to eat something else that actually could fill you up.

Listen… I don’t eat cookies. Like, it is wholly possible for me to walk down a cookie aisle and look – possibly even salivate – but not touch. Why? Because I know two things: 1) I can probably bake less expensive yet better tasting cookies at home and 2) those cookies are processed beyond recognizable ingredient recognition, and wouldn’t do me any nutritional good.

I mean, let’s not be mistaken here. We can deconstruct a cookie and I can show you how a cookie can be nutritional – I bake a flourless peanut butter cookie that is a protein powerhouse, allows me to avoid protein powders (if you take them, that’s great, but I don’t) and get in some enjoyment, too – and how it can be cheap and easy to make at home, too… but that’s not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about the ability to say “no,” and how to develop and facilitate that habit. I understand.

First and foremost, I don’t tempt fate. Even now, I know that if I’m surrounded by bad food, it is risky. I mean, if you go to a crappy franchise restaurant you’ll order “the least evil dish on the menu,” but it’s still “the least evil dish.” The key is avoiding the crappy restaurant.

It’s the same inside of your house. If you’re buying the crap-you-know-you-shouldn’t-eat, you will eat the crap-you-know-you-shouldn’t-eat simply for no other reason than “I bought it, I’m not wasting money.” It’s easy to manipulate ourselves into doing something we don’t want to do.

Even now, I don’t have any cookies, any cakes, pies, or other typical sweets in the house. I could go downstairs, grab the chocolate chips, the flour, butter, maple syrup, some baking powder, some ground cloves and a mixing bowl and bake some chocolate chip cookies… and it’d be totally worth the effort, but do I want to put forth the effort? Do I want to get covered in cookie batter? Do I want to deal with Mini-me trying to peek from behind me asking “Whatcha making, Mommom? Can I have some, Mommom? Can I lick the spoon, Mommom? Can I lick the bowl, Mommom? Are those my cookies Mommom? Can I help, Mommom?”

By the time I’d be done baking, I wouldn’t even want the darn cookies. And by virtue of never having cookies in the house.. I’d probably wind up pitching the rest or giving them to the little one.

The level of effort involved with acquiring your vice (your vice being the cookies) directly affects whether or not you’ll actually obtain that vice. It’s as easy as that. Keep your household clear of crap.

And let me be honest, too.. when I came to the conclusion that it was better for me to make my cookies instead of buy them? Oh, good grief.. I was baking cookies every week! I mean, every… single… week! And I suffered for it. Not in a way that caused me to gain, but in a way that prevented me from losing. How frustrating was that! My body let me know – straight up: you’re giving me just enough food to maintain this weight, so either you kick up the exercise or kick down the intake. My body spoke, and I listened. How awesome is that?

Now, I may bake once a month. Maybe two. It’s not often. I have no problem taking Mini-me to a bakery so that she can enjoy a nice quality bit of junk food… but again, it’s rare. The $3 to $5 that I’d be spending on cookies each week saves up to about $20 a month I’m saving just by not buying cookies.. I can buy my daughter a chocolate croissant for $3 and still have an extra $17 in my pocket for a pedicure or a book or a new yoga mat or something.

I can’t speak on people who live in houses with people who insist on bringing crap into the house when they know they shouldn’t… either for me or for themselves. Things wind up mysteriously in the trash around me. Mysteriously, I promise.

As for those times when you do find yourself in the throes of junk food passion and can’t get away? Like, say, a business meeting? Keep water handy… and take big, lonnnnng gulps. I mean, don’t be obnoxious with it and drool water everywhere, but a leisurely sip isn’t going to get it for you. At all. As someone who deals with/dealt with a pretty intense sugar addiction, I’m pretty familiar with the guzzling of water. If anyone asks or comments on how much I’m drinking, I just shrug and say “What? I feel dehydrated.” They’ll usually reply with something about how I need to do better… and I just shrug it off because I already know the deal. I’m avoiding the darn sweets.

So… how do I say no? I protect myself by avoiding ever having it in my house, and if I insist on indulging, I’ll make it myself… even though the effort required is usually enough to make me change my mind. If I’m already in the middle of a situation where it’s hard to avoid, I stick to the water and drink like my life depends on it. Before too long, it loses its hold on you, and saying “no” comes naturally.

What tips or tricks do you use to help you say no?