I have a thing for coffee. To fully comprehend what I’m about to say, it’s helpful to know something about me: I tend to get obsessed with things, I do them to excess, burn out, then I move to the next thing and never look back.
I do this with music, too. I hear a song I like, listen to it 800 times a day, until that love slowly morphs into hate. Then I never want to hear it again.
But apparently my obsession with coffee has not yet reached critical mass. I drink too much of it and make no excuses for it.
“It’s my one vice,” I say, like all people who know they’re in a death spiral with a bad habit they can’t stop.
So when I woke up the other morning to find the coffee (on a pre-set mode to be ready when I wake, of course) has overflowed out of the pot and onto the floor, Houston, we have a problem.
I instantly go through all five stages of grief — denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance — within a span of five minutes, realizing I will need to clean up this mess without the aid of caffeine.
Although my husband, a worse coffee addict than me, drank a cup of the remaining sludge anyway, saying the grinds gave it “texture.”
And if you’ve ever experienced a clogged up coffee pot incident, you’ll know what I mean when I say the volume of liquid that flows out of the pot is exponentially greater than the original amount poured into the machine.
It’s not just on the countertop, but on the floor, in the cutlery drawer and into everything, like a tsunami that’s pulled everything into its surge, knocking over houses and sucking VW buses and telephone poles into its dark and foreboding grip.
After all was said, done and cleaned up, I made the following note-to-self: Clean the coffee pot more often than every decade.
You would think this was a clear sign from the Universe that maybe I should step away from the coffee for a bit.
Maybe. But I’m not ready.
Do you say that about certain things you know you need to stop as well?
For example, I get emails about eating at night. Questions like:
— “How can I stop eating at night? I’m like a woman possessed!”
— “Why do I have no problem eating very little during the day but then at night it’s like I haven’t eaten for a week?”
— “Do calories count if I eat in front of the refrigerator standing up and no one sees me?”
Okay, I may have made up that last one, but it’s a legit question. (The answer is yes, unfortunately.)
I’ve mentioned in prior posts that I credit my 15 lb weight loss (which I’ve kept off for more than seven years) on cutting out nighttime snacking. And it’s the absolute truth, regardless of all the exaggerating I do on these posts.
I decided that cutting out those calories would eliminate a few hundred and, may, over time help me lose weight.
And it did.
Keep in mind, however, it took about a year because we’re talking about 200 to 300 calories at the most. It wasn’t as if I polished off a sleeve of Oreos and half pint of Chunky Monkey each night and then suddenly decided to eat nothing after dinner.
But I’d snack a bit. So it wasn’t hard.
It’s why I advocate making small changes instead of vowing to never eat chocolate, cut out bread, ban the booze and a hundred other things you know you’ll never be able to maintain.
Skipping a small snack at night? Doable.
If this is your issue, I have a few tips that may help you, too.
This may sound counterintuitive, but if you’re “starving” at night and didn’t eat much during the day, chances you didn’t eat enough during the day, which is exactly why you’re ravenous at night. If you eat enough during the day you simply won’t be hungry at night.
Do not allow more than four hours to pass between meals so you avoid becoming too hungry to make sensible dietary decisions.
Lean protein — fish, eggs, dairy, lean meats, beans, etc. — does a bunch of wonderful things. Protein revs your metabolism, keeps hunger at bay and fills you up. Strive to include 20 grams with each meal (approximately 3 oz) and about half that with snacks.
Plus, as we age (not that any of us are doing that, ‘cause we’re ageless, right?) our bodies become less efficient at processing protein. We need an ounce or two more each day than we did in our formative years.
Swap out any carb-loaded meals (I’m lookin’ at you, bagel for breakfast) with a protein to fend off hunger longer.
Ideally, you want to stop eating two, preferably three, hours before you go to sleep. If you typically eat up until you turn off your nightstand light, begin with a half hour and “train” yourself to gradually go for longer periods of time between your last meal and sleep.
The side benefit: You will sleep better, too.
Cutting out snacking may also mean you’re cutting out something to do with your hands. A hot, calorie-free, comforting beverage at night fits the bill.
I sip on herbal tea. The downside? Pee dreams. You know, the dreams when you spend half the night looking for a bathroom because in real life you have to go. Those.
So maybe knitting or coloring may work better for you. Just make sure it’s non-food related.
I talk a lot about mindset because we often see these types of changes in a negative way. And telling yourself you “can’t” have something makes you want it even more.
Flip that switch. Know why you’re making this change and give yourself time to adjust. I’m talking about a month or two, not a couple of days.
“Oh, well, I tried this for a week and it didn’t work for me, so I may as well go back to my bad habits and forget the whole thing,” is an excuse. Stop doing it.
You can do this! I did it, and I don’t possess any superpowers. At least none that I’m aware of yet. That could change any given moment.
Do YOU tend to eat at night — or do you make a conscious effort to stop before sleepy time? Let’s chat! Leave a comment down below to get the conversation going…
Other posts you may enjoy:
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Linda Melone is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, certified trainer and award-winning health and fitness writer. She specializes in helping women over 50 get in shape and lose weight.