Earn Your Mac N’ Cheese Tonight

Earn your mac n’ cheese tonight.

You have probably read something like this and other similar obnoxious advertisements at your local gym. And it annoys me every time. Can you imagine telling a child that they have to run 5 laps around the back yard to earn dinner? NO! Of course not. So why do we do that to ourselves? We often think in terms of:

30 min of biking for 2 pieces of chocolate

You can’t blame yourself for this type of thinking. It’s taught to you in just about every women’s magazine out there. But what would happen if we flipped our thinking?

2 pieces of chocolate for 30 min of biking

While I’m being a bit playful here, I’m serious about the principle. We have to start thinking about fueling our bodies for our busy days and physical activity rather than burning off our food and the associated guilt from eating. From a psychological and emotional perspective it is totally unproductive because it fuels the notion that eating is bad and is a sin that must be “atoned for.”

Why don’t you try turning your food/exercise equation on its head and let me know how it goes!

At the moment I have a book project I’m developing (in my brain for now). It’s geared towards helping people repair their relationship with exercise. If I was to write such a book, what would you want covered?


  1. I have some questions for that book of yours. 1. when you have learned to associate exercise with punishment, fear, physical discomfort, pain, and helplessness based on a lifetime of negative experiences, how do you begin to create positive feelings around

    physical activity? 2. how do you break your exercise “rules” and regulations? i have to do x amount of time, burn x amount of calories, on x level of resistance, for x miles…. it’s exhausting and not based on what my body needs. 3. how do you prevent exercise

    from becoming compulsive? 4. does anyone actually enjoy exercise? how do you know if you’re enjoying it or enjoying the relief from the guilt of eating or the shame of being in your body? 5. what are healthy, positive motivations for exercising? how do youdifferentiate

    between these motivations and the other — unhealthy — ones. 6. what “counts” as exercise? why does it only feel like it “counts” if it’s really painful and actually kind of pointless (i.e. machines at the gym)? 7. how do you undo the association between

    exercise and weight loss? 8. what is the best way to respond when people talk about “earning” their food (this was a huge problem on my college field hockey team and contributed to the development of my ED) or become competitive around exercise?

  2. How exciting about your possible book! I think there is definitely a need for a book to counter all of the ridiculous messages we hear about the purpose of exercise. I’d like to read something about how one can go about discovering the amount/type of exercise

    that is right for them… Part of the reason why I used to have a disordered relationship with exercise is because I tried to conform to the type/duration of exercise that society tells me is “healthy”. I have no idea how to discover what is right for me and

    my body, and I think a lot of people struggle with the same question. “Intuitive exercise” is a foreign concept that I would like to learn more about.

  3. Have you read “The Intrinsic Exerciser?” It’s available from Gurze Books. I’ve decided to only do movement that I love, movement I would partake in regardless of whether I lose weight as a result of doing it. Occasionally, I will do movement that is boring,

    just like I occasionally will eat something I don’t totally love. Perfect matches don’t come every single time.

  4. Thank you!!! I haven’t read it, but thank you for the suggestion. It sounds awesome. I appreciate your thoughts.

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