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I Don’t Have the Will Power for Kale

Photograph by Getty Images

“What you really need to write is a diet book,” I said to my reflection in the glass window of a store at the mall. It’s school supply shopping season so I’ve been passing my mirrored image more than usual. Not that I don’t look in the mirror in my house, but those candid sightings, particularly when pilfering Wetzel's Pretzel bits from the boys, can really catch you off guard.

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Other than shuttling the kids around, I’ve been doing a lot of hiding out writing this year. I wouldn’t exactly call it “fun,” but it’s certainly been challenging, illuminating and something I apparently wasn’t paying attention to: fattening.

Who cares, right? I’m better than that! I am not Kim Kardashian whose stock in trade is my ass! My work is about sharing ideas and communication and stuffing as much popcorn as I can in my pie hole (in my case, literally the hole where I also put pie). The problem is I also happen to be a little vain. Not Brazilian hair straightening, face bleaching and breast implant vain, but vain enough to care when my clothes don’t feel right.

My will power is too tapped out to eat a wheat-free, dairy-free, alcohol-free meal of kale and steamed organic chicken.

I couldn’t figure out where Disciplined Dani had gone, until I picked up the book, "The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business," a bestseller by Charles Duhigg. He has a whole section on the nature of will power that put to rest my fear that managing my impulses around muffins, donuts and ice cream is gone forever.

If I read Duhigg right, I am basically suffering from flaccid will power, which I have to say, looks as bad as it sounds.

But there is hope! Like any muscle, will power can be strengthened. According to studies, the more will power “reps,” you do, so to speak, the stronger it gets. I absolutely look forward to this kind of strength training, as soon as the boys are driving.

Because the other known fact about will power is that it doesn’t work well when you feel depleted. Which explains so much about my 6-9 p.m. dinners!! After a day where I had to use will power to discipline myself to put words on a page instead of Googling “Beyonce and Jay-z, what happened?” then being assaulted by two young boys who insist on kicking each other or grabbing pencils out of already unstable hands doing homework, and then after daily afternoon challenges where I have to use will power not to scream, “Again?? What the f;$k wrong with you two?” — well, my will power is too tapped out to eat a wheat-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, alcohol-free meal of kale and steamed organic chicken.

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But hopefully I have enough will power left to discipline my mind to love that image in the shop windows. Standing outside GAP Kids staring that reflection down, knowing that woman puts in an honest day’s work, and is doing the best she can to keep her sons off a therapist’s couch. And trusting that in 2025, she’s going to be smokin’ hot to the senior set.

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