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updated: 3/19/2012 6:15 AM

Keeping those Oreos as memories making a difference

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You just don't realize the willpower you're called upon to exercise when you're trying to reboot your life until Oreo celebrates its 100th birthday. Seriously.

Here I am, trucking along with my protein shakes, chicken breasts, organic fruits and vegetables, and my Greek yogurt, when all around me I'm inundated with images, tweets, Facebook posts and media stories about the now-forbidden Oreo. It's torture.

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The first time somebody mentioned there was a cache of the chocolaty cookies in the newsroom I felt the urge to run up there and indulge. I didn't, but the urge was there. Just keeping it real. I had a rambling internal conversation with myself debating the right path.

"Just a few wouldn't hurt," I reasoned. "But what if somebody catches you? How would you explain that to trainer George Gersch? Have you read the product label? Blech! How many apples could you eat instead of four Oreos? Wouldn't real food leave you feeling more full or satisfied? Is it really worth it? Again, have you read the product label and seen the synthetic ingredients? Blech!"

As a result, guess who hasn't eaten any Oreos. Don't be fooled -- it was not easy.

Change is a process, and the discipline required to make real, lasting change is substantial. I didn't just make a simple little decision to bypass Oreos. I've chosen another alternative: to skip acting impulsively where food is concerned, and to ponder the consequences beyond the "yum." It's a daily, sometimes hourly, process.

I've been surprised by the number of people in the past few months who have made it a point to stop me and say "have you tried (insert the latest diet fad here)? I've lost (insert huge amount) in (insert ridiculously short time frame) and you should consider that." No, I shouldn't.

I've made my decision. I choose long-term health, not a quick fix that doesn't come with any real lessons. I choose to learn now what I've never known before about nutrition and how it affects my body. One year ago, I was having migraines up to five days a week. I've now had only three in the past 60 days because of the oftentimes difficult choices I've made regarding food and exercise.

My body is speaking. It likes the decisions I'm making. Am I perfect in my resolve? No. Am I doing very, very well? Yes, and I plan to improve all the time. I've even bought a bunch of spices and have tried cooking to make sure I don't get led astray due to a lack of flavor and variety. I, along with the Fittest Loser contestants, will post some of our recipe experiments at thefittestloser.com so you can see what we're learning and try some of our successes.

Now, back to those Oreos. Part of their appeal is the fun memory I have of my father teaching me to "properly" dunk them by submerging them until the air bubbles stopped -- a sure indicator of "doneness." It's a great memory. And that's what it needs to remain. Repeating the behavior now doesn't bring back my father, or the good times we shared centered around food.

It's time to make new memories. And I need -- and want -- to be around, and be healthy, to make them.

• Catherine Edman is the cooperative advertising manager for the Daily Herald. She spent 19 years as a reporter at the paper, frequenting many drive-through windows on the way to cover night meetings, before joining the advertising staff in 2009.

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