Until then, we’d finish dinner and maybe I’d have a bowl of ice cream with the kids (I was younger then and could get away with those kinds of things) and we would have eating wrapped up by 6:30 most nights.
I remember sitting on the bleachers after dinner during one of my oldest son’s baseball games, maybe 10 years ago, and one of the moms passed around a bag of Twizzlers. “No thanks,” I said as she waved the open bag towards me. “I already brushed my teeth.”
In retrospect, I get why the other moms looked at me like I was crazy. But I guess back then, that was how I was able to set good eating boundaries and lose the fairly significant weight I had gained following each of my four pregnancies.
Or maybe I was just too tired to brush my teeth again. Who knows? That thinking just worked and kept me fitting in my jeans.
But as is often the case, the rules I had set for my eating habits deteriorated over time.
When the former Mr. Amy moved out, right after our 18th wedding anniversary and just shortly before Christmas, I celebrated my new-found freedom nightly in my bedroom with a big glass of wine.
Over time, that one glass morphed into one or two more cups full o’ vino and eventually, I started to get hungry.
Enter the Cheez-Its.
Back then, I had what the neighborhood kids probably considered a top-notch selection of pantry treats. We had Pop Tarts and Sun Chips and Little Debbie snacks by the box full. If it was on sale, I threw it in the shopping cart and brought it home.
So I started inviting the friendly box of Cheez-Its upstairs into my bed each night and for a while, those crunchy little guys were great company.
I remember my daughter walking into my room late one night to find me lounging on the bed and cheating on the usual orange crackers with a giant red bag of Doritos. “Gross,” she said, stopping at the door. “It stinks in here.”
“Perfect. Then leave,” I instructed, pointing to the door with one hand and digging into the cavernous bag with the other. My Doritos and I didn’t need anyone, thank you.
But then things began to change, but it took me a great while, as is my nature, to connect the Cheez-Its to my increasingly tight clothing. I’ve never been particularly good at linking cause and effect.
It’s a problem when your sports bras and outerwear become snug. When you can’t button your raincoat or the straps of your already-stretched-out-jogbra begin to dig into your neck – threatening decapitation – you know something has gone wrong.
At first, I thought maybe I had developed a thyroid condition. I’d heard that a sluggish one could cause weight gain and was pretty certain mine had thrown in the towel.
Then I became convinced that perimenopause was to blame. “You,” I said in a private conversation with my estrogen, “are the cause of so much crazy in my life. Must you wreak havoc on my ass as well?”
When a quick blood test debunked both of those theories, it was time to consider alternative causes.
Unlike probably 99.9 percent of the women I know, I have a weirdly good body image. It’s like the opposite of body dysmorphic disorder: I look in the mirror and think everything looks fine.
Or I’m just not good at noticing changes. Like my butt might be getting bigger, but I don’t really see it.
But what really caught my eye about six months ago was the change in the way my back looked when I studied my rear view in my bathroom with a handheld mirror.
Initially, I thought the horizontal indentation of flesh cutting through both sides of my back was the result of a long-suspected undiagnosed case of scoliosis. I was convinced that a curvature of my spine was causing my back to tilt backwards and create the deep creases slicing through my back just below my bra strap.
I thought if I just stood up straighter, pulled my shoulders back a little more, that the situation would be remedied.
But then, after one inspection, it dawned on me that the cause of the back ripple was not a physical defect but the same problem that had me busting out of that cute coat I bought on sale at Anthroplogie and my Lululemon tops: the damn Cheez-Its.
And Tostitos. And Wheat Thins. And Triscuits. And Doritos. Especially the Doritos.
So we broke up.
It wasn’t easy. You know these things never are. But it’s better for all of us.
And as Jennifer My Therapist would tell you, you can’t fill that gaping hole you’re feeling in your life with stuff. You can’t backfill all the salt-n-vinegar chips and Kendall Jackson in the world into that pit.
Oh god, how that woman makes me work.
My strategy now is to just not invite all of those salty treats — that seem to call to me around 10:30 every night from their pantry bed — into my house. I just can’t resist their nightly siren call.
My kids aren’t thrilled. I saw my 19-year-old daughter standing in front of the open cabinet doors yesterday, staring at the drawers full of raw almonds and Trader Joe’s tortilla chips that taste like Eucharist, and moan, “There’s nothing to eat.”
But that’s okay, because I’d rather have no rolls on my back than a late-night tryst with some salty good-for-nothing.
My priorities have changed.