Dieting: A Tragedy or Comedy

Imagine. It’s a Saturday at your local rock gym. You’ve been busy doing some endurance training, climbing ‘up and downs’ and the like. You hate endurance training because people always think you’re climbing down because you’re scared but NO you’re climbing down for endurance training, and because you’re a horrible narcissist you have to loudly proclaim that after each route.


You have done three out of your five up and downs. Your forearms are pumped, you’re sweating like a pig, and the cute guy with the tattoos that’s probably a bad boy with a golden heart looks extra annoyed that you took up an auto belay for twenty minutes. So much for a meet-cute.

Suddenly, a delectable aroma wafts to your nostrils. It is what you both love and fear. The garlic fries at your gym’s café. Like Helen of Troy or a Popeye’s chicken sandwich, wars have probably been waged over those garlic fries.


The dilemma. You have just done three of your five up and downs…an activity you greatly dislike but do for the sake of bettering your climbing and getting some calories burned. That would all be wasted for a basket of those fries. Yes. A terrible, terrible waste. You run to your sister, who just came off a route.

“I hurt my pinky let’s get some garlic fries.”


You get garlic fries. The end.

The moral of this story. I will go to great lengths and commit the sin of falsehood (that’s a sin, right?) just to eat yummy food. If there’s one thing that you can probably guess, it’s that you don’t choose the moniker @chubbygirlclimbing because you ate too many bananas, you feel me? 

Food has always been my weakness. I can get myself to exercise, in fact, I mostly enjoy it (not including up and downs). But food…emotionally and physically satisfying, smell-good food…I know how to eat. 

The most common advice I get is to eat more filling foods, for I won’t be hungry later. Lean meats, vegetables, etc. you can eat a ton of with little guilt and it takes up room in your belly. 

Well, honey, that would work fine if I stopped eating just because I was FULL. More often than not, when I eat badly it’s not due to being hungry but due to some other inner void. It’s like I don’t want to miss out on the food. FOMO for food. 

Now, what has helped me slightly is intermittent fasting. For some reason, if I have a set guideline (like I’m only allowed to eat between 12 and 8) then I pretty strictly follow that guideline. It’s even more effective when I have an app telling me to start and end fasting. I let computers lead pretty blindly. I’ll be a good slave when they take over.


The hiccup of this method is that I tend to feel like I can eat twice as much when I am in my “eating period.” More food FOMO.

But my mindset changed yesterday, when I had a friend say something fairly profound. (I say fairly because she was several shots of tequila into the night, so I feel a lot of the credit goes to José Cuervo.)

She said I should stop thinking of food and dieting as a technique to lose weight and start thinking of it as fuel or power for my climbing. “You’re not trying to go pro but it’s something you care about and want to get better at so maybe that would be more motivation for you then looking skinny.”

Well, damn. That’s true. Wanting to look hot only takes me so far. I can always start my diet on Monday. I can always wear outfits that make me feel good at any size. There are people that love you at any size. But if it’s fuel we’re talking about…well let me tell you when I eat a basket of garlic fries and a greasy burger I’m not bouncing back on that wall again. 

So, my challenge in the weeks to come (that you should hold me accountable to), is to think of food in how it will relate to my future, not how it will make me feel right now. Will this bagel give me enough power to get up that 5.11 project I’ve been working on? Maybe the chicken breast will be a better choice. Can an iced brownie perform that V3 overhang for me? No, but maybe a hearty omelet can. 

That, and I probably need to start wearing nose plugs to the gym. That café is too good. 




Jen Alger Contributor theDIHEDRAL




22 Replies to “Dieting: A Tragedy or Comedy”

  1. I think most of us have our own way of talking ourself into eating comfort food on occasion. Very cleaver article and it certainly resonated with me. Your gym shouldn’t have garlic fries. I mean who could remember which set or rep your on while sniffing garlic fries? Have a great weekend. Love ❤️ Joni

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I would never do a thing like that;) but beer after a ride rehydrates, replaces lost carbohydrates, and is made with whole grains, right? Probably chock-full of electrolytes, too!

    Liked by 4 people

  3. So relatable! If I can offer a glimpse of hope, it’s that by age 50, you won’t care what anyone thinks anymore and then you can truly enjoy those garlic fries, no guilt! Until then, climb to eat and eat to climb!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Glad to hear I’ve skipped ahead a few decades. I like thru-hiking because it is basically an excuse to live on an “all you can eat” diet.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve always been “chubby” (solid?) I’m 5’1″ and around 150 as it has been most of my adult life. Size 6 – 8. Yeah, I should be 110 and size 0000 or maybe a negative number, I don’t know. I think it’s just how I am. I don’t overeat. I have always “exercised” a lot. One day I was hiking with a tall, slender woman. We’d hiked 8 miles. She was tired. She asked, “How far did we go?”

    “8 miles.”

    “You do this every day?”


    “Why are you still fat?”

    I actually wasn’t “fat,” but lithe and slender is not in my DNA. A switch flipped in my brain. I said, “Tell you what, if you can catch me you can call me fat.” My dog and I took off running the half mile to the parking lot. We waited 20 minutes for her at the parking lot. To this day I wish I’d just driven off, but…

    Function over form. Kindness over vanity. Life is short. Enjoy the fries and appreciate the up and down on the wall or a good run. ❤ And…I never hiked with that b@#$%^ again.

    Liked by 6 people

  5. LOL! If you can climb that well, you’re not fat. Most people would never make it up – or down – even once. Including skinny people.

    More likely is that you are perfect for you but have gotten suckered in by the trillion-dollar “I hate my appearance” industry. Don’t let it happen. Imagine all those other ladies envying you your curves.

    If for health reasons one needs to lose weight, the best method I’ve found is not to eat until you are hungry and then start with fruit and a salad. Finish up with the meat and potatoes. People get into trouble eating for reasons other than being hungry while living a sedentary life.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This article is great. It’s insightful and funny, which is a fabulous combination. I really love this whole article, and how to look at food as fuel for an activity. Well done, looking forward to the next one!

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I used to struggle a bit with this and it was annoying for climbing as I had to work so much harder on the overhangs. Ironically the thing that fixed it was having kids. Because losing the baby weight was a huge mountain (nearly 20kgs), and because breastfeeding means you can’t crash diet, I had to map out a plan over a long time. It involved …eating more slowly, and paying attention to nothing but my physical appetite. If it was a mealtime and I wasn’t hungry, that was probably because I ate enough at the last meal. If I was hungry after a meal, I asked myself whether lack of sleep was distorting it, and drank some water and tea before deciding. It worked (eventually), I just eat smaller amounts of whatever I fancy, and I’m thinner three kids later. Sadly the climbing has taken a back seat!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. My wife wants to go to a Mariners game for the garlic fries, not even for the game. I fasted once and got very sick, so I know better but it has to do with the medications I take, for anti-rejection of my transplant, I must stay toxic at about the same level. Consistency. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I really enjoyed reading your blog post and reading about your personal experience with food and exercise. I think it is important that was to reduce diet stigma in our society today. By using your philosophy of listening to what your body wants as well as filling it with solely nutrient-dense foods, this should lead to long term success for a lot of people.

    Liked by 1 person

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