The Yellow Post-It Note: A Poem

By Katie, 5:59 am

Trigger Warning: The following poem, which contains an account of extreme diet restriction, could be triggering for some readers. Please carefully consider this before proceeding, and remember to take good care of yourself. ♥

The Yellow Post-It Note

Between the computer monitor and the
cup of pencils
sits a pad of post-it notes.
They’re highlighter yellow and
rather unassuming, just an
unremarkable piece of the
shuffle of my desk.

Except that today I can’t help
but remember the days gone by,
the days when a similar pad of
post-it notes kept record of my worth,
penned as calories in, calories out.


It’s a Wednesday night, 2003, and
by the light of my desk lamp I
review the day;
it was a good one.
The first line on the post-it note
reads, “Breakfast: Apple, Medium – 80.”

The second, third, and fourth lines
aren’t much more substantial,
and the total is under
Plus I went to the gym, twice.
By my double-checked calculations,
today I burned as many as I consumed.
In, out.

In bed, in the blackness of my dorm room, I
review the day again;
was it really a good one?

I reach blindly for the note to
look it over once more.
Squinting in the darkness, trying to make out
the first line. I think it reads,
“Look at you, getting thinner by the day!
So in control!”

No, wait, now my eyes are adjusting, and
I can see more clearly.
Plain as day, the first line reads,
“Tired, weak, and cranky; desperate
for a bagel.”

Stop! Don’t think about bagels
or muffins
or pancakes.
Don’t think about chocolate chip cookies
or cream cheese icing
or fudge ripple.

I drift to sleep by forcing my thoughts
away from fudge ripple and onto visions
of a thinner, more confident me.
Perhaps tomorrow I can go under 700.
The post-it note will tell.


I reach for my yellow pad
and scribble, “Call dad re: Christmas.”
Stick it to my monitor where I won’t miss it.

A simple note, really, and yet later
I catch myself staring at it with
Because it’s a yellow post-it note
with no numbers,
no tallies and no calculations.
It contains no pride, no shame,
no anxiety over cookies.

It’s just a yellow post-it note,
stripped of its power.


This was written as part of the Self-Discovery, Word by Word blogger series. So far we’re explored gratitude, vulnerability, and authenticity. This month’s word is Creativity. Click here to learn more and see how you can participate too!

39 Responses to “The Yellow Post-It Note: A Poem”

  1. Karen says:

    Wow!! That was amazing!

  2. ode to the sticky note. this is a great message and unbelievably well written. great!

  3. Wow, amazing as usual. You’ve got such powerful words. My “post-its” were always on index cards and to this day I always think of calorie counts when I have to use them.

  4. Wow, love the poem, Katie. Thank you for sharing this.

  5. Meg says:

    Wow, just wow. Beautifully written. This gave me chills!

  6. This is beautiful. My post-it notes have changed over time as well. They used to have negative affirmations, but now they’r positive. I used to think negative motivation would work, but I learned that compassion carries the day.

  7. There is power in your creativity!

  8. What a beautiful poem. I love the growth that is shown in it.

  9. Jill says:

    Very nice, Katie. So creative, and it speaks volumes in just a few short sentences. Love it!

  10. Joy Tanksley says:

    Mmmm…. thank you for writing this and for sharing it, Katie. I relate to this very deeply, and it brought me a great sense of gratitude for the freedom I’ve found.

  11. Katie, this is such a beautiful and powerful poem. I can totally relate to the desire for control and wanting to feel pride in eating less. It’s funny but I also remember wanting to have a bagel but focusing on the calories and how I’d heard that bagels were the enemy. How awesome that those kinds of Post-It notes are long gone! Thanks for sharing this!! I love how you interpreted this month’s word!!

  12. Dorry says:

    Beautifully written Katie! I love this. I share those same memories of rigid, obsessive behavior. I’m so glad we are free from that hellish cycle now.

  13. Missy says:

    This was really great — I want to stick a big old virtual posty on your blog that says “SHE ROCKS!”


  14. Nicole, RD says:

    Wow! I love it :)

  15. Shawnee says:

    That’s pretty powerful considering it’s about a post-it note…on the surface anyway.

  16. I used to do the same with planners, spreadsheets and calorie king.

    My day was good or bad based on the sheet and numbers.

    It’s so ironic how doing that has actually made me gain weight and be even more compulsive.

    You think your so organized and in control and in reality, the opposite is happening!

  17. Wow, what a great poem. I used to tally up all those calories in my head each day, even when I was “better” and “over” the disordered eating, it was an uncontrollable habit…and then, one day about 7 or 8 months ago, I realized I had stopped counting. After 5 years – 1,825 days – of automatically keeping score, something in me had just let it go.

    It was such a joyful, freeing feeling and I am still grateful!

  18. Thank you for sharing that poem. I love how you broke the connection with the “addiction” right at the end, with thee post-its stripped of their “power.”

  19. Emilee says:

    Thanks for sharing. I went through something very similar my Junior year in high school. I remember laying in bed thinking about donuts.

  20. Megan says:

    Thumbs up, Katie! I love it – something so simple as a post-it note representing such a great achievement. I often come across scraps of paper floating around my desk draw, or on the last page of a notebook, with a tally of my calories. Boy, am I so grateful to be moving beyond that now.

  21. Poems are strings of words put together just the right way. What an amazing string…

  22. Josie says:

    you hit the note on the head, Katie. this reminds me of my extreme crash dieting in college. i look back on it now and shake my head. reading posts like this make me feel a little more human.

  23. Katie, what a wonderful poem. It resonates with me on many levels, but especially regarding the (false) idea that our days can be measured by calories, that our mood and goodness are related to what has come into our system and gone out. I’m so glad not to be in that place anymore, and I am so glad that you aren’t there, either!

  24. Angie says:

    Thank you for writing and publishing this poem. I never thought anyone else kept this type of post-it note. I have had this habit for years, and, after reading your poem, have decided to try to live one day without the post-it. We’ll see what happens.

    • Katie says:

      Angle, you can do it! I know how hard it is to move away from this kind of mindset, but it is definitely worth it! I am sending positive vibes your way.

  25. [...] Katie @ Health for the Whole Self: The Yellow Post-It Note: A Poem [...]

  26. This is awesome. Truly awesome!

  27. Janet says:

    Wow! This really hit a cord. Not because I ever counted calories — I haven’t. I either starved, or I didn’t.

    I’m trying to type this through tears. You’ve moved me deeply. I’ve come a very, very long way on my journey, but I realize I have a ways to go.

    I say that because I’m still sitting here in my workout clothes (at home) after my third workout of the day… Just because I thought I ate too much yesterday????

    Thanks for a beautifully passionate and creative post.


    • Katie says:

      Thanks for being so open and honest in this comment, Janet. I’m on this journey with you, taking it day by day.

  28. elizabeth says:

    what a powerful description of the life of someone obsessed with calories. as someone whose own art grew out of my own and my students experiences with eating disorders, I can completly relate to the power of creativity to express and heal. Stopping by as a fellow participant in the creativity blog post theme at Weightless

    • Katie says:

      So glad you stopped by, Elizabeth! I’m currently checking out your site and I’m absolutely loving it! Thank you for doing such important work.

  29. Your worth is SO much more than “calories in, calories out” on a yellow sticky note. It’s a beautiful poem, but I’m really glad those days are PAST, not present for you.

  30. Pixi Peters says:

    check out a song written by Australian singer Clare Bowditch called “Your own kind of girl”

    The album is “Modern day Addiction” – Clare Bowditch & the New Slang


    • Katie says:

      Thanks for the suggestion! I just looked up the lyrics, and they gave me chills…especially this line: “The real world needs real girls to love themselves enough.”

  31. [...] every single food I ate regularly, and for those I didn’t I was pretty good at estimating. I kept track of them on yellow post-it notes. You could say that I was obsessed with counting calories, although I never would have admitted [...]

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