Thursday, November 08, 2007

Recovering junkaholic

Date: Nov. 7
Mileage: 15.2
November mileage: 157.4
Temperature upon departure: 34
Rainfall: 0.01"

I went to the dentist this morning, a few days after I became convinced that I had a massive cavity threatening to abscess into my jaw. Turns out I have nothing of the sort, but at least now there are a dozen really expensive digital photographs of the insides of my teeth stored in a computer somewhere in the purgatory of Airport Row.

I’m of course relieved by my no-cavity status, but there’s a thin layer of disappointment on the periphery. As the season of giving in approaches, I’ve been harboring this crazy scheme to reduce sugar in my diet. So far, I have struggled to find the motivation to even begin. I was beginning to believe a massive cavity may be just the kick-start I need to motivate toward ultra-clean living. But I need to be honest with myself. I’ve set a lot of goals in the past two years, and none of them have touched my diet. The sugar that remains is going to have to be surgically removed.

Not that I haven’t made an honest effort to cut back. For as much junk food as I eat these days, there was a time when I was absolutely devoted to it, defended it, and would have starved without it. When my friends and I ate dinner on our backpacking trips, I’d smirk as they toiled over their little camp stoves while I munched effortlessly on Snickers bars. Food is food, and energy is energy, I reasoned. I believed I was free. But I’ve changed since then. In my blog description, I define myself as someone who “likes to eat goldfish crackers and Pepsi for breakfast.” This isn’t untrue, but it is, and is becoming more so, a remnant of a past life. For as much as sugar calls to me, the lingering benefits of “healthy” food shout louder.

Geoff and I buy our fresh produce in bulk, Costco style, and even with the lag time of Juneau shipping that cuts longevity in half, we never fail to finish it. Geoff's a vegetarian, so there's not much meat. When I buy cereal, I try to stick to the whole-grain, low sugar types, and Geoff’s job as a cook at a natural foods deli has infused a lot of organic flax-seed hippy food into the mix. I’m a lot happier now than I was when I was a junk food junky, and my energy levels are off the chart compared to then. I attribute much of this to “better diet.”

And yet, my devotion to junk food remains. If sugar cereals show up in the house, I devour them enthusiastically and without regret. There’s a cupboard in the house I can’t go near - stocked full of store-bought cookies and six different kinds of chips and and Pop Tarts and Wheat Thins and granola bars and fruit leathers and trail mix and hot chocolate and ... the list goes on. Every time I open this cupboard, large amounts of simple carbohydrates disappear just like that. The reason this cupboard exists is because a former version of myself converted the once sugar-free Geoff to the church of high fructose corn syrup. Now his grocery choices (and mine) threaten to lure me back to the flock.

It seems a noble but impossible battle. Just tonight, I polished off a dinner of veggie burger on whole-wheat bread, green salad with sliced apples, baby carrots and balsamic vinegar, and a huge bowl of Rocky Road ice cream. I can’t help but wonder if my dentist had the decency to chew me out, if I would have eschewed the ice cream and munched on a banana instead. Probably not.

On the bright side, the dentist appointment got me out of bed in the pre-dawn darkness of 6:45 a.m. That gave me time to ride Pugsley up Perseverance canyon, eat lunch, and complete my lower-body weight routine at the gym. I should make a habit of waking up early. I wonder if that would convince me to go to bed before 1 a.m. Probably not.