Saturday, October 04, 2008

Juvenilia III

I don't remember why I didn't post this. Possibly because I backslid for a day or two before I fully recovered. It must have been written in July.


So I knew I'd been gradually gaining weight back. But not that much, I thought. And I was feeling good, in my body, strong from massage, fit from bicycling. I don't have a great ambition to have the same waist I had when I was seventeen. I may not be svelte, but I'm in much better shape, at fifty, than I was at seventeen. I stand straighter and move easier and it takes a lot longer to tire me out. I take a malicious delight in the fact that a lot of the athletic jocks who made my life a misery in junior high school can barely waddle back and forth between the house and the SUV now; I float past them on my lovely blue and silver Trek in ungenerous exultation.

Then came the last couple weeks: all hell broke loose in a number of ways. Business mysteriously tanked. Was it the weather? High holiday season? All I know is that the phone went silent.

The weather was sultry. Some people have less of an urge to eat in that kind of weather: not me. Any discomfort makes me want to eat. And someone brought home a half-gallon of limeade.

I love limes, and limeade, with the sort of fervor that hobbits have for mushrooms. A tall glass full of ice, refilled with limeade, and refilled again. In no time the half-gallon was gone. I got some more. I haven't tried to reckon just how much sugar I consumed: I don't think I want to know.

It was interesting to watch, since I have a clue about the mechanics of it now. From that point on, I was riding the isulin roller-coaster. For years I've given up putting sugar in my coffee. Now, in some bemusement, I could watch my hands reach for the sugar in the morning. "I don't take sugar in my coffee any more," I would tell them. They would nod agreeably, and tilt a couple tablespoons into the cup.

And suddenly I was hungry all the time. All the time. Hungry even when I was stuffed, when no human being could possibly be hungry. Desperately hungry, the way you'd feel if you'd starved for days. At any idle moment I started thinking of what I would eat next. Nothing was going to stop me from eating. And meanwhile, a totally unexpected emotional bomb had burst beneath me, lofting me completely free of any self-control I might have tried to bring to bear on it.

Yesterday I was finally able to call a halt. I pulled out a measuring tape. 47 inches. Mein lieber Gott! At my most expansive I was still under 49. I must weigh something like 225, then.

Thank God for Atkins. There's only one way I know of to break the power of those blood-sugar swings, and that's to go completely cold turkey on the carbs for a couple days. Doesn't matter what the hell you eat, so long as it's not carbs. No sugar, no corn syrup, no flour, no rice, no potatos. No fruit. Eggs, bacon, butter, hamburger, hot dogs are fine. Just no ketchup, no barbeque sauce, no juice, no flavored-corn-syrup salad dressings: none of those thinly disguised mainline sugar hypodermics. We're not aiming at nutrition, the first couple of days. We're just aiming to stop the blood-sugar levels from swinging wildly.

I quit at noon yesterday. I ate a vast salad drenched in oil (the carbs in vegetables apparently metabolize so slowly they're not a problem) for lunch and some hot dogs for dinner. At breakfast today I find it hard even to remember the desperation of that urge to put sugar in my coffee. Here's my coffee, there's the sugar. "I don't have sugar with my coffee," I say. "All right!" say my hands brightly, demurely pretending they always do whatever I say.

I can't say what a relief it is to be free of that sugar-compulsion. It infects everything. There's a subtle current of desperation running under every other emotion, when it holds sway.

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