After three months of the paleo diet, I am tired of lettuce and avocados. Every day, I make the same trip to the same place for lunch to eat the same salad because it is the one salad that adheres to the strict rules of no grains, no dairy, no sugar, no beans, no gluten, no …
I want some sugar.
I have resisted the urges to eat something sweet for three months, and it’s finally getting to my head. The grocery store is a mere 10-minute walk from my apartment. My roommate is staying with his girlfriend tonight because she has air conditioning. We don’t. I need something to distract me from the oppressive humidity.
No! Resists! You’ve done so well for three months. You’ve even lost weight. Losing weight is good for running.
But … dark chocolate is … okay …
Technically yes, but I think it has to be at least 90 percent cocoa or something. Basically, past the point of any enjoyment.
Eh, whatever. That’s good enough for me. I’m going.
Satisfied with my rationalization, I head out the door, wallet in hand. Fifteen minutes later, I find out the grocery store doesn’t sell dark chocolate above 66 percent cocoa. Probably because it fails to attract any buyers.
The angel on my shoulder should be putting up a fight, but for whatever reason, my willpower has completely disappeared. Discounting three months of success, I pick up the palm-sized chunk of dark chocolate. It feels good. Light. It’s a trusted brand.
The devil on my shoulder smiles characteristically. He promises me I’ll only have one square.
Satisfied with my faulty logic, I head toward the checkout aisle.
Then I see it. I do a double take. It’s almost surreal.
I didn’t know they made chocolate bars that big outside of the Hershey’s store in Time Square. It has to weigh at least a pound. Children could do bicep curls with this thing.
The paleo diet is founded on consuming things only found in nature. There is nothing natural about this chocolate bar. But the signals in my brain telling me to EAT ALL THE SUGAR are 100 percent natural and extremely hard to resist.
I’ve spent three months exhausting my willpower. I put the small bar back and replace it with the bar five times its size.
Wracked with guilt, I step through the self-checkout. There is no way I will let another human give me the judgmental stare.
I literally run home.
I jaunt up the stairs.
I sit down in my chair and throw on a YouTube video. It’s of professional triathletes racing. Clearly, I’ll just burn the calories vicariously.
I eat a square. Three months of denying my dopamine receptors has made them extra sensitive. My low-carb diet has made my insulin receptors much more powerful to small changes in my blood sugar. 66 percent cocoa leaves room for a huge sucrose dosage, and even after eating one square, I feel gooooood.
I eat another.
I place the rest of the chocolate in the freezer — it will melt otherwise — and continue watching the race, marveling at how skinny these professional athletes are.
The chocolate begins calling my name. Loudly.
I can’t focus on the race. It’s taking all of my focus to not focus on the chocolate. Don’t think about pink elephants.
I am suddenly reminded of the problem with sugar. Once you start, there’s no going back. Like each new season of House of Cards, I may as well get this over with.
Forty-five minutes later, the race ends. I stand up to throw away the wrapping, deliberately covering the nutrition facts. I don’t want to confirm my suspicions that I’ve just eaten 3,000 calories worth of chocolate.
I realize I may as well have just raced the actual triathlon. My heart is pounding. Like OMG-Frank-Underwood-just-shoved-her-in-front-of-the-Metro pounding.
Is this what cocaine is like?
I’m super aware of my sense of touch. The world seems a little brighter. Thoughts are flying through my head with increasing speed. I could do 100 push ups right here.
I drop down and do 15.
I sit back down to put on another race. I have nothing else to do; today is supposed to be a rest day so there’s no working out.
I can’t sit down.
I stand up.
I sit down. Bored.
If I put on the race, that will distract me. I click the suggested video. Watching the start line of a triathlon releases adrenaline as I relive memories of Cross Country races. My heartbeat jumps to 120.
Screw the rest day.
I’m going to run a marathon.
I haven’t felt this good on a run in a long time. Pushed forward by the skyrocketing levels of glucose in my blood, combined with the incredible guilt and sudden need to burn off 3,000 calories, my legs rocket me forward.
I’m smooth. I’m fast. I’m unaware of anything other than the rocket strapped to my back. That chocolate bar must have been laced with jet fuel.
I increase speed. I feel even better.
Two miles into the run, and I’m still flying. I made today a rest day because I woke up this morning with high levels of fatigue in my legs. I’ve since traded them for the legs of an Olympic athlete.
Faster, faster, faster. Yesterday, I read something about the butterfly effect, and it comes to mind. I wonder if I’ll cause a hurricane in China.
Based on the loop I’m running, I’ll end up doing about 6.5 miles, which is a long run for my current level of fitness. This summer I have been focusing more on strength training, which means I keep the runs at 45 minutes or less.
My energy levels are starting to normalize, so I accept this distance.
I’m home before I realize it.
I still feel good. Three months of no sugar has left my body incredibly sensitive to the stuff, and still have enough of a caloric surplus that I could probably run the entire loop again.
I decide to go to the grocery store instead.
I want some chocolate.
Image from: Pixabay.com