Monday, June 13, 2011

Fat Sage on the Trail

I love food.  No, actually I am addicted to food in the most literal sense.  Mainstream science is just now catching up with what has anecdotally been know for generations and what certain fast "food" companies that serve what vaguely passes as food have probably known for decades.  In essence, fats, sugars, and salt are like cocaine and heroine to the human brain.

What makes it worse is how available and cheap these things are.  I can get a stack of fatty, salty goodness for under a buck on just about any street corner. I can only imagine what is involved in scoring an equivalent supply of narcotics.

If I were a farmer, or a construction worker, or someone who actually worked for a living, a diet of these calorie rich pseudofoods would do little to my overall physique.  Because like so many others in todays culture I am trapped at a desk, I have little opportunity to burn off those extra calories.  I could go to a gym and hop on a treadmill, but to me that seems too much like being a hamster in a wheel, especially when you are doing your "exercise" in a room with wall to wall windows to permit the entire public the viewing pleasure of your fat ass running (or waddling actually) in place.  It is especially hurtful when the local Outback restaurant is positioned strategically just across the parking lot.

I like to think I am a smart person who just does stupid things occasionally.  I once believed that overeating had been one of them, and cursed myself for not having the strength of will to stop shoving crappy food in my mouth.  In research and thought, I've come to terms with the irrefutable reality of my addiction.

So what the hell does that have to do with hiking you may ask?  Well, consider the following if you will; a normal non-ultralight hiker of average build and conditioning will on typically carry a pack weighing between 35-45 lbs including food.  As of today, I am carrying more than twice that around every day in extra body fat.    I can say at the very least that my body is capable of taking on a backpacking trip as I have been conditioning for it going on several years.  The only trick is I gotta loose some of what I'll call "training" fat.  An it is a trick.

Again I will endeavor to find a means, as so many others are struggling to do, to strip away the extra bulk that in any other country would make me stand out like a sore thumb.  This time, however, I hope to attack the root of it.  It is an addiction.  I eat good, healthy food, and I eat it often.  The problem arises when stress gets the better of me and the mind begins to crave a release, and the cheapest easiest means to satiate it is grabbing a a Mcdouble (or a double Mcdouble) on the way home from work.

What I worry about, after this hike is all said and done, is the activity level dropping off, my eating habits remain unchanged, and I end up twice as heavy a year afterwards.  It took me 20 years to get where I am now, just a couple pounds every year, a couple holiday seasons of eating more than I should.  I fear the worst because I am a pessimist.

All the stories I hear of the thru-hiker's diet makes me concerned.  5000+ calories a day?  It will still take me months to burn off all the extra I'm carrying around.  Never mind the fact that I have the metabolism of a tortoise.  I may just hike the whole thing and still have a paunch in the midsection.

We shall see...

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