I had a pretty decent week despite the weather. By the time we hit dinner on Sunday evening I had over 100 miles, most of it riding in temps between 25 and 40 degrees. Between Saturday’s ride, Sunday’s ride and roller blading Sunday afternoon I’d burned off more than a pound’s worth of calories – in 26 hours.
There was a purpose to killing calories. Sunday evening we saddled up to the trough for our bowling banquet. This is a once a year ‘occasion’ (if you can call it an occasion) where we eat at a buffet. I view the buffet as ‘the trough’. The place where the regulars make a joke of trying to put the all-you-can-eat establishment out of business in one sitting. Let’s just say I, at 6′ tall and 160 pounds, look strangely out of place there.
I was gawked at as an alien, as I made my way from bar to bar, two plates in hand. I’m sure more than one regular thought it’s not fair that such a skinny guy can eat so much (I get this all the time). Not fair? They’re obviously missing something, eh?
I attempt to explain to them that it is fair, that a healthy and fit life has its advantages. That there really is something to daily strenuous exercise…
The excuses will come out. The hips, legs, arms or back are bad and therefore they’re doomed to their girth. It happens more often than you would think. The reality is very simple: you can’t eat like Michael Phelps if you don’t exercise like him. And I’d bet you my bike that if I asked their doctor, were they cleared for a daily ride on a mountain bike, 90% of those cases the doctor would say they’d been recommending that for years. Not only that, having battled the bulge, I know that most of their pains are due to a lack of activity. In other words, their pain is a product of their lethargy, not a result of activity.
So I headed into hell’s restaurant, feeling out of place and a little self-conscious (I always feel bad for eating at a trough, being a skinny guy – believe it or not I don’t like going through the refutation of ‘it’s not fair’ – I feel as though people will perceive me as “showing off”). The food was a whole lot better than anticipated and the company was pretty fantastic (my bowling team and I are quite a tight little group). Oh, and I stopped eating before I was full (just barely). In other words, even though I did eat a lot, I didn’t overeat.
Why the distinction? I am not (nor do I want to be thought of as) a unicorn. I am no different than most anyone else. I have good joints and muscles because I exercise them. I am thin because I don’t eat more than I burn in a given week. The trick to the trough is that if you’re burning a ton of calories and you generally don’t eat a whole lot in a sitting, your array of “cheats” can be fairly numerous. It wasn’t always this way. I struggled with Soda for years. I struggled with overeating, but only because I was so damned inactive. I struggled, I struggled, I struggled – until I didn’t have to struggle anymore. Not because my body processes food differently but because I eat it differently. What seems like a lot of food to me (three or maybe four pieces of pizza for dinner on pizza night) is an appetizer to most people… Then add to that the fact that I’m burning a thousand calories a day and you get the picture.