Husband and I joined the local gym yesterday, because it’s mid-March, which means “Get-in-Shape-ril” is upon us. No more excuses. My son is two years old; the post-partum period is WAY over.
We were greeted by a perky blonde named Carly with glittery fingernails and a grating voice that made me want to drown myself in the lap pool. We each had to sign a waiver attesting that if we happened to drop dead while using their facility, it was our own fault, and then fill out a “client profile form.”
I had to check the “over 35 and sedentary” box.
I’m over 35 and sedentary. This sounds horrible. It makes me feel like I’m a heart attack waiting to happen, like I’m turning into one of those fat people who breathes heavily when they eat. It scares the shit out of me, mostly because last week I got winded installing a car seat.
There’s a simple explanation for this: I’m lazy. I don’t like movement. As I have expressed on several occasions, recreational exercise makes no sense to me. Whenever I see runners, I always look behind them to see what’s chasing them. Usually nothing. Hmm. Weird.
I feel the same way whenever someone tells me they’re stressed out and need to exercise to release endorphins. Also puzzling. Why would I move my body when I can induce endorphin production artificially by sitting in one spot and shoveling sugary products into my cakehole?
Sugar, not exercise, is my coping mechanism, and I’ve become addicted to it. Here’s how I know:
My mood depends on it. My husband knows that if I get upset, he should hand me chocolate, because it’ll calm me almost instantly. Even better, a chocolate milkshake, because the sucking takes me back to infancy. I’ll get a glazed look, suck the whole thing down, and be tractable and sunny in disposition for the next hour.
When the going gets rough, I imagine finding a giant donut big enough that I can curl up inside of it in the fetal position and lick it as I drift off into a hyperglycemic coma.
Marge: Homer, where did you get that?
Homer: Get what?
Marge: That giant donut.
Homer: Well, I acquired it legally. You can be sure of that.
My mood is so sugar-dependent that I can’t resist a little boost, even if I don’t really need it. If sugar is within my grasp, there’s no saying “no.” I’ll take it. I’ve eaten other people’s stuff, whether it was my roommate’s chocolate (after it sat for 48 hours unclaimed, of course) or something I bought as an intended gift for someone else. You correctly assumed that the candy purchased for my son’s Easter basket is already gone. I have even reached into the trash can to retrieve something sugary. Granted, it was a sealed pack of cookies I’d thrown away after a recent binge, but still. The trash can?
Sugar turns me into a person I don’t like, a person I don’t even recognize. Who is that monster covered in white dust after a powdered donut fest, looking like something out of Scarface? The creature who emerges when my husband asks for a bite of my ice cream, shooting daggers from her eyes, drawing her bowl to her protectively and growling?
I know I could break the addiction if I really wanted to, but life without sugar looks bleak. Sugar gives me something to look forward to, turns an ordinary day into a celebration. I survived the work day? I should have a Snickers. It’s Wednesday? Ice cream time! Death is creeping in slowly and we’d better enjoy our time together while we have the chance? Family cheesecake night!
It’s sad to say, but after a certain amount of time, an addiction becomes part of your identity. It’s in my blood: the grande dames in my family knew how to make cookies, cakes, and donuts, and had a taste for chocolate at any time of day. A sweet tooth is one of the many aspects of the kinship I’ve always felt with my grandmother. There is a shade of myself who, like she did, dons a uniform and walks uptown every day to work at the Lovely Dame Sweet Shop. I inhale. It smells wonderful in there. It smells like happiness.