American jiggle-oh

The s’mores will do it every time.

So will the bratwurst. And the homemade pizza. And the hobo dinner (ground beef, sliced potatoes and onions, cooked in foil, on hot coals).

One bite won't hurt you. But look out for the tenth or twelfth bite.

Yep, I spent a few hours around the campfire this weekend, eating like a horse.

Why have just one sandwich when I could have two? And a bratwurst! Sure, why not? And how about another s’more?

Well, today, I’m paying for it.

I went running at lunchtime, just an easy five-miler on the towpath.

Within 10 minutes, I was wheezing and rumbling like a cement mixer. I had to slow down to a walk (twice) to catch my breath. How humiliating.

Mind you, I’m generally in decent shape. Just two weeks ago, I set a PR in a 5-mile road race, finishing second out of 10 in my age group. A week ago, I ran home from work, twelve miles, on the spur of the moment, just for fun.

But today, I was a big, old, fat guy huffing and puffing.  I was bouncing and jiggling like it was the day after Thanksgiving.  I was amazed. I was speechless. I put the flab in flabbergasted.

You’d think I’d learn. I do this to myself at least two or three times a year.

Usually, it’s no big thing. But today, it’s a big thing. I’ve got a tough half-marathon coming up this weekend. I can’t mess around like this. I have to stay strong. 

I have to say no more to s’mores.

The thing is, most of the time, I don’t even need to fight it. When I run regularly, I’m just not that hungry. I eat like a French model, a salad here, a cup of soup there. Keeping active is a great appetite suppressant, I’ve always thought.

When I run races, I eat very lightly for days afterwards. And it always surprises, at the races, to see people stuffing their faces at the finish line, with bananas and cookies and chips and sometimes even burgers. I always want to say: “Hey, you ran three miles, not 300 miles. You don’t need all that food. Keep the banana. Put everything else back.”

But I don’t. Because I’m nice. And deep down, I’m just a workout or two away from losing control and grabbing everything in sight and cramming it into my mouth.

It’s true. Every now and then, I take a few days off from running. Then my hunger pangs go ballistic. I lose my mind and start wolfing down food as fast as I can, like a Viking pirate. Have you ever seen me around a pie counter? It’s not a pretty sight.

Here’s my not-so-secret problem: Deep down, within me, there’s a 400-pound guy just screaming to get out. And that is one reason I run. To keep that guy in his place.

It usually works. I run. I eat sensibly. The next day, I run again. Et cetera.

But I’m not exactly a skinny guy to start with. And every once in a while, like a fool, I take three days off from running. Then I go nuts and eat my weight in greasy camp food, or Pringles, or frozen pizza.

And the 400-pound guy starts laughing  in that deep, rumbling, evil, scary laugh of his. 

Then I get scared and I hit the trails again. For the next 24 to 48 hours, I wheeze and huff and puff, trying to get back into shape. I suffer.

So now I am back on the upswing. I went running. Now I’m not that hungry. My lunch was a bowl of raisin bran and two apples.

And not a single s’more.

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