Words are easy.
The easiest are those first-ones-that-come-to-mind words that POP into my head, instant-delivered, no exploring nor analyzing required. Those words are best kept unspoken, mental tchotchkes to be forgotten in a cluttered corner. I’m old enough to know that words spoken out loud commit me to some level of action. So I knew that just telling my gynecologist that I would cut the sugars from my diet was not enough to get the job done. I just didn’t anticipate how fucking hard the job would be.
Cutting back on alcohol was not so hard. I’d gone through previous periods when I’d had to limit or stop my consumption, for example during marathon training, focusing on time-consuming projects, and undergoing fertility treatments. And alcohol had never been dominant in my daily life; it was ordinarily something to enjoy at special social situations – a life accessory, not a life essential.
It was different with bread. From my waking moment to when I went to sleep, bread had always been pervasive throughout my day. I rationalized that I could still begin my days at Wonder Bagels in Jersey City, as long as I followed a look-and-salivate-but-don’t touch approach. Wonder Bagels didn’t serve the best coffee, but I bought my morning cup there so I could smell the baking bagels. I watched as Tony or Mike pulled a fresh batch from the oven with the wooden bread paddle and deposited the bagels into their corresponding baskets. Plain. Whole wheat. Everything. Sesame seed. So warm and beautiful, the holes puckered closed in the center of each plump bagel. They were a wonder indeed and I lingered at the counter, licked the rim of my paper coffee cup and my lips as I recalled the wonder of bagels past, the pleasure of the initial resistance of the bagel crust before my teeth pierced into the yielding inner mass. Never any butter nor cream cheese nor any spread. I recalled the many times my molars had macerated and mixed the crust and soft insides into the warm mass that cavorted with my tongue before I ingested it and the carbs released the happy chemicals in my brain.
That had been joy. Those had been moments of pleasure. My mornings lingering by the counter and getting lost in the recollection of the hundreds, maybe thousands of bagels I’d consumed? Those were weird. Even I recognized it. But they were necessary. I likened the culinary reminiscing to the visualizing techniques I’d used in the past to prepare for marathons. I used to recall the experience of past marathons to train for upcoming races, remembered the feel of the pavement beneath my feet, saw myself ascend hills, and approach and cross the finish. And just like the 26.2 miles of a marathon, the cutting-carbs-and-sugars project was an endurance event that I feared could break me.