I am perpetually running through the sugar.
The Krispy Kreme Challenge was created at North Carolina State University in December 2004. The idea was to run from the NC State Memorial Bell Tower to the Krispy Kreme donut shop in downtown Raleigh. There, runners would consume 12 donuts before turning around and running back to the Bell Tower, approximately five miles total. It became a rite of passage at NC State, something that needed to be done before one graduated, as this is something that is too foolish for postgraduates to attempt, something that once we are older, we know better — we know the limits of our bodies. We know how to move within them, what can be sustained.
My grandfather, the long-distance runner, had a sweet tooth. Coffee with heaps of sugar: the white granules sticking to the wet spoon. Palmiers as large as the leaves of their name. My first trip to Barcelona was when I was nine years old. I was amazed at how the meals worked there: the large lunches, the late dinners. In the morning, pastries. Ham you would eat with a fork and knife, a slice of soft cheese — all things familiar yet slightly skewed. Hot chocolate poured thick from a tea kettle — even the spelling, xocolata, seemed out of place — letters and tongues existing in different worlds. I know what it is to eat; to bunch up thin wisps of laminated dough in my mouth, to chew something into nothing. At night, crema catalana: to me, a pudding that tasted like it was dropped in fire, the sugar darkening to something bitter.
I have been on the same diet for four years. In that time, I have lost more than 100 pounds. The number has settled somewhere between 85 and 90 pounds evaporated — the constraints of my body as it moves through the world. Some weeks I am heavier than others — since the weight loss, I have become a long-distance runner, like my grandfather. I am never heavier than when I am at my physical peak, partly because a body needs so much more to sustain itself when it is moving. I deny myself sugar six days a week, which is a monumental task — to turn away from things you love is simultaneously noble and…