Ben and Sam have labeled me an exercise bulimic; I exercise as a means to purge food out of my system in order to maintain some distorted view of my body. There is some degree of truth to this but my relationship with food cannot be reduced to one convenient psychological term. It goes way deeper than that.
In simple terms, I run to eat. There are many other reasons why I exercise but at the heart it is so I can eat with reduced concern or worry of becoming fat. I don't think this makes me an exercise bulimic. It is simply a way to take food guilt out of the equation, just as the perpetual jeans and gray t-shirt combo eliminates the need to genuflect over my wardrobe everyday.
If I was given truth serum and asked to name my number one passion in life, I would say food. Unlike things that are better when they are anticipated than when they are realized (e.g., birthday presents, baseball games, hot tubs) eating is always better than waiting to eat. I could never be clinically depressed for more than six hours, the amount of time I would have to wait before ordering a pizza which would make me instantly euphoric. I have never claimed to be a deep person.
I consider a big appetite to be the mark of a real man. A stud. Loved Brad Pitt's character in Ocean's 11. When my mom jokingly harasses me for doing the same annoying things now that I did when I was 14, it grates on me. Except when she is exasperated that she still can't cook enough for me. Then I beam. Eating 75 chicken wings to beat Bob Lukens in The Ground Round Challenge in college ranks up there with the Ironman among my proudest accomplishments.
Food allows me to pretend I am a renaissance man. I dabble in all of the classic civilizations (Greece, ancient Rome), maintain religious faith (the Deli), acknowledge the world's rising economies (India, Vietnam) and keep it real (fries, always the victory fries).
While I would not label my typical diet as unhealthy, it definitely lacks fruits and vegetables. Lots of burrittos, pizza, spaghetti, chicken and tuna and cereal. Despite constantly hearing that nutrition is the fourth leg of the Ironman, I can't get motivated to refocus it. My body never craves cauliflower but it does Corn Bran cereal (a hidden secret I can only find on Safeway.com). And I don't think I feel better eating diet that is conventionally healthy. I feel flat, lethargic and constantly hungry.
Also I think improving my diet would have the reciprocal effect of reducing my motivation to work out. If I had a salad and salmon for dinner instead of a 1,200 calorie burrito, would I be as motivated to run 8 miles the next morning to burn it out of my body? Would the reward of a fruit salad at the end of a hard weight session be as pure as Escape from New York Pizza ? I don't think so.
So yes Ben and Sam, my relationship between exercise and food does suggest some minor strain of bulimia but it goes way beyond that. Now that we've got that straight I can now move on to explaining why skiing kicks snowboarding's ass.