My Appalachian Trail Pre-Hike Anti-Diet

I am currently sitting in a bed that isn’t mine, surrounded by food and empty packages and wrappers. This is the most crucial training I will do for my upcoming AT thru hike. I’m on a pre-hike anti-diet.

On a Serious Note

A pre-hike anti-diet is exactly what it sounds like. Most people lose weight on the trail, which is not a surprise. I do have some health worries about this.

Last year I wanted to hike the AT, but I was too sick with an eating disorder. For me, this hike is one of the reasons I worked very hard to overcome my anorexia.

But it would be foolish of me to not consider the possibility of my weight getting too low, me becoming too weak, and having to leave the trail. That is my single greatest worry about the journey ahead.

So I am implementing this anti-diet, so I will have enough weight on me to lose some without it being a big deal. Also, to psychologically prepare myself for consuming absurd amounts of calories per day. Because that is actually something I need to be okay with soon enough.

Training, Day 1

Let me give you a tour of the current contents of my stomach, for your general enjoyment.

My day began no earlier than around 6:30 PM today. After contracting food poisoning (wink), I spent most of the day sleeping, only taking an occasional break to puke or tell housekeeping to go away, way too weak to hang up the damn sign.

When I finally rolled out of bed, I wondered when I would start to feel remotely like a human being again. I was the embodiment of that famous quote that always gets (falsely) attributed to Frank Sinatra.

Frank Sinatra

But he looks so good next to the quote, now doesn’t he? Source: IMDB

I finally got around to ordering some delivery, because there was no way I was going out in Boston again in the cold and dark after doing so the night before.

You might think the fact that I was cowering indoors from the snow while there are already people actually already on the trail in Georgia right now might make me feel like a wimp, and you would be entirely correct. I am a humungous pussy, and if I happen to finish the AT it will be more of a surprise to me than anyone else. But I’m comfortable with that.

Snow Blower

Of course he’s smiling. There’s no snow around. Source: Amazon

When my food arrived I had to wait in line at the lobby desk for a new updated set of keys for the day, longing to dig into my food, pronto. I got upstairs, took everything out; my iced green tea, the tofu cooked in a tomato basil sauce, basmati rice, and a delectable looking piece of Cappuccino Cake.

I was just about to dig in when I realized the one thing missing was silverware. It couldn’t be, but it was. I ate some of the tofu with my fingers and was pleased with the temperature of the sauce, which would make up for the warm but not steaming white rice with orange specks. Indian food FTW.

First World Problems

Oh, the humanity of it all. Source:

Back down I went, grateful that I was on a floor closer to the lobby than I had ever been in this hotel before. Not that I stay in hotels all the time, it’s a perk of one of the side jobs I do.

After waiting ten minutes for a return elevator, I got to my room, finally, sat down on the bed and ate my meal in bed. It was just what the doctor ordered.

After wolfing down most of the rice and tofu mix, I had to let my stomach rest for the cake.

The menu had two options for chocolately, coffee cakes for dessert. When it comes to take out food, the dessert menu will be my deciding factor 9 out of 10 times.

This cake was an orgasm in my mouth, and let me tell you why. There were three layers of decadent, moist, expresso flavored layers of cake. And in between and on top of these layers was a cappuchino spread, most likely made out of some sort of cheese based mixture. I could have eaten the whole cake if they gave it to me.


What I imagine the whole cake looked like. Source: morgueFile

Now That Breakfast is Over

Nighttime has always has been the time of the day I eat the most, no matter what. My stomach is anxiety ridden during the morning and afternoon, yet hungry in the evening, especially late at night. I usually eat some form of dinner at 11 PM most days.

I think it was around midnight that I went down to the vending machines, for the first time. I took a bath in the hotel tub after dinner, which apparently most people don’t recommend, but I scoff at. I mean, I’m going to be living outside for half a year, I think I’ll be fine. (If I die tomorrow, you’ll know why).

I was surprised when the machine worked at first, because technology and I actually have some pretty significant issues, but it quickly became evident it wasn’t going to cooperate with me for long. My heart almost broke when the Oreos wouldn’t vend. Scratch that, it did break. I settled for some Famous Amos chocolate chip cookies instead. Strike One.


Alright, I’m about ready to check my email now. Source: Flikr

Next, I decided I wanted the M&Ms. M&Ms have always been a stoner passion of mine. As I made my selection, the machine decided I would fare better with a Snickers bar. I disagreed, heartily.

After actually getting the bag of trail mix I wanted, I went back upstairs, cursing Mercury’s backwards ass as I did so.

I eat my wares while reading a Stephen King novel by. Every time the character speaks of her dying thirst, I remember my cotton mouth and reach for the glass of water beside my bed. This is intense, but what’s more intense is how quickly these Famous Amos are disappearing.

I try to practice restraint between the Amos and the Snickers, which I do, for about two minutes. Maybe it’s because I’ve been hearing praising Snickers bars for months now, but it’s just about the best thing I’ve ever eaten. I decide to forgive the snack machine.

And because I didn’t want to leave anyone out, I ate the trail mix for good measure. It was delicious, but I wanted more food.

Tragedy Strikes

I returned to the vending machine, ready to put the past behind us, and move on. Alas, there would be no reunion for us tonight. The screen was stuck on D4, and wouldn’t budge no matter what I did. A hotel employee let me know there was still food for sale in the lobby, so I went there to see if my luck might change.

Vending Machine

The guy who usually loads these things was out sick today. Source: Flikr

I was expecting peanut butter cups at the very least, like I’ve seen the hotel carry before. But they seem to have gone through some unfortunate changes since I was here last. Instead of the empty calorie laden, processed food I was craving, there was mildly healthy processed food. And not one ounce of chocolate.

I got tortilla chips made of quinoa, two rather boring Kashi granola bars, and one of those little packs of hummus and pretzels. Eleven dollars later I was finally back upstairs, content that this time I would have enough food to last me for the rest of the night.


My takeaway from all this is that using a vending machine is a bit like playing the lottery. You’re bound to lose some money, and you probably won’t get what you were hoping for.

As far as my pre-hike anti-diet? Well, it’s two days later, now, and there are donuts, muffins, and pop-tarts within arm’s reach of myself. So I’d say it’s going to be a terrific success.

Happy trails.

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