Old Demons Resurfacing 

My waist is down to 27 inches and all I can think about are the extra 3 inches and the 20 lbs need to lose, and FOOD. Before you judge or assume that’s some kind of humble brag, there’s more, something deeper and it’s not pretty.

I long for the food I can’t eat. I dream about it. I create fantasy grocery lists. I touch the things I miss eating when I walk by them in the grocery store. 

And you know what? It pisses me off that I can’t even indulge. Since I treated my body like the midway at a cheap carnival for 17 years even a little sugar, a little dairy, a damn fortune cookie puts on at least pound. I ate sugar free candy and dairy over a weekend and gained 4 pounds! Not water weight, actual weight.

I send the following fantasy grocery list to my husband and told my son I feel guilty when I ask him to bring home protien pancake mix.  

This behavior is bad. Saying fatter is bad. I know what it means. I know 400-600 calories a day is a huge red flag. I know obsessing over food is an even bigger red flag. The demon bitch is back. The demon bitch that says you ate yesterday, you can skip the next 2 days. The one who carries the tape measure in her purse (yeah, it’s in my purse right now). The one who makes me obsess every minute of every day over what I ate or didn’t eat or the water I didn’t drink. I know why she’s here. 

She wants control. She really misses someone, not the food.

I lost control of a situation recently and it’s caused me to spin out in a significantly larger way than I ever expected. I have a hard time sleeping, getting up on the morning, just facing the day. They’re gone and I couldn’t stop it from happening. I couldn’t fix it. I didn’t have enough time with either of them. I fucking miss my dogs. 

Our most recent loss was the most painful, so much so I can’t talk or write about it without full on weeping. I wake up and touch both of my dog’s ashes and whisper good morning and I love them and miss them. I watch videos of them a few times a week. I scroll through pictures of them. I disappear into the bathroom and sob until I can get a hold of myself again. I sleep with the toy sheep they shared. 

I couldn’t control their passing or my emotions. The only thing I can expertly control is my weight.

Little Tucker Butt
Bubba Ein

If this was 2007/2008 here’s what my day would look like:

  1. Hit Burger King first thing in the morning, get 2 crossanwiches, hash brown bites, French toast stix, Coffee with 5 sugars and cream, and a large orange juice. Eat in the car, most likely while hiding.
  2. Smoke 3 cigarettes.
  3. Hit Maverick and grab an Arizona Iced Tea, Doritos, a king size Twix and a pack of smokes. 
  4. Smoke 3 more cigarettes.
  5. Eat all of that in the first 2 hours at work. 
  6. Hit Wendy’s for lunch (my best friend can confirm all the food I could put down, she was there). Order 2 Triple Cheeseburgers, Fries, chili, a large Pepsi, and a Frosty. Most of that would be gone before I got back to work (which was 5 minutes away if I wasn’t driving).
  7. Smoke 3 more cigarettes. 
  8. Hit the freezer a couple hours before I went home, I usual had a hot pocket or Mac and Cheese in there. If not I had chips, trail mix, gummy bears (I’d eat the biggest bag I could find), or a theater size box of Dots in my desk. 
  9. Smoke 3 more cigarettes on my way home. 
  10. Eat a bowl of Reese’s Puffs with half n half (yes, I said half n half not milk), or if I had it, eat a pint of Ben and Jerry’s before my husband got home. 
  11. Drink another 40 oz of Pepsi or sweet tea. 
  12. Make a giant scratch lasagne, buttered french bread, and salad with cheese and ranch dressing. We usually didn’t have anything left. 
  13. Smoke another cigarette
  14. Eat a bag and a half of Pop Secret Homestyle popcorn with extra butter I melted myself and red vines. 
  15. Eat a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Phish Food (I’d stop at the store and buy extra if I knew I was going to eat one before my husband came home).
  16. Drink wine or a cocktail with my last cigarette.
  17. Eat a piece of left over pizza if we had it. 

I have no idea how many calories that is, but I do know I ate like that for a really long time. I’m a stress and emotion eater and to be 100% honest, I miss the comfort. 

Today it’s coffee, no lunch, steak or chicken and salad or a vegetable for dinner. Rarely over 700 daily calories since mid February. One day it was a piece of salami and a pickle, that’s right back to 1992 when I’d eat 2 pepperoni and a bell pepper slice in the span of 3 days. That was peak anorexia.

It has to stop. My dogs are gone. I have to come to terms with the fact that I’ll never have another dog, I’ll never wake up to another happy little corgi face or thumping into the door to wake me up for belly rubs and that’s just the way it is. It’s time to accept this and understand that I’ll never be able to control who comes in and out of my life. Death is part of life, no matter how brutal the decision to contribute to easing the end of life for a little being who can’t tell you what to do or if they love you or if you’re doing the right thing.

It’s hard to find other ways to comfort yourself, to gain some control, to feel safe. It’s a lot of work when those demons start screaming at you, poking you, lighting your mind on fire with self doubt and depression. 

The fact is, I have to fight. I can’t continue to go to extremes. Exercise, ok great, but don’t be crazy every day. Let the scale say what it’s gonna say without me standing on it staring at a number that rules my life. Stop with the measuring tape, measure happiness with the love and support given to and received by others. Stop obsessing over the loss of my dogs and focus on the humans that are still here. 

Like this human

Let go. Eat some chocolate…

…just not ALL the chocolate. 

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The Mirror and Stuff 

You guys, I had a fat day. I had a fat weekend. I’m having a fat week. 

On Saturday my bras and a camera told me I was fat. I started that wonderful 7 days where my boobs and pants go up two sizes, I eat everything, I have no self control, and oh yeah- no matter what I’m wearing the word fat springs to mind. I changed my bra and my mom asked “can you push those things up any higher?” Well, no mom I can’t- they effing hurt, they’re swollen! You did this to me!

I totally said that. I’m my mind. 

We attended a going-away party Saturday night. I fought some social anxiety, the room overwhelmingly full of happy conversation . My anxiety only lasted about 5 minutes- I conquered it quick and then proceeded to eat anything I could fit in my face- and everything fit in my face. 

Later, I spotted a picture of myself taken at the party. I was in the background and, of course, immediately my brain screamed “ENHANCE! ENHANCE MORE! ENHANCE UNTIL YOU MAKE SURE YOU LOOK LIKE SHIT!” There are certain angles that seem to make me look like I’ve lost nothing. I’m still nearly 300 lbs. That 135 lbs comes back within seconds when I turn a certain way. Stupid arms.

This afternoon I sat on the bench at the end of our bed, in my underwear, hunched over, putting on my sneakers. I caught my reflection in the mirror over my shoulder and tried not to fall off the bench. The 135 lbs was back again. Surgeries, hard work, blood, sweat, tears, overcoming cravings and bad habits- all for nothing. I looked the same. Stupid back. Stupid thighs. Stupid all of it! 

Did I somehow break out and fix my attitude and give myself some love? No. I ate grits and bacon. Did I sit down and pep talk myself? No. I avoided mirrors. Stupid food and mirrors.

My counselor taught me something I use when I’m anxious or depressed- this feeling came for a visit, it won’t be here forever, it will go away- let it be, don’t focus on it, understand this is your brain signaling a lack of needed chemicals or flood of hormones. 

I’m telling myself it’s ok. My body hasn’t changed that much, unless I’m carrying someone else I can’t weight that much again- is impossible to gain 135 lbs since Friday. My brain is fighting back by saying- it doesn’t matter, that’s what you look like! Give up! Eat a bag of Skittles and 6 Twix bars! Everyone else looks wonderful and you look like a whale (geez brain- you’re kind of an asshole).

So I’ll keep fighting. For now I’ll keep avoiding mirrors. I’ll continue to understand the mixed signals are ok, I’m extra sensitive, everything is swollen, and remind myself that I look precisely the same to my husband on my worst day as I did on my best day. 

Now to figure out how to avoid being in public for the next 3 days… ugh. 

My Body and Stuff 

Watch this, please. Then continue on if you’re so inclined. 

Embrace Official Trailer

For 32 years I’ve fought a demon. One that takes hold of my brain and squeezes all the joy out of life. One that won’t let me have a day where I don’t criticize something about myself. She’s cruel. She’s deceptive. She’s relentless. She’s me. 

I became aware of the word “fat” as it applied to my chubby little 9 year old body when I finished a whole box of Screaming Yellow Zonkers on a camping trip. I asked my mom if I could have more from the second box as I handed her the empty. Horrified, she looked at me, grabbed my wrist and with barred teeth shouted “No, you’re getting fat!” I wilted in her grasp into the dust of of our camping spot and began to cry uncontrollably, hitching breath and whispering over and over again “I’m ugly, I’m fat.” My mom jerked me up off the ground to swat me. I pulled out of her grasp and crawled into the back of the pickup truck and hid, curled up in a ball, sobbing. 

I don’t remember what happened next, I just remember knowing I wasn’t good enough, I was ugly, and I was fat for the next 32 years. I’m not blaming my mom. She had a serious eating disorder (not that she’ll admit it), she was in an unhappy marriage, she was sleep deprived most of the time due to my brother’s illnesses and she’d just had a miscarriage. Yeah, I’m going to defend my mom all day long. The truth is, even at 9 I could have overcome that incident, but I chose to live my life by it instead. I certainly never ate Screaming Yellow Zonkers again (if you don’t know what those are they’re like Fiddle Faddle or Cracker Jacks- probably delicious, I don’t remember).

The summer of my 11th year I discovered “fasting”on a church missionary trip (that month of my life was insane, that’s a whole other story- cults are real, you guys!) We would fast every Wednesday, nothing but water, all to be closer to God. If we went 2 days, we were praised, if you didn’t fast at all you were shunned. I remember I ate a pickle one fast day and was told to make up for it I needed to fast the rest of the week. So I did. At 11 years old I went 4 days without food. We knocked doors to pass out flyers and by Saturday I was too weak to go more than a block. When told by my host family that I hadn’t eaten anything since Wednesday (except the pickle) the leader of the group was incredulous and refused to acknowledge he had told me to fast that long. Out of fear for his reputation (it became a whole thing with the church sponsoring us that week) he sent me home. My Dad and Grandpa picked me up in Salt Lake and both commented on how skinny I was. I dug into the cooler in the back seat and ate a whole pack of sliced ham and half a loaf of bread. My Dad asked me why I was so hungry and I told him I hadn’t been allowed to eat for 4 days because I was fasting. When I saw he was becoming upset and threatened to track down the group I’d been with to have a “talk” with the leader I changed my story from hadn’t eaten anything to hadn’t eaten enough because of the flu.

After that summer it was easier to go days without eating. I’d binge and fast often and became an anorexic. At 16, while getting ready for prom I fainted in a friend’s bathroom (scared the shit out of both of us). I hadn’t eaten anything for over a week so I could fit into my friend’s size 2 dress. Living on diet coke and cigarettes. Her mom found out and called my mom. They agreed I had to eat, so I agreed to eat a salad. My friend’s mom sat there with me and watched me eat the whole thing. When I look back on the pictures that night I see how tiny my arms were, how the dress hung on me rather than hugging my curves (because I no longer had any). I went from a 6/7 to what was probably a 0 in a week. I weighed 102 at 5’5 and to this day I wish I could say the same now. 

I’ve fought with this body for so long. As an adult I’ve been 280 lbs, I’ve starved myself down to 137. We’re still fighting.

That demon in my head tells me to eat whatever I want so it can punish me later when I look at the scale. While writing this I got on the scale and noticed I’d gained a pound since yesterday, then proceeded to request pancakes (which I just tried to cancel, too late.) The guilt sets in. The demon starts squawking. 

I long for the day when I no longer care what my body looks like or what the scale says. I continue to try and love this body, flaws and all. I try not to pick apart my appearance. My thighs are too big, I have back fat, my arms show how big I used to be,  my tummy is still swollen after surgery earlier this year, if only I could lose 10 lbs life would be perfect, I can’t see my cheekbones, I have a double chin. I know none of these things are strictly true, but I still think them every day multiple times a day. Sometimes my brain gives me a break, but it’s rare and usually after a compliment or pep talk from my husband (who’s been putting up with this for 23 of the 32 years I’ve had this demon.)

I realize it’s up to me to not only promote body positivity but to accept it myself. I’ve been aware of Taryn Brumfitt’s work for a while now and am in awe of what she’s done and continues to do. Often women don’t support each other until weight loss becomes the headline. You’re losing weight, getting fit, looking good in a bikini, body building- cool I’ll give you a like, an up vote, an encouraging word because we, as humans, in this day and age are trained to value bettering oneself by physical results only. We should also encourage comments, posts, statements like “feeling good today!”, “ate cheesecake, no guilt”, “made it through a week of depression unscathed”, “love my body, love myself”, “these stretch marks have never looked happier”, “gained 5lbs, don’t care”, “I look amazing”, “haven’t worked out for ages and still feel like super woman”. Am I encouraging an unhealthy lifestyle? No. But shouldn’t your psyche be healthy first? Who am I to judge what’s unhealthy for you? I only know what’s unhealthy for me and that’s judgments of others and of myself. 

After losing 135 lbs in 2012 (during a weight loss challenge)* someone at work, who used to be a personal trainer, told me about clients who were called skinny-fat. According to her, in the fitness industry, these were the “little old ladies” who used to be overweight but lost enough weight that there’s just skin and left-over fat, no muscle. She followed up the explanation with “but, I don’t mean you.” Well, you just fucking said it to me with little to no context other than me complaining about some excess skin! You’re always saying perception is everything. How could you not mean me? Me with my 26″ waist, me at 140 lbs, me who worked 3 years to get there. The attached selfie was taken that same day to prove to myself I was in no way fat!

Ladies, be careful what you say to others and what you take in from others. You have no idea the damage you can deal with what you believe is an innocuous, flippant comment. To those I’ve ever personally hurt by something I’ve said, I deeply apologize. I never want anyone in my life to feel the way I felt that day, or the way I felt the day my mom told me I was fat. Take that negativity and analyze it. Maybe you intimidate that person. Maybe they see your personal power and feel you need to be knocked down to pump up their own. Maybe they see humility and don’t understand it. Maybe they don’t understand true weakness is the need to bully and control others. Maybe they’re experiencing what I feel is the most damaging emotion, jealousy. Analyze your own negativity, why are you so hard on yourself? Would you say the same things you say to yourself to a friend? A daughter? A total stranger? 

Turn your demon into the angel on your shoulder that reminds you to love yourself, that you don’t have to be perfect, that you never have to live up to anyone’s expectations. You have the ability to work miracles, but it starts with you. It starts with me too.

I’ll be watching this movie and I hope you will too. I know it will be cathartic for so many women struggling with their self image and there’s nothing like catharsis for exorcising your demons. 

Love you, love me!

*edit for clarity: I’d lost 135 lbs between 2009 and 2012 by using lap-band surgery as a tool in conjunction with diet and exercise. We were doing an additional challenge and I wanted to lose some inches. Full disclosure, I had a tummy tuck to remove the excess skin this year.