Thursday, April 12, 2012

If I had to model the relationship that I have with my body on a celebrity relationship, we'd totes be Whitney and Bobby.

[Too soon?]

It has taken me a long time to write this post, although I've hinted at it a bit with the assorted Weight Watchers attempts, the "THIS WILL BE THE TIME!" screeds. I guess the thing is, I struggle with disordered eating habits. And I think a lot of us do. And it is starting to worry me, selfishly, because I have a 13 year old daughter. And hell if I want for this to be her life.

I feel like I have two me's. There's the Me Who Is Being Healthy (I won't use the word "diet" but that's understood). This me is thin. She has been a size 4, a 6. She has a bikini and she loves it. She packs her own lunch and she is meticulous about her Points and she downloads healthy recipes off the internet, and golly gosh, some of them are pretty damn good. She buys $6 peanut butter.

She is also the Me who OBSESSES over everything that goes in her mouth. She is the Me who feels enormous guilt over an extra nibble of cheese eaten quickly and furtively, praying that no one sees. She is the Me who feels ugly and wrong--her hair is not the right color, the skin on her feet is too rough, her eyebrows are never ok. She hates her clothes--she constantly needs more. She is bored, listless, unhappy.

Then There is the Me Who Eats Everything in Sight. She has been a size 14, a 16, a fat bride in a plus size wedding gown. She seems to hover, mostly, around a size 10 or so. She loves chocolate, eats it daily. And we're not talking the French Women Don't Get Fat approved bites of dark chocolate, slowly savored over the course of an hour, no teeth allowed. She likes Hershey's milk chocolate, eaten greedily in the car on the drive home with a Diet Coke to wash down all the crazy sweetness. She knows the people at Wendy's and makes small talk with them while they hand her her food. Her stomach jiggles when she runs (slowly) and her legs itch and she is miserable and promises to not do it again, but knows that tomorrow, her stomach will growl and it will be lunch time and she will need a french fry and it will taste so salty, salty good and she will be momentarily happy and at peace.

She is also the girl who feels pretty, oddly enough. She likes her hair, her new shade of lip gloss, her clothes. She found a dress on the Target clearance rack, loved it, and was so happy that she didn't even think about clothes or other "goodies" the whole week and ended up with extra money in her wallet. She can put on a pencil skirt and heels and feel so nice. Sure, she feels shame at the muffin top, but there is Spanx for that, right? EASY PEASY. And when she feels horrible about the wrappers in the floor of the car, the discarded frappuccino cup in her waste paper bin, well, she can just eat something else, and it is ok again.

But the size 10 Me knows that it is fleeting. That it can't go on forever. She remembers her grandmother, lying sad and immobile in the expensive oversized hospital bed, no longer able to walk, being treated for bed sores and wounds that wept and did not heal. She remembers her father throwing up at Busch Gardens, months after gastric bypass surgery but still unable to live life with any sense of normalcy. And on the other hand, she thinks of her mother and her high cholesterol, training to compete in cancer runs and measuring her life out in Truvia. She must pick a future for herself, and she knows that must not include the wrappers or the oversized bed.

So she eats one more meal, and she promises that next week it will go back to counting, to plotting, to pure, unadulterated obsession. A banana is an ok breakfast, right? That fake cream cheese stuff tastes almost like the real thing! She can only have two tacos.

And we're back at the Healthy Me. Until, that is, life throws me a curveball and I find myself in that line, saying the words "Java Chip Frappuccino."

I went for a pap smear the other week, and I felt good about it. I'm not the best at keeping up with health stuff that well, and some people will look at this and say, "Oh, it's because you're a mom," and I counter with, "No, it's because I'm me." I'm horrible at life. I just can't really be bothered for most things of any consequence, but I can tell you a shit load about videos on North Korea that I like to watch in my spare time. Anyway, I'm there, and I'm talking to the gyno who is super nice and helpful and I mention that I'm on Weight Watchers. And she is immediately praising me about what a wonderful diet it is, and how it is oh so healthy and how I have about 25 pounds to lose and it is totally doable with WW. And I'm like yeah, I know, but part of me wants to say, "Nope. Not the way I do it." Because the way I do it is nothing like that. The way I do it is obsessive and weird. I shoot to end the day with 5-10 unused points. If I meet my points allowance for the day, I sulk. I make myself go to bed at 9:00 to avoid eating. If I can go my entire breakfast/lunch and not eat more than 5 points, I'm happy.

See, for me, there is a middle ground. But it is constantly shifting under my feet and I can't stay on it for very long. I'm either on a non-stop BINGE or I'm OBSESSED. PICK ONE. And I see these people on WW who aren't like that and are doing it the correct way, and I have to admit, I feel some sort of sick "I'm better than you" kind of thing. Like, "When I do Weight Watchers, I don't do it that way. I can LOSE HELLA WEIGHT. I just choose not to right now." So weird.

And to make myself feel even more superior, I investigate purchasing The Ritual Cleanse and have another fry, because that shit won't be here until next week even if I order today.

I have to admit that it is a little embarrassing to write all this down here. At the very least, I am outing myself as the kind of girl who sits in the corner and eats paste. The perpetual weird kid. At the worst, I am telling you about my myriad psychological issues which run on unchecked and unmedicated putting you all at some danger of having to deal with unhinged me and my gross love handles.

But there is a reason. I know there's like 3.67 people who read this, and perhaps no one does. And that's fine. I'm not Dooce--this isn't my livelihood, and I basically do it because it gives me something to do on days when my boss is sitting in his office watching YouTube videos and planning on chartering a yacht (true story). And hell, I'm on the internet anyway--it's not a secret that I love the fucking internet.

And that's the thing. I love the internet. I am looking at it constantly. And I've seen that not many people are out there, owning up to their eating weirdnesses. There are pro-ana blogs (ICK) and fat acceptance blogs. There are diet blogs and vehement anti-diet blogs. But there isn't much out there that says "Hey. I like to eat. And sometimes I fuck myself up with it. But other than that, I'm a normal feminist girl." And maybe there's a reason--maybe I'm the only adult human female who pulls this shit over and over again. But maybe I'm not. I'm betting I'm not. And maybe someone else reads this at some point and thinks, "Man, am I one screwed up pup. But here's someone else who is too, bless her heart."

So that's that. Tomorrow I promise to write something about a lip gloss and which baseball player I want to seduce with a mixture of homemade fried chicken and dirty talk involving the letters ERA.

And if you'll excuse me, I need to go to Wendy's and purchase one small chili and one half spicy chicken caesar salad. I hope my favorite drive through attendee is there so I can ask her about her kid. He was sick on Monday.


  1. Morgan, ME TOO.

    I ballooned up to a size 14 a few years back, then took it all off and was in a size four in about five months' dieting. I stayed obsessed for three years, counting every calorie, exercising for hours every day, (not getting my period!!), still feeling gross.

    And then, last fall, when the big changes happened, I dropped it. I still eat mostly "healthy," but I'm back up into about a size 8, about 140 pounds, which is still "healthy" weight but feels out of control for me. I've been doing better lately, but last night, right before bed, I ate a big mouthful of chocolate and spoons and spoons of peanut butter, right from the jar. When I'm at my worst, obsessing the most, I sometimes sleep-binge.

    I remember becoming aware of my weight and diet at about 6 years old. My eating behavior has been disordered ever since.

    It's so shameful and hard - it feels so terrible, and the lack of control is so frustrating.

    GET OUT OF MY HEAD, because I was just thinking about all of this over lunch. :(

  2. Obviously, I don't want anyone to struggle with this. But honest to Pete, I am about to cry right now because I don't feel so alone with it all.

    I started thinking about it when I went to Wendy's for my lunch. I feel so out of control right now. But what keeps me from ordering a half salad (albeit with spicy fried chicken) and not a burger (which, admittedly, is what I really want)? Because the burger is not a real option to me. I've thought about this stuff for so long, that the burger almost doesn't exist. I haven't allowed myself to have it, so it does not exist anymore. And that's a lifetime of pulling this stuff-- this didn't happen overnight.

    So I totally overdo it on the "healthy" stuff, and throw in a fair amount of chocolate for good measure. Just to keep it real.

    We have seriously got to meet up and discuss all this over a non-internet platform. :-)

  3. I feel your pain. I have been struggling with my weight for more than a decade and it's depressing, overwhelming, and frustrating. Thanks for writing about your own struggles--the lack of sugar coating is appreciated.

  4. Thanks for such an honest post. I'm wondering if you've read the book Naturally Thin by Bethenny Frankel? My weight used to fluctuate by about fifteen pounds or so (from quite thin to slightly chubby--never got too big) but I always felt controlled by food and exercise. I can honestly say that this book changed my habits and I can go on vacations or out to eat with friends and not feel the need to count calories/points. It's common sense but it works. If you read it, I'd love to hear your experience. Great blog!

  5. I've had food issues myself...vacillating between various incarnations of vegetarian and vegan and pescetarian since I was 13, and then of course I've tried let's-eat-like-the-French and WW and Atkins and Slim-Fast and God knows what else. I lost 10-15 pounds last summer doing Nutrisystem -- ICK! DON'T TRY IT -- and then I lost about 10 more just being busy with grad school. And I've kept it off, although I couldn't really tell you how. Dinner some nights is Red Hot Riplets and Miller Lite. And sometimes it's tofu and brown rice. Well, I think the key was REALLY listening to my body and what it needs. I swear it tells me when it needs meat, otherwise I don't eat much. It lets me know when a green vegetable is vital. It tells me that French fry therapy is reasonable when I've had a horrible day learning how to balance my emotions with professionalism as a social worker. (I'm uber-sensitive, so some days with DV survivors is HARD.) Anyway, you're not alone in the body-image-and-feminism-and-dieting-and-obsession thing. Hugs to you, as always. (BTW, the damn Cubbies are beating my Cards 4-0. Can you believe that crap?!)

  6. Can you please move to DC so we can hang out? It would be a good thing.

    I could have written almost this same post. I put down my bowl of butter-ladden grits to type this comment, though yesterday I prided myself on plain oatmeal, a turkey sub from Subway sans mayo or cheese, and dinner of half a grilled chicken breast with more green beans than I really desired. You are not alone, I believe you are one of the silent majority. Thank you for being honest, and helping fellow women realize they are not alone.

  7. Have you met Elissa of Dress With Courage? She writes specifically about body image, her past history of eating disorders, and personal style. And she's an awesome writer.