Sunday, May 24, 2009

What's the Right Amount

okay, i'm kind of lost. i have no idea how much emphasis to put on food. should I have three pre-thought out meals a day? or pay attention to everything i put in my mouth? or be like all (the mostly-thin) foodies on tv and really be "in to" food? (just an aside, gail on Top Chef seems to be the only female foodie with a real body, particularly for someone who eats for a living. i think she looks great -- always smiling and self-assured. that's what i'm looking for -- my own real body and some joy.)

but like i said, i have no idea what or how to eat.

i'm getting more comfortable with myself. i weigh well into the 130s (a really shocking thing for me), and my weight continues to crawl up. i'm kind of interested to see where it goes on its own. i can't believe -- i'm not making myself crazy.

i put on one of my cute new dresses, and i'm off. i've been getting a lot of compliments lately, which is another shock (particularly at this weight!) maybe it is time to re-think what weight i think looks good on me.

but how to eat? usually, after gaining weight, i'd put myself right back on the old food plan -- a mini-muffin for breakfast, 1/2 slice pizza and small salad for lunch, a turkey sandwich with mustard and salad for dinner, followed by a weight watchers pop. and much wine.

(yay, i'm still sober and doing well!)

should i focus on eating when i'm hungry and stopping when i'm full? should i only eat what i REALLY want? should i make more of food and focus on delicious meals? (that last one still sounds scarey.)

pre-planning meals and sticking to them sounds kind of relaxing but also constricting. i'd like to put food in an easier, more relaxed place but I have no experience in this. i've been using weird diets and binging and purging for so long, i have no idea what to eat to just to "be".

i had a good moment tonight. my boyfriend and i nibbled all day. after a late sunday afternoon drive, we headed to the supermarket to buy dinner. by the time we got home, it was nearly nine. he was going to start the barbecue, i was going to figure out some sides.

it started to make me unhappy. i wasn't hungry. i didn't want to spend time preparing a meal (knowing me, nibbling along the way angrily and worriedly, knowing i wasn't really hungry) and then sitting down to a meal only my mouth wanted.

in the car, i (bravely, for me) said to my boyfriend, "how would you feel if we just did our own thing with dinner tonight? you take care of what you want, and i think i'll just have salad?"

"sounds good", he said.

i exhaled. why am i so afraid to just say what i need? rather than NOT saying what i need, getting confused and angry and resentful and wanting wine or food to stuff down all those feelings.

wow, it's so cool to be heard. he also suggested i go blog and do whatever i want. i've never loved him more.

during our ride, i also told my boyfriend that i REALLY need to stay away from places where the purpose of the whole event is basically to drink, have a few drinks, or get drunk. it's fine if he has a beer a night (which he doesn't often) or sip a little scotch before he goes to sleep (which he does only when his back pain is keeping him up.)

but when we go to neighbor's, where everyone's there to blow off some steam after a long week and down beers, it's not good for me. it might be okay in the moment, but later it starts to sink into my brain that it's okay to drink.

i've never been so specific with my boyfriend. other times, i think i didn't take better care of myself around drinking events, because i was leaving the door open to drink again. i want to close that door. and keep it shut.

i went to an open house for graduate school Thursday night. it's a lot of work. i couldn't finish that degree if i were drinking. by 8 pm, i'd be deep in the wine and homework and papers would be long forgotten.

but back to eating. what shall i do as i've given myself some poundage latitude? my new dresses are cute AND forgiving (whatever THAT means. my brain is so programmed for "thin"!)

time to get on with my life. communicate with my boyfriend. watch my spending and plan better for the future. go back to school and get a masters. and more.

but what to eat?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Parellel Universe

In my last post, i wrote about taking my niece shopping for plus-size clothes. i keep thinking about the post and what a fond memory i have of that shopping trip. i wrote,

just an aside. when i was in Lane Bryant, i really related to the women and the bodies and the looks. i felt more at home. i've always thought there was a plus-size woman inside of me who was being repressed by salads and small turkey sandwiches and diet soda.

in my response to Karen's comment about the post, i said that the place felt like a safe haven that i didn't want to leave. everyone was warm and nice and supportive. a larger body was the norm, and we all had a good time helping other customers pick great outfits. (p.s. - the place was packed. guess large-bodied women need clothes too!)

it was so comfortable. imagine a place where a larger body is the beautiful norm? i'd be right there, eating lunch, guilt-free. i know that if i let my body be where IT wanted, i'd be a bigger woman than the size 8-10 i am now. what a drag.

would anyone like to join me in that place?

maybe i should work for Lane Bryant

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Plus-size shopping

i'm uncomfortable writing this post for some reason. but here goes.

My brother asked me to take my niece, Karen, clothes shopping. she's just started working for him, and she's broke. she's nothing appropriate to wear when we visit schools.

i'm sorry that this is worthy mentioning, but my niece is 5'1 and 220 pounds. she feels very embarrassed and badly about her body. she covers herself with men's sweats and her (not very nice ) boyfriend's old tee-shirts.

i worried that shopping with her would take me back to that miserable time i lived in when i was 200 pounds, feeling so ashamed and so badly about my body. i refused to wear plus-size clothes, so i also lived in men's old sweats and shirts. (i was also eating compulsively around the clock, dropping out of school, dealing with major issues at home. very bad time.)

although i came to the shopping day with a lot of baggage, i so wanted to give my niece some self-esteem and have her feel good about the experience.

i vowed to stay away from any "fattism". i'm sure i have inner prejudices that still think thin is better, but i need to work on them and don't want them in any way to effect Karen.

i didn't want to pull her towards "slimming" clothes or to offer diet advice. why can't she be just fine the way she is?

"but what about health issues?", an inner voices stage whispers. "she can't be healthy at this point. shouldn't you give her some diet tips to help her trim to a healthier weight?"

i don't know how healthy she is. we don't spend much time together. and how healthy am i, anyway. i just stopped drinking, i still smoke a few cigarettes a day, i have a drug history, am way over-due for a mammagram, go to a tanning salon.

yes, i'm a good weight for me, and people think i look well, but i'm not that healthy. karen doesn't drink or smoke or tan. she's 22 years younger than i am. who am I to judge?

besides, who wants healthy eating tips from a recovering anorexic/bulimic/compulsive eater?

for shopping, my brother wanted me to try Marshall's and T.J. Maxx and J.C. Penny's. they're less expensive and where we all do most of our shopping.

Karen had no idea what size she was and i don't know anything about plus-size sizes (remember, when i was heavier i refused to buy the larger sizes.) she started with 14s and 16s, but they didn't get over her arms.

i started to worry that this would become demoralizing if she kept trying on the sizes she thought she was, but wasn't. but i didn't know where to steer her.

karen lamented that her late mother always took her to J.C. Penney and she was thin enough then to buy clothes there. she also started really missing her mom.

trying to save the situation, i made the executive decision -- we were going to Lane Bryant, where they'd know exactly where she fit. (my sister-in-law had warned me that Karen always refused to go there, but luckily she didn't have a problem this time. hallelujah!)

Lane Bryant gave us a wonderful experience. both of us had so much fun. all the saleswomen and customers gathered around and oohed and aahed over everything Karen tried on. and she looked fantastic in all the clothes that fit her perfectly. (i called my brother and asked if we could spend much more than originally planned. happily, he agreed. karen felt even more special.)

She was beaming. No one had ever paid attention to her. She glowed. after the shopping experience, i took her out of for a lovely lunch. then we went to my boyfriend's flower shop, and he gave her a huge bouquet of flowers.

i'd really wanted her to have a day of feeling special and cared for and care-free. we both ended up having a great time.

karen wears the new clothes every day. if you tell her how nice she looks, she beams and glows again.

just an aside. when i was in Lane Bryant, i really related to the women and the bodies and the looks. i felt more at home. i've always thought there was a plus-size woman inside of me who was being repressed by salads and small turkey sandwiches and diet soda.

i also thought i was a couple of pounds away from fitting into the clothes. rationally, i know that's not true, but i have a warped body image.

why is it important?

Friday, May 15, 2009


Yippee. Yay!!!!! i haven't had a drink since Monday, and i'm finally feeling together today. i am proud.

now, i need to work on staying sober. last time, i didn't really plan how to do that. this time, i'm figuring out ways to keep me on track.

the beginning is always easy for me. what a relief. my body thanks me. my head is clear.

and i'm in control of my eating again. mindful. that's almost the biggest relief! it feels like i'm truly taking care of myself.

my head is coming up with all sorts of ideas -- do i want to take a knitting class? do i want to go back to school? do i want to finally clean my apartment?

it's exciting. i haven't felt this hopeful in a while. i'm going to enjoy the moment. ahhhh

Monday, May 11, 2009

My Body/My Garbage Can

I have not been treating my body well -- not in any way.

I've been eating constantly -- lots of chips and cake. It's a long time since i've eaten this compulsively.

i've been drinking a lot of wine. i've been smoking. i've been tanning -- something i've never done before. it can't be good for me and my fair skin. i've taken the occasional sleeping pill.

it feels terrible. i feel terrible, physically and emotionally.

was it mother's day that got me? my boyfriend's a florist, and we spent the last week dedicated to preparing flowers for many, many, many mom's. everywhere i turned there were people buying flowers for their mothers, their wives, their grandmothers.

was it having his parents over unexpectedly and having to clean and shop and clean and shop. unexpectedly. and then they showed up TWO HOURS early, while i was vacuuming and my boyfriend was mowing the lawn (after a full day of working at the flower shop.) and on top of that, they'd already eaten, unexpectedly. i had enough food and beverage to feed everyone on the block. you could tell his parents just wanted to go home.

i haven't thought about my mom much, which is really, really unusual. until a couple of weeks ago, i dreamed about her every single night. maybe i'm letting go, which could make things easier. but it's so sad too. my mom is really gone. and it seems that everyone else has their mom or is a mom.

i talked to my sister today, who is a mom. it's my fabulous niece's 14th b'day. my sister tells me that all my niece thinks about is her weight. she gained 15 pounds and is no longer the skinny kid she always was.

my sister's looking for ways to help my niece lose weight without making my niece nuts about it. (remember, my sister is a sylph. muscular, disciplined, tiny.)

i told my sister to leave it alone. to tell my niece she's perfect and beautiful the way she is. right now. no matter what my niece says. my niece is very healthy. she loves to dance and takes lots of classes. she's 5'4 and 134 pounds. in a better world, EVERYONE would consider that perfect. i pray she stays healthy.

while i was talking to my sister, i thought of myself. i stepped on the scale this morning and weighed 135. all my reckless eating and drinking have put on about 8 pounds.

but if those eight pounds are soooo important to me, how can i be an example to my beloved niece? if i'm drinking a bottle of wine, how can i help her?

it's time for me to take care of myself. for me. for my niece. for my boyfriend. for me!!!!

first step -- i just emailed my therapist that i'm taking antabuse (the anti-alcohol drug) during my session tomorrow. not drinking makes everything better -- especially my now very-blotchy skin. oh yeah, and my self-esteem and all my decisions.

when i'm not drinking, i eat better. i sleep better. the whole thing works better.

and then i can get out to pittsburgh to visit my niece. and let her know she's perfect and wonderful JUST THE WAY SHE IS.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Self-Sabotage and a Weighty Mistake

Why am I eating so much, particularly when i'm not even hungry. i weight 131 pounds, five more than i was for a long time. i'm afraid i'll gain more.

lately, people have been telling me i look great. i've got a little tan, and i'm a lotta blonde. plus, i bought some adorable dresses that hide my (in my opinion) bulbous belly and highlight my long-ish legs.

soooooooooo, i tell myself, this must be a good weight. it's not the 118 that romps around my 5'6 body's brain. but it looks healthy and the compliments keep rolling in.

then i start eating. and eating. i'm not binging, by any means, but i'm eating way more than i'm hungry for. how many potato chips and how much pizza does a non-exercising 45 year old woman need?

my boyfriend's also gained weight, or so he tells me. his answer? avoid the scale. don't worry about it. he'll think about it from time to time (i'll notice he's not going for thirds, and he'll walk by the pie aisle. the man loves his pie), but i think that's about it.

my new and less improved eating really started last week. i went to a seminar called My Mother/Myself. the speaker was a therapist who wrote a book about our relationship with our mother and how that effects our eating, our body image and our self-esteem.

it was an interesting talk. during the Q & A, i raised my hand and shared that i'd had severe eating disorders my whole life. i've always wondered how to raise a daughter -- i'd always worried that my mindset was so ingrained that i wouldn't know what to do to make sure my daughter didn't have anything like the life i've had. did the therapist have any thoughts?

the speaker looked at me and said, "you? you have a perfect figure. it's so surprising that you ask that question."

yes, i was pretty startled that a professional, a woman with a Phd and YEARS of counseling women with eating disorders said something so ridiculously wrong. but i heard it -- i now have a perfect figure. a little voice in my head said (okay, a big voice), "so, how are you going to screw this up? let's screw this up? life can't be good. this won't last. this can't last."

after the lecture, women from the audience swarmed around me, wanting to know how i'd managed to look soooo good, what with all my disorders and all. (like i said -- i was wearing a great dress, i'm a little tan and a lotta blonde. it was a good day.)

so, why am i here, feeling like my eating and weight are out of control. what's this nasty sabotage. it doesn't feel good. no, not one bit.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Fear of Food

I'm a very fearful person. i'm afraid of the dark, afraid of driving at night, afraid to try new things. As a child, i thought Hitler was hiding in the closet. seriously. i didn't want to go to school because i feared Hitler would take my mother while i was gone.

these days -- i'm afraid of food and weight gain.

traveling with my brother, we'd go to these serious restaurants, where i was confronted with vast menus and hours of eating. my heart raced through each experience. i'd talk to myself and talk to myself and talk to myself, but i still worried through eat moment.

of course, it's about fear of weight gain. i've gained some weight lately, and i can picture the scale inching (leaping) up and up and up -- my body exploding into layers and layers of folds of fat.

when my boyfriend tells me i'm beautiful, my first thought is "but i've gained five pounds". how will he feel if i put on another five and another five and another five? when will i see those square hips, big thighs, round belly and jumbo boobs?

all morning, i've been stewing about weighing more than i have in two years. i couldn't wait for everyone to go to lunch, so i could write this blog and get it off my chest and be in a space where others understand.

notice, i did not go to lunch with the gang. how could i -- i've gained five pounds. and weigh two ounces more than i have in two years.

writing out the way my brain works is informative, indeed. it's rotten to think the way i do.

this weekend, my boyfriend and i had friends over. since money's an issue, we planned to go to the all-you-can -eat Chinese buffet. usually, i'm okay with the place, but because my weight is up and i'm feeling out of control, i was fairly terrified to go.

our friends were exhausted and at the last minute, decided to re-schedule. when told us, i finally let my breath out. i could stay home and eat salad. (they're also sober. when they canceled, i thought, "woo hoo, i can drink wine". alcohol consumption is a whole other conversation.)

i know i've gained some weight because i'm staying at my boyfriend's more often. he has lots of delicious food at his house, and we eat and eat together. it's fun. we hang out in the kitchen. he likes to eat standing up and i sit, and we chat and graze and chat and graze.

all this "grazing" is fine for him. he's a big guy. i, on the other hand, worry about the effects on my body the whole time we're eating. in the back of my head, i hear "stop, stop. get away from the food. put that salad dressing down. get away from the mayonnaise. drop that second helping, immediatedly."

i'll plan to stay at my apartment, where i have diet coke, coke zero, seltzer and wine. i can get a half turkey sandwich with mustard and make a nice salad with balsamic vinegar. ah, what the scale will say tomorrow. ta da.

lately, that hasn't worked out. it's nicer at my boyfriends. he's a lot cozier to sleep with than my pillow. and i like to chat and graze and chat and graze. or i make him watch Dancing with the Stars and American Idol and we eat and comment through the shows. (he's a good egg!)

granted, i'm still eating lots of salads and trying to watch my choices, but i really don't feel like restricting.

how i wish i could stay off the scale. how i wish i could go out to lunch with my co-workers, even if i've gained a few. (when i'm down five pounds, i WILL join them. what a strange barometer for life choices.) how i wish food weren't so scarey, interesting, important....

i'm working on it. very hard.