Thursday, November 5, 2009

Good Idea

It is a good idea to put your car in reverse before trying to back out of your parking space. While it is also fun to rev your engine, doing so may scare an old lady standing nearby.

Current song: "Put Your Records On," Corinne Bailey Rae

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

It Makes Me Sick

Sticking with the theme of my last post, a week ago I noticed a frighteningly thin girl who goes to the gym at the same time I go in the mornings. She is thinner than most of the patients at the treatment center I worked at. I honestly think I can see her losing weight every day. Her arms actually looked skinnier today than yesterday if that is even possible. Some days I get mad. I think people who clearly have such a problem shouldn't be allowed to have gym memberships. Gyms should turn them away as soon as they walk in the door! Not that any gym would do that because their goal isn't really to promote the health of their members but to make a profit. I'm sure she would jog and do sit ups anyway. Then I get mad that no one in her life is forcing her to get help. She should be dragged kicking and screaming to a treatment center! Not that it would help. She's old enough to discharge herself. Sometimes I hope she'll break one of those toothpick arms, so she'll have to go to the hospital, where the doctor will tell her that her eating disorder has given her osteoporosis and is destroying her heart. Sometimes I want to walk up to her and say, "You know, you are literally killing yourself," or hand her pamphlets about eating disorders and treatment programs. *sigh* This is all very distressing.

Current song: "Be Yourself," Audioslave

Update: It took me several months to realize that this girl actually was a former patient at the treatment center. She was so much thinner when I saw her at the gym than when I met her shortly before her discharge that I didn't recognize her. Sad.

Monday, November 2, 2009

How Food Became My Friend

I told Deja I would explain how I went from this grocery list:
  1. cool ranch Doritos
  2. doughnuts
  3. hot dogs
  4. orange juice
to this grocery list:
  1. soy milk
  2. romaine lettuce
  3. carrots
  4. fat free yogurt
  5. cool ranch Doritos
in two years. The change was actually in the works for several years, but there was no concrete sign of improvement until recently. (And I still have a ways to go...) It's quite the story. In fact, I'm not sure I have the stamina to write it (it is also emotionally taxing), but I think I can handle the highlights.

Basically, my relationship with food has been bad since I was a kid. My mom says I was a pretty good eater when I was little, but I'm not sure I buy it. I mean, I've seen the home video of me when I was two or three, sitting on my Sit 'n' Spin with the big bag of Cheetos in my lap. (Those were my Christmas presents: a Sit 'n' Spin and Cheetos.) Like many teenage girls with low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety, I developed an eating disorder (though I was never formally diagnosed). I used to binge on the weekends and starve myself as penance during the week. When Mom made me lunch I would give it away, and when I got lunch money I would pocket it to spend on CDs. I used to say I wasn't hungry and was too busy doing homework to eat dinner. I would go to the kitchen once it was deserted and the dishwasher was loaded with dinner dishes and running. Lest my family discover my secret, I would put a few pieces of cereal and a little milk in a bowl with a spoon. Then I would put it in the sink and fill it with water. There was the evidence of my dinner: a lonely bowl full of milky water and a few soggy Cheerios. Yes, the seemingly good little girls can be masters of deception. (I like to think that is because each individual's potential to do evil is equal to her potential to do good.)

Food was not my friend, and my diet took a toll on my health. I was sick all the time. Eventually, my health was so bad that I could only handle school part-time. I managed to have high cholesterol--over 200--by the age of 20. That didn't bode well. And I worried what my poor health would mean for my future children. I wondered if they were looking down at me and shaking their heads in dismay. I needed to change things.

Progress has been slow--I've been working for 7 years now. I took a nutrition class. I worked on my psychological issues with food, and went to therapy to sort out some of the underlying problems that lead to my emotional eating. The most important lesson I learned was not to restrict what I eat in any way and never to feel ashamed of what I eat, no matter how unhealthy it is. I prefer not to think of food as good or bad. Food is food. For a long time, I removed "junk food" from my vocabulary, though it has recently crept back in but without the old guilt. I learned that if I tell myself, "You shouldn't have that cookie. Don't eat the cookie. The cookie is bad for you," I will hold off on eating the cookie for a while, but eventually I will give in. When I do give in, I won't eat one cookie--I'll eat the whole package. But if I tell myself, "You can have that cookie. You can eat a cookie any time you want," then I'll eat it, I'll enjoy it, and I'll be done with it. I never feel deprived, which allows me to listen to my body and know what I really want and need to eat. I'm not perfect. I still do the girl thing and eat ice cream when I'm sad, but I'm getting better. And chocolate soy milk is just so yummy!

Questions? Comments? Snide remarks?

By the Way

I am dating the young man who wrote this poem. He is lovely. I'm going to San Diego for Thanksgiving to meet his family. That is all.