Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Leaving on a jet plane

I just posted a page with my history with disordered eating and eating disorders.  It's long but it's important to me to put it all somewhere.  When I read these things on other ED blogs I feel a lot less alone so maybe this will do the same thing for someone else eventually.  Some of it I'm sure I'll elaborate more on, as time goes on as well.  Anyhow, it's here.

In more exciting news I'm off to LA with the boyfriend tonight!  I'm really not the biggest LA fan (so many cars, lack of decent public transportation, traffic, etc.) but I love our friends who live there and we will most likely be going to Disneyland, which I also love, so I can't wait!  Plus they live across the street from a Pinkberry, which doesn't exist anywhere near me, and I adore that stuff.  Seriously, it's like crack to me.  When our friends got married last summer I made the groom take me there the morning of his wedding, true story.  And at the moment I have a gift card from a friend for $20 at Pinkberry.  I spent the rest of the evening after she gave me that present stroking it and crooning "My precious" to it.  Also true story.

Anyhow, I'm off to pack and run some last minute errands, hampered by the fact that the UPS package that was supposed to be here a week ago and has presents for the friends we're going to go see in it, still hasn't arrived so somebody has to sit by the door at all times waiting desperately for it.  Worst company.  Seriously.  We've been told 3 times now that it was out for delivery.  Ugh.

It's very unlikely I'll post until I'm back so Happy New Year if I don't!

Sunday, December 26, 2010


Yesterday and Friday were okay.  Mostly nice where family and everything was concerned, minus an unexpected and, on the part of most people, unwelcome guest.  But lots of quite nice moments and lovely presents from the boyfriend's family.  Particularly the awesome knife set the boyfriend's mom gave us.  We so needed it and they rock.  But only okay in terms of food.  There might have been some overeating/binging and I'm pretty unhappy with myself.  Not because of the sheer food consumption but because I have a horrible tendency to restrict to compensate and it just screws me up.  I'm very all or nothing.  Blah.

But today is a new day.  And a better one.  I slept in again and had delicious Chipotle for dinner.  Yum yum.

Except now I have the munchies.  But I should be starting my period shortly so I'm thinking that's it.  Not sure if it's psychosomatic since I'm on the pill and shouldn't be actually PMSing but doesn't really matter.

In other news, right after I made the last post, this happened:

Apparently my other kitty was jealous that she wasn't featured and the intruder was!  Yup, that is my blog on the screen!

And then this happened:

Puffy tail!

Haha, I love cats.

Dentist first thing tomorrow morning and hopefully I don't have any cavities.  I have notoriously bad teeth, despite being paranoid about my dental care.  And then seeing some good friends and lots of fun.  More interesting posts soon, promise.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Sleeping and spaghetti squash

There is seriously nothing I love in this world like sleep.  I'm really a champion sleeper.  I went to bed at 1am this morning and woke up at noon today.  I didn't even wake up when my boyfriend got up to feed the kitties at 8ish!  And I'm pretty sure I could have slept longer but the cats started having a yowling, shrieking (yes, my cats shriek) fight on the bed.  Now one is hiding somewhere and the other one is sleeping on my feet.

Look what a cute sleepy baby I am.  I'm never evil...
I adore my cats.

Anyhow, I haven't even made it out of bed today.  And it's 1:45.  Eeep.

I am off work for the next 11 days so probably posting will be more sporadic.  I always seem to have less free time at home than at work.  I was pretty annoyed when I found out I wouldn't be able to work between Xmas and New Year's like I normally do since our site was shutting down and we were all forced to take our vacation time then but now it's not so bad.  More sleep!  I don't celebrate Xmas, though the boyfriend does.  But all his family is local so the last couple years I got to work between Xmas and New Year's when nobody was around and I got a ton done.  But oh well.  Such is life.

Xmas is always insane since my boyfriend's parents are divorced.  Today we're off to my boyfriend's grandmother's on his mom's side for Xmas Eve and presents.  We'll come back here tonight with his brothers.  Then we'll all go back there in the morning for brunch, etc.  Once we're done there we'll (me, the boyfriend, and his brothers) all head to their grandparents on their dad's side for Xmas dinner.  I get tired just writing about it.  And, normally, we go to my parent's the next day since that's my mom's birthday!  But they're leaving tonight for Venice (lucky, lucky them) so not this year.

At the moment we're just kind of waiting for the last UPS box of presents to show up.  Being my boyfriend he ordered presents for his family last week.  They were supposed to arrive on Wednesday at my work but UPS decided to say the address didn't exist.  Never mind that we've send hundreds of packages there before.  So they're now supposed to come here today, hopefully before 8pm or something.

Well, all this is starting to get long and pointless.  But I guess I just wanted to say that today is a good day.  I woke up feeling happy with myself and my life.  So it's not all bad.  And now I'm off to eat lunch.  I think it'll be leftovers from the delicious dinner I made last night.  I cooked a spaghetti squash in the microwave and heated up some Trader Joe's pasta sauce with lots of fresh garlic and herbs.  Then I added some frozen vegetarian meatballs and, once they were thawed, mashed them up and added some mozzarella.  It made a super thick meat "sauce" that I put on top of the spaghetti squash and served with breadsticks.  Except we only had 2 left so I gave those to the boyfriend and just had wheat toast with mine.  Still good.  Even my veggie-disliking, meat-eating boyfriend thought it was good.  And it has a ton of protein which is good since I always feel protein starved after Xmas and all the meat-heavy meals.  This year I have some mini bags of cashews too so hopefully that will help.

And last night after dinner I had a white chocolate truffle from the box my boss gave me and more than a serving of (regular not light!) peppermint ice cream.  I am feeling very proud of myself for nourishing myself but not binging.  Hopefully the next couple days will go as well.

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Where I'm at

I thought I might do a post on what's the current "normal" for me, since my definition of that word when it comes to food and my body changes all the time.  If anyone finds talking about specific disordered eating behaviors triggering you probably want to use some caution with this post.

First off, I want to say I'm at a perfectly normal healthy weight right now, both on the BMI scale (though I'd be the first to say that BMIs mean very little) and for my specific build and shape.  I know this from past experience (ie: what weight my body is when it looks like this) and how clothes fit me.  I don't weigh or measure myself anymore, which is great.  But my body image and my food intake are pretty lacking these days.

Part of the problem is that at the moment the future is completely uncertain and I don't do well with uncertainties.  I like my job.  It pays well and the benefits are great and it'll be awesome on my resume.  But I'm not doing what I want to do long term.  That's okay though since my boyfriend is applying to grad school right now.  Sometime in the next 4 or 5 months I'll find out where he got in and sometime after that I'll know where I'm moving.  So I'm going to be forced to change jobs anyhow.  See the uncertainty?  I don't even know what country I'll be living in this time next year.

Add in the fact that I'm not really sure where this relationship is right now.  I mean, I know where I want it to go.  I'm very much in love with my boyfriend and I know I want to be with him, as I would hope after almost 3 years.  And we've talked about it.  He tells me he wants to be with me and I have no reason to doubt that beyond my own crazy insecurities.  He just doesn't know when.  And for the laid-back oasis that is my boyfriend, that's completely normal.  I know I'm only in my mid-twenties, though I feel ready, I'm not rushed for time on the whole marriage front.  But I don't know, I guess it'd just be nice to have some sort of timeline.

And may I say, I feel like a whiny brat complaining about these things, I really do.  The ed voices in my head tell me all the time, "You are so spoiled, other people have real problems."  But I guess, as I've been told multiple times by multiple therapists, I don't need to legitimize my feelings.

In response to these uncertainties I focus on the one thing I know I can control, my body.  It starts with the "Hmmm, I'm looking pretty fat these days" thought, never mind that I've basically maintained my weight for over a year now.  Then it's "If I was skinnier people," including my boyfriend, again never mind that he tells me all the time he thinks I'm beautiful the way I am, "would like you better.  Who wants to be friends with or date, let alone marry, someone gross like you?"  And in response to this all the coping mechanisms I've learned over the years fly out the window and I end up restricting.

These days a normal weekday for me is a piece of fruit for breakfast.  That sounds insane to a lot of people, I know, but that's actually what I ate long before my eating disorder.  I can't eat much in the mornings and nothing until I've been up at least 3 hours unless I want to throw up.  I'm never even hungry until lunch.  What can I say?  I'm weird.

Lunch ends up being a big salad with cheese, beans, and avocado.  Or a bowl of soba noodles.  Or some veggie enchiladas.  Pretty okay, though it should be a little more based on my lack of breakfast.  But I was always someone who was hungriest around dinner time and wanted that to be my biggest meal of the day.

And then I don't eat until dinner.  Don't worry, I know I'm an idiot.  Just a couple months ago I generally would have a good snack before I left work but I cut it out for some stupid reason and as anyone who has had an eating disorder knows it's so much easier to eliminate food than to add it back in.  Dinner is any number of things.  I make a lot of different, easy things when I feel like cooking and we also eat out a fair amount.  A couple nights ago I had a nice plate of greasy Chinese food and tonight I think I'm making some sort of spaghetti squash.  Like I said, it varies.  So that's awesome.  And I always have decent portions and a dessert after dinner.  Ice cream or chocolate or some baked good.  Also awesome.  But the problem is by 5:30pm on my commute home I feel nauseated and exhausted and grumpy and frantic.  I know I need to eat more.  It's just freaking hard.

Except for when I'm home alone or it's a weekend and my eating schedule is completely out of whack.  Then I'll eat everything in sight, basically without even tasting it, and hate myself for every bite.  It's no wonder my weight has been basically constant forever now.  This is a pretty common pattern for me to fall into and it's awful.

When will I ever learn?  You can't "use" an eating disorder.  I'll think, "Well, I'd just like to drop 5 or 10lbs.  I'd still be a perfectly healthy weight and I'd be happier with how I look.  I know how to restrict, I'll just do that for a bit and when I drop a few pounds I'll go back to eating enough."  That's what got me in this mess in the first place, over 5 years ago now.  I knew what I was doing was hurting myself and had long-term consequences; or at least I did until my brain got so muddled from the eating disorder that I didn't know up from down.  But I honestly thought I could use it temporarily to lose some weight and then be all fine.  Wrong.

As someone who has struggled with my weight to both extremes I have a really, really hard time balancing.  I know what's right for me and what's too much or too little but I always seem to be on one of those ends.  And I think the saddest part is that, for me, I wouldn't even call this insanity an eating disorder.  I don't weigh myself endlessly anymore, I can eat out mostly without hyperventilating, I don't count calories constantly, I don't work out hours a day, and I don't purge.  I can go out with friends and I can go on vacation.  This is just the same old disordered eating that I've struggled with forever, just a new and special flavor.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Eating disorders, disordered eating, and MTV

I think we all have an idea of what clinical eating disorders look like.  We hear anorexia and we think 80lb young woman on a feeding tube.  We hear bulimia and think of a woman eating an entire package of Oreos and then escaping to the bathroom.  Of course these are just extreme, stereotypical examples but people have a knowledge base about eating disorders.

But what does disordered eating look like?  Wikipedia says it's "wide range of irregular eating behaviors that do not warrant a diagnosis of a specific eating disorder".  That, to me, begs the question of what's "regular" but that's another entry all its own.  One study found that 4 out of 5 women engage in some form of disordered eating.  So what are these 80% of women doing?  Some of the behaviors are the same as with clinical eating disorders, though generally to lesser degrees.  Restricting, binging, obsessive exercise.  I would also say that the woman who will only touch fat-free dairy products is a disordered eater.  So is the woman who can't eat anything until she sees the nutrition facts.  (And I say woman because that's what I am.  This, of course, applies to males as well.)

I know for a fact my own eating is disordered, has been for almost as long as I can remember.  (I guess this would be a weird blog name if it wasn't, huh?)  I eat the same 3 things for lunch 95% of the time because it makes me more comfortable.  If I'm home by myself for long stretches of time I will eat all the chocolate in the house because I'm lonely or bored.  In my past I've lied about what I've eaten, in both directions, and not known how to eat if I wasn't following some sort of diet plan.  The thing is I've also had a clinical eating disorder.  And all of these behaviors were present there as well.

So what makes disordered eating different from eating disorders?  I think a very important distinction is the genetic factor.  Twin studies have shown that clinical eating disorders have a very strong genetic link.  A lifetime of weight and food obsession might trigger an eating disorder, but only if you already have the right genetic makeup.  Disordered eating on the other hand needs no genetic link.  Basically all you need to do is live in our society today.

And that brings me to MTV.  Next week they'll be airing a new show called "I Used to be Fat".  There's a trailer here. Basically high school kids spend the summer before college dieting to be skinny for school.  Pretty much "Biggest Loser" but the horrific thing to me is that these are teenagers.  I saw a promo with a friend while we watched "16 and Pregnant" (horrific in its own special way) and we were both shocked into silence.  Way to go MTV.  Don't make a show about body acceptance or people doing awesome volunteer work their summer before college or anything else.  Tell teenagers that the best thing they could do with their life for a summer is cultivate disordered eating habits.  Spending hours a day working out or aiming to lose 6lbs a week are 100% completely disordered eating behaviors.  They might be more glamorous or TV-worthy than the previous binging episodes the teenagers describe in the trailer, but they're equally disordered.  To me this is just an awful sign of how encouraging our society is of disordered eating.  Believe me, I get it.  I was overweight in high school but being skinnier didn't fix it.  I'm just as disordered an eater now as I was back then.

The worst thing?  In the TV promo a mom says about her daughter (which is somehow missing from these delightful videos- the first one is heart-breaking) "I want her to be happy.  Only thinner."  I nearly died.  Um, WHAT? My friend commented that that's an awesome way to give your daughter an eating disorder.  I would disagree, and say only if she already was genetically susceptible, but disordered eating?  Hell yes.  Never mind that this girl clearly already has disordered eating behaviors but way to go.  Awesome job on sending your daughter into the adult world with all the disordered eating behaviors and mindsets she needs to fit right in.

My point in all of this is that disordered eating and eating disorders are two separate issues but are both something we really need to take seriously.  Disordered eating possibly even more so at the moment because it's so clearly the norm in our society, but doesn't garner anywhere near as much attention.  I'll try to be clear in my distinctions between the two in the future, though obviously there are overlaps in my own life.  In the meantime I don't know what else to do except try and work on my own disordered eating and steer very clear of this show.

An introduction of sorts

I'll keep this short and general since I'm going to do a page where I give some of my history with disordered eating and eating disorders.  I don't think those are the same thing or have the same cause even though many of the behaviors that manifest with them are the same.  I think I'll actually do a short post on that later today, hopefully.

Anyhow, hi!  I'm Abby.  I'm a biologist, in my mid-twenties, and I live in beautiful California.  I live with my boyfriend of going on 3 years and our 2 cats.  I'm very close to my parents and my brother.  I love to travel and recently got back from the Trans-Siberian railroad!  (Amazing if you're wondering.)  I also love books, particularly modern takes on fantasy (though these days I am also a sucker for zombies), and good TV shows.  Plus a few trashy ones.  I've dealt with disordered eating for much of my life and developed a clinical eating disorder in college.  These days I mainly read blogs related to body image, healthy living, weight loss, and eating disorders.  Maybe eventually I'll post a list of my favs.  I tend to gravitate towards one where what the author says really strikes a cord with me or where I adore the writing style.  Are you witty and funny with a hint (or more!) of sarcasm?  Then I might be stalking your blog, no matter the topic.  I'm not much of a frequent commenter, being the over-analyzer that I am.

I don't know if anyone is going to read this because I don't have the time or energy to really market my blog, let alone the desire.  I want this to be a place where I can tell my story and get things off my chest.  If it resonates with anyone else enough that they want to read that's awesome.  If not, it'll just be free therapy for me!  And maybe I can fight the perfectionism that I talked about yesterday a little with this.  A post doesn't have to be perfect for me to publish it, right?  Or so I will tell myself.  If I don't post for weeks that doesn't make me a failure and mean I should automatically quit.  I don't even have to apologize for it.  That is all very foreign to me.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

On being a perfectionist

Like many people with eating disorders I'm a perfectionist to the nth degree.  I get paralyzed when I don't do something perfectly. as defined by some arbitrary category in my head.  I can't function until it's right and if it can't be perfect?  I quit.

Take this blog for example.  For a while I'd been debating starting another blog.  (I have a few entries on another blog here on Blogger that I've now hidden and will probably never show again.)  This morning I was literally bursting with words and the desire to just get it all out.  Instead of distracting my older coworker (otherwise known as "work mom") by using her as therapy, again, I figured I would finally bite the bullet and start it.  That was at 10:30 this morning.  It's now 2pm.  Since then I've eaten lunch and done maybe an hour of work.  The rest of the time was trying to get all the settings and the title and everything else just right.  And by the time I did the words had stopped flowing.

I don't know why this surprises me.  I'm the person who, when I move, is completely unpacked including pictures hung and books organized on shelves within 3 days.  Like I said, if something's not perfect I'm paralyzed.

I think this leads to me being horribly indecisive too.  I have trouble making decisions, especially when it comes to food.  What if I pick a restaurant that somebody doesn't like?  What if the food and service isn't flawless?  What if I pick something to pick for dinner than isn't exactly what I want?  What if I waste calories on something mediocre?  I'll eat the same 3 things for lunch endlessly because then, I don't have to pick.  I know they work for me.  If I don't try something new I'm not disappointed if it's not perfect.

Yesterday, I started thinking around 3pm "Oh no, I don't know what I want for dinner.  Nothing sounds exactly right."  The stress started building.  By the time I met my boyfriend on the train for the commute home I was freaking out.  When I asked him what he wanted and he said "I don't know, what do you want?" I nearly cried.

On the drive over to Trader Joe's after him asking 3 times what was wrong, I finally admitted that I'd been feeling a little overwhelmed and that for me this manifests often as an inability to make a decision, especially about food.  After initially laughing (I don't blame him, it sounds moronic) he agreed that "Yeah, it's often the small things that push people over the edge".  It doesn't exactly address what's been really going on with me these days but then, how could it?  I haven't told him.  But it was nice that he tried to be understanding and he said he would help me out as much as possible to make food decisions for now.  So that's good. 

I remember when I was deep in my eating disorder my mom would try to be helpful.  She'd ask things like, "Where do you want to eat?  Where can we go that you'll eat something?"  And I would lose it.  I'd yell at her to stop asking me and just pick something.  Admittedly some of this was the well, if I don't pick I don't have to responsible for eating too many calories attitude but a big part of it was that my eating disorder magnified my inherent perfectionism.  If I didn't pick I didn't have to be responsible for making the perfect choice. 

I know these days that my eating disorder is rearing its ugly head when making decisions gets harder.  And it has been and it's scary.