Thursday, April 28, 2011

Bad Morning

I've been fighting off some sort of cold that's not bad enough for me to stay home from work but means my throat is killing me and I'm so thirsty I can't stand to be separated from my water bottle for more than 10 minutes.  Not to mention the tiredness.  Blah.  I'm trying to take care of myself but I've noticed that when I'm not feeling great the ED thoughts tend to creep in more.

This morning I put on a shirt and a cardigan I wear all the time and feel fine in.  Except this morning all I could see was how fat my stomach looked in the top.  I stood in front of the mirror for 5 minutes poking my flesh and getting more and more upset.  When I finally made it downstairs the boyfriend could tell I was unhappy and tried to make me feel better.  I don't know how it's possible for me to believe that he finds me attractive and that he doesn't see fat when he looks at me and also believe that yes, I am fat, but it is.

Anyhow, there's nothing like tears in the morning right?

The bottom line though is that it doesn't matter.  I can't be anorexic and live the life I want.  If that means I'm stuck being fat then it sucks but I'm just going to have to get over it.  If I have to pick between being skinny and having this life (living with my boyfriend, moving to North Carolina, doing science, having kids someday) I pick this life.  I'm still upset but this is more important.  And I packed myself a lunch even though I wanted desperately to skip it.  Go me, I guess.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Interesting question

How do we define recovery from anorexia?

The part that struck me most in this article was "whether a person can be considered "in recovery" from anorexia if she is able to stay at a normal weight and function well ... but is still obsessed with calorie-counting and weighing herself daily. How well do you have to be to be better?"

I sometimes wonder if people think I'm just hanging on to calling myself eating disordered because it's a comfortable label.  After all, I'm a healthy weight, I don't weigh myself daily, and I normally don't obsess over every bite of food.  But I think recovery means something different to every person.  Some people might be where I am and consider themselves recovered.  For me though, I remember a time before the extreme fat phobia and crazy body hatred.  I don't feel like I can call myself recovered while I still struggle with these things regularly.

I'd be really interested to hear anyone else's take on how to define recovery. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Another victory

I went to an Italian place with my brother for dinner last night.  I ordered fettuccine with pesto and tons of veggies and grilled tofu.  It was delicious but huge.  I ate about half of it, looked at what was left, and asked myself if I was still hungry.  My body said one more bite so I ate that and got the rest to go, totally satisfied.  I don't know if I'll ever manage this intuitive eating thing entirely.  I just have so much history with binging and starving and I really can't not eat, even if I'm not hungry.  But every now and then I manage to actually listen to my body and it feels so good.  Now I just have to work on making those moments more frequent.

And as if that wasn't good enough, I was in the lab this morning and my mind was wandering.  I realized that that was the same Italian place I went with the boyfriend on our first date, about 3 years ago.  That night I ordered a side salad, no dressing.  Look how far I've come!  I knew I wanted pasta so I didn't even think to look at the salads.  I want to tell random people on the street, "I eat food now!  And sometimes I don't even feel guilty about it!"  I won't because that'd be a little weird but it feels awesome.

At the risk of sounding completely corny, it's moments like this that makes all the shit I've gone through not seem quite so bad.

Now I have a 3 day weekend to look forward to, filled with Passover with my parents, Easter with the boyfriend's family, and Monday to relax.  (I figured not having had a day off since January I deserved it, plus I have a moving company coming to give us an estimate.  For some strange reason the boyfriend refuses to drive a Uhaul across the country...  At least it means I won't be trapped in a car alone with the cats for 5 days.)

Better get back to work now, sorry for the short entry.  I want to do a longer one soon about some of the food issues I still struggle with so keep an eye out for that.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Moving on up!

Eeep, sorry for the long time no post thing!  I have been swallowed alive first by deciding where we're moving and then by actual moving information.  Yes, it is still 3 and 1/2 months away but what can I say?  After so long with nothing to focus on or plan (and I am a champion planner) it's awesome to have something to direct my energy to.  Does that mean I know where we're going?  Yep, I do...

August 1st I will be moving to North Carolina!

Besides the year I lived in Scotland I have been a California girl my whole life.  I went 10 hours away from home for college but I was still in the state.  So it's scary to think about leaving friends and family and the life we've built here but this will be good I think.  We will be throwing all our belongings in a moving van, loading up the car, and driving ourselves and the cats almost 3,000 miles.  I'm already a little scared thinking about 5 days in a car with drive-through as our only option since it will be the middle of summer and we can't leave the cats but I'm trying not to think about that.  Luckily there are so many other things to think about it's not too hard so far.

I have multiple google documents already with moving company info, lists of when things need to get done, and links to helpful sites.  I'll be job hunting and apartment searching as it gets closer.  So all in all it's exciting.  I'm worried and happy and just overwhelmed all at once.  Guess that describes a lot of life, huh?

Anyhow, food's been okay.  I've actually been having some binge/emotional eating issues, particularly after dinner but hopefully having some more information about this moving thing will help since that was a huge stress for me.  Hair pulling has been meh.  Not so good.  Sigh.  Need to focus on that more.

A couple other random things:

My male coworker, last week.  "If I got fat that would ruin my life.  It would be the worst thing."  Just lovely.

But I did have a nice conversation with a friend yesterday.  She mentioned something about how I was way too skinny in an old picture.  I agreed and said, "That's what happens when you only eat 500 calories a day."  She frowned and asked if that was on purpose, saying "Some days I think my calorie intake doesn't get much higher than that but it's because I just find it annoying to cook and eating is boring."  I explained to her at that point in my life I was convinced and afraid if I ate one bite over 500 calories that I would get fat.  And not only was fat bad but that would also mean I wasn't perfect and I would ruin my life and no none would ever love me and the world would end.  So yes, it was "on purpose", I guess.

Honestly, I don't think she has a very good grasp of calories and I'm pretty sure she never eats that little but some people are just very nonchalant about food and eating.  I used to wish I was that way but not only can I not afford to be for my health but I'm also glad I'm not now.  This works for my friend but I like enjoying food.  (Well, most days at least.)  I like savoring that first delicious bite of a really good dessert.  I like that I like to cook and am slowly getting better at it.  I like enjoying a yummy meal out with friends.  I don't hate food and now, if someone offered me a pill for all my daily nutrition, meaning I'd never have to eat again, I don't think I'd take it.

Now that is progress.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Recovery in a food/weight/exercise crazy world

I went into the kitchen at work to grab my lunch yesterday and the first thing I heard from a coworker was "I can't eat that, I'm doing a cleanse!"  I resisted the urge to shove my fingers in my ears, grabbed my food, and ran.  And people wonder why I eat lunch at my desk every day. 

I respect people's right to talk about whatever they want over lunch, I really do, but when it's always the calories in their meal or how they're getting fat or how long they're going to the gym for after work, I just can't handle it.  My brain chimes in mentally with "you can work out for longer than that" or "you should do a cleanse too".  It's hard because I don't know what other people see when they look at me but I worry that it's a chubby, out of shape girl.  And I want to show them I can fast more, work out longer, or lose weight better than them.  I worry people think I'm lazy for not going to the gym on my lunch break or fat for eating a piece of candy.  It's enough to make me want to stand on a chair and announce what a victory for me these things are, despite the fact that in our culture they look bad. 

I do wish I didn't look for external validation that recovery is a good thing.  But even after all this time recovery still feels so wrong and unintuitive sometimes.  I need to be reminded that what I'm doing is right and good for me.  That's why it was so hard a couple months ago when I told my mom that I bought regular ice cream and she brushed it off like it was nothing.

It's also frustrating when I'm constantly telling myself that recovery is good and then things happen like friends talking about their food intake for a day consisting of Thai iced tea.  This happened last week with my friend "Emma" again.  I get it, I don't look sick.  And I guess (if my coworkers are any example) this is what people talk about.  But she knows I was anorexic.  Anyhow, I finally told her she can't tell me these things.  When she asked why not I explained that my brain will turn it into a competition.  I don't know if that was the right thing to say or if it'll get through to her but hopefully. 

I told my boyfriend about it later and he sighed, "She's an idiot.  Want me to talk to her?"  I feel like the luckiest girl in the world to have someone who's so supportive of me.  When I need that validation that recovery is the right thing all I have to do is ask.  He'd tell me every day how proud he is of me that I make healthy choices and take care of myself if I needed him to.  I don't know what I'd do without him.

I think this issue of recovering in a culture that supports food and weight loss and exercise obsession is something anyone who's tackled ED recovery has dealt with.  In particular it's really other people's conversations that get to me the most.  I don't feel at all qualified to offer advice since I still struggle but I thought it might be helpful (mostly to remind me!) if I laid out the best ways I've found to deal with it.  So here goes.

1.  Tell people the truth.  Eating disorders are so taboo, it's ridiculous.  I've been known to, when someone recommends a diet to me, say "That sounds nice but I used to be anorexic.  I have to be really careful about restrictive eating plans."  I've gotten everything from silence to total understanding in response but I always feel better.

2.  Walk away.  I don't feel comfortable telling some people, like my coworkers, my history.  In that case I just leave.  If someone's actually talking to me I might smile and make an excuse but I get out of the situation.  I find my brain starts to chill as soon as I'm not actively hearing the conversation.

3.  Have a good support system.  Ask friends or your signifigant other to watch out for scary food/etc. talk and change the subject if it happens.  Generally I have trouble doing that myself since I find that kind of conversation like looking at a car crash.  I know I shouldn't keep listening but I can't stop. So someone else doing it is a relief.

4.  Remind yourself why recovery is good.  When I find myself still thinking about other people's gym hours days later I mentally go back to the reasons why I don't overexercise anymore.  I think about how much happier I am now and how much that time sucked.

5. Criticize other people.  It sounds bad but hear me out.  When all else fails I'll think about things like how badly my coworker who talks about her skipped meals is messing up her metabolism and will probably get fat later because of it.  Is that actually true?  I have no idea but it does make me feel better about what I'm doing and helps keep me on the straight and narrow.  In the end I think whatever keeps me in recovery is a good thing.

Any other tips out there?  I'm sure there are some better ones than mine and I'm always on the look-out for new ways to make recovery easier.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Weekend recap, real women, and more random links

This weekend was really good.  We had a barbeque on Friday with some friends, hung out with a visiting Russian girl (a friend of the friends of friends of friends who we met in Moscow), and got to see some advance episodes of HBO's new series "Game of Thrones".  (It was fantastic.  More on that in a bit!)  Unfortunately in the middle of it on Saturday night I got really violently ill for no reason.  As in sweating and nausea and moaning "kill me now."  I know it wasn't something I ate, I hadn't eaten anything in 24 hours that the boyfriend hadn't and he was fine.  Very weird.  I threw up for 3 hours (sorry, TMI) and then I felt fine.  I had a piece of dry toast before bed and by morning felt almost back to normal.  Bizarre. 

I'll admit, in the middle of being miserable I thought, "Well, at least I might lose a few pounds."  Last time I had a stomach bug 5 years ago I dropped 6 pounds overnight.  And I was disappointed when Sunday morning my stomach didn't look any flatter and my pants weren't any baggier.  Probably has to do with all the water I drank to not get dehydrated and it's actually good.  I don't need to lose weight, plus it's not like that would actually be fat or anything but still.  I was bummed and then annoyed that I was sad over something so stupid.  Ugh.

My stomach still feels a little iffy today so I've been on bland foods.  Bananas and some vegetable soup.  I brought some frozen enchiladas for lunch but wasn't feeling up to it so I stuck with the soup and some cheese.  Apparently what happens if you put shredded cheese in hot vegetable soup is that it melts and all floats to the bottom in big clumps.  Still yummy though.

Now, back to "Game of Thrones".  A friend of ours works for a newspaper and got the first 6 episodes of the show to review.  So he invited some people over who have been excited about it to watch with him.  I haven't read the books that the show is based on but I love big sweeping fantasy epics so I was thrilled.  The show was awesome overall and something in particular really struck me. 

In the show there's a main female character who is supposed to be beautiful and sexy and (this being HBO) you see her naked for more than a couple scenes.  I'm so used to any girl you see like this on TV or in movies being a skeleton with protruding ribs and visible chest bones but this actress (Emilia Clarke) actually looked a normal person.  You can't count her ribs, let alone her chest bones, and her upper arms are bigger than her elbows.  Hell, she didn't even have a "perfect" sculpted flat stomach.  And she looked amazing!  All the guys in the room thought she was hot and it was so refreshing to see someone who actually looks like a real person on TV.  I'm a fan.  I hope to see more of this in the future.

In other random news, I have a couple links to share.  First off, surprising no one who has dealt with an eating disorder, work and social stress put you at risk for a relapse.  It's why I've been trying to be so careful recently with all this boyfriend grad school/moving stuff.  This is a point when I know I can't afford to let my guard down.  The last few big changes in my life have lead to dangerous eating disorder symptoms and I'm determined to not repeat that.

Secondly, a totally awesome sciency thing I just have to share (being the science geek that I am).  Beard science!  It has one of the funniest pictures I've ever seen in my life.  What happens if you rub a live baby chicken over a beard soaked with an avian virus?  Find out in this exploration of a 1967 microbiology article.

And, that's all I've got!  Hope everyone out there's having a great Monday.