We live in a country that worships work. The more a person works, the more respect they seem to get. Folks brag about the long hours and weekends they toil. More work seems to indicate better morals and higher values.

Like the old saying goes, “Work sets you free”.

Wait, that was the slogan that hung at the entrance to Auschwitz.

A Hop on the Scale

For some crazy reason, I decided to weigh myself last Saturday. So I dragged out my old, dusty scale and hopped on.

Wow, was I surprised by the number – it seemed so low. I got on and off a couple of times. I shook the scale, turned it off and got on again.

Still, same really low number.

Sunday, I decided I’d get on again, just to see what popped up. According to the scale, I’d gained six pounds overnight.

I hopped on and off, shook the scale, turned it off, got on again. Still, the same six pounds up.

Fucking crazy shit. What was I thinking?

The Benefits of My Eating Disorder

You’ll hear alcoholics say that booze wasn’t their problem – it was their solution. It worked. If it didn’t work, we’d have found something else long ago.

It’s the same for me and my eating disorder – for a long time food and weight, binging and purging, starving and calorie counting – those were my solutions to the miseries of life.

I hated my childhood and from early on, found comfort in food. I’ve always said I was born hungry, but the truth is I was born lonely and scared with no idea how to function comfortably in the world. Other people seemed to know how to fit in, how to find friends, how to know joy, but all of that proved elusive to me.

Food, however, was always available and accessible. It became my one true friend and constant companion, until it became my everything, including my enemy. I ate massively thru my childhood. At a very young age, I developed insomnia and consumed huge quantities all thru the night. I was a kid afraid of the dark. Food kept me company and kept me too busy to notice my terror.

This pattern continued all through the rest of my life. Eating became the answer to every issue. But all too soon, that became a problem.

As a kid, I grew fast and tall, with each growth spurt ridding me of the pudge that developed between those growth spurts. I wasn’t a particularly thin kid, but I was relatively average enough.

At 13, I stopped growing and really got fat. I believed I desperately needed that food. The years between 12 and 17 were the absolute worst of my life – far worse even than my later years as a crack addict.

And so I ate. I don’t know what I would have done without food to soothe and comfort. Compulsive eating kind of saved me.

When I got too fat for my taste (and for my peers who teased me relentlessly), I stopped eating. Starving became a new way to cope. It was an all consuming activity that kept me really busy.

Counting calories and weighing myself were my full-time commitments. If I found myself frightened or worried or unhappy and uncomfortable, I’d purposely force myself to start counting calories, which helped me forget about my troubles.

Later, when I just couldn’t starve anymore, I started bingeing again. But weight gain proved intolerable and I discovered vomiting as a new tool and coping method. Bulimia offered the added benefit of dealing with my insomnia – now i had something new to do all night when I couldn’t sleep.

Were these healthy, happy and good coping mechanisms? NO, they severely damaged me physically and mentally BUT they were trying to help me, in their own misguided way.

I don’t hate my eating disorder anymore, as I did for so many decades. I feel compassion. And that’s truly comforting.

More Food.

I keep thinking about something that came up in my last post – if I didn’t gain weight, would I eat a lot more?

I think there’s an assumption that I would.

I grew up with my best friend, Frank, who couldn’t gain weight even if he had an Ensure I.V. pumping into his system 24/7. As much as I LOVED him, I was wildly, crazily jealous that he could eat whatever he wanted and not gain an ounce. No matter how many problems he had, and there were plenty, I believed him the luckiest man on earth – simply because he was naturally skinny.

At a bbq the other day, my friend’s son John said that his brother had ‘won the gene pool lottery’, because he, like Frank, can eat anything and everything and stay super thin. John and his other relatives are plump by nature.

I understand that in our society, it’s much easier and acceptable to be thin. But it’s interesting that it seems universally true that eating more is better.

I always assumed that if I could eat without gaining weight, I’d never stop eating.

But now, I don’t think that’s true. I’m fine. While food used to call, scream, cajole and sing “Melissa” endlessly, it now seems to have forgotten my name.

I like it that way.

Inundation: Food

I’m contemplating a post about how we’re constantly bombarded with food; Restaurants fill every other store in my neighborhood, there are ads for meals and snacks every other second on my television; a whole Food Network, aisles and aisles of cookbooks in Barnes & Noble….

Food; it’s everywhere. Eat, eat, eat. Cook, cook, cook. Bake, bake, bake.

Feed your family, treat your friends, treat yourself…

Food, food, food.

Think about it – while you’re watching tv, how many ads for food do you see? Delicious, ooey, gooey, pretty, enticing.

How many restaurants are in your neighborhood?

How many aisles in your supermarket offer every kind of food imagineable?

And yet, of course, we’re supposed to be thin.

My friend promised me that if I exercised a lot, one big benefit would be I could eat a whole lot more.

Well, I truly have no interest in eating more.

I would love to have an interest (any interest at all!) in exercising. It’s vital for health. AND, I won’t lie, I wouldn’t mind jiggling less.

But I have no desire to eat more – unless, of oourse, I’m really hungry.

A huge plethora of food worked in the old days, when we toiled on the farm and in the fields all day. We needed amble sustenance to survive.

Now, my colleagues and I drive to work, sit on our butts, drive home, sit at our computers, watch our televisions, on our cellphones and head to bed.

Sure, some of us fit in exercise, but I doubt it’s enough to incorporate all the…food.

No wonder there’s an obesity epidemic.

P.S., follow up to yesterday’s post. I went to my meeting last night. About 40 people. Only one truly overweight – a man with a dangerous thyroid disorder.

Is Our Nation Fat?

Our nation is fat. Obesity is an epidemic. That’s what everyone says.

I suppose I take that for granted, but actually, I don’t know a lot of fat people (whatever ‘fat’ is.)

I know plenty of people who think they’d look better carrying 10 or 15 fewer pounds, but I don’t consider them ‘fat’.

I’m attending a meeting tonight. Most of the 40 people there are average weight. I can’t really think of one truly ‘overweight’ person. Again, there are some who would like to lose a few, but fat – no.

At my job, there is one really heavy person. Out of maybe 20. If you include all the outside salespeople, there is still only one.

Growing up, I was the only fat one. My father, mother, brother and sister were slim, as were my cousins.

In my current circle of friends in New Jersey, everyone’s pretty average. (Again, some might prefer to carry 10 pounds less but again – fat – no!)

At a bbq yesterday, same stats.

Am I missing the epidemic?

Marble Rye

I had a lunch at my dear friend, Kay’s, today. Kay is one of my favorite people on the planet – loving, easygoing, generous, honest, good. And normal about food.

As we were eating and chatting, Kay said, “this bread is so disappointing.”

Her husband had picked it, marble rye bread. Not her first choice, but she gave it a try. And it just didn’t cut it.

Her commented interested me. It’s been a long time since I’ve considered wheter was as good as I’d hoped it would be.

Kim loves food – eating it, cooking it, baking it, feeding it to others. She grows vegetables and love wholesome, healthy meals. For Kay, each meal can and should be joyous – even the lunch she packs for work each day needs to please her.

For me, as long as it doesn’t taste bad, I really don’t care. I don’t ‘love’ food, not anymore.

But did I ever love food? Did I ever actually enjoy it? From a very, very early age I shoveled it in mass quantities to soothe myself. As I grew older, food became my everything – I lived to stuff down my feelings. Later, I lived to restrict. I either binged or starved; gorged or withheld; all or nothing.

But did I ever love food for food? Did I ever eat slowly enough to enjoy it? Could I appreciate one warm slice of freshly baked bread? A perfectly ripe peach? A small scoop of ice cream.?
That would be NOOOOO!!!

Kay and I don’t eat same the way. For her, food is lovable. For me, it’s just food. For Kay, marble rye is disappointing. For me, it’s just bread.

It beats food as EVERYTHING. I’m cool 🙂

When There’s No Time to Eat

Today was a day when there was no time to eat. Not a minute. Forget peeing.. But that always came second to food.

At around 3;30 pm, I realized I had a terrible headache. Why? Did I have sinus problems? Was I squinting at the computer too long? Were my tooth still sore from yesterday’s dentist’s visit?

Nope. I hadn’t eaten anything all day. And I hadn’t noticed. I’d been just too busy.

But when I did realize I needed to eat, I remembered that my food was still in the conference room where the big bosses were having a meeting with clients. I wasn’t getting in there!

Finally, I found a hard boiled egg I’d left in the refrigerator and ate that. It wasn’t scintillating, but it was fine.

There was a time in my life where minutes couldn’t pass without thoughts of food and eating. And if there wasn’t food readily available, panic mode set in. WHERE WAS I GETTING MY NEXT MEAL? HOW COULD I SURVIVE?

Today, I really didn’t know where or when exactly i was getting my next meal, and it was fine. People all over the world live chronically hungry and without any idea at all when the next nourishment is coming.

I can get through a few hours.

It will never stop being weird to me that this is how I think and live now. How does that happen? For someone like me, who dropped out of college 5 times because she COULD NOT STOP EATING?!!!!

Miracles happen. And I truly believe that if they can happen for this lifelong compulsive eater, bulimic and anorexic, they can happen for anyone everyone.

My Truth About Food

I believe it is vitally important to know our own truth about ourselves and food. I have friends from my 12th Step Fellowship who never ever eat sugar or white flour or processed foods. They commit what they are going to eat each morning and weigh and measure every ounce they consume.

They are delighted with this approach. They are clear with what they are going to eat each day and then they get on with their lives.

I work with many women who stick to this approach and others who follow some combination of the above and still others who eat like I do – no hard and fast rules – but still following our own truth.

When I first started to get well, I ate 3 meals a day and nothing in between. I tried my best to eat normal-ish meals and sometimes ate more and sometimes ate less. But I never beat myself up about it.

Once I got used to eating just three times a day, I was able to figure out precisely what works for me. Having been on some kind of diet most of my life, I could really discern a normal portion. For breakfast, I ate some protein, a small carb and a fruit. For lunch and dinner = some protein, vegetables and a small carbohydrate. It worked for me.

I also made sure to be present at meals – i didn’t read or space out. If I was eating with others, I paid attention to conversation and tried to add value or to just listen well. I’d note my surrounding, what people were wearing, what hung on the walls…

Throughout the process, I never lied to myself. I didn’t pretend that a giant baked potato was a small carb; the hungry man burger was not ‘some’ protein and a whole canteloupe didn’t serve as one fruit. I also never consumed unlimited veggies. Nothing in excess.

These days, after many, many, many years, I don’t really follow any rules, except for the truth. Sometimes, if I’m hungry, I will eat small bites through out the day. But truly small bites. Two saltines can well be sufficient.

Most importantly, of course, I faced what was underneath that CONSTANT desperation to stuff my face with food. And then, of course, there was no need for mass quantities of food.

For those of us who used or use food as the solution to all our problems, we must face the problems and find true solutions. And then food’s just good old food again.

And that’s my truth

A Day In Bed

I woke up with the worst cramps that I can remember. Well, I think they were this bad in high school (before the invention of Advil) but it’s been four decades….

So, I decided to spend the day in bed. (It’s Saturday.)

I had a million things I’d planned to do today – and plenty of them seemed like they really absolutely needed to get done.

Tough. I firmly planted myself in bed.

Every time I thought I should get up, I asked myself, why? Why not just lie there, snoozing and daydreaming and taking more Advil.

Plus, I have the best little heating pad – kitty Rebecca curled into my belly and purred up a storm. She gets it – nothing wrong with napping all day!!!!!

It’s 6:30 pm, and my dumb brain is telling me to do something productive – go to the grocery store, throw in some laundry – at the very least, head to the bookstore!

Nahhhhh, I’m going back to bed. 🙂