Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: eating disorders

Chasing a unicorn

I’m fat. I know I’ve said this before, but it really hit home when I looked at the pictures of me from my niece’s wedding shower. Related, I looked up someone from college who I had a big crush on, and he looks fantastic. He’s two years older than I am, but he looks like he’s in his early thirties. I mean, I look younger than I am, too, but I’m still fat. Come to think of it, he’s also Asian, so maybe it’s partly our good genes. Anyway, I looked gargantuan in the pics. It’s partly because my niece is slim and gamine-like, but it’s also just that I’m fat. Have I said it often enough? I am fat.

I have spent almost thirty years battling eating disorders of one kind or another. Actually, my disordered relationship with food started ten years before that when my mother put me on my first diet with the words, “You would be so pretty if you would just lose weight.” I’ve also recounted my mother’s disordered thinking when it comes to her body and food, but I can’t emphasize how much it’s seeped into my subconsciousness. There was a stretch of time when every time we talked on the phone, she would mention her weight. She, of course, insists it’s all about health (also the excuse she gives for nagging about my weight until I put my foot down), but I realized it was bullshit because she never once voiced any concern when I was anorexic (both times). The only thing she said was, “Now your waist is skinnier than mine”, and it was in a jealous voice. The first time I deal with anorexia and bulimia, I got caught throwing up in the bathroom, and my mother was brought in to talk about it. I don’t remember how that actually came about, but I do remember my mom was not pleased and did not want to do anything about it. I’m sure it was embarrassing for her and that I brought  shame to the family. But, it also was chickens coming home to roost or however that phrase goes.

Anyway. The second bout with anorexia/bulimia included me fainting at First Ave. for a Los Lobos side project concert. Which was very disappointing because I admire Los Lobos so much. After that, I gave up on ‘dieting’ because I just could not do it in a responsible way. No matter how rationally I started (I will be honest that I wasn’t all that rational at the start of the second round, but I had at least tried not to be crazed), I spiraled out as the weeks progressed. I clearly remember how I set a goal of 150 lbs, and when I got to 155, I dropped my goal to 145. I kept doing that until I passed out.

Here’s the thing. I can’t do numbers. I don’t mean I can’t do math because of course I can. I like math. I liked everything except geometry and trig 2, and the latter was because of the teacher. I mean I can’t do numbers when I’m dieting because I lose all sense of proportion. During my first bout with anorexia/bulimia, I weighed myself twice a day. Now, this isn’t good in general, and it’s definitely not good for someone with disordered thinking. It’s not good in general because a person’s weight fluctuates on a daily basis. All the health rags say you should only weigh yourself once a week if you weigh yourself at all. It should be more about the clothing fitting better is the new train of thought, and while it’s better, it’s still too much emphasis on the actual weight loss. The second time I tried to lose weight, I tried to rely more on tape measurements than pounds, but it didn’t matter. I knew an inch was equal to five pounds, so if I didn’t lose a half inch a week, I’d be very depressed.


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When ‘Fat’ Feels Like a Four-Letter Word

this is a meal, isn't it?
Measuring my self worth

I am fat. I’m not fluffy or padded or zaftig; I’m fat. I’m not saying this to slag on myself; I’m simply stating a fact.  I don’t like that I’m fat, but I’m at a loss what to do about it. Oh, I know the usual advice. Eat less (and more healthily) and exercise more. This is the twin mantra of anyone serious about losing weight. The problem is, I’ve dealt with eating disorders for most of my life, and any time I try to diet, I slip into disordered thinking. The two times I lost an appreciable amount of weight, I ended up being anorexic/bulimic both times. The first time, I just dove straight into anorexia with the bulimia evolving later as a chaser. The second time, I was determined to lose weight sensibly, only to find myself passed out on a the floor of First Avenue because I hadn’t eaten all day and had two drinks within half an hour of arriving. I don’t drink much which accounted for part of the problem, but the bigger issue was my refusal to eat in order for me to have those two drinks. That night, I realized if I kept going on the way I was, I would die. I had a 23-inch waist and was eating roughly 1,500 calories a day. A woman my height needs to ingest 1,200 to 1,300 calories a day just to survive. At that time, I was working out for 2 to 2 1/2 hours per day, which means I should have been eating almost twice as much as I was. True to my nature, I quit everything cold turkey. I stopped watching what I was eating and all the exercise. In those days, I didn’t do anything in half measures. If I couldn’t be OCD about losing weight, then I wasn’t going to do it at all. I’m not proud of this mentality nor am I saying it’s healthy, but I can’t deny that’s how I thought. I tend to be a person of extremes, and while I’m better at it now than I was then, I fear that if I started dieting again, I’d be back to square one.

I know, you’re saying why don’t I just make lifestyle changes instead of dieting? I am doing that, but it’s very slow-going. I’ve cut out baked goods such as muffins (which I love), chips (except Lay’s had their name the chips contest, and I had to try the final four because I’ve done it every year for the past few years), and cheese–for the most part. I’m slowly adding back fruits and vegetables. My mom used to make me and my brother eat them several times a day when we were kids, so I rebelled against them when I hit my thirties. It’s a shame because I like fruits and vegetables, so I’m making a conscious effort to put them back in my diet. I eat an orange every day, partly because my taiji teacher told me they’re good for removing lactic build up (which is why you ache after a workout), and I’m trying to eat more salads. I’m also trying to cut back on my Coke Zero consumption, but that has not been easy this summer. The minute it’s eighty out, I’m mainlining that shit. My eating habits are pretty atrocious when I’m in my overeating phase, and this current ‘phase’ has lasted almost twenty years.

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