Thursday, 7 June 2018


And so I’m headed back to Asia again in three weeks, barely having recovered from the last time.

I’m not complaining; just trying to think about what I can do minimize the chances of a repeat of last time: How bad I felt about myself, how uncomfortable I was, and how quickly it all snowballed. As I think I mentioned, there was constant low and medium-level overeating, and although I could recognize it was making me feel bad, I felt powerless to stop it.

On the first trip of the year (in January), I held things together reasonably for about a week – I was still exercising (I think I managed something every third day) and eating semi-appropriately -- and then things fell apart for about the last five days. On the second trip, this last one, I did zero exercise and was overeating basically from the start.

I’ve always been a rule-based person – very black or white – and that has fueled the relentless cycle of bingeing and restricting that has gone on for most of my life. So I’m not going to make a lot of rules for myself – the minutes I break one, they all start going out the window. There are only two things I’ve decided to do.

One: I will do my physio exercises (which I do nearly every morning in London, because they keep me pain-free) within 24 hours of stepping off the plane. They aren’t really exercise in the way most of us think about it, but they are – and I hate this word, but it’s apt – self-care. I think if I can pause long enough to do them, they’ll help me be more mindful in all the rest of my choices for the day. (I didn’t do them at all on the second trip to Asia, and I could feel the difference within days. Plus, every day I felt guilty for still not having done them, and started worrying I’d never be able to get back into my routine again when I got back to London. Frankly would have been simpler just to do them once.)

Two: I’m going to do the one thing my grandmother nagged me to do at almost every single meal I ever ate with her, which is to try to leave something over on my plate. I won’t manage this every meal for sure, but I want to at least pause toward the end and think whether I need to finish.

* * *

I’m not sure if it’s progress that I have a lot less to say on the subject of weight loss / my body / recovery than I thought (than I used to?). I do know it doesn’t make me feel very good to be putting words out into the world just for the sake of it, which I’ve been doing for the past few days.

Thus ends perhaps the world’s briefest experiment in daily posting. I am going to try to check in more regularly, though. The support here – and the space to think and try out ideas – has always meant a lot.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

A Sense of Scale, for Once

A funny thing happened today: Someone I hadn’t seen in about a month or so asked me if I had lost weight and I felt… nothing. I didn’t thrill at the idea or even take it as a compliment. It was just something someone said that frankly didn’t matter that much.

I wondered if that was because recovery has taught me that losing weight isn’t always a good thing. That saying it just isn’t the compliment I used to think it was. And because I don’t get on scales so I can’t really say for sure. But mostly I think I don’t care that much because I’m feeling pretty good about the way that I’m eating, and I’m not actively trying to do anything besides feel comfortable in my own skin. (And no amount of weight loss will magically do that.)  

It’s been a very busy day and I’m exhausted. I haven’t been sleeping very well, and then I was up to go to a gym class (I rarely go to classes these days, partly because the timings don’t generally work, partly because they’re too crowded, and partly because some days I just don’t feel like learning anything, which the best classes usually require.) It was a fairly brutal metabolic conditioning class and I staggered out of there. I rarely get sore any more, but I think I might be tomorrow.

Then racing to get a couple of pitches out (the window for them was shutting within hours) and deal with some other potential work, and finally on to meet friends for drinks. Which became dinner that involved triple fried chips (in my as-yet-unwritten-book, one of the few kinds that are a “must order”) and sourdough bread with garlic butter. I was so hungry by the time our food arrived (north of 9 pm) that it was a struggle not to just finish everything because it was there. I’m pleased I didn’t, though, and – although this restaurant serves one of my favourite desserts in the world – I actually didn’t mind that our waitress never offered us dessert menus and we could just get the bill and go. I was (and am) exhausted. Bought a single salted caramel profiterole in a tiny amount of chocolate sauce (love whoever came up with that) on the way home that I feared might send me over the edge (it's never great when I buy spur-of-the-moment desserts), but it hasn't. Going to get to bed before I get my sometimes annoying, sometimes fantastic midnight second wind.

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Back in the Skinny Jeans

Can’t fall down on the posting on Day 2 already, so this is just a super-quick check in a I’ve been working since 9 am (and it’s now nearly 11 pm.)

It’s been more than a week of on-plan eating and exercise, and I felt sufficiently good to try on a black faux fur jacket offered to me, rather randomly, by the tiny Chinese girl who lives downstairs. She’s moving and doesn’t need it. Somewhat unbelievably, it fit -- and my super-stylist friend even approved of it -- though I will have to pretend it’s bracelet-sleeved, as technically the sleeves are a little too short. I’m not sure I’ve ever inherited clothing from anyone that I actually wanted (as opposed to fat-type clothes I would take because I couldn’t face the shops in my size – or didn’t want to spend money at a size I hoped I wouldn’t stay at.) It's a nice feeling.

The coat episode then made me sufficiently bold (ha!) to bring my skinniest of skinny jeans to the gym without a backup pair, and I’m pleased I was able to work in them all day. Part of my recovery over these past two years – along with the not weighing myself -- has been not hiding out in gym clothes, meaning stretchy things. (And I get dressed in proper clothes every single day, even if all I’m doing is sitting around my flat writing.)

Today was a hungry day, meaning things I eat on other days (and they work fine) feel like they barely touch the sides. If I can guess in the morning that it’s going to be a hungry day – and I can’t always tell – I do stick to what I know works. It often keeps me from spending ages trying to decide if I’ve had enough / what extra I should eat, which can be a disaster when I’m hungry anyway. Today I had an extra piece of fruit after my afternoon snack (porridge with maple syrup). Still hungry. Luckily I managed to distract myself for a bit, got engrossed in the work, and when I looked up it was time for dinner.

Monday, 4 June 2018

Calm with a Horizon of Anxiety

Returning to blogging after a long absence feels a lot like trying to return to dieting  eating according to plan after a long absence/putting on a lot of weight: The task can seem unmanageable, and even with the best and firmest of intentions, days and weeks go by. And really, what’s one more day at that point?

For the record, I haven’t put on a lot of weight that I’m aware of – I haven’t gotten on a scale for two years now. But what I wanted to type was: I haven’t put on a lot of weight yet. Because I’ve gotten pretty messy with my food lately, and while at one point that looked like recovery, it no longer does.

Come again?

I know, it sounds crazy. (But when have I ever not sounded that way?) Being rigid and strict with my diet (not a word I use any more, actually) led straight to bingeing, so the ability to be a bit messy was good at the start. Not so much any more.

In April I went to Thailand and Vietnam and overate every day (it didn’t help that my travel companion was basically the restaurant whisperer, incapable of picking a bad place or a dud entrée.) I felt more and more uncomfortable, things felt tighter and tighter, and yet I kept overeating. I did zero exercise. The number of items in my suitcase I wanted to wear shrank. All the feelings I used to feel came back: The despair, the terror of having nothing that still fit to wear on the airplane home, the terror of the fact that everything in my suitcase might never fit again, but being too afraid even to try it on and see how bad the damage was.

Eating, drinking, not exercising – sure, that’s what people do on holiday. But when I got back to London, instead of getting back into more normal portions and foods, I carried on justifying all manner of extra food as “oh hey, at least I’m not restricting.” I felt uncomfortable, and didn’t want to face friends, thinking they were looking at me with pity, wondering how I’d gained so much weight in such a short time. (This last bit, given that it turned out I could still wear all but my super skinniest of jeans, was probably all in my head, but that didn’t make the feeling less real, or paralyzing.)

I’m still – six weeks later – probably a little bigger than I was before I went (but again, I don’t know what I weighed before I left and I don’t know what I weigh now, but certain clothes feel tighter, or they fit differently than they did last summer.) I have more uncertainty and probably fear in all areas of my life than possibly ever before, which creeps into how and what I eat (more of which, in another post.) And so here I am. I’m not sure I’ve ever dealt with a tiny weight gain – I’d just start bingeing, first occasionally, and then more frequently, until no amount of exercise or restricting could balance it out. I don’t do elaborate diets or exercise regimens any more; all I want is just to feel a bit more accountable; to take away the horizon of anxiety that has cropped up lately when it comes to my weight.

So I’m making a promise to post for 30 days, however briefly.

It’s good to be back.

Thursday, 1 March 2018


Act One, They Meet

(Old Ms. Pac-Man arcade game music here)

Ever since I saw it on an old season of the Great British Bake-Off, I’ve been thinking about the Prinsesstårta. NB: This isn’t quite as sad as it seems. I didn’t start watching GBBO until I got back to London, and I don’t think about this cake every day!

It’s really been in my head since late last month, when I met up for dinner with a Swedish friend and another friend (Welsh, for the record), both of whom raved about the cake and a particular Swedish bakery in London where it’s served. All three of us have similar tastes in dessert -- our WhatsApp group actually is called Crumble Lovers, in homage to a restaurant we like where the apple crumble is so good we threaten to order it as an entrée and then again as a pudding. (For the record – and lest we sound super-piggy -- we stumbled upon the rather unlikely Crumble Mecca because we were in the area for an absolutely brutal VersaClimber class.)

Anyway, I went home after dinner and looked up the bakery. It turns out it’s about a five-minute walk from my counselor’s office. I promised myself one day after an appointment I’d go there.

I wasn’t at all sure I would.

You see, I’m not sure how religiously I ever ate the suggested two puddings a week the dietitian suggested. I think maybe I did at the beginning, though I always behaved with them the way I did about calories on a restricted diet or points when I was on Weight Watchers – I always wanted to bank them. I’d tell myself I was saving them for something amazing – or because I thought I might binge if I used them up early and didn’t have any leeway for several days – and I’d never use them. The rainy day never came, so to speak, but always, inevitably, there’d be a binge.

I realized the other day that I haven’t been eating any puddings. For awhile, it was because I ate so off piste in Thailand that I actually wanted a few weeks of simple, on-plan eating. But then it became: Oh, but I have this trip coming up and then this restaurant and then… Except yes, there always will be something on the horizon. But I realized if I never eat puddings kind of randomly – for no special reason, only because I want them – this is where the restriction and bingeing cycle takes root again.

And so today, even though I would happily have gone home to my regular snack (these days it’s so cold I’m loving porridge, to be honest) – even though I’m feeling so anxious about so many things – I went and bought the Prinsesstårta; braved the fear that it would not be enough, would kick start a binge.

I didn’t buy it to take home and eat where no one could see me do it. I bought a slice on a plate and took it and sat at a table with it, with no phone or magazine out, like I deserved to eat it and wasn’t making any apologies for eating it and wasn’t pretending I wasn’t eating it. I talked to the couple next to me – on a first date, I think – about travelling to Iran. And I ate my cake.

It was divine. I didn’t wish I had more, I didn’t debate buying anything else, and I have felt as good as I can feel tonight, under the circumstances (extreme anxiety about other things.)

Bring on the bonus round.