Tuesday, 26 June 2007


As of this morning, I have lost 4 stone (or, for you non-Brits, 56 pounds). One stone (for you English majors who hate math, 14 pounds) to go.

Also today, I could bend over and put the crown of my head on the floor in a yoga pose I don’t know the name of, but that I’ve been trying to do for seven months. When everyone turned to look because I could do it, the teacher said: “Yoga is not a competitive sport, but look where you might someday be.” Myself as athletic example? I love it.

Monday, 25 June 2007

There's No Such Thing as a Free* Lunch

The plate had two slices of lamb, three tiny new potatoes, three chunks of roast potatoes, a Yorkshire pudding, one piece of cauliflower, two pieces of broccoli, and some carrot batons.

“Well, I won’t be eating for the rest of the day,” declared my friend D as she dug in.

It was just before 2 p.m. – lunch – and I was hungry, really hungry. So hungry that I’d had to have a banana an hour beforehand because I was cranky-hungry (something I haven’t been in a while) as we were walking around Hever Castle. We’d been waiting for our food for more than a half an hour, me panicking privately because I was so hungry. But after D’s comment I was panicking even more.

Can I eat the whole thing? I wondered. It doesn’t look like that much to me, and I’m not going to eat the roast potatoes anyway (in England, they’re typically roasted in goose fat). Is this really a lot of food?

I looked hopefully over at my friend L, hoping she would provide some clue. But she didn’t say anything.

D – who does not and has never had a weight problem -- cleaned her plate. L – who is grimly following South Beach phase 2 for medical reasons that have nothing to do with losing weight – left over the potatoes and the Yorkshire pudding after taking a tiny taste of them. I left over my roast potatoes and – after what I hoped was a covert examination of my friends’ plates – wondered if they had noticed, as I had, that I’d cut less fat off my lamb than they did. (My mother loved the fat, so I grew up never thinking anything other than that it was OK to eat.)

Sigh. It never ends, does it?

That afternoon, I was hungry not long after lunch – hunger I’m sure was in my head, and I’m sure was a function of my wondering if I should be allowed dinner after D’s comment.

I did eat dinner, but spent the rest of the evening with the uneasy feeling – fear? Anxiety? Frustration? I’m really not sure -- that has in the past been a prelude to a binge. I thought about how my friend J – six feet tall and rail thin -- had said casually on Saturday night when I mentioned I had kissed a 21-year-old in Riga: “You could easily pass for 25. People who have fat faces are lucky.” (Now really, I ask you, what is the Hallmark-approved response to that?)

I took a bath – careful not to choose the apple-scented bath bomb from my collection – and went to bed. This morning I got up and went to the gym and tried – unsuccessfully -- not to stare at my stomach or arms in the mirror.

I’m as sick of writing these kinds of things as you probably are of reading them. I was tempted to end on a cheery note – or really, the self-deprecating fat-girl note – and say that I need a hobby. But I don’t. I just need time.

Or so I hope.

*free, in this case, would be "free from obsessing"

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Getting on With It

Yesterday I went to yoga and recalled how I nearly fell asleep in class the day after the Fig and I first met up, because I’d been unable to sleep that night. I thought about how he calls Pilates “Pirates” because it amuses him, knowing it doesn't make it sound even one iota more manly. And I thought, for the squillionth time, about what it is that makes someone one day be saying you should come out to his father’s house in the country, and the next decide that he never wants to see you again.

And then I got on with my yoga. And near the end of class, when someone was confused about how to do a shoulder stand, the teacher said: “Look at Beth,” and proceeded to describe how perfectly I was doing it. I can still remember not even being able to _start_ getting into the position.

Monday, 18 June 2007


A year ago Friday I first met the Fig, and he’s been taking up varying degrees of space in my brain ever since.

On Wednesday, he stood me up. He didn’t leave me waiting at a restaurant somewhere – he just never called. When I tried to call him, I discovered his phone was turned off, which confirmed what I had known deep down: That I had reason to be wary of him these past couple of months.

The Saturday before, when I’d spent all day waiting for him to call, I feared I would binge if he stood me up. On Wednesday, after I left him a message I knew he wouldn’t return, I made myself dinner but just couldn’t eat it. That’s happened only one other time in my life: the summer my mother became sick enough to require a full-time aide. The week I was there with my sister organizing everything, I wore sunglasses everywhere because I would tear up at everything, and nothing. People stared at me when I went running in the sticky June heat, because I would cry as I ran. I would run hard and fast and for an hour or until I was completely exhausted, and even after that, I still couldn’t eat.

I haven’t wanted to write about the Fig since Wednesday because although I’ve been thinking about it almost nonstop, there is something about writing about it that makes it fact -- makes it something I can stumble across in my archives in a few months or even a few years and still be pained by just reading about. Because that is among the worst of all this – the little moments that blindside you: a story I know he would have loved hearing, a play we talked about seeing, an expression of his that is so perfect I can’t stop using it. Just 15 minutes ago, my Walks in the Country Near London book fell open to a hike that I know is by his father’s house.

Worse than all of that is me in my head, wondering things that I will not – cannot – ever have the answer to. But I’m trying to work through what I’m feeling, and to remember what I’ve learned from all of this. And yes, I’m eating again – in fact absolutely ravaged the hotel minibar Saturday night after a ridiculously drunken night of bad behavior at a cheesy disco in Riga. I will get through this, I know, but it’s hard and I hate it.

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

At That Particular Time

Yesterday at an off-the-record lunch with a member of the royal family (where we were told ahead of time we could not have wine or garlic, and that any water had to be served exactly at room temperature), I bumped into someone I haven’t seen in several months.

We exchanged a minute of chat, and then she said: “So what else have you been up to?”

I paused and thought – and had to bite my tongue to stop myself from answering truthfully. The answer: Obsessing about the Fig.

It is difficult to watch myself handle this – and I do feel like I’m watching from outside myself, shouting at the character onscreen to do something already, but to no avail. I keep thinking maybe things will be different the next time we go out, but so far they haven’t been. Mostly because of my travel schedule, we’ve only been out five times and already I am wishing we could recapture the headiness of the first couple of dates. Then again, it’s been a while since I’ve gone out with anybody more than once, so I can’t help picturing myself – New Yorker cartoon-style – in front of a pile of men, a la Ramona Quimby in the basement with the pile of apples, each one with a bite taken out. The caption would be what Ramona told Beezus: “The first bite always tastes the best.”

But in my gut, I don’t think that’s the problem. Stripped to its essence, the real problem I am having with the Fig is that he knows perfectly well that I am wary of him, and has done absolutely nothing to make that less so. When I poke at why things he does upset me, that is often behind them. I spend no small amount of time wondering if he’s waiting for me to end things, the way – a couple of weeks ago – he tried to get me to cancel a date before he did. (He admitted it when I called him out on it, and laughingly wondered if he were that transparent. Actually, he’s usually unbelievably opaque.) On Saturday night, we had plans to go out but I didn’t hear from him all day – despite the fact that I’d called him about 5 p.m. He called at 8:20 p.m., about 40 minutes after I’d made other plans – and 20 minutes after I’d deleted his number from my phone. (If that sounds rash, consider last summer, when he disappeared suddenly. And anyway, I’m a terrible drunken texter.)

Turns out the Fig – who has insomnia, like Enrique Iglesias,apparently – had fallen asleep on the sofa with his phone in the other room. He was too tired to go out, anyway.

I know I’ve gotten what feels awfully far from the subject of weight here, but hear me out here. Saturday was awful. I spent large chunks of the day picking over our last two interactions, which included an email he signed with a couple of kisses and the comment that I should come to his dad’s place in the country this summer. It didn’t make sense, but nor did his disappearance last summer. By 8 p.m., when I was convinced I was being stood up – and that he’d disappeared off the face of the earth yet again – I dreaded the initial days of getting through it. I remembered last summer, and I loathed myself for putting myself in a position to have it happen again. On Saturday night, I didn’t feel like bingeing – I just felt empty. But I feared that the urge might surface on Sunday, and realizing that, I felt I’d started to climb up from the bottom: He’s not worth that. No one is worth that.

I just have to work on remembering that.

Thursday, 7 June 2007


“You look really well,” the Fig says last night, looking at me from across the table. We have not seen each other for three weeks, and suddenly – in the last week, and despite the scale registering a pound gain – my size 31 Seven jeans and the Cutest Coat in the World (pink-black-and-white diamond patterned Pringle, and a UK size 12) fit. I was wearing both of them.

Later, at the bus stop, the Fig looks at me intently. “Have you lost more weight?” he asks.

“Um, a little,” I say, feeling a little embarrassed.

He looks me up and down. “Are you a size 10?” he wants to know. (That’s a size 6 in American terms. Why and how the Fig knows anything about women’s clothing sizes, I don’t know, since he’s completely uninterested in fashion.)

No, no, no, I am most definitely not a size 10. But thanks!

* * *

This morning, as I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirrored elevator and wondered what I was thinking wearing the Gap jeans I have on, a woman who works on my floor walked in. “I don’t know how you do it,” she said, “but every time I see you, you look thinner.”

Friday, 1 June 2007

I Cannes Do This

In the past two weeks – which included a week in Cannes – I lost three pounds. (Total lost so far: 52.)

I’m not sure how, but I’m not complaining.

Actually, that’s a lie – I do know how. Despite the fact that I slept nine cumulative hours between Tuesday and Saturday (with these hours, I could have gone into investment banking!), I didn’t lose control. I planned as best I could, and when I couldn’t, or when I ate something I wouldn’t usually touch, I didn’t succumb to my usual black-and-white thinking and say, “I’ve messed up – I might as well binge.”

When I was sent a huge tin of chocolate-covered cookies – the very same tin of cookies I binged on last year (in fact, the binge that set me binging through the whole of Cannes) – I promptly gave them away. Every day I skipped the hotel buffet breakfast – too much to deal with when one is that tired – in favor of fruit and yogurt I bought at the Monoprix. I did my best to fit in a little exercise every day, doing a bit of yoga or some crunches and pushups in my hotel room, and taking the four flights of stairs to my room (except when I was in four-inch heels at 5 a.m.). I ignored the foie gras (only in Cannes would the phrase “Oh no, not foie gras again” actually apply to my life) and had sushi when it was available. I tried not to arrive at 9:30 p.m. dinners too hungry – sometimes, despite ludicrously luxe sounding menus (pink lobster and spring vegetables truffle, anyone?), I ate a quick pre-dinner dinner from the Monoprix, which made it all the easier for me actually to do my job. And I did my job with a glass of champagne in hand, so I didn’t feel like I was denying myself everything.

There were loads of small victories: the chocolate mousse I left over half of, the desserts I ignored because they didn’t look worth the calories, the diet Coke I gave in and drank, but not excessively. (I gave up diet Coke cold turkey in November, because I believe it’s the gateway drug to sugar. But I don’t drink coffee and in Cannes desperately needed the caffeine!)

With each day that passed successfully – each day I left over more than half of my chocolate mousse, or fit in a workout -- I felt a little stronger and a little better. I still felt huge compared to the average partygoer (never mind Angelina, Mischa, et al), but I stopped worrying – as I had been at the beginning of the week – that I’d binge so much my dresses wouldn’t fit. I felt okay. And at Cannes, that felt great.

* * *

Fig update: You know it’s a bad sign when – as you’re cleaning your flat in preparation for a friend coming to visit from the US – you discover an old Alanis Morrisette CD, play it, and realize half the songs speak directly to your current situation.