Friday, 12 December 2008

Condolence Notes to My Career

For three weeks now, any e-mail I send to any company distribution list receives at least a few replies that begin: “I’ve been meaning to write – how are you?”

And so I repeat for the eleventeenth time: I’m fine, thank you. I say something nice – which also has the virtue of being true – that there aren’t many jobs that send you to Afghanistan one minute and St Tropez the next, and that I had a good run. I say perhaps I’ll come unglued when I get my official leaving date.

And what follows on that are emails that seem wholly capable of making me come unglued on the spot. The senders – often editors in New York -- write such over-the-top nice things about me and my abilities and my reputation that I’m starting to feel like I died. (Maybe death would explain the bizarre detached feeling with which I have gotten through the past few weeks.)

Cynically, I can't help thinking -- at least for a second -- that words are cheap and that these people need to assuage their guilt at the fact that they still have jobs. Jobs, I might add, that are much more highly paid and a whole lot less time-intensive and stressful than mine (few of these people ever answer email on weekends, let alone do actual work). I picture them running around like Oskar Schindler (I know this is a tasteless analogy, but still I can't help picturing Liam Neeson) -- after it's too late, bemoaning the little things he could have and should have done.

But then the moment of cynicism passes and I forward the emails to my personal account to read over the next few months.
I think I’m going to need them.

* * *

Last night I had tea (peppermint, not cream) with a frenemy I haven’t seen for months. She is a very successful freelance writer and TV personality with whom I will very likely be in direct competition soon (though not for TV gigs – so not me.)

She was a cheerleader in a former life – dyed blonde, big chest, and completely over the top in her enthusiasm for everything. We discussed a weight loss story she’s writing and of course the topic turned to weights – as in, actual numbers on the scale, and how she won’t be telling the truth in the article.

But she told me the truth (I think). I am two inches taller than her and weigh a good 10 to 15 pounds less than her.

I wasn’t gleeful – just shocked. Honestly. I'm not sure I've ever weighed less than anyone -- well, any thin person -- in my life.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Denial (De Nile?) is a River in Egypt

Is it wrong to debate using my $600 economic stimulus check from the US government for boots? Answers on a postcard. I'll be at

Is it wrong to debate using my $600 economic stimulus check from the US government for boots when I won’t have a job in a few weeks? (Is your answer still the same?)

I keep waiting for it to hit me, this jobless thing, but it hasn’t. All that has changed in my life so far is that I do less work – a lot less work – and I occasionally freak out about not having any money. And then I do lunatic things like decide to walk from Islington to Each Finchley – five miles – to avoid the £3 tube fare (and to burn off some Thanksgiving dinner), and then spend 300 euros on a 19th century rose gold-and-pearl bracelet I found at a Paris market (but I only went to Paris because I had a free Eurostar ticket. See? It all works out!)

* * *

Before the choice to keep my job was taken from me, I’d see the Evening Standard headlines about 2 million jobless and wonder if I was crazy to think about leaving my nice, safe employment. Now I constantly have two images in my head: one is where I’m being shoved off something (a cliff?) and I land, D-Day-invasion-style – on my stomach, crawling. In the second image, I’m trying to get off an overcrowded subway train, but the platform also is overcrowded, so I’m stuck. Paging Dr. Freud.

I guess I am stuck, in a way, no thanks to the British redundancy process, which drags on. I still don’t have a final leave date and I’ve only just gotten an answer on when my notice period starts (but not, of course, whether I’ll have to work in the office during it.) The British redundancy process is a lot like life in England itself – on the surface it’s lovely and polite and no one wants to be the one to tell you things you don’t want to hear. Oh, and there’s lots of alcohol. But because of that it’s also inefficient, frustrating, and bureaucratic. And in our office – because they are replacing all of us with one home-based correspondent (a job I think I’d need a lobotomy to consider applying for) – it has turned into Lord of the Flies. Every man for himself. You know the world has gone a bit topsy-turvy when you walk into your boss’s office and he quickly flicks up a computer game screen to hide the fact that he is doing actual work because he doesn’t want you to know he is desperate for said job.


I just want someone to give me a leaving date already. Would that be so much to ask?

* * *

This week I went to see my binge eating counselor and he told me I looked like I was still losing weight.
I’m not. I was at 150 for about 3 seconds, and now seem to be hanging out around 153-154, although that was before I went and consumed mince pies, brandy butter and brandy cream last night. And it’s only Dec. 10. Be afraid, be very afraid. I am.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

The Next Right Thing

“You seem so OK with this, Beth,” a soon-to-be-former-colleague said to me yesterday on the phone.

I said something chirpy about how all the resisting in the world wasn’t going to make the company say, “You know what – you’re right. We messed up. We really desperately need you all.” I said that the sooner I got in with things, the better.

And I think I mean it.

Meanwhile, the atmosphere here is midway between a party and a wake (although isn’t a wake midway between a party and a funeral? I guess that’s what I mean). Colleagues are constantly popping out for a glass of wine – at 3 in the afternoon. We make jokes about what might happen to various celebrities in the next few weeks, and how it is totally not our problem. I am cheerily announcing to colleagues that I’ve suddenly started wearing my best work clothes and highest heels because pretty soon I’m going to be working in my pajamas. (I’ve always joked that I wanted to be one of those little old ladies who went to the grocery store in a tiara. But do you think I’ll become a thirtysomething who wears her red carpet gowns to the corner shop because I’ve got nowhere else to go?)

I know my life is about to change drastically, and I can see it so many little things. Designer sample sales? Haven’t got money and don’t need any more clothes. (Though I’m slightly tempted because I probably won’t get invited ever again.) Morning tube crush? Not any more. Pilates classes? Hmmm, going to have to ration them out... This morning I eyed the £1 bottles of cherry diet Coke I buy – usually in twos and threes – and thought yet again that it’s a habit I really ought to give up, for financial if not health reasons. And on Sunday, a friend and I debated meeting up but decided it was absolutely impossible to do so without spending money (she gets paid this week). Who wants to look in shops or markets when you can’t buy anything, and even if we get a tea we have to factor in the travel costs from our respective homes. (I didn’t point out that pretty soon I won’t be happy to gab on and on on my mobile because I – as opposed to my company – will be paying the bill.)

These are just small things, I know – but they’re a sign of what’s to come.

I can make loads of jokes, but the truth is, I’m scared.

Years ago, when my life was in a state of chaos and upheaval of a degree only slightly less than this, I cried to a very wise friend: “What am I going to do?”

“Do the next right thing,” she replied.

I love that answer. Sometimes the next right thing is just making sure I have a proper lunch, or that I've gotten enough sleep. Sometimes it's tackling a banking problem that's been bugging me for the past five months. Other times it is actual work. Whatever it is, it is progress of some kind, on some front.

Do the next right thing? I'm trying. I'm trying.

* * *

Weight this morning: 152 1/2

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Terms: Indefinite

So I got my indefinite leave to remain, but not without a six-hour struggle. A friend pointed out that it was lucky I hadn't hired a lawyer, because no lawyer would have cared about my case as much as I did. Basically, I hit them with as much paper (evidence) as I possibly could, and I used the journalist tactic of not taking no for an answer.

Why was I so desperate? Partly the fear of losing £950 (you have to pay up whether your application is accepted or rejected), but mostly the fear of losing my job -- and with it my right to remain in the UK, not to mention my eligibility for residency. For the past year or two, I've hung on to a job I haven't loved partly because I needed five years continuous on a work permit to qualify for residency.

After I escaped Croydon with the residence permit safely in my passport, I went home and cracked open the Krug and stared repeatedly at the sticker. Terms: Indefinite. I can work for whoever I want, and stay here as long as I want (unless I commit a crime, and I don't think they mean crime of fashion...)

I have never been very organized, and I blame this partly on binge eating. Everything is either a very immediate need -- so desperate, so overwhelming -- or just too much bother (especially when you're stuffed or just self-loathing). Which is why I can't help congratulating myself especially heartily for having been organized on the indefinite leave to remain front. I've had a lot going on, and yet I still was organized enough to take the test, book the appointment, and collect the necessary documents without a last-minute scramble. Yes, loads of people manage to do this sort of thing without feeling the need to congratulate themselves for it, but for me, when life seems overwhelming (which it does at the moment), I want to burrow into a mountain of pasta and hide, not organize bank statements and dig out my mother's death certificate to explain a 20-day absence from the UK right after my work permit was granted.

It's also a good thing I was so organized because today my company announced what I have been predicting for several months: That they are closing their foreign office and we are all losing our jobs. If I first had to call Croydon to set up an appointment now, I'd be out of luck -- I'd have to wait until January, by which point I'd be out of a job and ineligible.

I've been planning to leave for months, and now it looks like I'm going to be paid to do so (redundancy pay). But I still teared up a bit when I heard the news today. I guess it's one thing to think something is going to happen, and another to find out it certainly is.

And as I said to my grandmother, although I've been increasingly miserable in the job -- and feeling quite taken advantage of -- doing the residency application (which requires you to list all absences in and out of the country) reminded me of just how great things were at one point. What other job would have sent me -- in the same year -- to Afghanistan and then to a rapper's yacht in St. Tropez? I guess the danger is that I get so nostalgic and grateful for the experiences I had that I'm totally unable to negotiate...

In the middle of all this, I hit 100 days binge free -- and 80 pounds lost (weight this morning was 153). I expect this month -- and probably the few after it -- to be difficult, but I'm hoping to remember that eating doesn't solve any problem besides actual physical hunger.

Monday, 10 November 2008

The Last Vestiges

Just a quick one, as I am freaking out about my appointment in Croydon tomorrow for indefinite leave to remain in the UK (aka residency) – and about the impending layoffs at my company. I’ll freak out less about the latter if I am awarded the former, let’s put it that way.
Yesterday morning after breakfast I volunteered to go to the corner shop for a few items we needed. We were going out later and could have gotten them together, but for some reason it seemed really important to me that I go out – alone – and purchase them.

When I left the house I felt this great rush of joy and anticipation. I walked down the street wondering why, and then it hit me: It’s a vestigial bingeing behavior. It’s still absolutely automatic for me to grab any legitimate excuse to leave the house and go off on my own to a shop.

I felt a strange rush of emotion at this realization – part sadness, part pride, part relief. At the shop I bought the items we needed – plus a single 35g bar of Green & Black’s for me for later. I still haven’t eaten it yet.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Gimme Gimme Gimme

Earlier this week I attended some fashion press days, which are like attending one excruciatingly boring cocktail party after another without even the promise of a cute boy (or a friend you haven’t seen in a while) eventually turning up. You check out the samples of the brand’s new line (in this case, spring/summer ’09), and make polite conversation about its inspiration, detailing, or anything else you can think of that conveys how totally omigod totally fabulous (did you hear me? Fabulous!) you think it is. talk vaguely about how you really must meet said PR for lunch one of these days. Oh yes, definitely. (How about the fourth of Never, about 6 pm?)

And then, if you’re lucky, you get a goodie bag for your efforts. (More often than not, the goodie bag is nothing to write home about – I’ve deliberately left mine on the Tube before – but sometimes it’s nice, like the summer cashmere tank top I once got from Pringle. Never mind that the moths got to it before I did…)

Even down nearly 80 pounds, I still feel hugely uncomfortable around PRs and fashion journalists. I feel like a fraud. I feel like they’re looking at me and thinking: What is this fat girl doing writing about fashion? (Much like making a fat joke before anyone else can make one first, I feel the need to insert at the earliest possible opportunity that I write about fashion, but it’s not prescriptive…) I also feel like the PRs are thinking: There is no way she will fit into any of this.

So imagine my delight when a PR sized me up and checked tags on the goodie bags. When I got outside (it’s poor form to check out your loot until you’re safely out of view) I checked the tag myself: size small!

My mind being what it is, I promptly managed to dismiss this as: Oh, the sizes were probably small, XS, XXS, and XXXS. (I know, I know…)

But then at the next shop I got the PR full-body size-up and the checking for the proper bag. And when I got outside, I checked the tag: size small.

* * *

Today at lunch I found myself unreasonably excited by the Godzilla-sized potatoes. For background, I should explain that there are days where I have specifically chosen not to have my baked potato/cottage cheese/apple (a staple lunch for me – though sometimes I add a hardboiled egg or two) because the potatoes were just too tiny, and I cannot be bothered to figure out what would be an appropriate addition to round out the meal.

Actually, I shouldn’t say I can’t be bothered. I should say I am still too scared. I don’t do well with too much choice, and to walk around the cafeteria weighing and measuring and calculating in my mind – well, it usually ends up nowhere good. (I’m slowly branching out, but the key word is slowly. I like foods I feel safe eating, and I do enough restaurant eating where I have to weigh and measure and figure that I figure I’m justified in having some “safe” meals when I can.)

But anyway – the potatoes today. Huge. I’m talking the Potato That Ate Manhattan. So big I’m sure they would elicit a comment if someone else saw me eating one – and so big I’d quite possibly be embarrassed to be caught eating one. Definitely the sort that nearly 80 pounds ago, I would have eaten awfully quickly lest I be caught.

I took a huge potato (it was in the front – I didn’t even have to hunt for it) and thought about how ridiculously, unreasonably happy I was about its size – about the thought of a lot of food and, quite possibly, the thought of feeling very, very full. And how happy I was about what seemed like a legitimate cheat – hey, my lunch is supposed to be a potato, but nobody specified the size.

And then I thought: Who am I cheating? (Yes, really.) And I thought about the chain of thoughts a hugely oversize potato would set off in my head.

When I got back to my office, I cut off a small chunk of the damned potato and threw it in the bin.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

What a Long, Strange Trip It's Been

I’ve been a little lax on the cardio front lately, and today seemed destined to be one of those days where no matter how much I push at various commitments in an effort to squeeze out some time, nothing gives an inch.

And then I had a flash of inspiration: Why not run to the dentist’s office and back?

It was slightly embarrassing turning up at the dentist’s a bit sweaty, but hey, loads of people cycle in London, and at least I’d brushed my teeth. Total cardio notched up: A half hour. And not only did I have no cavities (I have the world’s worst teeth), the dentist said to me approvingly: “You don’t eat much sugar, do you?”

Um, except for my twice daily (trying to cut it down to once daily) chocolate snacks. But hey, I guess the brushing and flossing is paying off.

* * *

Yesterday – for the first time -- I wore a skirt that doesn’t fit if I gain so much as a quarter of a pound. Yes, it is a frivolous purchase, but would you pass up a £1,500 skirt (no, special magic powers are not included at that price) you found for £75 at a sample sale? I thought not.

The World’s Most Hideously Overpriced Skirt is dove gray, ruched and knee length – and totally impossible to walk in. I’m not kidding. I had to use the elevator at work to go three floors up, something I never do, lest I rip the skirt trying to get a foot up on the stair. And as I stood there in the elevator I couldn’t help thinking how ironic it was that I have to be at my thinnest to wear the damn skirt, yet its design prevents me from doing anything to maintain that weight.

And when I checked myself out in the elevator’s mirror (because let’s face it, everyone does) I decided the skirt’s ruching actually made me look fat.

* * *

It's been nearly two years since I started losing weight (well, this time around), and still I can't stop noting all the ways life has changed.

Here's another one, courtesy of Tuesday night’s Kaiser Chiefs show: I was jumping up and down (grateful that I was light enough -- and fit enough -- to do this without breaking into a major sweat) and landed squarely on some poor guy's foot. Instead of groaning, saying something nasty and/or rolling his eyes at his (male) friend, he smiled at me. (I was so flustered and surprised I nearly forgot to apologize.)

I feel like I'm getting boring in all of my gratitude. I wouldn't say I used to radiate negativity, but I'm definitely Ms Glass is Half Empty, and I've been known to be awfully critical of myself (not to mention other people). It's a strange, strange feeling to be so pleased with myself and the changes I've made -- and yet at the same time feel like (actually, be quite sure) they can be undone in a weekend.

It's been more than 70 days since I've binged now, and day by day I feel stronger. Except -- paradoxically -- on days when I don't. There are still days when all I want to do is toast half a loaf of bread and cover it in butter and eat it, one slice after another, without stopping. (And I never even used to eat toast, weirdly enough.) There are still days where I feel like all I do is wait until my next chance to eat again.

I wish I could take comfort on those days in knowing that the wheel will turn – that the feeling of needing to eat, to stuff myself will pass. That it will fade – actually will just suddenly turn -- into happy, at-peace days where I think: I can live like this. I can live with eating the way I currently do. On days when I’m at peace with food, I can’t imagine why I would want to live any other way. Life may not be worth living without my yellow cake with icing and my macaroni and cheese and my biscuits (the American variety) and my butter and my food in general, but at the same time, nor is any food in the world worth setting off the downward spiral of “I need more of that in huge quantities rightthisverysecond” or “I ate way too much” or “I haven’t heard a single thing anyone’s said all evening because all I can think is ‘how can I sneak more?’” But where is the balance between the two?

Friday, 10 October 2008

Becky, Look at Her Butt

Even at my heaviest, I never thought much about the size of my butt in particular. I guess I was always so busy worrying about how big I was in general, or about my stomach or my arms in particular. Basically, I guess I was more worried about the parts of my body I couldn’t help seeing every day to spend too much time thinking about the rear view. (Plus, I never did – and still don’t – understand what makes a butt great. Really. It can’t purely be size, or is it just that so many women think theirs is out of proportion to the rest of their figure?)

I remember a few years ago, after a (temporarily) successful weight loss attempt, my best friend came to visit me in London. She started to follow me up the stairs to my flat, then stopped and said: “Your butt is the size of a small child’s.”

I was so stunned that for a moment I wondered if that was a compliment. Once I figured out that it was, I paused for a moment to consider that any part of my body would not only not be hugely fat, but actually would be worthy of complimenting. And that was about the last thought I gave my butt. It was 2005.

I put on weight. And then I lost it all plus more, and here I’ve stayed for, well, longer than I ever have before.

And suddenly in the past couple of weeks:

“You’ve got a great butt now. Now you just have to maintain it.” (my Pilates teacher – male, I might add)

“I heard your voice outside and then I saw your butt first, and I thought, ‘Wow, it looks amazing.’ What has she been doing?” (friend I haven’t seen for a few months)

“I don’t usually recommend this style, but you’ve got the butt to pull it off.” (bathing suit designer friend, recommending – you guessed it – bathing suit styles)

I have to say, my butt doesn’t look any different to me than it ever has. And I’m not complaining, believe me, but it is just my luck to have perhaps my best body part be one that isn’t exactly easy to display. I’ll know this has all gotten to my head if I start entering rooms backwards…

(No, I can’t believe I’m posting this either.)

Monday, 6 October 2008

It's Called Gratitude, That's Right

Apologies for the radio silence. I’ve been pretending to study for my UK citizenship test (memorizing population figures and saints’ days and the difference between an EU directive and an EU regulation, oh yay) and in full-on Justify My Existence mode at work. (Foreign bureaus are expensive to run, and most publications have cut theirs. I’m hoping mine won’t be next.) I’ve also been in social overdrive, catching up with friends I haven’t seen – thanks to my travel schedule – since August.

So: Stressed and busy, but also (mostly) happy and grateful. Grateful? Yes, grateful. Lately every day seems to bring a moment of gratitude that I’m not overweight anymore. My life isn’t any easier now that I’ve lost weight – in fact, it’s even created some problems – but so many things are less stressful.

For example: This past weekend I was invited to a fancy dress party (British for costume). I had to get a costume at the last minute and all I could think was: This would have been impossible at my previous weight – or at least, it would have been pretty bloody unlikely not to have involved tears of frustration. But I hopped on the internet, picked a few options to be shipped next day (included a couple of “one size fits all, but oh yeah, when we say ‘all’ we mean ‘up to a UK 10’”), and could be about 99 percent confident that at least one would fit and look OK.

Or: When the weather turned arctic suddenly last week, I could pull out last winter’s coat and know that it would fit.

Or: Checking out options for riding lessons in London with a friend, I noted on the web site that the weight limit is 14 and a half stone (about 200 pounds). It’s unlikely I can afford riding lessons, but at least that’s actually true – not the excuse I would no doubt have used when overweight because I’d have been too embarrassed to say the real reason.

Or: Having drinks Saturday with a friend of a friend, she mentioned she’d lost 26 pounds. When I asked how, she said: “Starving. It’s the only way.” Except it’s not. I watched her skip breakfast the next morning and thought: I am so grateful I don’t have to do that. And that I don’t wake up every morning, as I used to, tired and lethargic from the previous night’s binge or just overindulgence and think: I must do something about losing weight today.

I hope the novelty of being thinner – of constantly noticing how it affects my life – never wears off.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Fashion Math

I did the math and realized the very fitted autumn/winter top I plucked from my closet in a hurry today is one I bought a year ago. It makes me happy just to think about that (and not just because a fund I invested a lot of money in went bust...)

It’s a seriously novel feeling – pulling out things I haven’t worn for months and being quite sure they’ll fit. I’m not sure I’ve ever had this feeling – I can’t remember a time when I stayed approximately the same size for a year. I’m always in the middle of a gain cycle or the middle of a lose cycle – neither of which are conducive to a closet of things to wear (that actually fit). Equally novel: The idea that I could actually do that thing I’ve been reading about in fashion magazines all my life, which is to buy a couple of accessories to update my wardrobe. (Let me stress that I could do this, but I probably won’t. I’m not that organized, I’m fairly indecisive, and, erm, see “investment funds went bust,” as above.)

The little boost I’m getting every time I catch sight of my top is particularly nice because I need it so badly: Some, erm, emotional turmoil combined with the onset of the gray English autumn has made me crave carbs carbs carbs – I think I’m stealing this phrase from Wendy, but basically, if I could crawl inside a loaf of white bread, I’d be delighted. If there were pasta there, too, I’d think it was nirvana. It’s more difficult than usual to get out of bed and exercise in the mornings. I haven’t been to yoga for ages both because our new deadline schedule makes it impossible and because I’ve been having to do a rethink of my previous any-money-spent-on-exercise-is-totally-justified policy. I haven’t felt much like running, although – partially inspired by Jess – I’ve been back at it and even signed up for the Paris half marathon in March. (No, I’m not sure what I was thinking.) I know my goal should be just to finish, but secretly, I’d really like to finish in less than 2:10. Need to get with the program – or really, a program – and get training…

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Filled Up

Last night the unthinkable happened.

I was served a plate of a Persian stew I’d ordered and thought: Wow, that is an enormous amount of food. So far, so what, right?

And then I thought: I can’t possibly eat all that.

Not: I shouldn’t eat all that (although I thought that too), but There is no freakin’ way my stomach will hold all of that.

I divided the plate in half – and ate ¾ of the half. And didn’t think about it any more.

* * *

It’s been 39 days since I’ve binged – what I think is the longest I’ve gone this calendar year, and just may be the longest I’ve gone in a year, full stop. When I went to see my binge-eating therapist yesterday, he commented on how much more hopeful I looked. And that’s exactly how I feel.

In Spain on Monday I rode a horse through the Andalucian countryside at sunset -- an absolutely gorgeous two-hour paseo on a white Portuguese horse called Companera. Due to circumstances beyond our control, we didn't end up getting a booking until the last minute, at just after 8 p.m., and had no time to eat dinner. It was 10:30 pm before my friend and I were at a restaurant looking at menus.

"I thought I'd be starving by now," I said.

"You were filled up with what you were doing," she answered.

Weight today: 11 stone 5 (159 lbs).

* * *

What? What’s that you say? You say today is Saturday? (Why is it that I still remember Shel Silverstein poems I read 20 years ago?)

Let’s try this again. What’s that you say? You say you want to hear about Bachelor No. 2?

Hmmm, that doesn’t rhyme so well. I’m sure I could turn that into some sort of tortured metaphor for how he fits into my life, but, erm, I won’t.

Let’s just say there is still some unfinished business there. After some crazy-girl behavior on my part in Venice – and it was, undeniably, crazy girl behavior, no matter how much I blame his crazy boy behavior for it – I thought things would be game over.

Nope. In fact, he turned into Superpossessive Boy while I was away in Spain for 10 days (where I was until yesterday), saying my lack of contact was making him paranoid. Um, hello. Welcome to my world, I felt like saying. But didn’t.

I am picking my way through this slowly. I’m angry – and at the same time, I can find humor in my situation. I think both of these are good things.

I know I’ve been quite vague about what’s going on, and that’s partly been because I’ve been traveling (Venice, Miami, Malaga, Carratraca, Arcos, Seville), partly because it seems to change more times in a day than either San Francisco’s or London’s weather, and partly because I’ve been very busy. Some day I’ll get this all on paper (but I'm afraid it isn't going to be today -- and probably not tomorrow, either.)

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Down the Rabbit Hole

You know you're in some kind of alternate universe when one of the other women your boyfriend is dating/trying to sleep with texts you to tell you that she's Googled you and that you sound lovely and way too good for him and that you need to promise to leave him.

And then two days later attributes various missed calls and things to you, accuses you of harassing her and calls boyfriend to complain about it.

Curious, much?

Updates to come. In the meantime, I haven't binged in 24 days -- 24 days that have included the Venice Film Festival, Miami (mega family time), and some major major BN2 drama (but you probably guessed that last bit).

Stay tuned...

Monday, 25 August 2008

Waking Up

After so many months of wishing and hoping and compromising and waiting for BN2 to want to go exclusive, I no longer think that’s what I want. It’s like chasing a diamond and suddenly realizing it’s a rhinestone (or, so as not to date myself so badly, a Swarovski crystal). It’s also very liberating – and very scary.

The problem is no longer other women – or really, the major problem is not just other women. I don’t want to be treated like this anymore. I don’t want to be talked to like this – told about my “B minus” conversation (yes, really), and asked “What did you add to this weekend?” I don’t want to be told that what I’m feeling is “unjustified” or “counterintuitive” – or told that I’m not allowed to feel hurt by his (often harsh) criticism. In the past two weeks the rage and indignation have bubbled to the surface, demanding to be acknowledged. I’m almost relishing the anger. It’s a sign that I have woken up out of this crazy trance where I end up apologizing for the fact that he’s treating me like crap.

It’s terribly embarrassing to admit that I’ve allowed this to happen. In the past two weeks I’ve had two old friends visit, and – because of the black hole I’ve been in for months (a black hole partly born of my relationship with BN2 – they knew precious little about BN2. I told them both the story from start to finish, alternately cringing and – yes – crying.

Now all that remains is to end this for good, and I’m just trying to determine how and when to do it. It is complicated: he’s coming with me to the Venice film festival tomorrow, and then I’m supposed to stay at his place in the 12 hours between me returning from Venice (he’s coming back to London a day earlier) and heading to Miami. What’s so complicated about that? My ticket to Miami is on his miles – which he gave me way back in April, the last time I was in Miami (and returned from that trip to find earrings on the nightstand that weren’t mine, but never mind about that). I think that – given enough time (and on miles tickets it doesn’t take much) -- he’d be just vindictive enough to cancel the ticket, and I absolutely have got to be there for my grandmother’s 90th birthday. (I know, I know – this is all very mercenary. But sort of necessary at this point. The flights at the times I need are over a thousand pounds. I wouldn’t say this plane ticket is the only thing I got out of these eight months – that’s unfair – but…)

So… possible options include: On his last morning in Venice (probably unwise for plane ticket purposes), in the morning when I leave for Miami (just seems wrong), or by phone when I’m in Miami (I’ve long considered not doing it in person, since I’ve been unsuccessful with that on two previous attempts). A friend suggested I send an email – since every time I speak to him he seems capable of Jedi mind tricks (see “I apologize for the fact that he treats me like crap,” above) and then follow it up with a phone call.

I just want this – all of this, post-breakup pain included – to be over. Earlier today I was checking one of my email accounts and deleting a couple of messages from him, thinking: If I don’t I’ll see these after we break up and I’ll be pained by them. The trouble is, I think everything is going to pain me for a while. More or less than being with him? I don’t know. I guess I just have to close my eyes and jump already.

* * *

In spite of, erm, the weight of all this, I’m doing OK with the weight.

I haven’t binged in 15 days. In fact, today – should all go according to plan – should be 16, one day more than my previous attempt (which ended in sausages and chocolate in France). If I can make it past 35 days, that will be more than I have managed this year. But between Venice and Miami – and what I wrote above – it isn’t going to be easy.

Weight: I have no idea. A few days ago it was 11 stone 13. I can live with that.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Still Fighting It

“So how’s l’escapee?” my friend O. said the day after I returned from France.

“If I told you I’ve never eaten so much sausage in my life, that would sound kind of bad, wouldn’t it?” I said.

O. laughed. He knows my host in France – an artist who likes to get off, as they so charmingly say in England, with the models (women he sees naked every day). O. also knows that S. discovers one food he likes and finds easy to cook – in this case, sausages – and makes it endlessly.

And I ate them endlessly – along with bread and 200g (yes, 200 g) bars of chocolate. And I don’t even like sausages. And the bread wasn’t great fresh-baked French bread from some Loire boulangerie. (At least the bars of chocolate were French.)

Honestly, I almost could have forgiven myself if I were bingeing on amazing pain au raisin and patisserie. (Loads of people eat their way across France – I certainly wouldn’t have been the first.) But that’s how bingeing is – what you’re eating is almost besides the point. I can – and did – binge on the 90-calorie fig cereal bars I’d bought in the 8 a Huit grocery store to prevent myself from getting too hungry between meals. I reached what felt like new lows, lying about having left my handbag upstairs so I could run up and grab a few more squares of chocolate.

I haven’t binged consecutively for so many days in years. And each morning I’d wake up with a too-full stomach and the dread of getting dressed, because each day there were fewer and fewer clothes I wanted to wear, mostly because I feared whether they’d fit and didn’t want to try them on to find out for sure. I took my belt off going through airport security and couldn’t face putting it back on. I literally feared my jeans would split. (You laugh, but it happened to me once, when years ago I stuffed myself – erm, sausage-like – into jeans I couldn’t admit no longer fit. I plunked myself into the back seat of the car and rrrippp. One of the worst sounds I’ve ever heard.)

Why did I binge? For so many reasons, some of which I’m still facing up to myself:

--a relationship that needs ending so badly that the psychiatrist I went to Wednesday (the one who told me six weeks ago I was depressed with good reason) spent the entire 40-minute session telling me to dump him.

--because I’d felt hungry the whole day I traveled, and had been fighting the urge to overeat all day. I’d felt grumpy and resentful watching people eating 3-course lunches while I struggled to be healthy. And by 9.30 p.m., when the first sausages were served, I was incredibly hungry and tired of fighting.

Honestly, tired of fighting really sums it up on so many levels. Tired of fighting to eat appropriate things at an appropriate time. Tired of fighting to get out of bed and exercise because I know I won’t do it later in the day. Tired of fighting… well, tired of fighting a lot of things I’m not ready to write about yet (see “still facing up to myself.”)

* * *

BN2 always used to berate me for planning to fail, as he put it. This time, I’m glad I did.

I had 15 binge-free days behind me when I went to France. I had packets of oatmeal and cereal bars. I had optimism (hello, France? When one is trying to recover from binge eating? That’s like going to a wine-tasting in the early days of giving up alcohol). But I guess I know myself better than I give myself credit for.

Before I left for France I booked my favorite Pilates class for the day after I got back to London. You can’t do Pilates on a full stomach, and so I had to get straight back into my healthy eating routine. And I have. It’s been five days now.

I guess I’m back in the ring again.

* * *

I debated not writing weights until I had something better to post, but that’s, um, so not the point of this, isn’t it?

I couldn’t face the scale for a couple of days, then got 12 stone 8 (yikes! Highest weight in a year!) on Tuesday, I think it was. Yesterday was something like 12 stone 4.5. I’m hoping when the dust settles and the binge bloat goes the numbers will seem slightly more manageable.

Part of me would like to spend this weekend eating carefully prepared and measured meals, but that’s not an option. As luck would have it, Friend Bearing Chocolate is back from her job in Asia for a few days and we’re meeting up. I’m looking forward to seeing her, of course, but a little anxious about the food just the same. She’s craving tapas. Eeek. Maybe I won’t even be able to look at the chorizo? One can hope.

Friday, 1 August 2008

What Goes Up Must Come Down

It’s been 12 days since I’ve binged and the difference – how I look (or how I think I look) and how I feel – is marked.

I feel more in control. I feel thinner. I am thinner (weight two days ago: 11 stone 11, or 165.) It’s 9 pounds above my lowest weight ever, which sounds like a manageable amount to lose. It’s certainly a lot more manageable than the 19 I was thinking about when I saw that 12 stone 7 a week and a half ago. (19! That’s nearly 20! I was thinking).

It hasn’t been an easy time to get a handle on my food. Besides the attempted breakup and its fallout, there’s been a slew of long work-related restaurant lunches -- a challenge even when I’m feeling at my strongest. Oh – and a cold and its fallout, which has meant very little exercise.

Oh -- and I’m off on Monday to a remote chateau in the Loire Valley.

“It’ll be stress-free,” says a friend gleefully. Well, not exactly, when you consider that most people go to France for the food. My goal is to get some exercise (apparently there’s a running trail) and not to binge. Wish me luck.

In the meantime, I’m off this afternoon to see a nutritionist. Yes, a nutritionist. I realized recently that although I feel like this is a subject about which I know a lot – and which friends come to me for advice – I’m at a loss when it comes to applying my knowledge to myself. My body has changed a lot in recent years – what should I be putting in it, and (the million dollar question) how much?

Friday, 25 July 2008

Breaking Up Is Hard to Do

So I tried.

A couple of weeks ago, I removed my grandmother’s ring from his safe. Last weekend, a visiting friend helped me take home a suitcase of clothes that’s been sitting there for a couple of months. (It’s a lot of Cannes ball gowns – not clothes I wear on a regular basis.)

I had quiet tears running down my face on the Tube, just looking at the suitcase and dreading the conversation I knew we needed to have, and dreading the weeks ahead, when I knew all kinds of small things would pain me. Everything would remind me of him, I knew.

And on Monday afternoon on the phone, just after spending the day in court with Amy Wino’s husband, and just before the Leicester Square Batman premiere, I blurted out the words I’ve been thinking for days:

I know you don’t want an exclusive relationship. But I do. And this isn’t enough any more.

There was silence on the other end of the phone. Finally he said, “Can we at least talk through this in person?”

He is a trained military interrogator. Um, no.

I don’t think you can talk through a feeling. This is hurting me. I can’t live like this any more. Remember that coffee we had on our third date? I told you then that I’d reach a point when you seeing other people wouldn’t be okay anymore, and I am long past that point. I’ve tried and tried to be okay with it, but I can’t anymore. I’ve been thinking about this for weeks and avoiding it because I don’t want to do it. But you being with other people hurts me so much that I have to.

I had tears running down my face at this point, and I ducked into a corner alleyway just off Leicester Square, wishing there was a THE PAIN STOPS HERE button, like my friend Laura and I used to joke about in elementary school.

"I need to see you," he said. And I believed him, because I wanted to.

So he cancelled his date – yes, his date – and I did my red carpet interviews and skipped the film.

And we met up outside St. Martin in the Fields and I cried when I saw him. And we went to a restaurant in Chinatown and talked about my interview with Christi@n B@le and the video he’d edited that day and finally he said: “I’m not going to be the one to start this.”

And so I did. And so we talked. And talked. And he asked me if this was something I wanted to do when I was struggling with my health (he knows about the binges, even if he doesn't understand them), and I tried to explain -- gently -- that this pain and this uncertainty and how this relationship was making me feel about myself was if not causing than certainly making the bingeing problem worse. And making it hard for me to recover.

And we talked some more and didn’t resolve anything. (Except what is there to resolve? He wants to sleep with other people and have me waiting for him, and I don’t want to.) And somehow we left and weren’t broken up.

And then we talked about it again on Tuesday, the same old stuff we’ve talked about before. And he talked about how badly he’s been hurt and then he looked at me and said: “I think I might be in love with you.”

And I felt like screaming.

I felt like screaming: “You tell me you think you might be in love with me and suddenly I’m supposed to be okay with everything?”

But we were in an empty cocktail bar in Covent Garden, and I couldn’t. And he asked me what I wanted – something he’s never asked me. And – because I have nothing to lose – I said: I don’t want to be with someone I can live with. I want to be with someone I can’t live without. And I want to be with someone who feels the same way about me. And I want to get married – not next week or even next year or even necessarily to you. But it’s something I want.

And there it was. Things I’ve never said aloud.

He told me how – for him – “I love you” was a huge deal. “I’m not 17 and I don’t say it lightly. For me it’s not a big jump from ‘I love you’ to engagement to marriage.”

I was worn out and didn’t feel like pointing out that he hadn’t said he loved me – only that he thought he might. (Wasn’t he saying the same thing in May, at his parents’ house? How if it was 10 years ago he’d probably be saying he loved me?) I didn’t point out that he might never stop thinking it and start feeling it, the same way he might never decide that he’d gotten everything out of his system (his way of referring to his, erm, extracurricular activities). I didn’t point out that if he actually did love me, he wouldn’t want to hurt me as badly as he is.

Before I could decide what to say, he said: “I need to switch off.” Code words for: Enough is enough. So again, we didn’t finish.

Stay tuned.

* * *

Oh, right. This is also a weight loss blog, isn’t it?

Hmmm, let’s see. I’m 12 stone 3 (171 lbs) as of this morning. I saw 12 stone 7 Monday after a weekend of heavy eating, so I’m actually OK with this. Current goal is to get under 12 stone – and, more importantly, not to binge. I haven’t since Saturday. Am off to a reception and a friend’s birthday drinks (though no alcohol for me – going dry for a few weeks) so more on this later…

Also looking for a good half marathon to do since apparently you have to fundraise for the Royal Parks one, and I absolutely loathe asking people for money.

Monday, 14 July 2008

Coming Out of the Dark

I’ve never read William Styron’s Darkness Visible, but I know enough about it to know I ought not try to top his descriptions of depression.

Anyway, depression -- mine, anyway – makes everything seem too difficult. Putting a dish in the sink (never mind doing the dishes), writing a blog post, changing a meeting time, returning a phone call? Too much effort. (Eating, however, is not too much effort.)

“You are depressed,” the cheerful round British psychiatrist told me last week after my 40-minute assessment. “And not without good reason.”

Um, thanks. I tried not to laugh when he made this pronouncement. Not without good reason? Why not just say, “Wow, your life sounds really shitty these days.” I love the English.

After my diagnosis, I then got to listen to him dictate a letter about me to the doctor he’d like me to see. (At the same hospital that treated Amy Wino earlier this year, of all places. “Same unit,” he told me, also cheerfully, when I mentioned it.) Tearful. Sighed frequently during our interview. Still hasn’t fully processed her mother’s death. Was treated successfully for binge eating at the Russell Unit last year but has relapsed recently. Has gained a significant bit of weight. She’s having trouble with her boyfriend – she says she feels bullied by him. For the record, the doctor also said I was lovely, bright and charming. I had to wonder if that’s just because I was listening.

Depressed? I’m depressed? I found myself slightly stunned by the diagnosis. I knew things weren’t right, but depressed? It makes perfect sense; I just hadn’t thought of it – or admitted it.

I’ve found myself slightly more prone to tears than usual in the past couple of months, but it wasn’t until this pronouncement that the floodgates opened. I cried more times in the 24 hours immediately following than I ever have in a day in my life. Not big snuffling sobs (well, no more than a couple), just a lot of quiet tears I couldn’t seem to stop.

I don’t see the second doctor until tomorrow. But this week I’ve managed to get in five cardio workouts (I’ve never stopped exercising, but my cardio has gotten rather sporadic), remove a ring I had stowed in BN2’s safe (call it baby steps toward removing him from my life – given how steamrollered I feel when I argue with him, and how angry he can become, I don’t want to be trying to get it back after the fact), and take some positive steps about controlling my eating. I was perfect during the week, but ate too much Saturday and Sunday. Saturday I had what my old therapist called a subjective binge – six biscuits, stuffed down my gob when nobody was looking. Sunday I had seconds on ice cream and later that night, at a minimart, plunked down a KitKat and a Snickers flapjack next to my tampons on the counter. I looked back at the candy bar selection in the shop, debating replacing or adding to my stash. Then I thought: “What the hell am I doing?,” put the Kit Kat and the flapjack back, and bought a diet Coke instead.

Weight on Thursday was 11 stone 13 ¾, but presumably has gone up since then. Sigh.

Friday, 27 June 2008

The First Cut is the Deepest, But the Rest Still Hurt Plenty

Yesterday BN2 was on a day-long sales trip in the West Country and sent several sweet texts. He said he’d be home close to midnight, and would ring me then.

About 11:30 p.m., I idly checked his profile, which I do from time to time. He was online. He was still online a half hour later.

I want to be with somebody who wants to call me first -- not after he checks out his options on and gets round to it. (Actually, I don't want to be with anybody who's constantly checking out his other options at all.) Tosser. I sent him a text saying I was falling asleep (not a lie, but frankly annoyed at thought of losing further sleep while he was on the pull online) and that I’d speak with him today.

Sigh. I know. I know.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

The Musical Fruit

Note to self: Do not eat beans for lunch on days you plan to do yoga.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Belly up to the Barre

And so Monday night -- while BN2 was on a date (yes, thought I'd casually drop that in there) -- I tried ballet again.

Different class, at a proper dance studio instead of a gym. I was definitely the heaviest girl there, although the teacher (a guy with dreadlocks) appeared to have a bit of a tummy (and builders' crack, but never mind about that). He was still unbelievably graceful.

The class was clearly "proper" ballet. The instructions were all in balletese (port de bras, demi plie, ronde de jambe) and his corrections all had to do with how we'd need the muscles to work when we were dancing in the center of the room, away from the barre.

But the class wasn't especially difficult or strenuous -- only frustrating. The instructions came very quickly, and were predicated on a knowledge of various positions and moves, which I may well have had when I was five but certainly don't have now. (First position and second position just about exhausts my knowledge at this point.) By the time we put the barres away and were dancing combinations in the center of the room, I was thoroughly lost. Nor did it help that I didn't have ballet shoes -- pirouettes on bare feet are slightly difficult, not to mention painful.

I'm not sure whether I'd give this class another go. Quite possibly it's irrelevant at this point because it's held at a day and time I'm unlikely to make again for a very long time. Perhaps may try a ballet conditioning class I saw on the timetable, though it may be a while before I can make that one, either...

Scale hopped Monday morning to find myself at 11 stone 13 1/4 and then -- after the bathroom -- 11 13 3/4 (huh? that will teach me to question my results). Was quite pleased to be under the dreaded 12 stone (I weighed in at 12 2 1/4 on Sunday morning) and felt a bit better about everything.

The feeling that the clouds were parting a bit definitely helped me plan for yesterday, which I knew was going to involve dinner with BN2. Usually we just make a Waitrose stirfry, which frankly isn't particularly unhealthy, but nor is it that filling, and I have been hungry hungry hungry for the first couple of days (despite eating fruit by the greengrocers' stall-full.) So Monday night I spent a good half hour or so digging out old Slimming World magazines and recipes, and found a reasonably non-diet-sounding-yet-diet-friendly one: marinated spiced lamb. Made it last night with some roasted vegetables and it was delicious. I did have some red wine but hey, I skipped the rice and -- even better -- despite the fact that the recipe was "free" (meaning I could eat it in unlimited amounts), I managed to stop when full...

Monday, 23 June 2008

Postcard from the Edge

So I put on a stone in a month.

It started with a binge at a ball the night after my birthday, continued through Cannes and Devon and a weekend in Kent and another ball (the worst binge in recent memory) and finally ended – I hope – with a black tie dinner in Cambridge Saturday night, where I sunk so low as to finish someone else’s roll when she wasn’t looking. Really. Could I make this sort of thing up?

Last Wednesday I went to the doctor and asked for a referral back to the eating disorders unit, and tried not to burst into tears when I was told what I already knew: That it will be over a year before I can get treatment. I also called the place that treated me last year to see if they could recommend anyone private – I would happily pay for help at this point, especially if it means I can avoid going back to 233 pounds.

Saturday – sometime between fearing that my dress wouldn’t fit and the binge – I made a decision to do something I’ve been resisting for a couple of weeks now. Yesterday I went back to following Slimming World strictly, and it wasn’t easy. It’s not that I find the diet difficult – it’s not. It’s that having Bachelor No. 2 around provides much temptation – temptation to eat what he’s eating, and not to exercise, and to have a couple of drinks. It’s not that he isn’t supportive – he is. I’m trying to explain and he’s trying to understand, but he doesn’t. Not quite, not yet. Frankly, I’m not sure anyone who hasn’t been through it can understand it – the panic and the fear and the self-loathing and the wish that you could hide or go to work in exercise clothes or anything that would prevent you from having to put on your jeans and discover that they don’t fit. (Mine still do, but just barely.)

This morning I sat in a bakery with Bachelor No. 2, having eaten my healthy breakfast first. (I had tea; he had coffee and pain au chocolat.) I didn’t feel like not allowing myself to eat anything there was punishment – as I told him, I felt like it was something positive I was doing for myself. In a strange way, it feels like a relief.

* * *

In the middle of all this, I haven’t stopped exercising. It hasn’t been quite as frequent as it was, but I’m still running and doing Pilates and yoga and even some cycling. And last week I even had a session with Mad0nna and Gwyn3th’s personal trainer. Honestly, dare I say I thought it would be much harder than it was? The biggest challenge was to my mind – the usual fat girl freakouts about how surely I couldn’t do what I was being told to do (skip and gallop and run sideways on a moving treadmill).

Yesterday, I also started the hundred pushups challenge. (BN2 has decided to do it with me. He used to be quite the athlete – fencing and body building – so I took great pleasure in being able to knock out many more than he could…)

Monday, 2 June 2008

Back on the Wagon

My resolve after posting yesterday lasted all of about, oh, two hours. After consuming a Magnum bar during the Sex and the City movie (and yes, I don't even like Magnum bars that much), I returned to BN2's and had some Somerset brie on crackers. All was not ruined yet, but then I had a mini-binge of some bread and butter and cheese, plus a whole bunch of animal crackers. I did manage to run for 45 minutes, then came home to eat more bread and cheese (plus pate) for dinner. By the time I finished my glass of port, I was already worrying about whether the dress I planned to wear to court this morning would fit. (No, the court date isn't mine -- it's a certain Rehab singer's husband's.)

Today could have been a disaster, but I really dug my heels in in an attempt to turn this around. (For the record, yes, the dress fit, although not as nicely as it used to.) I slept through my alarm for the first time in months and had a mad dash to make it to the court on time (it's an hour and a half away). I grabbed a peanut butter sandwich for breakfast and stowed a snack in my bag for mid-morning. My lunchtime options were limited, but I didn't use that as an excuse to make poor choices. Nor did I give in to the temptation to just give in and start tomorrow when I was absolutely ravenous this afternoon. I even managed to get myself to yoga, and when I realized -- upon arriving at the studio -- that I'd left my wallet home, I convinced them to check my account on their computers.

Feeling slightly better, although shaky. Tomorrow is another long (and boring) day in court, followed by dinner out, so I'll need to be careful.

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Reality Check

And so between my birthday, Cannes, and a few days at BN2’s parents in Devon (where I was fed – against my will, naturally – clotted cream at least once a day), I have put on 8 pounds. Eek!

Actually, “eek” isn’t really the right word, because “eek” implies that I see humor in this. I don’t. I binged twice the week of my birthday, at least twice in Cannes, and once in Devon. And now that I’m finally back in London, some truly challenging crises and a renewed taste for sugar have kept me from returning promptly to the straight and narrow. At least I have been exercising…

I alternate between being terrified of the eight pounds and wishing I were more terrified. (More terrified would mean, for example, that last night I wouldn’t have ordered the steamed pork dumplings along with my braised tofu and vegetables and steamed white rice, justifying that the dumplings were steamed and I was really hungry.) I have plans to be out every night this week (except tomorrow, which I’ve kept free so I can finally go back to yoga), have a big party this weekend, and a ball to attend the weekend after that, so I’m having minor freak outs about how, exactly, I’m going to prevent myself from gaining any more weight, let alone getting these pounds off.

My ever-helpful sister – to whom, in a weak moment yesterday, I confessed my sins – told me she’d tried the Master Cleanse, aka Beyonce’s crazy maple syrup, lemon juice and cayenne pepper diet.

I felt that familiar great rush of delight I used to love when starting a diet – the feeling that maybe, just this once, my problems were about to be solved. I opened my mouth to quiz her about the diet and then said calmly: “You know I can’t do something like that. It will just make me binge.”

“It’s not to lose weight. It’s to get rid of your junk food cravings,” she said.

“Yes, but not eating is going to make me want to binge before I get to that point,” I started to explain, then thought better of it and changed the subject.

* * *

The phrase “a few days at BN2’s parents” may suggest to you – you being normal people who conduct normal relationships, unlike the totally f**ked up one on which I seem to have embarked – that things are going swimmingly with BN2.

Would it explain things a bit – and by “things” I mean the relationship and no doubt some of the bingeing – if I told you that on the first evening at his parents he told me if this were 10 years ago (translation: before his marriage) he’d probably tell me he was in love with me, but he’s not sure he believes in love anymore?

For so many reasons, I need to get out. Because I’m letting him damage my food and exercise routines. Because being with him keeps me from meeting anyone else. Because he may not be ready (ever) for a relationship, but I am, and this is not enough.

I know these things, and yet I am still here, typing this in his office while he works on a court document that is the only reason I didn’t walk out of his life on Thursday morning, just after we returned from Devon. I was ready to go and I’d rehearsed what I was going to say, and then the police arrived. I know there is never a good time to leave someone, but trust me, these past couple of days have really not been the time. (I can’t write about what’s going on just now, but please know that I’m not in any danger.)

How did I get here? How did I become this person who knows perfectly well that this is not what she should be doing yet is doing it anyway? This person who knows perfectly well that if a friend were to come to me in this situation, I would say: “Don’t walk. Run!”

* * *

Friday night I went to a concert with a guy – let’s call him the Reporter (because he is one) – I’ve been out with a few times. He is nice, clever, Jewish and into me – he came all the way across London to bring me a birthday present a couple of weeks ago (and I have to say, honestly, that the one he got was more thoughtful than BN2’s.)

But I don’t fancy him, and it shows. I squeeze him in when I can (yes, that makes me feel guilty), and never regret that every time we meet up it turns out (by accident, not by design) that I have an early morning the next morning. Before Friday, we’d been out at least five times but had never even properly kissed.

On Friday we stood outside my (messy) flat and he kissed me – quite possibly one of the worst kisses since the one I got in sixth grade during some party game I can’t quite remember the name of. “Maybe we could go on a proper date sometime?” he said. To me, it sounded plaintive. Or maybe accusatory.

I deserve it. Another messy situation to sort. Sigh.

Going out for a run.

Friday, 23 May 2008


Text from a fellow reporter last night while I was sitting through the Madonna/Sharon Stone/Mary J Blige Cinema Against AIDS event: "Hope you got what you needed tonight."

I had to resist texting back: "Whatever I got is never enough."

Sad, but true. Anyway, I'm in the middle of the Cannes merry-go-round, which this year has some rollercoaster elements and the usual extreme sleeplessness.

I'm here and hanging in there, despite a couple of binges over the past couple of days. I have been to the gym (hotel doesn't have one, but I found one a few blocks away) every day, and I'm doing what I can and trying not to freak out too much. I know I handled Cannes beautifully last year, but last year I did not have the added elements of 1. being freaked out by amounts eaten and drunk during birthday week (which also included a binge), and 2. the extremely precarious man situation, and 3. a favor I did for a friend coming back to bite me in a monstrously unpredictable and just plain monstrous way, and consequences needing to be dealt with pronto. Oh, and right in the middle of trying to interview Madonna. Sigh.

More to come, hopefully after some sleep. Whenever that might be.

Monday, 28 April 2008

The Seaweed Is Always Greener/ In Somebody Else's Lake

When I kept diaries and then journals growing up, they usually stopped when life got really interesting. Read: Complicated and difficult. Often I found the pain of living through certain things once – and then picking them over endlessly in mind – to be more than enough.

Wednesday morning Bachelor No. 2 picked me up from Heathrow at 7 a.m. Two hours later, back at his flat, I spied a pair of silver earrings sitting on the bedside table – earrings that very definitely were not mine.

It is one thing to know that someone you’re dating might be sleeping with someone else. It is another thing to know it for sure. And it is still another to realize that in fact you have met this woman. In the pub. One one of your first dates. With BN2.

Even then, before this woman had any significance in my life (let alone any sinister significance), she reminded me of nothing so much as Ursula from A Little Mermaid – both in general size and that of her huge, garishly colored lips.

I find it somehow ironic that The Other Woman – or, judging from conversations BN2 and I have had over the past couple of days, One of The Other Women – is significantly larger than I ever was. One of the things I remember best about my brief meeting with her is that she behaved in a way I recognized as (Classic?) Fat Girl With a Successful Career – mostly because I behave (behaved? Used to behave?) this way myself. Which is to think that nobody will pay attention to you for your looks, and that instead you must be funnier or more intelligent than everyone else. I was exhausted by my brief conversation with her. (She actually is enormously successful.) I remember walking up Upper Street wondering if I still behaved that way, and wondering – insert collective ha ha in retrospect – if Bachelor No. 2 would be dating me if I looked (and behaved) the way I used to.

* * *

Things are not over with BN2 – not yet, but I think it’s inevitable. I just can’t seem to rip the plaster off quickly.

He says I am the most important woman in his life apart from his daughter. I don’t think it’s just a line, but I don’t think I can live this way. I want to be with someone with whom I am a better version of myself, and I don’t like how I’ve been this week. I don’t like how much time suddenly I spend wondering who he’s with and doing what, and where every sentence he utters seems to end in an ellipsis (denoting words he’s deleted because he can’t tell me them). Where every text at a strange hour is another woman, and every lapse in response time is because he’s with someone else. Where leaving him feels like my shift is ending.

I went to a party Friday night feeling defiant – and wearing an outfit I know BN2 likes. I got appallingly drunk on champagne and proceeded to kiss at least one man. I say at least one because the next day I found a business card in my purse for someone I don’t even remember meeting.

For the record, I don’t think I kissed the owner of the business card. But it was that kind of evening.

I didn’t feel better.

(Especially not since I was on weekend duty and had to wake up and deal with reading and analyzing nine newspapers.)

* * *

So… Passover? Passover in Miami actually was okay.

At the first seder I had a little of everything and a double helping of kugel, a Jewish casserole that in this case was a deliciously sweet version.

At the second seder – cooked by the same person, and with the same food except brisket instead of chicken – I skipped the gefilte fish and the matzo ball soup. Although this gefilte fish was relatively low in calories (I saw the jar it was from – 65 calories a serving), it still wasn’t worth even that. The matzo ball soup – usually a favorite of mine – wasn’t worth much either.

Both nights, I managed to keep in mind that Passover baked goods usually look a whole lot better than they taste – they’re somewhat akin to lowfat versions in that there are a lot of substituted ingredients. So I had a couple of (small) pieces of chocolate and some fruit.

I then proceeded to break Passover (not that I’ve observed the “no bread for eight days” rule for years) Monday by treating myself to a dessert I love. I don’t remember particularly fearing that it would lead to a binge and in fact, it didn’t.

As for my grandmother, she was in significantly worse shape than the last time I’d seen her. I spent a lot of the four days I spent with her thinking about how much her life these days is a study in motion efficiency – she doesn’t (can’t?) move even a tiny bit extra – and how much mine has become the opposite.

One morning – feeling a bit like a caged animal – I walked the 17 flights of stairs up to her apartment, grateful that I could.

Friday, 18 April 2008

Over the River and Through the Woods

Plus some security checks at Heathrow.

I found out about an hour ago that I’m in for not one but two Passover seders with 14 old ladies, one of whom is my grandmother. Yes, I’m off to Miami for a flying visit for Passover, and as it’s been years since I’ve been to two seders (a couple of times in England I haven’t been to any), I forgot that that’s what most Jews do.

Two seders means two big, long, (sort of) boring meals where I have no choice about what’s served to me and most of it I don’t even like very much. (Gefilte fish? Unless it’s homemade – which this one won’t be because these old ladies are just a little too old for that – not so much. Chopped liver? Not unless it’s my grandma’s homemade version, and, um, see previous sentence.) So you pick at the food a bit and what’s the problem, you ask?

If you’re asking, clearly you don’t have a Jewish grandmother.

I will be nagged about what I don’t eat and nagged about what I do eat. Every morsel I do or don’t put in my mouth will be commented upon, probably multiple times. It’s enough to make a person eat. Or if you’re me, binge.

On food I don’t even particularly like.

I’m honestly not sure what the solution is. I think I could have just about handled one night of it, but two somehow seems impossible. Much, much worse than when some gym instructor says “another 30 seconds” when you’re already in agony – and then after that announces a whole other minute.

Why did I choose to go this weekend? Well, I haven’t seen my grandmother since October – the longest I’ve gone in years without seeing her. It’s not an ideal time to go (and last-minute ticket prices aren’t ideal), but I looked at my diary and realized if I didn’t go this weekend I might not make it until July. Weekend duty. My birthday. Cannes. A friend’s 40th. Glastonbury. Isle of Wight. And my grandmother is 89. Her body has been slowly, painfully giving out in the past couple of years. I usually manage not to cry when I say goodbye to her, but the tears always fall somewhere between the walk down the hallway of her floor and my pulling out of the parking lot. I’m never sure I’m going to see her again.

I’d like to enjoy her company – at times my grandmother can be wickedly funny and wildly entertaining – and not just think of getting through the weekend like a trial. The question is: How?

* * *

Diet Quote of the Day

“I thought the G in GI stood for Greek.”
--BN2, on the glycemic index diet his parents are following. (He honestly thought it looked like they were eating a lot of Mediterranean type food, which they probably are.)

* * *

Tonight I was supposed to have a date with a very cute guy I met at a champagne tasting last week. Yes, the same champagne tasting I attended with BN2.

No, I didn’t swap numbers with him in front of BN2 or anything – I’m not that tacky. But if BN2 is going to carouse – well, I decided I’d exercise my own carousing (or at least, non-exclusivity) option from time to time. It’s gotten a bit flabby from disuse over the past few months.

This guy – if I suggested we call him asshat would that be too much of a spoiler? – was cute, tall, Cambridge-educated, and funny. Clearly it would have been way too much to ask for him also not to have been a complete flake or, erm, asshat.

We were supposed to meet at 7 p.m., a time he confirmed with me in the early afternoon today. (I actually was thinking he was going to flake when I got the email.) At 6:30 p.m. – the point at which many people would have been on the Tube (and thus without mobile phone service) – he sent a text saying he was stuck at work and could we make it another night? No warning earlier in the day about a big deadline or any such thing, and he’s not a lawyer or journalist, the sort of people who routinely do have to work way late way beyond their control.

Asshat. It’s a Friday night. Not that I cared much – I have to pack and be up at 4:30 a.m. to catch my flight.

* * *

The night of the champagne tasting – which alert readers (Bueller? Bueller?) may recall is also the night I binged (I know I should hyperlink but for some reason I have to code it myself on this computer, and I’m lazy) – BN2 mentioned my “trim midriff.” Yes, those are the words he used: “Trim midriff.”

BN2 is not the most objective source, so I took it as something nice to hear, but nothing more. But Thursday a totally random woman I've never seen before at Pilates – and an English woman (so not prone to chatting to strangers) at that – asked me how long I’d been coming to the studio. Why was she asking? “You’re so tiny around here,” she said, pointing to my, erm, midriff.

I left Pilates and went to a cocktail party to celebrate the birthday of one of my favorite London boutiques. Where, apparently giddy and disoriented from the headiness of anyone referring to my middle section as tiny -- I promptly allowed myself to be convinced to purchase a pair of white jeans. Yes, white jeans. A garment that highlights – no, spotlights – every single flaw, both of body and finance (they’re not meant for public transport, among other things). Just call me Elizabeth Hurley. Or call me crazy. How on earth did I let myself get talked into a pair of white jeans?

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Caution: Bumps for Next ??? Miles

Whenever I was upset about being single, one of my many married (or might as well be) friends would say: “Relationships are work.”

I would roll my eyes and think: Easy for you to say.

But they are work. And currently, I’m slightly exhausted by Bachelor No. 2. Maybe even weary. On both Saturday and Sunday nights we had these long, difficult conversations that are, frankly, just draining. (The last time I felt that drained was after 24 solid hours of, erm, stomach problems in East Timor and needed Sprite just to rehydrate, but we won’t go there right now.)

I spent a little time yesterday wondering if the fact that we’re having this much to sort out so early (less than four months in) means I should just end it. (Cue Aimee Mann’s “Wise Up.”) And then I decided I was being ridiculous – it doesn’t matter if other people have these kinds of problems. It matters only if I think being with him is worth all of this trouble.

And I’m not sure. Among other things: I’m not sure I can deal with I’m 32 and I don’t have a child and I’m not sure I want large chunks of my life dictated/limited/seriously affected by someone else’s, let alone someone else’s seriously inconsiderate ex-wife (who does not ever drop off child in the same hour she says she will.)

But the real issue – for me – is that BN2 wants to have it both ways. In some ways he treats me (and expects me to behave) like his girlfriend, and in others – some of them very significant – I am not. Because BN2 – citing 10-year marriage – wants to be free to do exactly as he likes. Which for a while I honestly was OK with (mostly). I didn’t necessarily like the idea of him shagging other women, but nor was I willing to close off my own options. But if this is all meant to be sort of casual – as current arrangement implies -- then how did everything get so heavy?

I’m writing this at least as much to work out my own feelings, which are – after an exhausting weekend – seriously mixed up. I felt better after one of the conversations (liken it to a really hard workout, actually – but the tiredness is a good tired), but then yesterday wondered what I’d been smoking and just felt crummy. It’s not that I necessarily want him to be my boyfriend. I just don’t know. At the moment I’ve got an email sitting in my inbox that he sent yesterday, about tickets he bought for something a month from now and how glad he was that we had the conversations we had, mostly due to my efforts. And I don’t want to answer it because I don’t know that I feel the same way.

It’s particularly ironic that one of things I really liked about BN2 from the start was the lack of drama. Now it seems there is more than enough to make up for before.

* * *

At Waitrose Sunday afternoon BN2 made a comment – sarcastic – about the joys of eating as a couple.

This was after I’d first been unable to announce off the top of my head what I wanted for dinner (“What’s the first food that comes into your mind?” he asked, sounding irritated. “Seriously?” I asked. “Porridge. Really.” “You can’t have porridge for dinner,” he said, although I’ve told him I do sometimes. And so forth.) And then I’d been refusing starter suggestions of his because I didn’t like the spiciness/mayonnaise factor/ingredients (sorry, but I mostly try not to buy foods with ingredients I can’t pronounce).

I begged him to just buy whatever he’d buy if I weren’t there, partly because I’d had heavy influence on the main course, and partly because if I were eating dinner at home on my own I wouldn’t have a starter (unless it was eating various ingredients as or before I cooked them!) I apologized for being a pain, but reminded him that the last time we’d done this I’d asked if we could go to the grocery store with a list, because I don’t do well wandering up and down aisles looking at things – particularly not when I’m hungry, which I was.

We ended up with pate (something I’d never have bought on my own), some kind of chicken dish (which I also wouldn’t have bought on my own, but not as bad as some of his other suggestions), and Greek yogurt with berries for dessert. For the record, thanks partly to child and to difficult conversations (which were unrelated to child, but anyway) we never had the chicken dish. The berries and yogurt we had somewhere north of midnight, like war-weary generals shaking hands across the kitchen table.

* * *

I’d been meaning to post the following earlier, but I’ve been (pre)occupied with other things.

On Thursday, after at least four days of feeling like I constantly was fighting the urge to binge, I gave in.

I so almost didn’t. I’d drunk quite a lot of champagne and I sat there at this private members’ club in London thinking: Don’t do it. Don’t do it. You’ll feel awful if you do. I grabbed my handbag, stood up, then sat down again. Then I got increasingly bored and frustrated as BN2 was making polite conversation with someone we’d just met at a champagne tasting, and it seemed like we were never ever going to leave.

And so I picked up my bag, said I was going to the bathroom, and dashed upstairs and down the block to the Leon, where I bought a brownie and some other little cake-type thing. (Note to self: Don’t waste calories on Leon brownies. They’ve got some nasty orange flavor in them.) Then I bought some small Cadbury bar – I think it was Dairy Milk, but really, I’m not even sure. Whatever I could grab, since I didn’t have enough cash for the Ritter one I really wanted.

That was the whole binge – probably more of what my therapist would have called a subjective binge than anything else. (It helped that I had almost no cash on me, and was wearing ridiculously high heeled boots so the cash point was just too far.) The amount of food I consumed wasn’t appalling – it was just the idea that I had to sneak out to buy food and then cram it in my mouth. And of course, the desperation.

I’m not feeling as bad about it as I’d thought. In the days beforehand, I did my best to mitigate the urge to binge, eating a cheeseburger one day (careful to add the cheese, since just a burger on its own – when my friend was having a cheeseburger – felt like deprivation) and some good dark chocolate the next. I ate more than usual those days, although I wouldn’t say I overate.

In the past I’d have eaten dinner before going to an event like that and then not allowed myself any of the canapés. But the event started at 6:30 – a little too early for me to eat and arrive there in time – and I guess I got a little too complacent about my ability to block out canapés (particularly when it’s a huge platter of cheese sitting in front of me). Lesson learned.

* * *

Weight this morning: 11 stone 2 (156 lbs). No idea how that happened -- given the amount I ate and drank this week (not outrageous, but certainly more than usual), think it must be artifically low from something yesterday, although I'm not sure what.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Mind Over Stomach

Halfway through lunch – perhaps the most uninspiring tuna nicoise salad ever – with BN2, I was looking at the Tesco Express across the street and thinking about a binge.

I’ve never seen BN2 order a pudding, his lunch was much more filling than mine (he was having the Sunday roast), and anyway, he was going to pick up his daughter and then come back and meet me. I’d be left on my own for about an hour, and I was already thinking about the binge.

What was it he was talking about? I only had half an ear, because it’s hard for me to concentrate when there’s people eating yummy winter puddings around me, and I’m thinking about all the things I want to eat and might soon be able to as soon as – hurry up and stop lingering, BN2, dammit, don’t you understand that I need to eat – I’m left on my own.

And then, like in yoga, where you’re supposed to bring your mind back to your breath, I brought my attention back to what he was saying. Mostly. I can’t remember who brought up the pudding, but we decided to split one. Luckily, it was a good one. (Am I the only one who’s more likely to binge after having had a bad/unsatisfying pudding than none at all?)

When BN2 got up to leave, I decided I’d write an email to a sympathetic friend who probably wouldn’t receive it for hours (she’s 10 hours ahead), trying to work out why I wanted to binge. As I pulled out my blackberry, a couple sat down on the sofa and pulled out from their Tesco carrier bag exactly the sort of thing I’d been thinking about bingeing on. I could practically taste it. Sigh. I wrote my email. Deep breath. I thought about how crummy I would feel for the rest of the evening – how irritated and agitated and cranky bingeing would make me. Deep breath. I bought a diet Coke and walked down the high street.

* * *

Scale this morning: 11 stone 4.5. I feel a bit like I did in school, when I was convinced I’d done poorly on a test but somehow squeaked out an A.

Among other things, there was the risotto Saturday night (where I finished my entire dish, while BN2 ate half of his, saying how filling it was), the Sunday lunch plus pudding, the Sunday dinner where I went back for seconds, what feels like a trough of nuts I’ve consumed this week for snacks, and the lychee martinis Thursday and the wine on Saturday. But then, I thought, there has been yoga and Pilates and running and boxing and lots of walking. So is this what’s called maintenance? This I feel like I can handle.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Size Matters

Clothes I have bought in the past two weeks:
1. A Dili, East Timor t-shirt in a child’s size medium
2. A 40s style belted white jacket, UK size 10/US size 6
3. Yoga pants from Sweaty Betty, size small (15 minutes before a yoga class I wanted to try, but didn’t have gear with me)
4. Radcliffe skinny jeans, size 29 (chosen for me and approved by the designer herself)

I can’t help feeling tedious even writing the above, especially with the current fuss over Sweet Valley High sizing. (What I found perhaps more irritating than the twins’ perfect size six figures was the fact that they were always going to the Dairi Burger and eating more food for a snack than I would have eaten in public for dinner.) But at least as much as I struggle with food, I struggle with my image of myself.

I still think of myself as wearing size 20s, worrying that a one-size-fits-all won’t fit me. I walk sideways through narrow spaces, often sucking in my stomach. (A friend even pointed this out to me – though not the stomach-sucking-in part – at a shop in Sumatra). My stomach and throat tighten in fear when someone’s about to show me photos that include me, and I automatically scan for the largest body, sure that that’s how I’ll locate myself.

Yesterday I had a random conversation with a slim acquaintance about how when she thinks of herself as fat, she overeats and eats poorly and puts on weight. When she thinks of herself as thin – or really, reminds herself that she’s thin – she says she stops eating when she’s full and stops thinking of various foods as off limits (and thus doesn’t overeat them). Unfortunately, she couldn’t describe how she flips the switch from one to the other – only that, ironically, the switch always flips from fat back to think when she gains about 10 pounds.

* * *

Today I spent £45 on a yoga class I loathed.

Technically the class was £13 – but I spent £20 on yoga pants and £12 on a t-shirt (both on sale at Sweaty Betty – even I have limits) because I didn’t have any kit with me when I happened to end up near Triyoga Soho just before a class was starting. (For several reasons, my schedule is in huge flux -- and will continue to be so for several weeks -- so I wanted to grab the opportunity to try the class when I could.)

I think I’m spoiled from so much great yoga in Bali (which is what’s prompted the current yoga class hunt), but this class was particularly appalling, especially for a studio frequently named one of the best in Europe. I have a tendency to chafe at the unfamiliar (I usually have to try classes a few times – I never like them instantly), but I think in this case it really was the class/teacher and not me. It was overcrowded. The pace was frantic, with nothing explained. (It was billed as suitable for beginners.) At one point, the teacher said to me: “I have no idea what you’re doing there.” (This said as she was standing half on my mat, half on another student’s demonstrating something because there was so little space – and I was trying to shrink out of her way.) And at the end of the 75 minutes, she pimped her book, CD, and yoga retreats. Ugh.

Monday, 31 March 2008

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

Last month – a week before I left on holiday – my gym and I went our separate ways.

Ever since last May, when my office moved to the South Bank, it had been a bit difficult to make time for each other. There was no gym in my new office building (it just opened this month!) so I stuck with my old one, which was a 25-minute walk away – sometimes more, depending on trudge factor. And yes, it was always a walk – there is no convenient tube or bus route between my old office and my new one. So I was getting up a good half hour to 45 minutes earlier to get to the gym in the morning, and in the winter, it was a struggle.

In February, my company stopped the corporate rate. Between that (to remain a member, the price for me would more than double), the distance and the fact that my attendance had dwindled (I was substituting running outside and occasionally, walking the hour from my flat to my office), I knew things were over.

What I miss most already is my Saturday routine – I’d do Body Pump (instructor was, quite simply, the awesome-est) and then some cardio and then head to lunch. Without fail, I did it every single Saturday I was in town.

Currently, I’m researching some new classes (mostly yoga, which I became completely obsessed with while on vacation – more on that in another entry), but I’m struggling a bit. I don’t do well without a routine, and from a purely physical (and physiological) standpoint, I can’t run every day. And I’ve got a few other complicating factors, including Bachelor No. 2, who lives on the opposite end of London from me and eats like a total boy, and a total English boy at that (translation: extremely unhealthily). He was seriously sporty at university, but as even he points out, that was many, many dinner parties ago. Almost every weekend I haul my running gear to his house (because every week he insists he wants to go), and then – like Waiting for Godot – we do not move. Sigh. But this morning, when – predictably – he announced he’d decided not to come, I went myself. It wasn’t easy.

* * *

BN2 knows I struggle with eating, but he does not know why or how or to what extent. (I am a rotten liar, and he asked me directly what the specialist doctor’s appointment I had was all about a couple of months ago. I told him in the briefest terms, and didn’t even use the word “binge.”) He knows I don’t handle anything well when I get too hungry, and he knows that exercise is important to me.

What he does not know is that staying at his place is getting me slightly crazy. I cannot – as he does – eat croissants or pain au chocolat or toast with butter and honey (or sometimes, nothing at all) for breakfast. I can handle it every once in a while, but it shouldn’t become a regular fixture. It doesn’t fill me up. It’s so easy to eat too much of. And it sets me up for a day of eating poorly. In short, it was starting to cause me stress. Stress makes me eat, or at least, want to eat.

Yesterday I managed to bring it up. He asked me to remind him to buy milk so we’d have it for tea in the morning and I just thought: Here’s my chance. Except for his slightly defensive “I asked you what you wanted for breakfast” – and his total obliviousness to calories and nutritional content (he puts butter on his peanut butter sandwiches – it’s so sweet and childlike in a way that I don’t want to be the one to make him think twice about this) it was really not a big deal. So along with the milk we bought porridge and peanut butter (to be eaten separately, thank you very much -- I rediscovered in Indonesia how filling peanut butter can be.)

I breathed a huge sigh of relief… until this morning, when he wanted to make me a peanut butter sandwich while I was in the shower “so I can have more time with you.” What kind of person says “no” to an offer phrased like that?

Um, that's me in the spotlight. That's me in the corner. I thought about all the instructions I’d feel the need to give (“please no butter, and please not too much peanut butter” – he is about as heavy-handed with any kind of spread as Tammy Faye Bakker was with makeup – “and please don’t toast it and…”) and the fact that no matter how he made it, I’d feel obligated to eat it. And so I said no thanks, and felt at least as guilty as I did when I decided to do exactly what suited me and go running.

Friday, 28 March 2008

Back to (Um, Need a Play on "Black" Here)

I’m battling jet lag and freezing temperatures (I came home to my boiler not working – so it’s literally too cold to type in my flat), so a proper post probably is going to have to wait a few days.

But (since I, too, assume silence on a blog = nothing good to report) as of now I’ve gone 21 days without bingeing. (I'm especially proud that a bunch of those days were heavy travel days.) That’s the longest I’ve gone since sometime before Christmas. October maybe? I don’t know – it feels good. I feel good.

Monday, 17 March 2008

Bali High

Greetings from Bali, where I stand out not only as the palest girl on the planet (I am so becoming English -- the other day I craved a cup of tea), but as the only one without a tattoo. (I'm not free from markings, though -- apparently the mosquitoes find me as delicious as they did when I was a child. No wonder no one else has any bites -- they're all feasting on me...)

Anyway, it's a gorgeous sunny day and I don't want to spend it inside on the Internet (this is the first I've been on in at least a week -- bliss!), but just a quick accountability post to say all is going well. I've gone 10 days without a binge and have been doing well with the exercise (running by the rice paddies, yoga yesterday, etc). Must be careful not to let my guard down, though -- it's always just when I think I can relax that I fall even harder than I thought possible. (Like yesterday -- spent the whole time we were in Bukit Lawang to see the orangutans thinking I was going to take some awful spill down a mountain and break something, and then yesterday, daydreaming my way down the street in Bali, I swear I nearly fell into a ditch!)

Have been keeping good notes so hoping actually to post some pictures along with words when I'm back after Easter... hey, I can dream.

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Coffee, Tea or Paella?

I'm writing this quickly, sitting in the airport waiting for my flight to Kuala Lumpur. In my travel bag next to me: Enough healthy food for the whole flight, so I don't even have to contemplate the airplane or airport food options.

Yes, I binged in Spain. But I haven't given up yet.

(Sidenote: Just who is buying a kilo of Cadbury's Dairy Milk, which I saw for sale in the duty free? And, erm, why? Even I have to pause when confronted with the possibility of a personal chocolate supply that vast.)

Spain was tough. Because it was a food show, I spent hours watching people eat amazing food, and of course was ravenous by the time it was my turn to eat. The hours were long, there were no gyms in the hotels (I'd had to stay in them because that's where the crew was staying), and it was a lot of hurry up and waiting. I found myself a gym to go to when we moved on to Madrid from Valencia, but Madrid gyms don't open early in the morning, and the shoot was scheduled to start at 8 a.m. (I knew perfectly well it wouldn't start until at least 10 -- and in fact, it didn't start until just before noon -- but I still couldn't chance it.) Frustrating.

To top it off, I've been struggling with a couple of personal problems too personal even for the Internet. (Yes, there is such a thing. At least for me.) One of them is causing such anxiety I am positively jumpy -- so it's hardly surprising I want to eat to soothe my nerves. I know, I know: I should read my own damn blog: Eating will not solve any problem (except hunger, of course).

I ate my way through Tuesday and Wednesday (including the best paella I've ever had in my life -- I may never be able to eat it anywhere else ever again) and much of Thursday, when I finally dug in my heels and cancelled the tea on Friday, claiming I was delayed in Spain. I knew having to run out of work early for a tea that consists entirely of cakes would be stressful and disastrous -- and bingeing the night before a long plane trip would be awful. I'm not proud that I lied, but I'm proud that I put myself first, even if I had to do it in a roundabout way. (The birthday girl is a good friend, but not such a good friend that I've explained the eating problems.)

So yesterday was a gold star day, food and gym-wise (despite the fact that I really didn't want to go.) It helps, but I'm still feeling very fragile.

This post is mostly for accountability -- hence its quick and disjointed nature. (Also, the fact that I have four minutes left and my flight's about to board). I'm hoping to do a bit more writing on the plane and perhaps post again in Kuala Lumpur. Hopefully, a post or two should keep me honest!

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

True North

Repeat after me: No matter what the problem is, eating will not solve it.

I don’t really know what the problem is, but on Friday I ate over it. Yes, I binged – only less than four days after the last two-day bender. I left a lunch with a fellow journalist and just kept eating. That night I felt so sick I could hardly concentrate on what a friend was saying at dinner. At one point, I went to the bathroom and stood with my sweaty forehead against the cool stall door, willing myself to remember how awful being too horribly full feels so that I don’t do it again. I hate being that full. I hate being unable to concentrate; just wishing time would pass so that I’ll feel less full.

I feel OK now, if a bit shaky. I’ve made it through four days of eating appropriately, although I’m seriously nervous about the next couple of weeks. I’ve got a cream tea on Saturday for a friend’s leaving drinks, then a birthday dinner that night. And next week I’m running around Spain with a certain Oscar-winning Shakespeare in Love actress (hint: she looked like one of those pink-covered Hostess marshmallow cupcakes – I think they were called Snowballs -- when she accepted her award) and a very famous chef while they make a food show (eek!) for television. Then it’s back to London where I’ve got another fancy tea for a friend’s birthday Friday. And then it’s a ton of time in airports/on airplanes (a huge binge trigger for me) en route to Indonesia for vacation. (I’m already considering bringing all of my own food for the plane trip out so I don’t even have to think about what would be a good option.)

I’ve got two big problems at the moment. The first is that suddenly, all the foods I could just look past or through suddenly look very appealing. Every bakery window, every newsagent, everywhere I look there are things I want to eat. Even going into a market to buy fruit is a challenge – I’ll think I crave a grapefruit, but then end up buying an apple and a pear as well and being unable to choose which to eat. (I know an extra piece of fruit isn’t going to kill me – it’s just the idea that I don’t seem capable of making any food decisions at all.)

The second problem is that I’m not sure what the problem is – well, what the underlying problem is. Why am I suddenly bingeing? What am I trying to fix? I have this vague idea that it may be connected to Bachelor No. 2. As lovely as he is, as comfortable as I feel with him (and I do feel remarkably comfortable) and as well as things seem to be going, I’ve got a sense of uneasiness and imbalance that’s throwing my internal compass off its generally healthy north. I think a huge chunk of this is me and not him – the first therapist I had for binge eating told me I shouldn’t date at all while in treatment because it would just be too messy for me to handle; that I was just learning my own feelings and wouldn’t be able to deal with someone else’s. I also think part of my lapse is due to relationships in general – more meals out, more drinks, more reasons to stay cuddled up at home as opposed to trekking to Gloucester Road on a Sunday morning for Pilates! (But I did drag him for a run Saturday afternoon…It was short and about half the time I would have gone for had I gone myself, but at least we went.)

I’ve decided I probably won’t get on the scale until after my vacation, although I reserve the right to change that if I decide what I’m doing is avoiding facing the facts. But at the moment, my clothes still fit and today someone I haven’t seen in several weeks came into the office kitchen and said: “Hello, Miss Skinny.” Wish I could bottle that rush of pride – along with the memory of how it feels to be way too full – for weak moments.