Tuesday, 23 February 2010

The Morning BAFTA

Monday marked six weeks for me of no diet Coke. (I used to drink the stuff like it was my job -- liters and liters and liters.) If you believe what you read on an Evian bottle, it takes six weeks for the body's water supply to completely renew itself, so my body is now a diet-Coke free zone.

Of course, after my night at the BAFTAs (short recap: I talked cake with Colin Firth, played Space Invaders with Bonnie Wright/Ginny Weasley, and was nearly struck dumb by Nicholas Hoult's cheekbones) I may or may not have replaced all water with Grey Goose vodka. Still recovering. Went to bikram yoga this morning to detox.

More soon...

Thursday, 18 February 2010

The Joy of Leftovers

I always hated it when my mother served leftovers – probably because in my family if something were worth eating, we'd have finished it the first time. Certainly I would have – either publicly or, more likely, in secret.

Now I get a ludicrous high just from knowing there are leftovers in my fridge or cupboards – whether it's half a box of Annie's Mac and Cheese I made the day before, the salted caramel truffles I received as a wedding favour three weeks ago (!), or the Trader Joe's maple cream sandwich cookies and peanut butter-filled pretzels I brought back from the US in January. The simple existence of leftovers says: I am in control. (Or, given recent postings on the blog, I am in control at least some of the time. Maybe even more than I give myself credit for.)

Today's lunch included whole-wheat tortilla wraps I need to use up, plus a chunk of goat cheese I got at a cheese tasting last night (more on that in a minute) and a Granny Smith apple I looted from the bowl at the gym yesterday. I felt smugly satisfied eating it – or as smugly satisfied as one can feel after last night's cheesetastic adventures.

Yes, Peridot and I hit up a cheese tasting – 16 cheeses, plus wine, crackers/biscuits, and the contraband Ben's oatmeal cookie she brought me. Normally I'd never have suggested such an event, but I'm trying to live a little (more), and besides, now that I eat less I'm pickier about what it is. So why not figure out what's really worth eating?

I'd give myself a B for the evening. I started out with a brilliant workout from Gina – I can't say I loved all the music, but I absolutely loved being told what to do for 45 minutes. It cut down on the amount of time I waste talking myself into (or really, out of) doing things, and I was so busy following from minute to minute that the time just flew. Though I'm usually pretty good about logging the cardio time, I'm not always so good about making it really count – this definitely helped. Then I snacked on a berry Trek bar.

The tasting was to start at 7:30 pm, which gave me minor anxiety as I have trouble figuring out what's dinner when it's all in little bits. Clearly I still have food issues (um, duh) because I did find myself getting mildly grumpy and anxious at the sight of a lot of food I wasn't yet allowed to eat – we sat for a while waiting for some latecomers, and then the cheesemaster (or whatever he's called) talked for a while before we got to try the first one. It was also interesting to see how automatically I will eat anything in front of me – even now. I had to consciously tell myself to wait until we had tried all the cheeses before taking seconds of any one (I took seconds of just two of them: a sheep's cheese we tasted first and that remained my favourite, and a bit more ricotta, just because I'd forgotten just how delicious it can be).

I had two oatcakes and two digestive biscuits, at least one more than I should have – but I didn't touch the white bread, which is always the sort of thing I attack ¾ of the way through the evening and after a couple of glasses of wine. I definitely didn't need the last glass of red wine I had at the end of the evening. And ditto the Ben's cookie, which I ought to have savoured and not eaten while heading out. So, not perfect, but definitely could have been much, much worse. Progress, not perfection, as they say...

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Picking Myself Up Again

Last week I ate yumalicious brownies (in moderation) and spent a lot of time thinking about how I'd probably come out even, or maybe even slightly better off, if I just ate more of what I want instead of a huge binge every couple of weeks.

Frankly, I'd definitely come out better off, because I'd be less embarrassed and would at least get to eat things I really want to eat, as opposed to, say, loads of (not-great) cheese. Or pulled pork. Or peanut butter and chocolate on white bread. Or whatever.

Saturday night I'd agreed to attend a charity event with some friends. After I'd already paid I realized I'd be the only single person in the group – and on Valentine's Eve. Ugh. Dinner was to be of the standing up variety – which I hate, because I can't keep track – somewhere north of 9 pm. After discussion with a very wise friend, who asked me what would allow me to be most present in the moment (as opposed to obsessing about the food), I decided I'd eat beforehand. "I bet no one will even notice," she said. "And if they think you're anorexic, so what?" (I'm not slim enough to be mistaken for anorexic, but, um, thanks? I think.)

I felt reasonably prepared to deal with this event – and maybe even enjoy it. Then I woke up at 7 am and was unable to go back to sleep. Me tired at anxiety-inducing events = not so great. I should have known things would unravel from there.

It was bitterly cold, but I'd signed up for a 5K in Finsbury Park, and so I went and ran it anyway. Then I headed to a meeting in Fulham where afterwards I saw BN2. For the first time in nearly two months. He was wearing, I noted, the shirt he wore on our first date – and a watch one of the women he cheated on me with gave him for Christmas in 2008. He hates wearing a watch. I wondered idly if he'd just gotten out of bed with her.

I kept things light. When he said he wanted to apologize for some things, I held up my hand, saying I didn't want to get into anything emotional. At one point he put his hand on my leg and commented on how "trim" I was looking, saying he'd been worried that without his steadying influence I'd be bingeing my way back up to my former weight. (He said it only slightly more delicately than that.) I moved my leg out of reach and tried to think of a response. Instead I said I had to get going.
And off I went, thinking happily about the evening's plans, and the fact that if I'd still been with him, I wouldn't have been able to go without a struggle.

I got home at 7 pm, in a rush to throw on my dress and get down to the boathouse for the event (dress code: black tie on the farm). I had a moment of gratitude racing in my door for the fact that the dress I'd planned to wear but hadn't bothered to try on definitely would fit. (I'm not always that confident – it's just that the dress is a size too big.) Then I spied a card-sized envelope with some familiar handwriting. A Valentine's Day card from BN2.

I opened it just enough to confirm that it was a card, then put it aside, thinking: If I read this before I go out I'll get upset.

So far, so good, right?

Then I went to the event. I was fine and fine and fine. Better than fine, in fact – I was telling the friend who'd invited me how happy I've been.

I was chatting to random people, which as an American you can just about get away with in this country. I was amusing other people by being able to name (correctly) the designers of various dresses. I was playing Nirvana and Red Hot Chili Pepper songs with the band (don't ask).

And then I was deflated by a (perceived) rejection, and I went whole hog. For the pulled pork. And the cheese. And then – on the way home -- the jar of peanut butter and chocolate a friend had brought me. I ate until I couldn't feel anything but the familiar discomfort of being far, far too full – and the shame of being caught (I'm quite sure my friend saw me dive into the cheese, and I wasn't eating delicately).

I woke up in bed with my old friend despair and his pal disgust. And then I lay there thinking about the work I've done and the work that still needs to be done.

For months I clung to BN2 because I thought he saw and acknowledged the real me: the hideous, unlovable, flawed person I believed I was. I clung to him because the alternative was just too hard: To leave him I needed to form a vision of myself as worthy and valuable – and to acknowledge both the sparks of fury and the yawning chasm of fear I felt when he pointed out, as he did nearly every day, all my defects of character, and all the ways that I wasn't good enough.

I spied my dress on the floor, memories clinging to it like smoke. I thought about the last time I'd worn it: To an event in October that was one of the rare escapes from the BN2 cage. I binged that night, too.

I looked for the Valentine's Day card he sent but literally couldn't find it. (Still can't.) I thought briefly about how much it would enrage him when I didn't acknowledge it, and how little he could do about it. Then I texted one friend, went for lunch with another, and then headed to bikram yoga to detox.

Two days binge-free. I've got a bunch of challenging days ahead (the BAFTAs and a royal visit, aka one from my dad), but I desperately want to hit 30 again.

Friday, 12 February 2010


There was a cool-sounding party tonight with lots of pink fizz (one of my favourite drinks), but I'm happy to be home, sipping my second cup of vanilla-camomile-honey tea.

Yes, it's a wild night in Bethville, folks. What can I say? I am absolutely exhausted. Had a story due Monday, then ended up agreeing to do three days of shifts at a newspaper (well, tabloid) that's appeared in a Beatles song -- and given the paper's lack of regard for facts, probably a Beatles or McCartney lawsuit. Which meant I had to get up circa 4 am to find, write and file a daily story I'm contracted to do for a website in the US all before getting to the newspaper office all the way across town by 10 am. Ugh.

And none of the nights could I come home and collapse – Tuesday I had (free) theatre tickets to see Enron. I nearly did skip it out of exhaustion, but I'm so glad I didn't – it was one of the most amazing, thought-provoking nights I've spent at the theatre in a long time. (And as someone who has just begun writing about business, I am in awe of how the playwright made the subject gripping, especially because we all know the outcome.) Wednesday I squeezed in a mini-workout, because I've spent far too much time sitting over the past several days. And yesterday I had my hilarious English dance class – very disappointed that the tutor was not wearing her ridiculous barrettes shaped like treble clefs. (Hey, I'm American – do you think I could get away with asking her where she bought them?) Every night I'd come home and try to get a jump on finding an idea for the next morning's story. Then I'd crawl into bed just north of midnight.

Lather, rinse, repeat. Can't believe I used to work hours much worse than that all the time. Also can't believe it has been more than a year since I worked in an office. (I had a huge moment of gratitude standing in front of my closet Tuesday morning for the fact that everything in it still fits, so at least a spur-of-the-moment office job doesn't inspire the clothing panic it might have at one point.)
Anyway, I'm quite pleased I got through the whole experience without resorting to extra food (it can be shockingly easy to rationalize extras when I'm tired), let alone bingeing. I'm also thrilled I didn't dive back into the diet Coke – I've now gone 32 days without it! (Also today managed to complete one of the Social Workout challenges I set for myself: 1,000 pushups and 1,000 crunches. No, not all in one day!)

Sorry for the lackluster post -- can't say I feel much like writing after a whole week of churning out copy at all hours, so... Today's gratitude list: 1. The mini-massage one of the trainers gave me after kickboxing today – bliss. 2. That the super-cute deeply-discounted heels I tried on today (for the record, popped into shop to thaw my hands more than anything else) did not fit – and so I couldn't buy them. (Do not need more shoes.) 3. Email from Peridot that made me laugh, as she almost always does.

Friday, 5 February 2010

A Sobering Weekend

It all started out so well.

I had a big birthday party Friday night (with people who are militant alcohol-pushers), a wedding Saturday afternoon, and a scary media dinner party Saturday night. My plan was not to drink any alcohol at either the birthday party or the wedding (check, and check), not to eat anything at the wedding besides maybe a slice of cake, since the reception was 2 to 5 pm and I'd eaten lunch already (check – I had three mini Laduree macaroons, as the "cake" was actually wheels of cheese).

I left the wedding feeling smugly healthy and pleased with myself. (Did I mention I'd also gotten up early and gone to Pilates?) Then I had to walk nearly 2 miles in my stilettos, raced into my flat to do a quick-change for the dinner party, and dashed out the door, feeling slightly exhausted and wishing I could have a nap.
Met up with the Almost-Perfect-on-Paper Cambridge Jew that I cannot fancy any less. (Sorry, Grandma.) Then walked into the editor's house and was promptly handed a huge caipirinha that seemed to contain an entire bottle of rum.

Oh dear.

9 pm came – as did a wee-slip-of-a-fashion-journalist and her media-reporter boyfriend – and still no food. Yours truly, true to form, drank fast. I do remember a few glasses of water in there.

There was food eventually – delicious, but in very dainty portions. Not good. (Actually, I vaguely remember the media reporter making a crack about how he could have eaten about double the pudding, so maybe it wasn't just me.)
And then suddenly it's 1 am and I think I may have been the one who ate all the digestive biscuits and possibly nearly all the cheese. Eeek.

I think there was a bit of fear and loathing going on there. Fear because just because I have been hurt badly does not give me carte blanche to do it to someone else. Loathing because I'm slightly using the NCJ (Nice Cambridge-educated Jew). One minute it was all a bit of fun the way it always has been – we've known each other for more than two years now -- and then I looked over at him at one point during dinner and saw a look I remember from BN2 very very early in our relationship. He was looking at me like he couldn't believe he had gotten that lucky. (Either that, or he couldn't believe how much cheese I was eating.)


I remember the hostess asking us both together if we were together – this at about 1 am. Um, what to say? (I think we both sort of shrugged, and then drank more of whatever it is we were drinking at that point.) On Sunday morning – yes, I crashed at his but (luckily) it was fairly innocent, as I pled too drunk and promptly went to sleep – we sat around watching BBC's Politics Show and talking. After two years of BN2, it was novel to realize I could talk about anything and NCJ happily would have listened without critical (well, critical of me) comment.

It was all very sweet – until suddenly it was just incredibly terrifying, like being handed a superpower that could do great evil or great good. I watched him nod at something incredibly stupid I had just said, thought briefly about how nice it was not to watch every last word (so careful was I about what I said to BN2 that the long pauses in the conversation also irritated him) and then thought: I could really do a lot of damage here. I need to leave now. I didn't feel great that somebody seemed to think I was great – I just felt crummy because I didn't (and don't) feel the same way about him.

He wanted to go out for breakfast or lunch or whatever meal it is one eats at 2:30 pm, having not yet consumed anything since eleventeen tons of cheese and digestive biscuits about 12 hours before. I wanted to escape. Part of it was fear of -- having extracted myself from one very, very messy situation – finding myself embroiled in another. Part of it, I confess, was post-binge controlling behavior. I knew I was going out to dinner Sunday night (with a friend I haven't seen for a year, and didn't want to cancel on), and I didn't want two meals out in a post-binge day. (Frankly, I don't love it on a regular day.) Plus the gym shuts at 6 pm, and I knew I needed to go.

I begged off, saying I wasn't sure what I'd be able to eat (true) and wandered into the grocery store. He followed me. I walked over to the organic shop, and he came along as I looked around and again left empty-handed. I could hardly look at him, and I felt terrible.

I bought a bottle of water and got on the Tube, where I spied a woman reading Elizabeth Gilbert's Committed, her follow-up to Eat, Pray, Love.

I asked her what she thought of it (I'd read an excerpt in O magazine over Christmas and wasn't hooked), and she said she couldn't put it down. "I'm in my mid-3os and I don't know if I want to get married," she said.

Well, I'm in my mid-30s and I know I do, I thought. Definitely not to NCJ though, so going to have to sort that one, and pronto. Ugh.