Tuesday, 28 August 2012

How the Other Half Lives

The darkness that usually comes once the fog has lifted (about 72 hours) came a tiny bit earlier this time around. Usually after day two I have a few days of relief that my one-day binge has not (yet) turned into a multi-day affair, but I am not feeling quite so grateful this time around.

Which is not good. Because I felt absolutely wretched on Wednesday, and have no desire to repeat the experience. Not, of course, that I ever do. I wish there were some way when one feels the urge to binge to have just a brief sampling of how unbelievably awful one will feel afterward.

Apart from learning I gained a little over a pound today, at the moment I feel curiously unbothered by the binge. I suppose it is because I have been living my life in a way that I do not usually after a binge. I went out to dinner on Saturday night and ordered a starter (a Bibb lettuce, strawberry, and bleu cheese salad) and a main. I did not ask for the dressing on the side of the salad. I asked for no alterations to my pork chop, even though the vegetable it came with was made with bacon.

I haven't ordered this way in years. I haven't been exercising like a madwoman. And I suspect without the big fried dinner on Tuesday night plus the binge I might not even have gained weight.

I wouldn't eat the way I did Saturday every night. I suspect most other people don't, either.

It all feels curiously like the way I imagine the rest of the world lives.

Like life, or something like it.

Day Six.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

If It Isn't One Thing...

It was a busy and happy day, a lots-of-interesting-conversations-day. 

A one thing after another day, in a good way. 

Until suddenly, out of nowhere, it wasn't.

Feeling low and weary, but only briefly, thankfully, like eating more would be a good idea.

Day Three. 

Friday, 24 August 2012

The Most Mixed Up Non Delinquent on the Block

Once upon a time there was a girl who hit 47 days without bingeing.

She managed during the weeks she wasn't allowed to exercise.

And – if that weren't stressful enough for her -- the near sleepless nights and endless, well, stress of too many deadlines stacked up (something that will continue through the beginning of September.)

Then there was the three-hour car ride that ended up taking seven (!) and the weekend in the Catskills, where she happily – and without bingeing – consumed full fat yogurt, eggs from the hen up the road (that twice had double yolks), goat cheese, butter, and vegetables prepared with plenty of olive oil and pesto. Saturday night at dinner she actually ordered the thing on the menu she most wanted to eat, as opposed to the thing she thought she "should" eat. (And per the nutritionist's scale Monday, she even lost weight – about four pounds, unbelievably.)

She had her scary lunch meeting at a publication she loves Tuesday, and – in the words of her editor – "This went well." (But still she second guesses it.)

All the while, she was on guard. Binges sometimes happen right after what seems like the biggest hurdles are jumped. The sigh-of-relief binge, if you will.

That night, the girl went to a long-planned dinner that night at ABC Kitchen with friends. They split a lot of fried things, including desserts and bottles of wine (her first in 47 days).

 Then she walked out of the restaurant and binged. It wasn't an urgent binge, where she was jut waiting for the dinner to finish so she could go and do it. It was more of a hmmm, this is what we usually do when we eat this kind of food – we binge after.

She ate a package of Hostess-like cupcakes. A black and white cookie. A piece of pound-type cake. A soft pretzel. Another cupcake (crummy). And then she went to Magnolia, where she ate ¾ of a piece of cake and threw the rest out in disgust.

She woke up Wednesday morning after not much sleep, feeling worse than she had in, well, 47 days. She spent nearly 48 hours trying to figure out if there were any way on the planet not to call this a binge.

She thought about just glossing over it, maybe stopping the day count like perhaps she'd forgotten it. She thought about a lot of things, none of which involved the truth, which is that she binged.

I binged.

And here I am, starting over again.

Day 2. 

Friday, 17 August 2012

Hazy Days of Summer

This week has been a blur.

Sunday I worked all day and stayed up until 2; still didn't finish the proposal I was supposed to turn in ages ago, and said I'd turn in Monday. I'm used to a lot of work and hoop-jumping before anything gets green-lit, but this one is killing me.

Monday: Up until 3 am working: interviews, pitches, and actual writing. Filed daily piece. Tried not to panic about how many days left of this and how much of a mess I might make of everything.

Tuesday: Lined up interviews for piece due in a week, because although I'll wait until the last minute to write it, you can't wait until the last minute to even start finding people to interview. Up until 2 am to finish story due Wednesday. (And did.) Filed daily piece. Tried not to panic, etc.

Wednesday: Stayed up until four a.m. on a piece that is killing me that was due today. I pulled an all-nighter doing the original one July 5. It was kicked back to me three weeks  later. And now again. Slightly embarrassed. This is not typical (for me), and I've never appeared in this magazine. Conducted interview for another story due next week at 10 pm, because that's when he could do it. Gave self a hard time for not doing fiction writing. Debated skipping NYC Fringe performance to which I'd contributed on Kickstarter, but then decided that I'd probably be up until the same time that night anyway, and would be sad I'd missed it. (Yes, I would have been. It was lovely and affecting.) Waited out torrential rains in East Village cafe with wifi – and loads and loads of cupcakes (behind glass; I didn't have any.) Filed daily piece. Panic, web-surfing, debating of acquiring 9 to 5 job that can be left at the office.  Hoppity-hopped through midtown (a true story, coming shortly).

Today: Up at 8 am in attempt to finish piece as had promised editor I'd turn it in today. Dealt with a handful of particularly annoying and demanding sources for another piece. Started panicking about meeting I have next week – what I will wear, how much of an idiot I will sound like, convinced self it will be cancelled anyway. Got back to work. Filed daily piece. Lined up more interviews for other stories due; tried not to think about what else I signed on to do this month blah blah panic.Still miles to go tonight and it's near midnight.

Not a typical week, at least not a typical week I remember from any time recently.

I thought about posting to say I was still here and not bingeing, but it felt a little the-whole-world-is-Beth-centric to me.

But, you know, I am still here and haven't binged.

Somewhat unbelievably. Must be careful, though, since I suspect the urge may be quite strong once I get through this – or to self-sabotage before the meeting I have next week. And I'm going not just off grid but completely out of cell phone and wifi range for a couple of days with friends I have not been away with before. Yes, there is a bit of panic on my part. But I can't never go anywhere again, so here goes nothing.


So the hippity-hop through midtown?

When last we left our heroine, she was sporting a cast on her left foot. On Wednesday, when she went to the doctor, she didn't so much forget a shoe as it did not actually occur to her that she might need one. Whether this is sheer idiocy or pessimism or a mix of both – well, you make the call.

Cast comes off (also somewhat unbelievably). I thought for sure I couldn't be the only person ever to be this dumb/pessimistic in history of the practice, but apparently I am. Office assistant just looked at me like I was crazy and went back to what she was doing.

And so if you saw a girl in a long blue dress and one pink-and-white sneaker hopping down Seventh Avenue (in the rain) to the Penn Station taxi rank... well, you probably thought exactly what I was thinking: What the hell?

Day 43.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Forty Days and Forty Nights

Up late writing, two nights in a row – though (part of) tonight's was that it wasn't until 11.45ish that I finally had time to do the fiction writing. Desperately trying not get out of the habit as fast as I am (almost) in it.

Just a quick post lest anyone (Bueller? Bueller?) wonder if the silence means I've fallen down the binge hole. I haven't, although it's been a tough few days on the food front – often so hungry that all I can do is be grateful that most days have not been like this.

And today at the nutritionist we spent a lot of time discussing food (duh!), which made me embarrassed about the lack of variety in my diet, my weird food issues (not a fan of many sauces; don't often mix foods together unless it's, say, a stew) and of course, hungry. Because I am, of course, very suggestible.

It was 7 pm when she weighed me. (I was amused when she held up a pair of pants and a shirt and showed me another client stashes with her as a "weigh-in day" outfit, and that others have all kinds of rituals – she must have seen it all, especially in New York City.) I had originally said I didn't want to know the number, and that I'd close my eyes or get on backwards. And then I decided I was being ridiculous. She wants to weigh me weekly, although if my appointment time changes (I don't always expect it to be at that time), how useful will that be, since weight can fluctuate within a day at least as much as it could in a week.

Oh well. I'll try to let her do her job without interfering too much. That's why I went to her in the first place. (I have, however, insisted I will not eat eggs for breakfast – I don't care how full they make other people; I do not ever get as full from them as I do from oatmeal, and I am an expert on myself, if nothing else.)

Weight on her scale, at 7 pm, was 178. Again, not freaking out particularly. Although I suspect I will if I go back next week and it's up drastically. Of course, I'm supposed to be going to the Catskills for the weekend, so who knows what I might eat?

Day 40.

Sunday, 12 August 2012


First the caveats.

It's hot out. It was in the afternoon, and after I'd drunk a lot (of non-alcoholic beverages).

Don't ask me what, exactly, possessed me to do this today, after not having done it for at least a year.

But it seems I have binged, exercised almost daily, and not-focused-on-the-number all the way up to – per the gym scale -- 180 pounds.

Which is nearly 40 pounds more than I weighed at my lowest weight ever, in 2009. A weight which, OK, I accept – based on commentary of friends and family since then – to have been too low. I think I was 150-155 when I left England in 2010.

I'm not sure I've quite processed it, because I am not freaking out quite as much as I thought I might be, although of course I immediately felt ginormous when I looked in the mirror. Or at least, more ginormous than usual. Funny how a dress that looked almost OK the other day (because I don't like how I look in much of anything these days) immediately seemed to fit differently (translation: worse).

I feel like it's no longer acceptable for me to walk around in gym clothes, which I often do. (Maybe this is the excuse I need to stop being so sloppy and you know, maybe even put on some lipstick every once in a while.)

I immediately want to set all kinds of goals. 165? 150? 155? Yowza, 25 pounds?

And then I stop my mind racing about it, or try to.

I know that when I've been very overweight, 180-185 was always the point where I'd start to look normal-ish – where I could walk into any shop and find something that fit. I guess maybe my body composition has changed or the sizing has, because I can put US 8/10s on my body.

Either way, I need to remember that there have been times in my life when I would have been delighted to be this size, and that I'm still a good 60 pounds lower than I was where I started. And also: That I am headed in the right direction, even if the right direction is no change in weight at all.

Day 38. 

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Turn and Face the Strange

All I wanted to do today was eat.
I finished breakfast; I wanted more. Same at lunch. Right after I had my snack (early) I could only think about when I'd next get to eat, and how far away it seemed. Tonight when a friend was busy chatting to the owner of the salon after our nails had long dried, all I could think was: I need my ice cream. (It's a ritual for us.)
I guess there's nothing to do but be grateful that not all days are like today.
So, the nutritionist? Not much to report yet. I have to go back Monday to finish the introductory session. She hasn't made any comment about anything I've told her I eat, nor has she (yet) told me any swaps.
She's asked me a few questions about various foods that make me think I have a pretty good idea of where she might be going, and I'm not so sure I like it. But I am resistant to change at the best of times.
I'm trying to keep an open mind.
Day 37. 

Friday, 10 August 2012

Danger: Approaching Hard Hat Area

A friend of a friend who's a trainer at a super-fancy gym I could never afford offers to put me through an arm and ab workout.
As I'm sitting on a stability ball tugging and twisting pulleys, we trade reviews about instructors at a spinning studio we both go to (as does the friend we have in common).
Then she says: "Do you find you're having to cut your food back not to gain weight?"
I can feel myself becoming flustered. I have no way of knowing what she will say after I respond, of course, but I find myself wishing I knew a polite way to shut down that line of questioning. It's not that I think she's going to give me advice; she just seems curious.
I want to cut my food back, of course, and I can't help thinking that I should, but I tried a couple of times and I was hungry. Which I have been most of this week – not only eating all my usual food but also eating a snack in the evening.
 The answer to her question, of course, is that I don't know. I don't weigh myself. And most of my clothes already don't fit so I wouldn't necessarily notice if a pound or two had crept on in the eight days I've had this cast.
But I struggle to answer her question politely, because I suddenly feel defensive and embarrassed – and ridiculous.
I start to say three things I can't quite remember, to try to explain all of this, and then stop and say: "The short answer is no, I don't."
She looks at me and says kindly, "You know, I had a client I trained for a year. And after a year she told me she was bulimic."
I imagine I looked defensive or wary as she was speaking, maybe even indignant. I've just met her – does she think to train me once she has to know?
But she's not finished. " When she told me I thought: 'You waited a year to tell me this?' But what I'm trying to say is people are ready when they're ready."
What I understand this to mean is that she knows there's more to the story, but that I don't owe her any explanation.
Then she changes the subject, peppering me with so many questions that I don't think about the food for the rest of the session.
But when I left I couldn't help wondering, as I often do, why simple questions about food fluster me so – why I feel so defensive, or why I feel the need to explain myself to people I hardly know. I suspect it's a corollary to the jokes about my own weight I used to make when I was overweight – attempting to blunt my own embarrassment and shame about my size. Making jokes about your own weight is a bit like gossiping, isn't it – a cheap way to try to make yourself feel included that just ends up making you feel empty?
I think these days I feel the need to explain myself because what I really wish I could do is hit the pause button. Almost every person I meet I want to say, "Actually, could we first meet in three to six months when I am hopefully a little thinner and dressed better?" But because I can't I want to let them know that I'm under construction – "Don't worry, I know I need work, and I'm working on it!"
Except I realize more and more that the thing that needs even more work is my brain, for thinking I need to say these things in the first place.
Tomorrow I'm going to see a nutritionist. I am terrified.
Terrified of what she will tell me I can and can't eat, or should and shouldn't eat. Terrified of how little she will tell me I need to eat to lose weight. Terrified I will catch sight of my weight when she weighs me, which I suspect she will need to do to figure out what I should eat. (I don't want to know the number.)
I am paying actual money to go and see her because I'm honestly not sure any more what and how much I should be eating. Since 2006 I've tinkered and tinkered to the point where I can remember the structure underneath it all. It's like editing a photo when you play with the color a little too much and you need to go back to the original saved version. Except apparently I didn't save mine.
I know that I don't have to do anything she says, and that she is not the only nutritionist in the world. But once you know certain things you can't go back to not knowing.
Day 36.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

One Shade of Gray

When I stay up all night – which I did last night, trying to finish a story – the world goes gray the next day.
I want to eat everything. I'm irritable. I feel depressed; punctured – like nothing nice will ever happen again. Usually (and this is true for today), I have a long list of things to deal with that I've put off until I finish the story, and of course I don't feel like doing any of them. I take things personally. (Who am I kidding? I do this all the time.)
I know this, and I remind myself of it, and yet somehow I'm still surprised when it happens. When everything seems gloomy, and I have to stop and say: Everything will be better when you wake up tomorrow.
I forced myself to do my 50 minutes of fiction late today (after four weeks of 45 minutes, I decided I could handle 50 this week), and I sat in the cafe suddenly feeling old and sad, mourning that I didn't feel like I had anyone who'd be appropriately excited, or at least pleased, with a bit of work-related good news I received Tuesday. I missed, of all things, the wildly entertaining email correspondence I had with Mr. Married at this time last year. (I never did meet up with him again, but I would give in from time to time and write. I don't anymore. I digress.)
A friend just called. I feel slightly better. But also, because laughing is like caffeine for me, fairly wide awake. Which is bad news at just after 11 pm when you haven't slept the night before.
I forgot to mark this anniversary earlier in the week, but Sunday was a year since I landed back in New York after nearly six weeks abroad. (Is that why the summer seems so long and hot to me this year?) All year I have remembered vividly landing in the sticky heat of an August evening after having binged my way home from Provence.
I'd spent the previous month with good friends. It felt almost like college, and then suddenly I was alone – really alone, because the job I moved here for was so isolating -- in a huge city I wasn't even sure I wanted to live in.
To say a lot has happened since then would be both trite and the understatement of the year.
I'm glad I'm not where I was then.
Day 35.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

The Doctor Is In

Since when is everyone in my neighborhood a doctor?

It takes me longer than usual to get anywhere, not just because I limp, but because every nine feet someone stops me to ask about the cast. (It's happening enough that I no longer bother putting in my headphones to listen to music.)

Often the person has at some point had to wear one, and stops to (a) learn what my injury is (you can always tell what theirs was because that's the question they ask you), (b) comment on how fancy my cast is (it's got a built-in inflatable cushion!), (c) commiserate about how tough and frustrating it is, and/or (d) offer "advice."

I'm fine with the first three, but it is the last one that is really starting to annoy me. Whenever I comment that I am only allowed seated arms and abs, the person inevitably says: "Oh, but swimming is good and low impact."

"Yes, but I specifically asked about that and he specifically said no," I say.

This is when they tell me that doctors "say" all kinds of things, doctors are too strict and I'll be fine swimming, that _they_ were allowed to swim...

When I tell them I am keen to heal as quickly as possible so for once in my life I am doing exactly as I've been told (or as close to I've been told as possible), they inevitably frown.

"But swimming is no impact," they say, looking at me like I am just being the fat girl who is looking for any excuse not to participate in gym class.

"I think he was concerned I could bend my foot at a bad angle," I say.

More frowning. "But.."

"Thanks," I say firmly. "Part of the reason I have this problem now is because I tried to fix another problem myself. So I'm going to listen to instructions."

"But I swam and I was fine," the person will say.

"I specifically asked and he specifically said no," I say, smiling brightly. "And I would rather do nothing for two weeks and heal faster than kick along at half-mast for several months because I was so determined to cheat."

Person shrugs. Walks off, leaving me wonder if I am crazy for, uh, actually following the advice I am paying for. At the tail end of that is fear that my very limited mobility will go on for weeks -- and that my level of fitness will be so far shot that I will hardly be able to do anything. And that I will give it all up, and go back to 240 pounds.

My mind never stops sprinting and leaping even when I can't.

Day 33. 

Monday, 6 August 2012

The Unkindest Cut

Once upon a time, when I was 21 and very overweight and somewhat adrift the summer after I graduated from college, I started a diet.

Starting a diet, of course, was nothing new. But this diet was different because I stuck to it. And because I whittled it down. I don't remember how, exactly – all I remember is thinking that I wanted more results faster, and if some was good, more (or in the case of the diet, less) was better. And somehow I whittled and whittled until I was down to three peaches a day.

I'm not exaggerating: Three peaches. Sometimes, if I were really, really starving, I might allow myself a soft pretzel. I had a huge fountain diet Coke cup and I would go and refill it at a place down the street until the cup nearly disintegrated. And then I would buy another one and drink more.

I don't remember how long this lasted, only that it didn't: Eventually, of course, I began bingeing and could not stop – bingeing my way up rapidly to my old size. I can barely remember this time, but my body does not forget. I think whenever I get really hungry, it is that feeling of constant, extreme hunger – I also was running an hour a day at the time – that my body thinks is coming, even 16 years later.

I'm embarrassed by the story for a lot of reasons, but mostly because I never got thin enough to look like someone who ate that way. Over the years, I have wished – with varying degrees of ardor -- that I could summon that sort of willpower again.  

I never have.

And nor should I.

But I need to remember that I have this ability to restrict severely – and although it may work for a while, eventually it leads nowhere very good.

Why do I bring this up now? Because my extremely limited ability to move makes me want to severely cut back on my food. Even though I have experimented with trying to cut so much as a snack, right now I need to recognize that I can't.

Today, for example, I had lunch at a restaurant I frequent, and I decided just to leave off the side I usually order. 

You know, just to see.

I thought I was OK. But within an hour I was hungry, as I have been almost since then, despite my having an extra-large snack and a generous dinner.

Maybe it's psychological – sometimes there are days when I eat my usual lunch and am just hungry afterwards. 

But today it felt like panic hunger – the kind that makes me feel like I will never ever be full again.

The kind that makes bingeing feel not just like an urge, but like a necessity.

Day 32. 

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Sexier than Ryan Lochte

The blues crept in this morning and started unpacking, slowly taking over like an inconsiderate houseguest.

It started so small: A brief exchange this morning where I was trying to do something nice for a not-quite-friend who happens to be an editor, who thinks she might want a job at my old employer. We were musing about who would be best to send her resume to (she'd already sent it to the one person she knew) and I offered to introduce her to someone else.

"Oh, I know her," she said. "I actually called her to ask her to do a story for me recently but she said she 
wasn't available."

Ouch, I thought. You've never asked me. (It's a women's magazine, she edits the types of stories I have been known to write, so it's not like, say, she works at somewhere that is a stretch for my name to appear.)

And on it went from there. These days – some days – it honestly doesn't take much. A few hits in the same day – a friend who knew perfectly well how incapacitated I am at the moment, yet suggested meeting somewhere in Brooklyn that would have been a haul for me to get to, for example -- and suddenly the picture darkens even on things that made me happy hours or days before; my own moody Instagram filter.

If there is any plus side to this it is that I recognize what's happening, and know that sometimes the smallest things can also lift me up. (Exercise sometimes does, but the kind I can do right now does not.)Today I kept falling, and then two encounters with total strangers, one after another, lifted me up just enough so that the hem of my dress was no longer in the water. (One a guy who stopped to commiserate about my cast, and the other a family visiting from Manchester I saw studying a map and so stopped to ask if I could help.)

I'm starting to recognize that on days like today I am always going to contemplate food. It's insidious: It's not like I think seriously about bingeing. What I do is start considering various options I don't usually consider: Buying a box of ice cream sandwiches and keeping them in the freezer so I can have them for snacks, as I did this morning. Or as I did this afternoon: hmmm, what is this random chocolate pie (of the packaged Hostess kind, except not a brand I recognize), and how many calories is it? Let's see, shall I have this Starbucks protein box?

None of these things are terrible on their own, of course. But one thing I think I've learned is that when food looks sexier than Ryan Lochte to me – when I start thinking if I can just hit on the perfect thing to eat maybe that, at least, will cheer me (or maybe, make me feel like I'm not messing up the rest of my life) – that is exactly when I need to keep my food as (relatively) boring as possible. To stick to things I know I like and that will fill me up, so that there is no wondering – as there sometimes is when I try something new – whether I could/should have more.

My dad always insists on eating in the most exotic restaurant he (or likely the person he's with – he does not ever do the legwork) can possibly find, whether or not it is any good or even owned by people of the nationality whose food it purports to serve. This can mean, for example, that while in France he will be disappointed to eat plain old French food – didn't we pass a Lithuanian restaurant a couple of hours ago?

I have sometimes mused (never to him) that perhaps his life is dull, so his food needs to be exciting. And here I am doing the same thing.

Day 31.  

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Though It Seems So Far Away...the Day Will Come

Those who can, do. And those who can't stay home on a Friday night and do their (overdue, but with permission) taxes.

(Forty-five minutes' worth of organizing, anyway.)

Another exciting Friday night in the life of Ms. Beth, but at least this time with some good reason. Trying to go out with my foot in this shape would make me, shall we say, a bit of a heel. (Groan. I really do need to get out more.)

So, thirty days without a binge.

Also without alcohol or overexercising (not that the latter has been an option for the past few days).

It's hard to tell if a relatively quiet life has been the cause or result of this – I'd have to say it's a little of both. I have enjoyed the relative peace and lack of drama, though – I hope I can preserve it while getting out a little more and yes, hopefully having a drink or two. Lambrusco, for some reason I've got my eye on you.

Like all units of time – except when they involve, say, waiting in traffic – the thirty day period has gone both incredibly fast and suuuper slow. It seemed like I would never get here, and now suddenly, here I am. The last few days went crazy quick, like a ball gathering speed as it rolls downhill.

But what comes after day 30 without a binge? Day 31, hopefully.  It doesn't end.

It's too daunting to think about, except one day at a time.


Today also marks four weeks where I have written fiction for 45 minutes a day. That is no time at all – barely enough for a paragraph most days – but added up it's 15 hours of work I wouldn't have done otherwise.

I'm still on Chapter 1 I thought at the start of this week that I might finish it this week, but it takes what it takes. A lesson that could apply to not bingeing – and a lesson I would not have learned if I had been doing so. I'm fairly sure it would be impossible to have the discipline to do this if my head were in a food fog.

I'm a little afraid of finishing Chapter 1, if I'm honest, because I'm not sure I have much more in me than two chapters. But I've been surprised what I've found when I dug into this first chapter, so maybe the story – and I – will continue to surprise me.

I couldn't see myself getting to 30 days without bingeing, and here I am. Sometimes, I guess, you just have to start even if you have no idea where or how you might finish.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Strong Enough

Now I know why that arm bike is called the Krank. It makes me – wait for it – Kranky. Also cranky.

But, you know, also a little sweaty and a little calmer. So I will take it. And be grateful when I am cleared to return to my usual forms of exercise – whenever that may be – that I can do them.

I managed exactly a half hour on the Krank. It is incredibly boring, and the way it is engineered does not really allow for television-watching. Which is a funny thing for me to complain about because I never watch TV while working out. I need music. I need to zone out, not focus on following anything. (This is why I often do not like – or at least do not opt for – group exercise classes with complicated moves. Sometimes I just don't want to learn anything, if you know what I mean.)

I also saw a trainer about coming up with some arm exercises for me. I know loads of them, of course, but I am horrendously unmotivated about doing any kind of seated weights, so I'm basically paying someone to babysit me.

Of course I had to go through the typical trainer intake crap – and I say crap because I think it's outrageous when gym trainers start asking questions about diet. Find me one who is a dietitian and fine. But otherwise they are telling you the same pseudo-science you yourself could read in a magazine – and lots of times worse. (On Monday I happened to meet a very successful fitness instructor/trainer who advocated juice cleanses – don't get me started on those -- and at times in my life I personally have seen trainers who tried to convince me to do fast days and all manner of crip-crap, as my grandmother would call it.)

Anyway. I knew this sort of questioning would be coming and I had worked myself up into a tizzy about it before it even happened. I think a lot of it was in my head. Like because I am not slim these days – I'm not sure if I'm fat anywhere but in my mind and possibly New York City, both of which are equally crazy, but I definitely am not slim – I don't have a right not to discuss my diet. Or he would assume I didn't know what I was talking about.

He asked me to rate my diet on a scale of 1 to 10. I did. (I gave it an 8, partly to avoid further discussion and partly because for the past 29 days, it has been very clean.)

Then he asked me to take him through a typical day. I took a deep breath.

"I already have someone I consult about that, so I'd rather not discuss that," I said as brightly but firmly as I could manage. He started to protest, then perhaps thought the better of it. And that was it.

At the start, I had told him I was stronger than I looked – that I can do full pushups, and that often in group fitness classes instructors who don't know me eye me up then approach to tell me the weight I've chosen is going to be too heavy. I tell them (cheerfully) that if they see me doing something with poor form I will drop down immediately. Usually I don't have to.

He put me through some tests. I could tell he didn't believe me, because he started me on very low weights, and after I did a couple of reps, added a minimum of 40 pounds.

"Damn," he said at the end, shaking his head. "Most people who tell me they're stronger are really far from it. But you are very strong."

Strong enough to get through all of this? 

Day 29.  

Thursday, 2 August 2012


The tears started pricking my eyes somewhere around the third round of the traffic lights going from red to green. By the fifth round, my cheeks were squinching up in an effort to stop myself.

But there I was on the corner of 13th Street and Fifth Avenue, crying because I couldn't get a cab home. At age 37.

I might add that it was a summer weeknight, not at primetime, not raining – it should have been dead easy. But cabs were coming from both directions full or off duty, dozens of them. And though I live not far from there, I was tired and in pain and did not want to walk one more step.

Eventually I gave up, walking – well, limp/shuffling – home, crying a little and muttering, like a crazy person, "I f—king hate New York. I f—king hate this f—king city."

Which I don't, but I surely did that moment. I was tired. Tired of the fight to get what I need, in so many ways.

I called a friend and left a choked up voicemail. And in the two minutes and thirty seconds, I calmed down and carried on walking home.

It did not occur to me for even one second that food would make it better. It did not occur to me to binge.

Day 28.  

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

And This, To Boot

No exercise of any kind whatsoever for at least two weeks.

That was the instruction from the doctor, who thinks I have a stress fracture. It is the “thinks” that is driving me crazy. Like, what if this isn’t the problem and he first has to start figuring out some other solution in two weeks? I’m guessing that whatever is wrong with my foot can only be helped by two weeks of rest, but still…

Possibly worse than the rest is the cast/boot I have to wear, which is more painful than the injury. Seriously. And I have to wear it all the time, including in my apartment. At the moment it is uncomfortable enough that I can hardly think straight. How on earth am I going to write?

I nearly cried when the doctor made his pronouncement – and that was before I knew about the boot (much less tried it). It set off – and continues to set off – a wave of panic about weight gain, bingeing, and total loss of fitness. (Oh, let’s be honest – the panic is about weight gain. If I could eat as much as I wanted and see no ill effects from it, I probably would.)

Immediately I started thinking about what and how I can cut my food because I am not exercising or even walking my usual amount, but I know that I can’t do that. So I feel trapped. Which, I don’t need to remind you, is a binge trigger.

I should laugh that I am this distraught about at least two weeks of being prohibited to exercise – my elementary/teenage self would have been delighted. But it's been since November 2006 since I went more than about four days without exercise. These days, working out is more than just calorie burn – it’s how I get going in the morning, how I de-stress, where I get ideas for stories, and often, how I think things out. I take a break from writing and I exercise or go for a walk with my ipod on, and sometimes, the words I tried all morning or afternoon to write unjumble themselves into a coherent thought. Sometimes.

Day 27.