Monday, 24 December 2012

More Than (Thousands of) Words

I wrote all the words in the world these past two weeks -- sorry if anyone else needed any.

Hence my absence from the blogosphere.

But if I had any words left – and I’m still not sure I do – I would tell you that:

1. I lost a pound the week of the binge after dinner with friends, which made me feel like I’d gotten away with something.
2. I binged again on Saturday the 15th (more of which, shortly). I stayed the same that week.
3. This week, so far, has been a struggle. And there is Christmas Eve dinner (not so worried about that one) and now an unexpected Christmas Day invitation (much greater cause for concern). And beyond that I’m headed to France and then, briefly, London in mid-January. I haven’t been to London without bingeing (and the last time, there was no other way to describe it but of the violent kind) since I lived there.

The Saturday binge I could feel coming. I was beyond stressed out with work, very anxious about the publication of a critical story I feared could result in a very public shaming or a lawsuit (or both), and had two afternoon-to-early-evening Christmas parties to attend (one up at 140th street, the other in Brooklyn, which for Londoners is probably the equivalent of one in, say, Pontoon Docks and the other in, I don’t know, Chiswick. Maybe even Heathrow.) I knew very well that if I binged it would be very difficult to work on Sunday, which I knew I’d have to do – I had a huge and very complicated story due on the Monday.

I felt trapped.

The major strategic error of the day was to try to do it all: To run from a meeting to trying a new workout to World’s Fastest Lunch to the Upper East Side to get my hair blown out (Did I really need that? In retrospect, no) to grab some wine and then up to the first party on the Upper West Side. En route I dropped and smashed my iPhone, which is worse than it sounds because I recorded interview with subject of critical story on it – and had not downloaded it to my computer. (Unbelievably for me, I managed not to lose it when this happened. I freaked out for about twenty-five seconds, before realizing there was zero I could do about it at that moment. This, for me, is nothing short of unbelievable.)

The whole day I could feel the binge, like a spot on my face that hurts for hours before a nasty zit appears. I had my lunch and immediately thought: I want more. I need more.

When I arrived at the hair salon, on whose Hershey’s kisses I once started a binge, they had a box of proper good fancy chocolates with scrummy-sounding fillings. The whole time I was there, I wrestled with the idea of having one. I decided it would be a bad idea; that I should eat my usual afternoon snack (a half a peanut butter sandwich), because I didn’t want to arrive at a party hungry and on a sugar high.

And then I got to the party. Within approximately four minutes I had crammed a Christmas cookie in my mouth. And I was off to the races. Macaroni and cheese, sliced ham (bizarrely sweet), cheese, peanut m&ms, red velvet whoopie pies, Tostitos, more Christmas cookies… And white wine. Lots of white wine.

I wanted to cancel the nutritionist appointment (and in fact, told her that if I do cancel she should ask me if I really need to). Honestly, it is so hard for me to walk in there after a binge. I want to go away and not reappear until I get it right.

But that is not how progress is made.

And I think I am making some.

After the party binge I ended up going to a bar with an old colleague (the Christmas party was given by an editor from my former employer, although she invites very few work people to it – mostly family and neighbors). We had sweet potato fries and some revolting drink that bartender mixed up and my (gorgeous blonde) colleague promptly met a guy. I talked to a guy who was (a) Swedish, (b) 23, (c) apparently also into my blonde colleague and seemed disappointed she was busily kissing a fortysomething guy with a pimp (read: big diamond) ring. He was also, I learned, staying at a youth hostel. With his mother.

I left the bar and debated eating more, which is what I usually would do in that situation. I walked into a shop that had an awful lot of binge foods: muffins, cakes, the works. I bought a banana and walked out. I had a small frozen yogurt and checked to see whether I could make it to Magnolia Bakery. I could.

Just go home and be done, I thought. If you don’t eat any more you have some vague chance of waking up not feeling like you want to die tomorrow.

It wasn’t that much of a struggle. I got home. I did not eat peanut butter or nuts or even a square of dark chocolate I have had sitting in my refrigerator for, like, two months. I went to bed.

Day 8.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

If You're Happy and You Know It...Binge?

Why do I binge when I’m happy?

Is it because of some core feeling that I don’t deserve whatever is happening – or some (self-destructive) need to mess things up?

I genuinely don’t know.

All I know is that on Wednesday I received a (very unexpected) offer to write a monthly column for a newspaper I both like and respect. (Even though this is a private blog, I still feel uncomfortable writing its name – but it is the one for which I sometimes currently write.) This was less than 48 hours after an editor had called up wanting to buy a story I pitched to her six months ago, when she was at another magazine entirely. I was flattered that she’d even remember it.

And in the middle of all this, I saw an old friend/mentor who talked about wanting to set me up with her cousin. Who I met briefly last year, and who seemed to be among the nicest, smartest, and frankly, hilarious, people on this planet. Nothing might ever come of it, but after months of nothing going on in that area of my life (partly by choice), even the prospect was exciting, if terrifying. I was already dreading any post-date dissection of me by the two of them.

Thursday I went to the nutritionist. I’d lost another three pounds, for a total of 14. 

That night I went out to dinner with friends/professional contacts. We always have cocktails. The last time I went out with them, as I recall, I also ended up bingeing – thought it was also the day I’d been to lunch at the newspaper and I was happy and all had gone well.

I had dinner (sushi/sashimi). I ordered a side of brown rice because I just wanted more more more. And then I had too much (possibly embarrassingly so) of the dessert.

And then we left and I started bingeing. A black and white cookie at some bakery around the corner from the restaurant. A biscuit from Whole Foods. Two mini crumb cakes (packaged a la Hostess cupcakes). A ginormous oatmeal raisin cookie and a Linzer tart.

And then I debated going to Magnolia for icebox pie. Instead I walked into the CVS and bought a crummy chocolate chip cookie and vanilla ice cream sandwich (380 calories, said the package – I remember looking, though at that point, who even cares?)

I got home and thought about the giant jar of peanut butter, but something stopped me. I knew I couldn’t start bingeing on it or I wouldn’t be able to keep it in my diet, and it is one of my favorite things. Instead I ate a 2 oz. container of hummus (a sample I’d been given earlier in the day), 2 Babybel lights in my refrigerator, a serving-size package of cashews from Trader Joe’s, and a banana.

I’m particularly irritated about the stuff I ate at home: By this point I should know that I only ever eat samples when I’m bingeing. And the Babybels and the cashews I’d thought about getting rid of, just because they’re not on my food plan at the moment and every time over the past month I’ve looked at either of them I’ve thought: I bet I’ll only eat that if I binge.


Day 2.