Thursday, 2 October 2014

Sixty Days

I have to be honest: I’d hoped that after two months of not bingeing, buying jeans would be more pleasant. That I’d like what I saw in the mirror better.

I didn’t. The truth is that even after two months of not bingeing – and watching portion sizes -- I am still heavier (or at least bigger, since I haven’t gotten on a scale) than I was when I was at my heaviest last year, which felt plenty big enough.

I felt so huge I actually had to go and try on the one pair of jeans I kept from when I was at my absolute heaviest. You can imagine I was relieved when they were so big as to be unwearable.

This is the thing: Except for the past couple of days, when I have been doubting myself and the way I’m eating, the past two months I’ve been more free of food obsession than at any point I can remember in my entire life. I don’t finish a meal and immediately wonder about the next. I very rarely clock-check wondering when it will be time to eat again. I don’t struggle to work through hunger, because (mostly) I’m not. And walking by bakeries and other places I used to binge does not require superhuman effort. The other night I walked home at 12.30 am, after a few glasses of wine, which normally would be prime binge time for me, and it just wasn’t really a thought.

I would for sure like to be thinner, and – given how carefully I’m eating and the amount I exercise – I’m frustrated that I’m not. But the minute I think about making any changes or trying to cut anything, I’m immediately hungry (and the other night had to cab home after a night out because I didn’t trust myself not to stop at shops and binge otherwise). So I’m tabling the decision for another month. Sanity or being thinner? I don’t want to choose, and for right now, I’m not going to.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014


“It's healthy to say uncle when your bone's about to break.” – Jonathan Franzen

Forty-four days ago, I gave up all grains and dairy. The dairy I think may come back soon; the grains, I’m not so sure about.

I never thought I’d be here, desperate enough to do this. Deprivation leads to bingeing, is what I always insisted. But seven plus weeks in, my hunger is different. I don’t think about food that much. I don’t dream about cupcakes or bread. If my meal is slightly late (or even, as it was on Sunday, a couple of hours late) I’m not about to lose it.

I don’t know how long this will last, but for the moment it doesn’t feel much like deprivation. Very occasionally when I’m out to dinner I look longingly at bread or dessert, but for the most part I think: No, thanks; it’s not worth it.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Thirty Days

It’s been a long time since I got to this point – possibly even something like this time last year, when I’d just hit the 90-day mark.

I remember I binged at a friend’s bachelorette party in late September. There was another one a few weeks later, and then – in a pattern I always hope has ended – they became more and more frequent.

I feel like the year until this point has been one constant battle. Bingeing, eating too-big meals that weren’t binges but still didn’t make me feel so great, and then bingeing again. Or bingeing anyway. And with the bingeing comes the isolating and the hiding and the feeling of being stuck – unable to change any part of my life.

But slowly, s-l-o-w-l-y, things are starting to change again. For the past 30 days, maybe even a few more, I’ve been working for an hour every day (including weekends) on a project I’ve been thinking about for years. I’ve been cleaning a little every day (don’t know about you, but my place seems to be as beyond help as me when I’m bingeing). And I’ve been slowly making my way through some things that have sat on my to-do list for far too long.

I haven’t gotten on a scale. All I can tell you is that I feel a little smaller than I did maybe a month ago, but still heavier than I have been in a long, long time. Heavy enough to worry, for example, about what I’m going to do about a fall coat. And heavy enough to be maybe a wee bit grateful for this sudden bout of heat and humidity, because it means I can put off buying jeans for at least another couple of weeks.

I miss my old clothes. I miss finding getting dressed fun – or at least, not a chore. I miss feeling like I can do anything without worrying about my size. But I’m working my way back there, one day at a time.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

The Dinosaur Diet

So I hesitate to say this – because I spend my professional life debunking gimmicky weird diets, and because personally I loathe them – but I’m doing the paleo diet and dare I say it’s working?

I know, I know. What could be wrong with beans or hummus or peanut butter all of the other often-arbitrary things the paleo diet says you cannot eat? My answer to that is: Nothing. I’m not doing super-strict paleo. I don’t care if I have paleo-accepted carbs (sweet potatoes, bananas) at every meal (something I'm pretty sure is against the rules), and if I eat peanut butter instead of almond butter one day, so what?

But what I am being strict about is avoiding any kind of bread, grain, or pasta – and for now, dairy. I’ve tried this diet a few times in the past couple of months, and didn’t get very far, because it’s super-unpleasant at the start. Like, you feel like you have the low-carb flu, or at least, I did. And it is tremendously unforgiving, in that if you slip, all you can think about it how miserable it’s going to be to repeat nearly two weeks of feeling pretty crap to borderline crummy.

But this time I have pushed on through to Day 18 and I’m feeling a lot better. And perhaps more importantly, I’m feeling a huge difference in my hunger. I don’t wake up starving. And when the hunger does come, it is different – somehow it gnaws less. It’s quieter. And I don’t think (much) about eating forbidden carbs. Like, the other day I was walking by a bakery I used to binge at and nearly forgot it was there.

I haven’t been weighing myself so I can’t speak to its general effectiveness in that department. But it’s making me hopeful again, and for now, that’s enough.

Day 18 without a binge.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Here We Go Again

So I’ve gained weight. A lot of weight. So much weight that I avoid mirrors and clothing shopping and events of any kind cause huge stress. Case in point: I’m supposed to go to a friend’s birthday weekend in a place where it will be cool enough for jeans, and I don’t have jeans, and can’t face buying them. It’s too hot in New York for jeans right now, anyway. And I don’t want to see pictures of myself in jeans – or, frankly, anything else.

And it’s not that I haven’t been trying to get my act together. It’s just… not happening. Or really, it happens for a few days and I fall apart spectacularly, usually at the weekend. And I’m not even doing any kind of rigid diet – at this point all I want from myself is not to binge.

I have at least a few more days’ reprieve from dealing with it, because I’m visiting friends in France. (I know, what a drag, right?) This is actually the one place in the world where I never binge and I’m doing my best to keep it that way.

‘Till soon.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Hot Dog!

This past weekend I visited the sister and the nephewage – and ran a 10-mile race around the cherry blossoms for which I hadn’t really trained. (Thanks, I suspect, to CrossFit, I ran the whole thing without stopping, albeit not very fast.)

Better than the race, though, was this: On Saturday night, we returned to the house with children a little cranky and overtired from a birthday party. (I initially interpreted my sister’s failing to offer me cake as a comment on how large I’d gotten. Either way, I didn’t eat cake and didn’t much notice – I was busy talking to one of the dads about Russian literature. Oh DC and your nerdery, sometimes I miss you!)

The plan was to order out, and my sister eyed me warily when her husband suggested she and I walk over to Pennsylvania Avenue, where there’s a burger and a pizza restaurant next to each other. She has witnessed years of my crazy food behavior, which often has included extreme control over where I eat.

But I shrugged, said I was fine with whatever, and meant it. I decided on pizza, pausing only when my sister told me they were “huge slices” instead of individual pies.

“How many do you think is dinner?” I asked. She suggested two slices. They were delicious. I realized the only pizza I’ve eaten in recent years that wasn’t part of a binge was an Amy’s low sodium frozen spinach pizza, which I used to eat almost daily for lunch when I first moved to New York.

The next day, after my ten-miler, we took the triplets to a lunch/playdate. Food available, even for adults, was hot dogs, chili, and tater tots. It wasn’t what I would ever pick, but it was that or nothing. I had a hot dog on a bun – surprisingly good – and a few tater tots (not so much). I didn’t chafe at the fact that I was wasting a lot of calories on something I didn’t really want to eat. That’s probably why I didn’t also think about what I could eat when I left, or on the trip home.

I’m not sure what switch has flipped. Maybe it’s that I haven’t been trying to control my meals much. For sure I am eating more than I need, but I’m so relieved not to be bingeing that I almost don’t care.

Day 19.