Thursday, 29 September 2016


Facebook kicked up a memory I knew was sometime around now, though I didn’t know the exact date.

It was a friend’s bachelorette party three years ago, though I’m the only one looking at the photo who also knows it’s the day I binged after 123 days of not bingeing, which is the longest I’ve ever managed since I started counting.

I didn’t descend immediately into days of bingeing nonstop. In fact, I don’t think in the past three years I ever got there, though the frequency and intensity of the binges was soul-destroying. But after that binge at the bachelorette party I binged again about three weeks later, I believe, and – as is my pattern – the binges became more frequent from there. Things spiraled downward until I made the decision to get some treatment earlier this year.

I saw my counselor yesterday, and she was trying to convince me that relapse is not the end of the world, and that even if I did, I don’t have to fall as far as I did last time. Which I know. And yet I worry anyway. Now that treatment is over, life is opening up and getting bigger, and events are coming thick and fast.

I know that if I get to Day 124 this time all there is is the possibility of getting to Day 125. This isn’t something I’m ever done with. But I’d like to get there anyway.

Day 117.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016


Sunday morning I ran a 10k I was particularly anxious about. I don’t run more than 45 minutes these days and I rarely run straight through – usually I’m doing some sort of speed or hill work and there are plenty of walk breaks. I also don’t run nearly as often as I used to, and despite small improvements, my pace is only slightly faster than an anemic turtle. I’d just agreed to run the race – a friend’s company’s charity run – on Wednesday, and I only realized on Saturday night how small the field was (maybe 100 runners) meaning there was a good possibility I could come in last.

Which I know would not be the end of the world as I know it, but I wasn’t looking forward to a flashback to my school PE days (only without the horribly itchy maroon shorts that were uncomfortably tight on me.)

The run, which was two laps around Regents Park, turned out to be glorious. It was a beautiful sunny day, and I was able to enjoy it, in part because I don’t run so often that it feels like punishment. I suspect it also helps that I’ve been eating carbs for weeks now (99 days on the day of the race.) I think they may slightly have messed up either the timing or the distance of the race, because somehow I finished in less than an hour, not last. (Although not all that far off it – I believe I was 109 out of 127.)

When I picked up my goodie bag, the guy handed me a size medium t-shirt without asking me my size. Bless.

I went and met a friend for Sunday lunch, which included an indifferent Yorkshire pudding I took a couple of bites of and left without giving it much thought. I realized I wasn’t far from Ottolenghi, and that maybe I could get my favorite cake – which I have not eaten all summer, for one reason or another – for a snack. I debated calling to make sure they had it, because some locations don’t (the one closest to me never does), and I knew I’d feel slightly rage-y if this one didn’t. But I was also scared of eating the cake, and told myself that if I walked over there and they didn’t have it it was a sign I wasn’t meant to eat it that day.

On the 15-minute walk over I decided I didn’t really feel like eating the cake, which – I know, I know! – I couldn’t decide if were the actual truth or just fear of what might happen if I did. I decided I was eating it if they had it.

They did. I bought it, but my hands didn’t shake the way they sometimes do when I buy things like it. It was 45 minutes before I got home, and en route it didn’t feel like I was carrying a bomb. Nor did I feel the need to eat it immediately, the way I often have in the past. I thought briefly about whether I should try to only eat half, but I let it go.

I got home and ate the cake maybe a little too fast, but without panic. I didn’t cut back on dinner or on my evening snack. I didn’t decide I needed to exercise more to compensate. I felt – and feel – curiously… fine.

Not every day is like that. But I’m hopeful if I keep going, more will be.

Day 101.

Friday, 2 September 2016

Ninety Days

Today is ninety days without a binge. I’ve been here before – twice that I know of, and a couple of other times I’m sure of, before the days I knew what a binge was and was only paying attention to how well I stuck to a diet. But it feels different this time around, because I didn’t get to 90 days by restricting food, which is always how I’ve done it before.

It’s been a funny old summer. There are girls in treatment with me – and I say girls because they’re in their late teens and early 20s – who body check, patting their collarbones and their thighs. But I sometimes sit in treatment pinching the tops of my thighs only to check that I am actually here – actually doing this. It all feels unreal somehow, this little bubble so far away from New York and even the London I used to know. I haven’t seen many friends, I don’t often leave the general Earls Court/Notting Hill/High Street Ken/South Ken area, and I’ve only been to a pub a couple of times, for dinner. (As I mentioned, mine is a general addictions treatment program, so we are randomly tested for alcohol and drugs – so I’ve had no booze for 90 days, either.)

Did anyone read any of the other Noel Streatfeild shoes books besides Ballet Shoes? I remember half a line from Movie Shoes, something about how if regular days were beads on a string, the days in America (or maybe it was on a film set) were… well, I can’t remember the rest of the sentence, but the idea was that they were completely different. And that’s how I feel about this summer. The above may sound bad and boring, but it’s actually been kind of nice. I finish treatment in a week – I’m not fixed, I hasten to add – and I’m a little scared about real life setting in again. I’ve fallen off the map with regard to work, and I’m realizing also that I can’t work at the pace I used to – at least not right now. I’m not so interested in the things I used to write about, and am struggling to do a couple of assignments I pitched a few months ago – it’s almost like they were pitched by another person. And I haven’t worried about how long it’s been since I’ve been on anything resembling a date and what that means for the rest of my life. But it’s all starting to come flooding back.

Assuming there are any readers left, you may be wondering what’s happened to my weight in all of this. Well, I am, too. I know I’ve lost at least a little bit of weight, because a dress that was can’t-leave-the-house tight is now wearable in public. I don’t get on a scale, though I’m blind-weighed every week to check that I’m not bingeing or restricting. I’ve found the desire to restrict goes up when the urge to binge goes down, and – although it feels strange to say this on what was once a weight loss blog – I sometimes struggle to eat all the food I’m supposed to. Which is not to say I struggle to actually get it down. It’s just that some days I have to really make myself eat all my snacks, instead of thinking, hmmm, if I could just skip those for a few weeks maybe I could be a little thinner. In the restricting is the roots of the bingeing, I know. I eat chocolate just about every day, but I haven’t been as good as I should be about eating my two puddings a week. I know. I know. It doesn’t sound like it should be difficult. But the desire to lose weight is still very, very strong, particularly so lately. I don’t know why – maybe because it’s still so much work to stick to a food plan that it feels like I should get to lose weight out of the deal, or maybe it’s because there’s still an idea in my head that the people who do know what I’ve been doing here will wonder why I’m not thinner.

But going back to the 90 days: The thing I’ve always struggled with in terms of counting is the idea that nothing happens. That your only reward for getting to 90 days is the chance to hit 91. I like to finish things, and the idea that recovery is an item on a to-do list that reappears every day is hard to, well, stomach. The most days I’ve ever had (in all the years I’ve counted) is 123; at least for now it’s going to have to be enough to work to surpass that. And then, who knows?