Monday, August 25, 2008


I stepped on the scale this morning after not having stepped on it for a week. It read 117. I stared at it in disbelief. There was no way I weighed that much. Last week I weighed 107. I decided to try again. It read 119. And again. 121. I think, there must be something wrong with the scale...and decide to buy a new one while running errands today.

I get home and weigh myself on the new scale, and it reads 105. I breathe a sigh of relief. Ahh, I think, that seems right. Time to throw the old scale in the trash. Worked for about 5 years, so I can't complain. I get to thinking to myself do I know which scale is actually right? I guess, I don't really. But in the long run, why should it really matter? Why do I have to care what the stupid scale says in the first place?

I know the answer, I just hate thinking about it. 12 years ago, when I was a figure skater, food and weight overtook my life. It is interesting to think that before then, I always ate whatever I wanted and never thought about it. I hardly ever weighed myself. But one fateful day, I got injured and shortly thereafter my grandfather died, and somehow I gained a few pounds...and the reaction was almost as if I had grown four heads.

I remember shortly before this, my mom had said to me at Christmas when I was eating a piece of pumpkin pie (always my favorite), "are you sure you should be eating that? M might not be able to lift you." (I was a pairs skater). I thought she was crazy. But I believe that comment had an effect on me, as did the one my one coach infamously said, "Pair skater's shouldn't weigh more then 100 pounds, if that," after he found out that I weighed around 114. Oddly enough, I don't think I had weighed 100 pounds since I was around 10 or 11. I had had a growth spurt, and I had been pretty solid at my weight for a good 3-4 years. The one that hurt the most though, was when my coach said to me "It's no wonder your feet hurt. You weigh too much." Ouch. All because I gained probably 4 pounds in a few weeks off.

I began to watch what I ate at this point, but felt like the weight couldn't come off quick enough. Especially not with weekly weigh ins and the comments rolling in. So, one fateful night after I felt I had eaten too much, I stuck my fingers down my throat. I knew it was wrong, but it was my secret and I felt oddly proud of myself. I kept doing it, although not in any obsessive way. If I wanted to eat something that wasn't a part of my diet, I would...I would just throw it up later. This behavior continued for probably two months. I eventually told a friend, and she told my coach, who took me to a therapist. I hated this therapist. She talked down to me. What I really wanted was someone who could tell me how to eat right again...I couldn't remember how. So, I eventually ended up at a nutritionist, who outlined an eating schedule for me. I followed it to a T...but found ways to cut corners and basically ended up starving myself. I was so rigid in what I ate. Kept track of every calorie. Memorized the calorie content of all my foods. Food was the center of my universe.

I got down to that 100 pounds and had no energy left at one point. I made the decision to eat more and hoped to stay at 100 pounds, and found a way to do so. For several months, I was able to pull this off. But one day, after coming home from a competition in Russia, I binged. And then I binged the next day and the next day. I weighed myself and freaked out. Not being logical, I of course didn't think about the fact that of course I weighed more because I was bloated. I began to try and make myself throw up again. I couldn't. So, I searched online for ways to help, and I found them. But the cycle had started and I couldn't stop binging and purging. I got worse and worse, and eventually sabotaged myself. My parents found out. Everyone at the skating rink found out. It was a miserable time.

I ended up in therapy AGAIN. And again, I HATED it. I lied to my therapist all the time. I found ways to hide what I was doing and I knew she would never know if I was telling the truth. Anyway, this went on for several months. I hated the way I looked and felt, because in this vicious cycle I had gained 25 pounds and couldn't stop gaining. I didn't stop until I made the decision to stop. I have to credit D with helping me with this because he came in to my life and told me I was beautiful no matter what. I don't think I could remember a time when someone had felt that way about me...or at least took the time to tell me.

I stopped close to 10 years ago. But that doesn't mean that I am still happy with the way I look...or that I don't have a miserable time of it. I don't believe I will ever have a "normal" relationship with food. It is almost impossible for me not to think about how eating a piece of cake or an extra serving at dinner will impact my matter how hard I try. I have made it several months without weighing myself, only to step on the scale and be shocked at my weight...or look at pictures and hate what I I begin to restrict my eating again. There are even those times when things are going badly for me and I feel so ridiculously bad, that my first thought is to hurt myself in this way (purging)...because it does hurt. Luckily though, I have always won that battle because I know how badly I don't want to go back there...the hardest thing to break is the constant desire to restrict...which is a daily battle when I don't feel happy with myself.

I am actually happy with myself right now, as this is the weight I feel best about myself at. However, I don't necessarily think my body likes it best at this weight. I have low energy at times and more aches and pains...and I bet if I wanted to have a kid right now, there wouldn't be enough fat on my body. B, bless him, tells me he thinks I should gain weight. He likes the pictures of me from a few years back when I had a bit more meat on my bones. I just have to find the mental piece of mind to get there, and feel ok about me when I do get there.

Probably the most positive thing that has come from this experience is the fact that I understand what so many young women go through anymore. And I have been able to be there to talk to them and help them through it. I can recognize that the only way they are going to change is to want to change...and that they need someone to listen...someone who has really been there...not just someone who has studied the underlying issues (sorry, but you have no idea what you are talking about).

I've resolved that until after the wedding I need to stay around this weight (already had my fitting), but after that I may try to gain a few more pounds. I did gain some from earlier in the year when I was WAY too underweight, but it is a slow process. I'm at least going to try and eat more for breakfast and lunch, and see if this helps with my low energy (or else I guess I will have to go to the doctor and get tested for other fun problems).

It isn't easy being so tied to a number. It sure isn't easy to explain the fear that comes when that number goes up. I wish I could go back to the days when it didn't matter. For now though, I'm working to show my mind that feeling good on a whole is better then just "looking" good (to oneself). What does it matter if you look good, if you don't have energy to really do much anyway?

Life shouldn't be ruled by numbers. One day, I hope to believe that.

1 comment:

Blue said...

Isn't it fascinating that all it took to really start the ball rolling for you was a comment. It was the same with me...though I never did go so deep into it as you describe here.

When I was 18, I dated a guy who actually taught me how to gag myself (!) He used twisted logic to convince me that "my body was the greatest gift God had given me, and if it wasn't in perfect condition, I was abusing the greatest gift I'd ever received". Yeah...I know. He'd work me out like a task master...taking upon himself the role of my personal trainer and monitoring every swallow that passed my sacred lips.

I've struggled with the whole body thing ever since. Though I didn't recognize at the time what a complete, controlling, utter mess he was, in the few short months he was in my life, how I felt and related to my body became a mess (though I only gave in to the desire to actually gag myself a few times. Both prompted by his disgust at me eating something so gluttonous as honeydew melon.).

I'd never had any problem with my body before him, but I've never not had issues since. (I admit your opening paragraph made me jealous...117! I remember 117! that was really close to my friend 115...which I'd been fine with because of all the "concern" when I was 110.)

The game is more intense at some times than others, but it's always there, playing out in the back of my mind. Most people wouldn't believe it, but I probably think about my body and weight more than any morbidly obese person does. I have all the same little games in my mind that you so eloquently described...but for the most part I've managed to ignore them and keep them in check. I think it's similar to the problem of can stop drinking, but you're still an alcoholic. I eat. I mourn the rising numbers on the scale. I knock the voices down and try to focus on health, fitness and not my fluctuations. But it's hard.

Now I have a little ectomorph of a daughter, and it's sick, I know, that I have often silently given thanks that she inherited her dad's body type. I've hoped she won't ever struggle with body issues, and have really tried hard to not pass any along to her. But at the end of the day, we all know it's not about the weight. It's about not loving oneself properly. So working on that is the best way to attack the deamons.

I'm glad you have a good man in your life. Doc has been the #1 supporter in me overcoming this as much as I have. And closing in on 40, I realize that chasing youth and beauty is a game I'm essentially done playing. Now I'm tasked with trying to figure out how to mature and grow older with grace and poise...two traits I've never had much mastery over ;-)

Hang in there! It really is possible to get to a point where you're happy, healthy, and your actions aren't causing you actual harm. The voice inside can be squelched and you can find joy in moderation. It took courage to write this, and I think that's one of the most cathartic things you can do to heal. It is for me, at least! ♥ to you!

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