So many people have commented on how quickly I slimmed down after having iBean. Yes, I am thinner now than I was before I got pregnant with Sashimi. I am currently the same size I was when I graduated from high school. If i walked around with an FAQ on my back, one of the questions would be “Do you work hard at it, or do you just have good genes?” The truth is, although in this particular instance I have not had to physically work hard (thanks to my friend thyroiditis and his sidekick breastfeeding), my relationship with food and my body has not always been so easy.
My eating is so much different now than when I was a teenager. I used to eat compulsively and was 155 lbs at my heaviest. Not huge, but not small either for a short girl. I would polish off a ring of sausage as a snack, or a large bag of tostitos and salsa. I drank a lot of coke and tequila (not together). I liked adding those flavoured creamers (try 7 or 8 of them) to my hot chocolate. Then, at 17, I overheard a boy refer to me as “cute, but chubby.” All I heard was chubby.
I started exercising regularly. I made a rule that I was only allowed to eat thin soups for lunch – no more sandwiches or other unnecessary bread consumption. I would only eat a banana for breakfast. Doing this helped me lose nearly 25 lbs in 6 months. Then my dad was killed in an accident, I dropped another 5 or 7 lbs in a matter of days. I went shopping for my grad dress (for my American friends, grad dresses here are equivalent to prom dresses) about a month afterward and was completely thrilled when I realized that I fit a size 4. I had never been a size 4, and the rush of seeing such a small dress on my body was something I cannot explain. By the time I actually graduated, the dress was slightly too big, and I could have easily worn a size 2.
When I moved out on my own to attend university, I remember thinking these exact words: “When I am on my own, I can lose as much weight as I want.” That is scary to think of now, but I distinctly remember thinking it. I started keeping a food journal, documenting everything I ate, whether I had a bowel movement, how much I exercised, and how much I weighed. A typical day would read:
Breakfast: banana. Lunch: mini pita with cream cheese. Supper: salad with salsa and light ranch. Tae-bo one hour. No BM. Weight: 103 lbs.
There were days when I ate out at a restaurant. Those days, I usually just drew a big angry face and took ex-lax when I got home (I have no gag reflex, it seems, as I tried to purge and it never worked. A blessing in disguise). A couple of my friends from high school saw me and commented on how they coud feel my spine when they hugged me. I just told them it was stress, all the while masking my extreme delight in being so thin. I should also mention that I was amenorrheic for about a year. It did not bother me at all.
In the spring, I started seeing a psychologist (for another matter) and through therapy, realized that I had an eating disorder. Meanwhile, my physician had put me on an anti-depressant that had a side effect of causing increased appetite – I think she suspected something was wrong as well. At first, I would put the extra food I craved in my mouth, chew it up, and then spit it in the garbage. Gradually, I started to see how deranged this was, and started swallowng the food. I managed to put on 10 lbs over the four-month summer break, followed another 10 lbs during my two-week séjour in France. I returned home no longer fitting my pants and with significantly larger breasts (much to Tony’s delight).
The guilt I felt over eating what I felt was too much (what I now realize was eating normally) took a few years to subside. Tony was a very positive support for me, and I purged my closet of all my skinny clothes, so I would not put them on, feel them cutting into my flesh, and revert back to old ways.
Now, 10 years and three babies later, I like to think i have achieved some sort of balance, somewhat shaped by the fat girl and anorectic girl constantly dueling in my head. My weight stays pretty constant. I eat what I want, all the while watching portion size and making sure that I am getting lots of fruit and veggies. Sometimes the anorectic girl wins, and I order salad at a restaurant when I really wanted pasta. Other times, the fat girl wins when I eat a big piece of pie for breakfast or eat two handfuls of cookies while watching TV. But they play a zero-sum game. If one girl wins, the next time she will lose.
Time had been kind to me, as I really don’t think about these things anymore. I enjoy my life and food on my own terms, exercise when I want (or have the energy) to do it. In becoming a mother, I have seen my body do incredible things and I have more respect for my body. When I see myself in the mirror, I like what I see just as it is.**
**Okay. Maybe not the acne. But I guess that’s what concealer is for.