Alright folks, it’s about to get real up in here.
About two months ago, I caught some kind of sucky stomach bug. Not the worst stomach upset I’ve ever had (that honor still belongs to Valentine’s Day 2013), but nasty. I was sent home from rehearsal to moan and groan in peace. I blew a tire on the way home, and had to wait for a gallant friend to come and rescue me, but that’s a story for another day.
Anyway. I went to bed and woke up right as rain…except….not. Ever since that little bug, my normally healthy digestive system (I’m fond of saying my stomach could shred a tin can) has been completely out of whack.
For a few weeks, I figured my body would probably just right itself as time went on. But when a month passed and I was still battling upset and nausea (and other things I’ll spare you the details of), I decided drastic measures were necessary. I completely re-hauled my diet. I took out EVERYTHING that could possibly be causing the problem, and planned on slowly re-introducing things like meat, dairy, starch, etc. I figured that 1) a few weeks of clean eating would reset my janky system or 2) I’d be able to pinpoint what exactly was triggering my tummy upset.
So I did. And folks, as an almost-lifelong dieter, let me tell you that it is way easier to limit your eating when you’re doing it to not feel sick rather than to lose weight. So I was doing ok. I was taking great care with my food, much more than I ever have before. And I was feeling better. Not 100%, but better. My one concern was that after about the first week, I wasn’t eating very much. Not so little to cause major concern, but I was definitely only eating two small-ish meals per day.
Then the last two weeks happened. I have been a mess of business, exhaustion and anxiety due to all kinds of stressors. The stress and lack of sleep caused my sick stomach came back with a vengeance, and I found myself basically unable to eat.
With the healthy eating over the first two weeks, and the barely eating over the most recent two weeks, it’s no shocker that I’ve lost weight. I can’t be sure how much, because I rarely weigh myself, but it’s at least eight pounds and possibly as much as twelve. And my-oh-my, the compliments they are a-flyin’!
“You look amazing! Did you lose weight? How did you do it?”
I try to explain that I’ve been sick, that it’s not a new weight loss plan or a newfound love of Zumba (fat fucking chance on that one). And while some people seem genuinely concerned that I’ve been unwell, most people’s eyes glaze over once it’s clear I’m not going to reveal some amazing new weight loss trick.
But you know who the worst offender is?
Because here’s the honest truth: I think I look fantastic. I was okay with my body where it was about 85% of the time, and that was a huge victory. After years of self loathing and yo-yo dieting, I finally said fuck it and decided to just deal with liking where I was, chub and all. But I’m not immune to our culture. Like all women, I’m getting the message that skinny = hot at all times and from all sides. To be considered a hot woman in America, you must be thin and you must be young. AND NONE OF US ARE GETTING ANY YOUNGER. Choosing to love my body even though I wasn’t skinny fueled me because it was an act of defiance. Fuck you, world! I’m gonna be a little chunky, and I’m gonna think I’m pretty anyway, and you’re going to have to fucking LIVE with it!
But now I feel like my defiance is draining away along with the weight. And once again, my sense of self is getting locked into how thin my body looks on a given day. I feel triumphant when the dress that was a little-too-snug slides on with room to spare, or when my skinny jeans that haven’t seen the light of day since I visited Prague 4 years ago zip up effortlessly.
And my disordered eating is re-appearing with a vengeance. I want to eat, but I’m scared to–and I’m scared both because I might get sick and also because I don’t want to gain weight. Two very tiny meals has become the norm for me, and I freak out if I eat more than that. I drink coffee instead of eating. I also know that disordered eating for me has always meant “binge eating,” and I’m scared for the day when my inner diet rebel declares enough is enough and pulls me to the corner market to drown myself in candy. I’m afraid that my metabolism will slow because I know I’m not eating enough. Now that I’m losing weight I want to keep losing it, even if it’s painful or scary. Which is why I’m sitting here, shaking after just involuntarily vomiting up my breakfast, and feeling glad.
I know this is fucked up.
I want to feel better. Even if (especially if?) it means I eat nothing but healthy food for the rest of forever.
I also want to be thin. And I want to not want to be thin.