Years ago, I traveled to New York with a model I refer to as “Q.” I have very specific memories from that week — the show we saw at the Whitney, the photo shoot he did, the soundstage where my brother was “working” (where we just watched him smoke, drink cappuccino, and yell at people), clothes shopping at D&G, and not-eating.
I remember a lot of not-eating. We had a couple of memorable meals, but we would spend the entire day exploring the streets of the city, wandering into restaurants and cafés and even a bakery and right out because nothing was appealing.
With him, I wore a 2 and weighed about 113 (I am 5’5″). He was 5’11” and weighed under 160, while being well-muscled. He got so skinny for his frame that his agent begged him to gain weight. We were mistaken for television actors because we were so thin (and in the right area of the city). I had extremely prominent ribs and hip bones, which I loved. Seriously. (Sadly, it’s one of my favorite things about getting my body back . . . I can see my ribs! I can see my hip bones!)
My coworkers were convinced I had an eating disorder for months before this since I had dropped from a perfectly acceptable size 8 to a 2. It was only on this trip that I began to think maybe they were right. Food did not appeal to me at all. I was just as happy to subsist on non-fat cappuccinos (130 calories each), the occasional meal replacement bar, and some steamed veggies (or a salad with no dressing) and a protein for dinner. There were days when I was eating about 600 calories because I was just never hungry and food was completely utilitarian.
Last week, I had a long chat with one of my best friends “W,” who I have known for a very long time. I told him I was 2 pounds from my “ultimate goal,” which I am already revising downward. I told him this. He called me by my his pet name for me (which means he’s serious) and said “is that so smart?” I empowered him to tell me the truth. I told him I want to drop another 5 after I hit the goal, but I am open to comment if I look bad.
The reality of course, is that I would love to drop 7 more after the goal — or 9 from now. I thought I looked great at 118 (not everyone agreed) and that gives me 118 to 123 to fluctuate.
So what does all this mean? All my ramblings, my thoughts about my trip with Q, my discussion with W? I am afraid of slipping back into a slightly disordered situation. Scratch that, I know I am. I know I am thinking things I should not be thinking (like that I am enormous) and I know that I am becoming less interested in food.
I mean, I am eating, but since I stopped listing my food intake, I stopped eating so carefully. I do not always eat enough. It often does not occur to me to eat. When I do eat, I often eat plainly — a turkey burger, unadorned. Some cheese. Nuts. For the most part, I am not eating for pleasure, I am eating for pure sustenance. I have to make myself eat better. I have to force myself to eat my broccoli salad with the burger. I know I am eating under 1000 calories a day, sometimes well under. I still weigh and measure everything. I eat nuts by the tablespoon. I weigh the amount of onion and butter for my frittata every single morning.
Here’s the deal: anyone with a serious diet plan has slightly disordered eating. It’s par for the course — we obsess about food, we plan it, we think about it, we may talk about it, and I write about it. Clearly, I am slightly obsessed.
I have noticed that my eating is a little more disordered than absolutely necessary because I am close to the goal and I am still obsessing. I actually considered the carb impact from the lime L was squeezing into my club soda on Friday, and I chose to drink shots of straight liquor than order a regular drink (which would have just been goose and soda). Also, I think I am fat and that the whole world is fat. I am shocked by how fat people are in real life and on tv. Not actual fat people, the people who are supposedly normal. I am shocked by the roll of fat above my waistband (that I think I know does not exist, but I don’t really know for certain).
I cannot tell what I look like at all. I know I am thinner because I am wearing size 4 clothes comfortably and my size 6 shorts are far too big. Still, I do not know what I look like compared to the people I see. Am I slender? Am I average? Am I still pudgy? I really do not know. Sometimes I look in the mirror and I like what I see; sometimes I am frustrated; sometimes I think about how much more I have to go. I know I look better; I just do not know if I look good.
A thinks I am skinny (not in a good way) and we had the “how far are you going to take this whole eating disorder thing” conversation last night. Again I reminded him I weighed 10-15 pounds less than now when we met, so clearly losing 8-10 more pounds is not a big deal. He told me we’d have “a problem” if I the second digit switches from 2 to 1 in my weight. I think he means like “calling my mom and others for an intervention problem,” but I have no idea. I would hate to start lying to him about my weight.
That lying about my weight to inflate the number popped into my head is but more evidence that I have a problem. I do not think it’s a serious problem at this point. I can make myself eat more. I do love eating certain things (especially cheese). I have already added back in kefir and greek yogurt.
Still, I cannot deny the obvious: I have a mild eating disorder.