If only. It was the mantra that played in my head as a teenager. If only my butt was smaller, I could wear Guess jeans, if only I was skinnier maybe (insert boy crush of the week) would ask me to the homecoming dance, if only I lost a few pounds I could run faster on the tennis court, if only,well, you get the point. In high school, I started to diet. The pork chop and coffee diet, the egg and carrot diet, shakes for breakfast and lunch followed by a Weight Watcher frozen entrée for dinner. I even joined my mom in the cabbage soup diet. Yes, I’d put up with being gassy if it meant being thin. However, as an active teenager who played on the varsity tennis team, I had an appetite. I enjoyed going to pizza with my friends after practice, not to mention the newly opened Haagen Dasz store in town. Needless to say, the diets didn’t stick for long. What I didn’t realize at the time was I was laying the groundwork for my unhealthy relationship with food and my body.
In college, at the University of Oregon, I was a walking example of the “freshman fifteen”. Late night pizza gatherings on the dorm room floor, a cafeteria with every sugar cereal denied to me at home (Captain Crunch….. Heaven), and drinking many red solo cups of warm beer in a fraternity basement. It added up. My already less than positive body image was plummeting and I had no plan. I knew I didn't want to diet but I didn't want to feel fat. I felt stuck.
Until my junior year. I was studying with my roommate, *Katie, (not her real name) in the library of the Gamma Phi house. Katie was munching on a carton of Chinese take-out and a jumbo chocolate chip cookie from Dunkin Donuts.
“How do eat all that?” I asked Katie, my stomach rumbling, feeling envious of my friend.
She looked at me with a half-smile on her face as if she had a secret she was dying to share. “I get rid of it,” she answered while making a motion to stick her finger down her throat.
“You mean like, throw up?” I asked incredulously. I had seen it on TV but never really met anyone who had done it before.
Katie nodded her head slowly and raised her eyebrows as if to say Wanna try?
Yes. I did.