SKINNY

The Truth Behind the Lies Of An Anorexic Mom

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Note:  This blog contains descriptions of eating disorder behaviors.  Although I have tried to be mindful in writing about specific behaviors, there are parts of  that may be difficult to read for those actively struggling with an eating disorder.  For support please see the "resources"page on this site.

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Try this. Next time you are with a group of friends for a meal take a listen to the convo for any version of the following:

· I worked out today so I earned this second glass/serving.

· I didn’t eat all day because I knew we were coming here for dinner.

· Oh man, after this dessert, tomorrow I’m going to have to hit the gym hard.

Eating disorders aside, these seemly harmless comments have, for many of us, woven their way into our subconscious living. For some it might be a fleeting thought, for others, like me, it is a tightly held way of life.


At the age of thirty, with my history of food restriction and counting calories, I was very well aware that the key to weight loss meant fewer calories in, more calories out. As I was not willing to give up my nightly fun food and cocktails, I would have to adjust accordingly, for me that meant, restrict during the day and “save”my calories for the evening. So, I traded the warm chewy bagels and poppy seed scones I’d grab on my way to work for packets of oatmeal from home. Instead of lunches of tuna melts out with my coworkers, I brought in turkey wraps on low carb tortillas and baggies of carrots. By three o clock my stomach was growling, my energy was dipping and I would start watching the clock, tick, tick, tick, every so slowly, never allowing myself even an apple to curb the hunger. Nope, I was holding out for five o clock when I could head home to a chilled glass of chardonnay while waiting for Marc to walk in with boxes of mouthwatering sesame chicken and pot stickers.

Months earlier I had cancelled my membership to the gym as our new hood included a clubhouse with a small workout facility. I knew I had to get moving again to burn the extra calories I needed to "earn" my food, but by the time I got home from work, exercise was the farthest thing from my mind. The treadmill and planks or the deck and happy hour? Hmmm, tough choice. Please pass the guac. I had however noticed a group of my female coworkers walking every day at lunchtime, so one day I invited myself along (I know, just what every employee wants, the HR hag hanging around). It was fantastic and quickly became a routine, rain or shine. It felt good to get out from behind my desk and move my body in the fresh air, bonding with others as we chatted about husbands, blind dates from hell, and the latest workplace gossip (um, I mean they gossiped). And it burned those extra calories that would allow me to indulge in my nightly favorites.

Celebrating my parents 35th Anniversary in Hawaii. Notice the way I cover my stomach?

After several months of mid-day hill hikes on an empty stomach, I began to see my work payoff. My body felt smaller, and my clothes felt looser, all while still consuming a couple of cocktails and, a decadent meal at night. See, I thought to myself, I can control this. But just when I was feeling pretty darn good about my plan, control as I knew it, was about to come to a screeching halt.

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“Don’t let anything become a habit where you emerge feeling worse.” I read that recently in an advice column. Habits, bad ones, in my experience are complicated and insanely difficult break.

As the glowiness of married life started to fade a bit, Marc and I settled into a comfortable, I’m wearing sweats at night, kind of routine. We sold my little house in the city and purchased a house in the burbs of Portland where I grew up. A big backyard for the dog and a great school district for our future kids. Marc worked long hours building his insurance clientele and hosting his late night radio show while I was busy trying to satisfy two hundred overworked, underpaid employees which felt like nailing Jell-O to a wall. After work, we liked to relax with take out, a cocktail, and political news shows. Mexican food and martinis with Hannity and Colmes, or Chinese and chardonnay with Chris Matthews (or Bill O Reilly depending on our mood). Friday nights were spent at our favorite pub enjoying cheesy enchiladas and strong, icy lemon drops. I pretty much ate what I wanted, but surprisingly, I was also drinking what I wanted. Not a good combo for a woman with body image issues.


I’d been known to enjoy a drink or two throughout my adult life (ok maybe a little before), but keeping my consumption in check was never difficult for me for one big reason. I was raised in an alcoholic home. I saw firsthand the chaos my mom’s drinking created in our family and I knew there was a genetic component, the risks. So, I was careful. But drinking was something Marc and I enjoyed doing together. Wine tasting on crisp fall days while overlooking the lush Willamette Valley, grabbing a drink at a crowed bar while listening to live music, enjoying flame lit Spanish coffees after a romantic meal on the coast. If our relationship was a jazz band, alcohol was the saxophone, without it, something was missing.

By this time, I had long been out of the habit of weighing myself, and quite frankly I was afraid to get back on the scale for fear of what it might read. I did however have an unspoken rule that I would never wear a size larger than an X. (When it comes to specific sizes and weight I will speak in generalities,triggers.) The weight was creeping on and this time I was noticing. I didn’t like the way my clothes were fitting, the waistband digging into my midsection. I hated the second chin that seemed to emerge when I smiled, and my stomach, ugh, the pooch was back. Our consumption habits, while fun in the moment left me feeling worse in the long run heavy, lacking energy and frustrated I couldn't control myself when it came to the amount of food and drink I was consuming. And yet, I wasn’t ready to give up Mexican martini Mondays, I felt stuck. Again. But wait, I had been in this conundrum before, and I knew exactly how to control this.

A break in the nightly take out routine for sunset sushi.(2000).

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“Did I have any signs of an eating disorder when we started dating?” I recently asked my husband, Marc.

“Nope, none,” he said confidently.

“I didn’t think so but sometimes I can’t remember life without it, you know? I said sadly, my eyes filling with tears.

“Yes, I know,” he replied reaching out to hug me. This disease hasn’t been easy on him either.

When Marc and I first met, I was happily settling in to my new life as a single woman. After buying my new house, I was in need of home insurance and called Marc, a referral from Polly. Marc pulled up to our initial meeting at a Starbucks driving a sensible Plymouth Acclaim, sporting a white dress shirt and red tie. Typical, boring insurance dude,

I thought to myself. I thought wrong. We spent the next hour talking less about insurance and more about his experience as the manager of a band, his gig as a local music radio show host, and our shared passion for working with kids. He was sweet and funny but I didn’t buy insurance from him (long story). Despite that, he proceeded to ask me out on a date.

“I think I’m just going to work on my house and hang with my dog,” I told him in response to his invitation to dinner. It’s not that I wasn’t attracted to Marc, it’s that I was. He was far more interesting than the men I had been going on dates with, and he was so nice. Too nice to be the rebound guy. Our connection was immediate but I wasn’t ready for another relationship yet, and Marc, I could tell was relationship material.

“I’ll call you when I’m ready to date,” I continued, as his eyes rolled and he gave me a yeah, right look. But I meant it. I would call when I was ready.

And a year later, I did.

This year Marc and I celebrate our twentieth anniversary. Wow, what a ride it's been.

After he got the wag of approval from my dog, Marc and I began spending a lot of time together. We enjoyed romantic meals of homemade pasta at a small Italian place in town. We took weekend getaways to the Oregon coast indulging long naps by the fire and warm berry turnovers from the local bakery. Marc introduced me to funky clubs with live music and I introduced him to the gym. Sure, I still wished for a flatter stomach or smaller hips but those thoughts were more like habitual whispers than obsessive screams. In reality I liked my curvy, strong, energetic body. Marc certainly wasn’t complaining either.

And three years from our fateful meeting at Starbucks, Marc and I married on a beautiful autumn day in a vineyard surrounded by our family and friends. I felt beautiful, happy, and loved.

I never dreamed a day would come when I would feel any other way.

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