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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  • sherrisacconaghi

When I decided to publicly out my struggle with anorexia, I promised myself I would be honest and truthful, setting aside any shame and embarrassment in efforts to heal myself and hopefully help others. But I don’t live on a deserted island and there are people who have had an impact on me, people that I love, respect and admire so sometimes I struggle in writing publicly about my experiences. How do I authentically share my story while being respectful of those whom do not wish for me to share theirs? Most importantly my husband, Marc.

Marc is a very private person and although he has been supportive of this blog, he doesn’t completely agree with my desire to speak so openly about my battle. I respect that, and we are working through it as I go.

Throughout the years Marc and I have been together, there has been one consistent thing that has, at times, brought us together and almost torn us apart. I knew when I went to Marc’s apartment for the first time twenty-two years ago and saw a table made out of empty wooden cases of Henry Weinhard that drinking was a part of Marc’s life and I, having just come off of my post-divorce wilding was no teetotoler myself. I have described in previous posts our shared love of icy lemon drops at the local pub, Spanish coffees at our favorite beach bistro and outings to local vineyards to sip fine wine. There was a time we enjoyed drinking together.

A self portrait Marc and I had commissioned back in the day. We now joke we should change it to tea mugs, regardless, I still love it. ( Chad Crouch 2000)

When we had kids that shifted for me. My alcohol consumption, slowed way down for a variety of reasons, pregnancies, and breast feeding being the two obvious ones. Also as the business was growing and Marc was traveling more frequently, I was often solely responsible for two little humans and I was sure the minute I had a sip of wine one of them would have to be rushed to the ER for a head bump and the doctor would smell Kendall Jackson on my breath and, well, yet another reason alcohol took a back seat. Then of course the calories. Anorexia aside, I have always been someone who would rather eat my calories than drink them. It all added up, and over time alcohol just took a backseat.

As my drinking slowed, I noticed Marc’s did not, nor was he responsive to my request that he slow his alcohol consumption. It began to bother me. A lot. I became very focused on how much he was drinking at home, and how he was acting when he came home late after a night out at a club listening to music.I would fire questions at him on his drinking, how much have you had to drink? Have you been drinking beer or scotch? “Who were you with?”(I was much more on alert when he was with the group I had labeled his “drinking buddies”). The more focused I became on Marc’s drinking, the more I believed he began to hide it from me. At the time, I did not make the connection that Marc’s behavior was triggering some of the stuff from my childhood. But my old behaviors were emerging rapidly. Like with my mom, I became hyper aware of anything that seemed “off” that would signal he had been drinking; the look in his eyes, the cadence of his voice, the way he held his body. And more often than not, I was pissed off with what I saw (and heard) and I, at times loudly, let him know it. I would accuse Marc of drinking too much and he would deny it, saying I was punishing him for my mom’s behavior. Around and around we would go. I felt like a crazy woman. Was I making it up? Was I creating a problem where there was none? Was my perception skewed from my own childhood in an alcoholic home? My gut instinct was screaming at me, LISTEN WOMAN, YOU ARE RIGHT, YOU ARE NOT CRAZY, but as we know, I was never very good at listening to my gut.

  • sherrisacconaghi

“Do you have any thoughts on where your body naturally wants to be? A weight where you felt good, you know, before this all started?" My dietician, Gretchen would casually weave these questions in during our sessions. She was trying to establish a loose weight restoration goal for me based on my history and genetics rather than relying on the often misleading standard height weight chart. Every body is different.

“I don’t know,” I would answer, frustrated, “I just can’t remember a time I wasn’t trying to control my body is some way.” My body naturally wants to be as big as a double wide is what I was really thinking.

I did find a sweet spot though thanks to Dr. Phil and my obsessive food tracking. A weight where my body seemed to be happy, and thanks to the smaller number on the tag in my jeans, my

mind was happy too. Once I focused, the weight just seemed to fall off. It was as if my body was just waiting for me to put down the chips and shed those pounds, allowing my true thinner self to be revealed. Within a few months of following the Ultimate Weight Loss

Solution, I reached my ten-pound baby weight loss goal and did what I had promised myself I would do. I went shopping for smaller clothes. But, much to my surprise, I had jumped the gun as my body wasn’t done losing, and soon thereafter I found myself having to buy a size even smaller. Yippee, more shopping! ` (Thank goodness, my mom worked at a clothing boutique, had a killer discount and LOVED to buy clothes for my sis and I). I didn’t get rid of my old wardrobe however because I liked the way the old stuff now fit, pants that were once tight around my waist now slung loosely across my hips and shirts that pulled snugly across my broad shoulders now draped unrestrained on my frame. Although the baggy look may not have done my new body justice, I preferred the feeling, big clothes made me feel small. Although I was smaller, my weight was well within the healthy range for my height, according to the afore mentioned height weight chart anyway, and as an extra bonus I felt fantastic. Energy to burn.

A trip to Puerto Rico in 2005. Happy with my new body and my new wardrobe. (Not happy with my first time trying lobster).

If this period of weight loss was difficult or extreme for me, I don’t remember it being so. Perhaps it is a similar thought process to giving birth or running a half-marathon, in the moment you wondered what the hell you were thinking only to eventually forget the sweat and tears and remember only the baby and the medal. My memories don’t include feeling hungry or deprived, in fact I recall mornings of creamy oatmeal with brown sugar, bananas and rich black coffee, and family dinners of savory barbeque chicken, sweet corn on the cob and buttery chardonnay enjoyed our back patio. But mostly I remember feeling thin. Feeling able to pop on cute jeans and a top for a night out without trying on eight different outfits looking for the one that made me feel the “least fat”, or getting into a crowded pool with my kids for swim lessons without worrying about people noticing my poochy stomach.

This is what I had been wanting my whole adult life, to feel thin, energetic, and confident. I should be thrilled, right? But I wasn’t. There are just some problems a pair of skinny jeans just can’t fix.

  • sherrisacconaghi

I suck at math. So much so that when Dylan was in third grade his teacher pulled me aside and kindly begged me to stop helping him with his homework because I was confusing him. Honestly, anything more than long division and I confused myself. That being said, after years living with anorexia, I can mentally calculate the calories in any meal within seconds. I do it automatically, like flushing the toilet or covering my nose when I sneeze, it just happens.


“I think we need to pay more attention to what we eat,” I announced one evening to Marc several days after my dad’s kitchen inquiry. I was determined to drop the last of the baby weight and I knew Marc was trying to get off of his medication for high cholesterol so I thought we could be weight loss buddies.

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“Ok, what are you thinking?” Marc asked cautiously, already sensing I had a plan in mind.


“Well, I was watching Dr. Phil (insert Marc’s eye roll here) and his guests have had lot of success with his Ultimate Weight Loss Solution program, so I bought the book. You in?” Despite the Dr. Phil reference Marc agreed.

I knew from my obsessive calorie counting phase in college that tracking calories was the best way to keep my weight where I wanted it. I bought new tools like measuring cups and a food scale to ensure I was eating EXACTLY a half a cup of cereal, rice or pasta each day and ensure a precise four ounces of meat or five ounces of wine.

Every night Marc and I would sit down with my red spiraled notebook and log our consumption for that day, consulting Dr. Phil’s’ book for the calorie equivalent in each food. (It was 2004 and Alexa and Siri were not yet a thing so I actually had to use glossary). I accounted for every nibble off a fish stick or bite of mac and cheese from the boys’ plates, in addition, I dusted off my old scale and Marc and I would weigh ourselves every Tuesday morning and track it on the notepad on the bathroom shelf. A little friendly competition.

I continued exercising daily. Walking hills, lifting weights, sweating on the Stairmaster and dancing to The Firm. Sometimes I might allow myself an extra treat usually in the form of a chocolate mint Skinny Cow ice cream sandwich, but overall I closely stuck to the daily calorie allowance. A number ingrained in my brain to this day.

Marc was with me for the first few weeks but the man did not have a solid recall of his food intake and the book did not have a measurement for “I don’t remember” and “I’m not sure,” so eventually he did his own thing which conveniently allowed me to focus on myself.

Just a few months in and my hard work was paying off. I remember these shorts being too baggy on this beach trip and I didn't mind one bit. (2004)

Tracking food and calories again after so many years of "guestimating", felt like slipping into a perfectly worn pair of sneakers or sliding into my own bed after a long trip. It was easy and comfortable. More importantly, it provided a structure and sense of control I found very comforting and comfort and ease were something I would desperately need the not so distant future.


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