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

“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.

.

“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.


  • sherrisacconaghi

“How did it all start?” I get some form of that question a lot, referring to the onset of my struggle with anorexia. My relationship with food has always been turbulent, like a wide flowing river, twisting and turning through compulsion and ease, restriction and moderation. But there are moments that that stick out clear and bright, moments I wish had come with a flashing neon sign that said “Beware! Danger Ahead!” Not that I would have paid any attention.

“Hey Sher, my dad asked me casually one afternoon when my youngest son, Brennan, was six months old, “when are you planning on losing the rest of that weight?” We were standing my kitchen while I was slicing strawberries and with his question my fingers froze, mid slice, crap he said it.

I grew up with my dad’s constant comments about my weight, and everyone else's weight for that matter. I was used to it (recall the potato sack comment mentioned in post March 18, 2019, In My Genes), so the fact his question hit me with such force on that particular day has been the topic for many therapy sessions over the years.

“Oh, I think I’ll lose about ten more,” I answered him much more casually than I felt, as if I hadn’t really thought about it, although in actuality I thought about it every day. “I’m working on it.” Shit, my dad thinks I’m fat. That’s what I heard anyway.

That’s the thing. I HAD been working on it. At two years old Dylan was in a playschool a few

My grandma was the best built in babysitter. ( 2004)

mornings a week and I couldn’t keep my mom and grandma away from Brennan, a cherubic, joyful easy going baby. The luxury of “me” time was always just a phone call away. Time to hit the gym, go to the grocery store without the distractions of little “I wants” and “gimme those “, and time to cook healthy, well planned meals. I took advantage of it. I had amped up the intensity of my exercise routine soon after Brennan was born, adding some strength training to my Stairmaster routine. I bought a double jogger and started pushing BOTH boys around the hills of my neighborhood (with Zoey-dog still trotting along). It felt like enough. Yes, I did want to lose those last ten pounds but I was wearing sweats all day and singling Yellow Submarine while bribing a toddler with M&M’s to poop on a potty. My appearance took a backseat to Play-Doh, park swings and finger paints, and without those flat front Gianni’s calling my name, I found I was able to chill out a little on the weight loss timeline that plagued me after Dylan's birth two plus years earlier.

What I wouldn't give for a few hours of this. A lot has changed except Dylan holding my wallet. That is the same.

Until my dad's question. Granted, it was a dick question to ask, but I wonder, had I not already been feeling uneasy about my weight would it have impacted me so much? Maybe my dad was just asking the question I was already asking myself. Was I going to lose the weight? It had been six months so, why hadn’t I? Regardless, the river was raging again, and any hope of finding ease and moderation went straight out the window.

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