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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.

  • sherrisacconaghi

“Oh my,” the nurse exclaimed as she inched the weight on the scale further and further to the right, while I watched, silently willing the scale to tip and make her stop. Oh my was right, I didn’t need her little outburst to tell me my weight gain for that month had far surpassed the “recommended” medical guidelines.

Being pregnant was more mentally uncomfortable for me than it was physically, as it thrust my weight and body size right into an arena that made it open for comment and conversation. There were coworkers randomly asking how much weight I had gained (yes its true), comments jokingly made over lunch about how I must be “eating for two”, and people, some I hardly knew, asking to touch my stomach. My stomach. A place on my body that, at one time, I wouldn’t even let my husband touch! The thought that others were noticing my body caused me to feel self conscious, and it was in pregnancy I realized just how much I preferred to float under the body awareness radar, "to be small" as my therapist would describe it years later. Not to mention of course I had to get on that scale at my pre-natal appointments each month and be made very aware of my weight and my size. I dreaded those weigh in's.

“You know you can ask to turn around when they weight you,” my coworker, Linda, informed me one day as I was expressing my anxiousness about my appointment that afternoon.

“What? They let you do that?” I asked incredulously. Although I was close to my due date, I had sailed significantly beyond the damn suggested guidelines and the number was shockingly close to one I never imagined I’d reach, pregnant or not. I could only hope I was giving birth to one BIG baby. In attempts to save my sanity, I took Linda's advice, and wow, I whole heartedly recommend the turnaround to anyone who may struggle as I did with all of this.

What bothered me the most was that I didn’t feel like I was being overly indulgent so the fact the scale kept jumping significantly each month left me feeling panicky and out of control. Just how much weight am I going to gain with this kid? My rational mind knew that pregnancy is not the time to worry about weight gain, and although I was grateful all signs signaled my baby and I were healthy, I let that weight thing get to me.

Two weeks in and wondering what the heck we got ourselves into. If I only knew then that this was the easy part! (2001)

Then it happened. One sunny spring day with Bob Dylan playing softly in the back ground, and Marc looking appropriately scared to death, I gave birth to Dylan MacKenzie Baker, a beautiful, healthy baby boy, (oops not an Emma,) all tiny six pounds eleven ounces of him.

I fell instantly in love. But even with my sweet boy nestled contently in my arms, a thought came sneaking in, like an unwanted guest crashing a party, how am I ever going to lose all of this weight?

  • sherrisacconaghi

“I LOVED being pregnant,” I’ve said, never.

“I think we should start trying to have a baby,” I announced to Marc one summer evening as were dining on the back deck of a pub in our neighborhood. I watched, amused, as Marc’s eyes grew big, and like a mouse caught in a cougar den, he frantically started scanning the area for the nearest exit.

“Now?” Marc stammered.

“Why not,” I answered casually, “it will take a while, it doesn’t happen overnight, and, tick tock.” At forty, Marc was eight years older than I and I was ready to get this party started. A couple of glasses of Kendall Jackson later, we headed home and started “trying”. Hey guess what? It CAN happen overnight!

From the get go I decided I was going to be one of those cute, don't even look pregnant from the back, kind of women. I was going to stop the take out and opt for clean healthy meals made at home, and of course caffeine and alcohol were immediately kicked to the curb. That was the plan anyway.

However, for weeks, morning sickness (aka, feeling crappy all day) left me needing not much of a plan except to sleep and glare at my husband as he munched on Thai chicken pizza and sipped glistening glasses of chardonnay. I was not optimistic he would ever buy into my lean clean, alcohol free plan. Somehow this didn’t seem quite fair. Then week fifteen hit, and the bossy little beast in my belly awoke and took over. So bossy I was certain I was carrying a girl. Intense, I have to have it NOW cravings, consumed me and it was clear the baby ( I had named her Emma) demanded three things; Bean burritos from Taco Bell, chocolate decadence cake from the market up the street and Umpqua ( yes that brand only) peppermint ice cream. I only had to look at Marc and he’d have keys in hand ready make a run for the border …again.

It was hard for me to get a feel of weight and my body while pregnant, so many changes happening so fast. I didn’t love the extra weight but at the same time, for me, a woman who has always been too aware of my body ,especially my stomach, being pregnant was a strange relief.

Apparently, along with caffeine and alcohol, I (at eight months) had nixed hair care and fashion sense too.

After all, a big stomach meant I was growing a healthy baby, and regardless, there was nothing I could do about it. I was only going to get bigger and I wanted to give into that feeling, to just let my body do its thing. Even as I write this I remember so vividly willing myself to enjoy the experience and stop worrying about my body and weight. I kept reminding myself for crap sake Sherri, you are growing a human, would you give yourself a break. And I tried. I indulged in my cravings (as if Emma would let me), I allowed my lunchtime power walks to evolve into slower paced waddles and, I alternated weekend naps with frenzied sessions of kitchen (and bedroom and laundry room) organization. I honestly think if left to my own devices I might have had a pretty solid nine-month vacation from my negative and obsessive thoughts about my weight. But I didn’t live in a bubble and I was not self confident enough to ignore what was swirling around me.

  • sherrisacconaghi

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.



Thanks for your interest in Skinny: The Truth Behind The Lies OF An Anorexic Mom. I'd love to connect with you so feel free to get in touch and I will get back to you soon!

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