Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Times are tough.

I had a bit of a breakdown yesterday. The morning was good - when i wrote the last post.  Then i did some homework, and then the day was shot.  I have been experiencing symptoms of adrenal fatigue, when your adrenal glands get "tired" (google it) for a while now.  But yesterday I just couldnt handle it any more.  I had the day "off" to work on the material for my oral exam at nutrition school and well, i broke down.  I had a horrible day. The tears flowed and wouldnt stop.  I didnt have the energy do to anything. I cant describe the feeling of hopelessly being overwhelmed by the simplest of things. My poor body.  As i alluded to I have been dealing with serious health issues over the past 10 months.  Essentially, i am allergic to everything. But food is my life. Oh the irony.  I am still obsessive with food for sure, and it is now my career, passion, and more.  Of course when i finally decide to give food back to my body my body fights back and I cant have it any more.  I've only been able to eat rice, bananas, peanut butter/nuts, avocado, and yams for 10 months.  I have eaten other foods, but i am in constant pain.  not to mention i am always bloated, fatigued, headaches, leg swelling and the list goes one.  im not saying this for pity, I'm saying it to make the point of how my body has retaliated.  It all began shortly after an extremely stressful week helping to open a business i consulted for.  I wasnt prepared for the stress, and that was the final straw for my body.  My immune system is extremely low and weak, so that it cant even muster up the energy to fight infection.  I dont get sick easily - i just dont get sick, My body cant handle it.  The body is an amazing things, and it obviously isnt happy with me.  And now after 10 months of negative tests and being told im frustrating by MD and ND;s alike my adrenal glands are shot. how am i suppose to run a business when i cant get up in the morning?  I am a go-go-go kind of person.  perfectionist to a point and also the one that strives to be the best.  I just dont have an off switch.  Which i am dearly paying for.  

Anyways, today was better.  And by better I mean by business partner let me take the day to myself (we are doing a big event Saturday - so yesterday should have been a 12 hour or more day).  I slept almost all day. And now im writing to you.  I'll start another post to continue the story. 

Dear Body,
Please don't hate me for what I did to you.  I know my mind can no longer control my body.  I look forward to the day where we can live and thrive together.  Please make that soon.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Continuing On

Fear.  I can still feel the gut wrenching, heart pounding fear that I felt about getting fat.  What was I going to do?  How could I sustain myself in practice but not gain weight?  I came to this realization in July, the Canada Games were in August - so the season was on the tail end.  That way I thought I could manage it.  It was at the Canada Games when I started to restrict myself.  The cafeteria food was good, I think.  I dont really remember food like I do now.  The obesession hadnt quite taken hold.

I dont remember gaining weight at the tournament.  I was still very active of course.  But now i was zoned in on the food on my plate - super focused to the point of paralyzing tunnel vision.   
But then there was something worse, I was done playing basketball.  For a couple weeks anyway.... then on to my senior year of highschool.  

I was always very active, as a kid and into my teens and now adulthood.  I joined the cross country team and made the senior volleyball team.  I wasnt necessarily the best at either, but I had heart and my height helped me a lot.  I'm getting shivers just thinking about this right now.  I have never written about this, let alone told myself.  That's right, told myself. its a scary thing to admit it.  I am just now admitting it to myself.  Here it goes ...

I think that there was one comment that tipped me.  I remember the moment so vividly I can still see every detail of the person who said it, the floor we were sitting on, the hallway, even the weather outside the windows.  She was eating an apple, after having consumed a peach and a plum maybe - the question came up of going for food or something like that. 

"I don't need to eat, I've already eaten enough calories for the day."

Calories!  So that was the secret! For whatever reason that made total sense to me.  Why not just eat a certain number of calories and that's that.  It was so simple. So simple.

I immediately put this plan into action.  It amazes me know, just like when i got braces, that I could just switch my eating habits with no problem whatsoever.  I wasnt super hungry, I didnt 'cheat,' ever.  I just ate a set number of calories per day that that was that.  I wish things were that simple today.  Now my body is so set against me.  I wish i hadnt started to feel hunger again.  Anyways, that's beside the point.

In the next few days after his revelation, my vollyball team went to a tournament for the weekend.  I have no idea where we went.  Vollyball was so different than basketball.  You sat around the gym a large part of the time, played quite a few games, and that was that.  We barely left the gym, except to sleep.  I remember getting chocolate milk after the games - go milk for their amazing promoting power.  I was so intensely aware of the calories.  

Come to think of it now, my counting calories and restricting had to have started before this - i did start during Canada Games.  At the point of this tourny I knew the calories in most foods, and i read lables like a hawk.  

Oh that chocolate milk.  It was so good. but so many calories.  There was a pizza party during that weekend.  I think i ate one piece and that was it.  I didnt even want more.  That's one thing that I cant get over, I really had amazing control.  I just didnt eat more and that was that.
The next day we spend the full day in the gym.  I barely remember the games or how we placed.  But I remember the food.  That evening I sat down with a friend of mine on the team, she was an outsider, not popular by any means, but she was part of my group of good friends.  We ordered food from the small kitchen in the school.  There were perogies.  I ordered 5.  That was my dinner, and that was enough calories for the day.  I remember there being butter on them and shuttering at that.  And I remember my friend commenting about me not eating much.  I said i was full and we headed back into the gym.

Somewhere I got the idea of 1500 calories per day.  I dont know for the life of me how I came up with that. But that was my limit.  I was allowed 4 servings of grains, 5 of fruits and veggies, 1 of dairy (i think?) and 2 protein.  Everything I ate was no fat.  I out of the blue stopped eating ice cream.  The amount of cream cheese I spread on a bagel was see through.  I packed a salad i a sandwhich sized tupperware container, mostly lettuce, some carrots, low fat, low calorie dressing (no more than a tsp) maybe a few shreds of cheese. I low fat yougurt container. 2 melba toasts.  And an apple.  That was my lunch for a long time.

When I counted calories i went over the amount I had eaten again and again in my mind.  Constantly recalculated to make sure i was on track, to make sure that i would have enough left for the evening.  600-750 calories during the day was where i had to be.  When i got home from school I'd have a snack, then have 4 or 500 calories left for dinner.  I made sure to always overestimate the amount of calories. I would always round up, even if something was 130 caloires in my mind it was 200.  I have no idea how low my calorie intake actually got.  And while aiming for 1500 calories per day (which could have been anywhere from 900-1400) may seem pretty high, especially for an anorexic, you have to remember the amount of exercise I was doing.  
I would often go to cross country practice and then vollyball.  I would have community basketball 2 times a week.  I would run on the weekend.  I was extremely active - and just wait until basketball season.  That meant training 6 days a week, with a game thrown in their.  And our workouts were hard.  We were the best team in the province.  We had 3 provincial players, including myself.  I have no idea the amount of calories i would burn in a day.  

I never remember feeling hunger.  That feeling was lost immediately.  I had full control over my body.  I never once in those first few months cheated. Not once.

The weight began to come off.  It was this scary but exhilarating feeling every time i checked my weight and it was lower than i had ever seen before.

Monday, March 28, 2011

A few words

I'm feeling extremely overwhelmed at the moment.  Work is crazy busy, and I have such a hard time taking care of myself.  That is one thing I dont know will ever change.  I have more and more signs of adrenal fatigue, and the only solution to that is rest. but that certainly isnt going to happen any time soon. what am I doing to myself? the worst part - high stress, long hours, irregular schedule means no weight lost and i still feel terrible about that.  I realized on a trip I eat so much less when i eat 3 times per day at regular times.. hm.

Off to work, only 2 minutes to spare today.  that ball of firey pressure in my chest never goes away now.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Nachos and Cinnamon Buns

Skipping ahead in the story.  I don't know if this will all be chronological or not.  to be honest i don't even remember exactly where i left off last.  Anyway...

About 2 weeks ago I went out with a couple of friends who were visiting, along with a new one of mine from Vancouver that knew a friend from back home.  We went out for a beer (the first beer i've had in sooooooo long since going gluten free - more to come on that later) the beer was delicious.  And people wanted a snack, as per usual while drinking.  
Now drinking environments were usually really comfortable with me, until the shared plate of food came.  I would also restrict myself.  When our nachos arrived they were zig zagged with sour cream and had pulled pork on them (go van for interesting food combos).  Two weeks ago was the first time i have ever had nachos and beer, ever! 

For some this may seem like no big feat.  the difference with me is that i have had ample opportunity to have nachos and beer in the past.  in fact, nachos have been at my table many a time while drinking. but did i dare touch them? nope. the most i would let myself have was maybe 1 or 2 chips - the ones sitting naked with no toppings to speak of that no one wanted anyway.

But two weeks ago it was different.  We had had a light dinner and i was a little hungry.  The nachos arrived and i dug right in.  Its brining tears to my eyes as i write this about how free i felt.  how natural it was to sit there and snack while drinking a cold beer laughing with good friends.  the whole moment was of stress.  free of the tightness i used to get in my stomach and chest when i was refusing something - especially when i was focused on it completely.  the nachos wernt bad.  I still didnt eat the meat or cheese, grabbing for the nachos with no toppings.  But i sat there, and had an equal share of my nachos. it was great!! really! great!

Its so hard for me to look back at how much i used to restrict.  i remember the feeling so vividly of not being able to eat those foods. i remember the intense stress linked to them, and how i couldnt have a single bite. but that was okay.

Foods were never "good" or "bad" in my books.  I come across that so many times with other accounts of anorexia. (wow, even the word is becoming easier to say. this is good. so good.)  Foods were simply not eaten if they had too high of calories or fat.  desserts were out completely, so was any dairy except skim milk and 35 calorie/serving no fat yogurt.  and oh ya, a perfectly measured portion of low fat cheese. doughnuts.  i distinctly remember one of my best friends challenging me with a bag of small timbit type things in highschool.  It was grade 12 and she suspected something going on.  she even confronted me about it once.  luckly i was never bulimic (much to my demise at times, i just cant make myself throw up!) so my cover wasnt blown.  but god, i remember that box of doughnuts that she was forcing in my face.  she tried hard to force me to eat one but i didnt give in.  i didnt care whether she called me on it. i was so terrified of those little fat and calorie packed morsels.  i simply couldnt eat one.  i was captivated by fear.

Another example, my new boyfriend at the time went for groceries and i asked him to pick up some soy milk for me. i told him the brand etc but he came home with a different one.  i think it had 1 g of fat per serving instead of 0.  i couldnt drink it.  i tried but i was revolted. i was, and still am, strongly attached to my non-dairy beverage (which is a large reason why i completely avoid it now if possible.)  i tried to drink it and i couldnt. i gaged. i poured it down the sink one day because i knew i couldnt drink it, cursing myself for the waste.  One birthday a friend bought me a london fog for class.  i sat there "sipping" it every so often, putting my tongue to the hole so that none of the obtrusive liquid would enter my mouth.

the worst part- i wish so much that i had the will to be as restrictive today. i wish it almost more than anything. the control gave me so much power. so much confidence, ease and well, control.  now that i am on the recovery road i cant restrict. my body wont let me. and i am weak - i fail on an hourly basis it seems.

So to the cinnamon buns.  That was tonight.  I havnt had a real cinnamon but in years. years.  its probably been about 10 years, even though my disorder hasnt been for that long.  a friend mentioned cinnamon buns the other day. and then the craving hit. oh. my god.  my first food memory is making cinnamon knots with my grandma.  i love the hot, sticky, fragrant and sweet taste of them.  the doughy texture is to die for.  
But the deliemma - i cant eat wheat. (wait for that upcoming post.  a hint : i am now essentially allergic to everything).  
the craving stuck. which is weird for me.  usually my cravings are positive - my body is an amazing thing despite what ive done to it.  but all i wanted in the world was a cinnamon bun! for days!

Finally my boyfriend and i went on a trip to visit my best friend. she eats gluten free. and loves anything tasty.  so we attempted to make gf, vegan cinnamon buns!  we found a recipe on the internet that looked good (have i mentioned im a pastry chef? and i do specialize in gf, vegan, and allergy free baking).  we made them tonight. 

they were dry. very dry. and not gooey or pull-a-part-like at all. the taste was almost there. but it so totally wasnt.  they really wernt bad though. so i ate 3/4 of one. 3/4 of a cinnamon bun! ah the stress is coming back, but nothing like it would have been 8 months ago.  and side note, my recovery really began about 6-7 months ago.  thanks almost entirely to my boyfriend, the love of my life, without him even knowing it.
so the cinnamon bun wasnt the end of the story. we also made gf, vegan chocolate cranberry banana bread. with lots of sugar. i wasnt planning on eating any of this one but i did. i ate a piece and a half, probably two of it. oh god.  i certainly paid for it afterwards.  sugar hates me.  i honestly can feel it after ive had two samples at a gelato shop. damnit.  so now i feel like shit.

but the worst part. i am so fat. i am my heaviest-i think than ever in my life. i dont know my exact weight thank god.  but i think that ive surpassed that 180-something that triggered all of this in the first place. oh god. but i get bloated, and my stomach sticks out like no other.  i used to get that all the time, but now i have a thick inch or so of fat on my stomach. ew. ew. ew.

im so disgusted at myself. the very worst part is i have no control over it.  now i am completely unsatiable.  i always am hungry and could eat. i cant stop any more. portions mean nothing.  its partly because of the health journey i am no (not directly related to my eating disorder) which has left me with impaired absorption - but the calories still seem to count.

i keep gaining more and more weight and it is terrifiying. i did get more beautiful when i first started gaining weight. now i look like the people i would be look at and be horrified.  

i wish there was a way to bring back my control.  i did enjoy the cinnamon bun, but not as much as i would have enjoyed the power to say no.

that's all for now.  restless night ahead.

Monday, March 14, 2011

the summer that changed everything

Fast forward to summer of grade 11.  I made the Sask provincial team.  It was great.  This was my last year eligible and the expectations were high.  I made the team but for the first time I wasnt near the top.

The coach was intense.  He demanded perfection and was very demeaning to the girls.  He was abrasive.  People loved him or hated him.  He yelled at girls in the middle of games.  Tossed up towels in "surrender."  Was abusive to refs.  His absolute determination to achiever perfection was suffocating.  The training was excruciating.  Good, better, best - none of it was perfect enough.  

I'll never forget one game being pulled aside (while still on the court playing) and being yelled at in front of everyone.  I dont know how i kept my composure.  I wasnt as good as some of the other girls on the team.  I was in a bit of an ackward place - i had always played post, but now as we got more competitive i was the high and stature of a shooting guard, but i wasnt quick enough.  There were now girls that could out wrestle me.  And my "team" mentality left me to look for opportunities for my teammates before myself.  I struggled being on the bench.  The high achiever, all star player had been benched.  It felt terrible.  My chest still gets tight when i think about it.  I wasnt as good any more.  

It was at a tournament, in Vancouver actually, my current home,(I think, or was it Calgary?) that everything came falling down.  It was a very intense tournament, with 7 games in 5 days.  It was extremely physically taxing.  Except for when you were playing only a few minutes a game.  

Training hard meant that we needed to eat - a lot.  I have no idea how many calories we would burn in 7-8 hours of pracitce per day.  I was used to having to eat a lot to be able to meet my energy needs while i was a starter at tournaments.  Food was fuel afterall.  But what happens when you only play a few minutes a game and you're still eating that much?

It was then that i was struck with fear.  If i kept eating as much when I wasnt playing, what would happen?  I would gain weight.  


and again...

I slowly watched my weight climb in my younger teenage years.  I was playing basketball competitively but being "trained" to stuff myself and i guess snacking is what did it.  It was Christmas time.  I dont know what year.  It must have been in grade 11.  The scales showed 186 pounds.  I couldnt believe it.  I really, really couldnt believe it. How could I be that heavy (in my mother's words)?

Something had to change.  I needed to stop this.  I was in grade 11, a girl, and almost 200 pounds? What?  

Oh - another important part that I forgot to mention.  High School.  For whatever reason there where two boys, one in particular, that made "fun" of me.  I put fun in quotations because I thought it was good natured.  I think it may have been.  typical banter because i was taller than them.  Typical banter for a young guy trying to fit in and trying to make up for the fact that he was short.  They called me "bohemoth."  Come to think of it, the one did hit me as well etc.  I have always been good natured and hard to upset.  It wasnt anywhere near abusive.  Stupid. Juvenile.  Unnecessary. and immature.  
With all of this I became hesitant to eat around them.  It make me think about myself.  It made me consider things.  It made me more negative.  It had more of an effect on me than I can even admit to myself now.

So all things combined - the verbal abuse at school, my mother.  My self image shattered.  I stood there on that scale and once again, decided something had to change.

After this the changes began slowly.  I did drop some weight I think.  i remember the absolute thrill of seeing a lower number on the scale.  The continual downward spiral was invigorating.  

Looking back its incredible how ignorant I was.  I covered up my eating disorder so well that i didnt even admit it to myself.

One side story skipping ahead a little.  In my grade 12 year, training for basketball 6 days a week and eating a limited number of calories I wasnt feeling well.  I wasnt feeling right.  Some how I ended up in the doctors office to try and "figure out what was wrong."  I remember being scared that he would call me out.  The only thing he said is that not having my period was normal considering I played basketball.  there was no comment on my weight.  I got many blood tests done.  11 vials at once on one occasion.  The results from that showed that I was hypoglycemic.  The recommendation was to eat often.  I started eating something small every hour.  I was invigorated.  I had a reason, an order even, to eat.  I felt incredible.  I didnt know why at the time.  My body was getting nourishment for the first time in a while.  I have read in other stories of eating disorders that doctors orders allowed them to eat.  The fact that I didnt make the connection at the time.  That i was so incredibly far removed is a statement in its own i think.

so again began the journey.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Beginning

I was 12 when I found out I would be getting braces.  The idea didnt bother me that much.  However, it was the first time that I considered "image."  What would I look like to others?  I was the second person in my elementary school class to get braces.  It was the time in my life when I desperately wanted to fit in, but I didnt know how to do that yet.  Braces were going to be terrible.

Braces opened my eyes to physical appearance.  To beauty.  To social stigmas, body type, genders, and what is to be expected of each.  I was a chubby child - and always tall.  By grade six I was probably at least 5'8 or 5'9.  I had always been tall for my age so I couldnt shop in children's stores.  Nothing fit me.  I vaguely remember being in grade 4 or 5 and shopping for an outfit to go to a MS dinner.  My grandma has MS and I had entered a drawing contest and won.  I saw the numbers on the tags but they didnt mean anything to me then.  I remember having to grab a size 14. Yikes.  I didnt know what that meant then.  But soon I would.

My mother always had issues with her body.  I remember her often, probably daily, as a child when she looked at her profile in the mirror and sighed.  She was always "so heavy."  I dont blame my mother for anything that happened.  Rather, she imprinted on me a constant dislike of my body.  She made it okay to think that.  She made it okay to hate myself, in a way at least.

Around the time I got braces I realized I was eating too much.  I realized I was fat.  

I now consider myself lucky.  It scares me that now little girls in kindergarden are worrying about their bodies.  What happened to childhood?  At my twelve years of age I made a decision to change my body for the better.  I now know where my mothers constant need to feed me came from.  Apparently as a baby I cried a lot at one point.  Someone told my mother to feed me more.  That was the solution - she simply hadn't been feeding me enough.  From that point on I would never get away from her wanting me to stuff myself to the limit. I was definitely imprinted.  She taught me I should eat as much as possible.  Growing quickly did give me a huge appetite, but never I couldnt possible fill myself enough for my mother to be completely satisfied.  She didnt know she was sabotaging me.

More to the point, right around that time that I realized I was eating too much and that I was fat I decided to do something about it.  It was so easy then.  I started by eating one sandwich for lunch, not two.  At dinner time I made sure I left the table still hungry.  I didnt realize what a great cover I had made for myself.  Since I had just gotten braces my mother thought my eating less was due to not being able to eat as well, or my mouth hurting.  Boy did I fool her.

Once I got down to a reasonable size (i have no recollection of what that was) I was satisfied.  I stopped.  I didnt consciously stop.  I just did - perhaps some of my innate childhood body wisdom kicking in.  

This set the stage in a way.  I had been sucessful at changing my body and I knew how to accomplish it.  Eat less.  

The beginning.