If you have been reading my responses to the Mama Kat Writing Workshop prompts, you will have caught on to the fact that I throw the numbers one through five into a random number generator, and whatever number comes up I write to the corresponding prompt (unless there is something I must write about. I have to admit, I originally threw out the first option given to me (Describe the worst diet you ever put yourself on), but that left me at “10 reasons I’m glad it’s fall,” and I’m not in an “autumn is a miracle” mood right now. Our first family rounds or pre-algebra homework have pretty much done away with that quaint “back to schol” vibe.
Even though I can’t name something like “the grapefruit diet,” “Atkins,” or the “South Beach” diet as a “worst” for me, the images that kept popping up in my head brought me back to the topic. Images from my disordered high school eating habits:
I ate so many carrots, because they had minimal calories, the the palms of my hands and the soles of my feet turned orange (but I had great visual acuity, for what that’s worth!).
(Source: veganforum.com – these are not my hands!)
Awash in Tab
Who remembers Tab (the first time around)? You know, before artificial sweeteners managed to occasionally taste like sugar? When lab rats around the world were keeling over from saccharine overdose? That Tab. I drank so much of it that I [TMI ALERT] wet the bed at the age of 17. I had allowed myself about 4 calories that day (4 Tabs) out of whatever ridiculously small amount of calories I had planned to consume overall. The Tab went straight through me.
“She’s Starving Herself”
We weren’t big on facing problems head on in our family of three. I would methodically (lovingly, obsessively) set out my breakfast food the night before, probably so I could fantasize about eating it the next morning. The cereal, the measuring cups to make sure I didn’t get a whisper more of the food amount I had allotted myself. and the spoon. I recall, after going to bed one night, hearing my father tell my mother, “She’s starving herself.” I knew (somewhere deep down) that this wasn’t healthy, knew when I ran into people who had not seen me in awhile, who commented on my weight loss, that even though I said, “I have a lot more to go,” that I didn’t have more to go. I couldn’t stop.
A Gut Feeling and [TMI ALERT #2] Smell
When I started eating anywhere near regularly again, my body was so confused. It had difficulty processing anything, especially fiber. Let’s just leave it at this: a body that is not used to processing fiber does not do so efficiently or without a certain scent. Yuck.
Our graduating class at Union County High School was small (83 students). Debbie Hales, one of our fellow students, made an astounding transformation throughout our senior year. She started off very heavy, and lost weight rapidly using a liquid diet. As she lost weight, her personality seemed to be blooming. I don’t remember the name of the particular liquid diet she had been on. I do remember the morning I arrived at school to be told that she had collapsed while riding her bike. By noon that day she was dead. I remember Mrs. Kelley, our teacher, saying “let’s just go to the science fair” because it was useless trying to talk business machines while we were all in a shocked stupor. Debbie had had a cerebral hemorrhage. I don’t know what the official detailed diagnosis was, but it is likely that the radically low calorie consumption she was engaged in had a direct role in her death. Senseless.
I don’t know exactly how I snapped out of the carrot/Tab/starvation scenario. I do know it took years to return to a semblance of normal, years for my [TMI ALERT #3] periods to return. I am now a Lifetime member of Weight Watchers, which I have followed on and off over the years. I am about fourteen pounds over my goal weight right now, but I do understand that you can successfully lose weight nutritiously and healthfully. Weight Watchers does a phenomenal job of teaching nutritional balance and the role of exercise while providing personal support.
I think my dieting experiences over the years have led me to push my children (perhaps to the opposite extreme) to be so active physically that they don’t have to restrict their food choices. My ear is ridiculously finely tuned to my teenage daughter’s comments about her body. My 11 year old son’s physical this summer yielded a finding of a less than optimal (read: too fat) Body Mass Index.
Hopefully, when my children are adults and tell their stories, their palms and soles would have remained clear; their bladders not overtaxed, and the measuring cups will have come out only for baking.
I’ll be keeping “TABS” on that!