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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

One should never experiment on oneself--the result is dreadful.

I gained fifteen pounds. On purpose. This sounds crazy, I know, but for about two months now I've been feeling like I'm finally in control of the anorexia, instead of vice versa. So--I decided to test that feeling. No, I did not consult Therapist.

First--gaining fifteen pounds is difficult. I don't love eating lots of food and I do like running lots of miles, so I had to stop running as much and eat more. I hated this.

Second--fifteen pounds on someone my height is a lot--A LOT, I SAY!!! I weighed as much as I did when I delivered my babies. It felt like I was whale-ish even though I probably didn't look whale-ish. Since I could still wear my clothes, I'm guessing I'm probably the only one who felt like I'd gained millions of pounds.

Third--I did this because I wanted to see if I had enough self-control to lose weight in the normal way (i.e., through sensible eating and an average amount of exercise), rather than not eating or being extreme in my calorie restrictions until I lost the extra pounds.

And as of today, I've lost five of the fifteen pounds and I took two weeks to do that...and I hate this. It's much easier to just stop eating. I find myself grinding through meals, hating every bite. I stop running before I'm ready, hating the fact that I've only run four miles when I want to run twice that. I'm reminding myself that this is the healthy way and I want to be healthy. I can't stop thinking about the fact that if I went back to my old habits, I'd lose all the weight very quickly. This is HARD!

But--I'm going to persevere. Two pounds a week--that's all I'm allowed to lose. So those fifteen pounds won't be gone until Valentine's Day, and then I will know I'm no longer at the mercy of Anorexia Nervosa. It's possible I'm crazy and this is not proving anything, but in my head, it is. No more starving myself--for any reason.


I'm walking in the mountain behind Grandma's house. Each breeze brings a shower of small gold aspen leaves, brushing my arms and catching in my sweater. I love autumn. Fat bushes have turned fiery red and orange, and some burn with nearly florescent pink. I want to gather every leaf, save them somehow... I hear a disturbance behind a nearby tree and pause, curious. A blue grouse struts from behind it, followed by her four nearly-grown babies. They cross my path, oblivious to my presence, and disappear into the the dense undergrowth. 

My cousin from the city is making fun of us--hicks, we are. We listen to him, calmly allowing his jeers to float about us. Our clothes are unfashionable (well, yes, these are clothes we do chores in--our school clothes are fine), we eat stupid food (we eat what we grow--fresh strawberries, green beans, new potatoes...they're not Twinkies or Ramen Noodles, but they taste wonderful), we don't listen to the best music (we could, and we do when we choose--we just feel like making you think we only know about the Classical Masters, and that we believe Elvis is still alive); and then we invite him to go on a delightful horseback riding expedition. We give him the best horse (the one that bucks when it sees a pebble or a tiny bug on the trail), and the most comfortable saddle (the brand new one, stiff and shiny), while we ride bareback (allowing our legs and hips to conform to the horse's movement). We take City Cousin sixteen miles into the mountains, complimenting his ability to stay on the horse as it bucks and shies, telling him what a fine rider he is. When we get to the top, we encourage City Cousin to dismount, walk about, enjoy the beauty. He says he's hungry. We say we'll go home soon (after the muscles in his thighs have tightened and his rear end begins to complain about the bumps and bruises). We mount our horses. City Cousin shrieks as his body tries to adjust to the horse's back. We ask if he's feeling a bit saddle sore. He rolls his eyes. We begin the long ride home. Our mounts are old and staid, while City Cousin's is spry and skittish. Our horses know the way without guidance; City Cousin jerks at the reins, trying to keep his horse on the path with ours. We do tricks: standing on the horse's back, riding backwards, lying down (mostly because we're a tiny bit saddle sore, too, but also to taunt City Cousin). City Cousin dismounts and walks the final ten miles. We slow our horses to keep him company. When we get home, City Cousin is sore, grumpy, and hungry. He eats our stupid food. He notices that his fashionable pants have a large tear where a tree branch grabbed just as his horse bucked. We suggest a nice long bath. He accepts. We stream our classical music into the bathroom. City Cousin falls asleep in the tub. We only have one bathroom. This is a problem. Stalemate.

C tells me he wants the vine growing on the side of my house. I blink at him. He says it's lovely--bright green in spring, dark red in autumn. I pull off a small, leafy branch, and hand it to him. He says no, he wants to grow it by his house. I tell him I'll see what I can do. Then I give him a kitten instead. C strokes the cat and asks if he can take it home. I say, of course. We have lots of kittens. C names the kitten, Henry. I tell C it's a girl. He says Henry is a girl-cat name. Then he goes home. I notice C has left the vine branch I gave him. It's on the ground, uncrumpled and fresh. I take it into the house and place it in a glass of water. 


  1. I LOVE the detail of your memories. I LOVE how calculating and introspective you were as a youth.
    I know it's probably not the healthiest thing to do, but I LOVE that you put yourself on a weight gain/loss challenge to test your borders of self control.
    It's crazy, but through your battles and though you continue to battle, you are so unbelievably strong and in control of so much of yourself.
    And by the way, the NYT bag is awful. Even if it is "free." You can do much better.

  2. Sam, what a great story-teller you are! I love the story about your cousin. I'm the city-slicker and would not have endured what you put your cousin through but I'm hoping I wouldn't have been as mean as he was to you all. I smile at the come-uppance you gave him at the same time thinking how awful you were to the poor kid!

    I also want to congratulate you on the progress you've made and shown to yourself in leaving anorexia behind. I have the opposite problem. Amazing the hold food can have on us, eh? Some of us have to force ourselves to eat more and some have to force ourselves to eat less; to exercise less or exercise more. Too bad we couldn't combine our problems with those of the opposite problems and both come out of it whole.

    And yet it is our struggle through those problems that makes us stronger, more mature, more compassionate and understanding of others. When you think of it, though, isn't that what God values more?

  3. Mandi-- Not so much in control, but definitely trying to overcome some of my demons. And I have no doubt about the bag being a piece of trash...which doesn't keep me from wanting it anyway. Just my current weird obsession.

  4. Debbie--I wasn't the one in charge of the punishment expedition, I just went along for the ride. :-) And you're right about learning to cultivate the traits God values--something I truly yearn to do and will probably work on the rest of my life.