You know that doctor’s appointment I was so excited about last week? Well, I went and I got… well, you can’t really call them answers. But I was given a directive.
Before we test this ol’ body of mine for thyroid imbalances or food sensitivities or wonky hormones, I must first adhere to a very strict diet of 1100 calories per day. To be issued this ultimatum on the week I had hoped to cook a large meal of comfort foods (green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, red wine, and sous vide steak) was a pretty devastating blow. And not just because I would be missing a night of calorie laden delicacies.
You see, when that number was presented from the registered dietitian I had spoken with immediately following the weight-specialist MD I’d provided my history to, my heart sort of collapsed. A large portion of my adolescence was spent battling undiagnosed anorexia. And once I’d overcome not eating anything, I succumbed twice in my 20’s to orthorexia and exercise-induced bulimia.
Memories came flooding in — obsessively comparing my seated waist circumference with the stuffed monkey that lived on my bed throughout high school. Daily gym sessions where I wouldn’t allow myself to go home until I had burned off at least as many calories as I’d eaten that day. Compulsive food journaling, body measurements, scale notations, scouring cookbooks for the most nutrient dense, calorie light recipes I could find. Dreaming of food I could no longer eat. Pervasive hunger pains in which I’d guzzle two or three glasses of lukewarm water to curb, cursing my thin tooth enamel for not tolerating anything colder because I heard once it helps burn calories. Anxiety and brain fuzziness. Counting calories. And counting calories. And counting calories counting calories counting calories.
I explained to the doctors this history, of course. And I also explained my challenges around working out presents since my heart disease is exacerbated by exercise. I wanted a change but I felt stuck between the rock of my mental illness and the hard place of my physical disability.
And the MD’s in turn explained that if my body was resistant to weight loss at these measures then there’s a strong indication that something else is at play. Then the tests will come. And despite my assurances that I ate a rather healthy diet (with added proof of the food journal I had kept for two weeks prior to my appointment) and that I had a strong foundational knowledge of nutrition (ironically I once dreamed of being a dietitian a few years ago), I was told that I needed more protein and less booze and that integrating those changes is the first step.
So tear-filled and anger-fueled, I drove my ass home and flat-out wallowed for a couple hours. I sobbed into Josh’s shoulder. I texted Steph with updates. I marveled at how I finally, finally, attained freedom from food obsession. I have been so happy and it appears that happiness made me fat. Really fat. Like, obese fat.
I fluctuated between fear, despair, frustration, indigence, panic, fury, and disappointment. In short, I was a fucking mess and work was not a possibility. And after a few hours of feeling all the feelings, I collected myself enough to do some research between my still-leaky eyes. I distanced myself from the helplessness with the order of a well-drafted spreadsheet. Calorie counts of my favorite foods for quick reference, protein-rich snack ideas, calendar dates of potential booze cheat days during the month (a ZZ Ward concert and trip to Nashville to see Brene Brown speak). I broke down my meals into regimented eating times and calorie amounts and assigned snack and meal ideas to each. Josh surprised me throughout the weekend by conducting some research on his own and purging our kitchen of temptations.
With that order and control I regained some of my faculties. Mind you, I’m still an emotional wreck at times. Especially since I’ve maintained a constant state of hunger aside from two shockingly filling 300-calorie dinners. I don’t miss booze as much as I did and food is certainly at the forefront of my mind almost every hour (sadly even when I’m sleeping). I read that it takes about two weeks for your body to adjust to a smaller stomach so the stomach pains should subside. And I meet again with my team of docs on October 3 to reevaluate.
And possibly for a prescription for appetite suppressants.
It’s hard to imagine how, but this week we strip down for BARE.
And check out Steph’s delicious post on #VOWfeast here