Eating Disorders, Adoption, and Why I’m a Semi-Happy Size 6

My binge eating disorder is this weird, omnipresent thing. It’s always lurking about in the shadows, but that doesn’t mean I’m binge eating every opportunity I get, but THAT doesn’t mean I don’t have it during the off-season. I mean, it’s like other mental illnesses in that way — I have clinical depression, but I’m not plagued with the sads and the “I-don’t-want-to-exist”s 24/7 (thank goodness).

So I guess that’s my way of explaining why I don’t discuss it all that much. I’m not ashamed of it so much as I’m either blissfully unaware that I’m in the throes of major binge eating till one night I’m laying in bed with the worst stomachache of life because I ate when I should have stopped five meals ago OR I’m eating just fine. Until I’m not.

Binge eating disorder is the one no one talks about and the majority of people don’t believe is a real issue (“You’re just eating because you’re bored,” “Everyone snacks before bed,” “You don’t look like you have an eating disorder”). Do we all binge from time to time? Totally. We have seratonin in our stomachs that reacts more strongly than the seratonin in our brains, and when carbs hit, we’re euphoric, and that feels awesome, so we have more. It’s not complicated. But the whole disorder — eating alone so others don’t see you, lying about what you’ve eaten, feeling such an incredible sense of shame nearly all of the time that you start to wonder if purging is actually as bad as it sounds. (I’ve never tried. I’m not one for throwing up.) It has nothing to do with the food — nothing at all.

Mine can be supposedly traced back to my days in the womb, little Fetus Mary just chilling in some amniotic fluid in the belly of a woman who starved herself to hide her pregnancy (which she successfully did all the way to the day of my birth, where I emerged feet first at 5 1/2 lbs.). As it was explained to me by both a Dietetics major and my psychologist, when I did get food — any food at all, which we can assume was infrequent and lacking in basic nutrition — I gobbled it up. I yearned for food, and when it arrived, I snatched up as much as I could because I knew it might be awhile before I got more. And my brain developed with the fear that perhaps the food wouldn’t come, that I had to eat what I could when opportunity arose, because it may be the last chance.

So here I am, 32 years old, with the occasional penchant to eating and eating and eating and eating and eating bread followed by chips followed by fruit followed by cheese followed by popcorn followed by a salad followed by a sandwich because deep down in my heart, I am afraid I won’t get another opportunity.

It’s perfectly illogical, so you’re preaching to the choir if you want to tell me all about that. I wish I didn’t have it. But when it is late at night, and there is a cookie in my pantry (or six or twelve or an entire package), there is nothing anyone can do or say that will fully convince me that it will still actually be there tomorrow. And then, because I am so stressed by my stress that I wanna up and vomit, I’ll eat some more to self-comfort. That I am not morbidly obese by now can only be chalked up to my Korean genetics, a strand of DNA that ensures I will never be fatter than around 140 lbs., even while binge eating, even while living a sedentary lifestyle. But please, whatever you do, don’t tell me I’m lucky because I’d take being fat over being mentally ill any day.

Lately I’ve been counting my calories in a non-obsessive, curiosity piqued sort of way through my Fitbit and exercising almost daily in hopes that at the end of the day, I will be able to have a small ice cream sundae or some McDonald’s fries or a glass of lemonade or some small treat — a reward, really — that tells me I’ve successfully achieved my daily goal of not overeating. Thus far, I’ve been able to indulge a little bit every night for the past week without going over a 500 calorie deficit except for this one night where I did, but I still ate less than I expended (and I’m very proud to inform you that I ordered a Medium fry at McDonald’s tonight, and I didn’t even finish it all). It’s been kind of liberating, taking charge of my eating habits rather than letting them take complete and utter control over me. I’ve been trying to make peace with the fact that I am no longer a rail-thin size 2/XS who can tuck her blouse into her pants and not look like sausage, that I am allowed to have new clothes, that I am allowed to look cute, and that it is perfectly acceptable for me to go up a size or two as needed because the clothes just look better (have you ever seen a woman who simultaneously muffin-topped and camel-toed? It’s tragic.). I am working on being happy. I mean, isn’t that all anyone wants? Just a general sense of happiness with his/her own physical, mental, and spiritual well-being?

But I know this may not last forever. We’re going on a cruise this Saturday, where an all-you-can-eat buffet and free room service will be my nemeses, where we won’t have internet service and I won’t want to log my calories anyhow because what a mood killer, and I’m a little worried that I’ll snap mid-way through and wake up one morning to make the unfortunate decision to have fifteen strips of bacon for breakfast, followed by hashbrowns, eggs, pancakes, toast, and fruit (I’ve done something similar, I really have, and yes I felt awful afterward). And I know, I know, I can start all over again and I shouldn’t consider it a failure as much as a lesson learned, but ideally I’ll just be a normal person who doesn’t lose her mind when presented with unlimited food. (Having my husband shooting me warning glances will probably help, and before you think, “Oh my gosh he’s a tyrant!”, know that he’s just doing what I need him to in order to survive through this life.) Ideally, there will be no self-loathing on this trip.

Perhaps even if my birthmother had been the peak of physical health and nutrition while she was pregnant with me, I still would have been struck with an eating disorder. It’s not really off the table. But sometimes I wish things had gone differently, that she’d felt comfortable confiding in a family member or a friend before it was too late, that she had a maternal instinct kick in that told her she needed to give me the best she possibly could because I was trying to survive in there and I’d need to survive, even longer, out here.

Sometimes I wish.

Ah-ah, I Workout

Wow, three months. That’s got to be a record of ignoring my blog (so that means, Puneet, I can literally never rag on you again). And chances are, the world has forgotten about my wry sense of humor and dry wit (yeah, the whole world. I’m pretty sure the whole world was reading my blog, which explains all the fame and fortune).

I don’t really have any solid excuses for it either. I mean, I got really busy doing four shows this year, but also I don’t have a day job, so using it to explain away why I haven’t done the dishes/laundry/chores/meal planning/writing/reading is actually super weak, and I realize that. But I also found that with a newfound lack of major depression coupled with no longer having a soul-sucking clerical job, my low points weren’t particularly plentiful. I mean, really, my life is pretty bomb. We bought a house, we have a really stupid destructive puppy (but she is so so cute that we just deal with it, plus we understand how anxiety works, and she just wants love you guys), Stella is still perfect, and a really fabulous sushi restaurant opened mere minutes from our neighborhood.

We ate food from there two nights in a row last week. We regret nothing.

BUT if we’re going to be real, there’s been this black cloud of low pointage really looming over my head, and I’ve now finally broken down to share my woes and cry with you all: The Gym.

Ugh.

To be fair, we didn’t actually join a gym (you know, the 24 Hour Gold Anytime Planet variety, with meatheads who grunt and check themselves out in all the mirrors and girls who actually cheer in Zumba); we joined a local rec center. Like, the nicest rec center of our lives.

Photo courtesy herrimantowncenter.com

Photo courtesy herrimantowncenter.com

I’m not even kidding, that’s where we work out. I wasn’t exaggerating about it being nice. It’s like Adobe except without the pdfs.

So it’s not the actual gym/rec center-ness that’s the problem. Clearly. It’s this fancy state-of-the-art building with fancy classes and fancy machines with individual TVs and iPod jacks that all work and fancy locker rooms that don’t smell like Axe body spray and like, the fanciest pool I’ve ever seen short of a water park. Also, these:

Image courtesy amazon.com

Image courtesy amazon.com

In every. single. bathroom.

So, yeah, spending time at this place can be fairly enjoyable for me. The problem, however, lies in the fact that I have to go there on a pretty regular basis (I was killing it and going every day till I got sick one day or maybe injured or perhaps I was just feeling lazy and then it all went to pot, so I go maybe three times a week instead). I mean, enjoyable or not, I have to be there, and I don’t like that too much.

Reasons Why

First off, I have to wear a bra, and the worst kind at that, because, you know. I shouldn’t have to spell it out for you.

Second, I have to wear pants or else they won’t let me in.

Also, the part about adulthood people don’t really tell you about when you’re young is how your metabolism rate dies a horrible, tragic death, and then you’re FORCED to eat healthfully and exercise regularly if you don’t want to become a character actor.

[I could get used to being a character actor, I’m sure of it.]

And have you ever lived in Utah during the wintertime? Unacceptably miserable. That 5:30 am TRX class sucked to begin with, but when paired with temperatures sitting in the teens, it’s downright life-ruining. I don’t want to leave the house to get in the car, and once I’m in the car, I don’t want to leave it to enter the gym, and once I’ve finished the class, I don’t want to go back outside either.

Yeah, you heard me, 5:30 am. I married a sadist, obviously.

I don’t want to say that the stomach bug I’ve been enduring the past week has been a blessing exactly … I mean, feeling gross 24/7 is clearly not the preferred option, and though I haven’t puked for a week now, I’m growing weary of regretting everything that passes through my lips (yesterday’s Red Robin, for example, which was still probably worth it). But it’s also gotten me out of going to the gym at ungodly hours for classes that make me feel sore, so … it might be a win.

On Getting Older

There will come, at some point in your still relatively young life, when you will inexplicably become a “ma’am.” This is devastating, trust me, and there’s little you can do to stop it. After all, you’re apparently older than all the people, and if you’re married, that really seals the deal. Obviously all the married women are “ma’am”s because what else could we possibly be? YOU COULDN’T USE OUR NAMES OR ANYTHING.

I just found out tonight, for example, that Tom from “The Blacklist” IS ACTUALLY YOUNGER THAN ME IN THE REAL LIFE. How did that happen? How did actors portraying grown up adult characters become younger than moi? When was it that actors in my age demographic started pushing eye cream in commercials? What’s next — Depends? Poise pads for those little leaks?

I don’t want to talk about it.

I mean, don’t get me wrong — there are some definite benefits to getting older. You’re completely content sitting in the back of a concert, for example, and enjoying the music from afar while wearing earplugs. You finally feel comfortable in your own skin, and you care very little about what other people might be thinking about you (this occurred for me in the last year, and it’s been thrilling). People stop carding you at bars (which I realize is pretty moot for me since I always order virgin beverages … if I even order anything fancier than, say, flavored lemonade, but still. It’s nice). It’s okay for you to not have a completely flat stomach because the vast majority of society accepts that, barring the circumstances of you having a personal trainer and nutritionist because you’re famous and always on screen, you’d have to do unthinkable things every day to maintain such a physique. You know, like giving up bread or exercising multiple hours a week. Hours without bread. I mean, that’s just the worst ever. So a little bit of softness is acceptable.

But then the cons are pretty obvious — you can’t eat fast food at midnight and not suffer really terrible consequences the next day (and the next day and the next day and the next day). You can actually somehow gain five pounds in a week just like dark magic. You can run for three miles a day a few times a week and your ankles will get a little thinner. And you tell yourself it’s okay that you have a soft middle because society accepts it. You even write it in your blog like maybe it’s actually the truth.

Your body will start to degenerate in an alarmingly quick fashion, and you’ll be like, “Holy crap when did I become my parents?” Your knees will just never be the same, you guys. And also, it’s amazing the number of pills you can ingest over the course of a day. You look at your grandparents’ prescription stash with shock and awe, but let me tell you, that’s just around the corner for you. I have a flipping pharmacy in my house. And sometimes I actually find pins on Pinterest about great ways to store medications in the bathroom closet, and I RE-PIN THEM. Whatever, it’s cool.

But this getting older business: it appears that almost everyone does it. The (un)funny part about it is that no one makes it out alive (#tastelessjoke), either.

Why We’re Here in the First Place

Remember that very first post I ever wrote in this blog about how my body is essentially broken and regularly requires doctor visits and MRIs? (No? Oh, you should totally spend the next few hours reading all my posts from then till now.) Well, kids, I’m sorry to say the back/hip pain is back, and it is back with a vengeance.

I’ll admit that I eventually stopped going to physical therapy because I was working part-time at BYU and part-time as an accompanist and was also in “Hello, Dolly!” and even when I did have time to go, it was unlikely that I’d haul myself out of bed at 6:00 in the morning for it (especially since I was feeling so much better at that point). So I said, “I’ll be back, I promise,” and walked out the door and then kind of didn’t go back. Not because I didn’t think it wasn’t working or anything — I just stopped. And then we went through a couple periods of no having health insurance. And, you know, life.

And for awhile, I was able to cope with everything pretty well. I remember laying in bed, early on in the crisis, crying because I could not bear the idea of living in pain like that for the next 50-60 years, but I got used to it and grew weary of worrying about what was going on in my body, if the labrum was tearing yet again, if I had pinched my SI joint even further. And living the way I was for 50-60 suddenly didn’t sound all that bad. It was definitely doable. And I was hiking and biking and doing outdoor things with Husband I’d completely avoided the summer prior because I was rendered essentially immovable. And it was fun! And I loved it! And I started to think I was going to live a normal life after all.

I went rafting, and I looked like this, and we all died from the cute.

I went rafting, and I looked like this, and we all died from the cute.

Okay, scratch that. My brain will never let me live a normal life. I am already planning a makeup night in mid-January because I’m an incessant pre-planner, while singing the song of my people I’m doing for the vocal competition tomorrow over and over and over again in my head and biting my lips because that’s a new OCD thing I do (???). BUT, mental instability aside, I was physically ready to conquer as much world as I was interested in.

But then things started to hurt again. And Husband noticed one side of my hips remarkably higher than the other. And sleeping became a thing only healthy people did because there’s no comfortable position I can get in to actually fall and stay asleep. And sitting? Well, let’s just say I’m glad I don’t do it in a non-ergonomic desk chair 5 hours a day any longer.

Photo courtesy of overstock.com

Photo courtesy of overstock.com

Do I feel discouraged about this? Well, yeah, naturally. It’s not like I thought I was invincible, but I was holding out this modicum of hope that things would stay as benign as they’d been so I could be reminded that I’m not infallible but also so I didn’t want to cry all the time. All this has led to me eating a lot of chips. Also candy. So, I suppose, the only thing I can do is head back to my physiatrist and get another prescription for physical therapy (which will inevitably be for something ridiculous like four weeks) and go to the office twice a week for three or four months and try to beat this thing once and for all.

And if all else fails, I’ma get a cortisone shot rammed in my back so everything goes numb. Or … however it’s supposed to go. Because we’re there, guys.

Trying to Die

One time my parents were hiking, and a little boy was finishing up the trail with his mom, beleaguered, falling behind the group, when he said, “I’m trying to die, Mom.” That’s kind of become a running thing with our family because, as it turns out, we try to die a lot when it comes to anything physical.

Tonight I began non-music rehearsals, which meant I would be blocked and staged, and that sounded like a lot of fun. Naturally I wore a rayon top and pegged jeans because, I mean, what else would I wear to a rehearsal with the choreographer?

Photo courtesy of eatsleepdenim.com These are clearly not my legs because we all know I'd slip and break my head in shoes like this.

Photo courtesy of eatsleepdenim.com
These are clearly not my legs because we all know I’d slip and break my head in shoes like this.

[A backstory you should know: When I first met the choreographer, a lot of words came out of my mouth like, “If you feel like it’s appropriate to choreograph dance moves for me” and “I took African dance in college” and “I like to dance a lot.” Because … you know.]

As it turns out, the man took me seriously, which led to my learning some very brief choreography (and by brief, I mean, like, eight counts worth, which I imagine takes me about eight seconds) in my rayon top and pegged jeans, led to my being hoisted up on two dudes’ shoulders and digging my fingers into their clavicles so tightly that I imagine they were waiting for them to snap under the pressure, led to my being eternally grateful for a slow part of the song so I could catch my breath. From, you know, those eight seconds and being lifted up. Being lifted up is kind of taxing, is all I’m saying.

Photo courtesy of hancinema.net KOREANS. KOREANS DOING "AIDA".

Photo courtesy of hancinema.net
KOREANS. KOREANS DOING “AIDA”.

I’m trying to die, you guys.

Take a Hike

There’s really nothing like a straight uphill hike on a dusty, austere terrain, devoid of living plants that reminds you how out of shape you may be.

Yep. Utah is this lush.

Yep. Utah is this lush.

For our anniversary, Husband decided it would be fun to take time off work and spend the day together and go on a hike. The upside of doing something like taking a hike at the hottest point of the day, in long pants, without sunscreen, is that you can easily eat frozen yogurt and pizza and candy thereafter without feeling particularly bad because you’ve just burned so many calories.

Domino's wasn't kidding - when they said they used to suck and are better now, they meant it.

Domino’s wasn’t kidding – when they said they used to suck and are better now, they meant it.

But back to the hike.

We decided to try something new – we’d originally planned on a hike we’d done previously that was in a beautiful locale, covered with trees and had spots to rock climb, but I’d heard a lot of students throwing around the words “hike the Y,” and I thought, “Hey we should do that.”

Things that are wrong with the above assessment: Just because all the students are doing it doesn’t mean I should too. College students are full of energy and stamina and are capable of singlehandedly eating pizzas with little to no consequences the following morning, like upset stomach, diarrhea, or extreme weight gain. (I’m not saying that’s what happened when we ate our pizza, btw. We’re smart and old and we saved most of it for a later day.)

I hadn’t realized hiking the Y was more like a rite of passage than an actually enjoyable experience, and it is, as it turns out, straight up. Just straight up. On a dusty, lame trail, without any foliage at which to stare upon. When we finally arrived at our destination (a large, concrete Y plastered on the side of a mountain), we took a couple pictures and then headed back down because … there wasn’t a whole lot else to do.

Yep. This is it.

Yep. This is it.

Back down sucked almost more than up because we are old and have crappy knees. *cue Baz Luhrman graduation speech/song now*

Also, something newlyweds should consider: You hit a point in your marriage when taking time off work to celebrate your anniversary includes a trip to the DMV to remove a lien off your recently paid off car and a stop in a mothball-scented stamp shop because Husband collects stamps. Also a visit to Petsmart to buy nail clippers for your cat, who has taken it upon herself to make teeny tiny scratch marks on your rather expensive leather recliner.

Personally, I think she should be able to scratch whatever she wants. She's so damn cute.

Personally, I think she should be able to scratch whatever she wants. She’s so damn cute.

Yep, the night of our anniversary, in between rounds of “Black Ops II,” we trimmed our cat’s nails. It was a wild night, kids.

Meet Bob

A special request: Please don’t open a new tab to Google images whilst reading this post. It will make the whole experience more better for us all (mostly me).

It took nearly three years of marriage to me before Husband realized we should probably invest in some sort of punching bag, so he wouldn’t continue to be victimized. Mind you, my punches are a whole lot of nothing, filled with these teeny, tiny fingers that are apt to breakage if you look at them wrong and about as much centripetal force as a sloth. But, several punches to the arm and midsection can, over time, become rather irritating (since they’re clearly not going to be painful, although honestly I wonder if he’s just acting all tough because I am really good at the local 24 Hour Fitness kickboxing class, so.)

So, on Black Friday, we bought something upon which I can get out all my aggression. Incidentally, the deal we got wasn’t Black Friday related at all, although we were standing inside Sports Authority around 1:00 am, so for all intents and purposes, we got ourselves a sweet Black Friday deal on Bob.

Let me tell you something about Bob. Bob isn’t just some shapeless bag. Bob is, like, a person. Without arms and legs or an ability to move. So I’m not entirely sure why people think this is an actual, effective way to train for anything unless they live in a community where armless, legless criminals abound, and then — you are going to be good to go. Anyhow, we waited, anxiously, for Bob (and several other online orders) to arrive at our doorstep, checking the FedEx website pretty regularly.

But Thursday nights are my voice lesson nights, which meant I would probably miss out on Bob’s arrival. I wouldn’t be there, standing next to Husband, jumping up and down from sheer excitement. Also, it mostly meant he would have to put some pants on so he didn’t traumatize the delivery guy.

Imagine how pleased I was when I walked through the front door and saw this, just standing there:

Even without arms, he's just horrifying.

Even without arms, he’s just horrifying.

Heart attack. A heart attack happened.