in november, mmc alerted me to the fact that everyone we were friends with in high school, including her, had an eating disorder. where i was during all of this, i have no idea, because it came as a huge surprise to me. all i remember doing during high school is eating, running, being an incredibly humongous, angst-filled dork (not so different than now), and homework.
i guess i shouldn't be surprised--our school was in a wealthy white suburb where most kids had a choice of benz or bmw upon receiving their driver's licenses. blonde and skinny was the way to be, and even naive me knows that there was a lot of drinking and cocaine around. so there were all sorts of social pressures, blah blah blah. but i wasn't really aware of any of that stuff (except for the fact that we weren't wealthy or blonde), least of all the fact that my friends were suffering in such a way.
my mom always fed us really delicious persian food, and we ate it. that was that. i came to college, and i started rowing. exercising more than i ever had, i also began to eat more than i ever had. i grew crazy muscles, and when i stopped rowing, i was left with quads, hamstrings and glutes of steel.
and then, i started cooking. cooking is hard on your body in many ways, but the long hours of standing on my feet were what initially took their toll on me more than anything else. well, that plus the incessant tasting (which really became more like eating whatever i wanted and calling it part of my job). suddenly, i was too tired after work to even think about exercise. i'd let go of competitive athletics for competitive cooking. and over the last ten or so years, i've gained about 30 pounds.
i love to eat. pretty much everything. and i'll never be able to give that up. but in some ways, my zealousness in the kitchen has worked against my health by skewing my ideas about what and how much is okay to eat. since oil, butter, cream and cheese are my work tools, i've lost a bit of context over time about their proper place in a healthy diet. and don't even get me started about the pastry station. let it suffice to say that just because it's local, seasonal and organic doesn't mean that it won't make you fat.
cooks are funny, ruthless people. we make fun of everyone, especially people who are picky about what they eat. so changing the way i eat has been a formidable task, probably harder in many ways for me to accomplish than someone who's not in a kitchen all day.
but i have. changed the way i eat, i mean. i've done it gradually--first i spent a year eating more fruits and vegetables, then i started to focus on fiber. and last year, once i started to exercise again, i tried to increase my consumption of lean proteins like yogurt, chicken, turkey and egg whites and decrease my refined carbohydrates, like white flour and sugar (i'm not really supposed to eat much soy b/c of my thyroid). i traded acme baguettes for whole grain bread. i traded toast and jam breakfast for egg whites with guacamole. i traded whole milk for 2% or nonfat. bye bad cereals, hello kashi 7-grain. bye basmati, hello brown rice. no more high fructose corn syrup. and a great many less ice cream breaks at work.
and that, along with the gym, helped a lot. i've lost most of the weight i've gained in the past 10 years. i even stopped thinking of the muscles left from crew as a liability, like i had been every time i couldn't fit into a pair of jeans, cursing my huge muscular thighs and ignoring my chubby butt. now i'm proud of my muscle definition, and my powerful legs, so important in so many athletic endeavors. i just have a little weight left to lose. and that's where my problems begin.
i'm coocoo, cheap and competitive. those three things do not make a good combo, i've learned. when my gym announced a 60-day fat loss competition, i went nutso and decided i had to win, because the prize was 6-months free of membership. that's worth a lot of money, and i knew that if anything could motivate me to get back on the no refined sugar/flour train (after i'd fallen off over the past few months) and lose that last bit of weight, it's my own frugality. so i amped everything up: i ate egg whites for breakfast 21 days in a row, cut out the bad stuff, and started experimenting with natural (non-soy) protein powders. i started working out twice a day, and drinking a lot more water. i was trying to be a machine about the whole thing.
at work, i became even crazier (as if it were possible): the more i knew i shouldn't eat certain things, the more i wanted to. it even happened with things that i normally don't crave, like pasta. add to that the fact that it's MY job to think about food, to read cookbooks, research dishes, do trial runs, and come up with menu items, and you get a total lunatic. complete and utter crazy person.
and then i heard about someone else's progress. she's already lost a bunch of weight and fat. so i freaked out, and decided to measure myself. and when i did, i was flabbergasted: i'd gained weight (not a big deal, since it was probably muscle) and lost only a negligible amount of fat. what!? how could this be? i was working so hard to eat the right stuff and exercise more. how could this be!?
then i hurt my ankle, a big fat message from the universe telling me to take an effing chill pill. i lost all of that other weight gradually, and when you have more to lose, the first bits come off more easily. and i'm injured--not just my ankle, but my shoulder and hips, so when i exercise, i'm not operating at maximum efficiency. and, thinking about this so much is probably causing a host of other problems that i'm not even aware of. the competitive streak in me isn't so healthy right now, either.
like i said, i've always been pretty oblivious to people with eating disorders--i'm not staring at anyone's plate but my own at dinner time. but i've always felt so bad for people who have body image issues. strangely enough, i don't think that really any of this is about body image for me (or maybe it is, but just a little). it's about being a nutso maniac, and about figuring out how to do what's best for my sanity and my body. sure, i want to lose this last bit of weight, and sure i'd love to win that prize and save that money, and of course i want to return in some capacity to athletic competitions. but not at the cost of pushing myself over some edge into disordered eating.
i'm coocoo and i need to get it under control. this is why i want to talk to a nutritionist. don't worry about me, though, because i think just being able to catch this stuff at this point is going to save me from doing any harm to myself. i just thought you might like a glimpse into my unbalanced mindset.