Writing for an Audience of One

Two years ago I discovered NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, and I was super stoked about it. I made an account on their website, filled out my profile, and prepared to write a whole novel in a month (NaNoWriMo is a challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days). Before I began blogging, I used to spend a lot of my free time writing for myself– poetry, short stories, novels that I never really finished. I remember my parents had received this totally ancient PC from a friend and let me use it– it wasn’t connected to the internet, but it didn’t matter– and I would sit down in front of the computer, turn on some music (usually the Beatles or the Shins) and write for hours, creating alternate realities where kids had power and parents didn’t really exist and magic was everywhere (you know, kid stuff). As I got older I found livejournal and greatjournal (remember livejournal?!) and that really exposed me to the catharsis that can come with online journaling and blogging, but even then I still made time for something beyond my own experience, something creative and outside my own life. It was nice to be creative and fantastical, to write about anything I wanted, to have my characters do whatever I wanted them to, to play out what-ifs or if-onlys in Microsoft Word. I continued to write through high school and into college, but eventually I stopped devoting time to fiction and spent more time writing midterm papers and blogging.  Continue reading

Happy Halloween!

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Halloween and Samhain today (or tomorrow, depending on your traditions), Dia de los Muertos and All Saints Day tomorrow. Then All Souls Day the following day. Safe to say that it is pretty hallowed few days in store for us! Happy autumn holy days for all who are celebrating. Here’s to many more!

I can’t see the future but I think it will be bright

I’m a planner. My present is total chaos (you should see my room right now, it’s as if hurricane Matthew made it all the way to my bedroom), but when it comes to my future, I like to plan for as much as possible. I create my own budget through excel which includes budget projections based on differences in pay, a savings tab to keep track of our 10k savings goal, and a debt tab that shows not only how much we owe but also how long it will take to get under a 30% debt ratio. Every time we go to Disneyland I make an excel spreadsheet that details all of our reservations, park hours, schedules for entertainment we might want to see, and a budget for the week we go. So yeah, I’m a bit of planner. Continue reading

What to do when you don’t know how to feed yourself

Last night I was talking to a friend of mine, basically doing a check in about our lives. As per usual these days my check in was largely compromised of my issues around food. I often come to her with my food woes because she has her own personal experience with disordered eating and can relate to my struggles. I was telling her about how I’ve been really struggling with my fear of sugar and carbohydrates, which has led me into a cycle of extreme avoidance and overindulgence is very frustrating. I expressed how I worry that sugar and carbs impede my weight loss and that I just want them to be completely out of my life (an unrealistic and illogical notion, I know). As a result I’ve made it a goal to stay under 25 carbs a day and I had originally intended to make this month No Sugar October, avoiding not just sugary  treats but also anything that has sugar, honey, agave or artificial sweeteners added (although the goal has changed slightly since we had this conversation). From this we got on the subject of moderation which is something that I think a lot of people with eating disorders find really difficult. I can’t speak for everyone who has an eating disorder but I have a sneaking suspicion that many of us (but not all) tend to think in binary terms– good food and bad food, fat and thin, hungry or full, fasting/restricting or bingeing. Of course there are many people who don’t fall into this type of thinking, but I definitely find myself thinking this way a lot, particularly regarding hungry vs full and fasting/restricting vs bingeing. Continue reading

Bariatric Life vs. Recovery

The bariatric team at Kaiser made it clear from the beginning that there are good foods and bad foods, foods that are okay to eat and foods that you should avoid. this is very different from when I was in therapy and we were told that food is neither good nor bad, it’s neutral and all fine in moderation. So you can see how I might struggle with trying to balance these to opposite and mutually exclusive ideas. I find that when I go about trying to stick with the bariatric meal guidelines my day ends up looking really strict, regimented and restrictive. That’s the nature of the plan, and also the nature of the process (I mean, they took out most of my stomach, so it’s obviously a restrictive surgery). However, the plan basically encourages eating disorder behavior. I can only eat 3 meals a day, and those meals are all 3oz (so I’m eating 9oz of food a day, just think about that), I can’t drink anything that is over 20 calories a serving, I eat my meals out of toddler bowls so I can’t over-indulge. If I were a skinny person, this behavior would be bizarre and cause for concern, right? But as a fat person this behavior is not only encouraged by the team, but also celebrated by almost everyone I interact with, whether it’s on instagram, facebook, or in real life.

If I were following this plan while in therapy I would’ve been strongly discouraged, my team would’ve saw it as cause for alarm. So I’m having a really hard time keeping to the baristric diet/lifestyle because I have their voices in the back of my mind, it just feels like giving into behaviors. But on the other hand I really want to stick to the heavy restriction because I think it’s the only way I can lose all the weight. I really don’t know how to just eat like a normal person. The problem (and this is the truly tragic part) is that there is so much pride associated with sustaining life with the least amount of food possible. It’s mind-boggling, being proud of eating only 2 ounces of food instead of three, like that’s some kind of grand accomplishment, like it makes me a better person in some weird twisted way. I have pride in myself when I restrict, and I truly think that people are also proud of me when I restrict, which is why the surgery was so compelling, such an irresistible option for me. It forces me to eat less, encourages me to think small and contained and little just about my food intake but about my body– because eating small means being small, and that is apparently more important to me than I thought. I always knew it was important to some extent to my family– they don’t really care about being thin but they definitely find being fat problematic– and important for society, but I thought that after all these years of therapy and self help books and body positive blogs that I would be somehow above the screwed up idea of fat inferiority. But now I’ve gone and cut out most of my stomach and I give myself a mental gold star when I’m under my calorie goal.

I think this is a problem that the bariatric team at Kaiser certainly didn’t prepare for, a problem that leaves me in a constant cycle of avoidance and overindulgence* of food. The healthy relationship with food I had hoped the surgery would foster has not been realized and I’m honestly not even sure it actually exists. Maybe this life is the one where I am at war with myself (hopefully this war will stay in this life and not cross over into the next).

 

* I can no longer overindulge/binge like I could before surgery but I think it’s important to note that even if it doesn’t have the calories of a binge it has the emotions of a binge and I think that counts for something.