Category Archives: Starvation

Why I Stopped Trying to Have Another Child

IMG_9846
Time to rest.

Last night, for the 414th time, I heard it again:

The unintentionally-offensive-you’re-lucky-you-only-have-one-kid remark.

You know the kind.  It also comes in the form of, “Is she your only?” and “only children are so lonely and spoiled” and “I would never do that to a child, have them be the only.”

This time, instead of a meltdown, it was nothing a knowing grimace from my husband couldn’t fix.  This time, instead of letting it stab me like a knife, it was a momentary wince and I moved on.   I watched my daughter trot from house to house, collecting candy gleefully.

*****

Today, I was thinking about how much I’ve had to fight.

First, I thought about how much I’ve fought to have a second child.  I tried for two years.  My husband and I tried having sex every other day, at points.  We got pregnant – to have it end in miscarriage, and to have a D&C I had to fight for because it was a holiday and no one wanted to stay late at the hospital.  I paid $1600 for acupuncture that wasn’t covered by health insurance, took herbs and stopped running.  A family member paid $500 for a failed IUI that wasn’t covered by health insurance, and since we don’t have 7,000 extra to spare, an IVF or even extra IUI’s were out of the question.

Second, I thought about how much I’ve fought in my life thus far.

In early school years, I fought to understand why the students at school hated me because of my weight, and I fought to understand why I was being touched by a classmate inappropriately in the fourth grade and why no one was doing anything about it, even though I told them.   I fought to understand why drug paraphernalia was in my house at a young age.   I fought to understand why people wouldn’t just leave me alone as I became smaller and smaller, since it solved everything anyway.

I fought harder still in college to understand why I couldn’t drink like everyone else, why guy friends had to carry me home after I insulted or hit one of them.  I fought to understand why my father refused to accept that I had an eating disorder, as a social worker confronted him in treatment.  I fought to educate family members, close ones, that I needed to eat at certain times during the day right out of treatment, and that I just wasn’t trying to be a nuisance to older family members.  I fought to stay sober, one day at a time, and fought to make family members understand that my sober anniversaries were actually a big deal and something I wanted to be recognized for.

I unsuccessfully fought to have extended family members unconditionally love me after I spoke my truth about our family, and fought to have in-laws see me as something more than “that antisocial girl who’s too serious”.  I fought to understand how the bomb near the finish line my husband stepped on somehow didn’t detonate during the Boston Bombing.  I fought to get my dad’s brain researched after he died, just like he wanted, packing ice around his head.  I fought back snarling insults as I felt others’ judgment about choosing to live with my mother and bipolar brother.  I fought tooth and nail to climb in my chosen career, only to live paycheck to paycheck.  I fought for my marriage in couples therapy as it floundered.

So yes, I guess you could say I’m tired of fighting.

And I’m good with fighting anymore, for anything else, including a child.

In fact, I’m all set.

If you want me, come and get me.

*****

I’m gonna go ahead and liken infertility to a regular old loss.  It doesn’t hurt any less as the years go on; you just get more used to dealing with it.  You get used to the remarks, seeing bright, shining pictures of families with at least two siblings beam at you from Facebook, and you feel that old, familiar pain.  But this time, it’s in the rearview mirror.

I have a family.

And I have me.  And I tell the truth.  And a lot of people don’t like that and never will.

And despite what a lot of people think, I’m fucking remarkable.

 

The Only Kind Of Bad Fat You Can Be

I love Jewel.  Go f$%6 yourself.  I love running to Jewel at the end of my workouts, cooling down while simultaneously basking in the imperfections of her folky, yodel-y, touchy-feely birdvoice.  And I love the song Goodbye Alice in Wonderland; it is my story.  As my bad knee started to kick in at the end of my run, and I rounded past the cemetery back to my apartment, her voice warbled into my ears,

Fame is filled with spoiled children
We grow fat on fantasy

And internally, I stopped;

because that was the story of my food addiction.

******

I grew up with big dreams.  I dreamt of becoming a musical theater star, and of falling in love with the perfect man at 25 and having this perfect family that would make up for any trauma I experienced.  I dreamt of leaving the little town I grew up in and never fit into, and moving to the big city and showing everyone that I was really meant for something bigger.

The problem with big dreams and being a big dreamer is that you often live not in the real world but inside your head, and you don’t seek outside help or opinions and ideas.  You rely on magazines and images and other people’s injured self-esteem to tell you what is right and standard and spin a world so small that you can’t see outside of it.

Translation?  I thought I had to do it all perfectly, and look like the 113 lb, 5 foot 11 chick in People (yes, they used to post their weights in the 90’s, and yes, I remember it because I will always have an eating disorder I am grateful for).  And I did it!  I lost 65 lbs in five months, because that’s what it took to fit in and be beautiful and be happy.

You see, I was “fat on fantasy”, just like Jewel said.  Because things were sad, and disappointing, and just plain tragic growing up, I escaped into fantasy.  It’s all I had, before I realized I could escape into food.  I escaped into the glamorous life I would lead someday, being successful and perfect and beautiful and therefore worthy of some man’s love.

And in that fantasy, I despised fat.  Fat meant failure and disappointment and wanting too much and loss.  But I was wrong; physical fat isn’t bad; it’s just fat.  Yellow, squishy fat.  But what was bad and what was hurting me was the fat fantasy I lived on.  I didn’t live in reality.  Into my twenties, I lived in a world where I rehearsed social situations and scenes that never took place because I was scared shitless to step outside of it.  Things were dramatic and romantic and dreamy in my head, and messy and unpredictable and scary outside of it.  And the more I expected my reality to be like my fantasy, the more I starved and binged.  It isolated me from that messy, unpredictable world – when I used behaviors, I didn’t have to feel anything.

I think I’ve gotten better.  I know I’ve gotten better.  When I first put down unhealthy behaviors, I could barely carry on a conversation for fear of what others thought of me; now I can banter a bit better.  But my “fat fantasy” still remains in bits and pieces – it’s there when I expect my relationship to be perfect 24/7 in order for it to be long-term, or when I think everyone should act perfectly at a party I host.  The fantasy still bugs me.

And poor fat!  I projected all of this fantasy onto fat, this morally-meaningless substance and made it bad.  When you know what?  It never was.  It just sat there.  And it sits beautifully on me and others today.  Today, I understand that a size 14 woman who is honest with herself is way better off than a size 2 who isn’t.  It may sound trite, but it took me a long time to get there.

So to those who get annoyed by my truth-telling; I do it because it’s hard and because I can’t afford to grow fat on fantasy again.  I do it because I see the world as it is, not as it should be or how my partner wants to see it or how it might look with an Instagram lens.  I do it because it’s how we move forward.  I do it to survive.

And I keep running.

A Husband’s Perspective

heartout

Happy Tuesday, folks.

A BIG thanks goes out to Liz for sending me this posting by Nate Milsham.  Nate writes about the difficulty, pain and triumphs one experiences when trying to support someone with an eating disorder.  (I’ll go on record and say it’s one of the most difficult disorders to support.)  His wife has been battling ED-NOS for years, and in this post he details his sensitive observations of her and the how the outside world treats women.

Beautiful.  That is all.

 

 

Dear Media: Stop Trying to Kill My Sisters.

Dear Media,

I woke up this morning to a picture my friend had posted (mockingly) of a “Get Beach Ready!” article in some beauty magazine.  In it, the first tip suggested,

“BAN STRETCH MARKS.”

stretch marks

and I say –

Go fuck yourself.  That’s right.  You heard me.

Stretch marks have nothing to do with beauty; in fact, I think they have a lot to do with skin elasticity.  So stop trying to attach moral value to stretch marks.

Or anything else body-related for that matter.

Media, did you know eating disorders are the deadliest mental health illness?  Bypassing alcoholism?


death

Well yes, they are.  And you are contributing to many a woman’s death, on a daily basis, all for your love of money.

Stop trying to kill my sisters.  Or my daughter, for that matter.

What if you, instead, chose to publish an un-airbrushed, average looking lady on your cover?  Might that young pre-teen you’re selling to have not chosen to go on a 500-calorie a day diet?  Maybe, maybe not.  Even if you’re not the direct cause, you’re part of the equation.

And when the women who don’t kill themselves via starvation give up on attaining that perfect ideal, they swing the other way.  They start binging, because they just as well might give up and “get fat because there’s no hope for me anyway.”  You may have heard of an epidemic called “obesity.”  You play a part in that.

binge

They buy into your bullshit because you’ve inundated them with false truths since the moment they were born.  Society’s values do a number on them too – “sweet, cute, Daddy’s little girl.”  Pushed down by the patriarchy as soon as they can breathe air.

Oh, and stop trying to kill our mothers.

The other day, I heard a husband joke about giving his wife 6 months post-partum to appear as if she never had a baby.  Behind the joking that made me want to stick a needle in my eye – there is truth.  A million of your articles have been dedicated to women pretending as if they never took part in assisting the human race in surviving.  Makes sense.

babyweight2

 

Keeping women insecure earns a lot of money for you.  How do you sleep at night?  How do you live with yourself?

Either way, it’s got to stop.  You make my new-mother friend feel like she should weigh less, you make my daughter the subject of weight stereotypes, and you make me feel like my genetic spider veins are little spindles of evil on my pasty-white, untanned-and-therefore-unappealing skin.

STOP.

(Another Piece of Cake realizes there are healthy ad campaigns out there, and applauds them!  Another Piece of Cake also realizes men are hit hard by the media too, but Another Piece of Cake only writes about women because she’s, well…a woman.)

Recovery Tip Tuesdays: Set Point Theory

acceptanceGood ol’ set point theory.  What is it?

The idea that all of our bodies have their unique set point, a number, give or take 5-10 lbs, that our body likes to reside at when it’s healthy and we’re feeding it well.

One of the biggest breakthroughs I experienced in my ED recovery was accepting my set point.

(Which is a tall order, I do realize.  Acceptance can be a bit of a bitch to work through)

And my set point is pretty average.  Coming from a family of Irish-German “Campbell Soup Kids”, I realized I was never going to be 110 lbs soaking wet (sorry for the rare number), once I was able to see through the irrationalities of my eating disorder.  It just wasn’t going to happen, unless I engaged in superhuman exercise and dangerous restriction every day.  Which, was alarming to my ED at first.  My ED wanted to fight my body.  Screw you, it said to my body.  I’ll show you.  You can be different.

However, once I accepted it, set point theory was…relaxing, actually.  It comforted me, because if I fed my body the way my nutritionist told me to, it would never screw me over.  It would never put me at an obese weight I feared…it would put me right where I belong.

(But there was quite a fight to get to that acceptance.  Think: A crying, binging sometimes, scratching, screaming fight.)

I still have to check myself fairly daily on this when my ED starts luring me into lesser-weight land.

What do you think?  Have you accepted your body type, your set point?  If not, what steps do you have to take to obtain that acceptance?

*What works for me may not work for you.  Proceed at your own risk.

keepcalm

Do You Want Your Blog Linked On Mine?

Hey all!

 

I’m looking to link a bunch of Recovery Blogs on my “Links” page.  I’m all for the ED Recovery community connecting and supporting each other.  So, if you want your link on my page, you should meet only a few requirements:

1.  Have a pro-recovery blog (no pro-ana or mia sites, please)

2.  On this blog entry, submit your blog URL.  I will post it!

3.  Comment on another blog that’s  linked on my “Links” page.

 

That’s it…link up my friends!

 

 

shhh

Blissful Body Fridays: Things They Don’t Tell Fat Girls

Happy Friday, all!

So, my awesome feminist friend Maggie from college posted a link on her FB page recently.  It is from The Militant Baker,  a fab blog about body love, feminism, and cats (I’m a fan already).  In it, she acknowledges the nuances of the human body and shatters misconceptions about them.  My fave part?  “Everyone has rolls when they bend over. Everyone.”  Without further adieu, here is…

 

Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls…SO I WILL.

 

That’s it folks, short and sweet this Friday.  Have a good one!

Pay What You Weigh: What Do You Think?

samoa-air

So recently, Samoa Air introduced “Pay What You Weigh” pricing.  Basically, each kilogram that you weigh costs 93 cents.  So, if you’re an average-weight American male, you pay about 40 dollars less than the typical airline rate.  So yes, a tricky way of both encouraging people to fly Samoa air and stay healthy.  Mmmmk.  A couple of things:

  1. This is a Samoan airline.  In Samoa, I’m willing to bet they don’t have the obesity and eating disorder problem that we seem to have here in the US; it’s been reported that the pricing seems to be going just swimmingly there.*  I’m also willing to bet it would be met by cries out outrage here in the U.S.  Some of those cries might be mine (see the next number).
  2. What about people like my partner, who is gorgeous and tall and naturally weighs more because he’s tall?  They have to pay more?  That sucks.  That’s where the motivation to be healthy doesn’t add up – you can be healthy AND weigh more.
  3. Plus the fact that yes, it could  be embarrassing, humiliating, or triggering to some.  Weight is a private issue for some people.  I do think that airlines need to collectively come up with a solution to seating obese individuals, but I’m not sure weighing them is the answer.  That’s usually reserved for a doctor’s office or the Ground Round circa 1985, during their “Pay What You Weigh” dinner era (shudder).
  4. Aaaand…is it proper to basically financially penalize someone because they weigh more than the next passenger?  Isn’t that insulting?  Isn’t that basically shaming people for weighing more?

What do you think?

(Image provided by gizmag.com)

* Those flying Samoa Air are always weighed before boarding because the planes flying there are so small.

Why Do People Diet? Diets Don’t Work.

diets-suckSo, I have to confess, I’m annoyed on a daily basis.

Why?

Every day, I hear about another celebrity or friend or whoever getting on a new, fad diet.*

And it’s so frustrating because I know – this person will come back to me a month later, discouraged, saying, “Why did I end up binging?  I just can’t eat healthy.”   Or we’ll see the celebrity have a lifelong struggle with rollercoaster weight gains and losses after 305 Jenny Craig trials.  And I get mad – because I know my dear friend – or even this celebrity that’s been hounded by critics and paparazzi and assholes – CAN eat healthy.  It is easily within their power.  If only they’d stop dieting!

The thing I find especially crazy about diets is that a great deal of them these days ask you to cut one, or two food groups out of your nutrition.

  • The Paleo diet advises that you eat only what hunters and gatherers eat (meat, nuts, vegetables – this means NO dairy and NO sugar except fruit).  As a mother, this is crazy to me – I’m not going to stand in front of my kid and say, “You drink your milk,  honey, but Mommy doesn’t drink any or eat any dairy!”  Also, it doesn’t encourage oatmeal, which would probably be a good idea to eat when you’re only eating meat, as it scrubs cholesterol from your body.
  • Let’s look at the popular South Beach Diet.  Ah, the land of no carbs.  This is also bullshit, because there are good carbs, like whole grain bread and fruit.  I’ve tried this before – WHEN I WAS ACTIVELY ANOREXIC.  It’s not sustainable.  Healthy carbs keep us full until our next meal.  Also, can you imagine not eating a piece of cake at your son or daughter’s birthday?  I can’t.  I might even eat ANOTHER piece of cake 😉
  • Can I even talk about cleanses without rolling my eyes?  This, to me, is idiocy.  We don’t need anything to clean our body out – our body’s organs do it naturally.  I contend that people do it to “feel” thin in the same way they claim they can “feel” fat – they want to feel pure because nothing is going into their systems.  Well, except for cayenne powder and tabasco sauce or, whatever.  So, great, you’re going to starve yourself, and set yourself up for a binge, and deny your body what it needs to function.  Good for you.

You know who doesn’t recommend any of these methods?  Nutritionists and doctors.  When I was in treatment for my ED, I was advised to have three meals and three snacks a day, complete with whole grains, meat, vegetables, fruit, dairy, and – god forbid – dessert!  Now, the portions have to be reasonable, and you’re not generally advised to consume soda or corned beef hash on a daily basis – but you can eat or drink everything once in a while.

Is it that people are looking for the next quick fix?  Is is that they can’t sit with uncomfortable feelings when feeling full?  Is it that, in our extreme-based country, we feel the need to meet obesity-causing McDonald’s food with anorexia-causing cleanses?  Why do we need to cut something out to be healthy?  Isn’t health about balance?  Incorporating everything within reason?

You tell me.  I need some feedback.  Why do we diet?

*Please note this is not a personal attack on anyone.  I realize diets may work for a few, and not everyone succeeds doing things my way.  I get annoyed because I get triggered by diet talk, and because I watch people try something that doesn’t work over and over again, at the cost of their mental and physical health.  I get annoyed because I want to change it.

(image provided by www.lbnonlinefitness.com)

Guest Post: Introducing Tayla James

taylaI am thrilled to have Tayla James, author of She’ll Be Free, guest post on Another Piece of Cake!  Please check out her blog – she is honest, spirited, and provides practical tips on how to recover from an eating disorder.  (And she makes jewelry and cards!  How amazing is that!)  In this entry, she writes about societal standards that influenced her ED and how she overcame them.  Enjoy!

Are Social Influences Ruining Your Life?

Tayla Anne

Magazine images, degrading commercials, thin actresses.

All of those have one thing in common; they can be detrimental to women, especially to those trying to recover from an eating disorder.

I clearly remember when I was in the beginning stages of my anorexia looking at these magazines and wondering why my thighs were not as skinny as Jessica Simpson’s. How could she be twice as old and yet have smaller thighs?

I just didn’t get it. It made me feel ashamed and embarrassed about my body. And I was only twelve!

Every day I would be greeted by these images. TV models used in commercials for the selling of beer, makeup, or cars, actresses dieting down to look skinny for movies, and magazines letting you falsely believe that all women look flawless and perfect.

It is all a lie.

But it hasn’t been easy for me to recognize that. It’s taken years to finally realize just how fake all of these things really are.

How could they not be real? I mean they’re on TV and how do you know if the magazine is really photo-shopping them? They say they don’t but another source tells you they are. And they look so real!

Or do they?

Is that what real women look like? When I look around me, at the store, at the doctor’s office, that’s not even close to what I see. I see women with dark spots, women with cellulite, women who are NOT perfect.

And we’re not supposed to be.

Perfection can only be met by these photo-shoppers. That’s why they need to do it; because the girls really do have flaws and blemishes and are “too” big or small for the camera.

And that is sad. It makes me angry every time I see an image like this. I can’t even imagine how degrading that must feel for those women on the cover. To be picked apart and airbrushed to look like someone completely different than their true self.

But it’s even harder for us girls.

Having to constantly be bombarded with these pictures, these seamlessly immaculate women, it takes its toll and over time, the effects of this can cause more body image issues, more eating issues, and more self worth issues.

To be recovering from this exact “want” and “need” to be skinny, with the media breathing down my back every minute, telling me what I should look like, is not easy. It steers me in all sorts of directions.

One day I am so angry that I have to listen to all these ads and see all these fake women around me and then other days I fall in the trap and wish I was like them again.

It’s a never ending cycle that feeds the eating disorder and body image voices.

They sit on your shoulder ad whisper in your ear, “why don’t you look like that women?” “She’s more perfect than you.” “You don’t have beautiful skin, or eyelashes, or legs, a flat stomach, a thigh gap, or invisible cellulite. There’s no way you’re even close to being pretty compared to them!”

Learning to make these voices stop can be a full time job. At least for me it was.

I had to be on the lookout at all times. When I went to the store I had to pick the lines that didn’t have these magazines. I had to make a great effort to look away and if I did catch a glimpse, I had to convince myself that they were artificial, not real.

When I watched TV or movies, I had to remind myself that these women are on a constant diet and are starving themselves to look that way.

They suffer for their own bodies because the media tells them to.

It was a continual battle I fought with my mind each and every day, until I finally came to a point of peace with it all.

I just started seeing these images as imposters. They just clearly weren’t real.

And there are more and more articles, websites, pinterest images that depict the problems behind them. There are people out there that make it their jobs to discover the errors of these things.

Photo-shopping has its slipups and it’s becoming more evident to what they are doing. Models are coming forward and revealing what they have to do in order to keep their thin bodies and actresses are beginning to tell us what really happens behind the camera.

My advice to women and girls is to really take the time to realize that these images are fake. And there may be a real women behind all of the airbrushing and makeup, but on the surface, these photos aren’t real.

Real women are not perfect and that is what makes us beautiful.

If you are suffering from an eating disorder, it’s even more important that you stay away from images like these. Remember why you are fighting. You are unique and lovely. You don’t want to look fake in order to be considered beautiful.

You are already beautiful. Flaws and all.

  

 

Tayla Anne is a writer, artist and fitness enthusiast. After finding freedom from an eight year battle with anorexia, she now writes about her experiences, self love, acceptance, and how you too, can break free from your own eating disorder. Follow her blog, She’ll Be Free for more inspirational posts and ideas.