I’ll be honest with you, I still have one. It’s like a tumor I’ve carried around most of my life because instead of operating to cut it out, or killing it with chemicals or medicines, I’ve fed it, a little bit for years. Sometimes I fed it a lot. I know it’s there and I know it’s taking away from my life but not so dramatically that I can’t keep on. I think it might be like alcoholism, I’m functional, highly functional, but not unaffected. Mad Men makes it seem like some alcoholics wouldn’t be as successful if they went sober and I think I’m worried I’d be the same. What would happen to my body, my life, my career, the name I’ve made for myself..if I just…stopped. Who would I be?
But that’s been the tricky part. Stop what? Believe me, I’d love to stop eating. To be free from the need to consume has long been a dream of mine. But I think I’ve clearly proved to myself that I need to eat to live and believe me I want to live. Mine is not a struggle with depression..or at least not the kind of depression that stems from a desire to stop existing. I want to live and succeed and do, and prove my worth. I want so much and perhaps that is what I am afraid of.
And now as I try to figure out how to heal some health issues and I’m having a hard time figuring what are physical health issues and what are my ED issues.
I’ve long been vegan. I’m vegan for ethical reasons. But I’ve never achieved the thinness I associate with vegan-ism and what I think I should look like as one. I have been diagnosed with IBS and have digestion issues and my entire family and my husband are avid defenders of a meat eating and protein in the diet. Most of them are quite healthy without a history of eating disorders. My sister is downright sexy fit with a rocking set of abs and my mother is super model skinny wearing a size I haven’t seen since high school. My sister eats meat and dairy and generally craves protein at every meal- but strongly shuns dieting claiming every time she tries to diet she’s gained weight and stressed out. I highly admire my sister, not only in physique but also for her self awareness and success in the same field as me. My mother has been on the Atkins diet since I was in high school and maintains a weight all the dancers I work with would kill for. So twice in my adult life now I’ve decided to try a ketogenic diet/low carb diet regardless of my abhorrence of meat, factory farming and ethics. But in the face of possibly being skinny i suppose anyone would toss their morals out the window. Right?… Right?
So how has that worked out for me? The first time I lost a heap of weight (translation 7lbs which is epic for me) and shouted from the rooftops that maybe I was made to eat meat genetically as my family seems to think. But I gained five of those lbs back. And it was possibly because I’m couldn’t eat the amount of meat I needed to sustain my caloric desires so I consumed other low carb options such as dark chocolate, cheese-so much cheese (and contrary to most people, I don’t really like cheese), tofu, and protein powder blended with sugarfree jello. I also leaned heavily on diet soda and sugarless gum. Ok, then I went back to being vegan because if I’m going to be “fat” I might as well eat what makes me comfortable as a human being. And I did gain weight. A lot more than I appreciated. So fast forward and I’ve played with high raw and high carb vegan with a lot of success. Lost some weight, but still not “enough”, but the same amount as on a ketogenic diet. I had energy and believed in my lifestyle. Then over the course of holidays including my wedding I gained weight (more cooked food? More fat in my food? Relying heavily on 1000 calories of dried fruit per day?) and when I started another contract with other dancers I didn’t lose weight even though I was dancing and working for hours! My hunger was high, my caloric consumption was high and I was bloatey, IBS ridden and my pants were tight. So after some consideration I went keto again. This time I lost 8lbs and got lots of compliments. I then regained 5 of those eight with no movement back down for months. I’m still “not thin enough” and because my hunger has increased a lot and my energy has gone down I’ve toyed with going back to vegan. But every time I do for a day or two (meaning I drop meat in favor of oranges, grapes and big salads with corn) I gain three pounds and spend hours in the bathroom in pain. So then I go back to keto and I drop those three pounds. But weight wise is being three pounds (but visibly leaner) lighter worth it? and is the intestinal discomfort really from the fruit and vegetables or from reintroducing a large amount of fiber into my diet after weeks with very little?
A few nights ago I cried into my husbands arms. He’s so confused and so am I. I kept saying I feel the anxiety of eating fear. I hate eating animals and I can’t not see it that way. But I hate being in my body too. And I realized I am still so sick. I’m going to be 33 in a week and I am terrified of gaining two pounds. I’ve been on a diet since I was nine and I’m scared to not be on one because I don’t know what would happen to me if I didn’t track my food, if I ate what I wanted. I don’t know what I want. I’ve toyed with intuitive eating for a day or two here or there but it scares the living shit out of me.
And that’s all. I have a problem and I’ve just now realized how very serious it has been. So what am I going to do? I don’t know. I really don’t. I guess admitting it is the first step right?
So this is me saying I have a problem. A big problem. My name is Coco and it’s been ten minutes since I logged on to my fitness pal. I’ve also decided that I can’t just stop being vegan. It plagues me. It is my beliefs that animals are not for my consumption. So what now? Can I just stop dieting? Can I … Eat? I woke up this morning and had green tea and two oranges. And I know how many calories is in that and that I’m already not in ketosis and that I’ll probably have stomach upset and be bloated and doubt myself. But I sat there and peeled one orange at a time and ate it section by section and decided that was that. And then I decided that the only thing I can do right now is find a mantra and that mantra is love. Love. I love myself. I love animals. I love myself…I love myself. And I will repeat it into the darkness when I panic and when I have company weigh ins next week. And I will repeat it until I feel it again. And then again, and more consistently. I’ll keep trying.
Hopefully there will be more to tell.