Sunday, August 31, 2008

caution: our restaurant sells calories.

At work, we have we have this pb pie.  It is unbearably fantastic and I wish I would get one every shift I work, but - alas - I can only afford so much food and I try to put my limited income into the more necessary stuff like, you know, protein and vegetables (damn you, health).  However, it's hard for me to keep from wanting to lick one whenever I have to compile the deliciousness for a table of mine.

"Oh, man, I'd kill for a slice of this right now."
Without fail, about 3 consecutive times now, the response to this has always been, "Ugh, do you have any idea how many calories are in that?  Like, 1200, at least."
"Oh.. then, I should probably be eating about 3 of these a day.  Thanks for pointing that out."

No one usually knows how to respond to that, which is even funnier.  The weird thing is (besides the obvious fact that people need to raise my awareness to the caloric value every time I say I want to eat the pie, of course) is that two of those times weren't even women.  It's sad, but I find that surprising.

Why do people think it's so important to put that out there, especially when you don't know who you're talking to?  It drives me insane when people say things like that, knowing how they can effected.  Maybe I'm over sensitive about things that people say because of what I've been through and seeing how words can destroy a person from the inside out.  You can't expect everyone to know just what to say and what not to, but come on, that's just strange.

[Side note: no one comments on the caloric value of the pie when my (male) manager decides to throw a slice into the blender with 2 scoops of ice cream and a bit of whole milk?  Of course not.  ...Genius milkshake recipe, by the way.)

Monday, August 25, 2008

"fat is not a feeling," it's a visual.

I need as wide-spread involvement with this thought as possible.
I have been working with a doctor (actually working with her, not as her patient) in the area who is interested in treating anorexia.  I found her on Craigslist looking for a digital imager who could help her achieve a goal she has in mind for something that has never been done before.  I've brought up my skepticism to her about the ideas, but I'm also interested to see where it goes.  My goal, as the recovering, is to keep her up to date with reality checks about certain aspects of the project.
The general idea is that pictures are taken of patients and then manipulated to look as overweight as they "feel".  Now, hold on a second.. the point is not to show these images to patients and be like, "See, this is not what you look like!"  The point is to give patients a visual to describe how they feel, so that they can show someone what they feel like when they see themselves differently than other people do.
The more I go into it, the more skeptical I feel about it.  However, I think about groups that some treatment centers do with body-tracing and how helpful that can be because it's visual.  Maybe there aren't enough visual outlets in treatment.  Yes, so much of it needs to be about emotion, and feeling, and the deeper stuff, but the fact of the matter is that, to the patient, there is such a visual aspect that maybe it isn't addressed as much as it should be?  I'm not sure.
The bottom line is, if a doctor asked to take a photo of you ("you" being the recovering anorexia patients) and to manipulate you to look "heavier," how would you feel about that?  Do you think it would help?  Do you think it's just an absolutely disgusting idea?
I can't decide if I think it might be interesting to try or if it has the potential to make things much, much worse.  Or, even, if it's overall irrelevant?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

everyone's a little disordered... sometimes.

"Can I start you folks off with a plate of our famous guacamole?"
"No, thanks, I think we're all set to order.  Honey, why don't you start."
The gaze shifts to the 9-year-old girl sitting in the back corner of the 6-top booth.  She apprehensively peers around her grandparents at me and immediately shifts her eyes back to the menu.  "Umm," she began, then took a stalling sip of her Diet Pepsi.  "I think I want the Original Steak Fajitas, but I have a question."
"Sure!  Shoot!"  I could feel her discomfort, but there was something more than just a fear of speaking to strangers.  I focused on her, curious.
She continued, slowly, "Is there a lot of fat on the steak?"
I felt my face twitch in an oddly questioning manor; I tend to have a difficult time controlling my facial reactions.  "No, there's no fat on the steak at all.  It's a great cut," I answered, putting my server-face back on.
"You also get your choice of beans with that: refried or black?"
"Which ones are better for you?" she directed at her mother across the table.
"Okay, I'll have the black."

I took the rest of the family's orders, snapped my notebook shut, and shuffled off to a POS.

The thought of the little girl remained in my mind.  I was a little picky-eater once upon a time, too.  So was a girl I grew up with and she doesn't have an eating disorder, now.  A lot of kids are picky eaters.  A lot of people are picky eaters, or have strange habits, disordered habits, even.

My radar is always on for little red flags like that.  I can't help it; I've lived it for so long.  But, like I talked about in my post about whether or not to take a stance when a huge red flag is raised, how can you ever actually know what is going on with someone?  When is it even considered "disordered" or even "worrisome," for that matter.  What if this was your own child?  I suppose that would be different..

At one of my appointments with the nutritionist in Walden Residential, I fought my right to use a straw in order to get my daily fluids down easier.  She told me that the use of straws was against the program's rules because it was a "behavior."  I didn't understand why. It wasn't a behavior I ever used, it was just easier to get liquid down with a straw and if they wanted me to stay hydrated, it would be a fine idea.  "'Normal' people don't use straws," she said.
"They use them every day.  What about in restaurants?  You can't get a drink without a straw in restaurants."
"Well, yeah, but that's just restaurants.  I mean, people don't keep them in their houses; they don't use them at home."
"Yes, they do.  My mom keeps them in her house, my friends have them, I keep them in my apartment.. why else would they sell them in the supermarket?"
"Well," she started to get defensive, "everyone has a little bit of an eating disorder."  End of session.

Doesn't that make every everyone's "somewhat" disordered patterns "normal"?

I hate when I become confused by my own blog entries..

Saturday, August 16, 2008

8th grade science.

i stretched out on the couch - "my" couch - as i half-absently listened to him run down his list of reality checks, raising awareness to what my life has become in the absence of my old, destructive lifestyle.
"i mean," he continued, in his sarcastic, driving-the-point-home tone, "you haven't been using any behaviors, have you?"  i snapped back into real-time.  behaviors, i mulled. i repeated the word in my head a few times, waiting for the definition to register in my brain.  what kind of behav--.
"oh!  i didn't know what you meant at first," i finally responded.  "it's been so long since the word 'behavior' has even been brought to my attention, let alone having one be used."
"then, i make my point."  his point was that i was living life, not - as the saying goes - "just surviving."  i was out, i was working my ass off to pay for my newfound lifestyle, i was nourishing myself to be able to work my ass off for 40 - 50 hour weeks, i was spending time with my friends.  i was taking back what belongs to me.  it felt pretty damn good.  what felt almost as good was knowing the faith and trust that my treatment team had in my stage of recovery.  he knew i was fine and i know what it sounds like when he knows i'm not.  i hadn't heard that tone in his voice since last october.
as i headed out the door of his office building and onto the sidewalk, a feeling in my legs drew my eyes downwards.  i was wearing my favorite running shorts, which seemed to cover more surface area when i first bought them.. approximately 8 years ago.  with each step, the shock of my sole hitting the pavement sent a wave up through my leg, resulting in what is known as "jiggle" to woman-kind.  it's physics, i thought.  action, reaction.  i couldn't help but smile to myself; it was such a simple concept!  i have mass, i have weight, i have a body that properly reacts to physical laws of nature.  how could this have ever upset me?  it's such a beautiful thing.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

fine, you can keep a LITTLE anorexia..

I watched her go back and forth, I watched her breakdown, watched her get shipped off to the R-place and the ER.  Death threats, fainting, a nearly-collapsed lung.. I remember.  I wondered if there was an ending; if I would ever get to see my girl rise above.  At her worst, I was doing alright.  At my worst, she would be doing pretty well.  Not since freshman year of college were we actually ever in the same stage of recovery.

One stormy night in November, this girl trudged up through the storm-induced Connecticut traffic to visit me on the EDU.  One of the RCC's newest success stories, this was not the girl that I would sit with in my dorm room with combatting hunger with a shared loaf of Italian bread and water.  There was blatantly so much more to her this time, physically and emotionally.  She was more human than I'd ever seen her before.  She was happy.

We sat and talked on my bed for as long as visiting hours would allow.  She told me all about the RCC and how they finally got through to her on a level that her other treatment centers never could.  She explained how all the other centers would tell her, "Just make it to 105 and you'll be fine.  We'll let that be your ideal."  She hit 105.  She hit it several times and relapsed each time.  I found it interesting that she has a good 5" on me and I have also been told that I will be fine at an "ideal weight" of 105.. which, is low for me.

Finally, at the RCC, someone told her that your body will know when it hits it's "ideal weight".  There's a shift in your whole chemistry.  Everyone has a different "ideal" just like everyone has a different body.  Only your body knows where that is.  She continued to work and gain and reached 120+ when she finally told her doctors that she was there.  They put her on maintenance that day.  Since then, yes, of course she has had some difficult times, but she's pulled out of them and happily maintained her weight by eating when she's hungry and whatever she wants.

So, why are we allowing patients to "give less" than 100%?  Why is 85% of "Ideal Body Weight (IBW)" what legitimately determines anorexia?  Why not 95%?  105 is not my IBW, but I've been told that I can "stop there".  I don't want to stop there.  I want to stop when I'm at my Ideal Body Potential.  If that means 115, 126, 132, then that's where I'll stop.

If you're going to be a treatment provider, then treat me.  Why are we cutting corners??

[This entry began as a comment in response to Laura Collins entry titled, "Why not 100%".]

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

hungry as a lion.

Odd realization, via Facebook and conversations on Alcott: I know a lot of people in the ED community that were born Leos.  There was actually a group of us, when I was on Alcott, who's birthdays ran July 28, 29, 30, and 31.. out of 22 people and 365 days in the year.  One of the ex-roommates that has been through the old apt has an ED and was born in the midst of the Leo time period.  According to Fbook, there are apparently quite a few more who were born within this time.

I have posted about this before, but more on the level of "time of year".  However, there seem to be a lot of connections between Leos and people with eating disorders.

A little piece on Leo characteristics pulled from

Leo Strength Keywords:
- Confident
- Ambitious
- Generous
- Loyal
- Encouraging

Leo Weakness Keywords:
- Pretentious
- Domineering
- Melodramatic
- Stubborn
- Vain

Leo and Independence:
Leo is very independent but they need something to control and someone to admire them and appreciate them. They are fully capable of being greatly successful on their own but they are much happier if they have an audience and a following of people who look up to them. They would prefer not be alone.

Leo and Friendship:
People are attracted to Leo's zest for life and their warm spirit. They have the ability to lift up one's spirits and provide encouragement when times are rough. Their enthusiasm attracts people, Leos are social butterflies, not because they want to be but because people always naturally gravitate and surround the Leo. Leos are very difficult people to not like, they are usually fairly balanced, realistic people (?). They never dwell on the past and they will think you are strange if you do. Some Leos might be too caught up in themselves and be very self-centered but they are never too self-absorbed to help anyone who needs it. They pamper their friends and treat them well. A Leo is the ultimate friend. They do not hold a grudge and they are very forgiving. They have respect and understanding of people's differences.

Alright, so I see a lot of things in there that, oddly enough, seem very opposite of some common characteristics of people with eating disorders.  However, some of these characteristics can show through an eating disorder in different ways.  Sure, I wouldn't be immediately inclined to say that a person who constantly beats themselves up for the sake of insecurity is "confident," but I have yet to find a person with an ED who actually lacked confidence.  Confidence in ED patients is kind of like the color on scratch art paper; you have to find it by scratching the black surface with a pointy wooden stick.  Or.. something.  More so that it's always under the surface and always looks different, you just have to break the the barrier, first.

Any thoughts?  Especially from fellow Leos?

(Really random, partially-related side note: Brie & I share a Leo birthday ;)