You’re only going to Zumba tonight. Eating two eggs is excessive.” I keep myself from crying into the pan in frustration as I try to block these thoughts from escaping the dark corners of my mind. “140 calories, S!! 140. You are going to ZUMBA. You haven’t run in a week. Pilates and Zumba aren’t worth 140 calories.”
It’s a weird fucking moment when you are standing over a small pan with two eggs in it, crying and believing the world is going to end if you eat them. When did food become a painful experience? When did it become something to reward yourself with only if you burned 1000 calories or more?
When are you going to look in the fucking mirror and say “enough is a enough. you are beautiful.”
I never intended to be like this.
Once, when I was in high school, someone laughed at my stomach. For the first time in my entire life I had worn a shirt that fit me. Actually fitted, not a baggy Grateful Dead shirt from my elementary school days or a punk band XL. I remember that day. I was standing in the usual spot, right by the stairwell, next to my friends’ row of lockers. We were all joking about some idiotic, trivial thing that high school kids love to laugh about –I must have raised my arms at one point, exposing my midriff. My friend, a boy, exclaimed, “hahah! look at your stomach! it’s sticking out!”
I never wore a fitted shirt to high school again. Nor to college.
It wasn’t until I was almost 25 that I actually wore clothes that fit me. I can’t blame my high school friend for this. Not just one incident in my life can explain a lifetime of staring at myself, starving myself and exercising myself into injury after injury. My step-dad called me average once. My mom and sister spend at least 30 minutes every holiday talking about how little they ate that day, to compensate for the big meal. Like it’s a contest worth winning. This obsession with what we eat, how much we eat and …damn if you fucking eat all the food on your plate you’re a gluttonous fool, a fat-ass piece of crap that can’t control themselves around food. At least that’s what my colleagues show me every time they eat a bite and take the rest home. Every time they diet and share their plates of food at dinner. Eating those three bites, saying they are full and shoving their plates away. I eat my three bites and still want to eat more. But I don’t. I’ll get fat that way. I listen to their laments about gaining and losing…about exercise and fitness. I obsess over every calories, every carb–I have to burn 2000 calories this week. 3000 next. At one point, I was burning 4000 calories a week doing exercise.
I was only eating 1200-1500 calories a day. Most days it was 1200.
All the calorie counter apps told me that was right.
I hate when people try to tell me I’m not fat. “S. you are so skinny. Look at me, come on–you are way skinnier than me.” Grabbing the tiny bits of fat around their waist, they try to make me feel better about the stomach I have. As if telling me how evil their fat is helps. The hips I have. My waist size. My small boobs. “S. You’re like a model. People want small hips and small boobs. That’s what models have.”
I compare myself to models.
On the victoria’s secret website, in magazines, in ads on Facebook–you know what I don’t look like? A model. Flat stomachs. Hip bones that protrude beautifully, like they were carefully crafted by the most skilled sculptor. You can still see my stomach. “S. you can’t get a flat stomach, you have organs.” –fuck that, I’ll do all the scissor kicks, planks and russian twists that I can, before I collapse and cry in pain, to get that flat stomach. My hips are still slightly covered, only becoming beautifully visible when I lay on my back. “S. having hip bones that stick out is unhealthy .” I’ll eat one egg instead of two. Just one egg instead of two.
I’ll have beautiful hips in no time.
My brain dances around the idea that eating food is a basic human function. That, to be able to run faster and longer, you need energy, calories…FOOD. I ran 13.5 miles the day before 2015 ended. I could only justify eating a bowl of cereal that night. I feared “ruining” all the work I did that day. There is this strange dichotomy I live in. I know about health and nutrition, I talk to my students struggling with the same battle I (silently) do. I tell them they can’t count calories, I tell them that eating nothing but fruit will kill them. But I go home and cry in my eggs. I punch my pantry wall when I find myself binging on popcorn because I’m starving after a 7-mile run but only justified drinking a 150 calorie protein shake.
I’m scared to continue on this way. It makes me emotional. It makes me anxious, scared and alone. But I keep doing it. I confide in no one. My eggs are the only ones that know my secret.
Those 140 calories. The 140 calories that will increase my pant size, make my stomach bulge, make my hips disappear.
Those fucking eggs…are the only things in which I confide.