I don't usually tell people I'm afraid of losing weight. I know what they'd think. Another fatty making excuses about not getting her act together. But I'm not just another fatty. I'm a recovering bulimic.
I say recovering because, like alcoholism, there is no cure to bulimia. Yes, I've stopped throwing up, but the urge is always there. Eat a bowl of ice cream, think about going to the bathroom. Stand in front of the Xbox to work out and wonder if it wouldn't just be easier to stick my finger down my throat.
The truth is, I have never lost weight without throwing up.
And I know it's time I change that.
A few years ago I got a job that changed my life. I could work -- full-time -- from home. It was wonderful. Is wonderful. I put my kid on the bus, I sit down in front of my laptop, and I bang on my keyboard all day long.
Only that's the problem. I sit. All day long. Except when I stand up and walk to do something exciting like pee or let the dog out. Except when I wander into my kitchen because it is always there, tempting me. I am not just a recovering bulimic. I am an overeater who feeds her emotions with food.
In three years at this job, I have gained roughly 30 pounds.
And you can tell. My face is puffy. I've officially moved into "plus size" clothing. I feel tired doing the sort of things I used to do on a daily basis.
I know I need to change things for me and also for my daughter, who needs to have a healthy mom.
But I'm terrified. I'm terrified of trying to lose weight without my crutch.
I'm terrified that if I try to lose weight, I will fall victim to the evil monsters that I've never completely silenced.
Just throw up.
You know you want to.
It's so easy.
When I was in college, I sometimes threw up six times a night and more during the day. It petered out as I got older, stronger, took medicine to help keep the monsters at bay.
When I got pregnant, I had what's known as hyperemisis gravidarum, essentially extreme morning sickness. I threw up not because I wanted to or even tried. I couldn't hold any food down without the help of medicines. I landed in the emergency room twice.
I felt like it was my body's payback for years of purging. And so, after I had my daughter, I refused to diet. I told myself that it took nine months to put that weight on, and it would take at least that to take it off.
It did, more or less. I happened to work a job that required a lot of movement -- I worked in a 100-plus-year-old building, and my office was on the second floor, so I ran stairs literally all day long. That and running around working several jobs to make ends meet helped take the weight off -- although I was left with weakened stomach muscles and loose, baggy skin. Some core workouts probably would have helped, but I was afraid.
Now, here I am, nearly eight years after my daughter's birth, working an at-home job that doesn't let me run around. I've put on weight that needs to come off.
Again I'm afraid.
But I'm pushing through it. I've started counting calories. I've cut all alcohol out of my diet. I've begun working out at least three times a week right here at home in front of my Xbox 360.
It's been about a month since I started, and I have one giant bit of news to report: I haven't thrown up. Not once.
I've wanted to. I've stared at the toilet, and I've cried myself to sleep.
But I have vowed I'm going to do this the healthy way, and I will -- even if I have to do it with fear sitting on my shoulder, along for the ride.
Have you tried to lose weight since beating an eating disorder? How did you do it?
Image by Jeanne Sager