March 17, 2009

My Wacky Eating Disorder

I wrote this a few years ago when I was living in Houston. I just found it while cleaning off my old shared drive at work. Sadly, but not surprisingly, I have not changed much. Still, it is much easier to laugh at myself these days. One of the perks of getting older I guess!


My wacky eating disorder is in full swing right now. Last night, on the way home from work, I stopped at Walgreen’s for deodorant. I had only noticed that morning I was out, which made for a smelly, moist day. The whole time I was navigating the back streets of Houston in search of the crimson "W" I knew I was not only stopping for a bottle of Secret Platinum Protection. I knew deep in my heart that Walgreen’s is the Mecca of junk food and that, for a mere few dollars, I could drown my existence in Ruffles potato chips and ranch dip.


I stood in front of the snack rack for what felt like hours laboring over the decision. Do I compromise and get baked BBQ lays? Should I go all out and get Fritos, practically the most fattening snack on earth? Should I get dip to go with all these chips? Will I be able to contain myself and eat only a "serving" of the chips and dip? How do they expect someone to eat only 1 ounce of chips and 2 tablespoons of dip? Isn't that like telling someone they can do only one shot of tequila or that they can have only one tire on their car? It's insanity? Is Kate Moss the official creator of the snack serving size?


Finally, after much internal deliberation and calculation of calories and fat grams, I settled on the Ruffles Natural potato chips at 7 grams of fat per serving and the Ruffles ranch dip at 5 grams of fat per serving. 12 grams of fat per serving. That doesn't seem so bad, right? Right.


When I got home, I let the dogs out and listened to the messages and all that stuff you are supposed to do when you get home. I put the dip in the fridge (even though it seems to be made of some creamy white substance that does not need to be refrigerated) and the chips on the counter and all the various sundries away, but the chips and dip never left my radar. I am a trained hunter and I knew where they were at all times. Even as I walked from room to room, I knew they were there and that they were beckoning me. I gathered my strength and told myself, "Before you can eat, you have to do Yoga."


Yoga and running. These are the two forms of exercise I have chosen. After years of torture trying to do aerobics, lift weights, swim, bike, hike, skate, hula-hoop, you name it, I have always come back to Yoga and running. I've always managed to do one of these forms of exercise fairly regularly up until I broke my foot in January. That kept my butt planted on the couch for 3 months and when I finally could stand up again, it looked like part of the couch stayed attached to my rear. I am way too young for my butt to be gently resting on the top of my thighs, so it's back to running and Yoga, both of which are decidedly more difficult when lugging around 10 more pounds of derriere. The "Downward Dog" looks more like "Cottage Cheese Ass in Air."


I put down my giant beach towel on the rug (it’s much easier to just cover the dog hair then it is to vacuum it) and settled in for an hour of breathing, stretching and panting with Tracey Rich and Ganga White. With each breath in I thought of the salty chips waiting for me in the kitchen. Every time I bent at the waist and saw the jiggle of my inner thighs, I was reminded of the gelatinous consistency of the non-refrigerated style ranch dip that awaited me as a reward for my efforts.


I did almost the whole videotape, but decided to skip the plow shoulder stance, as I feared suffocation from my own bosom and stomach. In this pose, you lie on the ground and then raise your legs up over and behind your head so that, ideally, the bottoms of your feet lie flat on the floor behind your head. After hanging out there for a while, the goal is to, while supporting your back with your hands, elbows firmly planted in the ground, raise your legs up to the ceiling. The end result is looking like you had your hands on your hips while standing on your tip toes and then, in some strange lunar pull, the world was turned upside down and you were tossed on to your head while your legs remained perfectly straight. This is difficult even when I am not lugging around 10-15 extra pounds, so you can imagine my reluctance to rest the bulk of my being on windpipe and esophagus.


The end of the tape has about 10 minutes of relaxation, which I also skipped, even though Ganga White tells you in the beginning of the video expressly not to skip it. I was feeling all crazy and the din of the Ruffles was deafening by this point.


Still, I refrained from hitting the chips just yet. First, I ate my salad. If I took away nothing from my few weeks at Jenny Craig, it was that I could eat as much salad as I want all the time. I have no doubt in my mind the salad they had in mind was not the salad I had last night, but it was mostly composed of leafy greens, so it was a salad – with crumbled bleu cheese and Paul Newman’s Caesar dressing. It was still a salad.


Finally, the time had come.  I was to be rewarded for going to work and staying all day, for doing almost an hour of yoga, for eating a salad for dinner – I was going to eat the chips and dip. The chips had been screaming to get out of the bag for hours. I opened the seal and smelled the salty “poof” of the broken seal. The dip proved more difficult and I was forced to wedge a butter knife under the lid to release the hermetic seal (apparently this is why it does not need to be refrigerated – it is sealed in the same way nuclear waste is.)


I fixed a big glass of water (because everyone knows you should drink 8 glasses of water a day) and headed to the couch, drooling dogs in tow. I have no idea what I watched on T.V. I ate my first “serving” and considered stopping right there. That would be the right thing to do. I would feel so good about myself. But, I keep telling myself things like, “Just one more” or “This is the last 2 and then I’m done.” I even start calculating how many calories and fat grams it would be if I ate all of it or half of it. “If I ate all the chips at 7 grams a serving and there are 9 servings, that would be 63 grams of fat. There’s more fat than that in a Big Mac and people eat those all the time. The dip is even fewer grams of fat at 5 grams per serving with 9 servings, for a mere 45 grams of fat. It’s barely a meal, right?”


At that point, I knew I was out of control. The dogs were starting to whine and whimper because they had seen this before and knew that I possess both the chips plus the ability to go and get more chips. They were torn between leaping up and grabbing the chips so they would get some and just playing it cool so as to ensure there will be more chips on future nights. It’s a delicate line they walk. They want chips, but they don’t want to piss me off and risk not ever getting chips ever again. They were confused and I was wildly shoving chips and dip into my mouth.


Then, in an attempt to save myself, I put the lid back on the dip and as quickly as the feeding frenzy had begun, it was over. I shoved the dip to the back of the fridge and rolled the chips up tight. I figured I did about 40 grams worth of damage and, as if rehearsed, the inevitable occurred and I was consumed with remorse. “Oh, the humanity! Why, why do I do this to myself? Why must I be a slave to Frito Lay?”


“I am a cow and I hate myself,” I shouted to the frightened canines at my feet.


The phone rang, startling all three of us, and though I was deep in a quagmire of guilt, I feigned professionalism, “Hello.”


“Hey, Babe,” shouted my loving, but slightly deaf husband.


“I am a cow and I hate myself. I am fat and disgusting. I want to die. I just ate half a bag of chips and half a canister of dip. I wish I was bulimic so I could purge myself.”


We have been together for a while, so without skipping a beat he responded, “You’re not fat. You’re beautiful.” And then, he did what he always does with every conversation, he focused it back onto himself, “We’ll get better at eating. It’s baby steps. Tonight, I went to Bud’s Brolier and even though I wanted a number 6 AND a number 4, I only got a number 6. And then, after dinner, I walked to the store to get a piece of chocolate cake instead of driving.”


I couldn’t argue with any of this. I was seeking solace from a man who rationalized eating one greasy hamburger instead of 2, who justified chocolate cake every night because he walked the 3 blocks to get it instead of driving. And it was solace I got.


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