My husband and I were talking the other day and the discussion inevitably moved to my weight and working out. I write inevitably because I am obsessive about my weight. I was telling him the story of when I was ten years old and I quit eating and began jogging in a circle on the dead-end road that I lived. Apparently I have never told him this story before and he thought I was joking. Ten years old and I thought I was over-weight? Yes. Two words – school pictures. When school pictures arrived, I took one look and was speechless. It was 1976 and our pictures were taken holding a replica cracked liberty bell (it was our country’s 200 year anniversary). Not only did I have a double chin but my little sausage fingers were prominently displayed and became a pictorial part of my 5th grade history. I vaguely remember eating large quantities of Snickers candy bars the summer before the school year began. Anyway, one picture was all it took. I quit eating, began jogging and the weight came off. An obsession was born: food equals bad, exercise equals good. Every day before school I would dutifully make a sack lunch complete with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, sometimes a thermos of soup, a sweet snack, anything else we had I would put in the bag and I would buy a milk. Did I eat it? Nope. Only the sweet snack (the bully who stole my sweets was gone), the rest was trashed. 6th grade: I stopped making a lunch and would buy a tray of food but wouldn’t eat anything. In grade school teachers monitored what was eaten from your tray, in middle school no one cared. 7th grade: I quit getting food trays altogether and socialized with my friends or sat in the library instead. And the jogging continued, I couldn’t stop jogging! Then the headaches began. By the seventh hour of school I couldn’t hold my head up, it hurt so bad. It would throb in time with my pulse and my heart beat would swoosh through my ears loud enough to drown out the voice of the teacher. Each pound in my head was a black flash behind my eyes. I told my mother, she took me to the doctor. Numerous tests were performed and it was determined that I needed to eat. Right. Like that was going to happen. Now, you would think alarms and red lights would be going off for the doctor and my mother but this was the late 70′s. Eating disorders were not readily diagnosed or talked about. I continued to not eat. 9th grade: I subsisted on chocolate milkshakes and french fries. After that year I began going to the library during my lunch period and never looked back. If I did eat I ate junk food but only enough to assuage my hunger. Even now if I am going to eat 1500 calories I’d rather it be Ben and Jerry’s ice cream than a steak. Occasionally I would eat dinner with my parents but it was a rare event. If I felt I had eaten too much during the day I would put a Michael Jackson tape in my stereo and jump around my room for about an hour to burn off any extra calories. At 20 years old I was jogging ten miles a day – five miles in the morning, five miles at night. I liked how my bones stuck out. I could go on but it would be redundant. I still struggle with eating. My weight is stable now (more than stable), my self-image is not. I’ve read that this is associated with Bipolar Disorder. I never was to the point of Anorexia. I skirted the edge with my weight hovering on the verge. I have battled with bulimia and still feel the urge. But really, I’m much better now…
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