Falling in lust again… with FOOD

So, we are 6 days into 2011 and I’m making slow, tortoise-like progress into my new years resolutions. I’m happily discovering that this resolution#2 complete the television series bible and pilot is probably going to help me with this resolution: #4 gain weight… healthily.

A few weeks ago I was told in no uncertain terms by a medical practitioner that I am severely under-weight, and need to gain weight. His exact words were “EAT something, you skinny bitch!!!”

I kid, of course. But he did suggest that my inability to bounce back quickly after bouts of illness in 2010 can be blamed to a large degree on my poor undernourished body, that I had been neglecting. I’m a bad mother.

Food and I have always had a tumultuous relationship. When I was really little, I enjoyed food, in a normal, healthy way. Meaning, I ate bowls of cereal before school, after school, and straight out of the box whilst watching television. I also enjoyed fruits, nuts, muesli, cheese, chocolate, more cheese, more chocolate, and blue slurpees (these days I’ll only drink something blue if it has rum in it. The wisdom of age). Family meals were fairly balanced – meat and three vegetables, rice and stir-fries, et cetera. Other “foods” served to me, though, were a little more… atypical. I was surprised to find out one day that my friends weren’t also enjoying the delicacy that is  “corned-beef in a can”.

CANNED CORNED BEEF FED CHILD: CareBears ®™ cap, Punky Brewster ®™ print tee, rainbow mesh flip-flops. You can wear anything when you’re 3.

I was a slim child – I have inherited the skinny/tall gene from my father, who is seemingly incapable of gaining weight no matter how much he eats. And I ate pretty much everything that was served to me! I’m still alive, so it can’t have been terrible. And my mother actually is a fabulous, “experimental” cook (thanks mama).

Cue early adolescence, and my love of food turned into hate, as illness (let’s call it MURDOCH) declared all out war on my body. I’ve thus far abstained from going into details about my medical history, and I will continue with that. Suffice to say, the phrase “extensive tumour, possible cancer” was dropped like an H-bomb, as were the phrases “we need to operate” and “the prognosis is unclear”. And lots of pitying looks from surgeons and MRI technicians. Basically all the things you want to hear and see at 13, weeks after your first pash from a guy. Who looked like a young Benicio Del Toro. Damn… he was cute.

Several months after and between other kinds of treatments, I was put on steroids, to reduce inflammation. A side effect of the steroids was increased appetite… majorly increased appetite. I remember one day after being put on this drug regime, me eating the entire contents of the fridge. I’m not even joking about that. Cue massive weight gain, and an inability to fit into my favourite pair of jeans.

Another side effect of the ‘ol ‘roids: DEPRESSION! Oh yes, I had it all. And how did this obsessive list-maker respond to that depression? By trying to control my food intake/weight… with so much beyond my control, I decided to focus on the one thing that was still within my jurisdiction. And I was good at it! Dealing with a serious illness and simultaneously controlling your weight is, shall we say, ill advised. Trying to control your weight when your appetite is being chemically induced feels like physical and psychological torture. And subjecting yourself to this physical and psychological torture, when you are already suffering from depression?

Let’s just say I was an unhappy teenager. Who now hated food.

So effective I was at my weight control that I lost all the steroid weight gain, and then some. But it didn’t seem like enough – I remember looking in the mirror one day, when I clearly had bigger fish to fry, and yet, I still thought, “Ugh. My god, I’m fat”.

Thankfully, at some point, I got over my depression, was treated for MURDOCH, and started eating without measuring again – although subsequent bouts of depression sent my weight yo-yo-ing… but more for lack of appetite. And I never returned to that calorie counting obsession (which is, let’s face it, just a euphemism for “eating disorder”).

Most crappily (not a word, but it should be), from ’04 to ‘06, that sneaky bastard MURDOCH (who had already claimed my spine and my left arm in this battle) ended a four-year fairly peaceful ceasefire by lobbing a couple more grenades at me. The last one rendered me an incomplete paraplegic. Bravo, MURDOCH. Genuinely did not see that one coming.

And with that, the war was over.

In the years since then my weight has fluctuated. In the last two, I have definitely leaned towards the under-nourished side. I have not done this on purpose and am fully aware of the fact I need to gain weight (and pump weights too). Moreover I want to gain weight. But one of the unfortunate side effects of my spinal cord injury has been the over-sensitisation of my stomach.

Frankly, my stomach is a moody little so & so. I haven’t been able to eat a meal without feeling sick in two years. Even when I am famished, when I see a glorious plate in front of me, I am thinking “that looks heavenly… but my stomach is going to chuck a tantrum after this. Damn you, digestive system!!!” Every. Single. Time. I believe I have one of the noisiest stomachs in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s certainly ridiculously noisy for someone in their twenties.

So, that’s the hurdle that stands between me and nourishment.

I did however, in my intro, allude to the fact that my writing goals this year are actually going to assist me in overcoming this hurdle. I don’t know about you, but I find that I am most interested in food when:

a)    I am working, or

b)    I have finished working on something substantial.

It’s interesting that I generally don’t even think about food until I have to sit down at my computer and work! (a phenomena also known as “procrastination”). Funnily, this phenomena also occurs when I have to sit on the sofa and watch TV for research. In these circumstances, I don’t care how much noise my stomach makes… I am going to eat that second sandwich. In this way, resolution #2 complete the television series bible and pilot will actually assist me in achieving #4 gain weight… healthily.

Win-win!

I’ll just have to keep in mind the “healthily” part, and not start snacking on highly processed items (should be easy… once you go organic, everything else tastes like asbestos).

If only I could conjure up this with a wave of my hand:

Sexy, sexy food.

Good grief… this picture is actually turning me on. Surely that bodes well for my weight gain endeavour?

And if it does go well, at the end of the year, I will finally be able to legitimately use the phrase: “KISS MY FAT BLACK ASS.”

Wish me luck!

And best of luck with your resolutions too 🙂

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7 Comments on “Falling in lust again… with FOOD”

  1. Oh wow, I really really love this post Pauline!

    Whilst I’ve never had an eating disorder per se, I’ve had lots of struggles in trying to achieve an optimum weight. I won’t go into detail very much here, but hopefully when my next ABC Ramp Up article goes live you can have a read about my early childhood struggles regarding food intake and weight.

    Recently though, I’ve been maintaining my weight. I’m not a tall guy by any means, but when I was 18 (three years ago) I was only 32 kg. This meant I was not just underweight, but highly at risk. As mentioned previously though, I didn’t have an eating disorder, I just was not a fan of food, and the compression on my stomach due to my scoliosis limited the amount of food I could physically eat. Strangely enough, this dangerously low weight was handy for me. Because of my disability, I cannot walk or transfer myself at all. This means my parents carry me on to my bed, back into my chair and on to couches etc. Luckily for me, both of them are fit and healthy.

    When I turned 19 and started university I realised just how skinny I was. I then had to make a conscious effort to eat more, which was definitely hard seeing as I rarely thought about food. I also took up weights in order to build muscle mass and prevent osteoporosis. I finally reached a weight of around 50 kg after quite a bit of hard work, but my parents were still carrying me to and fro every day. This was a good weight for me, it helped with my body image immensely and I felt noticeably stronger. But there was a major downside. It was worrying me immensely that I was putting my parents in danger due to lifting such a heavy load. This meant that after a couple of months of being near my desired weight, and a year after I was only 32 kg kg, my plans switched again. I tried to lose weight and reach a compromise. Currently I am 40 kg, still very skinny, still hard to lift. Not perfect, but feasible until my situation regarding carers etc is resolved.

    Also, I suppose what I am trying to say in a roundabout way is that the question of weight is never straightforward and simple. Every person has different goals, history and needs. I found it extremely upsetting when I told people I wanted to gain weight, and all they could reply with was “Really? Most people want to lose weight!”

    Anyway, I wish you luck in finding that equilibrium, and I hope you don’t find me too nosy, but please feel free to chat to me if you have any difficulties and want to talk to someone who has faced similar (but of course different) situations.

    Wow, I think I just wrote an essay…

    Regards,

    • pjvetuna says:

      Cheers Carl!

      That’s sounds like one HELL of a dilemma regarding your weight and your parents/carers. I shall never complain about my weight situation again. I hope you get your situation regarding carers sorted as soon as possible.

      I need to get back into the weights room soon, but that is one resolution I have not yet acted upon. I’m naturally athletic so once I start I’ll have no trouble maintaining it. It’s the ‘getting started’ part that I have consistent trouble with.

      And I also get that “I wish I had your kind of weight problem!” nonsense as well. I like to say “Yeah, I wish you were disabled too”. In jest, of course…

  2. Susan A. says:

    I wish you the best of luck with gaining weight healthily. It’s funny how there really are two sides to the spectrum. Most of my family is overweight. This causes a lot of comments because I have always been skinny. So thin in fact that I was the only girl in my platoon for basic training that gained weight (almost 20 pounds) and went up a size in jeans. It was pure muscle, but I didn’t eat well growing up due to an alcoholic dad who often wasn’t around to feed us. All that exercise actually filled me out, plus the three square meals a day. No matter how skinny I get, though, they never rate me as underweight. I have a small bone structure, but weigh far more than I look. Apparently my bones are dense or something.

    Regardless, poor eating habits growing up spilled into adulthood after the military couldn’t control my food intake anymore. A ton of things will upset my stomach. It’s like I have to think of the food and if my stomach doesn’t turn at the thought, then it should be safe. Sometimes I just live off caffeinated drinks, but kicks the ulcers I developed in if done too much. I do try to make a point of eating at least one solid meal a day, sometimes two. My husband can be as bad as me so it doesn’t help.

    Anyway, it’s funny how some people have a love of food and others have to work to eat like it’s a chore. I can identify with you there. For your sake, I hope you get over this hurdle. It surely will not be easy, but your positive attitude might just be enough. One thing you might do is report back to us. Sometimes knowing you will have to report progress makes you try harder. Just a suggestion anyway.

    • pjvetuna says:

      Hi Susan,

      Re: the basic training weight gain – I’m not surprised! At 14 (after my flirtation with eating disorder) I spent a couple of months as an in patient at a rehabilitation hospital and gained weight due to the fact that I was fed three square meals and was doing weights. I should have continued this regiment at home, but meals of convenience took over again.

      Bad habits die hard. But I’m determined to let this particular ‘non-eating’ one die this year.

      I like your ‘reporting back’ idea. Actually I wrote this post to be accountable to myself and anyone reading.

      • Susan A. says:

        Yeah, it was apparently so bad I got amenorrhea from it. Between basic training and my follow on job training (which also had intense excercise), I didn’t deal with a menstrual cycle for five months.

        We apparently have something in common with institutionalized eating schedules working better for us :). Please do report back periodically. I would love to know how you are doing on your eating regimen.

  3. Susan A. says:

    Oh, I forgot to convert the weight I mentioned in my post since you all use different measurements. I gained about 9 kg in eight weeks during basic training.

  4. I am lucky in that I have a superfast metabolism! I love food and can’t imagine not eating or enjoying it as much as I am able to.
    One thing I have found is that skin is linked to digestion. And so in the past 8 years I’ve experienced bloating and pain in my tummy, but I cannot pin point the cause at all. The pain can be absent for weeks and then suddenly, wham, there it is again 😦
    I wish you well in your quest!


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