Obsessed with Dieting
One of my earliest memories is the chatter of relatives gathered at my sixth birthday party. I don't remember much about the decorations, party favors or the cake with six candles. But I remember hearing my aunts and uncles say, "Look—what a cute, chubby little thing—look at those round cheeks!" I didn't remember hearing the affection in their voices, only the words.
That day, that memory, stayed etched in my mind throughout my teen years. When I looked in the full-length mirror, I didn't see a healthy average-size girl with dancing green eyes. All I saw reflected back were thick thighs, large hips and a round face. And even though my parents were loving and caring, I couldn't believe they could really love someone who looked like me. Even though I was a Christian, I felt unworthy to receive even God's love.
During high school, I was obsessed with dieting. Every weekend, I scoured the bookstore at the mall for a new diet book. One week it was a liquid protein fast, which worked quite well until I fainted at my part-time job. Another time I tried to eat nothing but pineapple for an entire week, but my mouth started developing blisters from the acid. I tried expensive diet supplements at the health food store, but didn't lose a pound. With each new diet, I remembered less and less what it was like to just eat when I was hungry. By the time I'd started college, eating had become a test of how long I could go without messing up my diet. Every plate of food was a mountain of calories that would immediately apply itself to my thighs.
A Horrible Cycle
I remember an evening when hunger finally overwhelmed me. It was during winter vacation and I was home from college. I'd been on a three-day fast of nothing but fruit juice. I was in my room, under my covers, sobbing.
"Why do I have to go through this?" I cried, drowning in self-pity. My hurt suddenly turned into frustration and anger. I shoved off the blankets and sneaked quietly into the dark kitchen. I opened the freezer and found a quart of chocolate chip ice cream. After I polished off the final spoonful, I found a bag of cheese puffs and downed every last one. After emptying a plate of cold fried chicken, I staggered back to bed, feeling sick enough to vomit. Laying in the dark, I looked up at the sliver of light that the streetlight cast on the ceiling. "I'm sure I just ate a million calories. I am so weak. Tomorrow I will eat nothing all day," I pledged while I pressed my hands against my aching and bloated stomach.
A horrible cycle had begun that night—a cycle I managed to hide from my family. I would starve myself for as many days as I could, filling up on apples one day, or plain lettuce the next. Then when I could no longer take the hunger, I would eat in an uncontrollable fit. With every passing day, I grew more obsessed with my eating habits. My weight fluctuated wildly, depending on how long I could maintain starvation before binging.