Sunday, November 30, 2008

Food diary 30 November 2008

For breakfast: 9:00 am

Organic Mountain dried banana = 84 Cals
Greek coffee with sugar = 10 Cals
Felt fine - no urge to eat more

For lunch: 1:30 pm

5 tamari almonds (roasted myself - no oil) = ~ 50 Cals
Rice, split pea and lentil soup (cooked myself - no extra oil) = ~ 500 Cals
Half a medjool date = 25 Cals

Afterwards I felt some urge to continue munching away even though my tummy felt full.  Instead I poured a few glasses of water and cuddled my hunny while he was watching a movie!  It's now afternoon tea time and he's off to get me some sparkling mineral water.

For afternoon tea: 3:30 pm
Greek Coffee = 10 Cals

I'm just a little anxious about dinner because I'm making a roast and I hope I can keep it pretty light.  I'll be flavouring with garlic, onion, oregano and some lemon so I'll try not to overdo it on the oil and salt.  

I'm roasting potato, sweet potato, cauliflower, carrot and pumpkin!! Nom nom nom (My baby really deserves a treat so I'm excited to make it for him!)

Asceticism - A dieter's approach

Asceticism is the practice of forgoing physical pleasure in order to advance another goal.  The general notion in most religious or philosophical belief systems is that hedonism, or excessive enjoyment, is a pretty pointless goal and therefore at best can be said to distract a person from their spiritual or mental development or even just practical day to day tasks.

There are exceptions to this rule - some people pursue a life of hedonism under the understanding that if they don't hurt anyone then they deserve to enjoy the fruits of their labours in any way they decide is appropriate.  Wicca says "an harm ye none do what ye will" which seems like a license to hedonism if the person decides it's appropriate - however many traditions teach that better control over the spiritual realm is facilitated by restricting alcohol, drugs, meat.  Similarly the Wikipedia article on asceticism notes that the Talmud instructs Jews that they have been given the opportunity for pleasure by a God that wants them to experience it - and that anyone who turns down the opportunity to enjoy a new fruit will have to answer for it in the next life! Again, there is an understanding amongst Jews that intellectual pursuits will prove more enjoyable in the long term than say getting drunk and falling over! The day of rest is put aside as a day of worship!

In other religions there is a strong emphasis on asceticism as a way of reaching spiritual enlightenment.  The argument goes that focusing on this world only tells us about this world - whereas by ignoring or overcoming the demands on our bodies we can focus more on the spiritual realm.  Early Christians were said to have whipped themselves (self-flaggelation) with whips made from birch so that they would stop thinking about their body and start thinking about God.  Weird, huh? Similarly some Hindus and Jains will go out of their way to lead a life of suffering - becoming hermits, meditating in uncomfortable yoga positions and so on.

The Buddha understood luxury because he was a Prince.  His father didn't want him to know of suffering, old age, illness and poverty but the young Prince Guatama accidentally saw suffering and decided to leave the palace and learn more.  His first step was to experiment with asceticism, eating nothing and meditating.  History says he ate just one seed each day and Buddhist art depicts the ascetic buddha with jutting out ribs and hollow cheeks.  But Buddha did not become enlightened through asceticism - instead he realised it simply provided an unnatural emphasis on the physical world and an opportunity for extremism.

So Buddha created the most difficult religious practice of all: the Middle Path.  This path emphasises healthy eating over gluttony.  To many it appears that Buddhist monks and nuns do practice asceticism because they renounce luxury but actually they never go to the extent of aiming to make themselves sick or injured - they simply remove the physical distractions from their life.

Renouncing luxury is a consistent theme in modern religious asceticism.  It's not about extremes,  just removing the distractions.  Amish and other conservative Christian groups do not have television and computer games to distract them from reading about God but many groups are happy to use a modern car or electric stove (depending on their location and what services are available) if an alternative is impractical or unavailable.  They wear simple, modest clothing in muted colours so that clothing does not distract them.

Buddha wants us to by physically healthy and to pursue meditation - this means a certain amount of restriction.  He does not give commandments however he identifies  key suggestions for a person seeking to decrease or end suffering: 

1. Refrain From Killing
2. Refrain from Stealing
3. Refrain from Lying, Slandering, Gossiping and Spreading Rumours
4. Refrain from Sexual Misconduct
5. Refrain from Taking Intoxicants

That's the beginner's guide to Buddhist practice.  Those wishing to pursue meditation also:

6. Abstain from Taking meals at inappropriate time.
7. Abstain from Entertaining, Dancing, Singing, Use of beauty products & perfumes.
8. Abstain from Seating on high and luxurious chairs and beds.

Asceticism is a way to focus on the things that really matter! It's a way to pay attention to one's real goals rather than transient pleasures. And finally it is not to become a refuge for those wishing to avoid the world - it's a way to help us understand and engage with the entire world more fully!

My own goal is to embrace the five precepts more fully, to make merit through my acts and to gain some psychological strength through meditation.  I needn't think about dieting if I am compelled to take intoxicating substances.  Alcohol is more than just high calorie for low reward - it's poison to the body and mind, two things I'm trying to improve! Instead of filling my idle time I need to focus more on being industrious and contributing positively to the world!

Food diary 29 November 2008

This one's not very precise unfortunately as I ate at parties.

Before leaving the house I had a date - 45 cals

At the party I had a sit-down lunch of a teeny helping of nachos (gluten and corn free!) and some celery sticks in a dab of hommus. - I estimate 500 cals

I had a shot or two of vodka to get started - 100 cals

I spent the rest of the day drinking watered down punch and nibbling the celery.  I estimate another 500 cals.

I estimate yeah a bit over 1000 cals the day - in my defence it was a reasonably active day though... :(

Actually I'm a bit disappointed that I had to sit down and eat the nachos but I guess it's done now! I also don't think I gained anything from drinking the alcohol although it was nice to have a coloured and slightly sweet drink in my hand. Next time I'll stick to the kiddie punch! I'm going to do more reading and meditating so that I really feel motivated to steer clear of unhealthy influences like alcohol.  On the plus side I was proud of myself for not binging and I know I've made some progress there!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Party excuses

It's Australia which means it's Summer.

It's also the weekend and that means I have a potential exercise "date" with a friend this morning, a daytime party that I agreed to help prepare and another party to attend in the evening.

My sweetheart is kind of expecting to eat a lot.

I hate that attitude of "I'm socialising so I'm going to be a glutton."  It's OK to indulge oneself sometimes in things one enjoys but food shouldn't be a big deal in a country where there's always enough of it anyway! I remember on school camps when I was like... 8, the other girls would get all excited about going away with friends for a few days and eating sausages, candy, ice-cream and whatever else they wanted, completely unchecked.  I had already picked up my mother's attitudes (you don't eat fatty and sugary foods unless it's Christmas) and really didn't see why that would be their highlight of a trip to a wonderful place!

OK now I hike and pay a lot of attention to taking food and stuff like that - but without it I would really fall over and not get to the top of the mountain! In a social situation I still don't want to eat and stuff myself like an animal.  It's disgusting!  In this particular case it's not any kind of sit-down dinner so I'm saved that indignity until the next office party I guess (and I pre-ordered a salad that I can pick at) but I'll be expected to accept snacks from bowls that will be passed around and drink fancy (ie sugary) cocktails.  Everyone knows I don't drink milk but yeah there will be very fruity concoctions!

I can probably get through the first party by simply offering to pass the bowls around a bit, by saying no to things I'm allergic to and having a drink of mineral water in my hand the whole time.  Nobody is going to really be watching me and there will be some healthy food to sustain me.  I'm going to take my paper diary.

The second party is the one with all the cocktails and it is going to look weird if I don't actively join in.  A bit... puritanical.  Luckily I have 3 cocktail parties during the week.  Maybe 4, I'll have to check my office calendar.  I can simply say that I don't want to drink on the weekend and then have to smile through office cocktails all week too!  I could almost tell this group the truth that I don't want to blow 500 cals on a single cocktail but I don't think it would be wise.  It makes more sense to talk about vitamin deficiency and absorption, weight training and stuff.

I'm looking for a list of not-eating excuses on Google but not finding one! So I also have  a writing project for the day.  But for right now I'm off to do some stretching and then some punishment time on the cross-training machine!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Women and dieting

I've got my period and OW it hurts so much!

It's also giving me the usual chocolate cravings so I did some research.

I learned that you burn more fat between ovulation and when you get your period and that before your period the metabolism increases by 10%. An increase of 100-200 calories is indicated for your diet. I just get huuuge cravings on the last day before my period and when I'm burning all that energy on crampiness.

Premenstrual weight gain is apparently caused by fluid only and can be mitigated (if it's a bother) by eating less salt and drinking more water.

It's been suggested that women should pay more attention to their cycles rather than behave as if nothing is happening to us! Many anorexic women actually actively try to avoid having a period because it's too painful or icky and I completely agree with this - I've had times when they were few and far between and I was GLAD!

Fat shifting tips from bodybuilders

I've been doing some research into making sure it's fat that moves - body builders have this all figured out because after they "bulk up" they have to diet to within a millimetre of all those muscles, veins and curves. They look really shocking but they really know how to diet!

So after a few hours of reading I've found and will add to the following tips:

  • When exercising your body burns fat from reserves and sugar from the blood. If it thinks it needs to and can get away with it your body will also try to break down muscles which you kind of need to move gracefully.
  • The body will burn fat more easily when blood sugar is low however it will continue to burn fat and sugar at any time of the day and you don't necessarily want to exercise when your blood sugar is low because you will get dizzy or stuff yourself afterwards. You can have some carbohydrate before the gym
  • Just my own thought but I really think the low-GI diet is the way to go. Your blood sugar never really gets low enough that you need to stuff yourself and never spikes so that you stop burning fat! You get plenty of the benefits of the Atkins concept (which was itself based on low-GI originially) but don't poison your kidneys.
  • So have low-GI carbohydrates when exercising and according to research you get a synergistic effect by combining carboydrates and caffeine when exercising. So to clarify, your ideal morning routine is a small bowl of porridge, a black coffee, a trip to the gym and then the rest of your porridge if you want some more.
  • Yeah... they do say have something to eat after exercising. Just something with protein and some carbs in it. It helps your muscles to recover if you eat something at around the time you exercise and if you go for longer than 1.5 hours then you definitely need a proper meal afterwards. Like some marinated tofu. Just repeating what I've read.
  • The "fat burning zone" on treadmills and other equipment is a low intensity workout where you burn more fat as a proportion of energy burnt. This is a real effect, you don't burn a lot of sugar at low intensity... however you don't stop burning fat or burn less overall fat by doing a high intensity workout, you just get to a point where you're going to burn a heap of sugar too (and lots of calories) and so the proportion of fat burnt to sugar is a bit lower. So yeah they say just do high intensity exercise.
  • A recent study showed that the adrenaline rush in very very short bursts of super high intensity exercise shifted even more fat - adrenaline is a "catecholine" and these break down fat! The study had people doing 8 seconds of sprint followed by 12 seconds of low intensity exercise.
  • Yes I saw that too - adrenaline breaks down fat! No wonder stressful people lose weight. But cortizol, that famous stress hormone lays down fat big time - so if you are going to be anxious make sure it's in short sharp bursts of adrenaline, not long worry sessions! And make sure you're sleeping.
  • OK now weight training is a great way of ensuring that your muscles are built up or at least maintained if you're dieting. By toning your muscles you ensure that your primary source of weight loss is fat. Body builders who are trying to lose weight freak out about keeping their muscles trained! Why? Because the body will take the weight loss from whatever it's got more of unless you convince it you need those muscles for some reason and it should take the fat instead. I've a bodybuilder friend who ...well he's skinny. But he has had the lowest body fat ratio on campus at one time, just from all that weight training.
  • It is apparently not true however that a lot of muscle burns a lot of energy. Any extra mass you carry burns more energy than skin, organs and bones, but the difference between a few pounds of fat and a few pounds of muscle is apparently a couple jelly beans' worth. But if you have to be a few pounds heavier than your target then I'd personally rather it be muscle than flab. Just my opinion.
  • OK speaking of those "X burns a lot of energy or shifts fat" rumours - where supplements are concerned it's apparently rubbish unless you're taking those really strong illegal drugs. Which I don't and assume my readers aren't. A cup of green tea won't hurt you (I'd reccomend matcha) but apparently doesn't do a big deal to shift fat or decrease your appetite. Hoodia has been debunked as an appetite suppressant. I like to burn lemongrass oil or suck a mint cos I know from experience it decreases my appetite. Same with mustard or chilli - it flavours your food and doesn't really cost you any calories, may even save you some if you were thinking of using a creamy dressing, but it's not a get out of jail card for binging.
  • In case you're not convinced about the exercise or are just lazy like me, there's another scientific experiment where the group who did regular exercise didn't really yo-yo at the end of their diet. The control group did what dieters usually do and put all the weight back on.
  • In the gym they recommend swapping your exercise around a bit because then you combine the fat-burning effect of cardio with the strength training to ensure that weight really is shifted from the flabby bits. Do the cardio first because weights will wear down your ability to run but running won't really impact much on your benefit from lifting weights - even if you miss a rep because your muscle was already tired, you've still challenged your muscle so... yay! Mission accomplished!
Got an exercise tip? It's an inclusive blog and I always add the ideas people tell me!

Other people's ideas:
  • Spider mentioned in a comment on this blog a study in which singing is a great way to lose weight, presumably because it de-stresses and less cortizol lays down fat. When properly done (karaoke doesn't count) singing is also a great targeted abdominal/core exercise because you have to exercise all the support muscles that hold your stomach in tightly. If you can't sing try a woodwind instrument (flute is a great one for controlling your breathing) and set aside a half hour to an hour each day.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Food diary 28 November 2008

On the clock from yesterday: 246 Cals
I believe the French diet described in French Women Don't Get Fat has the best method for dealing with life's little excesses: just note them and compensate. So that's what I'll be doing today.

Tonight is office drinks and date night. I might stick to water (for my health and vitamin absorption) and he agreed to something not too fussy so I don't get flustered. He doesn't like to fuss.

Breakfast of course includes my vitamin B12 supplement. I've been avoiding them at night because I hate dreams - they are out of control and I often wake up very disturbed.

Next was a chocolate sesame snap: 45 Cals.

Morning tea: 10:40am
Mood before meal: OW! OW! OW! OW!! OW! OW! OW!!! OW!!!!!!! I've got my period and it really really really really hurts!
And I'm getting nauseous from the cramping. Please somebody bring me a glass of vodka or an aspirin or something!

1x organic mountain banana = 84 cals
1x pink lady apple = 110 cals

Lunch: 12:10pm
1 slice of quinoa bread = 165 cals
Marmite = 10 cals
1x organic mountain dried banana = 84 cals

Mid-afternoon "I've got my period and I need the energy" binge
1 apple
Another dried banana (that's plenty for today I think)
A cup of roasted peas
A cup of roasted chick-peas
Half a cup of sultanas

I feel sore.

Afternoon/evening snacky thing: 4:00pm
1/2 a red grapefruit: 55 Cals
Black coffee

Feel good.

Total count for the day:

There's not much information about how many calories are in roasted chick peas and peas so I'm going to guess based on the calories in nuts and assume I ate around 1500 = that's a bit over 2000 for the day.  This is approximately my maintenance quantity and now that the luteal phase of my period is over and the cramping has stopped and all that I am totally not hungry any more so I've no concerns whatsoever about it! According to my reading it doesn't really stay and according to my scales I've just dropped about 3-4 pounds of stored fluid!

Learning more through quality tools

I've been playing around with the tools at and setting up my goals to find out how much I should eat, things like that.

First, I put in my current and goal weights along with my activity level, to find out that to reach my goal weight by the end of January I should eat 1300 cals per day. They don't recommend going under 1200 for women or 1500 for men.

Then I did a quiz - turns out that I'm a social eater and that I generally need to pay more attention to the signals I get from everyone else. I guess with my ED and desire to please everyone I've learnt to really pretend to everyone that I'm eating properly and I'm really up to the stage where I'm lying to myself as well as everyone around me. I must pay more attention to that.

I'm also reading through their exercise plan - I think it's one I can fit into my schedule and I love that they have huge lists of resources for any question readers might have!

Best of all they have a tool that logs food in and exercise out over any given time frame - I'll be logging all of mine and posting reports!

Food diary 27 November 2008

Yesterday's diary entry ends very badly. I drank 3 litres of water at my desk which was great but I may have gone home too hungry. I don't know why it happened exactly but one bowl of rice became two and then three and four, then I moved on to a banana and had some mixed nuts and seeds before finally withdrawing to the bathroom to purge.

By the end of the night I was extremely horrified with myself and disgusted with all my pale white flab. I still am.

This morning's breakfast was a smallish red tip eco-banana. I wasn't very hungry and was really too disgusted to stomach it but I had to eat something with my vitamin B12. According to this helpful website (I strongly recommend joining up!) that's about 105 cals.

Now I feel again that I could continue eating until I'm stuffed but I'm really too traumatised to eat. Purging doesn't really keep the weight off and I can't just binge and expect to keep slim! The only way around it is to eat a small amount and then stop. I'm stubborn so that is what I'm going to do this morning.

Knowing me... well I'll probably want to binge again at dinner time but I'll just hold on tight to my boyfriend and say "look I ate enough please hold me until I settle down and regain control of myself again." I think I can keep myself distracted at the office. I hope.

Morning tea: 9:30am
Mood before meal: Refluxy I guess. I felt acidy so I thought I better eat somthing else
1x Organic Mountain dried banana: 84 cals
Mood after meal: Still a bit acidy but I'll be OK. I've had my first litre of water and will keep drinking until my stomach settles down.

Lunch: 12:30pm
Mood before meal: Still a bit acidy in the stomach (more nauseous than anything else) so I started with 1x sugarfree mint at 9 cals.
1x average slice of quinoa bread with thickly spread Sanitarium marmite: 165 cals
Mood after meal: Much better really! My stomach is not hurting any more and I was thinking about having some fruit but I don't think I could stand it!

Dammit! 1:00pm
I had one medjool date at 50 cals and now I want to purge!

Coffee: 2:20pm
Mmmmmm nom nom nom nom nom - just a splash of rice milk maybe 30 cals.

Afternoon tea: 3pm to 3:30pm
I had 1 sugarfree mint to get rid of the coffee taste: 9cals
a package of Spiral senbei (the plain one): 241 cals

So at the mid-afternoon point I've had 693 cals giving me a reserve of 300-600 for dinner. We're talking about having some pasta with tomato sauce but I'm also thinking about cooking some red lentils or yellow split peas with basmati. Some protein for my workout. I think it's OK to have 3 cups of cooked basmati, that's apparently equivalent to 1 cup uncooked. And that's a LOT of rice! Very filling!

That last meal was a pretty big one - all that rice has me rather full! I feel very full and only a tiny bit icky so I guess that was the right amount of food.

Dinner: 8:00pm
Tonight I tried an experiment. I ate something filling for dinner and tried to stop when I reached the "right time"

I assured myself the calories would be OK and that I needed some protein for training.

I had about 3 cups of cooked rice and 1 of red lentils with some negligible spices for flavouring.

I ate 846 Cals for dinner and kept it down. My consolation I suppose is that I burnt 160 on the treadmill so that's 686 and I could be said to have ended up 80 over my revised target.  Let's hope that 80 goes to build muscle instead of contributing to my fat!  

My sweetheart caught me before I really got a  chance to binge like I might have otherwise so I am eternally grateful for his love.

And all this progress the night my period came! 

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


I think it's not entirely clear to some people why I am dieting and how I think I should look.

First I am not "triggered" to starve myself to bones and start panicking and fretting by looking at pictures on websites. Pictures on websites are two-dimensional, tiny and not anywhere near as distressing as looking at thin girls on the street. Which I do ALL the time.

Second I don't think it looks cool to be skin and bones. I think it looks weird and I don't want to look like an alien. Maybe some collar bone should be showing, maybe some ribs. Weightlifters do this and you certainly can't see all of their bones and worry about them!

Instead I had this kind of thing in mind:

Nothing extreme - just looking good in fashionable underwear. What's wrong with that?

Actually I'm a little taller than Kate so I guess I had in mind that I would look similar to the picture above but just a little longer. Here's Gisele illustrating the sort of size and shape that I have been in the past:
Oh my goodness! Look at those thighs! I dream and fantasise about thighs like that!

Of course Gisele exercises well and keeps her muscles toned and that is what I will really be focusing on!

Finally I'm going to finish this post by clarifying that I definitely don't want to look like this example of bad parenting:

For so many reasons! Ick! Ick! Ick! and Double ICK!

Food diary 26 November 2008

I've been advised to eat every 3 hours to ensure my stomach remains full and to drink plenty of water. So this means I want about 250cals at 9, 12, 3 and 6 to meet my daily target. Approximately. So here's day 1 of this new scheme:

Breakfast: 9:00am (at work)
Mood before meal - OK I guess but a bit slow to wake up today.
QuantityFood typeCalories
1xBlackmore's Vitamin B12Negligible
1xOrganic Mountain dried banana84
1xPink Lady apple110
about 1/4Papaya50
1 mugDilmah Morrocan Mint green teanegligible
Total=244 cals
Mood after meal - Not really any more energetic but I guess I can tell that my body has started up now. I know all that fruity fibre will keep things moving unlike last week when I was not eating carefully enough. Unfortunately encouraging my stomach to wake up is also encouraging it that it's STARVING! Overall, though, I definitely feel more secure about taking my food more carefully and its likely effect on my tendency to binge. Next intended meal at 12.

Lunch: 12:00pm (at my desk)
Mood before meal: Pretty hungry and I've been thinking about food all morning on and off but I'm OK I guess
QuantityFood typeCalories
1xVery thin slice of quinoa bread
1 tsp
Sanitarium marmite
1xPink grapefruit85
1 mugDilmah Morrocan Mint green teanegligible
Total=253 cals
Mood after meal: Actually this is kind of an awkward one. Part of me feels very very full and part of me feels very very empty. This is the kind of time when I often simply start shoving food into my mouth on auto-pilot so instead I'm going to shut down the browser and really throw myself into this afternoon's work!

Coffee and a mint: 2:00pm (at my desk)
Mood before coffee: Very tired!
QuantityFood typeCalories
1/4 cup
Coffee made with Vitasoy rice milk protein enriched
1 cup
Black coffee instead!
Double D Summer Mint
Total=34 Cals
Reflection afterwards: Black coffee is easier on the stomach than white coffee and no cals! I used to only have cappuccino as a weekend breakfast treat and I am returning to that policy!

Afternoon tea: 3:00pm (at my desk)
Mood before meal: Starting to crash for the day but still plenty of work to get through!
QuantityFood typeCalories
1xOrganic Mountain dried banana
Organic medjool date
small handfull
Roasted peas and chickpeas from the office tin
1 mugDilmah Morrocan Mint green teanegligible
Total=232 cals
Mood after meal: At first I wasn't really satisfied but then I drank some more water and now I guess I feel pretty good. Having something with just a little carbohydrate.

Dinner (See food diary for 27 November for more about this)
Binge consisting of 4 bowls of basmati rice, a banana with a teaspoon of raw sugar and a handful of nuts and seeds - purged. I may have digested 500cals as the rice was 1st down.
At least the binge was all low-GI so I didn't crash and wake up starving again.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

First trip to clinic - and test results

Hello friends!

The good news is that I'm basically OK. I haven't been having binge-purge behaviour for long enough to do myself any serious damage. I have extremely low vitamin B12 levels and haven't been drinking enough water for my kidney function. I've been advised to avoid hiking if it's a very long one or at very high altitude - if I insist on next week's Mt Kosciuszko then I have to drink at least 2 litres every day and take vitamin B12 each day.

I've got an iron supplement with some B vitamins (because my iron is lowish although not a problem) and I'll be buying some marmite. I'll also get some of those once-a-week vitamin B12 tablets maybe. The good news is that I don't think you can actually overdose on vitamin B12.

My electrolytes are all pretty normal - potassium maybe a little low but not worryingly so. I'll eat some bananas and try not to eat too much sodium for a while.

I'm definitely supposed to continue working on healthy alternatives to bingeing and purging including exploring my creative side!

More concern about the bingeing at the moment than the restricting so that's what I'm going to focus on. My BMI was 19.7 this morning (I haven't had a big poop for a while) and what else can I say? It's smooth sailing from here on in! Now time to GBTW!!!

Update: I'm going to get some dedicated vitamin B12 tablets because I've read that vegans can have problems if they start other supplements before the vitamin B12 gets back to normal. So I've found a supplement I think I will like - it's 100μg twice a day for a month or two and then I'll focus on the general supplement. :)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Beating the addiction... Please help!

I'm feeling a bit over-energetic because my body is fighting a sore throat (looks like strep!) that is probably caused by all the purging I did this weekend. On the weekends I restrict and restrict and it gets tenser and tenser until eventually I binge and purge and feel relieved of stress!

Purging is really addictive - It gives me a sort of headspin and feeling of purification. Sometimes I think the only reason I can stand all that food is so that I can purge it and feel better. It's such a strong physical stress to go through that when it's over I feel really relieved!

Basically though, I really want to stop purging. I never wanted to start and only got onto it because I was having issues with someone forcing me to eat. I don't want to be his slave any more and so I want to give up this behaviour. I've purged at home, at work, in restaurants... it's just awful!

It really flares up along with my restricting when I'm really getting stressed. Well lately I'm stressed, I haven't got to the bottom of what it's about but I'm obsessing about calories and on weekends when I'm not spending all day busy at my desk, I'm caught up in the binge-purge addiction cycle.

So here I am with all this stress caused by this terrible addiction to hurting myself in this way and no idea how to channel it positively! Please someone give me some ideas on what I can do to relieve my stress instead of bingeing!!! I'm looking for suggestions on anything I can do with my time and my energy!

Update: Spider has sent me some advice here. Thanks Spider!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Why I'm not getting "better"

Well it's a suprisingly cold and rainy weekend and I'm trying to get some exercise without being able to enjoy my usual hike. 

This morning my BMI is just 18.7 which is encouraging.  I'm still aiming for 18 in the first instance and then probably down to 17.5 depending on how I look at 18 now that I've got more muscle than ever.  I've lost about 5lb in the last two weeks or so that I've been dieting and I've had 275 cals for breakfast today (and keeping up my water!) so now I just need to get through the day without overdoing it and having 2500 out of the boredom of being stuck in the house. 

I'm just dealing with it by remembering that food doesn't make me happy - in fact there's some fascinating research on anorexic response to food that basically proves the exact opposite is true! I often eat reluctantly to fit in and keep healthy and while it gives me a good feeling to know I'm doing something good for myself or that people will approve of, I usually end up feeling just awful!

What I have done is my new favourite thing in the universe: exercise! I've done an hour of Aerobic Striptease (laugh all you want, I think it's great fun and I know I'm not planning a career exploiting poor lonely middle-aged men) and later I'll do Fit to Strip again and as I mentioned yesterday this time I'll be holding some weights to make sure I'm keeping my muscles challenged.

My boyfriend thinks that all the exercise I'm doing and the fact that I'm willing to eat a little extra to compensate for the extra calories burned (even if it's just 100 or I stay well under 1000 in a day) is a wonderful thing.  He sees it as "healthy" behaviour and has evidently never heard of an exercise disorder.  Actually, just to set the record straight, anorexics use exercise all the time as part of our calorie counting - some will even eat a stalk of celery and say "that's 5 calories so I have to do 50 sit-ups."  

A girl wanting social acceptability for her weight loss does well to surround it with a strong exercise regimen, preferably competitive sport, and emphasis on "healthy" food - nobody questions these "admirable" behaviours.  Sprinters and gymnasts are perfect examples of underweight girls and women that nobody questions and yet it is an open secret that sports centres and institutes encourage weight loss and disordered eating by emphasising a desire for an unnaturally slim figure.  It's OK to lose weight, skip periods, risk bone damage, brain damage, stomach ruptures etc. to win a medal but not if the goal is to walk a catwalk, dance or simply to feel comfortable at school, work and around friends.

Until we come to understand this dichotomy we've no chance of making a cultural change in the emotional triggers that cause so many young women to lose weight.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Exercising is the new purging and fasting

I decided to learn more about this exercising thing so I compensated for my roasted mixed nuts by starting with an hour of Carmen Electra's Fit to Strip which I hadn't done for a while.

First I noticed that dieting has definitely improved the stomach I see on myself while doing these exercises - I had been looking down and feeling disgusted at what I saw hanging from my tummy whereas now I feel much better about it although there's still some problems.

Second I was pleased to see that it was a lot easier than the last time I tried it - I made it all the way through the main exercises and the isolations! I think next time I may even use a small amount of weights and do the harder version or more reps although this time I know I still gained a valuable workout (ie pushed myself a bit) because I definitely have sore bits particularly around my back and shoulders and I know I'll work out my lower body on tomorrow morning's hike.

I also did some reading on exercise and nutrition at this website and I learnt that by restricting only moderately (as opposed to fasting) I can actually maintain my muscle while losing fat and if I've never exercised heavily before I can even gain muscle while losing fat!   I love exercising and feeling strong and I know it gives me more focus, mental endurance and physical comfort so I intend to keep exercising.  I used the calorie calculator and found that as a zero to light exerciser I can expect to burn 1700 to 2000 calories each day giving me a daily calorie count of 1200-1500 however I still don't intend to go over 1000 and have no problems keeping my energy levels up at this count!!!

The exercise also helps to moderate my appetite so that I don't feel the urge to binge or completely run empty but just stay reasonably normal.  A doctor once recommended that to me but I guess I didn't have the energy to try it! So have something to eat and go burn it off! It's awesome fun!

So frightened!

I've just come home from after work drinks (~900 for the day) and once again after a single drink and some nuts (about 350 of those 900) I got home and started feeling sooo nauseous.

Now I do accept that this can be caused by an acid-base imbalance in the stomach but I believe more may be at play here.  I was tested on Monday for food allergies and damage from ED and I'm told 2 of my tests were normal and 2 were not - so that and all the reading/interacting I've been doing lately has really got me worried about electrolyte imabalance.

So I did a bit of googling on electrolyte imbalance.  Apart from nausea I also have dark urine sometime and can be very thirsty even after drinking a few litres... and is my breathing slow or my heartbeat irregular? I don't know! Electrolyte imbalance can cause spontaneous cardiac arrest! I'm terrified! I won't know what's wrong with me for 3 1/2 days and all I know for certain is that I have to go consult with the doctor over my results.

I've got to spend the whole weekend knowing that something is seriously wrong with me and that I don't know what it is! And that I caused it by recklessly vomiting up to 3-4 times a day sometimes.

I have been purging ever since I started eating again... at first it was to shut up my ex who would not shut up unless I ate something and then it became a rare solution to the odd indulgence but as my weight crept back up to normal I guess it seemed more and more of a solution to snacking and bingeing until I was at it daily, sometimes multiple times!

Now I'm so scared and I'm restricting carefully - raw fruit and veggies but also lots of water! I don't know if I'm too high or too low on which salts so I can only hope to take in a normal amount of most electrolytes.  And of course to count carefully so I know I'm low enough not to consider purging as a serious option.

Girls please don't hurt yourselves this way! If someone is pressuring you to eat, don't eat to satisfy your audience and then purge! Talk to your doctor, go to a clinic, do anything else to show commitment but don't pretend you're eating - you'll only make yourself dangerously sick!


Business trip wisdom

Well I'm home from my mysterious "business trip." And I learnt that I don't think fasting is necessarily the right way for me to feel good about my size.

First I was seriously walking all over town. I spent 6 hours on my feet walking from Sydney CBD to Newtown and Glebe and basically all over the place. So yeah I don't think that fasting would have been wise in that circumstance or in rushing around the CBD to meetings.

Second I get rather nauseous if my stomach is completely empty. I kept my litre of water with me at all times but really it only takes the edge off the nausea, it doesn't take it away completely. Better to eat a little something before the meeting and be able to focus!

So I ended up eating between 500 and 1000 calories each day.

Finally last night I ate like normal people do because my period came today. I had like 800 calories for dinner and another 300 when I got home - a huge binge but I'd really only eaten about 300 before then so it came to a total of 1400 for the day and as I said that's my once a month binge (and it can be absolutely ferocious at times!)

So I guess what I'm saying is I'm off the fast girls! Sorry but I just really need to focus and if I'm going to make this viable in the long term then staying under 300 calories a day is not the way to go about it. I ate about 500 cals so far (it's basically the end of the working day although I plan to stay late) and I'm not really hungry any more so I'll probably just have another 200 or so later this evening.

I'm going hiking tomorrow morning - maybe a walk across the mountains or around the lake - but it will definitely be a good long walk! I think that kind of exercise is going to promote much healthier weight loss than just eating 300 cals because if you eat 500 cals and burn 200 then you're getting a bonus muscle strengthening! And I SOOO want beautiful strong muscles with no fat on them!

I want a six-pack stomach!

Finally there's the medical stuff. I'm really scared because I phoned up the doctor this morning and was told that my blood tests showed up a problem and I have to wait until my Dr's appointment Tuesday until I can find out what's wrong. I was pretty certain we'd find a food allergy or maybe lots so that's probably all it is but I just feel awful knowing that there is something medically confirmed to be wrong with me and I don't know what it is and what to do about it! Worse - that I probably can't do anything about it and will be at a huge risk for stomach or bowel cancer and will never be able to eat normal food which is a huge part of recovering from ED!!!

It actually makes me feel so nervous in my stomach that I feel nauseous and can't eat. Holding my nerves in my stomach is a big part of my ED and an important trigger for relapse - I eat just fine when I'm not stressed but when I'm stressed I don't eat or if I do I purge.

So with all this stress going on I'm putting together a promotion where I give people candy if they buy lots of things from us! Am I a hyprocrite? Yes, of course I am!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I'm really starting to have trouble thinking about anything other than dieting. I'm absolutely starving hungry to the point of nausea and pain which makes me want to

1. eat something

2. not eat anything

3. think and talk about the experience and learn from it

At the same time I'm really more concerned with all the things I'm supposed to get finished by the end of the day and over the week, but it's getting kind of extremely difficult to focus. Eventually I know I will get to the point of clarity and will be able to focus very clearly but until that point I feel I'm just everywhere!

It's 20 minutes to 4 and I've eaten about 20 calories. Just got to get to the end of the day somehow! I think I may have earned a coffee with soy milk which will bring me up to about 100 calories and give me the energy I need to finish the day. I will probably have a small bowl of salad for dinner too.

Back on the diet

After a shocking Sunday and Monday and 2 big family nights stressing me out and making me eat to excess, I'm back on the wagon as of this morning.

My BMI is 19.3 and I've got about 1.3 to shave off that before I start to work on really building muscle again.

My 3 sisters and I are aiming for Thanksgiving in USA! I think I can get down to 18.8 by then. HC, Rose214 and abi - stay positive and be happy with yourselves!

I've got Mt Kosciuszko coming up on the 29th I think - that will be my holiday from dieting as it's about 23km up and over! is a gorgeous collection of thinspo videos to help everyone keep inspired and to remind us not to go too far! I don't want to be a frail collection of bones - I want to be slim and strong!

Also see

Monday, November 17, 2008

Medical treatment and other adventures

So after 2 years of regular purging I had my blood test today to assess the damage. Won't know until next week but I assure you it wasn't pleasant having the test done! My arm still tingles from the stainless steel or lack of blood and the dizziness induced another disgusting binge and purge!

ICK! I'm sick of this shit!

So I've joined a few girls in very carefully watching what we eat and swapping that information for the next week - for me I'll just be happy if I stick to low enough cals that I don't need to purge - I'll be writing down everything I eat and every time I purge in my journal (no it's oK I won't share it with you online, my journal has all the boring details there) and trying to keep myself happy and comfortable above all else!

Because really that's the root of this illness - I don't feel comfortable eating what everyone tells me is "normal" and I don't WANT to be "normal"!!! And now I'm not playing the game any more! I'm just being ME - slim, happy, eating on my timetable and according to my rules. I'm taking control and I'm not giving in!

Stay happy and strong!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Myths about anorexia - by anorexics

I plan for this list to grow and develop over time.  These are the tricks and fibs and general misunderstandings that anorexics rely on to get through our days.

1. Anorexics are starving hungry but choose not to eat
Not really! We certainly  know things like "my tummy hurts" or "I'm dizzy and faint" but the desire to eat is an emotion that we are at times so confused about that we really only know "It's lunch time" or "I have had 200cals".

With a lack of eating we also experience physiological changes that make us less likely to want or be able to eat, such as a shrunk stomach that produces less calls for food.  Exercise might make us a bit dizzy and even nauseous.  The anorexic stomach is also apparently more likely to have food allergies but even on mild food it's easy to feel sick after putting just a small amount into a stomach that doesn't want it.

So yes we're aware of a need for food but no we're not necessarily hungry as you understand it - it depends on the person and the time.

2. I just have a fast metabolism
Rubbish! Nobody's metabolism is that fast!  Instead of justifying their lack of eating these people are able to convince their family and friends that they are actually eating very well but just somehow never put on weight.

When I hear or see this the first thought that pops into my mind is eating disorder.

For example if you're a European family you probably give each family member a big plate of food - some give each family member a big plate and let them choose from the dishes on the table.  Your slim daughter has probably convinced you to allow her to receive a smaller serve and she may also have convinced you that it's not unusual to leave a small amount on the plate at the end of the meal.  She may talk of being very full and what a lovely big meal it was and you may see her helping herself to more of something.  In this case she's just making motions that look like eating but the evidence is right in front of you that she isn't! Even if she does clean a big plate each meal she may simply retire to vomit.

In either case she's still digesting some food but by decreasing her portion combined with eating hardly a bite when nobody is watching she can keep well into 3-digit calories each day.

If you are from an Asian family you may be eating out of very small bowls - this makes it extremely difficult to see how much each family member consumes! I love eating out of my gorgeous little bowls and often cook Asian because the fresh veggies and sharp spices are great for keeping slim.  I also find that chopsticks really slow me down.  If your daughter chews slowly and talks a lot she can eat just a single bowl without anyone noticing she's not going back for seconds while the family eats a third and fourth helping.

3. She doesn't have an eating disorder but I'll watch and see if she develops one
Actually this isn't necessary.  If you're her parent take her to the doctor to have her assessed for psychological conditions and a range of physical problems.  They have a test that can see if she is starving herself - basically they test for ketones in the blood.  They can also assess her vitamins and general blood health which is valuable.

If she knows how to game the tests she may drink a lot of water before the consultation.  This will add a kilogram for each litre or I guess about a pound for each pint.  It will also flush ketones out of her blood and decrease her full blood count, making her seem not anorexic but anaemic.  It's OK to treat her for anaemia (try floravital) but don't discount eating disorder!

Most people diagnosed as anorexic really don't match the DSM criteria - my periods never stopped although they did come less often and become significantly lighter.  She needn't become super tiny before she can be diagnosed and treated - if the doctor says there's no reason to worry yet then make a follow up appointment for a month's time.

If it's not a daughter or is someone old enough to protest and refuse treatment then you would probably need to be a bit tough on the person to get her to realise she has a problem - this is generally counterproductive to recovery so you just have to accept the person has a problem and wait until she can see it too.  If she faints take her to an emergency department and mention that you think she has an eating disorder - they will run the tests.

4. My anorexic has to be bribed, cajoled, threatened, manipulated or hassled to eat
Please don't! Anorexics are strongly motivated to eat by their emotional state - and if she feels uncomfortable she will be terrified to eat.  You should instead make her feel loved and accepted and then maybe she will feel comfortable enough to take a few bites.

You wouldn't tell a three year old that he has to sleep or the monsters will get him - and anorexics are just as emotionally fragile as a small child when it comes to their irrational fears!  So accept your anorexic, offer her plenty of the food she most enjoys and feels safe with, and don't let her think you are watching and judging her.  This can be achieved without giving her any indication that you are implicitly approving her behaviour or that she is getting away with it by making sure you seek medical attention early and often!

Festive season challenges overeaters and anorexics alike

On Friday Overeaters Anonymous released a statement reminding everyone that the festive season is usually seen as an excuse for many Australians to stuff themselves full of greasy food, a practice that some might be comfortable with but which their members think is decidedly uncool.

Overeaters have a lot in common with anorexics - basically we've both developed a weird emotional attachment to food but whereas overeaters choose to fulfil their emotional needs by eating and it makes them feel cared for, anorexics  have concluded that denial and control of their physical needs will bring them strength.

Both conditions are brought about by childhood emotional neglect - while the person may have been well cared for, well educated and trained in right and wrong, they weren't always given cuddles, instead overeaters were given a candy as a reward and anorexics ... well my mother didn't believe in giving candy (causes hyperactivity) and couldn't stand fatties (to this day she's uncomfortable around obese people).

The festive season brings us all together to eat dead flesh, drink booze and basically drug ourselves stupid on amino acids and brandy butter - even our kids.  The desired state is to be incapable of even walking around by the end of the day.

Surrounding the religious celebration of your choice are a number of "end of year festive drinks" parties at work, social clubs and with friends.  The professional ones will serve lots of cocktails and the always accompanying snacks! The less professional ones will usually take the form of a barbecue and maybe an esky full of drinks.

My technique for dealing with these disasters is to not remind anyone of my dietary requirements! If I don't phone ahead and say "vegan no gluten no corn" chances are not a single dish will be prepared that suits me.  Then I can simply stand around enjoying the company and if someone offers me something I can just say "no thanks, I'm sorry but I'm allergic to that one but I've had some food".  It's also sometimes nice for a family event to bring my own food so that I know the Widget option is going to be light.

The worst festive event is the sit-down dinner or lunch with family.  Last night my boyfriend and I had dinner with his mum and as usual she put in front of me a huuuuge plate of fasulade.  For those of you not lucky enough to have experienced it, this is the Greek version of minestrone, strong on beans and hearty vegetables, spiced with oregano and dill.  It's delicious but now it's Summer and you just can't eat that much rich food!

My technique for future dinners with his mum (because I love her to bits and I do want to enjoy her food, but...) will be to say "Yes please some soup but I'm already rather full and it's very rich so can I please have just a small bowl".  She has some small bowls but I know she loves collecting bowls and cups and things so I might get her a set of nice Asian rice bowls for Christmas - that way I'll know she can give me a very small plate of fasulade! 

I guess the lesson from all of this rambling is that Christmas is a time of compromise - I'm watching my purse but trying to get good presents for my family, I'm watching my waistline but trying to keep everyone happy and comfortable, my friends will be trying to enjoy their gluttony whilst watching their health! And of course that most important Christmas compromise of all - his family or one of mine?  

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Well date night didn't go too badly last night.  My boyfriend and I both work into the evenings sometimes and try to get to the gym but we always put aside Friday night to enjoy the evening together.  We did a little shopping, I bought some matcha and gyokuro tea (best tea in the universe!) and then we sat down to a lovely thai meal where the sauce (green curry) doesn't cling to the vegetables and make you feel gross - I'd eaten about 400 cals up to that point and I don't think dinner (including rice) added more than another 600 or so... although the scales are an entire 1 1/2 kg heavier this morning than they were yesterday morning!!!

So that's maybe 600cals Thursday and 1000cals Friday.  Now bring on the weekend!

Because I work at a desk, on my butt :( I look forward to the weekend as an opportunity to be a bit more active.  Everyone I work with enjoys going outside, either jogging, cycling or just strolling around looking at orchids! I walk up mountains, and in Canberra there's a few.

For those of you not familiar with the terrain, Australian mountains are among the oldest in the world and look nothing like the Rockys or even the beautiful New Zealand scenery you see in the Lord of the Rings movies - they're just hills that eventually get a bit higher each time and you also find that the base is a bit higher each time too - the most you can expect is a 700m ascent and in town it's never more than half that! You can be up and back within an hour for any of the mountains surrounding Canberra - nevertheless it's good walking and there are some nice lookouts.

I can't stand the gym and jumping on something like the stationery cycle because I'm not going anywhere and it gets hotter, there's no air, some idiot turns the TV on...! Give me some peace and quiet outdoors any day.

The other task for the weekend apart from exercise is cleaning up the house - not really a weight loss thing but there you have it, we can't always do what we enjoy, sometimes you just have to stand there and iron!

I'm going to make my cup of tea now, I'm very pleased to have it - some of the best stuff in the world for shifting fat and improving focus so it will do both me and my darling boyfriend a world of good!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Free chocolate and alcohol

Yes really - given the nature of my job today I was sent free top label dark chocolate coated almonds by a company wanting us to buy their services, which are obviously worth a significant amount!

The box was beautifully presented, the information they sent was carefully prepared and now there's a bowl of dark chocolate coated almonds sitting next to the rice crackers and sugar-free mints that I put out yesterday.

Hmmm... why all the emphasis on food at this time of year? Really, why?

Today there was also a media release from Overeaters Anonymous about the stress of the holiday season, it must really be tough on them, they know they shouldn't relapse into eating but all their family and friends are saying "come on, it's the holidays! Holiday eating doesn't count!" Well maybe for some people who can make normal adjustments in the weeks before and after, but for some of us they count very much.

The boss has also brought a bottle of wine in for after-work drinkeypoos! Given all the trouble I have with alcohol, like it makes me hungry, it makes me feel entitled, it makes me brash and rude... I just don't know how I'm going to handle these situations as the holiday season approaches.

At this stage I haven't lost a lot of weight yet, I only relapsed over the last couple of weeks so as far as everyone is concerned maybe I just shed a kilo or 2 of winter fat. But it's going to get uncomfortable particularly with such nice people making a big effort to cater to my veganism and allergies to grains, and if I'm not comfortable eating then I'm going to start getting really awkward. I don't want to fall into my usual non-confrontational habit of picking up food, smiling, pretending to enjoy it while really just eating it as quickly as possible so I don't have to think about what I'm doing.

What's going on?

Hello world or something.

I used to be anorexic and then I started eating again.

Only I wasn't really eating properly all this time... I've been binging and purging regularly which is a little easier to hide and I'm maintaining a reasonably normal BMI of around 19.5-20.

But this week I don't know what's going on. I got drunk, I fought with my boyfriend, I blew up at a friend and now I'm not eating again, just like that. When I think about food all the bad feelings I used to associate with eating are just BACK!

So I'm starting this diary to explore my feelings. It's basically anonymous so nobody needs to get hurt by what I write - we anorexics like to be small in many ways including our ability to hurt people! I don't know if it's going to degenerate into a pro-ana thin-fest or an inspiring tale of recovery because at the moment I don't know what I want! I want to be thin, I want to be clean and pure but then again I don't want to get sick again and I don't want to have this awful desperate feeling of guilt and shame and hate and sadness every time my body gets hungry!

I plan to share it with my fellow anorexics and girls who are dieting because they will relate to what I am writing. I will also share it with my boyfriend and maybe some close family members one day - I don't know. I have to share it with my boyfriend anyway, because he knows me better than I know myself and he is urging me to stop being afraid to share my feelings!

If you think this might help you then please by all means come back and read again. I really plan to stick with this diary as I really think it will help me sort out my feelings and become more comfortable with who I am and what I want.