Goldilocks Zone

When teaching my students about the planet Earth, I teach them about something called the Goldilocks zone. 

First, because three-quarters of them have never even heard about Goldilocks, I actually read the book to them. They find it amusing, a few think its a bit childish but secretly, they love it. I also have to explain that porridge is really similar to oatmeal. Goldilocks was looking for that perfect zone. Porridge that was not too hot or too cold, a bed that was not too soft or too hard, even a chair that fit her just right. This is the Goldilocks zone.

Our planet’s orbit is in the Goldilocks zone. We are not too far from the sun to be super cold and not to close to be way too hot. Our orbit is ‘just right’. Most people strive to reach this Goldilocks Zone every day of their lives. 

Just like Goldilocks, we do want the bed that’s not too soft but not too hard. We want our food to be at a certain temperature. We often try to make that perfect cup of coffee without too much cream and or sugar. We may try to eat our cereal before it gets soggy. We try to keep the temperature of our house, not too cold, but not to hot. We might drive faster than the speed limit but not too fast to avoid being caught. That bath we take can’t be too hot or too cold. That medication that you take just enough to do its job. Too little too much than it doesn’t work. This Goldilock zone is where we are most comfortable, where we find homeostasis in our life. When we can’t reach this zone for any reason, we become uncomfortable maybe even anxious. Think about how disappointed you are when you get that drive-through coffee that is not sweet enough. The irritation that you feel when you get stuck behind someone going under the speed limit. The annoyance of tipping a delivery driver when your food is cold. This is why we have sweaters, microwaves, temperature dials on our faucets, it’s all to aid us in keeping our lives as comfortable as possible.

Sounds simple, right? But for me, not so much. Yes, I can get that perfect temperature in my shower but I can’t find that in my diet. A little thing to some but something that plagues my mind all day long. No matter if I’m driving, watching TV, or visiting friends, the thought of my diet, is always there. 

I’m driving myself crazy trying to find that Goldilock Zone. How many calories are too little or too much. How much exercise is too little or too much. When you ask me why I’m so stressed, this is why. When you ask me why I’m so grumpy, this is why. If you ask me why I’m so depressed, this is why. 

In order for me to live moment to moment in a state of contentment I’m must stay in the ‘not enough’ because, with food, you can never come back from the ‘too much’. Even if you are binging and purging, you are striving for that zone and you have to take into account, you don’t know exactly how much you are purging. 

I’m terrified to try to find the Goldilocks zone. I think about it all the time. I watch the scale, I count the calories, keeping myself safely under the ‘no going back’ place. Just a bit below that Goldilocks zone. I do believe that if I do reach this zone, I’m going to lose all control. That bag of chips commercial is right, I can’t just eat one. I’ll eat the whole damn bag.

Because of this, I count and I weigh. Because of this, I’ll leave that sweatshirt at home so I’m just a tad bit chilly. Because of this, I’ll show up for a date because I’m afraid to be late. Because of this, I tend to be overly quiet because I’m afraid that I’ll talk too much. 

For me, the Goldilocks zone, the zone where most people strive for, is the zone for me that throws me into a tailspin of self-destruction. With one exception, sometimes, feeling over-medicated, makes me feel a hell of a lot better.

What have you done today to stay in your Goldilocks zone

Blood never lies

Blood never lies

I don’t look like I have an eating disorder. At least, not yet. I’m not too thin or too big but that can change within a month. I have a superpower. I can lose and gain with a snap of my finger. Hey, not all superpowers are for good. 

Many times, people find themselves making assumptions about someone on looks alone. I’ve been there and I’m sure you have too. You might look at a tall person and think, they must play basketball. I big person, broad shoulders, a thick neck must be a football player at one time. Dreadlocks are often found on hippies. A nice suit could be a sign of loads of money.  You get my point. That nice dress that I wore once to my interview to appear professional was shipped off to Goodwill the day I got the job. 

But the labs, they don’t lie. I can tell my therapist that I’m doing fine. I can lie about my weight. Of course, my therapist knows me well that I might be fibbing. Without office hours, it’s really easy to hide any loss or gain. Thank you pandemic! Or Damn you pandemic! 

Besides her, I also have a psychiatric nurse practitioner who keeps tabs on me. The other day she asked me to get some lab work done and I cringed. I know what you are thinking, she can’t hold you down and draw your blood but she is the one with the Rx pad. Without her signature, I would have to live drug-free which even I know it’s not a great idea. Pharmaceutical and over the counter is what I stick too. Street drugs are just not for me. 

At nine o’clock this morning I got the call that my results are in. I’m still waiting to see them but I know they are not that of a healthy 50ish-year-old woman.  She caught me off guard, I was still sound asleep. If you have an eating disorder you know that sleeping through breakfast is not encouraged. What she didn’t know is she woke me two hours to early because I like to sleep through a morning snack as well. 

She went on about my sodium and protein and then said she was going to call my doctor. I said goodbye and fell back to sleep. She called again thirty minutes later, still a bit annoyed that I was still in bed. She told me that she had called the eating disorder treatment center where I had been in the past and they said that the patients are enjoying it more online than in person. Well, that’s a no brainer! The purpose of going into a day program is so they can not only counsel you but track your weight and the amount of food you consume. Maybe for patients who have someone home looking over them, it might work but not for me.  Yes, I know, I’m an adult and I should be able to monitor myself but obviously, that’s not working, partially because I’m often a fan of my eating disorder. She also told me that my doctor is going to refer me to some nutritionist. Again, I’m not interested. Out of frustration, she threatened to look for a residential treatment center but without admitting myself, it’s not going to happen.

So here I wait to look at where my deficiencies are or even if they really matter. Come on, low sodium, I can fix that. I’ll just get myself a salt lick. The rest I’ll treat with vitamins and call it good. 

Update: Just got them while writing this. Soo.. looks like I need to get a salt lick, add some more protein powder to my diet, and have them change my thyroid meds. The weird one is my low white blood cell count but maybe it’s COVID, that is if you can get it again.

Another update. That nutritionist just called and I didn’t hang up. She made some great points. I’ll keep her number for now.

I want a redo..

I’m not sure when the title of the story of my life went from, “Mom’s Words Of Wisdom And How To Be A Strong Women” to “Barley Surviving, What Not To Do To Be Happy And Strong”

The last few days I’ve really been down. Maybe it’s the weather, maybe the pandemic, maybe living alone, or maybe it’s my eating disorder but lately, I’ve been feeling like shit.

Yes, I’m one that will make that statement that I HATE MY LIFE. Now of course there are some things in my life that I love and cherish and things that make me laugh but not enough for me to sit back, puff out my chest, and say, God, I love my life!

My girls, my cat, my students, my little old lady neighbor, all good things. It’s like a book or a movie. I’ve stepped out of a theatre before and thought a movie was stupid but at the same time, I found the funny in it too. Frame by frame, scene by scene, it was there, just not enough for me to put it on the, here friend, this is a good movie, list.

There’s a moment in my life that I feel was the turning point of it all. Some will say that I’m being irrational, that I am better off now but I don’t feel that way. 

For me, my doomsday was the day that I decided to say, ‘no’ to my husband. It was the day that I decided that I wasn’t going to let him control my every move. He never hit me but I felt that if I kept sticking up for myself he would. He called me names in front of the girls. He thought it was fun to pick on me in front of his friends. I had to ask and beg to buy clothes, even socks. He was in control.

I got a divorce, had to move in this tiny apartment that I could barely afford because he took it all. I had to fight for custody of some kind as he dragged me through court again and again. I had been out of the classroom for years so my financial situation was rocky. I fell in love again and it destroyed me when he broke it off. I tried to kill myself. Finally getting that teaching job but 75 miles from home. Still hating myself I tried to starve myself to death. My rent went up which forced me to move and I was lucky to find another affordable apartment close to work but now, so far from my girls. 

My girls live with there dad now and they are fine with it. He has a big house, he brings them on vacation, he really gives them all that they need. He was a horrible husband but for some reason, he’s not too bad of a dad. My youngest will go toe to toe with him every chance she gets. She talks to him in a way that I would have been terrified to do so. 

They witnessed him being cruel and controlling to me as kids and since they continually witness me being cruel to myself. They too have been in and out of therapy. They seem well adjusted but who knows, in twenty years they may blame me on all the bad stuff in their lives. 

But here I am. Alone. Struggling to eat without freaking out. Staying in bed until at least noon. Going from bed to couch to couch to bed except for a three-mile walk in the afternoon. I can’t help wonder if getting a divorce was the stupidest, selfish, mistake that I had ever made. What would my life have been like if I had just put my head down and just put up with my ex’s constant need to belittle me and control me? A nice house. Two beautiful girls to make me smile daily. A lake home. A pool. Vacations… materialistic things that I’ve lost. The constant worry about money is definitely a struggle. 

I think right now, I would rather be sitting in a room with someone I feared and had no respect for me than being alone.

🦺🦺Damage control🦺🦺

Right now, I feel like the pandemic and my eating disorder are in cahoots. I live alone and a good hour from close family and friends. My eating disorder reminds me that outings should be minimal. I also am on a tight budget so my grocery bill is tiny. Things that make it so easy to have an eating disorder. 

The other day, I did get out of the house. I went to see family and even stayed the night. We did normal family things. We went to the beach. We went for ice cream. We even had pizza. I didn’t try to count calories. I actually felt a bit normal. 

I told myself maybe, I was done. That I can now grab the reins. That I could over power my eating disorder. It made perfect sense. Eating wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. I counted it as my first day of treatment. Within weeks I would be in remission. Within months I will be cured!

But then, I got home and stepped on the scale and realized that I had done some damage and needed to fix it. For the next few days it was all about righting the wrong. Calories needed to really be cut. An extra mile is added to a walk. The feeling of guilt, deteriorating as I became hyper focused on one thing, fix the damage. To erase what I had done even the memories that I had made. 

Yes, I know that it’s totally irrational. They tell you that you can’t “fix it”. What is done is done.

Really? Because in PHP they did ‘fix it’. They didn’t believe in the ‘what was done was done’. They fixed the damage. If you didn’t eat enough at home on a Saturday, you would be drinking more Ensure on the Monday. 

I fixed the damage by ripping down the cracked sheetrock. Returning my building back to the studs.

At PHP, they just filled the cracks with mud, sanded, repainted and called it fixed.

Soon, Coming to your local theatre

I need to make sure, when reading my blog, that you know that I’m okay. At this moment in my life, I’m okay. Yes. I have an eating disorder and right now I’m struggling but I’m okay. Things that I post are things that I think about. How I see my eating disorder. I am aware of how devastating an eating disorder is and how it can impact loved ones. This is not me poking fun at my disorder but sharing the things, ideas, and more that I think about. Yes, most of it irrational and I understand that. I’m not looking for help I’m looking for understanding.

Mystery: Libby Newton, a women with an eating disorder, decides to go shopping at the local grocery store. She has a list in hand but finds herself in the bakery area. She picks up a whoopie pie and there is no calorie information. Follow her as she unravels the mystery of how many calories there are in the whoopie pie as well as a few more mystery products. 

Suspenseful: Libby Newton let herself free for a day from her eating disorder and celebrated her sisters birthday. She enjoyed a grilled burger and corn on the cob followed by cake and ice cream. Sleep came easy on a full belly. When the alarm goes off the next day, Libby comes face to face with the results of the day of bliss as she stands on her scale. What will Libby find out? How will she deal?

Drama: It’s after dinner and Libby Newton is craving a sweet. She looks again at the calories she has had for the day. Witness Libby as she internally battles with her eating disorder to allow one more cookie. 

Horror: Libby Newton’s body becomes a host for her eating disorder. Witness Libby cope with the horror of losing her hair and how irrational thoughts plague her brain.

🎵🎶When I think of you, I touch myself🎶🎵🎶

I don’t want anybody else when I think of you I touch myself..” Lyrics from the song I Touch Myself by Divinyls

Okay, I’m sure that when someone wrote this song, touching one’s self had nothing to do with an eating disorder but I often find myself humming this chorus. 

Some people suffering from an eating disorder often do something called, body checking. It means exactly what it implies. When body image needs to change or weight needs to be lost, we often do more than just step on a scale. 

Body checking in the mirror is common but I don’t seem to do that much. I try not to look at myself in the mirror unless it’s to brush my hair, which I can’t stand the color or style, or brush my teeth. Yes, I do have the ability to change my hair but that is for another day. 

I also check my body in other ways, some I do without even thinking. My most common one is whenever I stand up, my hands go to my waist. I’m feeling for a difference in my size, how much extra I can squeeze, but often I’m doing this without realizing it. I don’t get up and say, ‘hey, why don’t you check to see if the size of your waist has changed.’ I just do it.

Another one of my checks is when I’m in the shower and shaving my armpits I’m looking to see if there is an indentation. Seriously, I’m not making this up or even really know how to explain it. Just something I check and notice because it is something that does change. 

I often will walk around, one arm crossed over my body, feeling my shoulder. Again, constantly comparing it to the last time I checked which may have been two seconds ago. 

The last one I do, the one less noticeable, is I wrap my hand around my wrist to make sure that my pinky and thumb still touch.

Body checking is a no-no and in treatment, if they see it, they will call you out on it. It’s like trying to break a habit by wearing an elastic band around your wrist but they are the ones snapping it. Or you can compare them to the person who slaps your hand away from your mouth when you go to bite your nails. You get my point.

Many people without eating disorders body check too. How many of you look in the full-length mirror? How many of you notice what notch your belt is? So many people do. Something you might find as normal. 

What do I do if I check and things have changed? Do I panic? Internally, a little. I might tweak my diet or change my work out a bit. Will I ever give up checking? No, because even if I wanted to, I still know exactly what size clothes I’m wearing. I’m aware of what notch on my belt I’m using. I’m even aware of what notch I use on the band of my watch.

I’m a mathematician in training

Don’t worry, this is not a post about my weight or BMI. In treatment it was taboo to talk about and really is pointless for me to talk about it here.

If I was told in high school that I would be using math so often through out the day I would have laughed at you. But at that time I’m sure I was still planning on owning monkeys and being a cartoonist. Wanting to be a teacher was a last minute decision but it has worked out really well and I love it.

My day consists of numbers. I stand on the scale first thing. I count every calorie I can. I pay attention to what a serving is and how much is in each. My table spoons and teaspoons get more use than if I was a pastry chef. On paper it’s all added together. How much and how long I work out is calorie driven. All of this easily stored on an app. Thank you app developers you have contributed well to my eating disorder. I subtract and add calories when I see fit. I’ve even entered a complete recipe to see how many calories are involved.

In the store, I make sure to bring my old lady reading glasses to check the calories on every label. Often I’m trying to find a substitute for one thing without causing too much change in calories. I don’t care about the rest of the label. I’m not worried about all my vitamins and minerals. I do keep track of my protein looking for things that will give me a bit more energy. I may switch eggs for yogurt. Sometimes instead I’ll have chicken instead of cheese but I don’t go too bananas. Oh and I do love bananas but compared to other fruits they hold a hefty amount of calories.

Again it’s all about the number and numbers don’t lie, right? That is until I become completely obsessed. Yesterday I stood on that scale and thought, what if this is off? I’ve had it for a long time, what if it’s off by even a quarter of a pound?

I had to remind myself that being a science teacher there were alway variables that you could control and ones you couldn’t. Did you know that in Paris, there is a piece of metal called Le Grand K that for the last 130 or so years is considered the standard of what a kilogram actually is? But even that is up for debate. Some believing that even in a vacuumed sealed container things may have changed. What! If scientists can’t agree who the hell do I trust?

With my eating disorder there is so many variables. It’s like I’m doing an experiment and there’s a possibility all my measurements are wrong. But which ones?

This paranoia, which I do know is irrational, followed me for the rest of the day. How accurate are all my measuring devises? I even wondered about my table spoons and cups. I questioned if I should go shopping and buy all knew. A new scale for me, for my food, even new batteries. I can then compare those to the ones I have. But what If one is off, do I buy another to compare?

The ultimate variable that I don’t have control of is the exact number of calories in a substance. If there are 140 calories in a serving of goldfish, how many is that exactly. That chocolate cookie that I’m allowing myself to have, the one I think I know the calories of, could be so different compared to his buddies in the package. And are my little yogurts the exact same calories? How off are the calories? What is allowed?

So I need to just except that like science there are just variables that are impossible to control. But just in case, I’ll be eating one less goldfish, leave on bite of yogurt in the cup, and break off the corner of the cookie.

Subtitles

Calories are like subtitles on a movie.

When we watch movies there is so much background noise that sometimes we put the subtitles on. I never miss anything even when the characters whisper.

But no matter what, even if I turn the volume way up, if the subtitles are there I still tend to read them. I don’t need them i know what they are saying. I can hear them fine. They are almost impossible to ignore.

In a way, calories are similar. Because I am so strict with how much I eat when I eat and how often I eat, I know exactly how many calories are in everything. Just like I can’t ignore the subtitles, I can’t ignore the fact that I know how many calories I’m eating even with out a label.

I don’t need the subtitles to hear the movie if it’s turned up just like I don’t need to see the number of calories. I already know them.

Would you rather?

At the end of class, if there’s time, I either share an outrageous story, tell a joke, and sometime would you rather questions.

If you are not familiar with this game here is a perfect example. Would you rather lick the bottom of your shoe or the top of a bald mans head. Shoe definitely for me. At least I know what I’ve stepped on and usually the bottoms are clean.

One day the question was, would you rather lose your sight or your hearing? Which then led to the question if you had to lose one of your senses which one would you want it to be.

I had to remind myself to use the tiny little healthy part of my brain. I gave reasons of losing each one that they could relate too. If I lost my hearing I wouldn’t have to listen to them call my name over and over. If I lost my sight I would miss there smiles. If I lost my touch I wouldn’t be able to find the disgusting sticky stuff they would leave behind for me to clean up. If I lost my smell I would miss smelling their middle school stank. Without taste I would miss out on all the homemade treats that they brought me at Christmas. If I lost the ability to talk I wouldn’t be able to constantly tell them to sit down and be quiet. All perfect nice, not surprising or out of the ordinary, reasons.

But this is really what I wanted to say. If I didn’t have my hearing I wouldn’t have had the chance to hear my dad tell me I’m chubby. if I couldn’t see I would not be able to see my unwanted curves and love handles. Without smell I wouldn’t have to smell all the fresh baked goods that I wanted to eat but wouldn’t allow myself too. If I lost taste I would no longer crave salty or sweet which sometimes was unbearably hard to ignore. If I lost touch I would no longer need to body check, wrapping my fingers around my wrists or feeling for fat with my hands on my hips. If I lost the ability to talk then therapy would be difficult. Dysfunctional , low self esteem, sad, pathetic reasons.

The big question is would I rather give up my eating disorder or gain back the weight…. I guess it depends on what minute of the day you ask.

Monkey see……..🐵🙉🙊🙈

I guess I should give you a little bit more about myself. I’m in my early 50’s and a teacher. This is really embarrassing because I’m old and work with girls who struggle too. Unless you have an eating disorder, you don’t understand the stigma associated with it. I’ve been told I’m too old, that I’m immature, that I’m a bad role model, and more. I hated lunch duty. I would fit right in with the girls at the lunch table against the window. There lunchboxes half empty. Enormous Hydro Flasks full of Crystal Light. Picking at raw vegetables and a tiny piece of cheese. Waiting to take nibbles only when teachers on duty walked by. Trying not to draw attention to themselves avoiding the awkward call home from the school nurse.  

Because I was one of them, I noticed and because I was one of them, calling them out on it was one of the hardest things for me to do but I did it. But I was their teacher who spent time getting to know them. I talked to them, respected them, spent time learning their likes and dislikes, they shared glimpses of life outside the sturdy brick walls of the school. Because of this, they would forgive me, and in some cases thanked me. I had time for them, I made time for them, except for lunchtime where you would find me in the back corner of my room, pretending to work on things that had to be done that day, eating nuts and a V-8 juice. 

When I was in PHP (food school) two years ago, I was sitting with those same girls but now I was one of them. The benefits of being a mom of teens and working with teens, it wasn’t all that hard talking to them. I knew their music, some of their lingo, which made it easy for them to accept this older women into their circle. The staff watched us carefully and were much more observant than the teachers. There were no food fights to break up, spills to clean up, we were their focus. There was reporting but reports went to the Dr. and not the school nurse, who seemed to be more invested.

Family day was the hardest day. The only family I had that knew what was going on were my children and relatives that lived far away. I had pushed everyone else away. I stayed away from family functions, graduation parties, wedding showers, and other big food events. I did what I had to do to become a lost memory.  My daughters were teenagers and only one could drive and they had to deal with me at night, that was torture enough. My ex-husband always thought I was a bit crazy and now had the proof to back him up.

But I was still required to attend the family sessions, even without a family. I was as old as most of the parents, even older. I tried to hide, blend in, become one of them but when it came around to sharing shit, my cover was blown. Each time, glad that my girls were not here with me, imagining how insanely uncomfortable they would be. It wasn’t another Freaky Friday movie, they will never be in my shoes. (I hope not, again, a parents worry)

The same parents came every week so it did become easier but when we had a new parent show up, the shame, embarrassment, the feeling of immaturity always returned as I nervously waited for my turn to share. I watched their faces. They were new, the first-timers, all concerned about there child and it showed by their awkwardness in the group. They weren’t sure about the expectations and support that they needed to give. So when they looked at me, it was obvious to see the change as their faces morphed like putty from sadness they felt for their child to the surprise then pity they felt towards me. 

I knew what they were thinking, I was a parent and a patient and a teacher as well. The staff disagreed, that I was where I needed to be but I didn’t believe them. Just another hurdle to overcome in therapy. 

I didn’t want to be like one of them, I wanted one of them to be like me.