NOTEBOOK: Food Issues
My mum is gravely concerned for my health and even my safety. She visited today, in the course of bringing over some food for out dog, Freckle. Mum and I were talking about Things and Stuff, and in amongst all that she wondered, would it be so bad if I were to quit my weight-loss campaign where I am now?
Where I am now is 111.8 kilograms. When I started in December 2012 I was 165.5 kg. I’ve lost more than 54 kg, more than some people’s entire body weight. When I see photos from that period or before I feel embarrassed and even angry, disgusted with myself. All I see is my former hugeness. The space I took up. The gigantic shirts, the clown-sized pants. I remember having to go the specialist Kingsize Menswear store to buy clothes, and how I always felt humiliated. The staff were always excellent, but as soon as the measuring tape came out, as soon as they started going through the racks of immense clothes of the requested sort, it always felt like a living death.
I have long since been able to go back to shopping in regular stores. My skin hangs on me, loose and empty. My face has lost so much size that my glasses keep falling off. I have a terror of them falling into the toilet.
I certainly could wind up the project here. 54 kilograms is a great achievement, no question. I am damned proud of it–especially as that has been achieved despite the weight-gain side-effects of different psychiatric medications.
My goal has always been 100 kg, just 11 kg from here. At the current rate of descent, I could possibly get there before Christmas. In fact, I could possibly go under 100 kg before Christmas.
All of which is the stuff of astonishment and pride and discipline.
But such things can also be the stuff of obsession, and even actual illness.
In order to lose weight at the moment, against the sheer force of weight-gain from my medications, I have to eat very sparingly. Trial and error has shown that I can eat no more than about 3500-4000 kilojoules per day. More than that and weight starts to come back. The daily average kilojoule intake for a human is 8700 kilojoules. Most of my success at weight-loss is due in part to not much eating, but mostly to serious, sustained fasting. Each day I fast for upwards of 22 hours. It means I am just about always hungry. I’m hungry right now, as I write this at 8:45pm. I have a Food Window from about noon to 1 or 2pm in which I can eat, and that’s it until the next day.
You’re thinking, Good God, Adrian, eat something! Your mum is right to be worried!
Yes, she is. She is absolutely right. I’m well aware of it. I’m worried, too.
My problem is I’m not sure what to do about it.
My problem is I know I am extremely messed up inside when it comes to food and eating. I have food/eating “issues” dating back to my earliest memories. I am worried that in the course of all the struggle and sacrifice necessary for this weight-loss program over the years I’ve given myself an eating disorder. I can’t tell you how tangled up I am in my head about food and eating. Maybe I’ll write a book about it one day.
But I’ve always been a fat guy. Ever since I was a little kid. I was a fat baby. My parents have pictures of me from when I was little, and there I am, fat little bub. I’ve only come close to not being fat on one other occasion, in the late 1980s, when I walked a lot.
I don’t want to stop. Not within sight, as it were, of the goal.
But I am extremely worried that I’m sick. That I’m malnourished from all the 3500-kilojoule dieting, and not getting enough nutrition. The fatigue, exhaustion, and depression that I’m experiencing lately could very well be just “dude, eat something!”
But the thought of “eating something” fills me with worry, because it might trigger weight-gain. With everything I eat/drink I study the box to see what the “kilojoule damage” is going to be, to see “whether I can afford it”. My head is always full of kilojoule math, thinking about numbers.
My mum says I look just fine as I am.
When she leaves tonight, she makes a special point of saying, “I love you,” as you would, say, to a drug addict, someone in thrall to something dark and powerful, and to which they might lose their life. My mum is deathly worried for me. She and I have argued many times over the past few years about my weight-loss, but today was the first time I heard that tone, that worry that she was going to lose me to the dark side. It shook me up. It made me write this.
I’m going to see my GP and get a complete check-up done, full blood-picture, everything, to find out how I am doing.
Some time back my psychologist gave me a card referring me to a woman who is as much a therapist as a nutritionist, and who is familiar with people who have complex/weird food/eating issues. It might be just about time to activate that.
I’m seeing my psychiatrist tomorrow. Ostensibly to talk about Topamax, but maybe about all this other stuff. Experience tells me that in the short time I get with him I won’t have time for everything. But I can ask about eating disorders, for example. How would I know if I had one?
I truly hate being fat. I hate the way it (for me at least) always feels to me like the physical manifestation of all the misery and nastiness swirling around in my head. As if it’s all just swimming around there just under the skin. I want to deprive it of space to do that. I want to cut it off.
In December 2012 I set out to maybe lose a bit of weight. I didn’t seriously expect it would work, but when I shifted five kilos, I was stunned, and became a believer. Maybe that was my problem. I became a zealot–a fanatic! Maybe that’s why I find it so hard to let go. Maybe. I do find it hard to let go, though.
What I didn’t expect was that a diet would turn into this huge life-and-death struggle. That my mum would speak to me as if she were worried about the influence of a Master Vampire in my life. That I would come to feel anxious about the effect on the scales tomorrow of a piece of fruit eaten today. That I would come to wonder, as a 54-year-old man, whether I have an eating disorder more typically associated with extremely thin teenage girls.
There will most likely be an update to this story tomorrow!