I have been thirty-years-old for almost exactly a month (October 12th) and my body image has taken a hit; I’ve started looking more closely at my face, and my skin, which has always been a point of pride for me. Turning 30 and seeing signs of that is not what has me upset, though. I’m upset, because I got on the scale, and I found out that I weigh too little.
When I was 16, I dreamed of this weight. I just knew that I would look like a super model. I read Vogue. I knew numbers for actresses (height and weight). Well, I was finally happy with my weight, at age 29, and then I tried to help my migraine problem by getting rid of the gluten, dairy, sugar, and soy, in my diet. I accidentally lost 15 pounds. Then, I gained 5. Then, I lost 10. I’m down 20 pounds from my minimum acceptable weight (what I consider healthy) and 25 pounds from where I was most comfortable. When I stared at my face in the mirror, I wasn’t focused on wrinkles or dark circles. I don’t know if they’re there, consistently. I honestly don’t care. I stared at the hollows under my cheekbones. I feel like I can see the exact shape of my skull. I’m scared.
I’m so afraid of losing more weight that every time it’s time for me to eat, I feel pressured, and I want to avoid it. I want to have eaten, if that makes sense, without thinking about it, and I hate knowing that I will have to eat, soon. It’s 3:00 pm, and I have consumed exactly two cups of coffee, with goat milk in them, because my husband worked a Keurig machine for me. I need to go and make a sandwich (gluten-free bread wins!) and a smoothie with my green dairy-, gluten-, soy-, and sugar-free protein powder, plus flaxseed oil, which is also high in calories. I’m working myself up to it.
I gained some weight back with a lot of help from my husband, who was doing all the cooking. When it became clear that he did not have the time to do this, or rather, that we had always been in denial to think that he had the time to do this, write a dissertation, and spend time with our child, it became clear that I had to cook for myself. His work and his time with the kiddo were obviously more important than my hangups (aka major anxiety issues) about the kitchen.
I don’t have an eating disorder. Just to be clear about this: I do not want to lose weight. I have trouble with anxiety about preparing food, but when there is food in front of me, I happily eat it. But it won’t matter whether I have an eating disorder or not, if my weight drops low enough to send my body into all the same scary spirals that happen to women with anorexia who stop eating enough calories.
With impeccable timing, my son is now asking for “nana!” which is what he calls “food.” We’re off to the kitchen. Wish me luck.