I was eighteen when I started to obsess over my weight. I could pinpoint the exact day, the exact time—August 30, 2005 at 4:04 p.m., or so my watch said. I was in the fitting room at Wal-Mart and, somehow, the usual size seven jeans were just not closing. My local Wal-Mart ran a bit oversized, and those damn jeans still were not fitting. I tried on another pair—no dice. I was newly eighteen and I absolutely refused to don size nine jeans. That was two sizes away from having to venture into the plus section! As a teenager, having to wear plus size was akin to being forced by gunpoint to wear a muumuu. In the horrible florescent lighting of the Wal-Mart fitting room, I realized just what I had to do—crash diet.
One way or another, I was going to get back into a size seven.
That was how it all began.
On August 30, 2005, I was in the midst of losing my hearing after suffering through a bout of meningitis, which resulted from a previous surgical scar that became infected. Already depressed because of this, and downright terrified, I became even more so at the thought that I was getting—gasp—fat. To me, at the time, I honestly did not know which was worse—losing my hearing, or losing my figure. And I knew why this was happening. I was in the hospital for two weeks. In between being poked, prodded and tested on, and crammed into various imaging machines (MRIs, CT scans, EKGs, etc.) while the doctors attempted to figure out just what the hell was wrong with me, I grew very bored. All I had at my disposal in terms of entertainment were cheesy romance novels with Fabio on the cover and bad summer TV (this was in the age before anything other than reruns in the summer was largely in vogue). There was simply not much to do, so I ate. I ate when I wasn’t even hungry, just to have something to do with my time other than lay in that hospital bed like a bump on a log. And my parents, bless them, were definitely not going to deny their sick child sustenance when she asked for it.
I gained over ten pounds that week. As a high school senior, I’d been balancing on that line between “delightfully curvy” and “chubby”. I was a small person, barely over five feet, so when I gained weight, it was quite obvious. While I still did not lack of suitors, I was self-conscious about my figure and often times attempted to wear the tightest, shortest clothing imaginable to detract (in my teenage deluded mind) from the fact that I wasn’t a size zero. Of course, all it ended up doing was emphasizing the fact that I wasn’t a size zero.
Once I graduated and fell ill, I crossed that “delightfully curvy/chubby” line. I had become the girl whose weight was cumbersome enough so as to physically feel it—you know, where you need to actually move your stomach to button your pants, where walking up the stairs is a workout, where even moving your body just a few inches causes everything to jiggle in a not totally pleasant way. But it wasn’t until that day in the Wal-Mart fitting room that the proverbial bucket of ice water was dumped atop my head.
I was fat, and I needed to lose weight.
Afterwards, when I got home, I immediately raced to the kitchen and mapped out my crash diet. I’d restrict my meal plan to three specific items—yogurt for breakfast, a bowl of low-fat cereal for lunch, and a Lean Cuisine for dinner. All in all, I would not consume more than 1,000 calories a day. Then, once I was back to my original size, I’d eat less junk food in order to maintain my size seven figure.
On that crash diet, I lost ten pounds in two weeks. Everything seemed to be working so great, I figured, Why should I stop at a size seven? I was never happy as a size seven, anyway. So I continued my illicit crash diet, and pretty soon, I was a size five. This did not satisfy me, so I kept not eating sufficiently until I had gotten down to a three, then a one, then eventually, a zero.
I had never been so thin! I was so happy! I was so miserable.