It’s All Mental (Except When It Isn’t)

I’m 30. People said my metabolism would slow down the closer I got to this milestone. But it’s not just being 30. There’s something else I have to contest with – something called Type 1 diabetes.

I don’t have the energy I had when I was 22 or 25 or even 27. Something has changed in the past year. I’m exhausted all the time. I’m lucky when I can work out more than three times a week. Hell, I’m lucky when I can manage to do weights after a 10-hour work day.

Any kind of physical activity is a struggle. I want to be in shape. I don’t want to be overweight when I age, but over the last year, I’ve gained 10 pounds. It doesn’t seem like much, but it’s hard for someone who used to have to body image issues to tell herself it’s okay I’m a little heavier. Continue reading

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Today I Bought a Scale

I recently bought a scale… to measure my weight… over time.

My former negative body image-self is terrified.

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But every time I come to grips with my single status again, I need something to focus on whether that be my writing, my work, or my fitness. Four months ago I started building muscle. I didn’t have much of a strategy. I just started lifting weights and varying my exercise routines.

And then I did gain muscle. I could feel definition in my biceps and abs. I could do things in yoga I’d never been able to do before, and I ran my fastest mile… ever. So I thought if I just put a little more thought and energy into it, I could actually be fit. Okay fitter.

But in order to do that I would need to start watching what I ate. I would need to start monitoring my fat and protein intake. I would need to start counting calories and checking my weight. I struggle with counting calories. I already have to watch my carb and sugar intake for my diabetes. I monitor my blood sugar constantly. Did I really want to add more to my daily math excursions?

Five Weeks

So I’m giving myself 5 weeks (only because after 5 weeks I’m taking my first week-long vacation in five years). See what I can accomplish with a strict regimen. I am a perfectionist after all. But that’s the catch. I have body image issues. I used to struggle with different types of eating disorders. I haven’t had a scale in my home in more than 10 years. The counting, the weighing – it encourages my obsession with an unrealistic body image.

Or at least it did. But it’s been 11 years since I’ve been that close to a scale. And I’m not doing this to lose weight. I’m doing this for my diabetes. I’m doing this for my physical being. I’m doing this for my health. I’m doing this for my mental and emotional well-being. I’m doing this for me not because I think I have to but because I want to. Continue reading

All The Pretty Girls

It’s hard to feel pretty when I feel like my mouth is the size of a cantaloupe, and I can only chew my dinner on the left side of my jaw. Today I had three cavities filled. I’ve never had a cavity in my life (damn those childhood sealants, which apparently become traps for bacteria as an adult).

I should really stop going to the doctor. This year is the year of medical expenses. Every time I go, even for what I think is going to be a yearly check-up, they find something wrong with me. A part of me wonders if this is some kind of conspiracy, but when my dentist showed me the actual images of my cavity-filled teeth, I knew he wasn’t lying.

The procedure wasn’t as bad as I thought. The numbing shots didn’t hurt, and there weren’t any bad smells, but when I left the office, I was oddly self-conscious of my numb face, and the fact that if the side of my face started to droop, I probably wouldn’t notice. So I spent the 20-minute walk home trying to keep my lips shut and avoid any kind of conversation with passersby.

But how is this different from any other day? I have a 10-minute commute to and from work every day. I’m lucky in that DC sense. And every time I make that trek, I am oddly self-conscious. Are my headphones too loud? Can anyone see my underwear line? Can anyone see my lacy bra peeking out beneath my sleeveless top? Is that bulge beneath my pencil skirt obvious? Are there sweat stains beneath my bra line?

Yet even amongst all these questions, I’m oddly confident. I make that walk like I own the sidewalk, and I never look back. I’m aware of my figure, and how good I look in my pencil skirt. But do I ever notice anyone checking me out? No. Do I ever see people look at me? Yep. And I automatically think there must be something wrong with my wardrobe or my headphones aren’t plugged into my phone and everyone can hear my music. Continue reading

Diabulimia: A Personal Struggle With Body Image and Diabetes

Strawberry-Cream-PieAccording to the American Diabetes Association, diabetic women are nearly three times more likely to develop an eating disorder than non-diabetic women.

Diabulimia is one of the more prevalent eating disorders among Type 1 diabetic women, that is reducing the amount of insulin one takes to lose weight. Scary, right? It certainly is.

Because not only do eating disorders lead to their own series of problems (slow heart rate, low blood pressure, brittle bones, hair loss, severe dehydration, etc.), but when a Type 1 diabetic does not take the insulin he or she needs, this just adds to the complications which may lead to diabetic ketoacidosis, stroke, and even death.

Unfortunately, I was one of those Type 1 women, and still am, to a certain extent because I believe one never completely finishes the battle with body image. But my story started before I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2009. It started at 13 when I noticed I no longer fit into my clothes and asked the one irrevocable question: Am I fat? Continue reading

Food Junkie

For the first time in 16 years, binging hasn’t been an issue. In my book Sugarcoated, I refer to myself as a “food junkie.” I love late night snacks such as peanut butter ice cream, sweet potato cinnamon crackers, pumpkin flax seed granola, etc.

Ever since college, I’ve conditioned myself to eat less during the day so I can binge for dinner or later. I grew up with the rule “if you finish dinner, you can have dessert.” I’ve never been able to break this. Even when binging got out of control to the point where I stuffed myself until I felt pain, I would throw it all up, refuse to take insulin, or starve myself the next day so I wouldn’t gain weight (for more insight, check out “Half Empty” in Sugarcoated).

I no longer practice these nasty habits, but I still can’t help overeating at night, whether it is summer or winter … until now. So what has changed? Suddenly, I’m not interested in food? I forget to eat lunch or can’t even finish my dinner much less make it to dessert. Usually when I stop eating, it’s because I’m depressed.

But I recently started a new job, which I love, and moved in with my boyfriend of three years (we were doing long distance before then). I have my own place, financial security (minus thousands in student loan debt), and maintain a healthy lifestyle (although I wish I exercised more but with a 1.5 to 2.5 hour commute each way, it’s a challenge).

Could it be I stopped binging because I’m happy? Researchers from the University of Central Florida (2003) found a positive relationship between happiness and these aspects of body esteem: sexual attractiveness, weight concern, and physical condition.

Furthermore, eating disorders such as binging are more common among women with diabetes than women without diabetes. For those with Type 1 (like me), this is referred to as “diabulimia.” I admit even before I was diagnosed with diabetes at 22, I had issues with body image and eating disorders. Diabetes just added an extra element including increased health risks (Joslin Diabetes Center) such as: Continue reading