I've been on a diet since I was 19 years old. I realize that's a pretty late start compared to some of you who have been fretting about your figures well into prepubescence. But as a fat kid, I had sort of a honeymoon period where I just ... was fat. And because I was fat, I didn't really worry about what I ate, because it's not like I was gonna get fat, right? Bliss!
But then I managed to lose 100 pounds, and since then every morsel I've put in my mouth has been accompanied by a veritable Greek chorus weighing in on its caloric totals, carbohydrates and relative "goodness" and "badness." How bad can food be, really? Did it kick a puppy? Did it kill a man in cold blood?
These days I'd kill a man to just put something in my mouth without having any goddamn feelings about it. Like, just chew, woman! And since I've been trying to get right with my body mass, I figured, why not try it? Why not, for one week, just put what I want in my mouth without any of the rules, restrictions or calculations? Could I even handle the freedom??!?
Julie didn't seem to think so. When I revealed my grand plan to her, she popped some cute little frown lines and said, "Oh no, are you sure?" By far the most health-and-nutrition conscious of all of us, her series of questions seemed better suited to a week without birth control than my renegade no-diet plan. "I'm worried!" she said. "What if you regret it?" She got downright panicky about my structureless food plan.
"It's just a week!" I yelled, freaked out by her freaking out. "What's the worst that could happen?"
Nothing, she admitted. But I got it. There is something scary about letting go of something that we, as women, are supposed to carefully regulate -- what we put into our mouths, and thusly, our body sizes. To say screw it, to give in to dietary anarchy, made me feel a little out of control, a little giddy and a lot frightened.
But come on! It's not like I was going to eat nothing but cake and ice cream for a week! (HAHAHHAHAHHAHAHAH FORESHADOWING!)
Breakfast: Large bowl of chocolate and vanilla swirl ice cream; it's YOGURT BLEND, OK?
Lunch: Mozarella and tomato panini
Afternoon snack: Red Velvet Muffin (Julie says, "I'd put that pretty firmly in the cake family, actually) and half of Olivia's leftover french fries from lunch
Afterwork snack: Another large bowl of ice cream
Dinner: 4 leftover slices of Domino's Pizza
Breakfast?: Two head-sized donuts.
Lunch?: 2 cold mozzarella sticks, chips and guacamole, 2 pigs in a blanket, another donut why???
Dinner: more chips and guacamole and salsa, french fries off my pregnant friend's plate, a virgin strawberry daquiri
The coffee cart guy said "Both?" when I ordered not one, but two giant donuts. Emboldened by my increased liberty, I resisted the urge to make up an imaginary co-worker I was planning to share with, and just said "AND?"
I wasn't that emboldened, though, because I ended up not eating them until around 3 because I was hiding them from Eric. I locked myself in Jane's office and gobbled them both down before passing out in a sugar coma.
When I woke up, I was completely stuffed but there was free food at work, and I'm only human, so I ate all that other stuff, including another donut, ugh. But it was pink frosted with sprinkles and looked like the Platonic ideal of a donut! Plus, loving donuts is an essential part of my personality, like if my boyfriend suspected me of being a clone, and then I refused a donut, he would know it was cool to go ahead and slice my head off with a samaruai sword. I might as well leave a MAC Red lipstick and a vibrator on a tray in our conference room.
At this point it was almost 6 and I have a weekly dinner with my girlfriends around 8. I was too stuffed to order a meal, but that didn't stop me from snacking on chips and salsa and other people's leftovers. I ordered the daquiri because I was craving a wine cooler. (I don't know why, and yes that woud be the world's lamest relapse.) I've never ordered a virgin drink before because I didn't see the point of ingesting all those calories without getting drunk, but it was actually really fun to kind of treat myself.
I was so full I wished I were dead after this. FREEDOM!
Lunch: 1 slice of pepperoni pizza
Snack: 1 Hostess cupcake
Dinner: 2 hard tacos and 1 soft taco
Dessert: 1 carrot cake cupcake
Breakfast: 2 Hostess cupcakes
Lunch: 1 bowl of Frozen yogurt
Snack: 1 Naked juice Orange-Mango
Snack: Another bowl of frozen yogurt
Dinner: 4 slices of pizza
A word on these Hostess cupcakes: I don't even like them. I mean, obviously I love them, but I would never purchase them for myself. My boyfriend buys them, and then I proceed to eat the whole box just becuse they're there. It's like that weird little dude from the box is in my head going "C'mon Emily...you know you want to eat me. And then KILL A BABY!" Seriously, look at him. What a creep.
Breakfast: 2 Hostess cupcakes
Lunch: Grilled cheese sandwich, Cane soda
Snack: 1 small whoopie pie, 1 donut hole
Dinner: 3 hard tacos
Guess what? I'm officially sick. I'm not going to say I made myself sick with my poor diet ala "Super Size Me," but this experiment is on the level of that award-winning documentary, so who knows? I will venture to guess that I didn't give my body much in the way of vitamins and nutrients (whatever those are?) to stave off the impending infection. I also didn't give it much in the way of rest, working from home for half the day and then conducting an interview over grilled cheeses before heading into the office to spread my contaminants.
Breakfast: Naked juice Acai Machine
Snack: Fresh-squeezed orange juice, Carrot Cake
Lunch: chicken noodle soup, chicken and avocado salad
Snack: 2 bowls of Neopolitan Ice Cream -- chocolate to strawberry ratio POOR
Dinner: Steak sandwich
Today I'm too sick to even lift my head, which is the only thing that would get me to ingest soup and a salad during Freedom Week. Don't worry, I have a side of carrot cake. I haven't gone a day without cake since I started eating whatever I wanted.
I wasn't always like this. I was once one of those people who couldn't care less about dessert and was instead bewitched by French fries and other starchy, salty carbs. Then I quit drinking. Apparently there's a lot of sugar in alchohol.
I only had that steak sandwich because my boyfriend always insists on making me a dinner whether I want one or not. Just assume, by the way, that I was mainlining sugar-free popsicles at 15 calories each every day. I have an issue.
Just for funsies, I decided to type a few of my menus into a nutrition tracking website to see just how insane my caloric intake was. The results:
Day 1: Calories: 3,317 Fat: 148.9 grams Carbs: 415.4 grams Protein: 92.1 grams
Day 5: Calories: 3,087 Fat: 128.8 grams Carbs: 407.8 grams Protein:85.7 grams
As you can probably tell from those numbers, I got kind of fat throughout the course of this experiment. But so did my tits, so there's that. Seriously, look at them bitches! One more Hostess Cupcake and they might pop!
The weight gain made me feel bad, but more than that, I just felt physically bad eating all that junk. I found myself craving sugar the moment I woke up in the morning. I was sometimes full to the point of being uncomfortable. I got sick. There was a small moment after I ate the salad when I was like, "What is this wondrous feeling? Oh, health."
I told my boyfriend, "I don't think my experiment with eating whatever I want is working out."
"Why not?" he asked me.
Because I'm eating nothing but tons of horrible food. I can't be trusted."
After a long sigh, he responded. "Well, it's delicious. You're on the path of delicious, you're not gonna stop. A little bit of delicious isn't enough."
Sometimes my boyfriend is like a wise old Morgan Freeman character in a movie.
The thing is, all the books I've read about ending overeating talk about beginning just this way -- by letting go of all your rules about food and just eating whatever you want. The idea is that once you realize that you can have all these foods whenever you want them, you will stop binging and learn to eat in moderation. The thing is, I've never managed to do anything in moderation. I couldn't manage my drinking or drug use, but I could quit them all together. My attempts at "managing" my eating just result in a constant cycle of binging and restricting, but not managing it at all just resulted in even more binging.
It's possible that if I kept it up long enough, I would eventually even out into a more healthful way of eating, driven by pervasive feelings of grossness to branch out into fruits and vegetables. (That said, I had 2 slices of pizza and like 5 cookies already today, day 8, so it might take awhile.)
So as much as I wanted to say my life got better when I stopped caring what I put in my mouth, my issues with food might be a bit deeper than that. Maybe I'm the kind of person who needs rules, or maybe I just have some shit to work out before I can take off the training wheels.
Either way, the whole crazy week reminded me of one of those hot, boundaryless one-night stands that turns into a 3-day date in which you have tons of sex with no condom and give each other keys to your apartments. It's just too intense to be sustained.
But it's fun while it lasts. Especially if you eat a bunch of cake along the way.
@msemilymccombs is giving out boob shots on Twitter.