I think my nutrition appointments are more emotionally charged than my counseling appointments these days, at least in the aftermath. My nutritionist, when I first started seeing her, took a fairly laid-back approach with me. The approach that said, Well, you’re not in danger of being hospitalized yet, so we’ve got some time to take this slow.
Last week was the beginning of a new approach, a slightly more forceful one. An approach that meant action and now. An approach that said, We are working with a body that is deteriorating and being abused on a daily basis and won’t last much longer. My nutritionist, who initially told me I could simply maintain this weight, started in last week with telling me that I am, in fact, “too small.” That those last few pounds I am so desperate to lose will put me on the border of being clinically anorexic. That I would be lucky to complete last Saturday’s half marathon without dropping dead or at least injuring myself. My heart, she said, was compromised. My liver, muscles, body tissues, all unhealthy. But good luck, she said.
When I got to her office today, she asked about the race, and seemed somewhat shocked that I finished in the time I did and did so without injury.
So now that we’re done with that, we need to decide what will be a reasonable amount of exercise for you, she says.
I’m confused. Why can’t I just keep running what I’ve been running? I’m eating more now, it should be fine. Heck, I even took two days off after the half-marathon! I try to tell her that I want to run another long race this fall, that my counselor said no dice on a full marathon, but maybe another half. Maybe that would be okay. I need to keep my mileage, need to keep in training mode.
No, she says. Do you understand that your heart cannot take this? You have heard of runners just dropping dead, right? Oh, I know, “That couldn’t happen to me, K.” (I laugh a little. This is exactly what I was thinking.) That’s what they all say. I haven’t lost a client yet, Jessica. You darn well won’t be the first. No.
Fifteen miles a week is all I get. No long runs. Five runs, three miles each. If I only do two miles one day, I can’t do four the next. And if I exceed that three miles, I have to call her and tell her. So we’ll see who’s really in control, yeah? You…or the disorder.
I am still reeling from all this information, this acknowledgment of hours in my schedule that just opened up, when she drops the second bomb. And if you’re going to be running three miles a day, we need to increase your calories to reflect that. The string of obscenities I thought to myself is still running through my head.
We discuss where we’re going to add these calories. 12 almonds at breakfast. Another piece of fruit (dear God, by the end of this, I am going to hate fruit). Then bomb number three:
One ounce of cheese. Or one egg.
But I don’t eat either of those.
It’s time to add them back.
It seems a little unfair that I should have to increase calories, decrease exercise, AND incorporate forbidden food all in the same week. This is just setting me up for failure, right? Maybe, maybe not. Time will tell, I suppose.
I came home to dinner. Ate with my father while we watched Jeopardy! He eats his rice and salmon and spinach. I eat my salad and tofu and half a pita. I am, not surprisingly, still hungry. I consider starting tonight with this new calorie count. Reconsider. Reconsider again. Make lunch for tomorrow, but stop short of packing snacks. I want to cry just thinking about all the new food, the new calorie goal. I go upstairs, sit in the shower, pray and tell Jesus very genuinely that I love Him, but this sucks. Get out of the shower, cry. Decide that there’s no day like today.
I sit at the kitchen table, out of my parents’ sight. Peel an orange and cry. Wonder when that day will come that I will enjoy eating again, when it doesn’t make me feel like a failure.