How Eating 500 Calories a Day Saved My Life: Part One

Excerpt from journal:

September 25th, 2011-

Last night Chris and I ordered sushi and brought it back to my house. I SO badly miss my Orange Crush Roll, but I can't eat the rice...or anything, really. I ordered the Sashimi Salad with dressing on the side and when we got the food back to my house, I found they had put the dressing ON the salad. "I CAN'T EAT THIS!" I screamed. Chris tried to tell me that the dressing was okay, to which I shouted, "DO YOU WANT ME TO GAIN ALL THIS WEIGHT BACK???" In a way, I wish Chris had said, "yes". But he just stood there, silent. As usual. I could feel the tears coming and out they poured onto the kitchen floor. Is this it for me? Am I going to cry over dressing on a salad for the rest of my life? I ate the salad, but felt guilty. It was too late to go to the gym so I made Chris have sex with me...hoping to burn off the calories in the dressing. But who was I kidding? I'm never able to get my heart rate high enough to do that...I've tried. I don't know what to do. I've kept this weight off for almost three months. I cannot gain that weight back. I won't. I won't...

In April of 2011, I decided I would go on just ONE more diet. But it couldn't be like any of the diets I'd already tried since the age of twelve; it needed to be the next best thing to gastric bypass surgery. And I found it. (I've chosen not to disclose the name of this regimen, for ethical reasons, but as I describe it, you're more than welcome to look it up. No shame. Okay?)

The entire diet was 101 days long and the protocol went like this: Days 1&2 I was to eat EVERYTHING. These were called "Loading" days. I ate and ate and ate and ate...bagels, lox, cream cheese, avocados, peanut butter, SUSHI, and I think even a Big Mac. Anyway, I was sick by the end of those two days. Days 3-40 were known as VLCD; Very Low Calorie Diet, where I ate *exactly* 500 calories a day and drank over a gallon of water. I was required to weigh myself every morning and weigh my food at each meal. I was restricted to a list of about fifteen "acceptable" foods and I was not allowed to exercise, though I had a lot of sex with my then boyfriend, not because I enjoyed it, but because it distracted me from food.

At the end of the 40 days, I would go on "Maintenance", which meant I could go back to eating "normally", but had to follow 3 rules: NO sugar, NO starch, NO second helpings. But by the time I was allowed to eat normally (meaning 1200 calories/day), I couldn't. I was afraid to break 900 calories. It's almost common knowledge that it doesn't matter what diet you go on, everyone gains the weight back (plus more) when the diet is over. I wanted to prove them wrong. So I made it my mission to stay ahead of my own weight loss curve and think about nothing else than to keep the weight off...but started to come back.

Watching myself gain weight at such a rapid rate was devastating, but INCREDIBLY fascinating. It was like a magic trick, an optical illusion I wished I was seeing on someone else's body. I think I've hit rock bottom, I remember saying to myself, as I lay crying on my bed one afternoon, struggling to pull my "size 2" jeans up over my thighs. I need help. So, like any good twenty-something Jewish gal would do...I found a therapist and made an appointment.

cool story, erica! What's your point?

It's a proven fact, in my opinion, that the first thing you lose when you go on a diet is brain matter. I've tried twenty-seven diets in the almost twenty-nine years I've been alive, so you can imagine the marbles I'm missing...probably.

I am NOT suggesting that one tries this diet in favor of having a revelation. PLEASE don't misunderstand me. I've built my entire life and career around never dieting again. But I am saying over these last few years in my personal and professional life, I now see that I needed to try that absurd and dangerous diet. I needed to hit bottom. Ultimately, I needed to starve myself, in order to discover what I was truly hungry for. This can be said about any eating disorder, a sex/drug/rock & roll addiction, issues with infidelity, whatever. Everything has an end date. Everything has a beginning and an end, a high and a low, a top and a bottom. It's up to us to thank those choices for being the (sometimes) gift they were intended to be, so you could become the incredible human being you always knew you are...with or without dressing on the side.


Have you experienced a "bottom"? What was it?