An RD Confesses: "I Had Bulimia"
Around this time, a friend from another school came for a visit. A bunch of us took her out for dinner before a party, and, having eaten nothing all day in order to save room for beer, I inhaled my food. I was complaining about how full I felt, so my friend told me how easy it was to make yourself throw up. She took me into the bathroom at the restaurant and showed me how to trigger my gag reflex. After vomiting, I felt so much better. For once I felt in control of my body, and a lightbulb went on. I thought I had finally found a solution to my bingeing problem.
Things became worse when, soon after, I got a summer job at a fitness center, where I could work out as much as I wanted -- all day long, and after hours, too. I was logging about 50 hours of exercise a week at that point. Extreme physical activity often goes hand in hand with bulimia; studies show that starvation induces not only the urge to overeat but also the urge to move (probably in order to go get food or to stay warm, but we misinterpret it as an urge to burn off more calories). A host of other obsessive-compulsive behaviors can accompany the excessive exercise: One of mine was compiling recipes from cooking magazines. The thing is, I rarely made anything to eat; but I pored endlessly over cookbooks, reading them like romance novels to lull me to sleep.
I also obsessively logged my progress in composition books. Each page read like the one before: a roundup of calories eaten and burned, plus a pep talk to "do better tomorrow." I weighed a reasonable 135 pounds (on a five-foot-two-inch frame), but still, every few pages, I would chart how much I expected to lose that week.
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