Like every college freshman (easily located in your personal book of clichés, stereotypes, and red solo cups–i.e. Facebook), I abused my newfound freedom from the bonds of high school, parents, and designated meal nights (what, your family didn’t have Spaghetti Monday, Pizza Tuesday, Chicken Soup Wednesday…no? Okay then…). I stopped working out altogether, and replaced my afternoon run with trips to the all-you-can-eat buffet at John Jay and my evening runs with 3 am milkshakes at Tom’s or late-night tort as (and the best. chips. ever.) with my friends at our taqueria on Amsterdam. I didn’t drink, but I didn’t need to. My freshman fifteen (fine: twenty-five) came instead from chocolate sprinkles and bubble tea.
Fast forward to summer vacation. I was, by this point, wearing size 8 jeans (uncomfortably) and tipping the scales at 145 pounds. Though my old ED was no longer in my life, I held onto his memory as he morphed into the the all-to-familiar ED of my past (the ED I didn’t realize I had, until years after I learned it wasn’t normal to consume entire bread baskets full of garlic rolls by myself before the meal had arrived).
That summer, while a friend and I squished into a too-small dorm room to await the next year, I joined the campus gym. I started going every morning to “lift weights,” although I usually only spent a few minutes rapidly curling five pound weights for an absurd number of reps before retreating to the cardio equipment in embarrassment. It was around this time that I discovered the fad diet.
My very first fad diet was sponsored by Isagenix, a company that sells a two-week cleanse (and monthly maintenance subscriptions!). The cleanse was simple: two days of drinking nothing but an absolutely vile liquid four times a day, followed by two weeks of drinking their special shake for breakfast and dinner with a salad for lunch. If you get really hungry, you can pig out on half an apple or six almonds between swigs of cleanse juice. I was convinced that this would be my answer, since the massive morning cardio sessions had not shrunk an inch from my hips.
At the end of my first cleanse, I was tired, angry, and three pounds lighter. Instead of waiting a month to do the maintenance cleanse, I did the two week cleanse again. I gained five pounds. I tried again. Nothing.
By this point, I had become a terror to my roommate (who, it should be stated for the record, was probably deserving of my snapping…at least when her week old chinese food started rotting on its unrefrigerated perch near the window). I was working three different jobs, battling the summer NYC heat, and literally starving myself. I was cranky when I wasn’t sleeping, and I was barely able to sleep with my multi-job, subway-and-LIRR-commuting lifestyle. Cardio was exhausting and unsatisfying. Even almonds and apples (two of my favorite foods) had become repulsive. I became dependent on my evening Isagenix shakes to the point that finishing them was actually depressing.
After my supervisor bought us Subway chocolate chip cookies (and I ate two, which led to a massive panic attack that night), I was forced to give up. Fasting had failed, and I was too tired to be furious. I resigned myself to what would become size 10 jeans as the summer ended and my money ran out.
ED was getting lazy, like me and my metabolism.