Thursday, June 21, 2012

Weight Loss Fads Are Evil

I’m starting to think my roommate is in the thralls of mia. 

She and I have been friends since middle school and my little Na has always been slender.  Not skinny, but small and compact.  When we were eighteen, we moved out together and lived in a crummy little apartment.  It was as far from home as we could get while still remaining in the same town.  A year later we packed all our worldly possessions into my red beater car and drove 3,000 miles to a new life.

Over the next few years we wandered away from one another.  Both of us keeping small pieces of our heart reserved for the other, but living with a whole state between us meant communication was tough.  Still, I was the first person she called after losing her virginity.  Na was the first to hear about my elopement.  We were best friends, even when school and work and life kept us apart for months at a time.

I eventually returned home.  Bought a house.  Burrowed into married life.  Years passed, our friendship on cruise-control, until one day I got a call.  My little Na was broken.  She left her long-term boyfriend.  School was overwhelming.  Debt was creeping in.  Her local friends were two-faced.  She was being evicted.  I told her to come home.  I cleared out the guest room.  I welcomed her with open arms and warm thoughts.  That was two years ago and I’m still hoping my little Na never leaves.  I couldn’t ask for a more perfect roommate. 

Lately, however, I’ve noticed that her eating habits have changed.

Like me, she has never had the best relationship with food.  In high school she lived on Pepsi, sometimes drinking six liters a day.  How she still has teeth and a stomach lining is one of life’s great mysteries.  She evolved from Pepsi to junk food, going months eating nothing but processed crap like corn dogs and frozen pizza.  When we moved across the country, she got a reality check when her metabolism slowed but her unhealthy eating patterns did not.  Na got fat.  Not horribly so, but she morphed into a chunky monkey, belly muffin topping over pants and extra chins sprouting out like daisies.  Being the vain little critter that she is, one comment from her mom about weight sent her over the edge.  She overhauled her eating habits and started walking everywhere.  Within a couple of months she was back down to a respectable size four.

What Na didn’t confess until later is that she didn’t just overhaul her eating, she stopped eating.  Thank goodness that only lasted until she lost the weight.  Sadly, as we all know too well, once you head down the dark path of restricting it’s easy to fall back into old, or sometimes new, dysfunctional habits.

When she moved in I was thrilled with Na’s new relationship with food.  I finally had someone to help me stock the house with produce.  Someone to try out crazy new “healthy” recipes, chock full of bright yellows, oranges, reds and greens.  Then I noticed the cheap frozen pizzas in the freezer.  They would appear ten at a time, dwindling slowly over the course of a week.  Then Banquet meals.  Then those awful, pre-made frozen cheeseburgers.  But Na was still eating mostly well, and her weight was stable, so I couldn’t begrudge her the not-really-food invading my house.  She was healthy.  I was happy.

Then the idiotic P90X fad hit.  Na became OBSESSED.  She completed at least one of the exercise videos a day, sometimes two or three.  I admit after 60 days she looked fantastic.  She dropped from 120ish to 102ish and was nothing but lithe muscle.  That wasn’t the problem.  The problem was burnout.  She stopped the program, (like you do, because really, no one can keep up that type of exercise regimen for long) and went from energizer bunny to sloth overnight. 

While following the P90X program, she was stuffing her face at every opportunity -- muscles require a LOT of calories.  Unfortunately, she continued stuffing her face after the exercise stopped.  Na gained back every pound and then some (like you do on fad weight-loss programs).  I thought she still looked great.  Na did not agree.  She fell into depressed mode, rarely leaving her bedroom except for work. 

That was about six months ago.  Lately I’ve noticed that Na has been eating HUGE quantities of junk food (cookies, personal pizzas, soda, chips, cheez-its, etc.) and has not gained an ounce.  In fact, it looks like she’s lost a few pounds.  I know she’s not back on P90X because the PS3, where the videos are stored, has been unhooked for ages.  And then last week all five of the GIANT Tupperware containers I own -- super cheap and they fit 24 cupcakes, exactly the right size for gifts, potlucks or special events -- disappeared.  They would be perfect to purge into, something I thought about as I loaded them into my shopping cart.  (Side note: thoughts like that run through my head constantly.)

I’m trying not to jump to conclusions.  I know that having an ED makes you sometimes hear zebras where there are only horses.  Still, the signs seem too obvious to ignore.  But how do you talk to someone you love about a potential ED?  Do you just ignore the elephant in the room?  I do not want to force her into recovery if she has an ED, but I do not want to encourage the behavior either.  I just want her to know that she is not alone.

I feel like the worst kind of hypocrite.


  1. That's a tough one. Does she know about your struggles? Perhaps opening up to her would encourage her to talk to you about it... although sadly you can't help someone that doesn't want it. Just be there for her, try to lead by example (yeah I know that's the hard bit) and if she wants to talk she will.
    If it gets to the point where you have hard evidence I might confront her but for now, just be there for her? Well that's what I would do anyway, good luck! I really hope you're wrong xxx

    1. Honestly, I'm terrified of telling anyone here about my ED. I haven't even told my NP. Everyone comes to me with questions about nutrition and good exercise habits, since they know it's a passion of mine. I feel like I'd let them down if they knew what horror I put my body through.

      I'm still not convinced there's something going on with my roommate. But I think you're right, it's not right to confront her unless I have hard evidence.

  2. maybe you should confront her but with an open mind say
    im worried about u recently you know u can tell me anything...
    let her open up to you
    things like this need a soft approach bein abrupt and idk straightforward may push her away dont give away your struggles as this may worry her but only if she admits to u that way you can support each other
    i hope things get better for her
    and you missy keep strong
    much love

    1. Very good advice! I think I'll try that next time we get a chance to talk. (She works nights, so I only see her about once a week max.)

  3. No.. you are not a hypocrite at all, you are a lovely person who is concerned for a dear friend. Confrontation is always difficult with these types of things - I have had every sort of confrontation from people, the first few times I blew up into a rage - I was firmly indenial. I hardly knew what an eating disorder was yet I was being accused of having one. It could be a confusing time for Na, sometimes we cant see we ourselves have a problem.. I certainly didnt, but by the time I realised it (only a few years ago) it was 10 years too late.
    I would approach with caution, be open but at the same time I would be careful not to freak her out as it could make her feel alienated..

    I know you will do the right thing <3 Much love x


Thank you for the comment! Your input is always appreciated :)