I found myself standing in the cold plastic surgery center; looking into a full length mirror while a doctor measured and pinched my very pale, saggy, three years postpartum abdomen. I suddenly felt vulnerable, exposed, and insecure; incredibly aware that the eating disorder had found a small window of opportunity and taken it.
If you have been reading my blogs long, you know I start my posts out with a quotation, usually of the inspirational variety. Today, however, I started it out with my own words and my own experience. I, Lane McKelvey, went to a plastic surgery center to get a consultation about my stomach; the one part of my body where true body acceptance is often so elusive. The small eating disordered voice preyed upon that insecurity and in a moment of weakness I made a phone call and scheduled an appointment. An appointment the healthy, wise-mind, recovery-oriented part of me rescheduled twice before I actually went.
Driving to the surgery center I was nervous, a little anxious even, contemplating whether I could even maintain this blog if I went through with the suggestions from the consultation or if I would be another sellout to society. I mean, I had already rescheduled twice, wasn’t that proof enough that I wasn’t even certain I should go? Apparently not. Apparently the eating disorder had the wheel and I was heading for the surgery center regardless of the nagging, healthy voice in the back of my head.
Upon arriving at the surgery center it was pouring down rain; the heavy afternoon rain that comes with the Lowcountry summer heat. I ran inside and thought I might have been in the wrong place because the waiting room looked and felt more like a spa than a surgery center…except it was cold. Why are doctor’s offices always so cold? Glancing around I saw autographed photos from Miss USA contestants, models, and local “celebrities” thanking the good doctor for making them “perfect.” The receptionist with her very perky breasts and nonexistent wrinkles gave me a nice welcome packet; which included a pamphlet about the services offered, a pen with the doctor’s well-chiseled face on it, a drink koozie bearing the logo and name of the surgery center (in case all my friends want to get some work done), a gift certificate for a free microdermabrasion (still not sure what that is exactly) and a magazine called New Beauty. I suddenly felt like a fraud and I knew I had been duped. I mean, the magazine even had an article in it called “Striving for Perfection”. Yeah, this was not my kind of place.
Frantically I sent my husband a text telling him my insecurities about even being in such a place and contemplated walking out but it felt like it was too late, I had to go to the consultation. I also conveniently left out the part where I felt like I had been tricked by the eating disorder and tricked him as well by saying I was going in to learn more about taking care of my belly fat, “since it squishes your organs and is so unhealthy” (quotation courtesy of the eating disorder). I silently cursed myself for not catching it sooner–ED had been really sneaky this time. Somehow that sly devil found a weak spot in my defenses and preyed upon it until that spot collapsed and I was standing in an office being pinched and told how my body could use some changes to be perfect. I thought to myself, “Damnit, Allie was right. This was ED all along and I didn’t believe her. I thought I knew for sure this was just me trying to make myself a little healthier and it wasn’t all about the aesthetics. I haven’t even seen myself in a full-length mirror in months, maybe even a year, and now I’m doing it with someone else. What. The. Hell?”
“You’re an excellent tummy tuck candidate,” the doctor said, snapping me back to the reality of the situation. “Sagging, excess skin and these pockets of fat could easily be taken care of with a tummy tuck procedure.” Walking back over to the table filled with “before and after” images of women who have done everything from a tummy tuck to the latest trend of CoolSculpting to rid themselves of fat, the doctor also tells me I would be a great candidate for the hCG weight loss program. “Oh sh*t, I’m in trouble now. Is it inappropriate to cover my ears? Weight loss program?” My healthy brain swirled but the eating disordered part was all ears; “A rapid weight loss program promising no less than 20 pounds lost in 40 days? COUNT ME IN!” I finally escaped the consultation with more handouts on the suggested procedures and the hCG weight loss program. I couldn’t get to my car fast enough.
Sitting in my car in the rain I was extremely sad about what I had just done. Not only had I been tricked and gone to a consultation with a plastic surgeon–something I am usually adamantly against–but now I felt like I was the worst looking woman in the world. My body image tanked in a matter of minutes because I listened to ED without even realizing it. Doing the most responsible thing I could do, I drove to the nearest outlet mall and went shoe shopping to try to take my mind off the very tempting weight loss program offer…it didn’t work, but I did end up with some cute (and comfortable) wedges.
I got back in my car and began researching the hCG diet. I found the following:
The hCG diet consists of three stages. The hCG Diet stages are:
Loading — 2 days of eating fatty, carb-filled foods.
Burning — 26 to 43 days of a 500-calorie diet, depending on your goal.
Maintenance — 3 weeks of a starch/sugar-free diet.
Record your weight each morning, and if you have gained more than two pounds in any given day, you should skip a meal. This helps your body regulate your appetite and weight.
hCG can be administered as daily injections.
As I drove away I started contemplating what I just read. A highly restrictive diet of 500 calories a day? Skip a meal? Was I really considering spending $600 to open Pandora’s Box and potentially undo the two years of hard work I’ve done? Finally, my brain kicked in, “WHAT ARE YOU THINKING!? This is the anti-meal plan. This is the anti-Anne, anti-CBL, anti-recovery plan. You just spent two years learning you don’t have to cut out food groups and living on 500 calories is not only stupid, but deadly. DO NOT DO THIS.” As I was having an internal debate, okay less civilized, an internal battle a song I hadn’t heard in a very long time started playing on my iTunes: Courage by Superchick.
I told another lie today
And I got through this day
No one saw through my games
I know the right words to say
Like, “I don’t feel well,” “I ate before I came.”
Then someone tells me how good I look
And for a moment, for a moment I am happy
But when I’m alone, no one hears me cry
I need you to know
I’m not through the night
Somedays I’m still fighting to walk toward the light
In case you hadn’t noticed by my usual musical background to my blogs, I am a very musically oriented person. Courage is the song that is playing today. As soon as the song began playing and the lyrics hit me I started to cry. This is NOT what I want for my life. I don’t want to go back to the eating disordered life. I don’t want to tempt it by further considering this weight loss program as an option. I have no desire to go back to treatment, to monitor every bite of food I consume, or sit in group therapy trying to figure out how to cope. I don’t want to have weekly weigh-ins, therapy sessions, and the loss of trust from my family. The secrets, lies, depression, anxiety, stress, struggle, and darkness that accompany the eating disorder are not what I want. A 500 calorie diet and daily weigh-ins, even with the promise of hCG as an appetite suppressant, is too much like an eating disorder.
It is an eating disorder.
Coming “clean” about this is somewhat embarrassing. I thought I knew all the tricks in ED’s playbook…but I missed this one. This shows that I am human and recovery is anything but perfect. While the ED voice is almost nonexistent most of the time I still have to remain diligent to ensure he doesn’t get let back into my life. Today was a little too close for comfort but this is recovery. This is the very real struggle people in recovery, even solid, long-term recovery have to fight for life. In a world where doctors make money preying on the insecurities of people, we must always remain diligent and true to who we are and the people we have become in recovery.
With Body Love,