The Art of Drowning

Billy Collins is one of my favorite poets. When I was last in Portland strolling through Powell’s (the ACTUAL happiest place on Earth) I came across my favorite anthology of his: The Art of Drowning. I immediately purchased a used copy with a stranger’s lovely, bittersweet note on the inside cover. The title poem isn’t my favorite of the bunch (that honor belongs to On Turning Ten) but the opening stanza echoed in my mind as I swam laps this morning:

I wonder how it all got started, this business
about seeing your life flash before your eyes
while you drown, as if panic, or the act of submergence,
could startle time into such compression, crushing
decades in the vice of your desperate, final seconds.

If you didn’t catch it, I’m being EXTREMELY melodramatic. I finally got into the pool with a swimsuit that allowed me to do laps, and… it was less than awesome. Apparently I can’t breath while swimming laps. It’s like as soon as I find the rhythm of exhaling in the water and turning my head at the right time to inhale again I lose it. So I become out of breath, oxygen can’t get to my muscles, they become fatigued and I want to DIE.

Sam Bangs finished her first triathlon in 12 minutes… when she drowned.

Melodrama again. I painted it thicker this time for anyone who missed it in the beginning.


In all seriousness… I’m sure I’ll be fine. I still did my 500 meters. It took me 25 minutes because I had to catch my breath after every 50 meters or so… but I figure if I commit to being in the pool three days a week, I’ll crank it out. That and survival instinct. (Newbie advice appreciated!)

My diet is still going quite well, surprisingly. Some days I struggle to eat all the calories I’m supposed to and other days I’m ravenous, so overall, I think my metabolism might be evening out and finally functioning again. I should probably stop reading so many conflicting information in terms of BMR and TDEE and whatever new acronym they’ve come up with to help you count calories. Back when I was a calorie Nazi I would limit myself to 1200 calories a day and workout as much as possible to be able to eat more and still be at 1200 and blah blah blah. It made me a crazy person. So I’ve been eating 1500 everyday without trying to factor in exercise and for the most part it’s working. I haven’t had super bad cravings (other than for In N Out on Sunday) and my sweet tooth is kept in check with a nightly Quest Bar or watermelon if I feel like I need it. (Thanks for the tip Melissa!)

I still don’t weight myself because I’d probably be depressed for days if I saw THAT number, but I feel like I’m starting to physically maybe see a difference? My newest concern is that I’m still not eating ENOUGH for how much I’m working out (I work out nearly every day for at least 60 minutes) but it would TERRIFY me to put a higher calorie goal into MFP. After reading into the TDEE thing, it seems like my minimum should be more around 1700/1800, even for weight loss. Anyone buy into this or is it a bunch of garbage?

So for now the plan is to flail about in the water, ride my bike, run, and eat some food. Hopefully I’ll look good in a bikini for the shoot next weekend. We can only hope.

Until then, I’m going to read more Billy Collins to ruminate about my life’s impending quarter century anniversary (seriously, read On Turning Ten) and watch a bunch of swimming technique videos on YouTube. Later dudes.


Train and Recover

So… I did it. I registered for the Hansen Dam Sprint Triathlon on August 17th. It definitely changed my workout plan for the next 5 weeks, and fitting everything in between shooting the web series I was cast in and our trip to PA/NYC will be a little tricky, but I’m committed.

I went to the pool on Thursday after work to see where my swimming endurance is at. I psyched myself up, politely asked a clearly focused young man if he would mind sharing a lane with me, kicked off from the wall… and my swim top completely came down. Laps were out of the question. Instead I did some technique work with the kick board, alternating between just using my legs making sure to force my hips down, and arm strokes. After 20 minutes of this, I hopped on a bike and did one of the pre-programmed random hill workouts. I’ve never sweat so much while biking; it was DRIPPING off of me. I was pretty happy with the results of the ride. I averaged 3:20min/mi so I’m hoping to keep the bike portion under 40 minutes during the race. I went for a very hot and sweaty run after my client on Saturday morning, but I don’t think I was properly hydrated before hand and I hit a wall at 2 miles. The first two miles were at 8:15 and 8:34, so it sucked real hard to have that last mile be 9:30, but oh well; I have time.

After my run, I met up with a new friend for brunch at the very trendy Sqirl in Silverlake. The food was INSANE; we shared toast and jam which sounds lame, but they started out by just selling jam and the reason for their success was SUPER apparent in their strawberry thyme jam and incredible flaky, fresh brioche toast. I also had the sorrel pesto rice bowl which was topped with a poached egg and prosciutto… um, YUM.

And then my weekend went kind of downhill…

I was hesitant to write this post, and yet I feel the need to get it out of my system.

I’ve struggled with a number of eating disorders for most of my adult life, and even a little before then. Thanks to the support of my incredible boyfriend and the outlet of this blog, I’m ten months into my ED recovery. I openly share this information. But that vague acknowledgement is about how deep I get into it, especially during an actual conversation that’s not with a shrink or my boyfriend.

And maybe that’s my first mistake; thinking people will take in this information and not make too many assumptions or judgements about what something like that actually means. Just because I no longer force myself to throw up after eating doesn’t mean I don’t deal with the psychological aspects of an ED everyday. Even though I now exercise a healthy amount doesn’t mean I don’t obsess over each inch of my body. The ability to eat multiple meals in a day, including desserts didn’t come with some magic wand to erase the guilt that sometimes creeps in to my food choices.

Like many addictions, recovery doesn’t mean fully recovered. Especially in a society when we are so aware of our bodies and the bodies around us, and ESPECIALLY for me in an industry where the majority of your success is based on what you look like.

I got away with having an ED for a long time without anyone noticing. Because it never made me skinny. Yes, I was the chubby girl with an ED, who when I finally confided in my then-boyfriend about it, he asked if I was “just making an excuse for all the bad food choices I’d been making.” No one was ever worried I was sick, or told me I looked too thin, or joked that I should eat a cheeseburger. I wanted them to; I dreamed of the day someone might ask me if I was okay because I was looking skinnier than usual.

Instead, I beat myself up in silence. Not only was I not good enough because of how I looked, I wasn’t good enough because I couldn’t even have an eating disorder properly. So I started to convince myself I didn’t actually have a problem. Only skinny girls have EDs and I wasn’t one of them.

It took a long time for me to accept that even though my ED wasn’t affecting me outwardly like I hoped it would, it was clearly messing me up inside, and I’m still suffering from some of the effects. I’m pretty convinced my poor digestive issues have years of not eating, and over eating, and self-inducing vomiting to blame. My gums have receded. My skin is terrible. You could never see my ribs, but you could see the dark circles under my eyes.

I’m still chubby. I’m strong, but I’m chubby. I still struggle with my relationship with food. I still have negative self-talk and hate my body. I still assume people will judge me for “not being good at having an ED” because I never lost enough weight doing it to cause alarm.

When people who don’t know me make a flippant comment about eating disorders, I say nothing. How could they possibly know who EDs affect, and how they deal with them not only physically, but emotionally? They don’t, and I would never hold that against them.

But when people who DO know, people in whom I’ve confided this part of my history of self, try to tell me how I should emotionally react to situations… it’s deeply hurtful.

I’ve come a long way since my first stint with anorexia when I was 15. Hell, I’ve come a long way in the past 10 months. Still, I’m not as strong emotionally as I am physically, and I think that sometimes people confuse the two. I’ve come a long way… but I’ve still got a long way to go.


July Clean-Up

I’ve been working out pretty hard for the past month. Like, at least 60 minutes of a solid workout everyday pretty hard.

And yet, I feel like I have nothing to show for it. Mostly because…




Like, a lot. In mass quantity. And wine; that’s also a problem.

So now that the 4th of July festivities are over, it’s time to take a breath and clean up my eating a bit. Interestingly enough, another LA blogger wrote a post about how “clean eating” can get out of control and become an eating disorder called orthorexia. Don’t worry; the last thing I need is another eating disorder. I’m doing this the right way.

I’ve been using MyFitnessPal during the week, but I tend to get reckless over the weekend… especially with sugar and alcohol. On the flip side, I get a little neurotic during the week and sometimes eat too little during the day to try and save calories for dinnertime “just in case.” Just in case usually ends up being… SUGAR AND ALCOHOL which keeps that fat in place around my middle and is probably contributing to my poor sleep patterns.

SO… I’ve been looking at a number of different eating plans and I’ve settled on a mix of the Zone diet ratios (40/30/30) and something akin to what a figure competitor would eat. It requires me to eat more often, which is going to take some getting used to, and requires WAY more protein. I’m also going to try to eat more “real food” and rely less on protein shakes and Quest Bars to cut down on sugar cravings; unless I’m on my way to the gym, or right after a workout (if it’s not meal time yet).

An example day (today actually):

Breakfast – black coffee, steel cut oats with blueberries and egg whites.
Snack – nonfat greek yogurt
Lunch – Trader Joe’s chicken patty, zucchini and quinoa
Pre/Post Workout (depends on how hungry I am before) – Quest Bar
Dinner – Quest miracle noodles, chicken breast and homemade pad thai sauce with a mixed greens, bell pepper & cucumber salad

It’s a lot of food, but surprisingly only around 1250 calories. Since I plan to workout for at least an hour, I’ll probably add in another snack after dinner, preferably not comprised of ice cream or whiskey. I’ve banned myself from drinking wine for the remainder of the month. If I’m at home and we open the bottle, I feel the need to finish it, while I can have one whiskey on the rocks and call it a night. I’m weird like that.

I’m hoping that making these tweaks will battle the bloat and give me a little more definition, or at least help me lean out a bit.

Any tips and tricks appreciated!