When I was 15, I decided that the one thing I was going to control in my life was what I did, or did not, put in my stomach.
For three years, I withered away. It happened slowly at first but then very suddenly. Sort of the way you fall in love or asleep. One day I was a healthy-looking teenager and the next I was a 35-pounds-lighter holocaust victim.
There was this moment when I realized my mattress was hurting me. I had just finished eating my only meal of the day – a bag of microwaved healthy choice popcorn and a handful of red hots. I was lying in my bed on my back making sure I could feel all of the bones as much as I could the day before – tracing them with my finger. I say “the” bones because at this point they didn’t really feel like they were mine. They were just bones. And they were an annoyance to my ultimate weight loss goal because they couldn’t lose weight. Also, my mattress was hurting them.
I stood up and was dizzy. I looked at myself in the mirror. I took off all of my clothes and stood on the scale. I weighed 85 pounds. I am (and was) 5 feet 7 inches. You do the math. I was a bag of bones held together by what few muscles were left. I was saggy, colorless skin, I was patchy hair, I was a straight-A student who was very good at wearing loose-fitting clothes and fooling people. I was the girl who sat at the lunch table and pretended to eat. I chewed up pretzels and then spit them into my hand when no one was looking. I worried the salt had too many calories.
I was dying.
I decided to go get a bagel.
I think that bagel saved my life.