From Dead Bug to Warrior Pose: Moving on Up-

Today I performed yoga - all of five minutes - in front of my parents. My mother performs yoga almost daily - 30 minutes combined with some recently added in fire hydrants, leg raises for working glutes, abdominal crunches that I still do not believe are performed as they should be, plié squats, and lunge squats. During this time, I leave her be, not bearing to witness her workout as I am forbidden from participating myself. Well, that and squats literally kill my already dying body.

Today I performed true yoga - the yoga that prospective instructors have to undergo hundred of hours of trainings for. I’m talking the type that doesn’t refer to poses or salutations but instead refers to “aasanaas,” meditates on breathing, speaks of intentions, and is based on mantras. The mind-body connection instead of the exercise is the focus of true yoga. It’s the type of movement that while profound, I never had equated with anything, preferring intense cardio and heavy lifting for physically evident results: the loosening of pants and shrinking waist.

Today was the low-key National Eating Disorders Awareness Walk. Today is a week from the first time I felt like my heart rate had dropped so dangerously low, my bowels so obstructed, my stomach on fire, my head about to burst, that I was close to death. My ears became popped. Sounds were muted. I think I lost hearing in my left ear- as if blood had ceased to circulate there. My vision was clouding over. I was blacking out after yelling over my parents who were mandating me to eat one of my childhood favorites: cinnamon-scented Puerto Rican Farina- a fortified and enriched cream of wheat mixed with boiled milk, a pat of margarine, and a spoon of crystallized brown sugar. I feared the refined sugar crystals, the non grass-fed and lactose-free equivalent or ghee, the carbs of the gluten, and the whole-fat dairy. They refused to let me go into the kitchen to see how the food was to be prepared. Minutes passed. An hour passed. My mom said she wouldn’t make the Farina nor eat herself and ran upstairs. My father would go without eating. And then after one last yell and cry, my body shut down. I was unbalanced, stopped in my tracks and called out, “take me to the hospital- now.”

I never said that. I never laid down or rested my body during the day like I had that day. I laid down in front of the fireplace, frozen and in pain. I was immobile and I asked my father to go upstairs and fetch a blanket to put over me. Usually I would match others’ steps by following them upstairs for no particular reason other than to ensure my peace of mind- that I had burned as many calories as they had. My parents knew something was wrong and on that day- they kept a watchful eye over me. Not so secretly they were giving me kisses and checking in on me, their ear to my mouth and chest, the back of their palm on my forehead. My mom made a plan. I would eat this much at breakfast, that much at lunch, and have dinner with her. She checked my bowls, opened up my napkins, and dug into the garbage.

She went grocery shopping with me and mandated rice, protein bars, and pasta. She made me purchase salmon like I used to. She was trying to make sure I didn’t drop off the face of the earth. She knew I lied. She knew my motivation would dwindle, my old habits would return.

It has been a week and I cooked unmeasured amounts of vegetables after years of craving but not having them. I tasted herbs and a few spices again. I indulged in the act of cooking for myself, of going to sleep early and waking up early. It has only been a week and I cannot day I haven’t cut some corners. This weekend was particularly tough.

My brother came home, and he went on two two-hour walks. He watched his portions and subscribes to dated, old, diet myths to try and lose weight. He doesn’t eat balanced meals. And that is where my competitive spirit comes out in both good and bad ways: I am more knowledgeable than the all mighty surgeon but I want to out walk him and to eat less.

My mother and I had a plan to cook paella for my brother while I have my salmon and vegetables. But just then he asked my mother what she was making. Apparently it didn’t meet his standards of what a paella is and so my mother asked what he wanted. It was all too clear- he wanted out. She played right into his hands- we would eat “real” paella at the Cuban restaurant I detested, even before my anorexia. My face fell and grew stone cold. The reaction was not lost on my mother who assured me that it was ok. That I would order salmon as if I was at home. She told me not to cry and then the shallow breaths, the hiccups, the tears came down in an anything but steady stream. My face was flushed- redness from my newly acquired nourishment was wasted on depression.

I restricted that day. I thrived on the lightness of being or rather, not being full, but after all was said and done, I was not satisfied either.

That day I went on an over an hour walk after my brother had taken his, cutting it extreme close to our reservations.

I called the restaurant and orchestrated a complex plan to be carried out with Juan Carlos - his actual name- the manager. I would get an undressed salad with two hard boiled eggs, olives, tomatoes and greens. No salmon, no salsa, no sugary mango, no garlic vinaigrette. In short, back to no flavor profile and deprivation. The waiter got confused and messed up the plan before magically “having it covered,” after I spoke to Juan Carlos on the sly- leaving the table to ‘go to the bathroom.’ My parents suspected, but I denied it.

At the end of the dining experience going smoothly otherwise, my mother said she was disappointed in me and that they spent $22 on something like 200 calories.

I didn’t sleep that night - last night.

Today was not too much better, but improved, except for the fact that I just lied again. I would only have fruit, not a protein bar for snack tonight.

But I do remember what the honorary speaker said at the walk. She was 26-years-Old and gained so much more than weight -a fiancé, an education, exercise, and travel.

And then before the walk, we all performed yoga. The sun shines down and the breeze was light. The temperature was tepid. My tears came down, my mom said we had to do it- I had to recover.

My bowels are still obstructed. I kept thinking all night about what my parents would eat for breakfast and did I have time to go out and purchase something. I found Pilsbury rolls and in the oven they went. My mother refused to eat, saw the sliced bread was old and decided on crackers. She was still in the midst of straightening her hair so I quickly shut the oven, ran out the door with my open jacket, pajamas tucked into sneakers, grabbed my car keys and sped to the closest market two minutes before they opened at 7 am to purchase the 130-calorie per slice bread instead of her favored 90-calorie slice one.

I came home in 5-minutes flat and left the bread on display on the kitchen island where we eat when guests aren’t over. She didn’t see it and asked my dad to buy her the confectionery coffee roll from Dunkin Donuts. My mouth fell in shock, my body weak, my mind catching up to my body. That was a plot twist. I wasn’t expecting that. So she wasn’t going to diet. In the mean time I had neglected to get my breakfast ready, my schedule already running later than I like.

Last Sunday I was notified of moving to the second round for my dream job- deadline Tuesday when assignment given on Monday. On Monday I was immobile still and didn’t start until hours before it had to be handed in. I wonder what will happen. I won’t expect much. My hope should subside.

This is recovery. This is an uphill battle. This is my reality. This is anorexia.

Take Note.