Posts Tagged ‘calories’

Western medicine thinks I have IBS. Eastern medicine thinks my eternal fire is cool and needs to be reheated. Whatever the issue is, I’ve been spending a lot of time hanging out with a reasonably attractive GI doctor who I like to pretend hasn’t performed a sigmoidoscopy on me, and a doll-sized acupuncturist who communicates with my body in adept and eerily truth-finding ways.

The acupuncturist and I giggle together at moments like when I talk about existential panic that wakes me up at night and she responds with, “It’s fun! This is a puzzle we get to figure out,” and then realizes how that comes across. Dr. GI and I share a cold room where we each wish the other understood what we were communicating better.

Dr. GI and I had a conversation that went like this:

Me: “I’ve gained 5 pounds since this all began. Which seems weird considering everything has been coming out of my body at an alarming rate. Do you think there’s a correlation – like my intestines are inflamed?”

Doc: “Have you tried counting calories? If you’re gaining weight, there’s nothing wrong with you.”

The acupuncturist and I had a similar conversation.

Me: “I’ve gained 5 pounds since this all began. Which seems weird considering everything has been coming out of my body at an alarming rate. Do you think there’s a correlation – like my intestines are inflamed?”

Her: “I think it’s all related. The dreams, the panic, the physical symptoms – it’s probably due to subconscious and generational stress. Which we’re going to figure out how to get rid of.” When she communes with my body, she murmurs faster than I’ve ever heard a human speak, almost a tranced chant until she looks me in the eye and asked questions like, “What happened at conception that would have colored your life with a sense of pointlessness?” and “What happened at birth that made you feel abandoned and disdainful toward those who don’t like you?” and “What happened at age 2 that made you feel guilty?” and “Whose abandonment are you holding onto for them at age 32?”I tend to stare at her blankly, and she says, “First response/best response” like it’s a poem.

It’s akin to therapy at the speed of light, making me want to ask my parents questions I always assumed I never needed to know answers to, like “Tell me your innermost feelings at the time of my conception so I can perhaps understand why my insides are falling out.”

To appease Dr. GI – or perhaps to spite him – I’ve downloaded MyFitnessPal in order to track my exercise and count calories. Writing down what I’ve eaten is a familiar task, one I carried with me for the better part of my twenties in small notebooks tucked in my purse. I can tell you what I ate on this day in 2007, 2008, and 2009. I’m recording it all now again because I want to be able to go back to the doctor and say “See? I’m not a calorie munching maniac. Now please tell me why I’m gaining weight and how it relates to my intestines.” There’s another piece of me that is worried he’s right.

MyFitnessPal has instructed me to eat 1260 calories a day (more if I exercise) in order to lose the five pounds. The obsessive feeling is familiar. I stare at food like it’s a number, not a taste or an experience. The ” if I can’t figure out how to count calories then I don’t want to bother eating it” feeling while I’m out to brunch is familiar too.

The acupuncturist gives me herbs I can’t pronounce with specific instructions: four scoops, three times a day, an hour after meals or medicine – mixed in warm water. Soak for 30 minutes, boil for 45. Eat more cinnamon. Eat four apples a day.

I’m not sure who is right. All I know is my physical existence feels like it’s been reduced to numbers. On a scale. In a scoop. Minutes of exercise. Glasses of water. Words per minute.


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Last night I came home and greeted a neighbor on the entry level floor next to our mailboxes. He pushed the elevator button while I headed for the staircase. Four flights later, I saw him again, this time outside the doors of the elevator that had just let him off on the fourth floor. As I passed by and smiled at him again, he called out to me, “Did you just walk up the stairs?”

I admitted that yes, I had. He then asked, “Do you do that all the time?” I acknowledged that I did.

And then he asked the kicker question: “But why?”

I made a commitment to myself. When I moved into the building, I told myself I was going to take the stairs unless I had a really good reason not to. Being tired or just not feel like it are not good reasons. Having heavy groceries or visitors who politely decline my offer of hoofing it up to the apartment are good reasons.

Here’s the thing: Dr. Dad always insisted we park in the farthest away parking spot anywhere we went; this was partly due to the fact that those spots tended to be shady (thus keeping the car cooler and the dashboard less likely to fade and crack under sunlight), and partly due to the fact that it meant more calories burned walking to our destination. While I’m prone to finding both shady and far away parking spots due to my upbringing, I do not seek them out with the vigor that he does. Consider it a final piece of lingering rebellion.

But I still like buring calories. And if I’m not getting them burned in parking lots, at least I can get them burned on the staircase. It’s always better to do something than do nothing, and if my day is busy or I miss a workout, at least I can walk up the stairs and think “well, better than nothing.”

There’s likely a twinge of self-rightousness involved with my stair-climbing follies. Perhaps even a bit of smugness (oh, how I hate to admit that to myself, let alone on the internet) knowing I’m using my leg muscles and I’m trying even though no one but myself is making me do so. And there’s also a bit of wishing I could convince other people to do the same, that maybe someone who doesn’t take the stairs will start and be happier and healthier because of it.

Of course, explaining all this to a neighbor would be boring, so I just replied, “I do it for me.”

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