Tag Archives: dieting

lost week-end – Part 2

And then, there is a pause, a moment of perfect still, complete calm, a sense of rightness.

Nothing to reproach herself about, nothing to make her fall into the abyss of self-hatred which she knows will follow.

At this point, she could, she knows she could, turn it all around, simply pick up the still packed grocery bags and with one decisive, beautiful movement,  dump them straight into the bin. She has done this before and lesson learnt, now knows to spray kitchen bleach onto the packages.

She could still save today, coke zero, peppermint tea, an hour of net surfing, seeking out thinspo – the perfect collar bones, the thigh gap, jutting hips to make a bikini bridge and then the gym.

After all, now she has the whole week-end, no ties, no commitments, she could, really she could make the whole week-end a 48 hr coffee fast.

She stands in the hallway, body twisted around itself, a pretzel of indecision, of contradictory longings and is unable to move.

Time passes

And then, she walks into the kitchen.

First off, there  is housekeeping, minimising the damage that the next few hours  will inevitably  bring.

This is, if she is being honest and honesty plays such a small part in these lost weekends , so much lying, to herself, all to X, Ys, As,Bs and Cs, hell she even lies to women in supermarkets who don’t even care, but this, this is  big lie, the one she doesn’t even admit to herself.

She tries to not even notice what she is actually doing, as she sits here, right here, right now….fingers popping out a pile of tiny yellow pills, 7,8,9,10. It is becoming more difficult to buy laxatives locally. She fears that  the pharmacy staff will start to recognise her, dreads an altercation, even questions, a request to account for her actions.

She has started using unfamiliar pharmacies, choosing the busiest, the most impersonal and squirrels away, hoards away in drawers and cupboards that she generally tries to pretend don’t exist, little boxes and packets. She finds them worryingly comforting, even if she can, almost, pretend that she had nothing to do with their presence there.

Now she is, like a junkie with a bag of fat rocks, edgy, wanting to make a start. The day, less face it, the rhythm of the weekend, this lost weekend, is already set.

All she is doing now is delay, she opens the kitchen door, regards the mountain of food, the just beginning to melt ice-cream, the cakes, pizza box and flanking it all,  the super sized sugar free drinks.

First things first…ice cream in freezer, oven on, cake sliced and resisted. It’s not time yet, there is still some pretence of control, of eating like normal.

She even sets the table, fills a glass, gulps down the first glass of cola, washes  down a handful, two handfuls of diuretics.

She waits for the pizza, the Indian ready meals….mouth salivating , she paces in front of the oven, one ear open for the microwave ping.

And the first 6, 7 minutes of eating is glorious, she has been so hungry for so long , stomach empty, always cold, skin too thin to cover bones.

She knows, tries not to know, that she is making that noise, a keening, moaning of physical pleasure, as she dips naan bread into chicken tikka and crams the bread, chicken combo into her mouth.

And every time, at this moment, she wishes she could stop now or in 2 or 3 or 4 more bites. This would be normal eating, a little greedy, but salvageable. She even tries a pause, wipe the sauce up, licks her fingers.

She could stop now, but smell of warm cheese, hot dough is filling the kitchen.

It’ s all too late now…..she knows how this will play out

Minutes later, the first onslaught is over, she licks her fingers, sucks the spicy, sweet processed food, mops the plastic containers with another piece of naan bread. There is no room for social niceties, for crockery, cutlery.
Not during a lost weekend.

Her stomach feels full, warm, she rests her hands there and then disgusted, punches hard, enough to almost wind herself
“Disgusting, useless, fat bitch”
She needs to wind herself up, get up a stream of hatred, stop feeling comfortable.

Grabbing and chugging the first bottle of coke, she checks her watch…12 minutes…..no damage done yet.
Upstairs, bathroom, do what needs to be done and afterwards, sitting on the bathroom floor, tears, fat tears, well what else would they be?
Experimentally, she tastes one with the tip of her tongue, warm, salty.
She wonders if tears have calories and the irony of that thought, pushes her to her feet.

The pizza will be ready, needs to be eaten, eaten quickly, fast enough to risk a burn to the roof of her mouth.
Real, external pain, a reminder of just how bad she is, how there can be no pleasure in any of this.

Later, much later, she huddles on a kitchen chair, its wooden back pressing into her spine, she presses hard against it, hoping for bruises, more pain.

Her throat hurts, burns, eyes sting and she can feel her stomach churn, waves of discomfort with the threat of more pain, her body, her desires brought down to simple, shaming function.

She is reduced to hunger, shit, puke….and tears.
Almost new-born but with no hint of promise, no hint of salvation.

Just 2 more lost days until Monday morning.

And before that, late, very late on Sunday night, she will creep from the house, face swollen, stomach distended, body hidden in an over-sized sweat shirt and take the bin bag full of empty packages, boxes, tins, wrappers and drive a safe distance from home before shoving the bag into an empty bin and pushing the evidence far away, far from home, far from her.


some biggish news……

Regular visitors to rubiesandduels will have noticed the Hunger Writing Project – an exploration of food, eating, hunger, body image and restriction.

Most, although not all of these, have been written with performance in mind and several have been already performed at Open Mike slots in Leicestershire.

But, I’ve felt for some time that I want to do something more formal and larger with them………………….so…………………..

with support from Leicester Writers’ Club and Carol Leeming – local arts promotor, i am working towards a one woman show in summer 2014, with performances in Leicester and hopefully beyond.

There will be more new pieces and re-writes of some of the current work and some supporting visual inputs……I’m very excited, if a little nervous, I’m not a performer by training or even inclination.

watch this space for  updates and more information.

Binging and purging and purging and binging……just add nauseum

Sometimes, just sometimes, the hunger stalks you, creeps up on you, a tsunami of desire, of need and then there is nothing you can do.

There are no evasive actions, nothing that will de-rail this lumbering leviathan,

Journey marked out

Calling at all stations

everybody change at the end of the line

First stop….The kitchen, you stand on the balls of your feet, poised for flight, for travel, for a quick getaway…..fooling no-one

You are your own hostess, your own bustling trolley dolly, gathering the in-journey refreshments

( as if there is any refreshment in any of this food….fixed smile…I’m mandy….eat me)

next stop….. the bedroom

( even when the house is empty, will always be empty, this eating must be done behind closed doors, a secret, even to the weary traveler herself)

Lay out the foods, neat lines, bisecting junctions of sugar and fat and carbs ( food reduced to its parts, sans taste, sans color, sans pleasure), tracks reaching out, journeys made again and again – a commute of hunger sated.

next stop ….the eating

automata….hands move like pistons…..hand, bag, plate, hand, mouth and repeat and repeat and repeat

chugga chugg, chugga chug, chugga chug

The rythmn of this journey, familiar, comforting…..

a known landscape and the next stop coming up sooner than you can believe.

Almost the end of the line……the window

And like a dozing suit, warm, comfortable, in that space between wake and sleep…a moment of peace, of calm and then……………….

A crash of grinding gears, metal buckling, brakes applied too little, too late…..

Almost de-railed,

Almost fallen off the tracks,

Head jerks up, terrible realization of what has almost happened

Next stop…..purging

hair pulled back with a practiced hand

The same hand that rams into your throat again and again and again

Half chewed, un- digested food hits the toilet bowl

red and green and orange – traffic signals of loss, of cleansing against the white porcelain.

journeys’ end…..destination reached

final stop…..the bathroom floor

face puffy, stomach bloated from the food that got away

hot forehead cooling on the black and white tiles

The traveller has arrived…….



Hunger – version 1- original version

A kind friend, thank you Mr S, found the original version of Hunger 1, so just for interest, I’m uploading them both, I would be interested in having your feedback on both versions.


Each morning must start the same way, fingers run down ribs, each rib must be perfectly feeable with no recourse to poking and prodding and then one hand on each side of pelvis, these bones must protrude sufficiently to be visible.

A deep breath, nothing of note has happened overnight, time for a visual check.

Full length mirror, the harsh one, the one that shows each imperfection and the brightest, least forgiving light.

Check one – collar bones, skin must appear tissue thin, a dip where collar and shoulder collide.

Check two – breast bone – a feeling test is insufficient here, the bones should be visible under clothes, she knows she has many months to go before that will be achieved.

Check three – breasts themselves, loose skin can be applauded, evidence that no fat has crept in at night to pad them out.

Check four – stomach, any signs of roundness, softening produce palpable panic, a resolution for sit ups in the evening routine.

Check five – bottom, hands slipped round, the seat bones, a dent should be felt by the open palm.

And finally, the spinal cord, fingers tap out a rythmn on each hard pad.

All these checks can and will be repeated throughout the day without recourse to reflection, a finger caressing the hardness of bone under skin.

And then, a daily decision, an eating day, an almost eating day, a non-eating day.

Once the decision is made it cannot be undone, except of course to downgrade, so an eating day can become a non eating day, but never the other way round.

A non-eating day is the easiest, no decisions to be made, no agonizing over the fruit bowl, hand choosing and then rejecting a banana, a nectarine, replacing them with a small apple,a tiny clementine.

Almost eating days have simple rules, 3 pieces of fruit and a small bowl of meusli, sometimes she cannot control herself and eats the cereal before she is even dressed, standing in the kitchen, spoon, bowl, mouth and repeat, but she has learnt that this is flawed, a poor approach to self control.

The little bowl must be saved until the evening, eaten at the table, slowly, one spoon at a time, savoring each mouthful and one spoonful must be left uneaten,to prove a lack of greed, a demonstration of un-concern.

Eating days are the hardest, the books must be balanced, what is eaten today, must be denied tomorrow, a record kept, no absent minded bovine grazing.

Hunger must be embraced, coldness on even the warmest day proof of negligible calories in and maximum calories out.

Hunger is power, best felt when other eat. She watches their hands reach into bowls, bags, wrappers and the unthinking placing of food into mouths that surely cannot need any more.

Hunger is power, she likes to place herself in danger, next to temptation and admire her own self control. Sometimes she lest her finger touch the sweets, the chocolate, the cake, sometimes, greatly daring, she will quickly lick the sugar, tongue barely touching the skin, fearful that this tiny taste will unleash a flood gate of desire.

Hunger is power, the power of control, the lure of constant vigilance.

“don’t you get hungry?” people ask and she smiles and says “yes, but it’s worth it”

Bed time and the careful physical checks again, a mental note made, subject of course, to a final inspection in the morning.

Eating day, not eating day, almost


Hunger 1 – version 2

After a terrible accidental delete debacle, sadly Hunger 1 has vanished into the Internet ether.
So, it’s a opportunity to have a rewrite of the first piece that started the hunger category.


The routine, the ritual is fixed, set, cannot be ignored, changed. The routine sets the day, imposes a decision, moves her towards the kitchen or away.

So, alarm goes off and immediately, before eyes are properly open, hands run down ribs, count and then onto hip bones.
Check….has fat crept up the stairs, oozed under the door, sneaked through the floor boards, is she bigger than when she went to sleep.

Sometimes, at night, she dreams of eating, her mouth crammed, stomach bloated, hands greasy, sticky, with chicken and pizza and ice cream and chocolate and cheese and full fat cola.

These dreams have woken her up, panicking, heart racing, terrified that this has actually happened, that somehow she has walked, still asleep into the kitchen and stood, hands grabbing into open cupboards, her gluttony lit by the light of the fridge.

So, the ritual, this counting of bones guards against night time weight gain and allows that secret pleasure, the grating of bones against skin.

After ribs and hips comes collar bones, breast bones and the newest discovery, the jutting of her shoulder blades, tiny promises of wings, of flight, of actual weightlessness.

And then, properly awake now, she sits up, runs her fingers down her spine, fingers counting each nodule and then hands swoop down, slip naturally into the dents where her butt used to be.

This is only the first check, the first inspection. Throughout the day, she will allow her hands to seek out bones, take comfort from their presence, a casual glance to monitor for random weight gain, particularly important on eating days.

Time to get out of bed, time for the full visual inspection.
Harshest light, least forgiving mirror, a slow, careful look, front on, sideways and then, head peering over shoulder, inspecting what is happening behind.

Keeping on top of it, keeping a tag on it, staying in control.

The ritual is followed by the decision, the deciding, what kind of day today will be and this can only be decided once the inspections are complete.

There are 3 types of days;
Not eating
Almost eating

Not eating is the easiest, the purest, no grey area, no choices to be made.
Not eating means black coffee, cigarettes, diet cola.
It means imagining bones ready to poke through skin, it means that joyous emptiness, stomach flat,empty, pure.

But, she knows that not eating days have to be rationed, kept in control, the siren call of hunger needs to be kept in check other wise, the vision, the dream of night time eating, the out of control gluttony, the terrible rhythms of hand, mouth, fridge, hand, mouth, fridge will become a reality.

Almost eating days have their own rules, their own structures, a pleasure of control.
Each piece of fruit must be cut into the correct number of slices, each slice savoured, eaten slowly, put back onto the plate between each bite.
Almost eating days allow her to be with others, her apple placed casually on the lunch break table, see it says ” I eat, here I am, eating lunch with everybody else”
Almost eating days allow her into the kitchen, chopping, slicing, making tiny dishes of berries so dark, so shiny, the fridge fill with bowls full of jewelled fruits.

Eating days are dark days, days to dread, their rules so complicated that really she prefers to pretend they never happen.
Eating days perform a function, tell her that there is no problem, no issues .
Eating days are proof, reassurance, here’s me eating pizza ( half a slice, crust crumbled, cheese picked off ), here’s me eating chocolate ( the guilt remains long after the flavour has gone).

Eating days can only happen if the ritual has gone well, the inspection, the routine completed.

There are further rules, once a decision about the day has been made, the day can only be altered to be less, a non eating day cannot become an eating day.
Rules are there to be kept after all.

And then at night, final inspection, final measurement, final tally and then a possible decision, an indication of how tomorrow will go.

Not eating
Almost eating

But the final decision, the marking of tomorrow, today can only happen after the morning, the routine of vigilance.

Tomorrow may be

Not eating
Almost eating.

She falls asleep, gently stroking her ribs, counting herself to sleep.


Hunger 4

Head hidden in the fridge, she dips her finger into the jar, takes a second to appreciate the deep ruby colour of the plum conserve and then the finger is in her mouth, sweetness explodes on her tongue and she sighs with pleasure.

She feels, rather than hears, her mothers’ intake a breath, a sharp shhh and then she dips her finger in again, plum skin catches on her finger nail and she worries at it with her teeth and only then, finger still in her mouth, does she turn and face her mother.

She is sitting at the kitchen table.
The table she spent a whole week sanding, oiling and painting with farrow & ball paints – mouse back, the colour is called, part of the shabby chic range. She took an entire day to painstakingly age the brand new painted surface and it is where she sits each morning and eats her breakfast.

For as long as the girl can remember, her mother has kept to the same breakfast ritual.
2 cigarettes, a cup of black, sugarless coffee and an apple, cut into 4 equal slices.

As a child, the girl would sit at the table and beg her mother her mother to slice her an apple too and they would sit in companionable silence, crunching on their fruit.

But now, now that food is their battleground, the girl prefers to free range around the kitchen, easier access to the cupboards and fridge, more opportunity to force her mother to register exactly what she is putting into her mouth.

She stubs out her second cigarette, stands up, smooths out an invisible crease on her dress and the daughter knows that she is also checking the feel of hip bones under fabric.

The daughter is still in pajamas, she loves the feel of fuzzy fabric against her soft flesh, she would wear them all day if she could, the elastic waist bands are forgiving, ensure that there is no opportunity to monitor weight gain or loss.

The breakfast time ballet continues, now the mother steps towards the fridge and the girl steps away, moves nearer the breadboard, focused on the slices of bread she will cut into doorsteps and smother in the remainder of the plum conserve.

The mother reaches into the fridge, picks up a small plastic container, into which, she has, as she does every night, sliced tomatoes, cucumber and baby leaves.

There is a pause and then she pulls out the second little box and places it on the granite work surface.
The girl knows that it too will contain a small naked salad and knows that it is designed to be her lunch.

And then in a flurry of keys and gym bag and over-sized tote, her mother is gone and the girl is left in the kitchen.

She sighs, picks up the plate on which 3 slices of bread and jam lean untidily and she sits, finally, at the table and bites into the first piece.
The bread, doughy, sweet, comforting, fills her mouth with pleasure.

Hunger 3

She’s doing the maths in her head, being careful to round down, not up.

Small banana, say 50 calories, coffee, well, that’s nothing really, rice and salad, can’t be more than 200 calories, so that leaves 300 calories for her evening meal.

Gym after work, 20 minutes on the cross trainer, that must be at least 500 calories, power walk and then 20 lengths, gotta be over 1,00 calories in total.

So, that gives her 1,300 calories for the rest of the day or, she does the sum again, if she can keep this up until Friday, that would be 3,000 spare calories….she pauses for a minute, checks the calorie counting app on her phone, is 3,00 calories enough for a pepperoni pizza, she can taste the warm cheese, feel the heat of the box as she carries it from the front door to the kitchen.

It’s ok, she will be good, no garlic bread, no cookie dough ice cream and besides, she’s 3,000 calories ahead and she will definitely go to the gym on Sunday morning.

So, 300 calories for tonight, inside her head, she reviews the contents of her fridge.
Tomatoes – good
Cucumber – good
Low cal, fat free dressing – very good
Lettuce – good

Let’s say 100 calories for a salad, another 50 for a banana, that leaves 150 even before she gets to the gym, so she can have a 2 fingered KitKat with her afternoon coffee and stil be ahead.

She smiles to herself, if she can keep to this, this time she will definitely loose weight, more counting, this time she has to use her fingers to help.
If she sheds 2lbs this week and really, she can probably call it 3 lbs, especially with all this gym going, thats definitely , completely going to happen.
3lbs this week, let’s say 12lbs over the month, that’s nearly a stone, so she shrugs to herself, let’s call it a stone, by October she will be 4 stone lighter, she will be slim.

She closes her eyes for a moment, the better to visualise this new slim self and smiles.

More counting, so, if she’s a size 18 now, each stone lost should mean at least a dress size down, lets see she thinks

One stone – size 16
Two stone – size 14
Three stone – size 12
Four stone, and she can hardly say it, does the counting again in her head, just to make sure.
In October, she will be a size 10, it will all be worth it.

3.30 pm – time for a break, time for a KitKat, she hopes that the vending machine has the small ones, but then she shrugs, it’s all ok, she’s 1,000 calories ahead, it won’t matter if she gets a bigger one and besides she’s starving.

As she walks through the office, she wonders why she left school thinking she was bad at maths, she seems to spend her whole life counting.