Oatmeal Enthusiasts: Meet Queena (2)

Read more about Queena’s story:

I first used the Lenten season as an excuse (although I didn’t realize then that that was what I was doing). Ash Wednesday required abstinence and fasting, but to “utilize” this opportunity, I abstained and fasted every Friday of Lent, with the latter meaning not eating anything—anything at all—from 6am to 6pm. I was very proud of this “sacrifice,” but aside from that, I also noticed that I was losing weight, and that made me happy. So as expected, I continued this kind of lifestyle even after that season. I counted calories, I worked out, I jogged, I chose exercise over enough hours of sleep, I bought all sorts of weight loss supplements and I worked out again after an inevitable night out with friends, during which I had to eat pizza, pasta and cake, as compensation for this unhealthy bout of eating. If I had my choice, I would not eat unless I was really hungry. Ironically, this was my first encounter with oatmeal. I’ve had it in the past, but I don’t think I want to count that since they were all just instant packets. This time around, I was having old-fashioned rolled oats. Every morning, I would microwave it with water, and that was what was for breakfast—either that or microwaved (of course, I did not want oil on my food, not even olive) egg on toast. For lunch and dinner, it was all-protein, and if I was really, really craving for something sweet, I’d have a banana or any small slice of fruit at home. From a “sacrifice,” I was now committing to what I believed was healthy living.

Eventually, people were surprised with my sudden transformation. While others were amazed and, in fact, curious how I did it, there were also those who became worried about me. First, I saw how hard it was for my family. They were always urging me to eat, to get out of my room even. I had to see a doctor because I stopped having my period for more than six months, and I was having bruises on my legs for no reason at all. When they found out in the clinic that I was underweight, I pretended to be surprised, but of course, I knew that. I was following pro-ana and thinspo accounts on Twitter, and it felt nice to relate with “thin” people. Then there were my friends. My introversion ate me away, to be honest. Many of those in my block were relatively health-conscious too, but I was different. (Looking back, I think I’d kill myself to achieve the body and weight I wanted. Think Black Swan.) I knew that, and I was sure they did too even though they didn’t say it out loud. I tended to spend less time with them as possible, out of paranoia that they were always talking, behind my back, about how sad and unhealthy I looked, and I didn’t want confrontation. Dodging questions about it in my everyday encounters was already too much. I remember thinking then, “This is a slap in the face to all of you who have ever called me fat.”

But more than anything else, I got annoyed now that I personally experienced what they always say, “You can’t please everyone.” When I was chubby, they teased me about it, and after working so hard toward the goal of losing weight, all I ever heard was you look old, your face seems to be sagging, you’re like a walking skeleton. Then when just the last year started, I began eating “stuff” again. At first, it was just always looking forward to eating out with my mom and with friends. I knew they liked that because that meant I was eating normally again. But then, it evolved into something I would do when I was on my own in the mall, or just before bedtime when everyone else at home was already asleep. I never seemed to be satisfied with what I ate. I took online tests to confirm it, and the results said yes, I was a binge eater. I ate everything I missed in the previous year, all the comfort food I used to consume without guilt, even the cheap crackers and chips that I didn’t even give a second glance when I was a child. It was a terrible phase of being bloated and repeatedly promising myself that it won’t happen again. But it did, because getting back to my senses always meant starving myself again to make up for all the weight I gained back—it was the yo-yo effect at its finest. I hated those around me for noticing and expressing their happiness about it, but I hated myself more for allowing all this to happen. It even got to the point of selfishly despising how I was allowed to donate blood like I used to since I was the right weight again.

About Lauren Smith

Lauren is a herbivore, Slytherin, and connoisseur of oats. She is a former teacher who is currently studying to earn a master's degree in curriculum development. You can follow her on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook.

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