New job recap

So I've been at my new job for two weeks now, and I must confess it is much different than most of my previous jobs. For starters, I am busy all the freaking time with no moment to catch my breath, check my phone/Twitter/email, or even visit the restroom much. Almost all of my jobs in the past decade have entailed me, sitting at a computer and reading/typing. At the bakery where I work now (I know! I know!), I'm on my feet for the entire 8 hour shift, running to and fro and doing tasks with a minimum of intellect required. That's not to say that my co-workers are stupid--far from it--just that the work itself doesn't require a huge amount of higher level thinking. It's more like "smile--take bread--put on gloves--slice bread in machine--put sliced bread in bag--hand back to customer--smile." I'm not scrutinizing a scientific study and my pay reflects that fact. That being said, I rather like my job.

My back, however, does not. I have a herniated disc in my mid-back from a cycling accident about 8 years ago. It has ached on and off, but it rarely causes me much distress. That has changed somewhat. Oh my holy, my back aches by the end of my shift. I stretch and touch my toes as much as possible, and it has gotten a little better as I've gotten used to being on my feet. Ibuprofin helps, but not all the way. Note to self: find a massage therapist.

I haven't had any hilarious customers (nor would I blog about specifics here- I like being employed, thanks), although I have fielded some oddball requests. No, I will not make you sugar cookies using your own cookie cutters, and no, I really don't think the slice and bake kind are too much work. But aside from that, no royal jerks and so all is well.

Physically, the job is pretty demanding. The ovens in the back kick out a lot of heat, as do the refridgerated cases, so I sweat heaps. The upside is that I almost never have to go to the bathroom in spite of drinking 3 bottles of water during my shift. One would think that the demands of my job would have made me unusually hungry, but it really hasn't. I don't know whether this is because my hunger sometimes doesn't strike, that I'm eating by osmosis, or that it's stinking HOT back behind the counters, but I don't really get hungry at work. I have gotten hungry after my shift, perhaps because I'm sitting and my brain has the opportunity to process those little stomach signals.

Being around food--specifically food that I would have found extremely distressing during the height of my eating disorder--hasn't really been an issue. I don't in general feel comfortable sampling the overpriced baked goods I'm selling, in part because I fear my potential nibbles adding up into pounds of weight gain, but also because I don't know how to make it work with my meal plan and I don't know how to work it out with my mom (the general rule is that if someone doesn't see me eat it, I didn't eat it). I realize that this is part of the legacy of an eating disorder, and I don't blame her for being cautious, as I've run wild with these excuse in the past. But next week we will be discussing it with TNT, so that's good.

There is a nutrition information binder for the items we sell, and I was a little shocked to realize that the desserts weren't as high-calorie as I had feared. A few caught me off guard, but most of them were easily workable into my meal plan. The irony is that I would be not overly anxious having a cupcake, say, for a snack, it's just that I worry about having a bite of a cupcake. And not just "a bite" but I fear that that one bite will turn into two and then half the cupcake and then the whole thing and then I'll be applying for jobs at Sea World. So I don't know how to account for that one bite on my intake for the day. Logically, the solution would be to tell myself that it's just one bite, but we all know that EDs aren't logical, so we may as well drop that pretense.

Overall, this job has been a good thing. I am a lot more comfortable just being around food compared to when I started, and I'm able to start contemplating incorporating bakery items into my daily intake more often (albeit only after I looked at the nutrition guide, but whatever). None of my co-workers talk about dieting and weight loss, which is a huge relief, and I really like everyone I work with. No one there has called me "Captain Cupcake," but one of the bakers calls me Pookie. The irony is that's my nickname for Aria so I keep looking around for a tabby cat whenever I'm called Pookie.

The steady income helps with my stress levels, as does the fact that I will have health insurance on June 1 and can cancel those COBRA payments. I think I can do a preliminary guess that this job will work out just fine. I keep wondering whether I should tell management they hired an ex-anorexic to work in the bakery. Oh well. At least they don't have to worry about me stealing stuff out of the case!

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Cathy (UK) said...

I'm really pleased your job is working out for you Carrie :)

I'm sorry about your back though...

I only found your website about 6 months ago, so I hadn't seen your posts (with photos) of Aria/Pookie. I found them under the category 'cats' yesterday.

She's very cute. The photo of her with those thingies on her ears especially amused me!

Eating Alone said...

Glad you like the job. I get what you mean about working with people that don't have to think a lot for their job. Some of the one's that I worked with were very smart people. And most of the were very happy, to me that's smart.

Good luck finding a MT.

Amy said...

Not really having time to think was the best part about working retail. Adding bakery to the list of places to look for employment this summer. Glad it's working out for you!

Angela E. Gambrel Lackey said...

I'm really glad you like your job; sorry about the back issue. Have you tried putting a self-sticking heating wrap (sort of like those used for menstrual cramps) where the pain is underneath your clothes while working? (I've done this before for chronic neck pain on my left side.)

I love freelancing and graduate school can be fun, but i miss the day-to-day interactions with co-workers after leaving my job in August. It's kind of lonely. I'm glad this working out for you!

Angela said...

I have felt fairly connected with your blogs since I stumbled across them a few months ago, but this one definitely caught me. I've had back problems for years & years, and an ED for the first half of my 20s (almost 30 now).

My own herniated disc, after years of every non-invasive measure I could take, required surgery over the summer after neuropathy began leading to atrophying muscles and balance loss. I'm still not doing well, just had another MRI in fact to find out why new issues are going on, but one of the most interestingly frustrating yet exciting things about this all has been learning how to be able to focus on what I'm eating daily and NOT let it bring me back to madness & full-on ED. I had lost a lot of weight due to medication and constant nausea over the previous year, and there is always the voice in the back of your head that 'this is good!' even when you know you need to keep the weight on to successfully recover. For the last 10 months I've had to watch and measure my daily intake of foods in order to make sure I'm getting enough protein and fat, and it's become a bit of a joy to discover that I not only can eat these foods, but that I actually have to in order to make myself as healthy as I can be right now.

...good luck with your back. (and my word of advice on the back thing for sake of saving your own sanity when it comes to pain is: don't get too overwhelmed by what everyone ELSE has to say about your back).

Kim said...

I'm so glad the job is working out! You know, my favorite job ever was working at an indie movie theater. I was on my feet, doing sort of "meaningless" work. I had great relationships with coworkers. Time went by fast. It was really fulfilling! Sounds like you are finding the same sort of fulfillment.
I hope your back is OK. My physical therapist mother would say, "Ice and Advil."

Anonymous said...

I'm glad your job has been a good experience for you so far. It's funny how being around food all day at work isn't as distressing as you might think. I went to culinary school a few years ago (during my first period of recovery) and I had the same experience. I'll admit, there were times that it bothered me a little, but overall it wasn't nearly as stressful as I thought it would be. I also worked in the kitchens at the Marriott for my internship and again, the same thing happened.

I have read some things online about people with eating issues choosing to work in the food industry. Apparently it's a common thing. Maybe working with food all day makes some people that they have more control over it?

Carrie Arnold said...


I will pick up one of those sticky warm back pad thingys- there's a Rite Aid next door to where I work. It's worth a shot! And I talked to my Pilates teacher about finding some good stretches that I can do while at work. I usually take 3 ibuprofin before my shift and 3 halfway through (it's actually good because then I have to eat something if I don't want to dissolve my stomach) and it takes the edge off.


I think that during the heyday of my eating disorder, this job would have been somewhere between my deepest darkest fantasy and my worst nightmare. Even though I was terrified of food, I wanted to be around it All. The. Freaking. Time. The interesting thing is that the items I most want to try are the breads, not the desserts. Of course, we get the desserts mostly shipped in frozen, which kind of takes away some of the magic (I mean, for that price, I want to know some little French guy was sprinkling fairy dust on my cupcake!).

Stina said...

I thought it was really interesting about "if someone doesn't see me eat it, then I didn't eat it." Great way to be accountable. Do you find that being busy during your job helps or hinders your eating disorder recovery? I wonder because when I was super bored at my job, my behaviors got worse, but being super busy also is a good excuse to avoid food. Just wondering what you think!

Alana K. said...

i used to work in a bakery and cafe. in addition to serving the baked stuff, i was a barista. it IS incredibly busy work! it got very stressful for me- no wonder this was the same time when the ED started getting reeally bad. it's so easy to not eat while you're busy all the time. we were told to jump in and work during our lunch breaks (which is totally illegal but i am a pushover).

i just wanted to emphasise that it's pretty awesome that you are keeping recovery stable throughout this new job experience!

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote


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