Week 15: A Pregnancy Without A Scale

Hello fighters!

Well, let’s just jump right in!

This was my first hard body image week and it came out of no where.

Actually, right after it happened, I came here and just wrote my thoughts down on this post (even though it was days ago) because I knew I would feel better once I put my thoughts on paper.

Sometimes I can feel bad body days coming, but this time I couldn’t.

I was getting ready to go out with some friends when all the sudden I just looked in the mirror and thought to myself, “Wow! You really got big, Shira. Everywhere.”

On Saturday I was working out at the gym and I could feel myself looking at myself in the mirror looking at all the parts of my body that I thought, in my mind, got bigger. Which of course, in ED world, is everything (even though it might not be true in real life). But I was able to brush it off.

The next day was different.

I couldn’t brush the feeling off when I was looking in the mirror.

I can’t explain it. I felt everything got huge all at once.

My first instinct was to be extreme, as it usually is, and I thought to myself, “Thats it! No more exploring foods. No more eating horrible!”

But then I re-read my last blog post and I mean, I really read it-with the healthy part of my brain.  And yet there was nothing in there that was so “horrible.”

Not measuring mini-wheats in the morning is not so horrible.

Mixing lemonade with water isn’t so horrible.

Having a tamale isn’t so horrible.

I was already late to meeting our friends, but I knew I needed a moment to cry. Sometimes I think we just need that. I am not going to lie, it was a sad cry, not a happy cry.

And that’s ok too. I am grateful, even when I am sad, that these days I feel my emotions, and not stop them with food restriction like I did in Ed days.

I sat in the bathroom and cried because I think it finally hit me that I am kind of scared.

It wasn’t the kind of cry I wanted to do in front of anyone or anything- I just needed the space for myself.

I realized I am scared what pregnancy is going to do to my body.

I am scared what this new “exploring foods” thing is going to do to my body.

And really, this isn’t about the new foods. And I know that.

I just feel a total sense of loss of control.

I can try to be as healthy as possible with food and exercise, (and trust me, with pregnancy cravings and pregnancy dislikes and pregnancy exhaustion, that is really hard) but other than that, I know there is not much else I can do.

My body, for the first time ever, is growing a human life.

I want so badly to give it that beautiful, unconditional loving freedom to just do what it has to do!

And I don’t want to spend my pregnancy hating my body. And I hope as this journey progresses, I will get better at loving myself a little more.

I know, and have known all along, I wouldn’t be one of the lucky people in the world to only gain weight in my tummy and have this cute little bump and gain no where else. That has never been my body structure.

But it’s different when you see it in real life for the first time, even though you know it in your head.

That being said, I didn’t let my hard moment ruin my entire day.

I still went out with my husband and our friends.

I still went to Cheesecake Factory and got my favorite Linda Fudge Cake (although now that I am pregnant she wasn’t as great as she used to be but that’s ok Linda, I still love you).

I still made Valentine’s Day dinner for my husband this week, which by no means was “healthy” and I don’t care because it was special for him and us.

Those are wins.

There is no way to sugarcoat hard days. I am not even going to try to.

And, I know they will come again, probably more frequently.

Maybe it’s kind of like the first cut you ever get is the deepest. Now that I got through this big first preggo challenge, maybe the next one won’t be as hard. Or maybe it will.

The good news is that it didn’t stop me from living my life. It didn’t stop me from having fun. It didn’t cause any self destructive behaviors like restriction.

And for that, I am really proud.

I was telling one of the ladies who I mentor last week that recovery is a very squiggly line. It goes up then it goes down then it goes haywire and sideways and then it goes up again.

But as long as your line keeps moving, it’s recovery. If your line stops moving, it’s time to re-focus.

But I told her, as long as her line is moving, it doesn’t matter what direction it’s in, that as long as it’s moving, it is something to be proud of.

So maybe my line had a little jumps this week. Maybe it had some downs and some ups. But that’s ok because here it is, still moving along.

Today, I celebrate my line moving along another day in this beautiful and emotional journey and I celebrate this beautiful little soul growing in my body and in my heart in so many ways, they don’t even know yet.

Hello Life.

 

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Week 14: A Pregnancy Without a Scale

Happy Wednesday fighters,

Today I am officially in the second trimester of my pregnancy, which is so exciting! I swear I literally woke up one day with this beautiful baby bump.

I didn’t think I would show this much this early, and to be honest, despite the quiet whispers of Ed in my head every now and then, I love this beautiful, beautiful bump. I love showing it off because it’s the most beautiful thing that has ever happened to my body. And I think it’s good to remind myself of that.

So last week I wrote about my shopping trip at Trader Joes and how for the first time I really let myself browse and get foods that just sounded good to me. I didn’t care as much about the nutrition label, but more of what sounded good.

I know at the end of my blog I wrote about how I wasn’t sure if I was as honest with myself about my freedom in my recovery prior to getting pregnant as I thought I was being.

I thought about that a lot of this week.

Here is my conclusion:

At the time, before I got pregnant, I was honest with myself. In my eyes, I was living in the most freedom I had ever lived in.

It is only now that I became pregnant, that my eyes have opened to something new.

I think at first I didn’t want to admit that because it was scary to me to think that I had so much left in my recovery to learn, but I am not scared anymore.

I always knew my journey would be a forever one.

This is what I observed this week:

Since I became pregnant, I have:

Allowed myself to choose foods that just sound good to me. I have not looked at the calories of them either, which is unheard of for me, even in the best times of my recovery.

I have not measured my cereal in the morning or my milk, which was something I was doing up until I got pregnant. I still do, however, measure my coffee creamer, I will admit that, otherwise I swear I will pour in the whole bottle (work in progress, right).

I got a soft taco for the first time ever at Taco Time, instead of the Salad I have always gotten there since I moved to Washington. And I didn’t look at the calories.

I ordered a veggie sandwich with mayo. With mayo! Again, totally new for me.

I haven’t been measuring food when I put it on my plate for dinner.

All of these moments have been compromised of so much freedom for me, yet I have questioned myself a lot this week as to why did I wait to explore this area of freedom until I got pregnant?

With all my heart, I don’t believe that I was denying myself anything prior to getting pregnant.

It reminded me of when I was 19 years old and I went to Guatemala on a volunteer mission to help children living in poverty.

I remember the people who ran that program tell us to please not give any gifts to the children, but one of the people in our group had given a child who was wheelchair bound an electric wheelchair instead of the regular one he had.

Of course they meant so well and they had the best of intention.

But the administrator had said, once that chair runs out of batteries and we are back in the states, how will they charge it? The boy will then have to go back to the regular wheelchair, but now he knows that he could have something better and that will devastate him.

Sometimes you don’t know there is something sweeter on the other side until someone shows you.

This kind of reminds me of that.

I didn’t know that there was this kind of freedom in my recovery yet because I hadn’t experienced it yet. I only knew the freedom that I was able to reach prior to pregnancy, if that makes any sense at all.

But now that I have experienced it, similar to the electric wheelchair, I am not sure I can go back now and I don’t really think I want to.

Unfortunately while the boy in the wheelchair might not have had a choice, and had to go back, I do have a choice.

I get to decide to stay here, in this sweeter freedom.

I have mixed emotions about that.

Part of me is excited that I have reached this new point of freedom. It’s the same part of me that is so excited that I am allowing myself the space to test these foods and new boundaries out.

Then there is the other part of me that is really scared of that.

Does that mean I will just eat whatever I want all the time? Does this mean I have lost self control? What does this mean for my body? It’s a lot of the same questions I had in my early recovery.

But I know, that in the deepest of my heart, I can’t go back to how things were before, because now that I know this new freedom exists, I would be doing myself a disservice by going back.

Maybe this is what people mean when they refer to intuitive eating.

I try to remind myself that even with these new experiences, I have always listened to my body, and that is something I am really proud of.

I have only eaten what my body wants and I stop eating when I am full.

I have never binged on anything  or restricted anything.

And at the end of the day, I feel satisfied. I feel in tune with myself. I don’t feel out of control at all, not even in the least bit way.

And for the most part, I crave wholesome foods. They are just different foods.

So what is this fear? Why is it here?

The only explanation I can think of is that because like always, it is something new and unknown.

It’s unknown territory to me.  Anything unknown can be scary.

But, the best things in my life have come from unknown.

Moving to Washington=unknown. Result= met my husband, fell in love.

Started recovery=unknown. Result= Saved my own life, started a nonprofit to help others worldwide.

And now we add to this list:

Got pregnant/explored new foods= Unknown. Result= Freedom, baby. New freedom.

And that is where I am going to leave this.

I am ready for you, unknown , new freedom. Old freedom has left and now you have arrived.

Maybe you are something I have deserved for a while.

You might be unknown, but I think I can handle you.

More than that, I appreciate the happiness you bring me and the sense of adventure you bring me.

I am not saying you don’t scare me sometimes, because you do, but I can’t go back now to the old version I thought you were.

Freedom 2.0…here we come.

Hello Life.

Week 13: A Pregnancy Without a Scale

Happy Wednesday fighters!

Wow, thank you so so much for all your support and love from the last post. I can tell that this journey is going to really bring so many people from all walks of life all around the world together.

From people who are soon to be mamas who have struggled with an eating disorder, to those who have not, and to those who are just starting recovery from any addiction, I think our truth holds a lot of power.

So last blog I talked about my Chipotle experience and how I struggled back and forth between allowing myself to enjoy it and between my Ed voice getting mad at me for it.

This week was very different than that in two ways.

First, I was so sick this week, that I would have been extremely grateful to enjoy any bite of my food and would have driven the 45 minutes to Chipotle if I had the energy to enjoy food.

For the first time in a long time, I really missed enjoying my food.

Even being in recovery for five years, enjoying food is still such a freedom to me that I never take for granted. But this week, I was really reminded of that freedom and how grateful I am that I get to indulge in it whenever I do.

Second, this week was different because it really wasn’t about food much at all. When I blogged about a year without a scale, literally my entire life was centered around that and my recovery, as it should have been in new recovery.

But this time around, five years later into my recovery, my recovery, I am glad to say, is part of my life, but it is not my entire life-if that makes sense.

So while of course pregnancy and pregnancy without a scale is going to be a huge experience in my life and my recovery, it isn’t taking up every second of my day, which I think is a recovery victory.

For those of us in recovery, that is something that we strive for; we strive for our recovery to become part of us, not become us. 

This week was also different because it was extremely emotional.

I wasn’t worried about my food or body. I wasn’t really worried at all, actually. Worried isn’t the right word.

I was just really anxious. I think now that we are past 3 months along in the pregnancy, it is hitting my husband and I that we are going to be bringing in a human life into this world.

It is the by far the happiest we both have been about anything, other than the day we got married to each other. Yet at the same time, at least for me, it brings me so many thoughts.

Most of us who are in recovery from any addiction are type A personalities and we love, love, love planning and schedules and knowing the outcome of things.  It’s one of the reasons I went to school to become a reporter; because I love facts.

Facts are indisputable. Hard evidence. Solid information.

I love agendas, schedules and planning-I get excited just writing it! Sometimes when I talk to my sister on the phone and she asks me what my plan is for the day she will stop me half way through and say, “Shira, I didn’t mean every hour…I just meant overall.”

With pregnancy, it is hard to plan.

I got overwhelmed with what happens after our amazing little human soul is here.

How do I run my nonprofit? How do I work? How do I be a mom? How do I be a wife? How in the universe will I do all of that and still practice self -care and be sane?

It almost seems like it required a superpower.

That was pretty much a lot of my energy this week. Thinking about those questions. And I don’t have an answer to them still, which is still a very weird feeling.

The best answer I could find for myself was, “You will figure it out. Just like everyone else does, you will do. People do it all the time.”

So obviously, my type A readers are probably reading that along with me thinking, “Whatttttt, Shira, what kind of answer is that?”!!

I know. I agree. It’s unsettling. And it still makes me nervous, but that is the truth.

But that is the work I did this week.

I really had to dig deep inside myself and remind myself, that just like when I started recovery and had no idea what would happen or when I moved states away to Washington by myself at 23 years old, I had to learn how to practice living in the grey.

Not the black and white, but the grey.

I think from this point on with my life as a mama, director of my own agency, advocate, wife, daughter,sister, friend, etc, I will be living in the grey.

None of those titles seem to even hold a space in the black and white world anymore because the definition of those titles will be constantly changing as I grow and evolve and our family evolves.

So, I will figure it out. And I am already now starting to give myself the flexibility to allow myself the time to do that.

The typical black and white version of me would have expected to have it “figured out” one week after the baby is born, or even before.

But the grey version of me is telling myself, “just let it ride. don’t put a time limit.” (Which again, is pretty adventurous for us planners).

But beyond that, there is one thing I would like to mention in this week’s post about the food part of my recovery before I end this post.

I drove myself to Trader Joes on Sunday which is about an hour from my house but has food that I really love, so in hopes of trying to find a food I like, I drove down there.

I usually buy the same basic stuff every time I go. But this time, I gave myself the freedom to just browse and see what looked good to me.

I looked at food and drinks I never would have looked at before. Foods that might not have been on my “healthy” list before.

And so, I even bought some of them.

Even standing in line buying them I was thinking,”Wow…this is so different.”

But I got home and was looking at my strawberry lemonade, dried fruit and tamales and shredded wheat cereal with the sugar on it that I bought and I thought, “what in this is really that bad?”.

Nothing . Really, nothing in that was “that” bad as my Ed voice would say.

This week, that strawberry lemonade was one of the only things that made my taste buds happy. I mix it with water otherwise its too sweet and also I don’t believe in drinking my sugar all day, but it was amazing.

And none of the food I got, that was “bad” food, was anything I binged on or anything like that. I trusted my body to take what it needed. And I was proud of myself for that. That takes a lot of work to practice trusting your body.

I have been thinking, similar to the Chipotle experience, why, did I have to wait until I was pregnant to buy myself strawberry lemonade and shredded wheats and tamales?

It kind of sounds crazy now that I write it down.

Those are foods I always walked by and wouldn’t let myself buy.

I am thinking that while I was in the best place in my recovery before I got pregnant, that maybe there is this entire part of my recovery that was untapped and just waiting for me to open and explore.

Maybe I wasn’t totally 100 percent honest with myself about what freedom with food was?

Or maybe I just didn’t even know that I was depriving myself from those things that I enjoyed until now?

Either way, I am so grateful that my pregnancy is allowing me the chance to open this  totally unexplored area of freedom in my recovery that I never thought about or knew was there before.

I don’t think I want to go back to the old way of thinking.

The grey area might not be as bad of a place as I thought it would be.

Hello Life.

 

 

Hello Life: A Pregnancy Without A Scale

Hello  fighters!

Today marks five years since we’ve been on this journey together, (well really six years, if you count the time leading up to the smashing of the scale), and five years that I have never looked back.

Instead of writing my yearly post, today’s post is actually going to kind of re-launch the blog in a way. Of course, nothing will ever replace our journey of a year without a scale. There is just no way anything ever could come close.

But for the first time since I started this blog, it has finally come time to begin a new chapter.

So, for the next 6 months, and ongoing until it’s time for another new chapter, this journey has now transformed into:

Hello Life: A Pregnancy Without a Scale!

I got married in July, and prayed for a baby for whenever the universe would tell us it was the right time. And I am so excited to say that I am almost 12 weeks pregnant with my first little human soul.

I always told myself that when I got pregnant, I would bring back my blog. And I am so grateful that the time has come for me to do that.

There are so many reasons why I want to do this blog.

First, I know first hand that there are so many of us in recovery from eating disorders that have experienced a pregnancy for the first time and are wondering what the journey will be like.  And while no one persons journey is ever the same, I think we Bring hope with each other’s experiences.

For me at least, and for so many others, this is the first time in my entire recovery that I will be gaining weight and really not having much control over it (other than of course trying to eat as balanced as possible). For those of us in recovery, that is a big deal.

Second, I looked for other blogs talking about this, and I couldn’t really find one.

I’ve found blogs on eating healthy during pregnancy—so so so so , so, many of those. I found blogs on experiencing pregnancy and I found blogs on everything else pregnancy.

But never a pregnancy in recovery from an eating disorder and a pregnancy without a scale.

So, if you are looking for a blog about eating healthy during your pregnancy, this might not be the blog for you. That doesn’t mean I won’t talk about food on my blog, but I don’t think it’s going to be like that.

To be honest, I don’t know what this blog will be like.

I am just going to roll with it.

I know that I will need the support. I already do. I waited this long to blog because I was waiting until the 12 week mark.

But I imagine, just like my Year without a scale blog, it was never just about recovery; it was about life.

And that’s what this is going to be about: life-both mine and this little human soul’s growing inside of me.

Usually my posts are shorter, but this one might be longer just because it has been so long-so I am sorry about that! Next one will be shorter, I promise.

So what is different about this blog this time: I am not going to blog every day like I did with the year without a scale. I think I am going to blog once a week  (I think on Wednesdays) or just whenever I feel the urge so that could mean more than that, but well see.

What is the same as the other blog: It is going to be real and raw. No sugarcoating. No leaving things out.

So, where am I at?

I think I am in the best place in my recovery that I have ever been-and I think that was true even before I got pregnant.

That doesn’t mean there are not and were not hard days, because there are. But for me, it just means that I learned how to find balance between my thoughts, my food, and my actions.

I remember right when I started recovery I had to go to a doctor to do a full work up on me.

He did an EKG, and a few other tests, and I remember him asking me, “So, do you want to ever have kids?”

“Of course,” I told him. (I have wanted to be a mom since I was 5 years old. I was always the mom when I played house with my brother and sister and bossed everyone around. It was my calling).

“You will not have kids if you continue like this. Your body can’t do it,” he said.

At the time, I thought he was just trying to scare me. But his words stuck in my mind-not really at that time, but in later years through my recovery.

I think back to the days where I was so deep in my eating disorder that I would lay in bed at night with my heart beating so fast because it was so irregular asking God to please let me wake up the next day, and that if he did, I would do better.

But the next day was just the same.

Not because I wanted it to be the same, because I was trapped in this world that I myself didn’t know how to get of.

I haven’t even had my baby yet, and I feel so protective over him or her.

The other day a car was tailgating me and I swear I could have pulled over and yelled at them, “Listen buddy, I have a baby In here!!!”. I was so mad!

I’ve realized now, more than ever, how much my eating disorder didn’t just affect me, but my family and my parents. To think of how many nights they spent worrying about something that they had no control over to fix nor caused, can keep me up for hours.

It’s weird to me, for some reason, that all these thoughts came to me lately. But I am glad they did.

It is those thoughts that keep me grounded and that keep me reminded of why I choose recovery every single day.

It is those thoughts that remind me of how sweet my freedom from my eating disorder is.

Sometimes, I need that reminder.

So fast forward to today:

I am almost three months preggo (Wednesday is 12 weeks) and finally starting to show. Although, this is also what I looked like before I got pregnant after I ate a big meal, so sometimes I am not sure if its the baby or if its still a food baby or a mix of both, but I will take it!

Instead of trying to fit into my jeans, I bought this amazing little black stretchy thing that goes in between your belt loops and stretches out so you don’t need to even close your button! It makes your jeans into leggings pretty much.

Why do you have to be pregnant to find such a miracle product? Why can’t we use this on Thanksgiving or big dinners? I see that thing as one of the best forms of self care and will totally use it even after I have the baby.

I have been to the doctor twice now. The first time was just an intake, and I explained the importance of me never seeing the number of the scale.

I know from my friends, how much doctors can tend to emphasize weight when you are pregnant, and how much weight is healthy to gain. I totally understand that.

It can be kind of overwhelming to navigate a situation that is so numbers focused, and then tell the nurse that that navigation style doesn’t work for you.

I asked her if she could please put it on the top of my chart . She said she did.

When I went into the doctor the second time, my husband was with me.

I didn’t even think about it until later, because I was so happy we just saw our baby’s heartbeat and little face- but a few days later I was thought, “Wait, did Brock see my weight?!”

When I asked him he kind of just looked at me with a blank face and said, “Yeah…I was right there…” (I turn around and close my eyes just in case. I also throw out visit summaries where they write it down, AND even look away from the computer because I know they need to enter it).

I can’t explain why, but for some reason, I felt like he knew this huge part of myself, almost like this huge big secret, that I hadn’t known in six years.

No one has known. Not me. Not my family. No one. And if there is anyone in this world I trust to see it, it’s him.

But it was the first time, my “number” had been exposed to someone I cared about.

I didn’t care if a doctor saw it. But for some reason,  I cared he saw it.

Not because I think he would think anything about it because the funny part is, he told me he forgot what It said. And I truly believe him.

I think I care just because for so many years, that number was me. It was my name. It was my worth. It was my face. And now, it finally, just almost lost even more of its value.

Because to him, it held no value. Nothing. Zero.

For me, it still means a lot. And that is the truth. It might not be the five year recovery truth I hoped for-but it is.

But to him, it meant nothing. And I love that. I cherish that. That empowered me more than I thought it would.

I could feel myself asking him things and almost wanting him to give me some kind of answer like, “don’t worry babe-it was a good number.”

Ha! Right? Five years later and there I was trying to get some kind of twisted ED validation! I felt crazy. And yet, I couldn’t stop myself.

Thankfully, he saw where it was going and said, “this is going no where good so let’s stop talking about it.” And I was so glad he did.

That right there, is enough proof for me, that while I am strong in my recovery, I am not ready to see a number on a scale.

I’m not sure how I feel about that.

I kind of wish I Was ready, almost like at this point in five years later, I should be ready for that.

But, I’m not. And I hope I can give myself love and kudos for realizing that and honoring that than the other way around.

Because like I said, this baby isn’t even here yet and I am already super protective. So if a scale is going to even maybe possibly the tiniest bit have some kind of negative effect on my baby- it ain’t happening.

So, I have to admit. Before I got pregnant, I always thought I would be one of those people who ate really healthy during my pregnancy.

I probably thought that because I generally am a healthy eater because I believe in the power of nutrition and what it does for my body.

But, these first few months have been hard on my body.

Most times , nothing sounds good to eat. And the few things that do sound good aren’t exactly on the healthy list.

More days than not, I am actually really ok with that part.

There have been some nights that I tell myself, “ok, that’s it Shira, no more. You can’t eat like that this whole time you’ll become huge.”

For example, last night we went to Chipotle.

I haven’t had Chipotle in years.

I always get some kind of burrito bowl. But pretty plain. Rice, beans, meat, veggies, salsa.

But last night, for I think the first time in forever, I got the burrito bowl , but I added sour cream AND guacamole AND cheese. I know that my fellow fighters will understand my capitols AND’s because that is what it felt like in my mind.

It just sounded so so so so good. And right now, when things sound so bad, when something sounds good, I have given myself permission to just fully enjoy and enjoy every last bite.

But I left there thinking, “Ok Shira, stop. Just because you are pregnant doesn’t mean you can eat like this. Seriously, you need to stop.”

I go back and forth with myself over that.

Part of me is thinking, why did I have to wait until I was pregnant to get a spoon of sour cream, guacamole and a sprinkle of cheese? I feel like that should have been something I allowed myself to have anyway. Not like every day. But if you somewhere once every few years, why not enjoy  it all the way.

The other part of me is still thinking, “ah…that was kind of a lot. Don’t do that all the time.”

And that is the truth.

I wish I could say I had no thoughts but happy recovery thoughts the whole time, but that is just not true and the reason I love this blog and our journeys is because they are true.

On that note, did it stop my night? Nope.

Did it stop me from eating today? Nope.

Is it going stop me from eating ravioli tonight? Nope.

And to me, that is the victory right there.

So apparently my baby likes sour cream, guac and cheese. It’s not the end of my world.

Every day that this precious little soul develops healthy, I feel like it’s one more point for recovery and one less point for the Ed world.

Because at the end of the day, that is what matters.

Not the burrito bowl. Not the number that Brock say on the scale at the doctors. Not the weight gain.

But what matters is that little tiny human life, with a heartbeat and a little tiny soul that is healthy and growing inside of me.

What matters is life, period.

My life, our little soul’s life and last but not least, I cannot forget the stretchy band thing for your jeans because honestly that is as important as life itself.

So, here we come next 6 months of pregnancy and next honestly forever after that, because like I’ve always said, this is a forever journey.

I have no idea what this pregnancy will be like, and have no idea what it will be like without a scale.

But I am so grateful that I have the opportunity to find out, because this is something I have wanted for so long.

Here we go…again, fighters.

Hello Life.

baby pic

I am not super-human

Happy 4 years beautiful fighterss ❤

Four years ago today I smashed my scale for the world to see. I remember sitting at home writing my final blog post of a year without a scale thinking that I knew everything there was to know about recovery.

I knew I wasn’t a number. I had learned to nourish my body with food again. I had experienced what freedom from all those eating disorder thoughts felt like. That was recovery, and I, in every sense, was a pro at it.

Four years later, and I remain truthful and loyal to the fact that I am not a number . I still have no idea how much I weigh.That being said, I’ve also learned that this journey is so much more than that.

We all have an Ed of some sort. Mine might be about my body image and about striving for perfection. Someone else’s might be about their career, their marriage, their home, their family or sports-we all battle that negative voice that tells us in some way, that we are not enough.

And I’ve learned in these past four years that that voice, at least for me, will always be there.I know how to silence it, and I have the power to do that, but it will always be there. For me, Ed is just not about food or weight or clothes anymore.

Sometimes he tells me I am not doing enough with my nonprofit. Sometimes he tells me I am working too hard or working too much. His need and constant drive for perfection in my life will always be there. And I see now that it is not always going to be centered around food, body or weight.

Sometimes I think that I have spent so much time in the past four years focusing on loving my body and not focusing on numbers that I have forgotten to look at the other part of my recovery: the strive for perfection. Striving for perfection is what leads many of us to addiction in the first place, so it is no surprise that it is still here present in my life. I think it will always be here.

I’ve had a lot of major things happen this year.

I got an amazing job that I never thought I would get. I was so shocked when they offered it to me.

I received Hello Life’s nonprofit official tax-exempt non-profit status which required a 100 page application to the IRS that took me a year to do.

I am planning a beautiful wedding.

Yet somehow, I still find myself thinking that I am not doing enough.

I’ve thought about applying to grad school for a degree in nonprofit management. I’ve done fundraisers for our nonprofit. I’ve told myself I need to start taking grant classes right away to raise money for my nonprofit. I need to grow my nonprofit more.

Every week I am thinking of adding something onto my plate. I feel like I am always in this constant race with myself to add more, to do more, to accomplish more, to be more.

That is the part of recovery that has been the hardest for me this year.

I have spent the past three months really focusing on this part of my journey. I knew that I could not keep living like that because it would take over me. It was not good self care.

I’ve now made a timeline for when I would like to do all those things I have listed above and I’ve also told myself that if they don’t happen how I plan, that is OK too. I decided that they for sure, are not happening anytime before I get married.

But I literally had to write down and carve out this remaining year to be dedicated to my new job and to my wedding. That was really hard for me to do. In some ways, I felt like I was failing.

Ever since I was a teenager working, going to school and volunteering, I have always prided myself on being super human.

For the past year I’ve prided myself on my new job, and how I am able to run my own nonprofit, and run my support groups, and have these huge dreams. Don’t get me wrong, I am so proud of myself for all of that. But I had to take a step back and see that I was using all of that to still define me.

It wasn’t a number on a scale; no. But it was a job title. It was a founder of a nonprofit title. It was a status.

I don’t want to judge myself on these titles anymore. Because I am no better than the person sitting next to me who has a different title.

I don’t want to pride myself on being super-human anymore, because a lot of the time that impedes on my self-care.

I will always be a go-getter and I will always be doing something of big magnatude to help people because that’s who I am. And I love that about myself.

But during this part of my recovery journey I am really trying to not focus on the body itself and focus on loving myself even if I am not super-human.

I want to make it so that if I lost my job, my nonprofit and everything I worked for tomorrow, that I would still love myself fiercely anyway-and right now, I am not there yet.

But I am dedicated to getting there.

I’ve scaled back on board meetings, I’ve started meal prepping meals on Sunday’s so I can have food ready when I come home and not have to cook a whole hour meal after a long day at work. Are they gourmet meals like I was making before? No. No they are not and while that has been hard, it’s been freeing.

I’ve had to scale back on a lot of things with my nonprofit so I can focus on enjoying to plan my wedding and so I can focus on spending time with my amazing fiancé.

I’ve learned to leave the dishes in the sink overnight.

I’ve learned to let my fiancé help me with dishes and laundry, which by far has been the hardest part of all because I used to love being able to say I can do this all on my own.

But I guess that is my point.

This stage of my recovery journey, I have learned that I can’t do this on my own. And that is not just limited to recovery.

That means life.

I cannot be super-human on my own. Even just admitting that was such a hard thing to write, but I feel so much more free already.

I don’t have to be super-human.

I can’t say I don’t want to be because I totally do-but I am learning that it is OK to not be.

Four years later and I am still not a number. I am not a size. I am not a job title. And now, I am learning that I am not super-human. And that is OK.

Being able to write that one sentence alone is such a big recovery victory and life victory-that I am gong to leave this blog at that.

Year four is dedicated to all of us who have the right to love ourselves on our best day, our worst days and our non-super human days.

Non-super human lifers, this is for us.

Hello life.

 

Saying “I Do” and Eating Burgers at a Gas Station on a Monday night

Happy Monday lifers,

Wow, it’s been a long time since I have written a blog. There are so many times that I have thought to myself, “I need to write about this,” and then come home to get swept away with life and don’t find the time.

But tonight, as I was standing in the gas station by my house, ordering the best hamburger in the world, I had this overwhelming want to write. So here I am.

Before I go into how I got to standing in the middle of a gas station on a Monday night with my fiancé let me go back and recap quickly the new basic facts of my life needed to understand the full meaning of this post.

I think the biggest news is since I have last written is that I am now engaged! I actually have been wanting to write several blog posts about this, but again, just have not found the time-which I am hoping will soon change now that I am trying to learn to say no to some things.

I am engaged to the man of my dreams, to my best friend, to the person who loves me wholly, fully and completely on good days and bad days.  The very minute that he proposed to me, I remember thinking to myself, “This is the best gift my recovery has given me.”

If I was not in this long, hard journey-every single day to keep my recovery, I absolutely would not be marrying my best friend.

It is my recovery that has taught me how to love myself enough to allow myself to be loved by my soul mate. It is my recovery that has taught me how to present enough in the moment to grow into the mindful, present person I am today. It is my recovery that has shown me how to appreciate the small moments and how it is oK to celebrate the big ones-and it is my recovery that has allowed me to learn to live my life again.

All that being said, planning a wedding is wonderful and amazing, yet we all know, stressful at the same time. Even without an eating disorder in the mix, I think planning a wedding is stressful. But add recovering from anorexia in there and it is another ball game.

But I knew when I first got engaged that we would have a long engagement. This February will mark a year since we have been engaged-and we get married all the way in July of 2017.

I knew I had a choice to make.

I could spend the entirety of my wedding planning triggered, or I could spend it enjoying each moment and being present. And I had to make the choice quick.

It was only the morning after my fiancé and I got engaged that we had this big fight about getting in shape for the wedding.

He had something like, “yeah, I am excited to get in shape for the wedding.” He, who does not have any history of an eating disorder, totally meant that in a healthy way. He wanted to get in shape for his wedding. It was simple and healthy and for him, exciting.

But in my already triggered mind from all the thoughts running in my head from the night before, I couldn’t hear that. All I heard was, “why do I have to get in shape for the wedding? Why don’t you love me how I am? Why would you even say that?”!

But, he never even once mentioned me! Never. And when I said those comments to him, he looked at me stunned and in disbelief. I still remember him saying, “Shira, what are you talking about ? You look great. I am talking about myself.”

The reason I have not blogged about this yet or even told anyone about this yet, not even my twin sister who I tell everything to, is because I have felt ashamed.

Here I was, the morning after the happiest day of my life, and I got into a fight with the man who just said he loves me and wants to marry me because I let my eating disorder trigger me and set me off over a comment that he truly was innocently saying about himself?

It made me sad for a long time and I really tried to brush it off and not think about it-but it still gets to me sometimes. I feel better now that I have written about it.

I bet you he will read this blog tonight and not even remember what I am talking about. But to me, and in my world, that was a monumental moment.

I had to decide right then and right there in that exact moment how this wedding planning was going to go.

I knew it was my choice.

I had a choice in how Ed will play a role in my wedding and I knew that I had worked way too hard to even give him that power.

So that day, right then and there, I decided that Ed will not be any part of planning my wedding. To say he won’t be present at all is a total lie and not even realistic, but he will be and has been since that day, a mere background echoed voice that gets weaker and weaker and more distant and more distant each time I make  a recovery decision without him.

So here I am now, almost one year into planning the wedding of my dreams and 215 days exactly from marrying my best friend, and I can honestly sit here and tell you that I am in the best place with my body and with my recovery that I think I have ever been.

This was not always an apparent thing and I worried for months that I would be triggered. I still worry. We see so many things on slimming for the wedding and crash dieting for the wedding, it is hard not to get completely lost in that.

But with the support of my amazing and strong family, other fighters, friends and fiancé I find myself standing strong, tall, proud and feeling beautiful with who I am.

But that did not come easy. I worked for it. I still do work for it.

Once I knew the date that my family and I were going wedding dress shopping, I planned it in my mind for months.

I would go over the image of me trying on dresses and my entire family watching me saying how beautiful I look and me telling myself in the mirror in the wedding dress shop how beautiful I look.

And I mean months and months. I practiced over and and over and over in my mind. Because I know that once our mind does something, it begins to believe it and it will practice what it knows.

So I practiced and practiced. I practiced mantras. I practiced telling myself not to look at the size, and I thought about me looking in the mirror and loving myself.

I envisioned myself standing in the mirror, looking at myself in the perfect dress, and saying to myself, “Wow Shira, you are so beautiful. This is the one.”

Of course I had hard moments, and I think my mom and sister in the room were maybe the only ones who could feel it-in which they did a good job of pulling me out-but the hard moments were very short lived and I bounced back fast.

I remember walking away, after finding my perfect dress, thinking to myself, “I am so grateful and appreciative that I felt beautiful in my dress today. I am so grateful today was a good day.”

And I really mean that with all my heart. I sit here tonight almost in tears of joy over how grateful I was for that experience.

I pray with all my heart that I will feel the same way on my wedding day. I know I have power in that, but I also pray for a good day in recovery.

All my practice, combined with the dream team of support, I had an amazing experience.

Now take that, paired with fitting in the same size later in April, and now we have some stress I think anyone would feel.

So let’s fast forward to now: It is holiday season time. Holiday season time , AKA time of chocolate, cookies, office treats and more treats.

Which for a lot of people in recovery, can be especially hard.

This, also combined with the worst snow our area has had in forever, which has caused the gym to be closed or me not even able to get anywhere.

Combined with the winter before my wedding.

Mmmmm hmmm. Oh yeah.

It could be a complete set up for major ed triggers.  Like absolute major and truly I wouldn’t even blame myself.

But for the most part, it hasn’t been.  For the most part, it’s been pretty good and I think this is why.

For the first time in a long time and for the first time ever in any holiday time, I gave myself permission to let go of the rules.

I gave myself permission to let go of the schedules, and to open myself to go with the flow.

At my job they have this thing where every day of the month in December someone brings in a treat.

The first time I heard that I think I was panicked. How will I control myself? But what if I eat all the cookies every single time I walk in the break room? Those were the thoughts that came to mind because that is what happened last year.

But last year is not this year and I am a different place now.

Last year, I tried the approach of, “Don’t eat any of it.” So of course, I ended up eating all of it.

This year I decided to try something different.

I already am in a place where things are just going to have to flow. And I decided to honor that.

I am honoring letting things just ride.

If it snows and I don’t make it to the gym, so I don’t make it to the gym. Maybe that day I will have one chocolate truffle for dessert instead of my usual two.

If there are desserts at work, I told myself, I was going to be present.

“I will eat the ones I want that look really good to me and I will skip on the ones that don’t call my name.”

That was it. Those were the only guidelines I told myself.

It is almost the end of December and I feel truly in balance.

Once I let myself have whatever I wanted, I didn’t binge on anything anymore. Nothing was “temptation.” Food was ok , treats were ok, and in whatever capacity my body felt it wanted it, I allowed that to happen.

Which brings me to my final part of my blog where I was standing in the gas station tonight ordering a bacon cheeseburger).

This gas station-with the burger-was the second date my fiancé took me two years ago on our second date.

We went there because I said In-n-out was better and he said this gas station burger was better. Obviously, I thought I had it in the bag, because this place was a gas station.

Well, I was so wrong.

It was the best burger I ever had.

We now live only a few minutes from this gas station and we have not had the burger since our second date almost more than 2 years ago now. I have been craving it forever.

Tonight he picked me up from work because it was all ice in the morning and he, being the caring sweet man he is, drove me-and we pulled in to get gas.

My heart started beating kind of fast, sometimes like it does when  I am about to make a decision that I am really excited about but that I have tried to talk myself out of several times before-and I told him, “Babe, I am getting a burger . Do you want one.?”

I could see he was surprised. But in the best way.

I knew he would never turn me down for a burger, especially at this gas station.

So when he was filling up gas I went inside and ordered the exact replica meal of our second date. Only this time, there is this milk shake maker thing-really is is a contraption-you pick a flavor, add it to this thing and it makes a milkshake-and I forever have wanted to try it.

I just think it is the coolest thing ever.

So we tried it. And it wasn’t the best milk shake but it was just so cool to see.

Anyway, we finally got our food. We went home and ate it. I ate it slowly. I ate it sitting down. Every part of it was mindful.

When we were on our way home and I told him, “Wow, I have to write a blog about this.”

He jokingly looked at me, laughed and said, “you are writing about a burger??”.

And I laughed , but in all seriousness in my mind, said yes.

It’s not just a burger and onion rings and a milk shake contraption.

It is me eating a hamburger on a  Monday night-no special occasion, no birthday, no “binge day now and don’t eat anything later”-it is just a Monday night where I was craving a burger and got to share it with my love.

That might sound so simple to just the everyday person-a burger on a Monday night-but to me, and I think to so many of the fighters reading this-it is freedom.

That freedom is what keeps me going.

That freedom is what I fight for my recovery for.

That freedom is for saying I do to the man of my dreams-it is for me feeing beautiful on my wedding day- it is for burgers on a Monday night at a gas station- and it is to wake up every single day and continue to say, Hello Life.

 

Celebrating three years of freedom

Happy 3rd Hello Life anniversary fighters!

Three years ago today I gave up my scale for good. I didn’t know how I was going to do it, and at the time, I didn’t even know why I truly wanted recovery. I just knew one thing: that I didn’t want to let this scale, this Godlike object, to control my entire world anymore.

Seven days after I gave it up, I found myself wanting it back.

I missed it. I missed its certainty; I missed its validity; I missed its complete magical ability to tell me if today was going to be a good or bad day and if I was a good or bad person just by stepping on it. I missed the certainty ; that black and white; that flies out the door the minute we choose recovery and balance. That’s the day-day 7- that I started this blog.

I knew if I made a commitment to the world, even if no one else read it other than my family, that I would have to keep it, or otherwise fail in the eyes of the many people reading. And truly, even had I gone back to my scale, now I see that it would not have been a failure; it would have been another bump in the road.

But because of the incredible, beautiful and overwhelming support I received on this blog from people all over the world, I didn’t go back to my scale. We, as a community of fighters, made it through that year together. And  on Jan 21, 2014, I smashed my scale for all of us.

It’s been three years now since I have ever stood on my scale and I still have not ever gone back to it or to any other one.

The only time I ever stand on one is when  I have to at the doctor’s office, and even then, while Ed is still screaming at me even now, I do a blind weigh where I close my eyes, stand backwards AND have the nurse turn off the scale before I open my eyes again. I even have the nurses black out my weight on my after visit summaries so I can’t see them. Sometimes, they offer to not even type it in until I leave.

There have been times, on my hard days, where I can feel my eyes wanting to glaze over to the computer so I can try to see which numbers the nurse’s hands press.

But I never do it.

Even when Ed tells me, “Shira, it’s been three years. You’re ready to see the number now. You are strong enough to see it.” That’s when I have to fight the hardest.

He is wrong. Ed is always wrong. It takes strength to choose recovery. It takes strength to not stand on that scale; not the other way around. And in all reality, Ed is also so wrong . I’m  not ready to see that number on a scale right now. It doesn’t mean that is my reality forever-but that is my reality for right now.

I haven’t seen what I weighed for three years and I am still not ready to see it and still don’t want to see it.

It doesn’t mean I don’t think I wouldn’t love myself anymore if I did see it, because I know that even though it would deeply trigger me, I would.

It doesn’t mean that using a scale isn’t the right path for other people.

It just means that for me, I still have not found a reason to ever see that number again.

Maybe one day if I found a valid, scientific, proof verified reason, it would be different. But for now, there is nothing that scale can tell me.

It can’t tell me how I am doing in my job. It can’t tell me how I am as  a daughter, sister, friend, girlfriend, or mentor. It can’t tell me how healthy I am. nope. It can’t do any of that.

But my recovery, on the other hand, it can do that.

Choosing to live in recovery can tell me how I am doing at work because it allows me to open myself to the advise and also criticisms of others and not break myself apart over it.

Recovery allows me to feel good about myself for being a good sister, daughter, girlfriend or friend not because I weighed a certain amount while baking someone cookies who I cared about, but because I get true joy out of making others happy.

But even with all of that said, there are always times, especially this past year when I’ve gotten to be the biggest I ever have been since I started recovery, that I wonder about the scale. There are still times I cry over it and my body. And that’s ok with me.

I sometimes still ask myself, “What do I weight right now? Is it the same as I was in college? Or that one time I went to prom? Or is it the amount I was when I bought my old favorite jeans?”

Sometimes I feel so tempted to know the number that I have to literally sit and ask myself, “Shira, what will come of this if you do this?” And I will walk myself through the whole imaginary scenario in my head until the conclusion wraps up which is a possible relapse. And then I move back on with my life.

Three years without knowing what I weight and in recovery doesn’t mean I don’t ever think about it and it doesn’t mean it always easy. That’s why I started this blog: to show my true and raw journey to recovery.

It does mean, though, how much strength, hope and compassion we as human beings are made up of.

Who would have thought that three years ago, a blog, this blog in fact- could connect so many beautiful souls around the world? Who would have thought it would lead to support groups world wide and to a nonprofit one day?

I never would have thought that.

And somehow, the universe had this grand plan in mind for me and all  I have to do is continue to follow it.

No scale or number or size of jeans in the world could ever bring me the kind of joy and true and deep appreciation that I have for my life and for being able to help others that my recovery journey has given me.

No number in the world could fill me with the kind of deep rooted and connected gratefulness I have for my life now.

I am so grateful for all of you who have supported me these past three years. I don’t have the words to say thank you one million times over, but if I could, I would.

Why I have been blessed to have so much support from my family, friends and strangers who I never even met is a question I can’t answer. But in the mean time, I am going to continue walking this path that has been so gently and graciously put in front of me.

Our journey in helping each other find true self love beyond a number and a beyond any eating disorder is only just beginning fighters. Your support and love can truly change someone else’s world, and for whatever it’s worth, it has forever changed mine.

Hello life.