Happy Second Birthday Hello Life: Celebrating 2 Years Without A Scale

I still remember the day I gave up my scale two years ago today. It was the most painful day of my life.

I didn’t know how I would make it without waking up each morning and knowing what number I was that day.

How would I know if I was good? How would I know if I was bad? How would I know anything if I didn’t have my number on the scale to tell me.

Today, I know that I am no longer defined by a number.

This is what I was defined by today: (a text message from my 11-year-old brother).

“Happy Hello Life Day!You taught me what never giving up means. You taught me what it means to set a goal and not let anything stop you from getting it. You are the center of my heart,” he wrote.

With that text message, I was reminded of why I started this journey-and that was to save myself from Ed so I can live in freedom and live knowing what it feels like to let someone else love me other than Ed.

I started it because I knew somewhere deep down, I deserved to wake up and not have to run to my scale-that I deserved to start my day not being predicted by what that scale read.

I started it so I could go to my family dinners. I started it so I could eat a piece of my own birthday cake. I started it because I knew I deserved to live.

Today, as I celebrate my own recovery and the strength it took to get me here, I think about the many people who are still fighting for that recovery-for the people who are laying down tonight trying to make tomorrow that day of change. You are not alone. Even if tomorrow is not that day, you are not alone.

When we suffer with an eating disorder, we often suffer in silence.

Through this blog, we have gotten loud. And that noise, has saved my life, and the lives of others.

To everyone who has stood by me these past two years-thank you is not enough. My recovery is not only mine-as I’ve always said, it’s the journey of this whole Hello Life community.

Today is about gratitude-gratitude for all the support I have.

Today is about compassion-compassion for those who are where I was two years ago.

Today is about appreciation-appreciation for those who are in a stronger place in their recovery than I am.

Today is about strength- strength to walk the path of self-love.

Today is about celebration for life-and being ready to continue on this journey.

There’s a hundred things I can list here that I want to say about today: but here’s the most important ones:

I am alive and I am free.

Happy second birthday Hello Life.

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My name is Shira. I’m 24. And I just took myself out to breakfast.

Happy Sunday fighters,

Today was a huge day for our Hello Life community.

It was the day we chose to take on our 2015 challenge/resolution of taking ourselves out to eat alone.

While this resolution/challenge started out as just my own, many of our fighters took it on as well.

We had people in the United Kingdom, New York, California, Oregon and Ohio take part in this challenge today with us.

I have a lot to say about this experience and I want to share every part of it with you guys.

I want to start by saying thank you to my dear friend and hero in New Jersey, (another fighter of ours), because if not for her support while I did this, I don’t think I would have done it.

While she walked into her restaurant in New Jersey, I walked into mine here in Washington and we did this challenge step by step together.

So let’s get down to business: most important question: where did I go to eat?

For those of you who followed this journey during its first year, you know that Cheesecake Factory is my favorite restaurant. I celebrated my birthday there, I celebrated my college graduation there, I celebrated leaving California for my new job in Washington there and I celebrated one year without a scale there. It’s where my most beloved Linda Fudge Cake lives.

So, it’s not a shocker that I chose to go to Cheesecake Factory today.

I knew I wanted breakfast. AT first I wanted to try something new .

But I was already so nervous as it was and Ed was so loud this morning that I decided to go with a place I knew I loved already, a place I knew what to expect and a place I felt comfortable being in.

Even before I left to the restaurant Ed was loud today. He was loud this whole week, but this morning he was louder than usual.

First, he was telling me to do a body check. Then he was telling me to tell my boyfriend to take a picture of my “outfit” so I can see how it looked on me since he doesn’t have a full length mirror in his house. (I was wearing black pants and a black shirt, how bad can it look). It was just another way to do a body check.

There was me, who was excited to take on this challenge, and then there was Ed, who was just daunting me with negativity.

I did do the body check.

I did ask my boyfriend if my outfit matched, but I did not ask for a photo.

I did try to take a selfie of my outfit, but thankfully, you can’t take body photos too well as a selfie.

It wasn’t the perfect start to this journey, but it happened. And I worked through it.

45 minutes later I was in the car driving to the restaurant.

By this time, I have a fighter in Oregon who lives close, tell me she took on th e challenge herself this morning at Starbucks and got food and a coffee alone and I had our other fighter in New Jersey texting me as she was about to walk in to her restaurant too.

I felt nervous, a little defeated by Ed, but not alone —and that is what got me through the hardest part of getting ready in the morning and walking into the Cheesecake Factory.

I walked in and sat at a high top table by the bar. There were four seats and four menus.

Right away the waitress asked “how many more in your party?”

“Just me today,” I said and smiled. She took the other menus away and asked what I wanted to drink.

I, along with our other fighter in New Jersey, decided even before sitting down, that Ed would not dictate what we ordered today.

I ordered a mocha.

That’s it-just how I said it- a mocha. Not a mocha with non-fat milk. Not a mocha with splenda. Just a mocha.

Wow. This mocha put my Starbucks skinny mocha to shame. Deep, deep , utter shame.

mocha

There it is. It was so delicious. I eve ate some of the whipped cream with a spoon. Our other fighter in New Jersey got coffee and for the first time, added sugar and milk to it.

When I was locked in my eating disorder, coffee creamer was a no. A total no. I still remember the first time I added it back into my life. It started as non-fat, then sugar-free, and now I have the real deal one.

I still measure exactly one tablespoon of creamer into my coffee each day, and while I do not want that to be a new food rule for me forever, at this point in my recovery, I am happy with it.

Sometimes on weekends I pour it without measuring-and each time I do, it’s another moment of freedom.

To have this mocha today was truly a victory in itself.

The minute I saw the menu I knew what I wanted. The brûlée french toast.

I have no idea what brûlée means, and had I been on this date with myself even a year ago, I would have googled it to find out.

When I was deep in my eating disorder, whenever I ate out, there were specific words on menus that I stayed away from: battered, sautéed, breaded…I can go on and on. I’m sure brûlée is on that list of Ed’s, but I didn’t care today.

As I ordered the french toast and a side of bacon (extra crispy), I was texting our other fighter and we were encouraging each other. I kept thinking how crazy this is that we are doing this.

A year ago today, I was counting down the last 10 days of being a year without a scale. I was just barley learning how to go eat out with others. I was learning how to not look at menus before going to a restaurant. It was a big deal and still is.

To be sitting in a restaurant today, alone, and ordering what I truly wanted, is beyond my comprehension.

I got my food and it was so beautiful looking. It was made just for me and I liked knowing that.

I had a conversation yesterday with my boyfriend about how much I love to share my food and how much he doesn’t like to share his.

“Well, mine is mine and yours is yours,” he said. It’s really a simple concept to him.

Me, on the other hand, I don’t think I’ve ever gotten food in the past five years and have not offered to share it. Some of that is a mix of Ed  wanting to give food away, and some of it is the caretaker in me who wants to make sure everyone is fed and happy.

Today, I did not share my food.

I texted a photo of it to our other fighter after my first bite.

french toast bacon

It was delicious. I was trying to think how it tasted and wanted to describe it to myself in the moment, but to be honest, it was just so good, I didn’t want to try to think about how it tasted- I just wanted to be in the moment.

By this time, I was a little more comfortable being alone. Even though the waitress kept asking me if I was done, I realized she’s just doing her job—not an indication that I should have been done a long time ago.

I usually eat really fast.

This is something I’ve always done, but since entering recovery, it can sometimes be worse, especially when its foods I am not comfortable with or if I am in a bad place with Ed. It’s like eating the food fast makes it all go away faster.

But today, I ate slow. I ate one bite at a time, chewed each bite and even put my fork and knife down as I chewed. I also used a knife today.

Using a knife is a big deal. Using any kind of utensils for a lot of us in recovery is a big deal because it signifies we’re eating.

When I was at my darkest place with my eating disorder, I only ate with my hands.

Picking at bites or pieces here or there with my hands felt less scary than sitting and using a fork or spoon.

Today, I used a knife to cut my food. Even now, I sometimes just use a fork. But today I did it right.

That part of the meal-the mindfulness part-felt amazing. I felt like a “normal” person who eats out. Not like a puppet being controlled by Ed.

I was just exactly full and I decided to have two extra bites of the french toast. It was worth the extra ounces of extra fullness.

When the receipt came, it sad “one mocha, one french toast with bacon.”

recipt

I took a photo and starred at it for a few minutes. I almost still can’t believe this is MY receipt.

Two years ago , that receipt would have said “egg whites and tea” and definitely would have had another person’s order on it.

It took me a few minutes to realize that yes, this is my recepit. This is my new reality. And there’s no one else’s meal on there but mine.

I kept trying to ask myself “Shira, what do you feel? Describe to yourself how you feel. Aren’t you proud? You just took yourself out to breakfast!”

I could not come up with one word. I was in so much awe of myself and the other fighters who took this on, I really just didn’t have a word.

When I paid and was getting ready to leave the restaurant, I felt like crying. It was like this moment with me and myself and no one around me knew, but I knew.

I just conquered something that even three months ago, I was not ready to do.

Yes, Ed was there. Even before I left the restaurant, he had me do a quick check of how I looked in the bathroom full-length mirror. To say he was totally gone wouldn’t be real. And this blog, this journey, this story-this is real.

But I didn’t care about Ed by then. I was and am so proud that I did this.

I ordered what I wanted. I stopped eating when I was full. I enjoyed every bite. And most importantly, there was no guilt attached to it.

I knew at that table, that I deserved to treat myself to ordering what I wanted and enjoying it.

I walked out of that restaurant and felt like I was acting out a scene in the last part of a movie.

If there was wind machine somewhere it would have been turned on and blowing my hair out of my face as I walked through those doors to the parking lot.

I felt 10 feet tall.

I wanted to go walk up to someone and say “My name is Shira. I’m 24. I’m in recovery for an eating disorder and I just took myself out to breakfast.”

Of course I didn’t do that, because someone would think I’m crazy, but  I am going to do it now on this blog.

My name is Shira. I am 24 and I’ve been in recovery for my eating disorder for two years. Today, I took myself out to breakfast alone for the first time and I ordered french toast, a mocha, and bacon.”

Wow. Even typing that out right now felt like a different person.

I know today will not be the last time I take myself out to eat. I don’t want it to be.

The fact that I didn’t let Ed stop me today, and didn’t let him be more powerful than me and the fact that I enjoyed this meal, makes me want to do it again one day.

But, most importantly, today didn’t just mean that I conquered this huge challenge for me -it was a reminder of the support and love this blog has brought into my life and into the lives of others.

I did not do this alone today.

Other fighters did not do this alone today either.

The fact that we, who used to feel and sometimes still do feel so alone in our battle to fighting our eating disorders, were not alone in this, is beautiful. It’s power. It’s recovery.

When we suffer from an eating disorder, we suffer in silence.

Today, were loud.

We were so loud. We texted. We facbeooked. We emailed. We told Ed he’s not part of this.

We were loud, fighters. And we were heard.

When we suffer from eating disorders, we often suffer alone.

Today, we fought together.

Today is also the 25th birthday of a special fighter in London.

She started her journey to recovery after finding this blog a little over a year ago now.

She’s not only become a huge inspiration and support to the people in the online support group, but she’s become one of my closest friends.

She told me this past Christmas that if not for this blog, she would not be alive today.

And now, she is celebrating her 25th birthday.

This blog post and my meal this morning is dedicated to her and to our incredible fighter in New Jersey, who did this challenge with me today.

There are so many things to say hello to right now.

Hello to taking myself out to breakfast.

Hello to ordering a mocha, just as is.

Hello to bruled french toast and crispy bacon. And hello to not knowing what bruleed means.

Hello to birthdays that would otherwise not be celebrated if not for our recovery.

Hello to conquering our greatest Ed fears.

Hello to Hello Life’s two year anniversary of being scale free coming up in 10 days.

Hello to being able to say “My name is Shira. I’m 24. I’m two years in recovery for my eating disorder and I just took myself to breakfast today.”

And lastly, hello life.

 

 

2015: Lets do it fighters

Happy 2015 lifers,

It all started last Sunday when I wanted Thai food and I had no one to go with me.

I didn’t want to get take out and have it cold when I got home.

I saw a Thai food restaurant and was thinking that I should just go inside by myself, sit down at a table and take myself out to dinner.

Um…just take myself out to dinner? alone?

It’s something I have not done before.

I’ve cooked for myself before, but I’ve never gone and sat down into a restaurant alone and ate.

Never, ever. A lot in part because I know Ed would take a seat right next to me and learning how to entertain him as a dinner guest is something that needs to be planned and well prepared.

Taking yourself out to eat alone at a restaurant is the most mindful act possible. It’s being mindful that you are taking yourself out to eat, and being OK with that and it’s the act of being mindful of what you are eating and how it tastes.

There’s no one there to talk with you as your eating to be a distraction and theres’ no TV in front of your face either.

It’s pure mindfulness.

And for someone in recovery for an eating disorder, it’s a lot to take on because that mindfulness will battle Ed in our mind the moment we even drive in the car to the restaurant.

So I decided last Sunday that I wasn’t ready that night to go do it, but I knew that I wanted to make sure I would do it soon, so I made it my new year resolution.

I wanted to give myself the time to prepare to take on this challenge.

Even if it means letting Ed come along with me, I actually would rather do that and show him I can do it in front of his face.

Sure, he will tell me that everyone there is looking at me wondering why I am ordering all this food for just me. Yup, he will definitely say that. He already did say it and I didn’t even go yet.

And he will tell me it was enough to just take a few bits and leave.

But that’s ok with me because I’m stronger than him now.

I don’t want to do this challenge only as an act of eating; but as an act of self-love.

I so deserve to be able to take myself out to eat, even in the face of Ed.

I deserve to do able to sit in peace or discomfort, whichever it brings me, and walk myself through it and eat what my body is craving.

So that settles it.

For 2015, I am going to take myself out to eat a restaruant, alone.

I am going to think about the kind of food I want that night and pick a place carefully.

I want to put as much thought into it as I would if I was taking my boyfriend out on a fancy date because instead, I will be my own date and that deserves major planning.

I was talking to the fighters in the support group about this and a few of them also wanted to take on the challenge. So another fighter in New York and I have decided to do the challenge together  on the same day.

This way, while we will each be taking ourselves out to eat alone, we will really not be alone because we will be doing this together.

We will be going through the feelings of anxiety together and the discomfort together, and most importantly, we will be feeling victorious together once we are done.

If there is anyone else reading this who would like to join us, we have chosen Sunday, Jan.11 as our day.

I don’t think we will put a time on it because what if I want dinner and our other fighter wants breakfast? I like the idea of leaving that open so we have the freedom to customize it how we want to.

Anyone else who wants to join, just please contact me through the contact me tab and let me know and I will make sure we all have the support we need as we take this on together.

As far as the rest of 2015 goes, I only know this: I will continue to live life loving others without judgement and I will continue to remind myself that that love is deserved for myself too.

I also hope this is the year Hello Life can become a nonprofit and start reaching others so other fighters can have the support and love they need.

20 days after 2013 I started this blog and gave up my scale.

Never in all my dreams would I have thought it would have led me to almost two years of being scale free and in recovery from my eating disorder. Never would I have thought that it would bring so many beautiful souls into my life.

This Jan. 21 will mark two years without a scale and in recovery. I cannot wait to celebrate with you all and I cannot wait to tell you how my dining experience alone will go.

I know that everyone reading this blog has felt the same pain, anger, darkness and imprisonment from Ed this last year that I did.

But I also know, that so many of us have also felt our power and our freedom come back into our lives by kicking Ed’s ass and learning to love and be kind to ourselves.  Here is only a few of the amazing things our fighters did in 2014:

To our 15-year-old fighter in New York who just left inpatient treatment and is on his way back to school and freedom, hello life.

To our fighter in Canada who ripped up her sick clothes, hello life.

To our fighter in London who literally saved her own life by sticking to her recovery and using all the support around her and who is blossoming in every way, hello life.

To our fighter in Kansas who continues to love others even though her heart has been hurting this year, who put real cheese on her veggies and who might possibly give up her own scale this year, hello life.

To our fighter in New Jersey who continues to love her family and has been scale free for 9 months, hello life.

To our fighter in Pennsylvania who has has continued to live with an open heart and push for recovery while being a mother and a wife day in and day out, hello life.

To our fighter in the United Kingdom who celebrated her 21st birthday this year, hello life.

To our fighter in France who ate a lemon pie, her favorite dessert, on her own, hello life.

To our fighter in Oregon who just had a healthy baby girl,hello life.

To our fighter in Canada who just made an entire vegan meal tonight and who continues to love herself, care for herself and live in the world of recovery even though life has not been the easiest on you lately, hello life.

To the 600 people wearing Hello Life bracelets around the world, hello life.

To our 13-year-old fighter in Tennessee who enjoyed ice cream with her friend this summer, hello life.

To the many fighters who have told me this blog saved their lives…little did you know your support and love has saved mine.

May we continue to fight together for our right to love ourselves and live in freedom not just in 2015, but for as long as it takes.

Hello life.