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.

 

 

 

 

Seven hours in the life of an eating disorder mind

I talk about self-love a lot.

I write about it a lot.

I instagram about it a lot.

It’s kind of become who I am in my new recovery world..

I’ve been in recovery from my eating disorder for two years now. Naturally, I’m expected to love myself all the time, right? Naturally, I’m expected to not have any more eating disorder thoughts or negative self-talk, right?

No. Wrong and wrong again.

Maybe in our eating disorder minds that are wired for perfection, those things would be true. But in the mind of  a person in recovery, like me, where perfection no longer is an option to strive for, those things cannot be true.

So, let me walk you through just a portion of my day today as someone two years in recovery.

This is hard for me to share and hard for me to write, especially since I just launched my nonprofit organization dedicated to helping those like us who battle eating disorders.

But the truth is, no matter how much recovery we have on our side, we will forever battle and forever fight–and that’s a message that needs to be shared and told with everyone who reads this blog.

It’s important to me that other fighters who might be experiencing the same thing, whether your in recovery or not, know that it’s ok to have hard days. Or hard weeks. Or hard months. Or hard hours.

It’s all ok.

So, let’s start with my day today. Keep in mind that these thoughts are a product of about a week now of struggling with my own body image and self love.

I kept track on my phone of all the thoughts in my head as I went through the day.

I didn’t plan on writing a blog post about it. After seeing a Dove campaign that did something similar, I wanted to do it for myself so I could see the reality of how mean I am to myself in hopes that reading those thoughts out loud to myself later will help me stop.

But then I realized this is something that needs to be shared to show people they are not alone.

5 am: I get up to go to the gym.

“Oh my God, these pants are so much tighter than they were two weeks ago. Really, if my gym pants are getting tighter, what more proof do I need that I am just totally out of control and gaining way too much weight?”.

530 am: Arrive to gym. Look in the mirror when I am working out.

“Wow. Just wow. This is terrible. I wonder if the other people here notice how much bigger I look? But that’s ok. That’s why I am here right? To work on my body. Right. Ok. I am doing a good thing.”

630 am: Get home and shower. Look in the mirror again before going into the shower.

“I have no more waist. Wow. It’s totally gone. Totally gone. And so many love handles. So many. What is happening to me. I always said I would never become this person.”

7 am: Get out of shower and get dressed.

“These pants are so much tighter on me now than they were when I tried them on 6 months ago. I thought I was big then…I wish I knew what I would look like now. I wish I looked now what I looked like then. There is literally no space anywhere on these pants.”

8 am: Get to work.

I talk with my co-worker about how my pants are too tight and how I wish I could learn the balance from “loving myself too much which allows me to eat whatever I want and between having self control and not loving myself too much.” Seriously, I actually said that.

9 am: I am really tired already and want a coffee from Starbucks.

I look up the nutritional facts on every Starbucks skinny drink on their website. I already know them by heart from years and years of looking at them over and over, but why not look again, right?

Then, I calculated my calorie total so far in the day and what it would be with my Starbucks drink and without it. I did that 8 times. Over and over.

When I didn’t like that number, I calculated the food I would need to eat to reach a number of calories I was ok with. I did it so many times I lost track of my totals so I had to do it 4 times.

Reminder: I am at work right now. I should have been working. But instead, I was consumed with ED.

930 am: Go to Starbucks.

Get the drink. A skinny tall one. I feel better it’s a tiny one.

10 am: Get back to the office and have to pee.

Walk into the bathroom at work, where anyone can walk in, and lift my shirt up so I can see my tummy.

“It’s just hanging out everywhere. I just can’t believe it.”

Zipping up pants after I pee and remind myself of how tight they are. Again.

1030 am: We have donuts and muffins in the office.

Of course I want some, but I told myself I wouldn’t. No more office food,  I told myself a million times this week.

But ok, someone brought it for us and I don’t want to be rude so I have a tiny piece.

“Good job Shira. You didn’t even need that piece, but good job on not eating the whole thing.”

12 pm: Which is now as I write this so I have updated you on my entire day so far.

I’m sure you are exhausted by this point in reading.

Because I am exhausted from living it all morning long and for the past week.

It’s exhausting to live it, breathe it, and to write about it.

It’s exhausting to fight it. And that’s what this blog post is : it’s fighting back.

It’s exposing my most inner darkest most negative thoughts about myself so they are no longer in the power of my eating disorder. Once people know about it, ED loses a lot of power. Not all of it, but a lot.

We are only as sick as our deepest secrets.

And for the past week, this negative self talk has been my secret, and even darker of a secret has been acting as if I am ok and letting others who maybe follow this blog not know the true reality of what is really going on.

Everyone fighting this battle together deserves to know we are not alone.

I don’t really have a cookie cutter solution to my negative self talk other than what I am doing right now. Exposing it, acknowledging its there and facing it head on.

What I will do and can do is think about what I am feeling. And fat is not a feeling, although ED wants me to think it is, it’s not. Factually in the dictionary, it’s not.

What am I feeling when I really look into it: defeated and sad and mad at myself.

How will I fix it: Do actions that illicit the opposite feelings.

Opposite of defeated is victorious. What would make feel victorious? Finishing my news story today. I will make sure I do that.

Opposite of sad is happy. What would make me feel happy? Making someone else smile. And I have done that already but I will do it again.

Opposite of mad at yourself is to feel compassion towards yourself. How can I be compassionate towards myself? By leaving these negative thoughts right here on this page. They die here.

On a positive note, this exhausting eating disorder mind and day is the life I lived for years before I started recovery. Every single day, every single minute.

And while I am feeling a little defeated right now that I am back in that temporarily, the good news is that it’s only been for about a week, and not even all day, every day-just a few hours of each day.

It hasn’t been years.

It hasn’t been birthdays over and over.

It hasn’t been sleepless nights.

It’s only been a few days. A few days that I can pick myself up and move on. And for that, I am grateful.

Hello life.

Three Year Flashback To When Coffee Was Lunch

Happy Thursday beautiful fighters,

I came across this photo today.

brothers

It’s a picture of my three little brothers that I took three years ago today.  I had taken them out for a fun day of lunch and bowling.

Do you see that cup of coffee to the right hand corner on the table? That was my lunch that day–my lunch and breakfast actually.

I remember that day because I specifically remember every single Ed thought that I had that day. I even remember the jeans that I wore. (I remember because I chose them because they were my baggiest pair).

It was a Sunday so that meant that I was going to my then-boyfriend’s mom’s house for dinner that night. How was I possibly going to go out to a lunch and to a dinner? I remember not knowing how it would be possible to do both.

But I wasn’t going to give up my time with my brothers, either.

So, this was my solution: coffee all day and that’s it.  I remember us sitting at that lunch table and I remember all I could think about was the food. I had one tortilla chip and I broke it into several tiny pieces so it would last me as long as it could.

I don’t remember any of the converastions I had with my brothers at that lunch and I don’t remember what we laughed about. But I remember what each of them ordered because I remember wishing I wanted a bite of it so badly.

I remember every ounce of my time being consumed by Ed and that’s what made me so sad today when I saw this photo.

It reminded me of the heavy and overwhelming thoughts I carried around with me for years when I was suffering from my eating disorder.

It reminded me of the thousands of moments that Ed took from me.

It reminded me of the kind of role model I was for my brothers at the time: the sister who didn’t eat.

My heart has felt broken all day thinking back on that day and the many days I had like it with them and with others.

But at the same time, this photo gave me a chance to appreciate where I am now.

Recovery ebbs and flows, and lately, I haven’t been in the happiest place with what I look like, and while I know it will pass, I needed to be reminded today of how far I’ve come and why I choose to live in recovery.

I would rather spend every single day for the rest of my life fighting to learn to love my new healthy self than spend another second back at that lunch table being a prisoner of Ed.

I don’t want to go into the past two years of recovery and how I got here because I’ve told that story already through this blog over the past two years. That’s not what this post is about.

This post is about remembering where we used to be and never forgetting it.

I feel like sometimes it can be easy to forget where we used to be and focus so much on where we are now. Focusing on where we are is great because it shows we are present- but without remembering the pain of where we once were, we forget how special our recovery is.

It’s also a reminder of the pain and suffering other people who are suffering from an eating disorder are going through right now at this exact moment. If you are one of them, please know that you are not alone in that pain.

For me, this picture will always speak emotions of sadness.

It will forever be the day that I was so stuck in my eating disorder that I don’t even remember what I talked about with my three little brothers.

And it will forever serve as a reminder of how far I’ve come and where I never want to be again.

But to put things in perspective, all five of my siblings were visiting me in Washington two weeks ago, and not only do I remember every single tiny thing each one of them ever said, but we all went out to dinner at a steak house to celebrate Hello Life’s second birthday.

We all got steak, including me.

And we all got dessert, definitely including me.

And coffee was no where to be found.

Hello life.

Goodbye to measuring coffee creamer

Happy Thursday fighters,

I know this post comes at a random time, but I had such a hello life moment this morning, I had to share it with you all.

I was making my coffee this morning when I realized that my one tablespoon measuring spoon I use to measure my exact one table spoon of coffee creamer each morning was gone.

If you guys remember, in my post about taking myself out for breakfast last month, I wrote about how I’ve transitioned coffee creamer back into my life since I started recovery two years ago.

First, I started with sugar free coffee creamer and measured a tiny teaspoon of it. Then I moved to fat free creamer and used a tiny teaspoon to measure. Then I moved to one tablespoon of fat free creamer and for the past six months I worked my way up to using a tablespoon of real kind, full everything, creamer.

On weekends, I used to let myself not measure it out because it was a weekend and I wanted that freedom.

I knew I wanted to eventually stop measuring my coffee creamer, but I didn’t know when or how I would stop.

So this morning, when my measuring spoon was magically gone, I just had this innate feeling this was the time.

In the past few days, I’ve done a huge spring cleaning of my house and I honestly don’t remember touching the one tablespoon measuring spoon, but somehow, I believe it was meant to find its way out of my home. (And if I do ever happen to find it, I will make sure to throw it away.)

I thought to myself, ok Shira, you can just go buy a new one tablespoon measuring spoon tomorrow and just not have coffee today.

Then I thought, or, you can just not measure it today, have it, and then buy a new measuring tool tomorrow.

And then I thought, or, this is a sign that the time has come to ditch measuring your coffee creamer.

So here, I am, about 10 minutes after finishing my coffee with creamer that I did not measure, and I feel so free and victorious that I had to share it with you all.

I don’t feel guilty-I feel a little nervous, yes, but not guilty.

Ed does not win today and forever more, in terms of coffee creamer, he’ll never win again.

I’m not ashamed to say it took me two years to stop measuring my coffee creamer.

And I’m not ashamed it took my measuring spoon miraculously disappearing out of my house to make me stop measuring it.

I’m proud I never gave up my vision that I one day, wanted to break that food rule forever.

And today I did that.

On another note, all 5 of my brothers and sisters are on their way to Washington today from California to see my new home and have a late celebration for celebrating two years without a scale.

It’s kind of crazy how things happen to work together in that way.

My family is coming to celebrate Hello Life with me on the same day that my coffee creamer measuring spoon disappears.

Now, when my little brothers have hot chocolate tomorrow morning and I have coffee, they won’t have to see me measuring anything in front of them.

The thought of that alone almost makes me cry I’m so excited to show them that.

Good bye one tablespoon measuring device thing that I will not repurchase and throw away if you ever do somehow show up again.

Hello life.

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.

 

 

Sad But Proud

Hi everyone!

I have been meaning to update you guys for about two months now and kept finding excuses not to.

Sometimes, when I was having a hard day I would say “ok, today is the day. I want to remind people that even once we are a while into our recovery we still have hard days.” Then I would think, no, I’m not ready to admit that at the moment-not even to myself and not to the world.

Then there would be great days that I would want to share, and then thought that it wouldn’t be totally accurate of the hard times I’ve been having lately. And when I mean hard times, I don’t mean with eating. I mean with accepting my new body and talking positive to myself.

And then today happened and I broke down and cried in my car at work and I knew the time has come to share a little bit about what’s been going on with me lately.

I knew today was coming since I got hired for my job in March.

“In October we do health screenings where they weigh you so you can get a discount on your insurance if you have a healthy weight,” my editor told me months ago.

I even remember talking to E about it and what I would do when that time came. We decided to cross that bridge when it came.

Well, today, it came.

I’ve had to tell doctors multiple times now to please not tell me my weight and that I won’t look at the scale.

It’s become easier and easier over time, but it is never without struggle and second thought that I say it. But when that happens, they write down the number, and we carry on.

That’s not how it went today.

Today, with my heart beating, I told the woman doing the screening to please not say the number and that I won’t look at the scale.

And I decided to only do this because it is saving me about $700 a year on my insurance. Otherwise, I would never have even put myself through it.

So there I was, yet again standing on a scale.

It was absolutly horrible. Even hearing the words “ok, now stand on the scale,” made me feel like I was stuck in a trance I just wanted to escape from.

I felt so judged. This one big number was all they cared about.

The lady doing it said she had to write my weight down on a paper for me for my records. While she didn’t tell me my weight , she told me my BMI number (a number between 19-29 that supposedly indicates where your weight is on a spectrum from overweight, healthy weight or over weight).

During my darkest times of my eating disorder, I would plug in numbers on an online BMI calculator to see how little I had to weigh to make the underweight category.

I took the paper that had my weight written on it and folded it in half right away, walked out of the room and ripped it apart and threw it away as fast as I could.

It sounds so easy, but it was so hard.

I just wanted to cry, which ended up happening a few times already.

My weight was in my hands. Literally, in my hands.

I felt like my entire recovery rested within this piece of paper. Do I look? Am I ready to look? Maybe I am ready, I told myself over and over.

“No Shira, you are not ready. You are not ready!” I was screaming to myself in my own mind.

I had to tell myself that at least 30 times.

And you know how I know I was not ready to see this number?

Because lately, more than ever in the past six months, I have been doing a lot of the negative Ed actions that I vowed to stop doing : taking pictures of myself in the mirror, telling myself mean things, being hard on myself.

But at the end of the day, this is the human side of me. And for every picture I take, I delete it right away. And for every negative comment, I later tell myself I love me anyway.

But, being that I haven’t been in a good place with myself recently and being not even two years in recovery yet, I very much knew I wasn’t ready to see that number.

Maybe one day I will be-for now, I am not.

But to have it in my hands was an unreal feeling.

In all my recovery I have not been so close to knowing my weight.

If I wanted to, all I had to do was open the paper.

Even to know that BMI is very triggering for me.

If I wanted, I could sit here on my computer all night plugging in different weights on a BMI calculator to see what weight gave me that BMI, but I won’t do that. I won’t do that because I deserve better than that for myself after all the work I did ripping apart that paper and throwing it away.

But I am still so sad. Sad, but proud.

Part of me is sad because I let Ed tell me that if I did see that number, I would be so upset with myself for letting myself get this “big,”-and more sadly, I believed him. I still do believe him.

The other part of me is sad because, to be honest, a part of me misses knowing. I miss knowing that number. I miss knowing that kind of measurement in my life. For years, it was all I knew on how to measure my success.

And the biggest part of me is sad because seeing the power that little piece of paper with my weight on it had over me reminded me that Ed is still a big part of my life.

And for whatever reason, that keeps making me cry, even right now as I write this.

It pains me to know that my eating disorder still, even to this day, can make me cry-to know, that if I did for whatever reason see that number, I would not be ok.

I wish I could say I would see that number and be ok with it.

I wish I could say I could know that number and not let it ruin everything I worked so hard for. But that’s not the truth.

The truth is, life after the initial first phases of recovery is so emotionally tasking. It takes a lot of work. Every day I work at being kind and compassionate to myself- every. single. day.

Every day I work to tell myself I love myself even if I hate what I am seeing in the mirror.

Today, though, I was reminded of the dark space Ed still holds within me.

It’s no where near the space he used to take up and it’s no where near as deep, but it’s still there.

I can still hear him now telling me that I should have just looked at that paper and seen the damage.

I probably will wonder for the rest of the night what that paper said. I will have to refer back to this post multiple times to keep me from searching for a weight that fits that BMI calculation.

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while–about how life, even after almost two years into recovery, is difficult.

So many people email me daily and ask me if Ed just ever goes away, and sometimes, they even feel bad that they are in recovery too and still have Ed in their lives–they think it makes them weak.

Today, I felt that way too for a moment.

I felt like I took the easy way out by throwing away that paper.

But the truth is, we are not weak. We are strong. We are strong because we choose to acknowledge Ed and fight him instead of just give into him and pretend that’s the life we want to be living.

Strength, however, does not make life easier.

My strength that led me to throw that paper away today is not making me cry less.

It’s not making the reality less harsh that part of me still wishes to know what that number is.

It’s not making it easier knowing that part of me still wants validation from my weight-and maybe that’s human.

And maybe the best thing I can do for myself tonight is let myself cry and feel human.

I know tomorrow I will be so proud of myself for throwing that paper away. I will be so proud of myself for not searching for that BMI information.

But for right now, a part of feels a little broken as I sit here and cry and write this.

I still long for that validation that Ed gave me and it kills me and hurts me in the deepest part of my soul that I want that.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned along this journey,I always feel better when I extend myself to others.

On that note, I would like to give a big shootout to all of our Hello Life fighters all around the world who’ve made insane strides in their own recovery.

We had one lifer ask me to send her cookie dough today in France since its a kind we only make in the United States. How amazing is that?

I still send out bracelets each week: this week’s will be to Germany.

And I still have a vision of expanding Hello Life to help many more people around the world.

But tonight, I need to help myself: so I wrote this post–and am sharing my sadness about today’s reality with you all.

Once again, today I made the choice to choose recovery.

I literally chose recovery over relapse, because that’s exactly what would have happened if I saw that number today–without question.

I could have looked at that paper and given it all up and started all over.

But somehow, I didn’t.

I am not even sure how, but I didn’t. And that’s what makes me a fighter.

I fight even if I feel my gloves are on the wrong hands and my back is turned to my opponent ready to give up-I somehow fight.

Today I fought once again for my recovery, even if it means a night of tears and curiosity and sadness.

Here’s my plan: I am going to cry tonight out. Maybe I will tomorrow night too.

And then on Saturday, I will celebrate my 24th birthday.

It will be my second birthday without a scale to ruin it. And I know by then, when I am sitting with my birthday cake and new friends in Washington, I will be so grateful that paper from today is torn up and thrown away.

But for now, I know I am not the only one today who made a hard choice to keep my recovery.

I know I am not the only one today who has cried.

And because of that, I know I am not alone.

For the many of us who will be crying together tonight around the world, for the many of us who are fighting for our recovery and for the many of us who aren’t’ ready to fight yet, but are even reading this blog because we know deep down we deserve to one day love ourselves fully, hello life.

Figuring Out My New Life

Happy almost Friday everyone,

Since I last wrote, I have officially moved to Washington (the state, not D.C.), got my own apartment and started my new job as a reporter for the main newspaper where I’m living.

When I used to talk about living in the gray, I had no idea just what that totally meant, and I still don’t think I know what it totally means, but I think I have a better idea of it now.

When I first started recovery, living in the gray meant not weighing myself and not knowing that number.

Then it meant letting go of my standards of self perfection.

Some days it meant going with the flow when my plans fell through.

Today, living in the gray means accepting that I would rather sleep an extra two hours than go to the gym before work.

Today, living in the gray means not knowing how I will meet all new friends and people, but that I will.

Today, living in the gray means not being able to try on all the old Ed clothes I gave away before I moved.

For now, the gray means this and only this: I am figuring things out.

And maybe it’s always been that simple all along.

One of the biggest changes that I’ve had in recovery since I’ve moved to Washington is that I no longer have a mirror in my room.

I actually only have one full length mirror now and it’s in my bathroom.

Not only is it in my bathroom, but it’s hanging on the inside of the cleaning supplies closet door in the bathroom; basically,  it’s as inaccessible as a mirror can be.

This means that I no longer wake up and do body checks in my bedroom.

I know that if I wanted to, I could stroll myself up to the bathroom, open the closet and lift up my shirt and do a check, but 9 days out of 10, that walk just feels defeating, like I am letting Ed start my day for me.

The three times that I have made that morning walk to that mirror and did my body check, I never once felt better. I didn’t feel relieved, I didn’t feel sad and I didn’t feel happy.

I felt empty. It didn’t bring me anything. It didn’t get me a cover story. It didn’t get me new friends.

My jeans still don’t button how they used to and I am still not comfortable in my skin how I would like to be, but that mirror is not going to bring me any of that.

On the days that I fight the urge to make that morning walk to my mirror, and on every single day since I’ve been here (with the exception of two days) that I didn’t go to the gym because I wanted to sleep more, I thought to myself, “good job Shira. You love you baby, love you.”

Yes, I really do talk to myself like that.

I love myself when I make sure I come home for lunch every day.

I love myself when I eat a snack every day.

And I surely loved myself when I left my very first city council meeting mid–way to go eat dinner and come right back.

Some nights, I  love myself so much I even have two desserts after dinner.

Tomorrow there is  a BBQ at my work and a going away party with cake, and I guess I’ll love myself through that too.

But above all, on my hardest days here, it is my family, friends and fellow fighters who have lifted me up.

I don’t care how much success I have in Washington and I don’t care if they make me a world known writer-I moved here never forgetting where I came from.

And I will never forget that.

I came from the fighter who started this blog.

I am still her and I will never let her out of my sight.

tattoo

For all of us fighters…Hello Life.