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.

 

 

 

 

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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.

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.

Day 339: Holding Onto The Image Of Hope

Hello everyone,

We made it.

It’s the day after Christmas, meaning that Christmas Eve and Christmas day have passed and we made it.

On that note: quick update on the fighter support group: the first email will go out tomorrow. Please continue to let me know if you want to be  a part of it. We are a strong group of 11 fighters so far and I’m very excited for it.

At least for me, being in post two days of non stop food and holiday eating mode, I am feeling really accomplished.

I tried ham for the first time this Christmas. I tried duck for the first time. I had three dinners yesterday and about three dessert sessions to go with it.

I ate it all and loved the taste of it all, but mostly, I loved the fact that I was able to spend time with people.

If I was locked in my eating disorder, there is no way I would have gone to my Christmas Eve dinner, or to any of the Christmas meals yesterday, and I would have spent it alone.

Just Ed and I at home.

To know that I spent it with people, with laughter, with smiles and yes, with delicious yummy food, reminds me of the freedom that never goes away in the recovery world.

When I got home last night, I decided that today was the day I was finally going to take a day off. I know I am sick and I need to rest, so why not take a mini staycation in my bed.

I decided that I won’t set my alarm for today and that I won’t do anything but rest in my nice bed and watch movies.

I actually went through with not setting my alarm, but I didn’t really relax today because I spent my time still endlessly applying to jobs, but I got 50 percent of the staycation down with not setting my alarm.

A morning where I didn’t wake up to my alarm telling me it’s time to go to the gym is a big win for me.

I don’t remember the last morning I had like that and it was really peaceful. Even though I know I’m not going because I am sick, it doesn’t matter.

The point is I didn’t go and it felt good.

Ironically enough my twin sister is sick too with the same sore throat as me.

I still ate breakfast, and was feeling really good about it, considering Ed told me not to because since I can’t swallow it means I can’t eat-which is not true.

So when lunch time came around, I was honestly thankful she was here.

“Shira, I’m hungry. Let’s eat lunch.”

Um…lunch? Ed didn’t want me to eat lunch today.

He told me lunch was going to be tea.

And today, I truly did’t have an appetite to eat because I am sick. But I know by now, that whereas some people who are not in recovery for eating disorders may get the so called luxury of not eating because they are sick, I can’t do that. At least not right now.

So, my sister and I had lunch together and it was such an interesting experience for me to observe.

We both had soup since we both have sore throats. But the way we each prepared our meals were so different.

She just poured her soup into her bowl straight from the carton. No measuring or anything. Just poured whatever she wanted.

I measured out specifically one cup of soup for my bowl.

She added loads of parmesan cheese to her soup, again, not measuring.

I measured the cheese into mine.

And then I brought out a box of crackers for us to eat with our soup, and while I was counting every one I ate, she didn’t seem to count hers.

I don’t even think she knows how many calories are in each cracker–a fact that I know very well.

I’m not mad at myself for measuring my food, because right now, it’s what I need to stick to my meal plan.

I know I need to eat and I know it’s hard to eat when I am sick, so if measuring it makes me feel a little bit more in control, then why not? There is no hand-book on eating when your sick when your in recovery for an eating disorder, so I’m finding what works as I go.

But seeing my sister not measure her soup, or her cheese, or her crackers-and thinking about the idea that she probably has no idea how many calories was in this meal, nor did she seem to care, made me smile with joy.

That is the world of someone who isn’t tainted by Ed.

Sometimes, and on a lot of days, it’s my world too, even if it wasn’t totally my world today.

Looking at my sister gave me hope.

That will be me one day.

I will be the one not measuring, or counting crackers.

It might not be today, or even a month or year from now, but it will be me.

Holding onto that image of hope close to my heart is what is giving me strength today.

Hello life.

Day 305: Just Me And My Brownie Pop

Happy Friday everyone,

I was having lunch with my sister today, when right after we were done, I really wanted something sweet and she didn’t have the time to get dessert with me.

So I tried all the alternatives: chewing gum, eating an orange, having a tic tac…nothing worked.

Ed was practicaclly shoving those things in my face telling me that they counted as dessert, when really, let’s be honest, they didn’t count for anything but boringness. Pure and utter boringness. (I am not sure if boringness is a word, but let’s say it is for the sake of this post).

I sat in my car for about 10 minutes thinking about what to do, and then I just decided it: I was driving myself to the bakery to get a dessert, hopefully a brownie because that’s what I was craving.

It didn’t matter that it was after lunch, it didn’t matter that it was not a Saturday or Sunday and it didn’t matter that it wasn’t part of my meal plan or that it wasn’t snack time yet.

I was just going to do it.

So I walked into the bakery and to my surprise, all the good stuff was practically gone.  I really wanted a brownie but I didn’t see any left. Maybe this was because it was 3 p.m on a Friday, I am not sure.

But then I saw this perfectly beautiful brownie pop covered in edible flowers and it just was asking me to buy it.

So I bought it. No box, no bag necessary–I was going to eat it right then.

I’m not ready to eat dessert alone out in public yet, and I even told the cashier the brownie pop was for someone else…why I did that, I am not sure. That was most definitly Ed talking. So needles to say, it wasn’t a perfect bakery visit but it was 97% there. I am OK with that.

So anyway, I went back to my car, put on the radio and sat and ate that delicious brownie pop.

By the way, a brownie pop is a brownie on a stick. I am not sure about other places in the world, but here in LA, anything on a stick is the “it” thing right now.

Brownie pops, cake pops, rice crispy treats on a stick..we have it all.

So it was just me and my brownie pop happily enjoying each others company.

And the best thing is, while Ed might have been with me while I was talking to the cashier in the bakery, he was definitely not with me when I was eating that brownie pop.

I think this was actually the first brownie pop I’ve ever had.

Today was a great day in recovery because I listened to myself instead of Ed and I didn’t let Ed guilt trip me after I was done eating. This doesn’t happen often, so when it does, I am truly grateful.

I mean…I drove myself to a bakery because I wanted a brownie…how much more recovery can one day have?

Hello to many more brownie pops..cake pops…and whatever other pops that I may want to try and

hello life.

Day 299: I Cried Today…But Not Because of Ed.

Hi everyone,

Before I begin today’s post, I just want to say a quick note that you might have received an e-mail from my blog today where I re-blogged someone else’s posts about a young woman who is trying to raise money to help her fight cancer. I just want to make it clear that I don’t personally know her or even the blogger who wrote the post, and therefore cannot verify that her donation site is 100% legitimate. I just wanted to help spread support for someone in need. I am in no way promoting or endorsing her or anything of that sort,  I just thought I would help spread the word.

So moving on into today:

Low key, I think I cried almost two times today.

Well, one a half times.

One times I really did cry, the second time it was just me hyperventilating with that knot in my throat, but I didn’t cry again. So let’s just say I cried one a half times today (so far).

Here’s the recovery niche of that statement: I didn’t cry over my body, or Ed, or what food I ate today, or the food I ate yesterday, or what I looked like in the mirror.

I cried because I honestly have so much homework to do and so many things to fix on my new articles that I am writing and absolutely not enough brain power or time to do it all at once.

Sometimes, when I get overwhelmed, Ed comes to comfort me.

But today, he didn’t. He didn’t because I didn’t let him-and I didn’t let him because having him come in the picture will only make me cry more tomorrow.

Not to sound totally crazy here, but having a day where I am stressed out, or a day where I even cried over something totally not related to my body or to calories or to food, is kind of refreshing.

Those readers who are struggling with eating disorders might understand this a little bit better.

When I was locked in my eating disorder, everything revolved around it. Everything from food, to weight, to what I wore that day, to how I felt that day.

My emotions were once (and sometimes still  are) regulated by Ed and what he told me to feel that day.

If I weighed a “good enough” number, he would tell me I could be happy. If I weighed a “bad number,” he would tell me to be stressed, angry and sad.

And that was pretty much the entire range of emotions I ever felt when I was in my lowest point with Ed.

I never cried though. And if I did cry, I cried alone at night, by myself in bed, when my heart would beat really slow and I would get scared about what I was doing to my body.

So the fact that I cried today not because of anything Ed related, but because I was stressed out about something absolutely not related to him is actually a great thing.

I’m moving on to new stressors, that are not about my eating disorder.

No stress is ever fun, and I am in no way happy that I cried, because obviously, I am slightly having a mini freak out about how I will handle all this work in such little time, but, I am able to see what this means.

This means life after Ed.

Also, I just want to say thank you to everyone who e-mailed me and told me they received their hello life bracelets today. I haven’t had a chance to respond because if you can tell by this post, I’ve been stressing out today, but I promise to respond soon and I really appreciate you taking the time to let me know you received them.

I guess it’s not really low key that I cried anymore because hundreds of people now know, but I don’t care.

Your the same people who’ve known that I’ve cried because of Ed, so why not tell you when I cry because of other things not about him?

It’s kind of refreshing to read right?

For what it’s worth, it’s refreshing to feel.

Hello life.

Day 296: Hello Dear Ice Cream

Hi guys,

What do I have to say today?Truthfully, I don’t really know.

I could sit and think of some inspiring quote I found online or something of that sort and relate it to recovery in some kind of way, but this blog is a daily journal of my daily life in recovery so if I did that just in hopes of writing an inspirational post, it wouldn’t be authentic.

So in light of that, here’s today’s boring and  uneventful yet authentic post.

I honestly felt huge today. I really did and for various reasons.

I haven’t been eating that healthy and I haven’t work out as much lately, so this isn’t a surprise to me. I think even people who don’ t have eating disorders have days like this.

And, for the past two days, I’ve been hungry all the time. And I mean, all of the time.

But instead of being mad about that, as at one time I would have been, (I actually remember a time in the beginning of recovery where I was mad at myself for eating 5 extra almonds because I was extra hungry) I’ve learned to kind of laugh at it and to just go with the flow.

Over time, I am slowly learning to trust my body.

So, if it’ s hungry, it’s hungry.

If it wants to eat two snacks instead of one, which it did both yesterday and today, I will have to let it do so.

And if it wants to eat ice cream for dessert every night (a reoccurring theme for the past three days) then I guess I am going to let it do that too.

At first when I woke up this morning feeling huge, I told myself that I am not eating any sweets today or any ice cream.

But that didn’t last for long because I love chocolate, and now that I am writing this, I really want that ice cream again.

And we have two really amazing flavors in the freezer too (thank you to my sister).

So…knowing myself and my sweet tooth, I already know I am going to end up eating it.

And while my day is still uneventful and maybe hasn’t led me to writing the most inspiring of posts, it did leave me with two things to be grateful for: I felt huge today, yet I continued on with my day and ate what my body asked for anyway, and I am giving myself permission to eat ice cream for the 4th night in a row.

Hello dear ice cream and hello life.