Celebrating A Year And A Half of Recovery

Hello lifers,

Today I am celebrating a year and a half of being in recovery and of course being scale-free.

Essentially, today we as a community celebrate, as this journey has become the journey of hundreds, not just mine.

Today marks a year and a half that I have not used a number on a scale to define me and it marks a year and a half of Hello Life being alive and reminding people that they are never alone in their fight to recovery.

When I started this journey a year a half ago, I only knew myself as X pounds. That was it. At the time, I didn’t even know what made me happy anymore.

I thought reaching a certain goal weight every week or eating as few calories as possible were elements of happiness.

Originally, I decided to give up my scale for one reason: and that was to break free of my eating disorder. In that moment when I gave my scale to E to hold onto for me , I didn’t know anything about what I was doing or what my journey would hold.

The only words that came to mind when she asked me if I wanted to say good bye to my scale was “hello life.”

And to this day, those two words are the best two words I can use to describe this journey.

But giving up my scale, as those of you who’ve followed this journey from the beginning know, was a lot more than learning how to recover from my eating disorder.

It meant finding out who I was without this number for the first time in my life.

It meant learning how to live without a label. And that didn’t just mean a number label.

There were times in my recovery that I had to use other labels instead of numbers to help me navigate through the gray areas when I wasn’t sure who I was without my weight.

If you remember, I would say I was a sister, I was a daughter, I was a friend, etc. When I moved to Washington I said I was a reporter giving people a voice.

And while those are all true, looking back on this year and a half so far, I can’t think of any label anymore that exactly defines me or this journey.

I used to think that I needed labels, words, numbers, or titles to define who I was.

If I wasn’t a number, I was a career. If I wasn’t a career, I was a family member. If I wasn’t the best family member at the time, I was something else.

I started this journey living life as one label: a number. And I also started it in a hell controlled by Ed, at which many times I felt I had no way out.

I started it with a one year goal that has far passed and yet here I am still dedicated to it.

I started it with a boyfriend who is no longer in my life.

I started it living in California.

I started it thinking that once I gained the weight I needed to gain, my journey to recovery would be over.

Everything I thought I knew I didn’t know. And every label I thought I needed, I no longer need.

My whole life, I was always the one with all the answers.

I had an outline of my life when I was 8 years old, saying what age I would get married, when I would get my first job and when I would have my first kid (which by the way, none of it, and I mean none of it, has occurred according to my grand plan).

A year a half of trying to find out who I am without a number, I can say this:

I am no longer the person who wants to know every answer. And I don’t have the answers.

To have the courage to figure things out as they face me is the truest sense of bravery, I think.

I am discovering that maybe self-love is about having the courage to love ourselves without titles and labels of any kind-to just love ourselves as is-no strings attached.

Six months ago today I reached my one year milestone and I smashed my scale to pieces on video for everyone to see.

I closed that part of this journey not knowing what would happen next, or where I would end up, but only that I would continue to walk the path of self-love and self-acceptance.

That path changes every day.

Some days it means telling myself I love myself in the mirror ten times in a row.

Some days, like today, it means celebrating with champaign and home made tacos with a new friend.

Some days it means taking time to pray and thank God for everything I have.

Some days it means crying because I am lonely or because I am having a hard time.

My point is, my path to self-acceptnace changes day by day, sometimes hour by hour,and to be able to be brave enough to let myself mold with those changes is a beautiful place to be.

When we live in an eating disorder, change is our enemy. It doesn’t even exist actually. We live in routine, rules and rigidity.

I now live in ebb and flow.

I live not knowing what I weigh.

I live with the unknown as my guide rather than my fear.

And I live without labels.

I am not the girl in recovery for an eating disorder, I am not a blogger, I am not a number, I am not a reporter.

I am finally the person who is just figuring it all out. And I like that.

I live in freedom from the grasp of my eating disorder that once kept my spirit, soul and heart isolated from the world around me.

Thank you to everyone for standing by me from day 1 of this journey-thank you to my family, my friends, both new and old, E, and to my girls in the hello life fighter support group-for all of you are my legs that keep me walking this path.

To all of us who continue to have the courage to walk the path of self-love, hello life.

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Day 365: Let’s Smash This Thing

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYWK0oWuc78&feature=em-upload_owner#action=share

scale

Hello Life.

Day 360: A Journey Coming Full Circle

Happy Friday Eve everyone,

It is a little bit crazy and bitter sweet to think that this is our last official Friday Eve post together.

With that being said, today’s post is probably one of the most meaningful ones I have ever written.

When I was locked in my eating disorder, every Thursday night I would go to dinner with my grandma. (This was before I live with her like I now do.)

Thursday nights were our night to be together.

And every Thursday, we would go to the very same restaurant where I would get the very same salad of lettuce, carrots and cucumbers, and no dressing. It was crucial that Thursdays were Ed’s days because Friday’s were a major judgement day for my weigh ins.

On day 18 of this blog, I wrote about how on the night before that day, the second Thursday of this one year journey, I decided to take my Thursday night’s back from Ed.

That day, day 17 of this journey, I told my grandma that we could go to a new restaurant for our Thursday night dinner. We went to a fish house that she liked, that I liked and that my cousin liked who was going with us that night.

I remember writing that post like I wrote it yesterday because I remember sitting on my bed crying tears of victory and joy as I wrote it.

I felt like I could fly. It’s similar to how I am feeling right now too.

Tonight, the very last Thursday of this one year journey, my grandma had planned to go to dinner with my aunt, uncle, cousins and us to that very same fish restaurant.

When she asked me if I wanted to go, I almost couldn’t believe it. I didn’t even realize the irony in the entire thing until a few hours later.

I could have not gone tonight. I was tutoring late and I could have said no and everyone would have understood.

But for some reason, eating at home tonight alone with Ed, even though it would be a more comfortable meal for me, especially on a day that I only worked out for about 15 minutes, just didn’t seem as appealing to me as it once was.

What once would seem like a perfect night for me at home alone with me and my Ed food, no longer seemed like a fun night tonight.

So I cut my tutoring ten minutes short so I could make it to this dinner on time.

I was starving when I got there. I don’t know why, but it was just one of those days where you just have to listen to your body–even if it’s hungry all the time.

Luckily for me, the waiter brought out a fresh loaf of bread and butter right as I sat down, and he even messed up my order.

The two side orders I got were wrong. So instead, I got the two wrong side orders and the two right ones a few minutes later.

And I enjoyed all four of them, including my main meal and my bread and butter.

I even got a ketchup stain on my jacket. A ketchup stain, guys—ketchup was something I didn’t eat for years when I was locked in Ed,and now it has stained my jacket.

If it doesn’t come out, I will proudly wear that jacket anyway because of what it symbolizes.

I remember sitting at the table tonight, feeling nice and full, and thinking to myself how this journey has truly come full circle.

343 days ago I sat at that restaurant with the same people, and I remember the one bite of bread that I had. I even remember the butter I put on it.

It was unlike anything I ever remember tasting.

And now, I sat there tonight, choosing to be present and choosing to honor my family, but this time around, 343 days later, I was so much more free than I was the last time.

In that post on day 18 , which I titled “A Victorious Thursday,” I wrote, “Eating at a new restaurant may sound silly to some people, but for me, it was symbolic of telling Ed that he will no longer get in the way of my relationships with those who I love and care about in my life.”

Here I am on day 360, and I whole heartedly can say, that I’ve proved that line to be true.

From my second Thursday of this one year journey starting at this restaurant with me trying a bite of bread, to my very last Thursday of this journey ending at this restaurant with a ketchup stain on my jacket and a few pieces of bread and my four sides later, I can truly say that this journey has come full circle.

I called it from Day 18 ,Ed–you won’t get in the way of  my life anymore.

I was right.

Hello life.

Day 359: My Recovery Heroes

Hello everyone,

I let someone else pour milk into my coffee today without me measuring it.

I ate a piece of the special black and white cookie today that my grandma bought me yesterday.

I even had a job interview today that I think went really well.

But that’s not why today was a good day.

Today was a good day because I was inspired, lifted and filled with complete joy.

This joy did not come from Ed and it did not come from my own personal recovery.

It came from the recovery paths of others who have been walking this journey with me.

As you know, there is a Hello Life fighter support group online. Over the past few weeks, these fighters and I have grown to become friends, supporters and safe people to lean on for one another.

Over the past few days, they have blown me away.

And today, it was just the icing on the cake. Totally no pun intended .But I do love cake and I do love icing and I do love these strong women, so I think it’s ok to say that.

We have one fighter who is eating a lunch tomorrow with her co workers. A prepared lunch that she did not make; a social lunch. She is a recovery hero.

We have one fighter whose new years resolution included being more kind to herself. She is a recovery hero.

We have one fighter who is the spiritual guide for this entire online support group. She is a recovery hero.

We have a fighter who just joined our group and sat at a table with her children while they ate food. She is a recovery hero.

We have one fighter who is letting her mom move in with her in order to help her stay on track with her recovery. She is a recovery hero.

We have a fighter who despite not feeling well and being in physical pain, stays full of light, hope and optimism and continues to not let Ed be her escape. She is a recovery hero.

We have one fighter who ate a Hershey Supreme with her family this past month. She is a recovery hero.

We have a fighter who cooked her husbands favorite meal for his birthday this year. She is a recovery hero.

We have a fighter in France who continues to push through her hardest days. She is a recovery hero.

We have a fighter who reached out when she was having a hard day. She is a recovery hero.

And lastly, we have one fighter, who right now, has friends over her house where she put out a chocolate cake, cheeses, crackers and pepperoni and veggies with dip.She even posted a picture of this on our support group wall.

She is being present tonight. She is not letting Ed have her disinvite her friends over tonight because food will be there. She is a recovery hero. And seeing those pictures almost made me cry.

They symbolized freedom. They symbolized her taking her life back from Ed.

And this post is in honor of her, in honor of the recovery heroes both in the support group and outside of it who email or comment or read this blog every day,  and who are all around the world. I wish I could list everyone but it would be hundreds of people.

If this year has taught me one thing about others, it’s that nothing in the world, even our relationships with our own eating disorders, are stronger than the support and understanding that we can have for each other as people.

Today, these heroes are my inspiration.

They will be my inspiration when I go out to dinner right now.

They will carry on into being my inspiration far past when this blog is over in 6 days.

In honor of my recovery heroes, hello life.

Day 357: Closer Than I Was Yesterday

Hi everyone,

I was sitting in E’s office today (E is my therapist) and I was telling her how I felt so chubby today and not good in my body.

I was expecting her to say something like “let’s find out why you are feeling this way,” or something like that, but that’s not what she said.

She just answered one simple statement: “why do you have to be chubby? why do you to look a certain way in your body?”

I didn’t get it at first.

“Um…what do you mean? If I’m not chubby than what am I,” I asked her.

It was a serious question.

“Your Shira. Why can’t you just be Shira?”, she said.

I didn’t know how to answer. I think it was one of the first moments in therapy all year that I actually  had nothing to say for a split second.

Why did I have to define myself as chubby today? Why do I have to define myself by my body checks every single morning?

They are good questions that I don’t totally have the answers to yet.

Why do I think that being Shira means having to tag on a label about my body to that, like chubby or skinny or whatever other word that can be used to describe someones physical being?

I’ve spent pretty much my entire life since I was 8 years old calling myself these labels.

In some parts of my life I labeled myself fat, in other parts I labeled myself chubby, and in other times I labeled myself skinny. Regardless of what time period I was going through, I always used one of those words as my label.

And of course, I used my weight as a label  too.

I still remember how much I weighed the day my grandfather passed away-becasue it wasn’t a good number but I “allowed” myself the extra room because I was so sad, I told myself I could give myself a break.

These numbers and labels have been such a huge part of how I’ve  defined myself for so much of my life, it was honestly mind altering when E asked me why I even had to be any of those things.

Almost one year into being scale free, and I never thought about that.

Who would Shira be, without her being attached to a chubby or to a skinny or to a “I’m sore” today?

It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to think about.

I know who I am without my number on my scale for almost a year now; that I know because I’ve been learning that through this year. And I love who I am becoming without that number to define me.

I love the writer in me.

I love the reporter in me.

I love the sister in me.

I love the friend in me.

I love the fighter in me.

But numbers and labels are two different things. A number is  fact, a label is a feeling.

But just Shira. Plain and simple, no extra labels-that’s totally different.

I guess what I walked away with today, because it was a day of much self doubt, also in other areas of my life, is that when this blog is over 8 days from now, I am not going to have all of the answers I thought I would have.

I may still label myself with those names or those words.

Or I may not.

I am learning.

I used to think that after this one year journey, it will have meant I was cured from Ed and cured from all the negative ways I used to view myself.

That is far from the truth.

And I am glad I can be accepting of that.

The closer I get to this blog ending, and the more I start to wrap things up, the more I am learning that this one year was not meant to be a solution or an answer; it was meant to be the beginning of something.

I have a long way to go, far past this one year journey, until I think I can figure out who Shira is-with no labels attached.

But I am ok with that.

I’m not where I thought I would be at the 8 day count down to this one year journey being completed,but then again, how could I ever know where this journey would lead me?

But I do know I am a lot closer to being where I want to be than I was yesterday; I am a lot closer than I was the day before, and I am a lot closer than I was 357 days ago.

Hello life.

Day 352: Chef Shira Is In The House

Hello everyone,

Let me start this post by saying hello to the good days that we have after the bad days, because it is after the bad days,that we can truly appreciate the good ones, and that’s where I am at right now.

I am appreciating this good day that I had today, and I am really excited to tell you guys about it.

I don’t know what inspired me today, but I decided I wanted to cook myself dinner.

I was home alone, and it wasn’t even dinner time, it was in the mid-afternoon,but the feeling  just came over me. Knowing that it’s sometimes difficult to eat when I am by myself, I decided to seize the opportunity before Ed could talk me out of it.

And so I made dinner. Well, I made it and then saved it for when I would later eat it, but I made it.

And it was fun. I had my TV on, I could hear my pan sizzling, I felt like a real chef.

I used to cook all the time when I was locked in Ed. I would cook for everyone in my family and for my ex-boyfriend who I lived with at the time,but I would never enjoy my own cooking.

I would cook them something really yummy, and then make myself my “Ed” food, which was usually a plate of veggies.

And even throughout my recovery, cooking is not something I’ve done too often just because I am usually really busy.

But I decided that if I still don’t have a job and am graduated out of school, I guess I can take advantage of the time I had today to cook myself dinner.

It was a dinner that I’ve made in my head many times before, but I just never did it. It wasn’t anything insane or difficult or so gourmet, but it was what I wanted.

It had all the components a balanced meal has: proteins and fats and carbs and just deliciousness.

When I went to go eat it about an hour ago, I decided that for the first time in a while, I am going to eat just at the table with no distractions.

I usually watch TV when I eat alone so I have something to do, but when I do that, I often times can’t focus on my food, which sometimes works for me if Ed is there.

But today, I really wanted to focus on this food; I cooked it and it’s something I really wanted and have been wanting since I made it earlier in the day.

At first, sitting and eating in silence felt really lonely. But then, I began to really enjoy the act of what I was doing.

I was enjoying my own cooking. It was a beautiful moment.

And even though I had portioned out my meal according to my meal plan, I went back for seconds.

No meal plan in recovery is ever against seconds, right?

I took my plate to the sink thinking “wow, I am a good cook. Chef Shira is in the house.”

It was just yesterday that my little brother, who is now 5, asked me if I still eat prunes.

Prunes used to be my Ed diet, and there were many occasions where I took my little brothers out to eat at a restaurant and instead of eat with them, I would just bring my  little plastic  bag of prunes to eat for myself.

They always asked what it was and  I didn’t really know how to explain it, so I told them they are my special healthy food that’s good for you.

Last night, out of no where, he asked me “Shira, do you still eat those things in a bag that are healthy for you,”?

At first, I couldn’t even believe he remembered that. But at the same time, I guess it’s kind of a hard image to forget when you see your sister eating from this little plastic bag whenever you ate together for a long time.

I looked at him and smiled and said “nope, not anymore.”

If only he would see the dinner I made tonight, he would give me a big high five.

No more prunes baby and no more plastic bags at the table.

Hello life.

Day 351: We Are Worth Fighting For Ourselves

Hello everyone,

While today wasn’t as good as my many of my good days in recovery have been, it was better.

I still did way more body checks than I would like to admit, I tried on two pairs of pants just to see how they still fit, and I let Ed talk to me for a little longer than I would like.

But, it was a better day than yesterday.

There were definitely hard moments in my day today, like when I went to go get frozen yogurt with one of my brothers and I let myself put some extra toppings. Ed was not happy.

There were hard moments when I was eating dinner with my brothers because I didn’t know how the food was made.

But above it all, never once did I space out into Ed’s world and never once was I not in the moment.

Every single second spent with those three beautiful souls today was spent with them in real life, not in Ed’s far away life.

And I made sure to smile, laugh and love each of them as best that I could, even when Ed was trying to hug me as I was sitting there hugging them.

Today wasn’t better because Ed was any quieter than the past two days, because he wasn’t.

It was better because I am actually taking a moment right now, as I write this, to be proud of myself, which is something I don’t do too often.

Despite Ed’s voice today, I surpassed it.

When he tried to wrap me with his presence, I wrapped myself with my brothers instead.

When he told me to not eat with them, I smiled through my own self doubt instead.

It was hard.

But it was also showing me that I still have the same fight within myself that I had when I first started this journey almost one year ago.

And as many good days as I might have, and as many bad days as I might have, I am beginning to see more and more, nothing can take that fight away from me.

A year ago, Ed would have won me over today and I would not be sitting here in front of this TV sipping hot chocolate with whipped cream and watching a movie with my little brothers.

It doesn’t matter what kind of Ed battles I had to fight today–the jeans, the food, the mirror checks–the fact that I am here on this couch in this very moment, reminds me this fight is worth it.

I don’t know if fighting for a life of freedom from Ed and a life of living in recovery truly ever stops, but I do this: we are worth fighting for ourselves.

Hello life.