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.

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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.

2015: Lets do it fighters

Happy 2015 lifers,

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

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

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

Um…just take myself out to dinner? alone?

It’s something I have not done before.

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

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

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

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

It’s pure mindfulness.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So that settles it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hello life.

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.

My Life’s About To Change

Happy Monday everyone,

It’s been almost one month now since the end of our one year without a scale together, and I want to start off by saying thank you to everyone’s beautiful emails, comments and messages throughout this past month.

I said that I would continue to do a monthly update after our one year journey together had ended, and I will continue to do so.

I am not sure for how long my monthly updates will go on for, but being that I am trying to live in the gray and not the definite and rigid world of the black and white, I think we will just keep that open ended for now.

Part of my biggest adjustment to living in recovery after the blog was over was learning how to continue on in my recovery without writing about it every day.

I had a friend who is a recovering alcoholic message me the day before I reached my one year mark without a scale and he said, “Shira, when the one year is over and all the fireworks go away, don’t look back. Keep going.”

When he said that, I remember thinking to myself, “Well of course I will keep going…duh.”

But now, I understand what he meant.

When there was no more blog to write about my daily accomplishments or challenges, when there weren’t as many encouraging comments or e-mails, when there were no more fireworks every time I  reached a milestone, that is when recovery entered a new stage for me, and that’s the stage I am currently in.

I actually like this stage of recovery because it has given me the freedom to live in recovery but because I am not writing about it every day, it has let me enter a new journey; a journey of starting my career and finding out who I am without  my blog.

At the same token, this stage is a challenging one, just like any other stage in recovery, or life.

When all those fireworks are gone, there is just me, my new healthy body, my new challenges, and my new victories.

Learning how to walk through the challenges and embrace the victories with only myself and not the rest of the 600 people who read this, was an adjustment, but it’s one that I am learning to embrace more and more each day.

I remember the first time I overcame an Ed challenge after this blog was over.

I was sitting in my bed and I decided to not go to the gym that day simply just because I was tired. I wasn’t sick, I didn’t have plans, and I didn’t have an excuse; I was just tired.

I remember having that initial urge to come and write about it to you all, but then I realized that wasn’t the journey I was on anymore.

At first, I almost felt lonely. It was just me and myself celebrating our victory against Ed by ourselves.

But then, I felt proud of myself.

There I was, able to stand up to Ed and make a healthy decision in my recovery just for me-no one else and with no one else knowing about it.

In that moment, I remember realizing how far I had come.

So I sit here today with big news to share with you all.

Remember the many and numerous blog posts that I wrote about not finding a job and no one wanting me? Remember the many many posts where I cried about feeling rejected? Remember the post where I referred to myself as the little cat stranded in the box on the street that no one wanted?

Well, I am so proud and beyond happy to say that cat now has a job.

My dream job, guys.

On March 1, I will leave to make my way to my new home where I will be the newest reporter of a big local newspaper in Washington.

For purposes of the company privacy and those kinds of things. I can’t say the name of the paper, but the point is, I am going to be living my dream.

I interviewed at many places and even flew to South Dakota this week for another potential job, but I know that Washington is the place for me because I connected with the people there.

Even from this blog, if there is one thing I know, it’s that connection with others is crucial not only in my recovery but in my life.

I will be moving states (right now I live in California) and I will be starting my career as a journalist.

My recovery is coming with me and we are going on this journey together.

Of course, Ed will be there too, as I know that no matter how strong in my recovery I get, Ed will always be a part of me.

But this time, he won’t walk in with me on my first day at my new job. And he certainly did not walk in with me on my dinner with my editor and lunch with other reporters during my interview for that job.  And he was also not there when I celebrated me getting that job with my mom with the best chocolate cake and strawberry short cake I ever had.

My life is about to change.

My location is changing, my house will change, my job will change, and the company I keep around me will change.

But there is one thing that is not changing and that is my recovery.

Moving away and on my own could be Ed’s greatest wish to get me back to him, or it could be my chance to show myself how far I’ve come and how much I deserve to live this life in recovery and pursue my dream as a journalist; and that’s the route I am taking.

Here’s the recovery plan for my new move:

-Skype sessions with E

-Skype meals with E

-Finding a support group by me

-Finding a therapist and nutritionist by me via E’s recommendations

-Staying active and involved in the Hello Life Fighter Support Group

-Stay true to myself.

I am not afraid to start this new journey of starting my career. Every ounce of me feels that I am ready in my recovery to do it.

I wanted to write this first update because this week is the week that I start finding apartments for myself in my new home and getting serious about relocating my life and I know that the support from you guys will bring me encouragement and strength when these changes become overwhelming.

I would also like to say that the Hello Life bracelets are still available and if anyone would like to join the Hello Life Fighter Support Group that is still available too, just let me know so I can add you. I can say for myself, that the fighters in that group have forever changed my life and have brought me more strength than I could ever have imagined.

Before I end this first update I want to say one very last important piece of information about my new journey in Washington.

There will be no scale in my new apartment.

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.