Saying “I Do” and Eating Burgers at a Gas Station on a Monday night

Happy Monday lifers,

Wow, it’s been a long time since I have written a blog. There are so many times that I have thought to myself, “I need to write about this,” and then come home to get swept away with life and don’t find the time.

But tonight, as I was standing in the gas station by my house, ordering the best hamburger in the world, I had this overwhelming want to write. So here I am.

Before I go into how I got to standing in the middle of a gas station on a Monday night with my fiancé let me go back and recap quickly the new basic facts of my life needed to understand the full meaning of this post.

I think the biggest news is since I have last written is that I am now engaged! I actually have been wanting to write several blog posts about this, but again, just have not found the time-which I am hoping will soon change now that I am trying to learn to say no to some things.

I am engaged to the man of my dreams, to my best friend, to the person who loves me wholly, fully and completely on good days and bad days.  The very minute that he proposed to me, I remember thinking to myself, “This is the best gift my recovery has given me.”

If I was not in this long, hard journey-every single day to keep my recovery, I absolutely would not be marrying my best friend.

It is my recovery that has taught me how to love myself enough to allow myself to be loved by my soul mate. It is my recovery that has taught me how to present enough in the moment to grow into the mindful, present person I am today. It is my recovery that has shown me how to appreciate the small moments and how it is oK to celebrate the big ones-and it is my recovery that has allowed me to learn to live my life again.

All that being said, planning a wedding is wonderful and amazing, yet we all know, stressful at the same time. Even without an eating disorder in the mix, I think planning a wedding is stressful. But add recovering from anorexia in there and it is another ball game.

But I knew when I first got engaged that we would have a long engagement. This February will mark a year since we have been engaged-and we get married all the way in July of 2017.

I knew I had a choice to make.

I could spend the entirety of my wedding planning triggered, or I could spend it enjoying each moment and being present. And I had to make the choice quick.

It was only the morning after my fiancé and I got engaged that we had this big fight about getting in shape for the wedding.

He had something like, “yeah, I am excited to get in shape for the wedding.” He, who does not have any history of an eating disorder, totally meant that in a healthy way. He wanted to get in shape for his wedding. It was simple and healthy and for him, exciting.

But in my already triggered mind from all the thoughts running in my head from the night before, I couldn’t hear that. All I heard was, “why do I have to get in shape for the wedding? Why don’t you love me how I am? Why would you even say that?”!

But, he never even once mentioned me! Never. And when I said those comments to him, he looked at me stunned and in disbelief. I still remember him saying, “Shira, what are you talking about ? You look great. I am talking about myself.”

The reason I have not blogged about this yet or even told anyone about this yet, not even my twin sister who I tell everything to, is because I have felt ashamed.

Here I was, the morning after the happiest day of my life, and I got into a fight with the man who just said he loves me and wants to marry me because I let my eating disorder trigger me and set me off over a comment that he truly was innocently saying about himself?

It made me sad for a long time and I really tried to brush it off and not think about it-but it still gets to me sometimes. I feel better now that I have written about it.

I bet you he will read this blog tonight and not even remember what I am talking about. But to me, and in my world, that was a monumental moment.

I had to decide right then and right there in that exact moment how this wedding planning was going to go.

I knew it was my choice.

I had a choice in how Ed will play a role in my wedding and I knew that I had worked way too hard to even give him that power.

So that day, right then and there, I decided that Ed will not be any part of planning my wedding. To say he won’t be present at all is a total lie and not even realistic, but he will be and has been since that day, a mere background echoed voice that gets weaker and weaker and more distant and more distant each time I make  a recovery decision without him.

So here I am now, almost one year into planning the wedding of my dreams and 215 days exactly from marrying my best friend, and I can honestly sit here and tell you that I am in the best place with my body and with my recovery that I think I have ever been.

This was not always an apparent thing and I worried for months that I would be triggered. I still worry. We see so many things on slimming for the wedding and crash dieting for the wedding, it is hard not to get completely lost in that.

But with the support of my amazing and strong family, other fighters, friends and fiancé I find myself standing strong, tall, proud and feeling beautiful with who I am.

But that did not come easy. I worked for it. I still do work for it.

Once I knew the date that my family and I were going wedding dress shopping, I planned it in my mind for months.

I would go over the image of me trying on dresses and my entire family watching me saying how beautiful I look and me telling myself in the mirror in the wedding dress shop how beautiful I look.

And I mean months and months. I practiced over and and over and over in my mind. Because I know that once our mind does something, it begins to believe it and it will practice what it knows.

So I practiced and practiced. I practiced mantras. I practiced telling myself not to look at the size, and I thought about me looking in the mirror and loving myself.

I envisioned myself standing in the mirror, looking at myself in the perfect dress, and saying to myself, “Wow Shira, you are so beautiful. This is the one.”

Of course I had hard moments, and I think my mom and sister in the room were maybe the only ones who could feel it-in which they did a good job of pulling me out-but the hard moments were very short lived and I bounced back fast.

I remember walking away, after finding my perfect dress, thinking to myself, “I am so grateful and appreciative that I felt beautiful in my dress today. I am so grateful today was a good day.”

And I really mean that with all my heart. I sit here tonight almost in tears of joy over how grateful I was for that experience.

I pray with all my heart that I will feel the same way on my wedding day. I know I have power in that, but I also pray for a good day in recovery.

All my practice, combined with the dream team of support, I had an amazing experience.

Now take that, paired with fitting in the same size later in April, and now we have some stress I think anyone would feel.

So let’s fast forward to now: It is holiday season time. Holiday season time , AKA time of chocolate, cookies, office treats and more treats.

Which for a lot of people in recovery, can be especially hard.

This, also combined with the worst snow our area has had in forever, which has caused the gym to be closed or me not even able to get anywhere.

Combined with the winter before my wedding.

Mmmmm hmmm. Oh yeah.

It could be a complete set up for major ed triggers.  Like absolute major and truly I wouldn’t even blame myself.

But for the most part, it hasn’t been.  For the most part, it’s been pretty good and I think this is why.

For the first time in a long time and for the first time ever in any holiday time, I gave myself permission to let go of the rules.

I gave myself permission to let go of the schedules, and to open myself to go with the flow.

At my job they have this thing where every day of the month in December someone brings in a treat.

The first time I heard that I think I was panicked. How will I control myself? But what if I eat all the cookies every single time I walk in the break room? Those were the thoughts that came to mind because that is what happened last year.

But last year is not this year and I am a different place now.

Last year, I tried the approach of, “Don’t eat any of it.” So of course, I ended up eating all of it.

This year I decided to try something different.

I already am in a place where things are just going to have to flow. And I decided to honor that.

I am honoring letting things just ride.

If it snows and I don’t make it to the gym, so I don’t make it to the gym. Maybe that day I will have one chocolate truffle for dessert instead of my usual two.

If there are desserts at work, I told myself, I was going to be present.

“I will eat the ones I want that look really good to me and I will skip on the ones that don’t call my name.”

That was it. Those were the only guidelines I told myself.

It is almost the end of December and I feel truly in balance.

Once I let myself have whatever I wanted, I didn’t binge on anything anymore. Nothing was “temptation.” Food was ok , treats were ok, and in whatever capacity my body felt it wanted it, I allowed that to happen.

Which brings me to my final part of my blog where I was standing in the gas station tonight ordering a bacon cheeseburger).

This gas station-with the burger-was the second date my fiancé took me two years ago on our second date.

We went there because I said In-n-out was better and he said this gas station burger was better. Obviously, I thought I had it in the bag, because this place was a gas station.

Well, I was so wrong.

It was the best burger I ever had.

We now live only a few minutes from this gas station and we have not had the burger since our second date almost more than 2 years ago now. I have been craving it forever.

Tonight he picked me up from work because it was all ice in the morning and he, being the caring sweet man he is, drove me-and we pulled in to get gas.

My heart started beating kind of fast, sometimes like it does when  I am about to make a decision that I am really excited about but that I have tried to talk myself out of several times before-and I told him, “Babe, I am getting a burger . Do you want one.?”

I could see he was surprised. But in the best way.

I knew he would never turn me down for a burger, especially at this gas station.

So when he was filling up gas I went inside and ordered the exact replica meal of our second date. Only this time, there is this milk shake maker thing-really is is a contraption-you pick a flavor, add it to this thing and it makes a milkshake-and I forever have wanted to try it.

I just think it is the coolest thing ever.

So we tried it. And it wasn’t the best milk shake but it was just so cool to see.

Anyway, we finally got our food. We went home and ate it. I ate it slowly. I ate it sitting down. Every part of it was mindful.

When we were on our way home and I told him, “Wow, I have to write a blog about this.”

He jokingly looked at me, laughed and said, “you are writing about a burger??”.

And I laughed , but in all seriousness in my mind, said yes.

It’s not just a burger and onion rings and a milk shake contraption.

It is me eating a hamburger on a  Monday night-no special occasion, no birthday, no “binge day now and don’t eat anything later”-it is just a Monday night where I was craving a burger and got to share it with my love.

That might sound so simple to just the everyday person-a burger on a Monday night-but to me, and I think to so many of the fighters reading this-it is freedom.

That freedom is what keeps me going.

That freedom is what I fight for my recovery for.

That freedom is for saying I do to the man of my dreams-it is for me feeing beautiful on my wedding day- it is for burgers on a Monday night at a gas station- and it is to wake up every single day and continue to say, 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.

Day 365: Let’s Smash This Thing

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

Hello Life.

Day 362: My First One Year Hello Life Celebration and Getting The Hammer That Will Smash My Scale

Hi everyone,

Tonight I had my first celebration for my one year mark of this blog, which is officially on Tuesday. It was at the same steakhouse in San Diego that I celebrated my 6 month milestone.

All I have to say about this dinner is that I love bread and butter, and wine, and steak and mostly: I love the icing and frosting and whipped cream that comes on chocolate cake.

And I love the family who I was able to celebrate this first celebratory dinner with.

And I also loved my menu that said “Congratulations Shira on one year, hello life!”

And I love icing-just one more time for the record.

I also went today to go get the hammer that I will be smashing my scale with at the end of this journey.

I set up a poll for everyone to vote on what to do with my scale, and the results overwhelmingly say to smash it.  So that’s what I am going to do.

My step mom and my brothers had actually taken the time to make me a special hammer for this day about a week or so ago  and even painted it yellow, hello life’s colors, and wrote “hello life” on it.

It was a beautiful gesture and it is a big indicator of the kind of role they played in this journey.

But as they were making it, I wasn’t able to help them. I didn’t even want to pick up the paintbrush.

I wasn’t ready yet to come to terms with the fact that this one year journey is almost over.

I realized that in order for me to truly prepare myself for the moment of me smashing my scale, I had to go through the preperation process myself.

At first I ordered a hammer online, but it wasn’t sufficient enough.

I decided that if I am going to mentally prepare myself for this moment, then I need to start with going to the store and picking out my hammer myself ; feeling it, imagining me using it to smash my scale, and sit with that idea for a while.

This scale was my everything for so many years. It was my definition of who I was. It was my good days. It was my bad days. It was my birthday. It was everyday.

While smashing it will be one of the greatest acts of self love I can ever do for myself, it is also going to be smashing away a part of who I used to be.

So today, I went to pick my hammer.

I even got yellow spray paint to color it with Hello Life colors.

I picked up every single hammer in the isle. The light ones, the big ones, and even the ones I couldn’t pick up. It took a while until  I found the right one.

After practicing picking it up and pretending to smash something with it, I had chosen the right one.

My hammer that my family made for me is going to stay with me and in my room forever as a reminder of what it symbolizes; love and unconditional support. For whatever reason, that hammer was meant to serve that purpose for me as a reminder of that love.

But this hammer, the one I got today, this will be the destroyer of my scale.

So today I took one step toward accepting the ending of this journey and also one step toward celebrating the end of this one year journey.

I celebrated with my mom, aunt, sister and grandma, and had the most incredible dinner ever.

My sister even asked me how I feel, and I told her that I can’t believe it was real. And when I looked at her when she asked me that, I couldn’t help but remember the very first day I got my meal plan, and she came and ate lunch with me because I couldn’t do it alone.

Tonight was a celebration of not just this one year of recovery and one year without a scale; but a celebration of the relationships and love that come from being in other relationships than just with Ed.

And I got the hammer that will be used to smash my scale.

I am still not sure I am ready to accept that Tuesday is quickly approaching as this blog has become a huge part of my life, but I am doing all the right steps to mentally prepare for it.

Hello to my first celebration for this one year journey, hello to the hammer that will smash my scale and hello life.

mortons 1 mortons 2

Day 356: Don’t Eat Dessert Without Me

Hi guys,

I apologize in advance for this blog post being a little shorter than usual, but I came to write this right as I finished dinner with my brother and sister and some of our friends, and they are still here, so I don’t want to keep them waiting for too long.

The reason that I cooked dinner tonight was because my brother, who is 20, is leaving tomorrow for two weeks, so I wanted to give him a nice goodbye dinner with my sister and I.

I invited him last night, before I knew that I would wake up with my body sore this morning (yet again).

Right away, Ed wanted me to cancel this dinner.

I actually thought about it. And I thought about ways I could get around it.

I thought that maybe we could go to a restaurant where I could order something different than everyone else. And even if I did decide to do that, it wouldn’t be bad, but the point was that I had said I would make dinner, and I was really looking forward to it.

I used to cook for my brother all the time when I was locked in Ed, and I never got to enjoy the food with him, so tonight was going to be a special occasion.

I didn’t have to think about it too much. It was one of those days where I just knew what I had to do, and so I did it.

Stuffed salmon, roasted butternut squash, roasted brussel sprouts, champaign and bread rolls later, I can say that although Ed is not happy with me, and he is very much with me right now, I am happy.

I am happy because when I hear my brother laughing right now from up in my room, I know it is this dinner that made that happen.

I am happy because him, my sister and I just sat around at a dinner table and enjoyed good conversation.

Regardless of how many times I have to shut Ed up tonight, this dinner was worth that; it was worth the connectedness, the selflessness and worth the company.

My brother even came wearing his hello life bracelet, which I forgot he he even had.

And right as I left the table to come write this post, I told them very seriously and matter of factly, “guys, don’t eat dessert without me.”

On that note, I am off to enjoy my dessert, even with Ed next to me.

We’ll be fine , Ed. It’s time for dessert.

Hello life.

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Day 354: Being Accepting Of Just OK

Happy Friday everyone,

So today’s post is going to sound a lot like my other posts this week, so I apologize in advanced for me writing about my brothers getting redundant.

But like I’ve always said, I really do write this blog honestly and this week they have been major parts of my day, so it is unavoidable to write about it.

But, there is something different that happened today when I was with them.

Throughout this past week, I’ve written many times about how eating with my brothers and sharing treats with them has been huge steps in my recovery.

I even wrote about how my 5-year-old brother asked me the other day if I still eat “those small things in a bag,” which were the prunes I used to bring with me as my meal when I would go and take them out to eat. I wrote about how proud I was to tell him that those things no longer are in my life.

So today, when I made them macaroni and cheese for lunch ,and ate cereal with milk and fruit instead (totally on the plan but not what they were having), you can see why at first I felt like I was failing today.

“Again, they are seeing me eat something different from what they are eating,” I thought to myself.

But honestly, I was craving that cereal and milk since yesterday, and I really wasn’t comfortable eating that mac and cheese. Some days I can be comfortable eating outside of the meal plan and other days, like at lunch today, I am just not.

It took me few times of walking myself through my own negative thoughts to bring myself to the final conclusion that I am writing about now.

Recovery doesn’t mean always eating exactly what everyone else is eating. Recovery doesn’t mean eating what we’re not always comfortable with.

Recovery means being present.

So, yes, maybe I ate a meal that I was more comfortable with than the mac and cheese they were eating, but I was still present with them at that table.

I had a bowl, a spoon and a plate with food. It was definitely a different image than the old Ed-controlled me with my plastic bag of prunes at the table.

And later, when I made cupcakes with them and I even let myself have one, I was again, back in the moment, eating with everyone else.

Recovery ebbs and flows and today is one the days that I see that.

My point in writing this is really to remind myself of what I was saying yesterday: that winning is not one definition and neither is recovery.

One part of today, recovery meant eating  a cupcake with my brothers, and on another part of my day,it meant sitting with them at lunch all together but eating something I was comfortable with.

And that’s ok too.

The only one who expects me to live life as this perfect “recovered” person who always eats what everyone else is eating and doesn’t even think twice about it, is me.

I don’t even think my brothers cared about what we ate or what I ate. They cared I was there.

They cared about sitting outside in the sun together, cuddling together and watching movies together.

Despite what the perfectionist in me is saying, I know that I did a pretty OK job today, cereal and milk and cupcake in all.

I like being accepting of the word OK.

It’s not perfect and it’s not terrible, it’s just ok.

And I like it.

Hello life.

Day 353: Winning Is A Journey

Happy Friday Eve everyone,

So I went to the park today to go for a short run instead of go to the gym because I felt like being outside, only when I started running,  my body was just not having it.

I ran cross country in high school and I usually actually enjoy the feeling I get from running (as long as Ed is not there with me), but today, I remember thinking to myself “wow, this is really just not fun.”

It was not what I expected and it’s not what Ed expected. I had expected to run . I mean, other than wanting to be outside, that’s why I was there.

Every time I walked, I felt like I was moving 1 mile per hour. But the more I tried to push my body to run, the more miserable the experience was becoming.

As I started walking, this song came on my Pandora and it had a line in it that said “We have a choice to make, wether we choose to win or lose, and I choose to win.”

I’m not sure if it was because of the state of mind I was in, but that line hit me really hard.

In that moment, I honestly felt like I was able to step outside of my own body for a moment. There was me as my soul and then there was my body.

We were two different entities.

Since the beginning of my recovery, I have felt that me as a person and my body are two separate things. While that may not be true, that’s how I feel.

We are like a married couple that is bound together for life, that went through a period of distrust and through this past year we’ve been relearning how to trust each other and getting to know each other again.

So, my body didn’t want to run today.

After all it’s done for me and after all  Ed has put it through, I am learning to listen to it and to respect it.

So if it doesn’t want to run, it doesn’t run.

In that moment, I truly felt like I was winning.

I was winning because I was making the conscious choice to listen to my body instead of listen to Ed.

I was making the choice to grow in this relationship with my body. We are a couple, and we are growing and learning together.

Since the day I chose recovery, I knew I chose to win.

But today, after hearing that song, it just made me think about it more.

What is winning?

I don’t even think there is one direct answer for that.

Everyday my definition of winning changes-especially when it comes to winning back my life from Ed.

Yesterday, winning meant making myself dinner.

The day before that winning meant eating frozen yogurt with my brother.

The day before that winning meant simply getting through my hard day.

Today, winning meant walking instead of running.

Today, winning meant eating the soup the lady I tutor for made for me. It wasn’t winning because it was me eating, it was winning because it was me showing compassion to someone else the way I would want them to show me.

Today, winning was eating dinner with my sister, even AFTER I ate that soup because I knew she was waiting for me. Again, the win wasn’t the food-it was me honoring our time we had set aside for each other and not letting Ed take that away.

Winning is connecting with the fighters in the online support group.

I don’t know what shape or form winning will  look like tomorrow, and I am not even sure if I will win tomorrow.

Maybe tomorrow I won’t win and it’s a tie. Maybe some days I will feel like I am losing.

By choosing to win, it doesn’t mean I chose to always be undefeated.

It means I chose to persevere.

It means I chose the hard path; the path of walking instead of sometimes running; the path of listening instead of acting, and the path of learning how to love myself for who I am just the way I am.

Winning is a journey, it’s not a one time race with a one time winners title.

The closer this blog gets to the end of its one year mark, the more I am beginning to see that.

Hello life.