We Love Her: Tira Feierstein Pt.IV

You ARE What You Eat.

Ah the old saying; “You are what you eat!” I would counter my dad when he’d say that to me, “Whatever! I’d be happy as a piece of fried chicken!” Well, here I am, affirming what I always knew deep down, my dad was right; AND we ARE what we choose to consume.

Food, nutrition and subjects alike have been over-waxed on woman’s websites. Ideas about what to eat are deeply analyzed in their consumption and while educating us about “what to do,” we also feel defeated by not knowing how.

My goal here is to simply reveal my experiences as a way to help, spark relatability and maybe in the end help you feel less alone.

Here goes: I am a survivor of an eating disorder. I am a woman who hated my body until about 14 months ago. I have agonized over food my entire life. Today, I am in recovery.

The intention behind disclosing this particular part of my story is to give you a background as to how I became 80 lbs overweight in my pregnancy, and how my nutrition today keeps me healthy and happy. But, it wouldn’t be fair for me to share my successes without giving you some history regarding my relationship with food.

When I started doing self-development work, I realized that my issues with food where not rooted in wanting to be skinny, they were tools of control in a life I felt I had none over. In moments where I needed to feel grounded or desperate to rule my own outcomes, I would eat and then…I would throw it up. Additionally, restricting the types of food I was eating felt empowering. That was my life for many years, white-knuckle’ing my food intake and output in the vain of power and asylum.

And then I discovered that I had life inside of me. A human being was actually growing inside of me! As I knew that I was definitely having a baby and it was probably going to be healthy and vital, the perception of my body shifted. Little glimmers of gratitude I had never known started becoming visible. Intuitive eating started to develop in my soul. And as if sent from heaven, messages of how and why I should love my body began to appear everywhere.

Every morning I had this visceral sense that I must eat eggs. I did! That was after my first breakfast and just before my turkey club-lunch. I was hungry, and for the first time in my life, I agreed to feed my body whatever it desired (aside from anything harmful to the baby). And my body was happy, I sensed my baby was happy, I was happy, ELATED actually.

But there I was, the day I gave birth, weighing in at 207lbs. When I came home I was 189lbs. For the first time, I thought “Wow, had I only gained the 25lbs the doctors recommended, I’d be like a celebrity in a bathing suit by Thanksgiving!”

As I’ve shared, the early months of motherhood where complicated and painful at times. I couldn’t wait to start a diet, start restricting again for peace of mind. As soon as I stopped breast feeding, I set out on the diet rollercoaster. My meal plans where ridiculous; I was eating low-fat, vanilla yogurts and string cheese and bacon, no fruit, barely any veggies. Did I mention that I have a dairy allergy? Restriction was such an anchor in my state of spinning. I quickly realized that my body doesn’t like vanilla yogurt and no matter how fast Kate Middleton lost her baby weight on this “diet,” I could not continue to eat like that.

I couldn’t un-know what intuitive eating felt like. I had activated intuitive eating in my pregnancy and I could never again completely ignore what my body needed. And to be clear, I have no regrets about my weight gain in my pregnancy. I truly believe intuitive eating gave me my vitality and my baby life.

Today, nearly four months from the day I gave birth I am the strongest and healthiest I’ve ever been. I am also 20lbs heavier than the days before we conceived. I had a friend ask me yesterday if my goal was to get myself back to where I was ‘before’? My answer was, ‘no.’ I mean this in a motivating way, but I believe our bodies never ‘go back,’ and that they are constantly evolving and moving forward.

How am I the strongest and healthiest I’ve ever been? I’ve contemplated thoughtfully by how to articulate my “how,” so that it is intelligible but also so that you my grasp my process (without taking up two and half years of your life, like it did mine). I’ve referred to my “self-development” previously and it’s vital to reveal that without going inside, I would not be healthy on the outside.

I went deep within to get to the root of my issues with security and control. I began to live with them. I made friends with the fabric of my inner workings. Slowly, with a lot of grace, surrender and love, I largely healed my soul’s wounds. The triggers started to subside and I no longer felt pulled to my old go-to eating behavior. I was genuinely building a loving relationship with my being, especially my body. I no longer wanted to cause myself harm.

Science and loads of research will tell you, that calories in versus calories out, is the simple way to lose weight. For me, it was far more complicated. I had to find out why restricting, purging and over-eating felt so good and necessary. Food was my comfort, a band aid for my inner-bleeding ‘wounds.’

When I connected deeply to my truest self, I shifted my experience with everything, especially with food. It may sound confusing, no, I didn’t meditate the pounds away. In fairness, I eat a plant-based diet. I take my GOOP vitamins every day. I add healing Reishi to my matcha morning. I do not do these things to be skinny, I do them for my wellness. I revere my body as temple and It’s my goal to preserve its health vitality for as long as it’s meant to live.

If you listen to your body very closely, it will tell you what it really needs and it will also give you a good old-fashioned tummy ache if you don’t.

This is the third installment in Tira Feierstein’s “We Love Her” series. Love Squad’s “We Love Them” series takes a deep dive into the personal fitness journey of a guest writer, in weekly installments told over the course of several weeks. These narratives will get real and open as they talk about life-changing events and personal obstacles that were somehow overcome through fitness, exercise, and both mental and physical wellness.

If you are interested in contributing a personal story of your own as a part of our “We Love Them” series, please email writer@alovesquad.com !

Tune in next week for more.

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