Friday, July 8, 2011

Important things

I wish I could say this week has set me firmly on a new path (or that I've set myself firmly on a new path) regarding overeating, but alas - not yet true.  I still find myself thinking about food waaaaay too often, especially when I'm not eating it.  It feels like food thinking is synonymous with breathing for me at times

This reminds me of obsessing about alcohol when I first stopped drinking...I actually ranted at a meeting one night that I felt wackier than I was when I was drinking, because at least THEN I wasn't utterly tormented by thoughts, plans and fantasies of drinking.  I also told THEM (those other drunks!) that I wasn't NOT drinking for myself...I was not drinking because they'd been nice to me, and I didn't want to dissapoint them...and furthermore, I knew that was the wrong way to be trying to stop drinking because I was supposed to be doing it for myself.  You bet I gave them a piece of my mind.

(Looking back, it's clear that I was hoping they'd kick me out, so I could go back to drinking, "sanctioned" by the recovering folks who told me I didn't have the right attitude and shouldn't be there.)

Guess what - the first thing I heard was, "Thanks for sharing!  Keep coming back!"  What a bunch of losers, I thought.  At halftime a few minutes after my share, I was inundated by kind understanding folks who told me a couple of important things that really helped me that night, suggesting to me that perhaps THEY weren't all a bunch of losers - rather that they'd been just where I was and were certain I could find recovery.

Important thing #1 was that it made perfect sense that I was aware of the obsession to drink screeching at me from inside my head and from every cell in my body.  I felt the obsession because I wasn't drinking it away.  No anesthesia from emotional withdrawal that didn't show up until I was several months without a drink.  They assured me the obsession would lessen and encouraged me to keep whining talking about it.

Important thing #2 was that the obsession and compulsion couldn't get worse unless I fed them...with booze.  They suggested that if I fed them, not only would it get worse, it would stengthen the obsession and lengthen the time it would take for it to dissipate the next time I tried to quit - that is IF I still had the desire to quit.  Having a desire to stop is a gift, and if squandered may never return.  Then it becomes near impossible to stop drinking.

Important thing #3 was that it was okay that I wasn't trying to not drink for them, or for anybody else.  It was okay if I was doing it to save a marriage or for my kids...and it didn't matter if it wasn't for me.  Why?Because for an alcoholic, THERE'S NO BAD REASON TO NOT PICK UP A DRINK!  And if I didn't drink a day at a time for whatever reason, eventually I'd discover I was doing it for myself.

Yep, those damn "losers", of whom I'm one, gave me some fantastic food for thought that night that continues to inform me today.  I can apply all those important things, along with volumes of other wisdom I've learned over the years in AA, to my struggle with food addiction.  I swear, sometimes I end up eating a bunch of crap after dinner following a day that was entirely ON PLAN, because the food thoughts and desire to binge start intruding.  Once I have "one compulsive unplanned bite" of anything, the thoughts diminish and I feel the volume in my addicted brain turn way down.  And I've fed the compulsion, strengthened it, and lengthened the time the obsession will persist the next time.  Eventually, one has to sit through an obsessive thought without feeding it in order to begin the process of emotionally weaning from the behavior. 

The reason I'm saying all this today (some of which I've said before) is because last night, after an excellent, on plan day, I "decided" to have some ice cream.  Had I stopped at even a medium dish and nothing else, it would have been fine.  But after the cold, creamy and sweet, I "decided" to go for crispy and salty in the form of a flavor of potato chip I don't even like...because it was there.  I had 2 napkins full of chips.  Gheesh!  All I had to do was not have the first bite of the ice cream.

And it's okay that I want to lose weight to look better and wear great clothes...right now more than I want peace with food, freedom from compulsion and the prison of overeating.  Because when - NOT IF - I put together many days at a time of abstinence from overeating, I suspect that I'll find enough rewards that are internal, as well the external ones.

The food program I did a few years ago had a saying I liked:  "I came for the vanity, and stayed for the sanity."  Sounds pretty good to me.


  1. OMG you took the words right out of my mouth again! It never ceases to amaze me how in sync we are with our thinking. I have a drafted post, needs some work, about the whole "thinking about food all the time" concept!

    I like that little saying at the end; never heard it before. I am sure that each time I went on a diet it was about my size and all the external stuff. I think it was only last year, partly through blogging, that I realized how screwed up my thinking was too! So here I sit, having mostly conquered the vanity piece (and I say "mostly" because are we ever really happy with that part?) and still so not there with the sanity part. And, guess what, that is another post I'm working on:)

  2. Hi Leslie! So much wise advice with so few words.

    The words that jumped out at me were "prison of overeating." I think the thing I hate most about overeating is not the extra poundage, it is being the puppet yanked around and controlled by the food. It's so demeaning to think that an unliving piece of cake with no brain can be so controlling. Well, that was quite a vent on my behalf!

    :-) Marion

  3. Anonymous08 July, 2011

    You could not have said it any better. I am a complete emotional eater, and it takes every fiber of my being not to overeat - I don't really talk about it on my blog too much, but there was a reason I was 210 pounds - I ate too much shit.

    No joke, when Hannah was little, on the way to pick her up from daycare I would hit a fast food place, come home and make dinner and then after she went to bed, would cook a 12 inch pepperoni and sausage pizza and eat the whole thing.

    Sadly, we all need to eat - and I know you will wrap your brain around it eventually. Sending big hugs your way and hope you have a wonderful weekend Leslie!

  4. Hi Leslie!

    I've been here and there in blogland the last couple of months (first new home n' all!). It's all been very exciting and things are calming down a bit.

    I'm behind the times on alot of blogs - just wanted to let you know, even though you haven't heard from me in a long while, i'm still a believer!! You know, I don't think our "weight loss journey" ever ends. We're constantly finding things out about ourselves or re-living important's just so much more than the number on the scale, y'know? Ya, I think you do.

    Hang in there toots! You Rock!!!!

  5. At age 68, by the time I joined OA, it was totally about sanity and not in the least about vanity. Those damn voices, as you put it, screeching from inside my head, insatiable, relentless, were the reason I had to leave my seemingly comfortable old life of binging and go abstinent on my binge foods. Relatively soon, the voices were gone, the urge to eat those things was gone, and for the first time in 50 some years I experienced days of sanity.

    I don't think of it as giving up anything, not at all. I think of it as gaining my sanity. I do not miss chocolate (my TOP binge food), cookies, cake, ice cream, candy or pie at all.

    I still overeat sometimes, fail to follow my food plan, but the voices are not there.

    You know how it works... give it a try!

  6. Anonymous08 July, 2011

    :D Well, Leslie, this post spoke ouit some of my own struggle/progress right now. As usual.

    I had a light come on when you mentioned "abstinence from bingeing and compulsive overeating". Finally something other than trigger foods to hinge the word abstinence to for me.

    I know that some are successfully abstinent from particular foods, Like PB, but that's not the exact answer to my problem. I know that I would just compulsively overeat something else. I have no difficulty with substitution when that "need to feed" strikes!

    Anyway, your comment got me on the right track for me and, then, a commenter on anohter blog led me to a book which difined abstinence for the compulsive overeater. It is oddly titled, "Dieting: The Dry Drunk".

    In a nutshell, the author said abstinence for the compulsive overeater was: no random eating.

    Eating only at mealtime. Period. Same as an alcoholic refrains from all alcohol, calling it sobriety, compulsive overeaters must refrain from all outside of meals eating.

    Hah! Finally an abstinence that I felt hit at the core of my addiction--and one that I could measure. I now have the definition of abstinence that works for me. UH-hmmm. I just have to decide to do it.

    As excited as I was to find the right definition...I am also that reluctant to say I'm doing it.

    Keep blogging, girlfriend. You are filling in my gaps.


  7. That first drink, that first bite. Why is it so easy to not take it, and yet so hard sometimes? I really enjoyed this post. You are GETTING IT, and getting there.

  8. Great advice. Thanks for sharing. :)

  9. Your blogs have come alive. The thing I like about setting up your own food plan is that abstinence can be no random eating, or no unconcious eating, or 3 meals a day or 3 meals a day and 2 snacks, or no sugar or no sugar / no white foods...whatever. we are all different and have are own issues . I think it's ok to do trial and error. and somedays abstinence might be one thing on one day but on another maybe you have to be more structured because it's a foodey are on the right path

  10. Awesome post! Thank you for sharing. It was much needed for me.

  11. your last three posts (including this one) and our conversations (n comments) in the first two posts are up as my post for today. It makes for a very good series.

    Are you down to just your husband home now? Is the non-food contraband in the house his? Can he hide it? What do you do about alcohol in your house?

  12. Beautifully written Leslie, and confirmation of something else I read recently on self control. Self control needs to be practiced just like anything else we want to get good at. Sometimes, we have to just suck it up and do it.

  13. Leslie we are so much a like! Sounds like your other readers are too.

    I am reading the book from OA Abstinence and what it means to each individual; my favorite is the creator of OA and Abstinence definition. Don't eat anything outside 3 meals a day (unless dietary necesseity). Which would mean no binge eating to me and that is hard.

    I think about it all the time, I almost ate a foot long from Subways at lunch today and before I took that bite on the other half I said "I am not hungry". So I rationalized it and gave it to a girl friend here at work. I then almost took a bee-line to the gas station to get a chocolate bar of some sort and I drove past it. No regrets!

    Great post Leslie! So glad I found you.