Friday, July 1, 2011

Update on my journey

It's been a mixed bag for me this week in the eating realm.  I've had a couple good days and a couple meh days.  I did weigh in this morning since it's the first day of the month, and say 208.4 staring up at me.  And would you believe it was with relief I saw that number?  It could have been worse.  Of course I wanted it to be better.  It's in my hands - to a large degree - what the number is on the first day of August.  It's entirely doable to be back into Onederland, of which I've been in pursuit for too long....again.

So - after all my talk of 12 step groups and maybe reconnecting with a food 12 step program, I'm here to say that I'm still not on board with it.  I had a conversation with an OA friend of one of my AA buddies a few weeks back, and it was a great conversation.  She's been in OA and working a food program for 25 years or so, and has thus encountered many folks like me over the years who started out in AA, are entrenched in the AA fellowship and find OA unsatisfactory for a zillion reasons.  She actually talked like an AA person, and said that she uses the Big Book (the essential basic text for the AA program) as her main source of info for working her program.  She sounded real, and flexible.  I came away from the conversation feeling good, and like perhaps I could incorporate one OA meeting a week into my life for the food and eating support, and not get bogged down in "musts", "shoulds", and "don't evers". 

This gal has a lot going on and so wasn't able to "sponsor" me (basically serve as a guide and support in navigating the program, etc), but she gave me the number of another woman she said was "awesome" and that she thought I'd really relate to and appreciate.  This woman has 26 years in AA, and started in the food program 10 years ago.  I finally got around to calling this other woman about 2 weeks ago, and within 5 minutes knew she was NOT going to be a person with whom I could have a comfort level and begin gradually changing my eating behaviors.  She was a self-proclaimed rigid follower of the program, who insisted on certain things if she was going to work with someone.  Things like weighing and measuring every bite that goes into the body - even in restuarants.  She still does it 10 years into her abstinence and says it's given her true freedom.  Things like never ever spontaneously popping even a raw vegetable into her mouth while preparing food, because it could trigger spontaneous eating behavior.  There was a lot more - but you get the idea.

This woman was very nice, and I appreciated her being up front with me from the very beginning.  She started by asking me about my eating history and attempts at recovery.  When I mentioned 3 times in my spiel about experience with very rigid followers of food programs, I guess she knew I wasn't going to be a good match for her, either.  I totally respect her ability and desire to stay the course completely as she's been doing it for ten years.  It's working for her.  But as she described her own journey first into AA and then into OA, it was clear that she is a completely different kind of person than I am.  I have been talking to her occasionally via email and she's willing to offer me suggestions and support, but I'm not on her page.  (I was going to say "the right page", but I'm not sure she's necessarily right and I'm not.  Rather, I'm not as desperate as she felt when she came into either AA or OA.) 

Hmmm. That statement of not feeling desperate says something to me - Yes, I want to weigh less.  I have lost weight before and felt better about myself, then gained some back.  I've never gained back to my all time high which was 237.  I feel a general trend toward improvement, toward increased willingness to give up certain foods that I know I will never be able to successfully handle.  I desire to find true peace with food.  But I'm not desperate enough to be willing to weigh and measure food in restaurants.  To call someone everyday and commit my food for the day to them, with the understanding that if there is a change in the plan for the day, I must also call that in and report to the sponsor.  Basically I'm not desperate enough to do what she's doing to get the results she's getting. 

In AA, I encounter many people who feel this way about alcohol, and their lives are pretty messed up as a result.  I have pretty firm boundaries about sponsoring people, and one of the boundaries is that I can't really help someone if they're still drinking.  It doesn't work.  So I understand how a solid recovering food addict following certain guidelines feels the same way about someone who still is using food at times for other than physical nourishment. 

Where does this leave me?  Actually, I feel okay about it all.  I believe there is much from OA's literature, program and members I can learn and benefit from.  I don't have to throw out the baby with the bath water.  But I know myself pretty well at the ripe age of 57 (soon to be 58), and to again try and conform myself to behaviors and strategies that don't feel right to me is futile.  I'm going to continue to do my best to lose weight, gain fitness, exercise daily, and stay on this path to my best self (another Oprah reference?).  I believe it's possible for this blogger to find success on a slightly more circuitous path with flexibility.  Maybe it's denial.  Or defiance.  But really, I think it's just me.  Still a food addict.  Still unable to successfully negotiate certain foods and hopefully leaving them OUT.  Attending an occasional OA meeting to see how it feels. And able to eat in restaurants without bringing along my measuring cups, spoons and scale.

Have a great 4th of July. Hubby and I are empty nesters this weekend, so perhaps a movie date, some long walks, and lots of chill-axin'!  And definitely some fireworks :)


  1. I think you are very self-aware and for most people, that's the hardest step in any journey to self-improvement.

  2. I think finding what works for you is the best path.

    I couldn't live my life in such a rigid way but if it works for her that's awesome.

  3. I have a friend who is doing FA and has been very successful since January with it. But. She has a pretty lenient sponsor. And in the past, she did the program with a rigid sponsor and the results were not pretty. She keeps inviting me to their weekly meetings, but I fear that kind of focus on food would lead me back to my unhealthy (read anorexic) habits of long ago. I admire you for knowing what will work for you, and I know that you will hit on the right combo one of these day.

    Have a great weekend!

  4. Anonymous02 July, 2011

    I am glad you are exploring the options for support that are out there and finding what works for you. Best of luck and have a great holiday weekend.

  5. I get this 100% and feel the same way in many ways about following a rigid program. I think if it were a drug or alcholol it would be very black and white. With food it seems to be a whole different ballgame. I also question my lack of willingness to follow the must haves and the shoulds. But for me there has to be a purposeful awareness and a peace and balance. And health. And what is it about that I'm using food or avoiding a healthy balance life. I support your finding your own way.

  6. Anonymous03 July, 2011

    Wow, measuring food in a restaurant?? I've never heard/seen anything like it. While I am sure that woman's intentions were there, I couldn't be that strict.

    Happy Empty Nester weekend! We will be empty nesters for the week - Hannah leaves for vacation tomorrow - have a great 4th!

  7. as I read, I thought:
    you are (totally) on the fence

    it reads as if your desire to change exactly equals your desire to stay the same.

    and you pretty much said the same thing.

    I read someone else's blog, earlier in the week, talking about joining WW in 2 weeks. (She is also on the fence, in my opinion).

    I totally understand you are a 'turning it over'/program person when it comes to AA.

    but what you are also saying is that when it comes to food, you don't want to turn it over, you don't want to be a food stepper.

    Leslie, is there a reason, you can't simply plan your food (exercise, sleep, water) out for the day, by yourself, write it down and then just do it?

  8. Hi Vickie - It's interesting that you used the term "on the fence", because when I first dabbled with quitting drinking, my sponsor (still my sponsor today, btw) noted that I was "on the fence" about being an alcoholic. And I was. I knew I had a drinking problem and that my life was sort of a mess, but I didn't want to accept being alcoholic. That changed as I continued to go to AA.

    With food, I know without a doubt that I'm an addict. I accept that, but I either can't or won't accept that I have to attend OA meetings in order to find recovery. I've tried food recovery 12 step programs many times and simply don't feel at home there. I don't feel the acceptance and positivity I've always felt in AA. I'm not on the fence about that at all. Perhaps I want my cake and to eat it too. Perhaps there's an element of denial I possess about this.

    When I've attended OA of FAA and followed the program to the letter and got good results regarding weight loss, I also knew from the first day in that I wouldn't want to adhere so strictly to a food plan forever. I could keep it "a day at a time", but never desired to stay on that kind of a program over the long haul because it felt restrictive and punitive in the big picture. Other than the physical effects of rapid weight loss, I didn't want what the OA gurus had from a personality/acceptance/flexibility standpoint. And that still hasn't changed from my recent attendance at a few meetings and conversations with members, other than the one gal who actually did sound fairly flexible and "real".

    I really appreciate you calling me on my stuff here, Vickie. You make me think honestly about myself and my attitudes.

  9. You still didn't actually answer my question.

    Can you plan, by yourself, and then be accountable, to yourself? Can you do that?

    Because the answer to that, in my opinion, is the answer that matters. that is the answer that gets you off the fence, if you want to be off the fence.

    if you can't be accountable to yourself - you take one path. If you can be accountable to yourself - it is another path.

  10. Yeah, I get what you're saying. I think I can be accountable to myself. I know I can. I have been in the past, and using my 12 step principles, I really just have to do it one day at a time. I see that if I can't do it consistently, it really is a different path. And therein is motivation to be accountable to myself.

  11. I'm here for you if I can help in any way. I know you can do it. You can!

  12. I totally get the "not desperate enough" mindset. I was there for awhile... the 180's is not such a horrible place to be! But over time it got uncomfortable and I was finally ready to move forward and got "desperate enough" aka motivated enough to do more. It takes time to get to that point. Just try and maintain until you are ready to do more to lose.

  13. I just found your blog today, and have been going to OA for about 3 months now. I don't like (or follow) their ideas about rigid adherence to a food plan. To me, it seems like that's replacing one obsession for another. However, I do find the aspect of turning the food over to God very helpful. I am glad you're aware of what will and won't work for you about the program. I think that trying to follow aspects of a program you're not into is a surefire road to disaster. Good for you for not doing that!

  14. I'm late in responding to this post, Leslie, because I was out of town. But it strikes so close to home that I want to say a few words.

    I have found that the danger of joining a rigid 12-step program is that it just doesn't fit many of us. And because of that, we keep trying to make it fit and just get deeper into our old behaviors and feelings. Also, the shame that we naturally feel as overweight persons becomes greater than it was before. I believe that my entrance into such a 12-step program ultimately set me back and made my problem worse. (I'm just speakiing for myself.) I began trying to make myself into someone that I'm not. I still struggle with it, and I wish I'd never entered into that particular fellowship.

    You talk about AA and your success there--well, recovering from an alcohol or drug addiction is completely different than recovering from a food addiction. We have to eat, and the rules of some of these programs are pretty "way out there." I believe that my "all or nothing mentality" gained strength while in that program.

    Before entering the 12-step prgram, I had lost 45 pounds on my own. I had been doing well for about 3 years. But I wanted to lose more, and I seemed to be stalled, so I joined up. Big mistake. I have gained 40 of those pounds back, while tryimg to work the 12-step program many times, and I lost my sense that I was OK, and instead began to feel very broken.

    I am now doing this on my own. Yes, my food plan is laid out for me, but that doesn't mean I can't make reasonable changes when I need to--changes that don't result in shaming and to some degree ostracism from the group. I hope this response does not discourage you. I didn't mean for it to have that effect. ...just my experience.