I keep reminding myself that this time is different. Yesterday I had a realization: I look to the future and don't think about the things I can't have now that I will be able to have then. I no longer feel like I am missing out on things I once craved and I never want to eat them again, I just don't. I haven't begun to come close to beating this thing yet but the little things add up to give me a hope of a "normal" life and a healthy body that I have never had before. I am beating my trigger foods now and hopefully the urge to binge will hit me less and less often. I don't strive for perfection but I am glad to have hope.
I have started hitting that point in my weight loss where people really notice. As they see my weight drop they begin to have hope of their own. I have no miracles to offer. I just have my own experiences to share. I am happier than I have ever been. I am in love with life, I feel good, I have energy, I am strong, I am more patient than I have ever been before, I hope, I dream, I look forward to tomorrow.
For me this journey began with a realization that I have a disease. I am a compulsive overeater, I am a food addict. Because I have witnessed the amazing results of 12 Step Programs when I made this realization I started looking into OA. I was introduced to OA in passing about three years ago when I witnessed an online friend lose 140 pounds. She has kept it off to this day. At that point in my life I wasn't ready to admit that I was out of control. However, in May of this year I made the decision to attend my first meeting.
From OA.org The 12 Steps of Overeaters Anonymous
- We admitted we were powerless over food — that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
Over the course of my life my understanding of God has evolved. I grew up attending a Baptist Church where we were taught to fear God more than we should fear the devil. I converted to Catholicism in college and embraced the ritual and beauty of the church. As I grew spiritually I realized that any church that kept women down wasn't for me. In my eyes God created both genders equal and I couldn't justify men lording over women. I haven't regularly attended church in years so approaching step two was wobbly ground for me. So I had to explore what I truly believed. I believe in a God who loves, unconditionally. I believe in a God who forgives and shows grace. I believe in a God that honors love in the world and despises hate. I believe. I believe in a God who daily continues to relieve the pain and draw of my addiction.
I still struggle to "Let go and let God". I have always felt that my food issues were a lack of willpower on my part. Now that I have accepted that I have a disease I have to turn to God to lift my spirit. To take away the guilt I have felt.
The reason OA has helped me so much is because the approach OA takes is threefold, it is about healing emotionally, spiritually AND physically. Without healing in all three areas this won't be a lifelong recovery.
Some tools that are helping me on this road to recovery:
I made a list of foods that are always a problem for me. It was difficult to be honest while doing this. I still had residual feelings of "I don't want to go without ______ forever" but I was honest and it has been amazing. Every member of OA has a different food plan. Some people cut out all sugar, refined flour, fried foods, etc. Some people focus on the elimination of unhealthy habits such as binging and/or purging. For me, I wanted to eliminate binging. To do that I need to avoid certain foods completely. High sugar high fat foods like Chocolate, Donuts and cookies are absolute no nos for me. I avoid most fried foods but on occasion allow myself small portions of them. My goals have been to increase my fruit and vegetable intake because they were almost non-existent before.
The next important tool for me was using SparkPeople.com when you first begin it seems overwhelming but it is easy to navigate once you start. I made a promise to myself that I would track EVERY bite that I ate HONESTLY and I have kept that promise, even when I have screwed up. The only things you really need to concern yourself with at first are the start page, weighing in and setting goals and the Nutrition Tracker. You can turn SPs meal plans off completely, which I do. We live on a tight budget and as much as I would like to shop according to what they recommend but my family and I are eating the same meals so that just isn't an option so I turn them off and focus on falling in my recommended ranges for calories, carbs, fat and protein. I also track my fiber. I work hard to make sure I get my protein in every day and stay within all of my ranges. Some days I go slightly over but most of the time I sit in the low end of all of my ranges.
Another tool for me is Phentermine. My Dr. and I discussed my food addiction and she felt that taking phentermine would help me get through the first difficult months. It has, I am now taking it less and less often. Only if I am having a difficult time or I know I will be faced with over temptation. It works well for some people, not at all for others.
I was so sedentary when I began this journey that I bought a pedometer. I tracked my steps. I realized that I was getting around 3000 steps a day. An active person is supposed to have at least 10,000. So that was my first goal. To be more active. I try to get at least 30 minutes of active movement a day. Whether it is walking around Walmart because of the heat, hitting the cleaning hard enough to work up a sweat (which you can even track on the activity tracker at SP), going for a swim at my parents' house or dancing around the living room with the kids. When I first began this a lot of my activity was broken into 10 or 15 minute sessions because I was so easily worn out. Now I can keep up a reasonable pace through the zoo for hours, easily take a 60-90 minute walk or play in the pool without getting breathless.
I have an OA sponsor, I attend meetings weekly and I turn to my friends for support. I have been active on a message board full of mostly twin parents for 5 years and the people there have been such a fantastic support. I have become active on the SP community message boards. I have joined challenges. I didn't even know the message boards existed until a month or so after I started using SP but they are great. I also went through a Newcomers Orientation at The Recovery Group. That was the smartest thing I could have done. It introduced me to the steps and traditions of OA so I didn't feel lost. I still participate in their ListServe. My family has been a really great support, they are encouraging and help me remember to stay on track but they don't get where I am coming from with the food so it is good to be able to share with others who do.
The last tool that I have found incredibly helpful is journaling. I journal several times a week on my Spark People Blog and put the really important or big posts here as well. I started this blog for me but if it could help one single person find the peace and health which I am discovering then I will be eternally grateful.
The past months haven't been perfect. There are lots of hard days but it is worth it. I have full out binged twice and have eaten things I shouldn't have eaten a couple of other times but I have remained honest with myself.
If I can do this there is hope for anyone.