Category Archives: Step Work

Willingness

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Hi. I am Annie and I am a compulsive overeater.

I am also a terrible procrastinator. If you have followed this blog at all, you have probably figured that out. Of course, I have a feeling that most of my followers are no longer following. It has been a while since I’ve updated. Looks like the last update was one month after my gastric sleeve, and that was May 23, 2011. Nearly a year since I have updated. I could tell you why, but honestly no matter what I say will sound like a load of excuses. It’s been an interesting year, to say the least, and my compulsive eating recovery hasn’t been at the forefront of my mind for a while. Thanks to my surgery, I’ve lost nearly 115 pounds. Clothes that I couldn’t fit into last spring are falling off me now. While I am happy with that and happy with the way my body is recovering from all the junk I have put into it over the years, I am not at all happy with the state of my mind. Illness and injury have kept me from regularly attending local OA meetings. It seems that the more meetings I miss, the louder the voices in my head, telling me to eat, get. I want to make those voice SHUT UP already. So I am making it a point to go back to my meetings. Trying very hard to not make excuses to stay home. I figure if I am looking for an excuse to stay home, then I probably REALLY need to be at the meeting.

In meeting Monday night, we talked about Step Ten. The group that meets that night is still working through The Twelve-Step Workbook of Overeaters Anonymous. One of the questions we discussed was “How willing am I to do a written daily inventory and occasionally share it with another OA member?” I said that I am willing to do that. I even mentioned this blog and said that it shows my willingness—not only am I sharing my recovery with other OA members, I have it out there in cyberspace for the entire world to read. How much more willing can one be than that?

Only the lapse between posts brings that willingness into question. If I am really and truly willing, shouldn’t I be updating a little more often? The question does say “occasionally share.” I don’t think, however, that it means once a year. Occasionally probably means something different to everyone. To me and my recovery, I think it means once a week.

So that is the goal I am setting—to update this blog at least once a week. It has only taken me about 20 minutes to write this post. That is 20 minutes that my fingers have been dancing across the keyboard instead of popping food into my mouth. Small step, perhaps, but it is a step in the right direction.

Step Three Questions

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My name is Annie and I am a compulsive overeater.

My sponsor suggested that I work on Step Three. YIKES. That means Step Four is next. Though she has said that she has an idea for how I can do that, too. Anyway, I had already answered most of the questions in the 12 and 12 Workbook. I just thought that I should type up all the answers here and share what is in my head. The things in bold are taken word for word from the workbook.

STEP THREE QUESIONS

  1. In what ways am I willing to adopt a whole new attitude about weight control, body image, and eating?

    It’s not really about weight control anymore. Yes, I love seeing the number on the scale go down. But I view that lower number as an indication that I am getting healthier. I have spent much of my 35 years at an unhealthy weight. I am excited to be on a path toward better health.

     

    I am willing, probably for the first time ever, to look at food as fuel for my body. It’s not a reward for good behavior or a way to comfort myself when things are not going my way. I am willing now to view food as nothing more than a necessary part of healthy living.

     

  2. What has my attitude been about food and eating?

    Food has always been a source of pleasure for me. I’ve also used it as a reward, a way to celebrate the milestones in my life. Social events at church often revolve around food. Family gatherings revolve around food. Food has kind of been a part of the family or a close friend—and it would be rude to ignore the food by not at least tasting it.

     

  3. Am I ready to give up self-will regarding food? Explain.

    Self-will got me to this unhealthy weight. I am out of control, and I know it. Without help, there is no way that I am going to be able to live a healthy lifestyle. So yes, I am ready and willing to give up self-will regarding food in order to be healthy and sane.

     

  4. How do I feel about completely turning my life over to a Higher Power for guidance?

    First, I am going to say that I dislike the term “Higher Power.” I guess understand why OA uses the term. For me, the ONLY “Higher Power” is God. And He is the One I am willing to turn my life over to.

     

    I grew up in a Christian home. I’ve been going to church for as long as I can remember, even when I didn’t want to go and when I wasn’t sure that God really cared about me. For the past ten years, I have learned more and more every day how to rely on Him and give my life over to Him. How do I feel about completely turning my life over to God? Like it is the only way to really LIVE.

     

  5. Do I have eating guidelines? Will I ask God for the willingness and ability to live within them each day? Explain.

    Oh, I definitely have eating guidelines! I’ve had to adjust my eating habits in the last few weeks because of my surgery. Right now, I am not able to eat pasta, bread, rice, or fresh veggies. I don’t get hungry, but I know when I need to eat because of how I feel (shaking, headachy, etc.) And I can’t each much at a time. My tummy just won’t hold it.

     

    I have been asking God for the ability to stick with those guidelines. I especially have problems when it comes to liquids. It’s been hot where I live, and I get so thirsty. It’s hard to remember that I need to sip and not gulp my drinks, and that I have to drink them very slowly. When I don’t, I get sick. I have to ask God for help to control the gulping impulse so that I don’t get sick.

     

  6. If occasionally the obsession returns, how do I get through these times without overeating?

    The obsession has come back. It’s so annoying! I know I am not hungry and that it isn’t time for me to eat, but I can’t stop thinking about the food. I handle it by writing or sending an email to someone in my support system. Recently, I took the step of asking someone I trust to be my OA sponsor. Having her to talk to helps me feel like it won’t be so hard to beat down those cravings.

     

  7. How do I reach the decision to turn my will and life over to a Higher Power?

    I think I reached that decision the moment I realized that my eating is out of control and unmanageable. There is no way I can handle this on my own. It is only by the Grace of God that my addiction hasn’t killed me already. I know that only He can lead me through this addiction and lead me to a healthier life.

     

  8. Am I willing to earnestly seek God’s will for me and willing to act accordingly? Explain.

    Yes, I am. Like I said above, I feel like I have little choice. My own will is leading me down a dark and dangerous path. I trust God to lead me where He wants me to be, even when I don’t think He and I want the same things! Through reading my Bible and talking to Him daily, I am willing to earnestly seek His will for my life. I don’t know exactly what He wants for my life, but I know that as long as I make the conscious effort to nurture my relationship with Him, He will reveal it in time.

     

    On a side note, I’ve heard the comments that if God intended for me to be thin, He would have given me “the willpower” to follow a diet and exercise plan without the surgery. That seems a lot like saying if He intended me to not be depressed He would have led me out of it without the medications or if He wanted my blood pressure to be normal I would not need to be on medication for it. The surgery is working. I am losing weight and gaining energy, not to mention confidence! If it was just about being thin, I don’t think the surgery would be doing anything for me at all. I think the surgery is a tool for me to use to get totally healthy. And I think God for leading me to a surgeon who could show me the most effective way of using this tool.

     

  9. What can I do when I feel unstable?

    I think I touched on this a bit already. Besides my OA friends, I have a strong support group of family and friends I can lean on. I have the tools of OA, and will especially lean on my sponsor and writing to get me through the unstable moments. As much as I want to deny that I am in any way unstable, I can’t hide from the truth. I feel that I have a firm grasp of where to turn when I feel unstable so that I don’t have to get into the food.

     

  10. Why do I need to follow this new path?

    Because I want to live! My food addiction has led me to a weight of well over 400 pounds, high blood pressure, borderline diabetes, and numerous other health problems. The surgery I had can address a lot of the physical aspects of the addiction. But I need to address the spiritual and the emotional if I want to learn how to leave in peace with the disease of compulsive overeating.

     

  11. What do I do when I face indecision?

    Pray. Prayer, writing out my thoughts and feeling, and discussing what is going on inside my head with outs in recovery will help me more than anything else I can think of.

     

  12. What will it take for me to really work Step Three?

    I need to let go and let God. Sounds easy, but it is not always simple. I trust God with my life. Now I need to put some action behind the words.

     

    Lord, I love You. And I need You. This disease is scary. Without your help and guidance, there is no way I can grow and learn how to live. I ask You now to take control of my eating and exercise habits. I am giving You all I have and all that is beyond my control. You can help me to focus only the things You think are important. Not only can You do it, Lord, but I trust that You will. Thank You for being there for me to lean on. Thank You for loving me enough to want to help me with this.

Cravings

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My name is Annie and I am a compulsive overeater.

I was told that dealing with food would be easy right after surgery. The doctors, dietitian and other patients that I spoke with said in the first few weeks after surgery, I wouldn’t even want to eat. That was tru for the first week. Now, though, I am finding the cravings coming back. Part of it I think has to do with the surgery. Maybe not the surgery exactly, but the post-op diet. I started on a pre-op liquid only diet on May 9. I am on that liquid only diet until June 7. Three more days. I keep telling myself that. It’s only three more days. And I have lost 31 pounds in the time I’ve been on liquids only. Still, I am finding myself thinking of the other foods that are in the kitchen. The family had Hamburger Helper last night for dinner. I keep thinking that the noodles are probably real soft. If I cut them into smaller pieces and make sure the meat is chopped up really well, I could eat a little bit. What could it hurt? I put a cup of it in the freezer, thinking that it would make a nice lunch next week when I am moved to pureed foods. Eveything is soft enough hat it should puree nicely. But that hasn’t helped much. There is this voice in my head saying, “But that is next week. Why should I have to wait until next week when there is some in the fridge NOW?”

I know that is my disease talking. Knowing that, though, isn’t helping me to not think about the food.

You know those little surveys that go through email every now and again, the ones where you fill in your favorite things so that your friends and family can learn more about you? I remember one about a year ago that I got back from a friend who had gastric bypass a few years back. On the question, “What is your favorite food?” she responded, “Food is not longer a favorite thing of mine.”

Oh, how I envy that statement!

I want to get to that place. I want food to not be that important to me. Right now, I am not hungry. Thirsty. Very, very thirsty. But I am not hungry. Still, I am thinking about the leftover food. I’m not hungry, but I want to eat. Even knowing that if I do eat, it’s going to leave me in incredible pain (think childbirth but in the chest) isn’t enough to keep me from thinking about eating. The other day, I decided to try a stick of string cheese. I ate about half of it before my chest started burning. I had it happen one other time, when I drank my protein shake too fast. That sure taught me about eating slowly. It SHOULD have been enough to keep me from trying foods that are not on my diet. But it didn’t. I still tried that cheese. And I know that if I give into this craving for solid food, I am going to be in that kind of pain again. Yet I am still thinking about it! My tummy is so full of protein shake that I feel like another sip will make it explode, and I am still thinking about real food. I so hope that it will be easier after I am on pureed foods. At least the food won’t be quite as bland as the liquids are.

To try to combat these cravings, I decided that I would write this blog post and pull out my OA 12 & 12. I am reading Step Three now, “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.” This should be easy for me. I mean, for years I have worked to put God first in my life. I know what I want for my life, but I am willing to give up all of my dreams in order to be the woman He created me to be. If I can give over all of my dreams for my life, present and future, it should not be difficult to give Him control over my food and eating habits.

It shouldn’t be hard. So why do I have this feeling that it is not going to be easy, either?

Other Addictive Behaviors

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I’m Annie and I am a compulsive overeater.

As I typed that, I thought of how icky that statement makes me feel.  It seems so odd to identify myself that way all the time.  Yet I know that is part of what keeps me moving forward in my recovery.  There is no way I would stick with all of these life-style changes if I did not keep my disease constantly in the front of my mind.

In my reading of Drop the Rock, I came across this sentence on page 65: Where else in our lives are there addictive patterns?

                Does the desire to change myself count as an addictive behavior?  Because that has been at the forefront of my mind lately.  I’ve been changing my eating habits and my exercise habits.  The surgery I am planning will mean major changes for the appearance of my body, which will mean changing the clothing I wear.  Finally I will be able to wear cute clothes without fear that I am too fat for the current styles!  But I don’t know if being excited about the changes that are coming really counts as addictive.

I recently discovered Miche handbags.  LOVE those things!  In case you’ve never heard of them, they are purses with changeable outer shells.  There are three sizes.  I use the medium size, the Classic Bag, for everyday stuff and the larger Big Bag for carrying my computer and trips to the library (because I always get more than just one book and I need something carry them home in!)  As of this moment, I have six Classic shells and two Big Bag shells. The first party that I am hosting will be on May 17th, and I have made a wish-list of the shells that I would like to earn for free.  But that’s not an addiction, is it?  Obsession, maybe.  I don’t know.  I have always been a purse girl.  This bag allows me to be able to change the look of my purse without pulling everything out and transferring it to a different purse.

Hmm….  Another thing that we talked about at Monday night’s meeting was defending our actions.  I just tried to rationalize why the Miche bag is a good fit for me.  But if I have to defend my choice to carrying them and spend my money on new shells, perhaps it does point to a deeper issue.  Maybe not an addiction, but it could lead to it.  That just might be something that I need to examine a little bit closer.

Happy, Serene, and Sane

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I’m Annie and I’m a compulsive overeater.

There is a small group within the OA group I belong to (is that the right term for it?) that is working on a study of the book Drop The Rock.  This is not specifically an OA book, but it is an in-depth look at steps 6 and 7 in the 12-step program. The section we read last night was on step seven.  One thing that really popped out at me was the author saying something about needing to act as if he wants to be happy, serene, and sane.  He didn’t say that he needs to act as if he already is happy, serene, and sane, but that he has to act as if he wants to be happy, serene, and sane.

That just really stuck in my head.  This whole acting “as if” thing is odd to me.  I’ve been real good at acting “as if” nothing is wrong and hiding my feelings behind food.  So I am not totally convinced that acting “as if” is the right thing to do.  But what really got to me about this issue was the idea of acting as if happiness, serenity, and sanity are things that I want in my life.  Don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t need to act like I want that stuff.  I KNOW that I want it!  It’s the getting it that I am having problems with.

Food certainly hasn’t been the answer.  I might feel happy and serene at the moment I am taking a bite of something.  But as soon as I put down the fork, the feeling I am left with is anything other than sane.  And the surgery that I am planning isn’t going to bring happiness.  Health, now that is what I am shooting for there.  And I suppose I am hoping that being healthy will lead to a happier me.  But I am not expecting surgery to bring the happiness I want.

So I suppose knowing that I want to be happy, I might as well “act as if” I am already happy.  I don’t see that it will hurt.  In a way, it seems like a lie, though, to pretend something I don’t feel.  But if acting happy can “trick” my mind into believing I am happy, I might as well give it a shot.

My Insanity

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I’m Annie and I am a compulsive overeater.

For over a week now, I’ve been stuck on a particular question in my 12 and 12 workbook. It’s question #5 on Step 2, “How have I not acted sanely when….” It’s a good question, one that is supposed to make me think honestly about my life and my food habits. I’ve had a hard time with it, because I don’t think I have been in some of these particular situations. Sure, I’ve yelled at my kids, but I don’t think I’ve just yelled at their need for attention. I can’t think of a time I have been possessive of my husband. I’ve never limited my social life because of my eating—I’ve just never been much of a social butterfly anyway, preferring small gatherings in the homes of friends. My eating habits never affected that. And honestly, my eating has never driven me to draw the drapes, disconnect the phone, and hide in the house. So I really don’t know what to say about this particular part of the book.

Only one part, the part about being more comfortable with food than with people, really seemed to apply to me. I’ve always been shy. It takes me a while to warm up to people and feel comfortable enough to talk (though once I start talking, it’s hard to get me to stop. Just ask anyone who attends weekly OA meetings with me!!) But food—now that is a different matter. I’ve never met a food that made me feel shy. Sure, there a few that I don’t like (tomatoes come to mind here—ick!!) but I’ve never felt shy around food. Just the idea that I would be more comfortable with food than people is insane.

I can think of other times when I have acted insanely about food. The most recent would be this past Sunday. It was Easter, and boy had there been lots to eat. The men at church made a wonderful breakfast for everyone and then when we got home from the service the smell of my baking ham and cheesy potatoes filled the house. I was good, though. I ate enough to satisfy me but not so much that I was stuffed. When it was dinner time, I wasn’t really hungry so I just had a protein shake. But then my husband and kids went to bed. Things have been, well, tense with me and my husband lately, ever since the blow up about needing him to go to that nutrition class with me. That night, he went to bed early and I was not in any way tired. Yet I felt horrible about being alone. I don’t know. I guess I just wanted to spend some time with him. All I could think about after he went to bed was the leftover ham and cheesecake in the fridge. Food can’t really talk, I know that. Yet it seemed like they were calling to me. I even went into the kitchen and looked at them. I wanted so badly to eat something but I was scared. I was scared that I would start eating and not stop until every last bit was gone.

I ended up with a protein bar and a glass of ice water. That kept me from feeling hungry and kept me from overeating. It didn’t hurt that my 3-year-old came down stairs after a nightmare, just wanting to cuddle with his Mommy.

Honestly Irrational

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As I look with complete honesty at my life, how have I acted in an extremely irrational and self-destructive manner where eating is concerned? (The Twelve-Step Workbook of Overeaters Anonymous, page 11, question 1)

Hi. My name is Annie. I am a compulsive overeater.

And I am going to talk about specific foods while answering this question. Thought I’d better warn you about that. If your disease is triggered by the mention of certain foods, you might want to stop reading right now. I don’t want to hinder your recovery. At the same time, I have learned that my recovery process is easier if I don’t avoid certain words in my writing. So….

Let me pause a moment to let those who don’t want to read this click to another page….

OK. Now that the only people reading are the ones who aren’t offended by the names of food, I will begin.

Ordering breakfast at McDonald’s. That is the biggest “irrantional and self-destructive” thing I can think that I have ever done. My “normal” McDonald’s breakfast order consists of a steak, egg, and cheese bagel, hashbrown, orange juice, 2 sausage McMuffins withoug egg, 2 breakfast burritos, and a large caramel frappe (or cappuccino, if it is winter.) And yes, that is what I eat. The “good” part of that (if any of it can really be considered good in anyway) is that on the days I eat that, I won’t lunch. I’m not proud of it. I think the only person that I have ever told about that was the psychologist at the bariatric clinic. And it is not something that I do often. Though I must admit doing it just once is one time too often. I haven’t done it in over a month.

But, oh, my mouth is watering at the thought. And at the same time, I want to beat myself over the head. WHAT could I have been thinking???? That is more than enough food for three people. How could I think that would be an acceptable breakfast?

I’ve been “irrational and self-destructive” in my lunch habits at times as well. One time, I ate 3 cheese sticks, 3 stuffed jalapenos, ½ a pound of turkey, ½ a pound of roast beef, and ½ a pound of genoa salami for lunch, then followed that with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s. I’ve been known to eat an entire bag of chips in one sitting. And if I buy that much and I can’t it all at once (believe it or not, that has happened one or two times in my life), I will hide the left overs in the back of a cabinet or the bottom of the fridge so that no one else knows they are there. That way I can enjoy an unhealthy meal again the next day without having to share a bite with anybody.

Yep, my attitude toward food is definitely insane. And I don’t think that even my shrink, as awesome as he is, can point me back toward sanity here. God, it is all in Your hands.