I’m an addict — excessive amounts of food and avoidance of physical exercise are my “drugs of choice” — and my problem is Dave!

<<< Group Responds: “Hi, Dave and welcome!!!” >>>

Several days ago I received a call from a friend who shares my struggle with food addiction and exercise avoidance. She called to inform me that SHE DECIDED…

— that WE were going to be “Weight Loss Buddies” beginning the first week of January 2008.

— that WE would be attending TOGETHER the Monday Weight Watchers meeting in my neighborhood that takes place barely one block from where I live.

…that WE were pretty much going to eat and exercise ALIKE.

…It even sounded as if she expected US to even think ALIKE (or, more like I would think JUST LIKE HER!).

Weight Loss Buddies Shold AVOID Screaming At Each Other!This ain’t a healthy relationship, people! What she proposes is more like a “codependent clingfest” where she is my Drill Sergeant! With a “friend” like her offering me “support” (as well meaning as she certainly is), I probably could easily cultivate TONS of resentments to lead me back to OVEReatomg and enough DEPRESSION to make me want to be even more lethargic than I already am! 🙂

I know: NO excuse will do for bad choices. I also know that my friend’s prouncements about this “weight loss buddy” thing sounds extremely co-dependent as evidenced by her DISrespect for my boundaries/choices.

If you read any of my other journal entries, you know that I believe it is a BIG NO NO for one addict to dictate to another addict about the choice of a food plan or exercise plan! I’ve found it best to leave to PROFESSIONALS (or at least Weight Watchers) decisions that should NEVER be made by a “fellow crazy person” (e.g., fellow addict — “When it comes to food, we are stragely INsane” = Don’t hire a pyromaniac to work as a fire fighter!).

The concept of a “weight loss buddy” is fine. In fact, it is a GOOD thing to have a friend in recovery to share experience, strength and hope with on a regular (if not daily basis).

But make decisions for their buddy?  Nope. Each addict is responsible for his own decisions. Smart decisions and dumb decisions. Healthy decisions and toxic decisions. Each of us addicts even have a right to make NO decision(s) — which is/are decision(s) in themselves!

In 12 Step recovery the concept that comes closest to what my friend calls a “weight loss buddy” is what is known as a “sponsor”. A sponsor is someone who usually has a longer term of recovery than their sponsee. My experience is that most people who work with a “buddy” usually have nearly the same length of recovery as the person they are working with (i.e., for overeaters this means that they both usually began their dieting effort at the same time).

Thanks, but I don’t “do diets” these days! I love the newest Weight Watchers slogan: “Stop dieting. Start living.” Amen!

For me, speaking as an addict, diets never really did work for me, don’t work for me now and NEVER will work for me. They make work for my friend and they may work for you (More power to y’all!), but they do NOT work for me.

What DOES work for me is experiencing a “spiritual awakening” followed by a “lifestyle change” and change of life philosophy — that, with God’s help and the support of other addicts — I work just ONE DAY AT A TIME. This is what is working for me NOW and what I’ve wittnessed working for countless other addicts over the years (regarless of their “drug of choice”).

I love the concept of sponsorship as it is taught and practiced within Narcotics Anonymous. My approach to working with my “Weight Loss Buddy” (Yes, I’m going to work with her — one meeting and one day at a time!) is influenced by the following quotes from N.A. literature…

“Over time, being a sponsor can help us learn how to listen without judgment, accept without conditions, and love without expectations. In many ways, sponsorship teaches us how to develop and maintain healthy relationships.”

Wow! “Listen withOUT judgment”, “accept withOUT conditions and love withOUT expectations — what concepts! Not only can this approach help me “develop and maintain healthy relationships” (with my Weight Loss Buddy and others), it also goes a long way to helping me overcome tendencies to become a “control freak” — Hey, I’m an Adult Child of an Alcoholic, so I learned how to be a “control freak” at an early age (at least I got these tendencies “honestly”, huh?).

When I first laid eyes on a checklist of common characteristics of Adult Children of Alcoholics back in the mid-1980’s), I thought it was a PERFECT description of myself as well as MOST of the folks I’d met in the meeting of Overeaters Anonymous. Hence to this day I believe that the “primary addiction” most of us addicts have is the addiction to CONTROL others (which sounds a like codependency to moi!) and our “drug(s) of choice” is more of a “secondary issue”.

Back to Narcotics Anonymous literature as it discusses the concept of sponorship…

“A sponsor is a recovering addict in the program of Narcotics Anonymous; someone we can trust to share our life experiences with (both good and bad); a person to whom we can go with our problems that may be too personal to share with the group. It is suggested that a sponsor be someone who has practice in working the Twelve Steps and is involved in the program. Primarily, a sponsor is a guide through the Twelve Steps of recovery.”

It sounds like to me that a sponsor must have a gentle spirit — one that allows their sponsee to be honest/real/transparent.  without fear of recrimination. Could it be that a sponsee should never fear being scolded,  nagged or screamed at by their sponsor? Me thinks so.

Sponsors (and even Weight Loss Buddies) must keep their own recovery as their primary focus. Sponsors have a right to maintain their own boundaries (“We carry the message, not the addict.”) Sponsor then “are not reformers, preachers of the gospel, welfare workers, part-time social workers, marriage counselors, money lenders, employment counselors, or parole officers.”

I have this knot in the pit of my stomach accompanied by the intutitive sense that tells me that that sooner (rather than later) I’ll need to gently confront my Weight Loss Buddy about my boundaries and about what IS MY business and where she needs to let go of control.

I’ll let you know how this relationship works out.