Today is the first day AGAIN of my recovery journey!!!

By the grace of God I’m beginning again, after an approximately 11 week relapse that resulted in a 3.3 pound weight re-gain…Three of those “3.3 pounds” I re-lost over the past six days.  To clarify: While I had some success getting back on track over the past six days, TODAY is the FIRST day of REALLY doing this “recovery thing” right.

I “begin again” with a weight loss of 80 1/2 pounds below my top known weight (which was 510 pounds, circa in mid-1986).  My lowest known weight during this period of time (reached around 1990) was 335 pounds. At this afternoon’s weigh-in my weight was 429 1/2 pounds.

Don’t we addicts just LOVE “quoting our numbers” as if they are the ONLY evidence of our value as a person (or lack thereof).  I (and you too, if you are an addict) are so much more than the “numbers” the Scale Monster spits out at us! Weight loss (and gain/re-gain) numbers are important to keep track of to be sure (they serve to “mirror back” to us [and others] what our recovery (or relapse) looks like — but they are JUST one set of numbers to consider (waist size, cholesterol, triglycerides and many other “numbers” are also worth considering and have great significance in how we judge our recovery, IMHO).

72 Hours -- One Day At A Time!In any case, the subject line of this entry refers to a concept I learned in my earliest days of recovery (circa 1977) from my first REAL sponsor in the Overeaters Anonymous (OA) fellowship (my ACTUAL first sponsor had to dump after just three days because her husband was jealous of me).  Back “in the day” we males were (at best) a really small minority within the OA fellowship, so my first several OA sponsors were FEmales out of sheer necessity.

My first “REAL sponsor” was actually the friend who first invited me to OA. M.C. (her initials, used to protect her anonymity) wisely taught me that the first 72 hours (= 3 days, lived JUST one day at a time) one attempts recovery are to marked by “cutting ourselves some slack”. While one of the definitions of this phrase that I’m familiar with means “…to allow for some latitude in enforcing the general guidelines…”, what M.C. was referring to specifically was the important of “being gentle” with ourselves in every way possible while focusing (or re-focusing) on our recovery process.

“Being  gentle” is pretty much a foreign concept to me, since (in addition to being an addict) I’m also an Adult Child of an Alcoholic (ACOA) type of co-dependent.  We ACOA types (and most all co-dependents for that matter) tend to “judge ourselves (and others?) withOUT mercy”, which means that if we don’t do whatever we’re doing PERFECTLY (and perfectionism often leads us feeling STRESSED, right?), then we usually don’t feel that whatever we are doing is “good enough”…and when we aren’t “good enough” we have an EXCUSE to give up and not try at all, right?

So for the first 72 hours of my recovery I’m remembering to be gentle with myself and avoiding (as much as humanly possible) all people and situations that typically/historically cause me stress (Stress, as we addicts know all-too-well) is a MAJOR trigger into active addiction.)

Also for the first 72 hours I’m NOT trying to over-do anything — even my recovery! Follow my food plan? Yes! (Thankfully the Weight Watchers POINTS food plan allows for variety, moderation and IMperfection — along with discipline). Follow my exercise plan? Yes! (BUT I’m NOT to become a “well-chisseled stud” overnight! MODERATION IN ALL THINGS — At least for the first 72 hours of continuous recovery!!!) And I’m NOT going to try to work ALL 12 Steps in one sitting — Working (re-working) Step One is a GREAT place to focus for at least the first 72 hours!

So as I detox from excess volumes of food and a lack of physical exercise, I’m working a plan of recovery, without (hopefully) the way I work it and the way I live my life in general becoming stubbling blocks to my recovery.

In the wisdom of the Alcoholics Anonymous fellowship, we addicts are reminded about the importantce of BALANCE in recovery: “Easy does it, but DO it” as a certain bumperstick reads (emphasis added).

Speaking of BALANCE, in addition to the AA phrase quoted above, I also remember the ACOA axiom that states, “I’m a ‘human BEing’ — NOT a ‘human DOing'”.

So in addition to being gentle with myself, what else MUST I do during the first 72 hours of recovery in order to experience authentic recovery (as opposed to just engaging in “mental masturbation”) from my addiction? Here’s my Short List of MUST-Do’s:

1) Stop Overeating (which can best be done when following a moderate food plan, as approved by a health care professional familiar with one’s health situation/history).

2) Work An Exercise Plan (this is on my list because I’m addicted to “exercise avoidance”. Yet in order to experience a sane “lifestyle change” that will support HEALTHY weight loss and avoidance of weight re-gain, daily exercise is important. Just like my food plan, my exercise plan is approved by a health care professional familiar with my health situation/history).

3. Work With Other Addicts (Recovery isn’t done in isolation: “Together we can do what we could never do alone!”).

4. Work the 12 Steps, JUST ONE Step at a time.

5. Repeat #1 – # 4 as needed, one day at a time.

And if you aren’t familiar with the meaning of the phrase “mental masturbation”, here are three definitions I’ve found on the Interest today that my help you understand what it is and why it defeats authentic recovery…

“Intellectual activity that serves no practical purpose.”

“The act of engaging in useless yet intellectually stimulating conversation, usually as an excuse to avoid taking constructive action in your life.”

“The act of engaging in impractical/nonproductive mental exercise / thinkings / writings / etc., through which a practitioner only comforts oneself mentally. Such acts don’t lead to any constructive results what so ever in the real world.”