H.O.W. Movement


Dave: I’m a male food addict and my problem is Dave!
Reader: Hi, Dave and welcome!

I was just thinking of the lyrics of a Paul Simon song from many years ago, Still Crazy After All These Years, and decided to slightly modify it’s title for the purpose of the subject of this post. When it comes to being imperfect (not to mention crazy), some of us male food addicts have great difficulty accepting ourselves as the flawed individuals we are. The truth was, is and ever shall be: We are “imperfect”, yet we can recover. To some degree (especially when it comes to food and other aspects of self-care) we are definitely “crazy”, yet we can become more sane — one day at a time (I love the concept “going sane” as an alternative to “going crazy/crazier”).

An obsession/addiction to be “perfect” or “the best” has often sabotaged my recovery effort — and still can at times. I would think the most common manifestation of self-defeating perfectionism has to do with those times we eat “a little more” than allowed by our food plan and use that imperfection to say to ourselves, “The heck with it…I might as well eat everything in sight!”  What started out as a fairly insignificant event then becomes a self-destructive excuse to justify a much larger food intake disaster. Some addicts insist they don’t have “a self-esteem problem.” But I insist that someone who really loved themselves (or at least loved themselves more than they love food) wouldn’t use imperfection to beat themselves up and justify self-destructive behavior.

Here’s one way to “turn it (our imperfection) around.” When I eat “a little more” than the optimum amount of food on my food plan, it serves as a reminder than I use this “event” as a time to Pray (to God), Reflect (within myself) and Share (what happened with other addict) so I can LEARN from my imperfection. And yes, I can also love myself — imperfections and all.

I’m glad that I’ve found a flexible food plan that allows for “imperfect moments”. The days of rigid food plans that only encourage self-destructive actions went by the wayside for me back in 2001, when I re-joined Weight Watchers and began following their Points food plan. DISCLAIMER: I am not saying the W.W. Points food plan is the “only” acceptable food plan for addicts. I just know that with it’s help I’ve released around 140 pounds as of this writing. I would like to point out that due to guidance from two health care professionals I work with, I do not follow the current version of the Points plan, instead I follow a previous version where fruits were assigned a Point’s value and not counted as having “0 Points”. As a diabetic I have to count all carbohydrates I consume, so the idea that carb-rich bananas can be valued at 0 Points like 0 carb Green Beans, well that doesn’t work for me. Your results may vary. I do eat bananas since I do not demonize carbohyrdrates.

The W.W. concept of “FlexPoints” gives me a “Plan B” so if I don’t want it to be, imperfect eating doesn’t have to set me up for a disaster known as a “food binge”. If I want an excuse to go on a binge, that’s one thing. But if I want to “get back on track ASAP”, then FlexPoints become a valuable tool for my recovery. The challenge is to be able to “love myself enough” to CHOOSE to not use my imperfection as a ticket for self-sabotage. We male food addicts are powerless over food, but we are NOT powerless over our choices!

Wow…It doesn’t seem possible that I haven’t updated OveractiveFork since August 8, 2010! But alas, ’tis true.

I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if my critics (a/k/a Carbohydrate Phobics) assumed that I had gone into a major relapse into active food addiction. Thanfully those who would make such a terrible assumption are 100% WRONG! In fact, my weight has continued to slowly (read: safely) drop during the time I stopped posting regularly to this blog. I don’t take credit for my success — as always I’ll give God the credit and also salute fellow addicts and others who have provided me with support that has helped me continue “to do just the next write thing” — One Day At A Time!

So what did I do while “vacationing” from OveractiveFork?  It was hardly a vacation! As I”ve written previously, my addiction never takes a vacation, so neither am I allowed to slack off on my recovery efforts. Indeed the result of slacking off would undoubtedly be relapse!

Over the past year and four months I’ve made a subtle but important shift in the approach I’m using to work my program of recovery from food addiction. I have shifted away from attendance at face-to-face Weight Watchers meetings and am relying more on support from Overeaters Anonymous members and other 12 Step fellowship’s members to help me.

Please note: I am NOT anti-Weight Watchers! Back in November 2010 W.W. introduced the newest version of their POINTS food plan that included several changes I’m not comfortable with. Thankfully with the approval and support of my dietitian/diabetes educator, I continue to follow the previous version of the W.W food plan. My motto is “If it works, don’t fix it!” and in this case that means “If it works, don’t change it!” The previous food plan IS still working just fine, so I have NO need to fix it.

I still respect and incorporate into my recovery effort lots of ideas I learned from my many years of attending face-to-face W.W. meetings. But the overall underlying philosophy that guides my recovery comes from the 12 Steps that are the basis of the Overeaters Anonymous program of recovery AND the understanding of the “disease concept” and how 12 Step recovery is supposed to work as found in Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. N.A. literature continues to provide me with the core of how I work and live the 12 Steps, one day at a time.

In addition to walking, I still exercise with the help of Richard Simmons’ videos (Sweatin’ To The Oldies and other ones he’s produced).

But above and beyond organizations and individuals, my recovery is guided by my Christian faith. I’m not saying that you have to be a Christian in order to recover from food (or any other sort of) addiction. I just don’t know of any better source for help to recover than I find in my relationship with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

I’ve also started a Facebook-based group for both men and women who follow the Weight Watchers food plan (whichever version of it they choose to follow). Believing in the importance of providing a safe emotional space for MEN who struggle with food addiction, I’m also in the process of rolling out a new 12 Step fellowship known as Male Food Addicts Anonymous, which takes the place of the One Bite Fellowship.

Other than that, I’ve not been busy at all!  LOL!  😀

When I use the phrase (as in the subject line of this message) “Carbohydrate-Phobic Food Nazis”, I am NOT (repeat: NOT) — in any way, shape or form — talking about members of the Nazi organization, skinheads or other racist groups. Understood?

Instead the phrase in the subject line of this post refers to food addicts for whom ONLY ONE food plan exists (which is ALWAYS the one they are following — how convenient!) that the rest of us food addicts MUST be following if we are “really serious” about our recovery.  These nut jobs are not above shaming, shunning and degrading anyone who would dare to disagree with them. If they were not so extreme in their tactics and insane in their beliefs I doubt I would feel the level of anger I do about them.  I also realize that FEAR of these people also tiggers my anger toward them. I mostly fear the physical, emotional and spiritual damage they do to newcomers to 12 Step recovery.

These “craziest-of-the-crazies” food addicts can be found within the meetings of Overeaters Anonymous and many other so-called 12 Step fellowships. At least in the case of OA, they do NOT represent the official (let alone the best) thinking of that fellowship. These extremists are (at the most) a “cult” within OA, far removed from the mainstream of OA thought and practice.

Many of these carb-phobic folks identify themselves as being part of the “H.O.W. Movement”, which is an outrageous abuse  of the 12 Step acronym “H.O.W.”, which stands for the three foundations of authentic recovery: Honesty, Openmindedness and Willingness. The inference the control freaks are making is that ONLY THEY are “honest, openminded and willing” and rest of us are just deluding ourselves because we don’t follow their sicko food plan. Talk about elitist nonsense!

Other than the issues identified above, why do these Carbohydrate-Phobic Food Nazis upset me so much? Probably because they prey on the vulnerability of newcomers to OA and other 12 Step fellowships. Newcomers desperate to find answers and hope to overcome their addiction.

They also make me angry because I’ve found out their food plan(s) (it comes in various versions, but virtually all can be traced back to the original Gray Sheet Food Plan that came from an OA member around 1962) is UNhealthy and can even be harmful to one’s physical health if followed for any significant period of time. Their food plan is RIGID and NOT scientifically or medically sound for most individuals. It is based on, at best, superstition. Remember that superstition is “an irrational belief or practice resulting from ignorance”!

Thankfully I’m following a food plan today that has been designed by health care professionals (not irrational addicts determined to control my food intake, who can’t keep their own food intake under control) based on my unique medical history and health concerns. At the same time, I don’t demand any other addict follow my food plan. I know their is a God and it is not me! Thankfully I’m part of Weight Watchers, as imperfect as that organization is, they at least strive to be on top of the latest medical research when it comes to nutrition and weight loss.

The idea that a fellow food addict would attempt to dictate to another adherance to a particular food plan is just plain NUTS! I would trust another food addict to tell me how much and what (and what not) to eat as I would trust a pyromaniac to work as a firefighter! Food addicts in control of other food addicts food intake is dangerous, scary and even has the potential of being deadly!

So yes, I’m going to speak out against the dangerous insanity of Carbohydrate-Phobic Food Nazis! I’m going to proclaim “freedom to those held captive” by the superstition of cabrohydrate phobia and to indiviudals who have been emotinoally and spiritually abused by the people who promote one or another version of the dangerous Gray Sheet Food Plan (regardless of the name it goes by in a particular fellowship or 12 Step group).

Occasionally I receive comments from readers of OveractiveFork that suggest I really have an “anger problem” based on the content of some of my posts.  Really…a food addict with “anger issues”?  How could that be? During the time I’ve spent in active addiction I’ve done my best to swallow my anger and faked being a “nice guy” (“Nice” = No Boundaries = People Pleaser = Doormat To Be Walked On). After all, doesn’t EVERYbody just love (not to mention) like anger-free people?  And surely in my active addiction I’ve been as hungry for love as I have been for Onion Rings!

So YES, in recovery, I darn well DO have anger. In recovery I experience a whole set of feelings that were numbed out during active addiction. So yes, I feel anger today.

I say GOOD for me having anger. Sometimes anger is a VERY APPROPRIATE emotion to have. I happen to believe that ALL people with any degree of SANE recovery will feel anger from time to time. How dare you (or me) expect me to be anything less than fully human? Yes, being angry IS part of the human experience!

Just for today my recovery allows me to have enough clarity so that I no longer confuse anger with other issues and emotions…

  • Anger is not the same thing as resentment. Feeling anger is therefore NOT the same thing as “re-feeling” it.
  • Anger is not always accompanied by hatred for the object of one’s anger.
  • I can feel BOTH anger AND love at the SAME time for the object of my anger.

Even Jesus Christ was known to get angry. Even the BIble says, “Be angry but sin not…” (Ephesians 4:26)…which, it seems to me, infers that it IS possible to be angry and NOT sin.  The same passage of Scripture also adds, “Don’t let the sun go down on your anger”, which tells me that healthy anger does not last forever.

Anger is not a bad thing, despite what one co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous wrote about it in one sentence of the thousands of sentences he wrote in that fellowship’s literature. I’ have much respect for the wisdom found in the writing of Bill W., but he is not God and his opinion (speaking for myself as a Christian) is not a higher authority than Sacred Scripture.

Just for today, I refuse to be shamed for my anger. Just for today, I refused to allow other addicts shame me into silence about what I’m feeling angry about. Just for today, I respect my right to feel and constructively express my anger.

I don’t to speak on behalf of other addicts, but I believe that if I don’t “face my stuff, I’m going to stuff my face”.  So facing and expressing and  working on my anger is a whole lot healthier than “stuffing it down” with excess food, let alone a whole lot wiser than trying to “numb” my anger though avoiding doing physical movement.

It takes courage for me to face and feel my anger. It takes discipline to use the 12 Steps to work through my anger (working  through it sure beats “overeating over it”!) so I don’t remain stuck in it.

It’s been around seven months since I’ve posted to OveractiveFork. I would not be surprised if the judgmental types — especially the carbohydrate-phobic addicts — who read my blog have assumed that I’ve been in relapse during my silence.  I’m pleased to disappoint them: thanks for your “concern”, but I’ve been doing great.

In fact, I’ve released 9 more pounds since my most recent previous entry! Some self-hating food addicts would put down my “rate of weight loss” over the past seven months, but the fact is, was and will forever be: my rate of weight loss is NONE of their business.  🙂  I’ve noticed many times that the addicts with the most negative attitudes toward my recovery effort either have little or no recovery to show for themselves. Yet they never miss an opportunity to criticize those of us who DO have some degree of recovery.

With 110 pounds now released, I feel more than a little overwhelmed when I think about the remaining ### pounds that I still have to release before reaching an ideal body weight. How does my “recovery process” help me deal with “the numbers” that on many occasions have driven me crazy?

  • I really only have ONE pound to loose at any given time. One Pound At A Time (O.P.A.A.T.) then is how I release my excess body weight. Therefore I will keep my focus on JUST THE NEXT ONE POUND that I want to loose. Thankfully one pound is not overwhelming!
  • I now see my weight loss as the “fruit” of my recovery effort/journey INSTEAD OF the REASON WHY I’m addressing this aspect of my health and well-being in the first place. In other words, I’m NOT loosing weight in order to “be acceptable”. Instead I’m loosing weight BECAUSE I ALREADY AM acceptable, loving and worthwhile as a person. So whatever my weight does (increase or decrease) is NOT the sum total of my value as a precious child of God.
  • Now that I’ve reached the milestone of having released 110 pounds, Weight Watchers encourages me to set my next weight release goal — this means I don’t have to be concerned about loosing another XXX pounds (which I can choose to make my ultimate goal). Instead I can have an “interim goal”, which feels much less overwhelming than my ultimate goal. Interim weight loss goals remind me that I still have “work to do”, but NOT so much that the thought of it leaves me feeling overwhelmed.

So my current “interim goal” is to release 35 pounds. How will I release this excess weight?  Just O.P.A.A.T.. while I work my program of recovery just O.D.A.A.T. (One Day At A Time)!  🙂

As always, the rate of my weight loss is NONE of my business or your business (as a fellow addict). Only the opinions of God and the health care professionals who care for me count on any of the issues involved in my recovery.

As an addict, I struggle to overcome self-centeredness in all of it’s forms. One area where my self-centeredness manifests itself is in the area of fear. Two of my biggest fears are that others will  reject me and will shame me in a toxic manner by unloading mountains of harsh criticism on me.

Because of these fear issues — and for other possibly good reasons — I’ve avoided posting to OveractiveFork specific details about my food intake and exercise effort.  I’m not ashamed of what I eat and how much I exercise most days, but I fear that those addicts who demonize carbohydrates and exercise bulimics for whom NO amount of exercise is ever “good enough” would surely overwhelm me with criticism if they only knew what I was eating and much (or how little — depending on one’s perspective) that I exercise. So I ask: Why put myself through the potential of being sent abusive e-mail messages from fellow addicts who 1) are NOT my sponsor and 2) are NOT any sort of health care professional? Answer: I don’t need to put myself through such harsh judgementalness that the posting of food intake and exercise data would surely generate.

The other reason I wont post such personal information on OveractiveFork is because I would never want the specifics of my food and exercise plans to be followed by the readers of this blog.  I’m NOT a dietician or exercise physiologist so I would hope that I NEVER prescribe food or exercise plans for fellow addicts.  And I would not want any addict reading my blog to follow my plans becuase they were too lazy, fearful or arrogant to seek out the advice on such matters that I believe should ONLY come from a health care professional.

I do write down what I eat and how much I exercise on a regular basis.  But that information will be shared ONLY with professionals who are in a position to offer me sound advice and appropriate feedback when such information is shared with them.  I may also choose to share this information privately with fellow addicts, but NOT in order to obtain feedback and/or advice that should only come from a professional.

These Are Some Of My "Recovery Pieces" -- What Are Yours?

These Are Some Of My "Recovery Pieces" -- What Are Yours?

My approach to recovery from food addiction incorporates many sources of information and support.  I have found that my “Al-A-Carte Approach” to recovery (which is only approach that makes sense to me) offends and even outright angers numerous fellow addicts and “earth people” alike.

Some of the support I seek out for my recovery comes from 12 Step-focused resources (e.g., literature from the Narcotics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon and Overeaters Anonymous fellowships).  My food plan comes from Weight Watchers and my exercise plan is centered around Richard Simmons’ Sweatin’ To The Oldies videos.  Both my food plan and my exercise plan have the input and approval of a whole host of health care professionals. My faith in God keeps me stong in my recovery. My connection with other addicts (of every sort — NOT just food addicts) reinforces my commitment to sane eating, one day at a time.

What I just listed in the previous paragraph are the major sources of support for my recovery effort.  They are by no means the only sources of help.

I give myself permission to “add” and “subtract” from my list of resources as often as I choose.  Although I don’t believe I could stay in recovery without God’s help — so hopefully He will always be on my “short list” of where I seek help.

Sometimes it makes me want to S-C-R-E-A-M when fellow addicts and “earth people” “Should All Over” me (e.g., “You SHOULD try ______ diet”, “You SHOULD exercise at least ___ minutes per day OR your exercise really does NOT count!” “You SHOULD avoid (this food)… to loose weight”, “You SHOULD be losing weight faster!”, etc.). The only thing that  keeps me from losing it on the know-it-alls (and MOST of the time I don’t lose my temper on them) is remembering that when people (regardless of their “best intentions”) offer UNsolicited advice, they are acting out of their own co-dependency issues.  So their “SHOULD-ing” isn’t about something being flawed or defective in my approach to recovery (though after being “should-ed on” I’ve often gone away feeling attacked or demeaned).  Rather should-ing is really about the need of the “should-er” to control one or more aspects of another person’s life (e.g., MY life) that is NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS in the first place.

Whether you refer to your recovery approach as “Al-A Carte” or think of it as being a puzzle (or mosaic) with many pieces, the various pieces/parts/elements/sources that make up YOUR recovery process are uour’s to choose as we see fit. So the self-appointed Committee of Should-ing Know-It-Alls SHOULD keep their hands off our stuff and keep the focus on their stuff.  Not that it is my job to control the should-ers.  I think I’ll leave that job to God.

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