setting boundaries


Some people criticize others out of loving concern. These are not the people who bother me. No, it is the people who are “professional critics” and thus seem almost incapable of saying anything nice or loving to others that really mess with my serenity. It this bunch that seem to enjoy nothing more than attacking and judging others.

Over the past 24 hours (from the time I’m writing this entry) I’ve dealt with one very critical person via e-mail. He asked for a business-related favor and I set a boundary: I said no. If that point forward he has threaten to harm the business I own and to damage my reputation. Yes, those kind of threats mess with my serenity!

When dealing with “professional critics” like the guy I just described, I remember a quote I heard for the first time many years ago. It was part of a 12 Step presentation on the problem of resentment. Resentment is an issue that I would like to deal with in detail in other entries. The bottom line about being resentful against hateful critical comments is I really don’t have to let the person or their comments threaten my recovery from addiction. I have a choice! Here’s a quote that strengthens my commitment to not allow myself to be shaken by critics: “Criticism is the unconscious tribute that mediocrity and stupidity pay to greatness. So when you get criticized don’t get mad, just take
a bow!” The source of this gem is the late Bishop Fulton Sheen.

Just for today I really CAN CHOOSE to “take a bow” when I’m criticized, instead of using food to stuff down the pain/anger/resentment caused by hate-filled words. I also recently realized that most “professional critics” are little more than bullies. They use words instead of fists to harm others. I have no respect for these or any kind of bully.

CHEW ON THIS…

Giving into our double-sided addiction of over-eating and under-exercising does NOT accomplish anything worthwhile. It certainly does NOT harm those who attempt to harm us. JUST FOR TODAY I wont allow others steal my serenity, threaten my recovery or cause me to want to harm myself.

Dave: I’m a food addict — powerless over the dual-addiction of overeating and underexercising — and my problem is Dave!
Reader: Hi, Dave and welcome back!

Yes, I have “un-lurked” after a few years and writing again in this space known as OveractiveFork! It is my blog, right?  🙂

<soap box mode = “ON”>
With the death of my mother in January 2009 I got away from working on this blog and got into working on a blog related to problems in the nursing home industry. I believe that pathetic nursing home care contributed to my mother’s death. Resentful? Yes. I’m also hopeful that as I carry the message of nursing home reform and work with others (sounds kind of 12 Step, huh?) involved in the fight that nursing home care can improve and that corporate greed will not have the last word. The battle to reform the nursing home industry is far from being over. My recovery from codependency and food addiction has taught me that all of these “outside issues” can be faced in a health way that doesn’t have to threaten my recovery.
<soap box mode = “OFF”>

So yeah, I’m still working a program of recovery for what I identify as my “double-sided addiction” of overeating and underexercising. I’m making progress — one day and one pound at a time — which is how we addicts recover, isn’t it?

As I’ve experienced recovery, and the weight loss that goes with it, I’ve gone through some changes involving my spirituality and sexuality. More about those changes in future blog entries…except to quote a male friend in Overeaters Anonymous who shared that he noticed a “connection” between his appetite for sex and his appetite for food. He created a couple of “art objects” to illustrate this realtionship. One item he came up with was a patchwork quit consisting of condom packages AND condiment packages. The name for his masterpiece was, “Some Days I Just Don’t Know What To Put On My Hot Dog!”  🙂 When I think of hot dogs of course I see two sexual references — one has to do with the MEAT and the other has to do with the BUN that goes with it! <blush>

I’ll be redesigning OveractiveFork over the next few weeks, adding some new pages and deleting at least one. You’ll also notice a new feature with each blog entry I call “Chew On This”, in which I share my thought on recovery reading that I’ve recently “consumed.” Wow. You mean we can take in knowledge and inspiration like we can food? What a concept!

CHEW ON THIS…

— It is said that “The newcomer is the most important person at any (12 Step) meeting.

— 12 Step meetings/groups exist in order to “Carry the Message” to the “still-suffering addict”, regardless of how long the one who is suffering has been around 12 Step fellowships (oldtimers, newcomers and everyone in-between can experience stuggles and pain. I want to be here for them…in giving to them of my experience, strength and hope, I’m renewed in my commitment to “keep coming back, one day at a time”.  That sounds great, but when it comes down to it, what is the “message” being carried by/presented to the still-suffering addict? If all they do not find hope and mostly find excuses and negativity they wont find a reason to keep coming back and the group/meeting will eventually go out of existence.

— “We carry the message, not the addict.” True. It isn’t my job to work their program and they have a Higher Power who is NOT me. I share my experience, strength and hope and then I LET IT GO! I do not nag or preach at my fellow addicts. Healthy, loving sharing is NOT the same as judging, preaching or nagging.

 

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 I’ve written on this blog previously, I believe the Weight Watchers POINTS food plan (these day marketed under the name “Momentum”) is the most wonderful food plan I’ve ever followed — bar none.  It may not work for you, but it IS the food plan for me.

While I could go on and on about what I like about the WW food plan, the balance of this journal entry will focus on what I do NOT like about the organization/business behind the food plan. Please note that NONE of the concerns I’m about to share are keeping me from attending WW meetings or are giving me an excuse to not eat sanely with the guidance of the organization’s food plan.  These are issues that simply irritate me about WW.  Hopefully I’d rather write about these things instead of using them as an excuse to abandon my recovery effort.

These are the issues that bother me the most about Weight Watchers…

Nutritional Hypocrisy/Inconsistency. In the current version of WW program literature, including the literature pertaining to the WW food plan, time and again members are directed to choose  “filling foods” — including whole grains.  Yet NONE of the Weight Watchers Smart Ones (TM) frozen food items that I’ve purchased contain whole grains!  Every single item that contains grains of any sort contain bleached flour, which is less filling and far less nutritious than the whole grain alternative.  If you have found a Weight Watchers Smart Ones (TM) item t hat includes whole grains, please let me know so I can purchase such an item!

True, whole grains cost more than bleached flour. So is this a matter of WW trying to maximize profit by including cheap ingredients, thus minimizing nutritional quality?  If so, I say SHAME on Weight Watchers!

I want to acknowledge the folks who produce Healthy Choice frozen food for finally including whole grains in some of their products.  If Healthy Choice can afford to make this change, then so can Weight Watchers!

Some Weight Watchers foods are barely healthier than junk foods. Apart from the WW Smart Ones (TM) foods that you can buy at the grocery store, WW sells several food items — NOT labeled as “Smart Ones” (TM) — at their meeting locations.  Yes, many of these foods that carry the Weight Watchers name do contain lots of vitamins and minerals.  This is a good thing.  The bad thing is that many/most of them also contain high levels of refined sugar, making them slightly healthier than their junk food counterpart.

An example of a WW food item that must be loaded with refined sugar is their Smoothies.  I just love the taste of their Creamy Chocolate flavored Smoothie.  Yet I was horrified to learn a month ago that this item (made with water, instead of milk) caused my blood sugar to go sky high (310) and remain extremely high (over 250) for nearly four hours!  Being a diabetic food addict, this IS a cause for concern! 3 Musketeers candy bars don’t cause my sugar to go that high!

I found out about the impact of the WW Smoothie on my blood sugar as the result of being tested by a Continuous Glucose Monitor, a device that checked my blood sugar every five minutes for nearly 96 hours.  The only major spike in my sugar level came immediately after drinking the WW Creamy Chocolate Smoothie, which I made with water.  (NOTE: When wearing one of these monitors, you write down what you had to eat and when you ate it, so blood sugar levels can be traced to what one had to eat at a particular time.)

While I’m NOT a “carbohydrate phobic”, as a diabetic it is wisest for me to severely limit my intake of refined sugar.  So I’m not looking for a fight to pick with WW, this IS a legitimate medical issue: WW food needs to be more nutritious, especially for diabetics!

Anti-Male Sexism.  While I salute WW for offering their “Weight Watchers for Men” material through the paid side of their corporate website (Yes: WW has FINALLY acknowledged that men exist and that we have unique needs!…and it only took ’em nearly 40 years to figure this out!), they are still marketing themselves almost exclusively to WOmen…even when it comes to printed material they are sending to their current members.

Evidence of WW sexism came in the form of an item they mailed to me both this past spring and again during the summer months.  Arriving with my monthly membership pass, the Meeting Ideas Card seemed to offer an excellent way to reinforce positive ideas taught at WW meetings: members are asked to write down the “best idea” they heard at a particular meeting for four consecutive weeks.  At the end of the fourth meeting members turn in their Meeting Ideas Card to WW staff and in exchange are sent a coupon for a 30% discount from Chadwicks. I’d never heard of Chadwicks (www.chadwicks.com). No wonder: Chadwicks sells ONLY WOmen’s clothing!  I would think a coupon for a men’s clothing store would be MUCH more appropriate for me…unless I’m a drag queen!?!

Another WW member actually suggested that I shouldn’t register a complaint about this matter, but should instead give my coupon to my wife (sorry, I’m gay — I don’t do drag, but I’m gay) or to my girlfriend (again: sorry, but I’m gay) or to a “female friend”.  Hmmm.  If WW were offering a 30% off coupon to say Casual Male XL (a big/tall men’s clothing store), I wonder how this female WW member would feel about giving her coupon to her husband, boyfriend or a “male friend”.  She would probably — and understandably — feel slighted.

Toxic Slogans. I recently discovered on the back of a Weight Watchers Smart Ones (TM) food package the following slogan…

“Smart Ones.  Taste so good, you want to be good.”

Don’t get me started!  I’m NOT a “dieter” anymore and dieting mentality does NOT cut it with me!  WW material clearly (and repeatedly) puts down everything to do with dieting (Their slogan “Stop Dieting. Start Living.” is but one example of how WW bashes diets), yet their marketing slogan cited above is a textbook example of the self-defeating way dieters think!

I am NOT a”good person” at ONLY those times when I follow my food plan.  Rather I follow my food plan (i.e., which allows me to eat healthy) BECAUSE I”M ALREADY A GOOD PERSON who is DESERVING to eat in a healthy manner.  And when dieters (like I used to be) don’t “eat perfect” we often feel guilty…we feel like we are “bad” and such feelings/thought almost always lead us to act out with even more unhealthy eating behavior.  Thankfully my “goodness” and my “badness” (indeed my self-esteem) are NO LONGER dependent on what food (or how much food) I’m eating, let alone dependent on the number on the scale!

So I plead with WW to knock off the manipulative, self-defeating slogans that promote the thinking that all too often leads to self-sabotage!

Cheap and getting cheaper all the time. Once WW became listed on the stock market several years ago, I almost immediately noticed a decrease in the quality of the the program materials they print.  Two-color Membership Cards became one color.  Their booklets became smaller, which caused the print inside those booklets to became smaller.  Their recipe cards are no longer printed for distribution at meetings — but you can download them and print them (with your paper and your ink) from their website.  You get the picture.

Well WW latest act of cost cutting was do away with name tags at meetings!  Good grief, what do these cost?  One or two cents?  Please!

The name tags help facilitate discussion between the meeting leader and members during meetings and between members before and after meetings. Sure, discontinuing the use of name tags is a small thing.  But a disturbing thing to me as I see WW continue to offer less and less to their members — yet the cost of WW membership has not declined.

I’m not going to drop my WW membership because of the issues I’ve cited here.  I just needed to vent about them, rather than overeat over them. Not that we addicts ever needed an excuse to overeat.  😀

I’m a LOT better than I used to be when it comes to dealing with ANGRY people.  Yet I still would rather go out of my way than to face/deal with hostile individuals.  Then again, who enjoys being around angry folks, especially those individuals who remain STUCK in angry mode most of the time?  Those people epecially wear me out!

My co-dependency recovery has taught me many important lessons about anger: my own and that of others. What I’ve learned includes:

1) I have a right to feel my anger — despite what one very brief passage in the Alcoholics Anonymous BIG BOOK says.
2) Feeling my anger is a whole lot healthier than “stuffing it down” with excess amounts of food.
3) Taking my cue from the A.A. BIG BOOK, I do believe that I have a CHOICE when it comes to what I do with my anger:  I can choose to hold onto my anger until it becomes a full-blown resentment (which is NOT  healthy, since resentment is believed to be the number one cause for relapse into active addiction) OR (the better choice, IMHO) I can pray and work the 12 Steps to release the anger I feel.  It may take a LOT of praying and Step work, but that sure beats a return to active addiction.
4) Myself and others can express our anger withOUT acting out with verbal rage and physical aggression.
5) NObody has to tolerate being screamed at or being physically abused or being threatened with physical abuse.
6) Allowing myself to be repeatedly abused is NOT sane and surely is NOT a sign that I’m some sort of spiritual giant because I keep going back for more.
7) Real Christians DO get angry. What was that New Testament passage about Jesus throwing the merchants out of the Temple?

One suggestion that I thought was both funny and clever in terms of “working through” anger can from a speaker at a 12 Step event I attended many years ago.  In response to anger caused by an abusive co-worker, the offended party took a piece of masking tape on which she wrote the name of the person she felt anger toward and then stuck the tape with the name written on it to the BOTTOM OF HER SHOE AND THEN…SHE TOOK A WALK!!!  😀

One word of caution: Just remember that it is probably NOT a good idea (before or after you go on your “anger walk”) to sit down next the person you are angry at and CROSS YOUR LEGS so they can see their name on the tape stuck to the bottom of  your shoe!  😀

Do you have any creative ways to deal with anger…ways that help you (eventually) RELEASE your anger?  Feel free to post them in the COMMENTS section!

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