Spirituality


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?  🙂

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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.

 

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!  😀

I came sooooo close to OVEReating last night! Thanks to God’s marvelous grace I was able to remain faithful to following my food plan — as written — during and beyond the “crisis” (e.g., the period of over 30 minutes when I wanted BADLY to eat more out of obsession than actual physical hunger).

The “crisis” involved my mental obsession to eat a medium size Ice Cream Cone dipped in Chocolate that I wanted to purchase at the Dairy Queen located around the block from the laundromat I was using. Because I ollow Weight Watchers POINTS Food Plan, NO food is “off limits”.So the three questions I pondered that helped to convince me to NOT eat the DQ treat were…

  • Do I have enough POINTS remaining for this day to “cover the cost” of the DQ item?

Since I didn’t know the POINTS value of the item I was obsessing about, I figured that (based on what I had already ate yesterday) I probably did NOT have enough remaining POINTS to cover the amount needed.

  • Was the likely amount of POINTS a “good investment” for a food item that has almost NO nutritional value?

Of course not! In general DQ food (both hot and cold) is pretty low in nutritional value and such is the case with the item I was craving last night.

  • For the number of POINTS I had remaining to consume yesterday, didn’t any other food appeal to me that wouldn’t cause me to spend more POINTS than I had?

YES!!!  It came to me what I could eat (a food I really liked, but wasn’t nuts-o about like I was the DQ item)…a Baked Potato topped with some 7/16 oz. of a fat-free sauce I had with me in my minivan was what I choose. The nutritional value of a potato is pretty impressive: they are a great source for Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Iron and Niacin, Thiamin and Folate! So yes, potatoes have carbohydrates, but what’s wrong with that? We ALL (even us diabetics) NEED carbohydrates to live. The DQ cone I was lusting after had lots of carbs, but NO significant nutritional value.

I  thank God for the ability to STOP AND THINK BEFORE I eat insanely. I was able to THINK SANELY last night, instead of acting out. I know that it was God’s grace that gave me the ability to both think and act sanely!

Carbohydrate phoics will disagree with my choice of eating a baked potato. My comment: Who cares! It’s a choice my food plan allows me to make AND I ended up STAYING on my food plan just fine yesterday.

Apart from the foods involved in last night’s “crisis”, the more significant issue for me is HOW EMOTIONAL I GET WHEN IT COMES TO  FOOD!

  • The mere though of consuming DQ treats gets me aroused to the point of making me feel (sorry, I don’t know any word to describe the power of the obsession for some foods) what I call “horny”!
  • Thinking about NOT eating some foods (like DQ foods) can cause me to feel deep sadness (almost like it becomes a grief issue).
  • The guilt and shame I’ve known over the years associated with OVEReating has (past tense, thankfully) been very intense at times.

“Earth people” (= non-addicts) surely don’t experience this broad range of INTENSE emotions when it comes to food that we addicts experience! To the “earth people” food is JUST food. To we addicts who’s drug of choice is food, you would think food was our lover and best friend!  It isn’t?  😀

In any case,  Once again I want to thank God for the grace to eat sanely — despite the “intense crisis” I faced (and survived) last night. Here’s a video clip that expresses my gratitude for God’s grace that “carry’s me” when my own strength is weak (or even non-existent). As Alcoholics Anonymous literature reminds us, “God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.”

As of this past Sunday (January 3, 2010), I’m overjoyed to report that I reached a major milestone in terms of my physical recovery from my “double-sided addiction” of food addiction and exercise avoidance.  I’m now maintaining more than a 100 pound weight loss — 101 pounds to be exact!!!

I didn’t loose this amount of weight all alone — I did it with the help of God’s grace and the support of many other recovering addicts (food addicts and otherwise) and other sources as well (including Weight Watchers). I’ve even been able to find help from what I call “both kinds of food addicts”: the ones in recovery and the ones still acting out with their addiction.  The addicts who are in recovery teach me what to DO and how to THINK in order to be successful, while addicts practicing their addictive behaviors who me how NOT to act and think if I want to remain in recovery, one day at a time.

I have LOTS more weight that I want to “release” (weight that is “released” doesn’t come back, while weight that is “lost” is always found). The next amount of pounds that I will lose will be lost the same way the first 101 pounds were lost: just ONE pound at a time.  I will state again what I’ve written elsewhere and shared with other addicts over the years: the “rate” of my weight loss is NONE of my business or any other human being’s business EXCEPT for health care professionals familiar with my physical health.  Above all, the “rate” of my weight loss is actually God’s business.

Several years ago, I shared at a 12 Step meeting that I “never cope well” with rejection…to which a fellow member honestly responded to my lament with a question, “Who does deal well with rejection?”  Duh!  I wouldn’t be feeling my feelings if I didn’t feel pain immediately after (and for a long time to follow) being rejected by some other person.

So rejection will likely always hurt. This is an undeniable and unavoidable fact of life. Thanks to what I’ve learned over the years through my recovery efforts, HOW I (yes, me) choose to deal with the pain of rejection is where I have found that I have (to some degree) freedom to make the best of a painful situation.

What I’ve learned about coping with rejection from fellow addicts and others over the years includes…

— As an addict, when my commitment to my recovery is weak, then I tend to “handle” rejection by rejecting myself.  My self-rejection is acted out in many ways, including acting out with my drugs of choice and doing a poor job of self-care (self-care includes simple things like bathing, wearing clean clothes, shaving, keeping my apartment and vehicle tidy, etc.).
— Overeating (or acting out with other self-destructive addictions) can NOT (for any signifcant period of time) relieve me of the pain of rejection.
— “The only thing you get for sitting on the (Self-)Pity Pot is a ring around your butt!”
— Writing helps release the pain.
— I can forgive myself for making mistakes that may have contributed to another person’s rejection — and then learn from them so I don’t repeat them.
— Loving someone doesn’t mean I must give them the power to destroy my self-esteem.
— Loving someone doesn’t mean I must give them the power to reduce the level of  my self-esteem.
— I’m powerless over others,  so if other people want to stay stuck in their resentment against me, that is their choice and (after I make amends, if I believe amends is appropriate) then I just need to move on.
— I can choose to focus on the many people who love and accept me and IGNORE the relatively few people who have rejected me.
— I have a RIGHT to ME!!!  So if I must pretend to be someone I’m not in order to prevent being rejected by them, then I’m better off WITHOUT that person in my life.

The bottom line about rejection is that I recover from it’s devistation (as well as recover from other issues in my life that cause me pain) the same way I experience recovery from my self-destructive addictive behaviors: (no more than) One Day At A Time!  And if need be, Just Five Minutes At A Time!

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!

So far I’m pleased to report that I’m having a GREAT day today! Specifically…

  • I’m not obsessing about food to the point of overeating, which means that following the POINTS food plan has been fairly easy.
  • I’ve already exercised for over 25 minutes (between walking and doing upper-body exercises with one of the Sweatin’ To The Oldies videos).
  • I attended my regular weekly Weight Watchers meeting today, which provided me with good information.
  • I also faced my fear and weighed-in twice today!  After church I weighed in at a local health club and then later at my WW meeting. The results of my two weigh-ins are none of my business. What is my business is that I faced my fear and weighed in twice today.
  • I’ve felt a really connection to God today. Having fairly few distractions in my life today has likely helped me find the grace to eat sanely and exercise moderately.
  • Outside of Weight Watchers I’ve connected with another addict to share (and receive) experience, strength and hope.

I don’t want to make it sound like I haven’t had any negative emotions, stress or unpleasantness in my life today. But where I have encountered these things, I’ve found the grace to NOT overeat over them and to NOT use them as an excuse to avoid physical exercise.

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