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 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.

Dave Begins: “I’m an addict, my problem is Dave and my drugs of choice are excessive food intake and exercise avoidance!!!”

Reader Responds: “Hi Dave and welcome!!!”

I want to take this opportunity to wish you a Blessed and Merry Christmas!  May your Christmas be full of joy and serenity and hope!

If you’ve read any of my journal entries from 2009, you know that it has been a really rough year for me and one that can’t end soon enough — one day at a time!  My mother died at 6:00am on New Year’s Day.  My closest female friend died on April 16th.  I nearly died of an allergic reaction that sent me into kidney failure in late June.  Then in mid-August I came down with the painful condition known as sciatica (on my left side).  I guess after a year like 2009 I at least deserve to be referred to as a “survivor”, huh?  😀

I thank God for the grace I’ve needed to cope with the drama of 2009 — one day at a time.  God’s grace is always a precious gift and I hope that I always feel gratitude when I experience it (not to mention always realize when God is pouring out His grace on me to begin with — rather than assuming I’m “making it” on my own, when indeed I’m not).

Because I’m afraid that the grief of my mother’s loss will be overwhelming on Christmas day, I’m going to PLAN (in writing) my food choices for tomorrow ahead of time.  I may need to revise my plan, but AT LEAST I’LL HAVE A PLAN. WHY is PLANNING IMPORTANT (especially at stressful times)?  Because “those who (consciously) fail to plan are actually (subconsciously) planning to fail” and (the bottom line is) I don’t think nearly as  clearly when I’m under stress (Who does?), especially when it comes to anything to do with food.

I love my momma and I miss her more than words can even begin to express!  But NO amount of insane eating will ever bring her back to life in this world.  She suffered much in the several years leading up to her death and I can find at least some sense of peace believing that my momma is no longer suffering.

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.  😀

Dave: I‘m an addict and my problem is Dave!  My drugs of choice are food addiction and exercise avoidance. I abuse my body with food in order to numb painful emotions (especially fear and rage) and avoid exercise because I lack the discipline to take good care of my body and because I’ve elevated lazyness to an artform. I’m grateful to be experiencing the gift of recovery from both sides of my addiction today — just for today — one day at a time!

Reader Responds: Hi Dave and welcome!!!

spilledicecreamconeAs an addict who has a long history of abusing my body with food, for today I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve done some crazy stuff when it comes to acting out with my drugs of choice — especially food.  My insane behaviors with food include, but are not limited to…

— Picking up food that I’ve dropped on the floor and then eating it.
— Picking up food that I’ve dropped on the sidewalk or even parking lot and then eating it.
— Eating food that is still half-frozen.
— Eating food that is partially stale.
— Eating food so fast that I don’t even hardly taste what I’m  eating.
— Eating food (which includes drinking beverages) so fast that I nearly choke on it.
— Eating so much food that it leaves me over-stuffed and short of breath.
— Eating so much food that it leaves me so lethargic that you would think I was on dope.
— Circa 1984: At one meal eating 19 pieces of Kentucky Fried Chicken, along with all sorts of sides (e.g., mashed potatoes and gravy, slaw, biscuits, baked beans, etc.) while INSISTING on drinking ONLY Diet Coke! My justification was that “real food addicts would have ate 20 pieces of friend chicken, while I _only_ ate 19 pieces!

Other than these things, my behavior with food over the years has been reasonable sane.  HA!!! 😀

So I was on my way to shop at my neighborhood Walgreen’s last night and I noticed a gentleman that I assumed to be a Nicotine Addict toss his cigarette (which he didn’t extinguish) on the SIDEWALK in front of the store, only to emerge from said store a few minutes later and proceed to PICK UP AND PLACE IN HIS MOUTH his still-burning cigarette!  Honest!!!

Before I could cope a totally judgmental attitude toward this smoking stranger, I remembered some of the INSANE things I’d done with food (see my Short List above) and realized that I was in NO position to judge the man who did the SAME behavior with a lit cigarette that I had done with food…even when I’m NOT overeating I have been known to place food in my mouth that has landed on the floor, a sidewalk or parking lot. “There but for the grace of God go I”, eh?

Why be so open about my checkered history with food?  Because I learned a long time ago that I/we addicts are only as sick as our worst secrets. Also, when I share my sickest secrets I am much LESS likely to repeat them! To get them “out in the open” also reduces the weight of my guilt and shame that these sick secrets have caused me.  In recovery I am afforded many opportunities to come out of secrecy and into the light of honesty.

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 an addict and my problem is Dave!!!

Reader Responds: Hi Dave and Welcome!!!

In addiction to ingesting excessive amounts of food, avoiding physical exercise at all costs (along with a few dozen other substances and behaviors), several years ago I discovered that I’m also addicted to misery!

I can relate to the following dictionary definitions of misery: great mental or emotional distress; extreme unhappiness. One dictionary entry I found noted that in previous generations the word misery was often used to describe/identify a pain (e.g., “I’m experiencing a misery in my left side”).

Another dictionary entry that caught my eye claims that often times emotional misery is directly connected to our expectations and perceptions. If this is true (and I think it is) then maybe I/we addicts is/are at least a little (or a lot) responsible for my/our own misery?  Ya’ think!?!

DISCLAIMER: I also believe that sometime I get hooked in a state of misery because of clinical depression.  I would never accuse myself or others of choosing to be depressed. I believe depression is a disease and we don’t choose to experience.  BUT I do believe that we need to be (as much as humanly possible) for reaching out for help (professional and otherwise) when we are afflicted with depression.  Staying stuck in our depression — assuming that it is possible to overcome it with assistance — is truly a sad choice to make.

A special note to the Compulsive OverREADERS in our audience who regularly experience the compulsion to own every self-help book ever printed: I know of only one book on the twin topics of misery and addiction that I would encourage you to read. Addicted to Misery: The Other Side of Co-Dependency, by Robert A. Becker is long ago out-of-print, but you can find new and used copies for sale on Amazon.com, with used copies starting at under $4.00! If you must act out with your overREADING addiction, at least be a “value shopper”! 😀

Truly I could devote several paragraphs to discussing what I believe to be the many causes for the emotional misery that I have struggled with over the course of my life. But the fact of the matter is that whether it is “just a tendency” or is an outright addiction, I think that my frequent struggles with misery make it very difficult for me (at least at time) to experience FUN. Even during those periods of my life when I’m experiencing a decent amount of physical, emotional and spriritual recovery from my various addictions figuring out how to “have fun” can be a major challenge.

Why is HAVING FUN important?  Why is LEARNING HOW TO HAVE FUN an important skill to work at while in recovery?  Several years ago I met a guy who worked as a “recreation therapist” in an addiction treatment center.  For some reason I just had to ask him “why” addicts in treatment were in need of his expertise…Why do recovering addicts need to learn how to have fun, let alone be sure to have fun on a regular basis?

As best I can recall, my recreation therapist pal explained that addicts who, in their recovery, regularly took part in activities that they found to be “fun” were more likely to stay sober.  In part, he believed, it was a matter than we addicts must replace “self-destructive, insane addictions” with “healthy, sane addictions” in order to stay sober.

For some addicts the “fun stuff” includes physical activities (e.g., including physical exercise) that many us greatly overweight addicts are physically INcapable of doing. Yet physical limitations and disability issue are NOT a valid excuse to keep from having fun.  Even addicts with major limitations on their physical mobility CAN find things to do that they enjoy!  It may take a while to figure out/discover what we enjoy doing (other than acting out with our drug(s) of choice), but my experience is that it is worth the effort to figure out (and then participate in on a regular basis) hobbies and activities that we find to be FUN.

I enjoy Legos and can play with them for hours!  In fact, several years ago I invested $20.00 (they ain’t as cheap as they used to be) in a large box of this popular toy.  I still have to remind myself to play with my Legos, but at least I have identified something other than food that I enjoy spending time doing.  I suppose it would be ideal for me to find some forms of recreation that I can enjoy in the company of others (actually I do: board games, card games and taking in live entertainment, etc.), but the beuty of Legos is that I can enjoy them all by myself…and sometimes I just enjoy doing things (other than overeat) all by myself.

So to my fellow addicts who are reading: Please post a comment to let me know what you do for FUN!  Our other other readers and myself might benefit from knowing what you do to have FUN. It may be something our “terminally serious” selves might also enjoy doing, but never have considered it.

Quick! Somebody contact Cindy Lauper and ask her to record a song sure to be a hit with every recovering addict seeking freedom from misery: Addicts Just Wanna’ Have Fun

That’s all we addicts really want:
Some fun!
When the working day is done,
addicts – we want to have fun!
Oh addicts just want to have fun!