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!  😀

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.

Who would have thought that lyrics of a popular song could have held such insight?

Many years ago I attended an Overeaters Anonymous retreat where a recording of Bette Midler’s song The Rose was used as a meditation. The Rose is also featured as a on one of Richard Simmons’ Sweatin’ To The Oldies videos.

Why The Rose? What is it’s connection to food addiction/exercise avoidance?

“Some Say LOVE It Is A HUNGER…”One line from that song speaks volumes to me: “Some say love, it is a hunger an endless aching need…” Ain’t that the truth!

“What the world needs now” (and our “addict within” can use daily) is to feel loved. A Co-Dependents Anonymous affirmation Feeding The Hungry Heartaddresses this very basic of human needs with the reminder that: “I am lovable, loving and loved.”

So easy to affirm, yet so much harder for me to feel!

What happens when I don’t “feel the love”? What happens when I feel rejection (a/k/a the “withdrawal of love”)? I grab for the food! I attempt to fill my “inner hunger” with something that might taste delicious — but still can’t fill the hole that I want -desperately need – it to fill.

Yet when I use food to be the “lover of my soul” my self-esteem is ultimately decreased and what self-love I have disappears. What a painful paradox: trying to (over)fill the hole in my soul leaves me only more empty.

Ultimately, I believe only God can fill the emptiness (which includes the feeling/belief that deep down we are “UNlovable”) that fills our soul. I also believe that God created me (and all of us) to be “social creatures” who also need the love and acceptance of others, to some degree, in order to be truly happy.

What in the wide, wide world of sports makes me bring up the “hunger for love” topic? Probably because I’ve recently (again) come to the realization that I “don’t handle rejection” all that well. Then again, WHO DOES “handle it well”? While rejection doesn’t have to totally devistate me, when it happens I nonetheless feel a great deal of pain.

I’ve been working on healing from rejection — two wounds, or occasions, in particular. One rejection took place in 1995 and the other around 1981/1982. I can usually “make sense” of “why” someone rejects me. But when it is out-of-the-blue, when it (from my point of view) appears to be totally UNprovoked, then I don’t handle it terribly well.

Maybe the best I can do is to “feel my feelings” — including the massive amount of pain that rejection causes. “Stuffing it down” with excess amounts of food certainly hasn’t healed it. I’m hoping that writing about it here and in my 12 Step work and talking it through with my therapist can also help bring about healing.

As an addict who’s drug of choice is excess food and exercise avoidance, today I’m making a choice to “love myself enough” to eat healthy and exercise appropriately so that maybe some of the emotional pain will subside.

According to Wikipedia, “A la carte” is a French expression meaning “from the (restaurant) menu”. Leave it to a food addict like moi to start a journal entry with a reference to restaurants! <blush> 🙂

A La Carte

The meaning of this phrase has been extended beyond the scope of dining to encompass the general option of purchasing only select items instead of a merchant’s entire list of offerings.

And so it is with my approach to recovery from food addiction and exercise avoidance: I am very selective about where my help comes from. This approach was probably influenced by my membership in various 12 Step fellowships over the years. That’s where I learned that I had a right to “Take what you like and leave the rest.”

So while I’m following the Weight Watchers POINTS food plan (also known these days as the Flex plan), that does not mean that all of my direction, inspiration and support comes from that organization. 

Yes, without reservation, I recommend Weight Watchers to men looking for group support to help them lose weight (not to mention maintain their weight loss once they achieve it). But I would never pressure a fellow addict to join W.W. or tell them that they should limit themselves to participation in Weight Watchers.

Why am I even mentioning my “a la carte approach” to recovery in the first place? Because I’ve discovered what I consider to be a very disturbing habit in the weight loss industry whereby a particular company, author of a particular weight loss book or even fellow addicts have an unhealthy expectation that ONLY individuals working on recovery should get guidance from them. Nothing like “taking hostages”, eh? Nothing like thinking one has all the answers for the whole universe of obese persons!

So while I’m following the Weight Watchers POINTS food plan (BTW, why does W.W. almost always print that name of that food plan in ALL CAPS? That bugs me, since I don’t think it’s an acronym), it is just one item on my “recovery menu”.

One of the most wonderful things I’ve found to taking an a al carte approach to recovery is that it frees my up to support other addicts — regardless of what they do to make their recovery work. That doesn’t mean I’m going to rush out and do what others do (I’m me and they’re them — and the wisdom to know the difference!), but I can offer and receive support from fellow addicts (and not the ones who think EXACTLY like me).

I probably will never be a fan of Nutri System, Richard Simmons’ food plan or any form of bariatric (e.g., weight loss) surgery. It just ain’t gonna’ happen. But I can offer support to addicts who have chosen to incorporate those approaches. Whatever our individual approach to recovery, we all can benefit from encouragement to stay true to the path we’ve chosen.

This approach doesn’t also applies to my relationship with physical exercise. I don’t have to follow a particular exercise plan someone else follows in order to accept their encouragement to stick to the particular plan designed to work best for me.

Several years ago I listened to a nationally syndicated radio talk show (I think the host’s name was Leigh Meribaugh — I’m not sure of that spelling) who regularly helped her callers “let go” of toxic persons that they had a hard time “detaching from”.

The show host would hold a pair of scissors near her microphone as she would  “cut the (imaginary, but very real) chord” between a caller and some person(s) who had caused them pain…and then she would pronounce them “detached” and declare a new found freedom for the caller.

How many times I’ve felt the need to “cut the chord” when it comes to other food addicts who just didn’t know when to detach from my stuff and work their own program of recovery! (Not that I’ve ever had this same struggle of “letting go” from other’s issues…HA!!!)

Yes indeed, the mouths (and other body parts as well) of food addicts are really not interconnected with each other after all!

For the longest time the “people pleaser” (a/k/a flaming codependent) in me was willing to do whatever other people wanted me to do — as if I needed their permission to make me an OK person. So if another addict said, “This ONE food plan is the ONLY one you should follow….that  you MUST follow!” I would do what they ordered, even if it was against my better judgment.

As a recovering addict I work hard to remain open-minded and teachable. At the same time I still have the right to think for myself and be responsible for my choices. It’s great to know that I can make new and different choices as needed — but not because it’s my job to make other persons happy (or, if they are selling weight loss books or other merchandise) richer. 🙂