Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Recovery and Transformational Weight Loss

I appreciate so much the feedback that everyone gave me about my vlog from yesterday. Today I spent some time thinking about my recovery from compulsive overeating, transformational weight loss (TWL), recovery groups in general, and following my intuition.

I think that the gym will fit into my plan very well. It's the recovery group that I'm not so sure about. I have read Twelve Step literature extensively over the last week, and I am not sure if it's a good fit . Several things have happened today that have caused me to question whether it will do more harm than good for me. Let me say that I know that it can help many people enormously; I just don't know if I'm a good match for it.

In his comment, Rick wrote:
"...you can use your own spiritual center from which you already draw a great deal of strength, your belief in Transformational Weight Loss, along with the recovery program and heading to the gym, to create the O System!"

This was so helpful, as I was feeling that this was what I really wanted to do, but I was getting resistance from the people in the recovery groups I attended (I went to four different meetings). I found that when you try to self-style things there it can be viewed as a symptom of self-will or of not being teachable. I started to doubt myself, thinking "Who am I, a complete newbie at this, thinking I know more than people who have been in recovery for ten or twenty years?" Today was a wake-up call.

I do feel as though I wasn't drawing upon my spiritual beliefs enough in my previous efforts.

In her comment, Kelly wrote:
"Eisenstein's theory is that if you continue to be totally present and experience the results of your choices, it won't take will power to make the healthy choices. Do you think he's wrong or do you think you haven't spent enough time reprogramming your system?"

I agree with Eisenstein, and had forgotten what he'd said about willpower. I do NOT think I've spent enough time reprogramming my system. I started, but became diverted. Instead, I think I've bought into my feelings of fear of failure, my lack of trust in my ability to succeed at TWL, and my abject terror at the weight gain I've experienced since starting TWL. I haven't really let the process work. Then, when I started at the gym and found out that my weight started with a "2" that was the thing that sent me over the edge. If it could start with a "2" it could be a "3" or "4" or...

Spinning out of control, I'd just gotten the two cortisone shots in my foot with the admonition from my doctor to work to lose the weight to save my feet and preserve my ability to walk for exercise, one of my great loves. So when I went to the recovery groups and heard about having a incurable disease (compulsive overeating) and that it would only worsen if I didn't recover (I pictured myself again lying in bed at several hundred pounds and being bed-bound) and that I needed to make my recovery more important than anything in my life or I'd fail, I think this fed my fear. I couldn't give up TWL because it made too much sense, but I felt like I needed to do a recovery group to be able to...well...ever recover.

I had reservations about certain things. Like saying "Hi, my name is Olivia and I'm a compulsive overeater." Again and again and again. Before I speak in the group while the meeting is going on, before I read...again and again and again. I must say that 5-10 times at each meeting. In addition, I am cautioned to constantly remind myself that I AM a compulsive overeater and that if I forget this ever, ever, ever, even after years of not compulsively overeating, it will be to my detriment and I will fall, my pride and lack of vigilance leading to a terrible episode of binge eating that I might abandon myself to altogether, forever. I don't like this practice, as I believe that it suggests things to my subconscious mind that are very destructive. I know how destructive it is to eat to medicate my feelings, that's for sure, and I know I need to stop, and I know I need help to stop, but I believe that there are more empowering ways for me to do it and to get that help. I'm not sure what they are, but I'm thinking that this way is going to end up with me paying a toll that I don't want to pay.

It really doesn't fit with any part of the Law of Attraction, either.

On the positive side, the recovery program reminds me that I need to rely on my spiritual source more, and this is quite helpful. It also reminds me that I need other people and don't want to do this alone. It is sort of like a church in many ways, but friendly and accepting.

Again, these are just my initial impressions of this recovery program and I know that they do so much good for so many. I am glad to have a chance to reflect on this and to have your input as well. I'm not sure what I'll end up doing, but I do know that I want an O System, and I want it to be healthy and spiritual and transformative and positive...so we'll see.

~Picture by LoveHubbie Mark


Angela said...


Here is what I hear you saying about the 12-step group: "It doesn't resonate with me." I encourage you to trust that wisdom.

I can't tell you how often I've asked myself how labeling myself an alcoholic with an incurable disease for so many years has just perpetuated the problem when maybe I could've been making real progress to get over it. It's my belief that the people the 12-steps work for know it pretty quickly - because it really does work for them. But that doesn't mean it works for everyone or that it should.

The 12 Steps led me down a path of guilt and self-loathing that I am having a very hard time extracating (sp?) myself from. I don't want to see that happen to you.

What people don't realize is that while the 12 steps are purported to be a "spiritual" program, what they really are is a "psychological model" of recovery. It's a model for people who have problems seeing and admitting their faults - people who tend to run over other people without care or concern - people who need to be pounded into defeat before they can pick up and live.

I don't think that fits either you or me. I need empowerment, not powerlessness - had enough of that, thanks. I need a way to build on what self-respect I have, not focus on the negative things in my character - painfully aware of those!

I apologize if I'm out of line here, but we have to be very careful of what we choose to believe. I know you know that.

Carmen said...

quick tip
I squeeze half a lemon or lime in a cup with warm water and have that every morning before any food or coffee or tea.
you will notice a change on your food intake, it kind of make you feel full and also you will notice a wonderful cleansing, including in your blood and intestines.
P.S. 12 step program rocks!

Olivia said...

Thank you for your insight, Angela. I'd hoped you might be able to lend a hand here.

It does not resonate with me. I just felt like I had to be there if I really and truly wanted to recover...I understand what you write about how the thinking you learned is something you're now having to recover from, and that's what I felt weird about---thank you!

I did think it was a spiritual program---thank you for sharing about that, too. You're right, I don't tend to have problems admitting my faults or being considerate and caring towards others...

You are SO NOT OUT OF LINE, Angela. I do believe that what we take into our minds is SO very important. It is really not possible to be hearing things that we disagree with and to not be affected on some level---and why would I choose to go through something like this?

Thank you, Angela, for sharing your insights and wisdom, I appreciate it so very much,

Peace, O

Olivia said...

Thank you for your tip, Carmen. I will give it a try. I know that I've heard that lemon juice is a wonderful cleanser...Blessings on Wellness Wednesday, O

Patti said...

I tend to agree with Angela and your own doubts. If you couldn't admit that you were a compulsive overeater, saying it over and over might be beneficial. But who needs the guilt? You know and admit to yourself and others that you have a problem. That to me is the first step and now you need to move on. Now you need positive reinforcement, and acknowledgement that you are taking practical steps to overcome your problem.

However groups give you lots of support which is a good thing.

Next meeting, Be Brave and say something different, like "I'm Olivia and I am a 'recovering' compulsive eater" ?? Well you are!

Why not?! :)

Olivia said...

I completely agree with you, Patti. I am thinking that I may just do the Transformational Weight Loss group that is starting up next month instead. It's online, not in person, but it will be easier and exactly in line with my beliefs.

This is an excellent opportunity for me to learn to set boundaries and to speak my own truth. It's a great idea, Patti, to speak something unconventional in a meeting. I guess I'm old enough and mature enough that I can try that. "Good little Olivia always follows the rules" used to be my motto but it's more important to me to be authentic now.

Thanks, Patti, as always, for the support. Love, O

Kelly said...

Olivia, I soaked up TWL and am now VERY tuned into my eating & my body's responses to what I eat. I went through a phase of eating everything in site. I got sick. Now I'm eating reasonable portions and mostly healthy food and am not obsessing or feeling guilty when I eat what before would have been a "forbidden" food. This is the exact point where--if I lived alone--I would fill the house with what Eisenstein calls REAL food. I know what I want to eat, but haven't yet gotten off my butt and invested the energy in making sure those food choices are conveniently available to me day or night or at work.

But I continue to try to remember to enjoy every bite. Sylvain and I say at dinner, "Pssst. Taste your food." That slows us down. Smell it, taste it, reflect on it.

I'm also doing better at asking, "Am I really hungry or just thirsty?"

One area where I'm doing better at is feeling the feelings when I want to eat out of boredom, pain, anxiety, etc. Doing better, yes, but have miles to go. I acknowledge that many times I don't stop and feel the feelings. I eat and I watch myself numbing those feelings with food.

I'm glad you're doing a TWL group next month. Who is running it?

Love, xoxo K

Olivia said...

That is so exciting to know, Kelly. This resonates with me, but something in me is resistant or stopped or blocked or something. Still, I am willing.

Charles Eisenstein is leading it, and it will be the first group. What an opportunity, right?

I am still at the getting sick part. I am getting a lot of pleasure then a lot of feeling sick. Still, I have a hard time imagining giving up my pleasure...

Today my naturopath told me I needed to find an alternative path to follow for a nighttime ritual that was relaxing, besides eating, that is. She said that my corisol levels were off the charts and that I needed to look for something that could be ritualized that would be as relaxing as spending the evening with food. A tea ritual...or stretching...hmmmm...

I am committed to my own growth and know that now is the time for change. I feel willing and open...even to suffering if need be, in order to overcome this addiction/unhealthy behavior.

So I remain open and seek answers. So far, feeling and breathing seem to hold the keys. I just need to figure out how to integrate them into some sort of nighttime wonder-time enjoyment ritual, if that makes sense.



jessicasetnick said...

I am an eating disorder specialist dietitian, so I hope that posting a response will not step over a line of giving advice that you do not want, but I felt compelled to share with you.

I agree with the trust your intuition response, and I agree with the try the meeting again with your own personal spin response as well. I believe that in a new environment, sometimes we are triggered with uncomfortable feelings that come more with the newness and less with the environment. In other words, if after 2 or 3 or 4 meetings, there is still no mesh, then your intuition was right all along. But at least you gave it a fair try.

With all that said, I have heard many negatives from my patients about Overeaters Anonymous in particular. The trend is toward "You are always a food addict" and therefore you are always out of control, rather than "I have learned behaviors to help me cope, but they are also harming me, so I want to learn new behaviors."

Many patients say that they were expecting OA to be the food version of AA, but in fact it is much more shaming and not supportive. Also, people stay in AA for many years after they are in recovery, so going to a meeting gives a lot of hope to someone new. Whereas OA is a place people only go until they are fixed (ie they have lost weight) so that the only people who are there are people who are very much still in their disease. Not hopeful and possibly not helpful.

I know also that many people have benefited from OA, so I share my experiences not to criticize. An eating disorder support group in your area perhaps might be another option - one that is not peer-led, but instead has a therapist as a facilitator, to keep it focused on solutions.

Two books I highly recommend are Life without Ed, by Jenni Schaefer, and Intuitive Eating, by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. You will enjoy both of them, and they are guaranteed to be accepting not shaming.

Finally, I hope you will consider meeting with someone individually, as it is easy to get caught up in what worked for someone else. A dietitian, particularly someone who specializes in treating eating disorders, is someone who can help you find your own way. I believe there is a misconception that dietitians teach their own way of eating, like a guru, but this is not the case. Our goal is to lead you to your own best way of eating, which may not be the same from day to day or week to week. I would be happy to help you find someone in your area, or you can use www.eatright.org to find someone if you are interested.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. The more we tell others about our experiences, the more we all realize our common human experiences.

Best wishes,
Jessica Setnick,MS,RD,CSSD

Olivia said...

Thank you, Jessica, for taking the time to share your comments about OA. I appreciate hearing what you've heard from your experiences with patients.

In my particular OA groups (I went to 4 different meetings), there were many recovered people (people who are not eating compulsively), most of whom were very heavy before. Although I greatly admired them for this, it seemed sad to me to be still so focused on food and abstinence and their eating, even now years and years after they've eaten compulsively. It is a part of their identity---being a compulsive overeater. Apparently, for them this is helpful.

For me, it would not be helpful. I prefer to see myself as an overcomer and to change my behaviors, learn new ones, and grow past my old destructive habits. They would say this is impossible, and that to even believe so is to be in denial and to invite a slip. That type of thinking would not be too helpful to me either.

Again, thank you very much for commenting and for sharing your experiences. Come back anytime; I plan to be on this journey for a while.

I will be in Charles Eisenstein's Transformational Weight Loss Group next month, something that will be more in tune with my beliefs. I'll be sharing about that, I'm sure.

Thank you again,


dancing kitchen said...

I am climbing the mountain of transformational weight loss also. I've been circling the mountain for a while now trying to figure out the most pain free pathway to the top. Goodness knows that I couldn't find one...so I just have plunged ahead. I have gone the OA way with out it resonating to my soul that the 12 steps would work for me. I am a compulsive overeater with a skewed sence of reality with food. I get that.
I have found that I have enjoyed the writings of Laurel Mellin, and her book The Solution. Now I'm not big into thinking that any one thing is the exact solution for me and terms such as cures rub me the wrong way. Through this approach, I have really enhanced my sence of self and value...held in my hands the desire for life vitality...and learned the skill of writing feeling letters to let go of emotional baggage.
With this in hand...I'm on my way up my trippy little pathway up my mountain. I've found that it emotionally hurts, and fears that I never new existed have come to the foreground.
I'm contemplating going to an eating disorders group lead by a therapist for the support...as I feel I need sisters in my journey.
I think for me, this journey is individual and I take from different sources the inspiration and tools necessary to reach the top.
I wish you the best in your journey and I appreciate you sharing your thoughts and ideas!

Olivia said...

Dear dancing kitchen, Thank you for sharing your journey and heart with me. I wish you the best in your journey as well. I enjoyed The Solution, too :) Peace and blessing, O