Wednesday, June 23, 2010

WW vs. OA

A fellow blogger got intrigued by my Overeaters Anonymous posts and decided to try OA. She went to a couple of meetings (not in same part of country as me), but didn't feel comfortable with the spiritual aspects of it (God). She has decided OA is not for her and to try Weight Watchers instead.

That got me thinking about the differences between WW and OA from the perspective of my experiences so far.

I've done WW several times. Twenty five years ago, I lost 65 pounds in WW, got to my goal weight and stayed there for more than a year. Then I gained it all back, plus more. Five years later I repeated the same cycle, only didn't quite make it to goal before starting to climb again.

Several more times I re-joined WW, lost a few pounds and quit. Two years ago, I joined WW on line and lost 32 pounds, at which point I hit a psychological wall. I kept paying $16 per month, but was only intermittently keeping track of my food. I re-applied all 32 pounds to my poor body over the next 18 months (and paid $288 more dollars while gaining).

During all my WW experiences, I ate cookies, cake, candy, pastries... When I was being "good," I counted the points. When I was being "bad," I simply "cheated." I was more successful losing weight (and keeping it off) in WW than I have been in the other weight-loss programs I've tried.

My OA experience began 67 days ago. I have not been on the scale. I have not eaten any cookies, cake, candy or pastries... not even a bite. 67 days ago, I was wearing a snug size 18 jeans; now I'm fairly comfortable in size 14. I feel better, more stable, more even-keeled than I have in many decades. It's a start.

Could it turn around? Could the cookies call too loudly for me to resist? Could I quit again? Yes, you bet.

Too bad I can't format columns here... I'd like to list the two programs side by side to easily compare their features (as I've experienced them). I'll have to do it item by item:

WW - about losing weight, learning healthy food choices
OA - about recovery from food addictions

WW - diet driven - count points
OA - spirituality driven - maintain abstinence, stick to food plan

WW - self monitoring, track points, rewards, weigh-in meetings
OA - higher power, group meetings and personal sponsor provide support

WW - weekly fee
OA - free

WW - will power
OA - higher power

WW - bad habits got me to this place of being overweight
OA - I have an incurable disease of addiction to overeating and certain foods

WW - anything in moderation, as long as I count the points
OA - abstinence from certain foods

WW - get to goal weight
OA - experience sanity one day at a time

These two programs are not mutually exclusive. A person could choose WW for their OA food plan.

For me, being abstinent on certain foods is a huge relief. Some part of me must have known that eating one or two WW chocolate brownies every day (in a highly addictive way) was eventually going to snowball into binging and weight gain. Yet, consciously, I had no real clue about addiction.

Holy Hunger by Margaret Bullitt-Jonas is the catalyst that opened my eyes, finally, to addiction... to my need for more than weight loss... to my need for spiritual recovery and abstinence. I will be forever grateful to her for writing her personal journey in such a deep and honest way.

My recovery journey will have its share of bumps, no doubt. I came into the program as an agnostic who is critical of all organized religions. Finding trust and belief in a higher power, surrendering control, and feeling my feelings are the challenges right now. The weight loss is a by-product... good, but not the focus.

OA is right for me because I finally admit, understand and accept that I am powerless over my habit of overeating and my addiction to certain foods. When dieting, I have power for some length of time. But over and over again my power shuts down or isn't adequate. I accept this about myself and am seeking help from a power greater than my own.


  1. This is so interesting. I have done WW too. More than once. I considered myself the queen of finding low point foods that were still sort of junk-food like. I think I do better now with my own form of abstinence (on a much smaller scale) as I try to avoid things that I know I just can't handle in moderation. I think I would also have to describe myself as agnostic - very non-religious, and think it is interesting how you have fit so well into a program where a higher power plays such a key role. I think this post really speaks to the notion that there are many plans out there and we each need to find the one that meets our own needs and works for us. It seems to me that you have found that for yourself:)

  2. Well, I'm not much of a joiner, and I don't respond well to someone else's spirituality. That being said, Peacefulbird, your courage and willingness to reach out to OA and see what would happen, and then have it work for you is inspiring!

    Your blog has made me look at my own eating. I tend to graze on "easy" snacky foods without thinking about it as I work because I don't want to stop and actually prepare something. Keeping the snacks in a drawer across the house from me is very helpful. I have to be hungry enough to stop work, get up, and go through the kitchen to get a snack, and if I'm in the kitchen anyway, I might just as well heat up some soup or have some fruit out of the 'fridge. My weight has a lot to do with medications I have to take, but so does absent-minded snacking, and that is definitely on the way out. I still have the snack foods sometimes, but because I really want them, not because they are convenient and close at hand.

  3. You are giving me hope that what works for me exists and can be found! Congrats on the pants victory; that is really awesome and it must feel so good.

    I like your comparison. A lot of thought there.

  4. You are giving me hope that there is a method out there that will work for me, too, if I keep searching.

    Your progress--pants size and spirtually--is great! Congrats!

  5. I did not mean to double-comment. I thought the first one didn't go through! DUH!

    I don't know how to remove a comment once it's out there. Too much of a techno-zero....

    Now, that I've triple-commented, I'll take my bow and go!

  6. This is a great comparison, I'm glad you did it. I've never tried weight watchers but hopefully it will work for me. It's less the food plan I want than the support. I'm hopeful anyway!

    From size 18 to 14 in 67 days! That's wonderful - you must be feeling great about that - Congratulations!!

  7. Thank you for this thoughtful comparison! I'm so happy you've found a way that works for you (and that you'll work *for*.) And I wish you continued success!


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