Saturday, July 31, 2010

Mindful Eating

Today in our OA meeting, one person mentioned how he used to eat as if an efficiency expert were sitting on his shoulder. He also said that recently he has been practicing mindful eating and that he finds he's only eating about half of what he previously consumed at each meal, plus it slows him down and makes his meals more enjoyable.

My thought: Yup... I'm a speed eater too... and my efficiency expert has a huge whip. Crack. Stuff my mouth, prepare new bite. Crack! Not fast enough! Stuff... Not only do I speed eat, but also I gobble my food mindlessly, especially after the first bite. Plus often, I multi-task as well... eating while writing, eating while reading, eating while talking on the phone, eating while watching TV.

Years ago, I attended a Buddhist Silent Retreat at Cloud Mountain. I think it was 5 days. We practiced silence and mindfulness as we participated in various meditations. I especially enjoyed the solo walking meditations on the many trails available in the 15-acre area. Even walking very slowly and being mindful of each step, I found myself writing poems in my mind as I walked. I'll copy one of them to the end of this post.

The most amazing thing about the retreat was eating. We were instructed to eat alone, slowly, in silence, without reading and with our full attention, our full mindfulness, on every single bite we put in our mouths. Eating in that way, each meal took more than a half hour to consume. Each and every bite had taste, texture, purpose and history. The meals were simple and vegetarian. Grains and vegetables never tasted so good to me. I recall feeling completely satisfied after each meal, wanting nothing more, feeling nurtured, blessed, content.

So, of course, when my fellow OA member mentioned his practice of mindful eating, my mind raced back 14 years to the Buddhist Retreat and my own lovely experience with this practice. Is it time for change in the way I eat as well as what and how much I eat? Yes, I believe it is. So today, I make this commitment: For the next week, starting tomorrow, I will eat my lunch each day in a mindful way. I will account for myself here, a week from today. Baby steps in a new direction.

Here's one of the poems I wrote during the retreat after an hour of private, outdoor meditation:

Tree Connection

Although the fenced property line
separates us so that I may not touch you,
I stand with you for this hour in solidarity
and notice the changing forces around us...
the coming and going of hard rains,
the breeze rippling your branches
and the stillness behind the breeze,
the lighter, then darker grey
of the skies above us,
the drifting dances of wooden ducks
in the pond between us.

Although I am human and move about the earth,
today I can appreciate the way you
have stood in one place for forty years or more...
the seasons... the sun, moon, stars...
the animals, insects, birds...
and my kind... all moving around you...
some needing you, some apparently not...
some noticing you, some apparently not.
Yet I know of our connection...
yours, mine and theirs.

Although I am human
and may not cross the line between us,
we are bonded this hour by our downcast eyes.
Your eyes, turning away from
the clear-cut devastation beginning at your roots
and marching over the hills behind you,
your eyes weep
for your missing brothers and sisters.
My eyes, turning away from other human faces
as we pass each other
in this Buddhist place of retreat,
my eyes weep
for the seriousness here
and the lonely lack of human interaction.
Just as you miss the trees in your fold,
I miss the laughter in mine.
Just as you stand alone this hour,
so do I.

Monday, July 26, 2010

100 Days

Today would have been day 100 of abstinence if I hadn't put my hand out to receive an ice cream cone on day 77. Because of that, I set my counter back to zero. On my second try, I'm at day 23, making a total of 100 days of following my food plan and staying abstinent from my binge foods.

To celebrate a total of 100 days on the job (77+23), I'm going to write one of my 10-things lists...

Ten Things About 100 Days of Abstinence
  1. It's been much easier than I thought it would be.
  2. I rarely obsess or even think about what I'm going or not going to eat.
  3. I feel more calm than I have for a long time.
  4. I seem to get more done and have a tad more energy.
  5. I'm starting to be more aware of my feelings and to be able to name them.
  6. I look forward to the weekly OA meetings.
  7. I think I can continue doing this for another 100 days.
  8. However, I will still try to take it just one day at a time.
  9. It feels as though a more honest me is emerging.
  10. I started at size 18 jeans and now my 14s are starting to feel a bit baggy.

Ten MORE Things About 100 Days of Abstinence

  1. Dropping sizes is good, but the real reward is the return to a foundation of sanity.
  2. I've only felt a strong urge to have binge foods one or two times.
  3. I cheat a little with my food plan by having a taste or nibble now and then while preparing meals.
  4. I have to keep a wary eye on nibbling and tasting. Right now I'm being lenient about it, but that may need to change.
  5. I've started taking better care of myself in other ways, such as doing arm exercises.
  6. I believe the 12-step program is an important part of making this a life change. I am working on step 4 using an event writing method suggested by a member of my OA group. It takes a lot of time.
  7. I haven't weighed myself at all, not even on day one. My "no scale" policy is working very well for me.
  8. Writing this blog is very helpful in understanding and placing value on my food addiction recovery process.
  9. Reading other recovery blogs and exchanging comments is inspirational, instructive and motivating for me.
  10. I got tears in my eyes at Saturday's OA meeting. I rarely cry (once or twice a year?) and never in public.

Re-reading my two lists, I'd have to give this period of time at least 5 bright, optimistic stars!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

What is "Thin?"

Genie, one of my favorite bloggers, recently wrote:
It's the big weight loss conundrum of intelligent women: I know how to lose weight, and I don't want to be overweight, so why can't I apply the knowledge to the desire in order to become thin?

Her words make me think about another conundrum of intelligent women and men: What is thin? What is thin enough? Where does thin begin and fat end?

All through my life of dieting, I've tried to change the wording to escape this question. I say physically fit or in the normal range for my age, height and gender. Yet, while abhorring the word fat, I'm in love the word thin, especially in my thoughts and daydreams. The word taunts me.

If only I were thin.....
When I get thin....
Because I'm not thin....

Thin is elusive. It exists on a sliding scale. When I'm 230, thin looks like 182. When the scale says 185, thin looks like 160. I haven't been there for many years, but I recall about 41 years ago, when thin looked like 125.

These numbers are crazy-making! At this moment I am celebrating my decision to stay off the scale (unless the Dr. orders... and even then I don't need to know). I understand the risks of this decision. But it makes me feel like I've finally donned my big girl panties... I don't need a scale to tell me how much to eat, if I'm bingeing or if I'm following my food plan. It's the first time ever that I've lost weight without tracking it, weighing myself and writing down the numbers. And it feels great!

So, for me right now, the scale is not relevant to thin. Yet, not weighing does not the conundrum solve. Thin haunts and taunts me even without the scale. I'm still plagued by thin thinking. For example, my 50th HS reunion is in September. Since I'm thinking about going to it, thin invades my peace with thoughts like these:

How thin will I be compared to the other women there?
Am I thin enough to risk being seen by classmates?
How much thinner will I be by then?
Will I be thin enough to deserve a new outfit?

It's not my weight (or even my appearance) that needs to change. It's my state of mind, my perception about the importance and relevance of thin, that must change. May recognizing this fact be my first baby step on a new and more comfortable pathway.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Few More Thoughts on Entitlement & Humility

I'd like to say (and think) that I understand humility, but I have only the faintest glimmer.

I know humility is what makes us listen to and try to understand views that are different than our own. In a world of selfish and self-righteous views that lead to conflict and war, humility makes us listen to each other and hear the needs of the earth. It gives us common ground. As an individual, humility comes from the belief that I stand neither above or below anybody else. Humility protects me from low self-esteem and others from the power of my over-inflated ego.

Yes, to answer Karen's comment on my original Entitlement post, my exploration of humility did originate in an OA meeting. A member was telling a story about her family and the way she grew up feeling entitled to have "treats" for many different situations and occasions. I started thinking about what's under that sense of entitlement, one that I also shared.

Might it be possible that I felt more deserving than others? What if I altered my thinking a bit. What if I tell myself that stuff happens to everyone. We all have disappointments, frustrations, death, illness, celebrations, abusive relationships. We do. All of us. So why am I so special that I deserve to have treats?

What if I put myself on the same level with everyone, not above and not below? Does that mean I don't deserve rewards and celebrations? Does that mean I haven't succeeded? Does it mean I'm just average? Does it mean I have no reason to try to improve, to better myself? This is indeed a concept that needs grappling. I don't know the answers.

But I resonate with Ralph W. Stockman, who said humility is intelligent self respect which keeps us from thinking too highly or too meanly of ourselves. Intelligent self-respect makes good sense to me. With intelligent self-respect, I no longer binge when I feel entitled to a treat.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Entitlement Thinking

Here's the concept, plain and simple:
  • I am entitled to eat anything I want any time I want because my ballet teacher said I was too large to be a dancer.
  • I am entitled to eat anything I want any time I want because my parents didn't bother to come to my dance performance.
  • I am entitled to eat anything I want any time I want because my daddy was killed in a car accident and my mama abandonded me to my grandparents so she could go back to school.
  • I am entitled to eat anything I want any time I want because I was sick in bed for an entire year and "mistreated" in the hospital.
Those are the big ones. Here are some of the itty-bitty, forgettable ones I've used:
  • I am entitled to eat anything I want any time I want because my husband's being mean to me.
  • I am entitled to eat anything I want any time I want because I'm really stressed out about work.
  • I am entitled to eat anything I want any time I want because the stock market crashed and I lost most of my savings.
  • I am entitled to eat anything I want any time I want because we've been snowed in for over a week.
  • I am entitled to eat anything I want any time I want because I'm here at this art opening, adrift among people I don't know.
I've practiced entitlement thinking, especially about food, most of my life. It's time to stop. Time to realize that my circumstances are normal events that happen in everyone's life... nothing special or unique about them.... just part of the normal ups and downs of life. Humility may be the antidote to entitlement thinking.
My prayer to Universe & Life Force:

Teach me humility
that I may stand with others
and not above them.

Show me humility
that I may confess my errors
and retrace my steps.

Grant me humility
that I may forgive my mistakes
and learn from them.

I'll close this post with a quote about humility by Ralph W. Stockman.

"True humility is intelligent self respect which keeps us from thinking too highly or too meanly of ourselves. It makes us modest by reminding us how far we have come short of what we can be."

Sunday, July 18, 2010

More Thoughts about "Notice Me!"

Yesterday I wrote that my addictions might have been a subconscious and inappropriate way of saying "Please notice me" to my parents. Today I'm wondering what did my parents notice about me back then?

We were a family of 5 kids, me being the first born. The youngest, my only sister, is 16 years younger than I. At the time of my growing alcohol, smoking and love addictions, I was 23-26 and my sister was just a child at 7-10. The brother next to me was away (college and military), leaving two other brothers, ages 15-18 and 12-15, at home. So, they had a youngster and two teenage boys, plus me, at home. Both my parents worked full time in demanding, professional careers.

I don't know if this is a factor or not... My biological dad was killed in a car accident when I was 5. My step dad and mom married when I was 7. So the siblings at home were my step sister and brothers. I didn't think of them that way; nor do I think I was ever any less family to my step dad for not being his own biological offspring.

My mom was more of a disciplinarian in our family than Dad, who I remember as being more easy-going. My brothers did not smoke or drink at that time. My dad smoked when he was in college, but quit when I was about 10. Mom never smoked. While I was living at home, neither Mom or Dad drank, except on special occasions, when they would have a bottle of wine at dinner. I do not have any knowledge of alcohol problems in my grandparent's generation, but my Mom's only brother, a WWII veteran, was said to be an alcoholic. My parents always seemed to have a stable, loving marriage.

In 1965-8, while living at home, working and attending graduate school, I began drinking regularly with co-workers after work. Once or twice a week, we closed the bars at 1 AM. Sometimes we continued to drink at a co-worker's apartment after that. Once in a while we started drinking during our lunch hour and never made it back to work. I was having occasional blackouts where I would continue to talk, walk and drive but without any conscious memory whatsoever. I smoked... 2 or 3 packs per day. I was having a bit of a romance with a married co-worker.

I did not smoke or drink at home. However, I came home drunk, sometimes while my parents were still up, slurring my words and stumbling to bed. And, of course I must have smelled like a smokestack. How could they NOT notice?

Sadly, my dad died 4 years ago. I can not ask him about those years now. Nor can I ask my mom, as her memory is nearly gone. The only thing I know is that maybe 5 or 6 years ago, Mom said that they had worried about me and my drinking a lot back in the 60s. I wish I had asked her what reasons they might have had for not talking to me about it then.

Ten possible reasons why my parents didn't talk to me about my addictions while I was living at home:
  1. They didn't know what to say.
  2. They felt more comfortable by pretending everything was OK.
  3. They thought drinking and smoking was just something college-aged kids did, more or less normal.
  4. They knew I was holding my full-time job and getting good grades in graduate school. So they figured my drinking was a minor problem that didn't affect my work or education.
  5. They had their own careers and three young kids to manage. So they didn't have remaining energy to deal with me.
  6. I was an adult, over 21. Maybe they didn't think they had the right any longer, as parents, to correct or discipline their adult offspring.
  7. My behaviors at home must have seemed decent, normal and in character to them. Therefore, they may not have realized the extent of my drinking and smoking away from home.
  8. They didn't know about addiction, thinking (as I did until recently) that addicts were homeless, street people who drank every day until they passed out. So they may have seen my drinking as a passing issue of a young adult of the times.
  9. My mother had to hide cookies. I would find them and eat many of them over a period of days. She must have known somebody was taking them, because she would always hide them in ever more clever places. She never said anything or asked who was "stealing" the cookies. Could she have suspected my brothers?
  10. Maybe to talk to me would be to admit "publicly" that they had somehow failed as parents.
I'll never know for sure. Nor can I know how it might have changed my future path into addiction if they had chosen to talk to me about it back then. I feel sad that they didn't say anything; I wish they had. But I can't change the past, theirs or mine. What I can do is to notice my present food addiction and care enough about myself to stop.
I forgive my parents. I open my heart in understanding and forgiveness to them for not talking with me about my actions and to myself for my behaviors during those years.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Notice Me!!!

A story told at my OA meeting today gave me an insight into my addictions. This is the story:
An obese woman was purchasing ice cream, cookies and chips at a grocery store. She had prepared a lie for the checker, intending to say she was buying the goodies for a party that her teen-aged daughter was having. Before she could get the words out of her mouth, the overweight checker looked her in the eyes and said, "Oh, I see you're an overeater too." Hearing the truth like that probably shocked and hurt her, yet she responded by changing her behaviors about food.
What an unusual and bold thing for a checker to say... yet to notice her customer and care enough to say something like that was an act of kindness! Then I got to thinking about my own eating habits, drinking, smoking and staying out late at night... and about how my parents never said anything to me about any of it even though I was living at home. During the two years I lived at home while I was going to graduate school, my addictions reached their peak.

Makes me wonder, maybe my growing addictive habits were a subconscious and inappropriate way of saying to my parents, "Notice me! Please notice me. Please care enough to tell me to stop."

Over the next two decades, I was able to stop first smoking, then drinking. But the food addiction (the binges and overeating) kept going strong, even while I was dieting. It wasn't until just recently that I realized this too IS an addiction and I'm powerless to stop without the help of a higher power and the OA program. Finally, I am noticing me!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Thank you, Eleanor

Emotional times continue for my husband and me.

We had our second counseling appointment, which was... well... not very productive in my opinion. We both seem to be trying to convince the counselor that the other person is doing a lot of irritating things. Dissatisfaction is the key word. Things that aren't working rather than focusing on things that are. I'm not lily-white on this score either.

Our counselor will be gone for a month, so our next appointment isn't until August 24th. That seems nearly an eternity.

I'm contemplating a solo road trip to see my family in the Midwest. I was going to fly there in the fall anyway, so why not get some time away from each other where we can think and maybe even miss one another a bit? My husband thinks it's a bad idea. But then that's part of the problem for me... many things I do seem like a bad idea to him.

Before I leave this subject, thanks to several bloggers who recently posted "nuggets of truth"... favorite quotes. One person mentioned this one, by Eleanor Roosevelt: No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. I love you for this one, Eleanor! And I can substitute any number of things for "feel inferior" such as:

feel fat
feel stupid
feel ashamed
feel unimportant
feel inadequate

See? So now anytime my husband says something that makes me feel badly, I try to remember to repeat Eleanor's wisdom to myself, substituting whatever feeling I'm having. Then I can ask myself, "Am I really willing to consent to this?"

PS. Here's four pages of quotes by Eleanor.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Wee Little Prayer Book

Couldn't sleep well last night... I was thinking about divorce and what it might entail and mean down the road a bit. We had our first appointment with a counselor yesterday, after which, I agreed to suspend actions toward divorce for what ever time it takes to do six appointments with our counselor. However, I've been finding it difficult to suspend thoughts about divorce. Last night (until I finally fell asleep just before dawn) I could find no way ease my mind. When I did sleep, odd dreams kept partially waking me.

I got up early to go to my OA meeting, which felt good. My shoulders dropped and my breathing softened as we recited the serenity prayer. I told the group about divorce thoughts, counseling and how staying on my meal plan and abstinence is a welcome link to sanity for me right now. After I spoke, the room was silent for some moments before the next person began to talk. Hearing others talk, put it all in better perspective for me. Some of the drama drained from the situation with my husband as the others in the group spoke about their lives, failures, successes and hopes.

My husband and I are just people and, like others, we have our troubled times. We get through those times and make some changes or we don't.

Going through some of my old papers last evening, I found a prayer that I wrote 5 or 6 years ago. A friend was going on a spiritual quest, a solo walking journey across Norway. She planned to spend the nights in huts, shelters or simply rig a simple nylon shelter in clearings. Admiring her purpose, I made her a wee little book to take with her and wrote a prayer in the book. Somewhere along the way, she intentionally left the book on a shelf in one of the huts so that the prayer would remain there for others. This is the book (penny shows size).

hand made prayer book
This is the prayer I wrote and inscribed on the pages of the book:
all the powers
of the universe...
Let there be kindness
Let there be respect
Let there be forgiveness and forgiving
Let there be peace
Let there be understanding
Let us listen to each other
Let us hear each other
Let there be brotherhood
Let there be stewardship
Oh, let there be love
My prayer to the universe at this moment is to let me apply my own words to myself and my husband.

Friday, July 9, 2010


Short post, I think, today... because I have no clever tricks, no answers and only a little hope.

My husband and I have just had our first counseling session today. This is our homework: Step 1. She tells us we need to identify our resentments toward one another. Step 2. Then I must realize and acknowlege that only I can fix my own resentments. (And same for him.) Step 3. Then I must focus on the positive things about our relationship, list them, fluff them up a bit, shine a light on them. (And same for him.)

It isn't easy, she says. Darn right it isn't easy. She didn't mention forgiveness, yet I'm fairly certain that must be part of it too. We have to forgive each other and ourselves for our resentments and mistakes.

Feeling my feelings of resentment, realizing they are complex and deep, I know there's a lot of work ahead. Am I willing to do this work? I don't honestly know at this moment.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Poet's Trick!

Reading Karen's recent post, I Can't Believe I Ate the Whole Thing, reminds me of a trick I learned from a recovering alcoholic. She has a very addictive personality with issues around sex, alcohol and food. She is also a brilliant writer, poet and teacher. I wrote in a poetry group with her for several years and was always impressed with her insights and compassion regarding addiction.

The trick she taught me is to be mindful of when the voice begins to say things like:
  • Just one bite!
  • We need this
  • We deserve this
  • Do it just this one last time
  • Oooh that tastes good, let's just have a little bit more
  • We'll be good tomorrow for sure
When the voice first taps on her shoulder, she looks immediately for a mind distraction. If she's in her car, she begins to count every red car she sees. If the voice penetrates this distraction, she increases the mind chore by also keeping track of every blue car she sees. If there are no cars, she counts trees. If there is nothing to count, she attempts to recite a memorized poem backwards.

During her addiction recovery, she developed a whole bag of mental exercises that she used to confuse and then silence the voice. She claims it only takes a few minutes before sanity returns.

As I wrote here previously, I used to have issues with love addiction. I would constantly obsess (and that's what it is, isn't it... whether it's a drink, a person or chocolate ice cream) about whatever man I currently had a crush on. When I began to obfuscate my own mind with counting cars or naming every teacher I'd ever had or naming state capitals (never could recite poetry, let alone backwards), the obsessive thinking went away. Yes, it came back. Yes, I did more counting. The point is, whenever I was mindful and used her trick, I could remain sane.

Somehow, I never really attempted to use her trick with food obsessing. And right now, one day at a time, I do not seem to have a problem with it.

I believe that addiction (and food obsessing) has it's roots somewhere in avoidance, especially avoidance of feelings. I believe that it is important for me to do more than silence the obsessive voice... that I must also learn to feel my feelings and explore the many layers of my past stuffed under years of over eating. Lots of work to do ahead. Yet at the moment of obsession tapping me on the shoulder, I hope I'll remember "the poet's trick!"

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Banning "Should"

"What if ____" and "How might ___" are magical questions that open more doors and broaden more visions than any other two-word combinations in the world!

On the other hand "Should I _____" is one of the most damaging two-word questions on earth. The reason why "Should I ____" gets me in trouble is because it implies a "yes" or "no" answer. Black or white. Right or wrong. Judgements! Questions rarely have an absolute answer. Life just isn't like that. There are always grey areas and most of time an agreeable or practical answer is somewhere between "yes" and "no." So I change the question.

I've finally learned this lesson when it comes to my art. These days I rarely ask my self questions like:
  • What should I do next?
  • How should I finish this?
  • Should I put this here?
Instead I have learned to phrase the questions differently, eliminating the word should and substituting the words might or what if. The rephrased questions look like this:
  • What might I do next?
  • How might I finish this?
  • What if I put this here?
Ever since I starting to practice might and what if with my art, rather than struggling with should, I've blossomed as an artist. I've developed a more playful and free style. I've become more comfortable and much less critical of both me and my work.

Now, what if I apply this practice to my recovery?!!! Eureka! Earlier today, I recall hearing a voice in my head asking questions like this:
  • Who should I ask to be my OA sponsor?
  • Should I add ice cream to my list of abstinence foods?
  • How should I interpret my meal plan about no snacks?
  • Should I make it OK to nibble and taste while I'm cooking?
What if I apply the principles that work so well for me with my art to my recovery? What if I change the wording of these questions to this:
  • Who might I ask to be my OA sponsor?
  • What if I add ice cream to my list of abstinence foods for a while?
  • How might I interpret my meal plan about no snacks?
  • What if I make it OK to nibble and taste while I'm cooking?
Now the questions seem much easier to answer. I am not in so much fear of making a mistake. I am not stuck in limbo making no decisions at all because of my fears about making wrong decisions.

OK, that's a change I can make! I will be more mindful of my language regarding recovery. Goodbye to"should" and welcome to "what if" and "might!"

Monday, July 5, 2010

Focus + Baby Steps + The King is Dead; Long Live the King!

Sometimes my world is sooooooo small. My husband and my friends want the best for me, yes. And at the same time they are part of the old me, my old ways with food and addiction... my habits all wrapped up with family and friends and the past.

Sometimes my world is sooooooo expanded by the new connections found through this Words Paint journey. I discover inspiration and hope almost every day both in the process of writing and the words of others.

Yesterday, PJ's post gave me a huge bouquet of insights. And today, Big Girl Bombshell's post introduced me to Dr. J and his King is Dead concept (more about this later).

Originally I didn't intend to become part of a blogging community... I thought my recovery journey would be private. If anybody stumbled on it and wanted to read my posts, fine... but I wouldn't get involved. Now, especially with the above two posts, I see how amazing and fertile shared experiences can be. I am changing... more open to and grateful for this community!

Originally I didn't intend to address or acknowledge my readers... I can't help myself... Please check out the links above!

From PJ comes a deeper understanding of the words focus and baby steps. To focus on the necessary baby steps, to focus on the moment, to focus on the big picture.

Baby steps got me through 72 days of abstinence. Then I fell down. OK, I will get up and take more baby steps. Today is day 3 of renewed abstinence. More baby steps. I look in the mirror and see an overweight woman. I turn to the side and see a belly and large legs and flab over my elbow. With PJ's help I focus on the big picture. I recall how much more my belly protruded and how much more flab covered my elbows just three months ago. I remember that what the mirror reveals is only part of the recovery I am experiencing. Baby steps at work here! Focus on sanity, progress and the big picture!

The King is dead; long live the King! The King is my habits. The old King got too full of himself. The old King started out fine. He filled the holes, salved the bruises and comforted the wounds in me. But over time, his cures were worse than my ailments; his cures became my ailments and caused even more discomfort and sorrow than the holes and wounds. That King grew old and now he is dead.

The new King is my new habits. The new King is young and sometimes makes the mistakes of youth. Yet the new King holds great promise. Long live the new King!

With much gratitude for these insights, I sally forth into a moment, a day, a time of focus and baby steps under the guidance of the new King!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Day #1 Again???

Famous last words...
Have guest = eat more, richer foods. Travel = eat more, get hungrier. Stress = eat more. That's the surface challenge about the week ahead. I know how to deal with that type of challenge... I have my plan and my talisman!
... written in my previous post.

It almost makes me smile to realize I thought the challenge of having J here would be dealing with my old addiction and long-past behaviors. I thought maintaining sobriety about food would be a piece of cake.

Actually, the reverse was true. As you can see on the side bar, I set my Abstinence date back to zero yesterday as I began again to follow my food plan... to abstain from eating certain foods, to eat only three meals per day, to avoid trigger foods and to not eat between meals.

Actually I didn't do too badly during this past week.
  1. I did not eat any of my currently listed abstinence foods, not one bite
  2. I did not binge
  3. I remained fairly faithful to my three-meal-a-day plan
  4. I ate a single-scoop ice cream cone between meals... one time
  5. I ate a cup or so of trail mix (fruit and nuts) between meals... one time
  6. I ate more than a single plate of food at a meal... two times
  7. I ate beyond the point of feeling satisfied... three times
  8. I ate bread and butter (trigger foods) more times than I consider safe
The boundaries of abstinence are more difficult, I think, with food than with alcohol. If you are an AA member and you have one drink of alcohol, you broke your abstinence. But what about a small sip, a taste, say of a special brew of beer made by a friend? Would that be considered a brake in abstinence? What about a piece of beer-batter fish? Where does one draw the line? It's a little tricky with alcohol and even more difficult with food.

Originally, I did not put ice cream on my abstinence list. It's not even on my trigger food list. However, it should be on one of the lists because it has occasionally been a binge food (when I was eating chocolate) and eating it does make me crave chocolate and other abstinence foods. The good news here is that having ice cream did not cause a downward spiral... this time. In the next days after eating it, I sat with J and my husband while they ate delicious bakery treats one day and apple pie with ice cream the next day. It was not unbearable to abstain.

So yesterday, with J gone home to Europe and me comfortable again in my normal routines, I thought about whether to set the counter back to zero or not. It would have been day 77 of abstinence. I'm proud of that and thankful for all the help I've received along the way. Will I start over... day zero? Or will I say my eating this past week was borderline but acceptable?

I discussed the question with somebody who has had 16 years of sobriety in AA. She suggested we must each decide for ourselves where the line is and when we have crossed it. She also thinks my plan may be a bit too strict. She said many in AA have to start over.

In my mind, eating an ice cream cone crossed the line, even though I had not listed ice cream as either a binge or trigger food. That it wasn't listed is merely a technicality. It is a binge food for me and I know it; I knew when I decided to have it that it didn't fit my plan. I forgive myself for crossing the line. I do not have to be perfect. Yet, I decided to start again.

Yesterday was day 1; today will be day 2. And, with the help of my (as yet not fully understood) higher power, my fellow OA members and everyone who wishes me well on this journey, I will celebrate day 77 on September 18... not so far down the road.