Ask Poops, Please

Putting my two cents in.

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Location: Belmont, New Hampshire, United States

Born and bred in a small New England town, I am convinced that I know something about everything, and that my opinion matters. If only to me. Well, you'll see what I mean. And I love to knit, so you'll see what kind of things I'm doing when I should be vacuuming the living room.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Sorry 'Bout that Lapse, There

It was kind of a long time between Poops Posts, wasn't it? School is back in session and I'm down with a cold, as usual. Germy little buggers, those school kids. I swear an elementary school is nothing more than a big petri dish.

One thing I really have to get on, and by Jove I'm going to make myself do it today, is to take pictures of my Noro bags and get them in the etsy shop. I have had every intention of doing it earlier, but I waited for a sunny day to take them outside. Then it rained...something it hadn't done here in a month, so that put plans on hold. And then soon as the sun came out--WHAM! I get a cold.

I felt better yesterday morning, quite in the pink, really. I bustled about the house getting things picked up and doing laundry. I went great guns all morning, and then after lunch I started feeling tired. By three I wanted to die. I felt like a beach ball out of which someone had let all the air. I was in by jammies by suppertime and I passed out cold as soon as my head hit the pillow at 9. I guess I wasn't as "better" as I thought.

I had laryngitis too. I had choir practice on Monday when my cold was new, and a couple hours of singing made it sound kind of rough. Then on Tuesday I met up with a couple of friends from school in a bar. No booze, but I did have to raise my voice to be heard over the music and that did me in. voice. I could barely talk.

It's back today, somewhat. I can sing, but it's not real pretty. I'm scheduled to cantor tomorrow night and I know I can switch if I need to, but I don't like to, and I think by tomorrow if I rest (voice and body) today and warm up properly before mass I'll be fine.

Cross your fingers.

And now, for True Confessions.

As some of you may (or may not) know, I've been going to Overeaters Anonymous. I haven't told a lot of people--I just told my mom a few days ago and I've been going since July. I am, at this point, cautiously optimistic that this might be the answer to my weight problems. And a host of other problems too.

Let me 'splain.

For the uninitiated, I'll preface by saying that OA works on the exact same principles as AA, and where AA uses a 12-step program to bring its members to sobriety and keep them there, OA uses the same steps to lead its members to freedom from compulsive overeating. I think there's a more concise way of describing it, but that's really the best I could come up with off the top of my head.

So I started going to meetings in July, and really I didn't know what to make of it. It all seemed too confusing to follow. I was advised to go to 6 meetings and listen, just to absorb and let the principles of the program sink in.

I went for two months without doing a lick of work. All I did was go and listen.

Then one day, I was hanging out at the Knittyboard (as I sometimes do) and someone started a thread titled "I'm Fat, and I Don't Know How Not to Be". She got some great advice, but I realized that no one had addressed the issue she raised about not being able to stick to any lifestyle changes. She'd do great for a week, and then binge and hide it from her family, then she'd just give up altogether. It sounded a lot like me.

So I posted this in reply:

"My name is Poops and I am a compulsive overeater.

"I don't lack willpower. I don't lack motivation. I'm not lazy. My relationship with food is exactly the same as an alcoholic with booze, a drug addict with drugs, or a gambler with gambling. I want to stop overeating, but I can't.

"Not without help.

"I just wanted to put it out there that sometimes one's relationship with food is more complicated than "Make some changes and stick with them." Yes, but unless you understand your relationship with food, the changes likely won't stick.

"For some of us, willpower alone isn't enough. For some of us, food is as
powerful, as seductive, and destructive as booze is to the alcoholic.

"It's why we can spend millions of dollars at Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig and lose hundreds of pounds (literally) and earn all their stickers and keychains and stuff and gain it all back. We buy every book by Dr. Oz, Dr. Phil, and Dr. Oprah and lose hundreds of pounds, and gain it all back. We cut out carbs and sugar, or fat and transfats, or we eat vegetarian, or we eat raw foods, or we buy only from the health food store...and again, we hear the siren song of little chocolate donuts and we follow it right back to where we began. We gain it all back, and then some.

"You'd probably be surprised to hear that some of us with serious food addictions are some of the most successful "dieters" out there. I'm good at it. I could write my own book.

"It hurts us to hear things like "just do it", "you need to have some willpower", "all you have to do is make healthier eating choices and exercise more" because we've done all that, and yet the day invariably comes when the bad food is more appealing than the good, the willpower fades away, the gym membership lapses, and we're left wondering why.

"Why can't we just make changes that stick? Why do we have to wait until everyone is in bed and eat a whole bag of Oreos? Why do we eat when we're not hungry? Why do we turn to food when we've had a bad day? Or a good day? Why can't we stop with one piece of cake? Why must we have three?

"Finally, I know why. I know why I do all these things.

"I am powerless over food. My live has become unmanageable. I need help with my addiction because experience has shown me that I cannot overcome it alone. The first part of my recovery is admitting that, and it's harder than you'd ever believe.

"When you've always been Miss Independent, or like me--Large and In Charge--it's even more difficult to say "I need help. I can't do this. It's too much for me."

"If you don't have a food addiction, you probably can't understand this. I denied it for a long time. "I'm not addicted to food. How can you be addicted to food? You need it to live! I'm just lazy. I just need to use some willpower. I need to work harder, to try a different diet, to cut out this food or that food, to join a gym..."

"Not everyone who is fat is a compulsive overeater, in the same way that not everyone who drinks is an alcoholic. But if you're out there reading this and anything I've said strikes a chord with you in some way, I just want you to know that you're not alone. And if you ever want to chat about it in depth, feel free to PM me. I want to help."

It was after I hit send that I realized that I had just worked Step One. Without even trying. "We admitted we were powerless over food--that our lives had become unmanageable."

Oh. My. God. That's so true. My life is unmanageable in so many ways! I can't keep a clean house. My marriage is on auto-pilot--only the pilot has kind of gone out under my burners (if you catch my drift, and I think you do). And I can't even bring myself to start a diet, much less stick to one for more than a few hours.

The day after I typed that, the day I admitted I have a problem, I went to Joanns, and while I was there I saw these cute little "silk" covered blank journals in the dollar bin. I decided that would be my food journal and I picked out a nice fuschia one. I decided that having worked Step One, it was time to tackle steps two and three, and that if I was going to get my eating under control that I needed a food plan.

Step Two and Three: "We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity." Well, of course I believe this. Don't I pray to God all the time? And as St. Augustine (I think it was Augustine, correct me if I'm wrong) said, "He who sings, prays twice." In which case, God must be darn sick of hearing my voice! Really, didn't I have Step Two covered all along? Three's a little trickier. "We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him."

It's one thing to say I know God watches over me and takes care of me, and that he always gives me what I need. It's another thing entirely to make a decision and actively say "I turn my will and my life over to your care, God." I guess a better way to put it would be that it's easier to believe it than it is to do it. Especially for a control freak like me.

(I realize in retrospect that I already blogged some of this when I started my food plan, back on Day One. Now, ten days later, the same things I said then are even more true as the reality of things hits home...)

My food journal has become a place for me to write out my thoughts on food and life, and of course what I eat. I chose to follow Weight Watchers points plan again since I've always found it to be a good fit for me. I know if I follow the plan, I will lose weight. Except this time, at the beginning of every new day, I write the day and my points range, and then I write my daily prayer where I commit my plan to God and ask him to be with me as I make food choices through the day.

So far I can honestly say that I've been abstinent for 9 days. Today is the tenth day of my sobriety, ten days without eating compulsively. I have not starved. I have not found it hard to stick to my points range. I'm not surprised. But what I am surprised by is the other changes I wasn't counting on.

I've found that since I've turned my plan over to God, I haven't been tempted by sweets. I've chosen meals and snacks that are nutritionally sound as well as being points friendly. I don't think about food all day. I pick my breakfast, eat it, journal it, and really don't think about food again until my stomach growls and I wonder what time it is. Some days it's after one and I realize I haven't eaten in hours. So I pick a lunch, eat it, journal it, and don't give food another thought until dinner. I find that without between meal snacks, I'm left with a bunch of points at the end of the day which becomes a bedtime snack, but is really a fourth meal. (Perfect, because eating something before bed keeps me from waking up ready to eat the pillow.)

I feel like the only thing I've given up is an obsession with food. I've given up the guilt that comes with overeating and binging.

I gave up control and found myself unable to sit still. The first week of my food plan, I couldn't just sit here. I'd spin for awhile, then I'd get up and do the dishes. I'd knit, and then have to put it down and go clean a kitchen cupboard out. I'd surf for a bit, but then I'd get up and do a couple loads of laundry.

My house is far from spotless, but at this point the table is clear, the dishes are done, the laundry is still stacked everywhere, but it's clean, and the living room is....well, liveable.

I've always felt I've needed great self-control to be able to do what I want to do. How amazing that what I needed in reality was NO self-control. I needed to stop trying to master everything and let myself be guided. Who knew?

I don't know where this all will take me, but you can rest assured that I'm not throwing down a breadcrumb trail to get back....


Blogger maryannlucy said...

Wow Poops - what a powerful post. I have huge admiration for the strength that you have found - huge congratulations to you. I can so empathise with you. I found for me too that making that initial step of vocalising outloud (other than to myself) set me on the right path. As you say - no breadcrumbs! Big hugs to you - and thank you for sharing.

10:48 AM  
Blogger DancesInGarden said...

Just wanted to give you a nice warm (((((hug))))).

10:51 AM  
Blogger Bezzie said...

You know it's funny, I've got some experience with AA, and when you said that OA is like AA it made sense to me, but it didn't HIT me until I read your reply to that thread. Ta-da! I get it now.
You're a brave woman for confronting it head on and I'm glad you are able to hand it over to God. That was the stumbling block for someone near and dear to me in AA.

But when you say it's been a long time between Poops Posts it makes me think your blog is constipated ;-) Hee hee!

12:04 PM  
Blogger Cindy in Happy Valley said...


I think food can be the most deadly addiction there is. We can live without heroin, cigarettes, or alcohol (thank God!), but just try living for very long, or well, without a thousand or so calories a day.

I wish you well, and if you need encouragement, you know where to get it. I'm not an overeater, but I've become obsessed with what I eat. So I do get it.

2:23 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

Remember, the third step is basically a commitment to continue on with the rest of the steps. We can no more follow through on that decision through direct use of will than we can control our addictions. The steps really are a remarkable vehicle for change.

I'm so glad to hear it's working for you!

8:10 PM  
Blogger Batty said...

Congratulations! I was really touched when I read your post. It's really hard to change things in our lives when we have relied on them for so long. Me, I'm not overweight, but I eat for comfort. I eat out of boredom (you should see me at the office on a boring day... there are several vending machine trips), and I eat out of frustration. It's incredibly hard to stop. Now that you mention the 12 step program, I'm thinking it's time to go look for some of that comfort and relief from frustration from God or people who love me, not food.

See? You're not just doing yourself a favor, you are an inspiration to others as well!

I was particularly touched because you mentioned St. Augustine. St. Augustine plays a very important role in my life, he is a constant source of comfort and inspiration. I've read the Confessions several times, and I feel loved, understood, and not alone every time.

HUGS to you, and God bless you.

9:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am sending you all of my thoughts, and I know you have the power to do whatever it is you want.

Secret Pal

9:15 PM  

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