Accepting The Things I Cannot Change

I’ve been on a Twelve-Step program for food addiction for over a month now, and while it’s strict and demands more of my time, I’m happy to report I’m back on track! Being at my pre-binge weight is wonderful, and so is the support I’ve been receiving from fellow members.  However, it pales in comparison to how the plan is calming my mind, which is command central for my addictive behaviours.

I never wanted to do a regimented plan where you must to weigh and measure everything, but I have proven I can’t be trusted around products that contain flour, wheat, or sugar, so I must accept I can never take eat them again. But that’s okay… the Twelve-Step food plan may be regulated down to the ounce, but there truly is a peace that comes with surrendering to the plan, and my higher power. I hand over my addiction and in return, I get peace of mind, and nothing I’ve ever binged on tastes as good as that!

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There’s a freedom within these boundaries – there’s no guesswork when it comes to the food, so I’m at liberty to savour life’s other joys.

For my food journals, click here.

 

Serenity (and Clean Underwear) Now

It’s true what they say about the best-laid plans, they usually go kaboom.  So why do I insist on running my life according to self-imposed schedules and checklists instead of letting go, and letting God? Oh yeah, I’ve got OCD and must have things just so.  “Just so” in this case was to plan every little detail for my cottage get away, from my flour, wheat, and sugar-free menu, to the topics I wanted to write about.  Sounds well-organized and efficient, right?   Wrong. The menu was smart, but controlling the creative process, wasn’t.  I realize my time away wasn’t necessarily meant solely to write, but was imperative for my spiritual, emotional, and mental health growth… and I didn’t plan on that!

In researching for this month’s plan, I went from reading the 12-Steps, to subconsciously working through some of them, like Step Four, which says, “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”

Hmmm, a FEARLESS moral inventory of me… the REAL me. I’m not sure I want to face the things that cause me to hold on to grudges, pain, guilt, shame, anger, resentment, remorse, self-pity, or envy. Can I skip this step? I promise to do Step Two twice to make up for Step Four!

Step Five is even harder…. “Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact natures of our wrongs.”

The anxiety I felt just thinking about doing these Steps had me wanting to swan dive into a vat of marshmallows and eat my way out, or die in there!  And it was for this reason alone, I realized I had to set my personal agenda aside, and work through these Steps. Clearly, whatever I want to suppress with food, was exactly what I needed to face.

I love ya readers, but I’m NOT going to admit the exact natures of my wrongs on the blog, but I will to a confidant when I return home, and have already done so with God this morning on the deck overlooking the lake. And you know what, there was no fire or brimstone… that came later.

I ended my confession with the Serenity Prayer and asked for release of the guilt, pain, and shame I still hang on to, and as I did, a hummingbird flew about 2 feet away from my face and startled the beejeebers out of me!  I think it’s a sign to ditch the stringent plans, forgive myself, allow more joy into my life, and trust the journey of “searching for my (healthy mind, body, and soul) after”.

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Now, this is where my post should end, but my day got weird immediately after my breakthrough. It has nothing to do with weight, but I think it will amuse you. Let me preface – I did not find it funny at the time.

Ahem, where was I? Oh yes, not even half an hour after the hummingbird (which I named Serenity) flew out of my life, did three teens with shotguns, sail in. They motored passed the cottage waving their guns, shouting, “We’re pirates! We’re pirates!” I lost sight of them as their boat sailed into the trees that obstructed my view, but it looked like they were headed right for our dock.  Moments later shots rang out, magnifying across the lake. I jumped out of my skin, and prayed, “Serenity now! Serenity now!” while dashing into the house for cover.

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I started packing like I was on high on sugar! They were still out there somewhere firing.  Holy moly! There was so much to do to close up the cottage before I could high tail it out of there! (I know, I know, I realize the problem with my thinking here.)

The shots kept ringing out. Really?! I make peace with myself only moments ago, and now I’m going to die at the hand of three pimply-faced pirates, before I can enjoy one guilt-free day?!

I kept packing. I got everything piled by the front door and looked out the window at my car. MY CAR… OUTSIDE… where the pirates were! Thoughts were rushing through my head – and not one of them was, “You know what would help in this situation?  An Oreo.”

I took a deep breath, grabbed the first of the four totes and zig-zagged to the car…. That’s what you’re supposed to do when you hear shots. ZIG, followed by ZAG. Repeat.

I zigged and I zagged three more times until the car was loaded, but I couldn’t leave as the dishwasher was halfway through its cycle. (Faulty thinking, but one thing is for sure, I’m dutiful, even in a crisis.)

Seeeeeerrrrrreeeeennnnniiiiittttty, NOW!

Ah-ha! The garbage and recycling still had to go out! I grabbed the bags, zig-zagged back to the car, and peeled my 12 year old Honda Accord out of the driveway in a way that would make Starsky and Hutch proud.

When I got to the bins, a groundskeeper was tinkering with a tractor. He cocked his head, and stared at this dishevelled vixen zig-zag her way towards him holding a bag of recycling in one hand, and garbage in another.

I tried to play it cool.  Then we heard another round of shots. The cool left me… I think it ran down my leg.

“It’s the first day of duck season,” he said.

Tell that to my pants, I said (in my head, of course). I nodded and walked straight to the car, but in my freaked out heart, I was zig-zagging all the way.

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To view my Week 42 food journal, click here.

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12 In 12 Does 12 And 12

It’s no secret I have a love/hate relationship with food. I loooooove sweet, salty, and fat laden treats, and when I partake (okay, okay, when I scarf them down by the paw-full) I hate myself for not exercising any restraint.  Some days I can control myself, but on others I’m like the Energizer Bunny – I keep going and going and going until I wind up in a food coma.

About a decade ago, I experienced extremely stressful circumstances I couldn’t get out of. For a year-and-a-half, I continually stifled my mental and emotional anguish with food, and before I knew it I gained 70 lbs. Only my inner circle knew what I was going through, while others saw the happy Mare I wanted them to see. I painted on a smile when I left the house every morning, and when I returned at the end of the day, I was a wreck. I could barely get the key in the door for the jitters. The only thing that quelled my pain was food.  I would binge anywhere between 3,000 to 5,000 calories worth of food in less than an hour. Some days I stood in front of the fridge, coat still on, purse hanging from my arm as I wolfed down my edible painkillers.

I had hit my rock bottom and I knew if I didn’t get help soon, I’d die of a heart attack. I reached out for help, but encountered roadblock after roadblock. As a last resort, I called the hospital to see if they had an eating disorder program.  They did, but they only catered to bulimics and anorexics, because binge eaters, as I was told, were “too hard to treat”. I was dumbfounded. I couldn’t believe the medical community would allow some of us to drown.

One day, after a long, cold winter, I came out of hibernation and bumped into a neighbour I hadn’t seen in months.  Her shock over what I had done to myself was obvious. I expected her to say, “What the hell happened to you?”, but she didn’t.  Instead, she invited me to join her at a 12-Step meeting for food addicts she was going to that evening.  I had heard of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA), but I never thought anybody could be addicted to food. I began to cry. She thought she had offended me, but she didn’t…. She was an answer to prayer.  That night I skipped my binge and went to my first meeting.

I was very moved by the vulnerability of the small group of people, who by the way, came in all shapes and sizes, like my petite neighbour. Looking back, I’m surprised my head didn’t fall off for all the nodding I did that night. I recognized myself in everyone’s story. I had found my tribe.

They believe individuals who suffer from the disease of food addiction get physical cravings to certain addictive substances, primarily flour, wheat, and sugar, and the only relief is through abstinence from all foods that contain these ingredients.

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Abstain from flour, wheat, and sugar?! You might as well ask me to cut my right arm off. Abstain means, goodbye, arrivederci, adieu, hasta la vista baby, NOT “until we meet again next Christmas, my beloved panettone”.  NOT, “we got a date next Halloween, candy corn”. It means parting ways FOREVER like a character in a Shakespearean play dying a painful, agonizing death from a dagger thrust in their heart.  Oh well, I figured it was better than dying with a fork jabbed in mine, so I gave it a go.

I followed the program faithfully for the first three months.  Surprisingly, it was easier than I thought. But like any brand new shiny experience that piques my interest, the novelty eventually wore off and I ended up doing what I do best when it comes to dieting – I gave up.

Years went by and I lost and gained on other plans. Then three years ago, I sought out the group only to find out they had disbanded.  I located a similar group and joined them for a while. (I was vegetarian at the time, so it made following their “guide to clean abstinence” challenging as meat is a staple in the program.) Eventually I stopped going there too, not because I found it difficult to follow as a herbivore, but because I resented being there. I didn’t want to label myself as an addict, even though I answered ‘yes’ to every question on the self-assessment tool. I just wanted to be someone who had a problem with moderation.  All I needed was to find the magic pill to fix the all-or-nothing part of me.

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It wasn’t until recently that the medical community began acknowledging the addictive qualities of these foods as well. MRIs have shown that eating high-sugar foods light up the same parts of the brain that are triggered by cocaine or heroin use. In another study, well-fed rats continually crossed an electrified floor to get Froot Loops.  However, these same rats, when hungry would not risk crossing the electrified floor for regular food pellets. Some days I identify with those rats, but I’ve got to focus on the ills associated with sugar in our diet, like decreased immune function, increased risk of diabetes, and how sugar feeds cancer cells.

Addiction is serious, and I don’t want to diminish the good work these groups do by ranking their success according to what I achieve on the scale in just one month. Weight loss is not their focus, recovery is.

“Weight loss is not a goal of this program, but it is a reasonable expectation. Weight gain is a symptom of the disease, and weight loss is a symptom of recovery.”

–Kay Sheppard, Food Addiction; The Body Knows

For the sake of my 12 in 12 experiment, I will follow the protocol, abstain from these addictive ingredients, and begin to work the Steps, which I expect will raise issues that my addiction has wanted me to suppress for over three decades.

You cannot work through the 12-Steps in 30 days; it has to be ongoing. Most importantly, I will respect the anonymity of the various meetings I attend, and will not disclose anything discussed. You can get a sense of how the program works by reading the AA Big Book, and the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions (12 and 12), the only approved literature for all recovery from addiction programs.

The wonderful thing about 12-Step groups is that they offer support to every suffering addict who desires recovery – there’s no “they’re too hard to treat” here! They know what you’re going through, and they walk alongside you because they are on the same journey… and you’ve gotta love a group that starts and ends every meeting with a prayer!

God,

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can,

And the wisdom to know the difference.

Grant me patience with the changes that take time,

An appreciation of all that I have and am,

A tolerance for those with different struggles,

And the strength to get up and try again,

One day at a time.

To learn more about the plan I’ll be following for Month 10, click here.

The Results Are In

To find out how much I lost last month when I tested The Hormone Diet, click here.