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A Change of Purpose

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When I came to OA, I heard “We are not a diet-and-calories club.”

“Oh really?” I thought. “Of course it’s a diet-and-calories club. Who are they trying to fool?” I had spent years joining every dieting, calorie-counting, television-infomercial club out there. They all promised weight loss. We’re all here, I thought, because we want to lose weight. Lose weight, lose weight, lose weight—it was my life’s mantra, all I cared about. You want me to follow a food plan, not eat whenever the urge hits me, call food in to my sponsor, and use a bunch of other “Tools?” “Okay,” I thought, “I’ll play along with the lexicon.”

After one month of abstinence, I had only lost 7 pounds (3 kg). I was furious.

The fact that I was over 50 years old and never moved my body at all didn’t matter. I called my sponsor and vomited my venom, anger, and disappointment. “It’s not fair,” I vented.

She was quiet. When I finally noticed she was quiet, she said, “I am not here to help you lose weight. I am here to help you arrest an illness that is killing you.”

Here to help me arrest an illness that was killing me? What?

“Hmm . . . Ah . . . Oh!” I thought. “If I pursue weight loss then I won’t get the recovery they speak of, and I certainly won’t be able to keep it.” My history had proven that. My deeply entrenched diet mentality would forever keep me going on and off diets and up and down the scale. (I’d seen people come in, lose weight, and leave, only to come back having regained all their weight and then some.) But if I pursue recovery, then the weight will take care of itself.

I learned to stop obsessing about reaching a goal weight and instead just enjoy the journey of recovery. Every time I used a Tool, I felt different and began to think differently. It dismantled my diet-mentality and changed the purpose for why I was staying abstinent.

Today, I focus on working all the Tools, every day, with a grateful heart and curious mind. I stay abstinent today, not to lose weight, but to arrest an illness that would have killed me.

I just stay abstinent. The right body will show up.

— Courtney, Mountain View, California USA

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