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Bumper Bowl

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I am a coordinated, intelligent, healthy individual, so my lack of skill in bowling would come as a surprise to friends and teammates. At first, I’d knock down a pin or two, but soon the gutter balls would begin. It defied logic. I experimented with different positions, ball weights, finger-hole sizes, and speeds, but in the end, I’d get so exasperated that I’d just roll gutter balls for expediency’s sake.

When someone suggested I use the bumpers to block the gutters, I thought, “Isn’t that for kids? That seems kind of humiliating.”

But I tried it, and it was fun! Finally, I could bowl with everyone else and experience success. Now, I’m so glad bumper bowling is an option.

Before OA, I ate like I bowled. I began each day resolving to eat in a healthy, moderate way. I tried diet groups, exercise, a diet doctor, and nutrition products, but I always gained back the weight and more. Each day might begin well, but sometime before lunch, I’d eat a bite of this or that, and before I knew it I’d be in the gutter, eating compulsively while vowing tomorrow would be different. I’d end each night with an all-out binge and go to bed demoralized and humiliated. As long as I persisted in trying to abstain on my own terms, I failed.

At my first OA meeting, seasoned members gave me the phone number of an available sponsor. They said, “Go home, don’t eat, call your sponsor, and do what she tells you to do.” I was desperate enough to be willing. I’d truly surrendered to a Power greater than myself. My sponsor answered my call that night. Together, we made my first plan of eating.

My plan of eating is not punishment. It has one goal only: to support my abstinence from compulsive eating. To help, my plan includes loving limits of three weighed and measured meals per day and no foods that trigger allergies and cravings. My plan of eating is a physical manifestation of self-care.

I was awed and amazed when I called my sponsor back the next evening to report the miracle of abstinence I’d experienced. Encouraged, I committed my food to her for the next day. I did it again the following day, and the next day, and the next.

I have been in OA more than eighteen years and am maintaining an 80-pound (36-kg) weight loss. My doctors are thrilled with my health and my weight. Ever since my sponsor and I put the bumpers on my eating, I can go anywhere with anyone and stay abstinent.

I am still terrible at bowling, but I can go anywhere with anyone and enjoy a game as long as I have my bumpers to guide me. I am still a compulsive eater, but I no longer suffer as long as I work a complete program, which includes a plan of eating. At each meal, I roll the ball down the lane and . . . STRIKE!

— Christine W., Wayne, New Jersey USA

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