Editors note: Below is a world service contribution from OA members in support of our Strategic Plan.

My friend and I certainly have different manifestations of this disease. What brought her to OA was life-threatening anorexia, while I have always been a garden-variety compulsive overeater. Still, we relate in many ways:

We both need to be very careful with the scale. She chooses not to weigh at all because it’s a trigger for her. When health care professionals weigh her, she sets a clear boundary that they may not share the information with her. Her pre-recovery behavior was to weigh many times a day, and the shame cycle only fed her disorder. My history with the scale is that as my weight went up, I grew increasingly discouraged, so I stopped weighing completely. I believe I came into program 100 pounds (45 kg) overweight, but that’s only a guesstimate. Part of my recovery is using the “honest information” the scale provides. However, I pray and affirm my recovery before ever stepping on the scale and ask HP to help me do the right thing with the information. I am honest with myself and with my sponsor about the number on the scale, but once I step off, I know my next job is to work my program to the best of my ability, which actually has very little to do with the number on the scale. My friend and I agree wholeheartedly on this point!

We both work our program around body image. My friend discovered if she could stop thinking negative thoughts about herself in general, the negative thinking about her body disappeared. Recovery for me is looking in the mirror and being okay with who I am. To me, body image issues have little to do with body size and much to do with self-criticism, and self-criticism is a character defect I can take through the Steps. We both know shaming the woman in the mirror will strengthen our disease, not our recovery.

Surprisingly, we have similarities in our food plans. Neither of us has a list of forbidden foods, since both of us have found this leads to more food obsession rather than less. I showed her my version of the “target” food plan (a three-circle target, generally used to show red-, yellow-, and green-light foods). My approach to the target plan is to fill the green-light outer circle with foods and behaviors that support my health, wellbeing, and recovery. I put my full focus in this area, which represents what I should be eating or doing. My friend’s red-, yellow-, and green-light list is about behaviors and situations rather than foods. Her biggest red-light item is giving negative thoughts her energy or focus. This reminded me a lot of my approach to food. We both work our programs by getting to meetings, working the Steps, and making outreach calls. We both believe in service and making sure we’re giving back to OA. We both sponsor—and she is sponsored by a garden-variety compulsive overeater, just like me!

We both have to work the Steps so that negative thinking, dishonesty, resentment, and fear don’t start running the show and lead us from recovery and abstinence.

My friend and I are both celebrating years of abstinence and years of freedom, thanks to the Twelve Steps and this beautiful Fellowship. Thank you, OA.

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