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Tools for Sanity

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I came to understand my abstinence through working with my first OA sponsor in Step One, looking at what foods and food behaviors I was powerless over and when my life was unmanageable as it related to food. The most obvious problem was my nighttime bingeing, and at first my bottom-line abstinence was not bingeing at night, using the 3-0-1 plan. “No nighttime bingeing” is still my bottom-line abstinence, and I am so grateful that my last binge happened more than twenty years ago—and less than a month after I first joined OA.

“Abstinence” versus “food plan” was confusing for a while. My abstinence is not just my food plan, but it definitely has to include my food plan. I also need to do my other actions, which for me includes using all the Tools each week so that I can stay on my food plan. Otherwise I’m in “edit mentality” and trying to control my food on my own. That seldom works for me, and never works long-term.

Abstinence in OA has given me so much more than I anticipated. I came to OA to lose weight and not binge at night. I haven’t binged, and I’ve maintained a weight loss of 30 pounds (14 kg) for more than nineteen years. I sometimes forget that OA works—I stop trusting I’ll stay abstinent—but normally it’s fairly easy to stay abstinent if I use my Tools. I weigh about 5 pounds (2 kg) more than I did in high school, which I’m extremely grateful for. I have Tools to help me be sane with food, and face life and live life.

OA was my first Twelve Step program. I did not come into it to develop a relationship with a Higher Power, but I have developed one (to survive, I had to), and it has been an incredibly meaningful gift in my life. I am changing in a good way rather than having my life stagnate or get smaller, which I see happen to friends outside program. For all of those reasons, I really am grateful to be a compulsive overeater and to have found OA. I would not have gotten these gifts without it.

—Paul, Eugene, Oregon USA

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