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Recovery Beyond Measure

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In a few days, I will celebrate thirty-eight years of recovery in OA. Today my goal is health, sanity, and wellness, not a size 8. Physically, my body has been a normal size for many years. G-d has removed the compulsion for what I call “the hard stuff”—the stuff you see at the grocery checkout counter. I have reached a deep level of acceptance and surrender.

I was obese from ages 12 to 16. I joined a pay and weigh program, lost 50 pounds (23 kg), and never regained that weight. But I became obsessed with numbers and perfection, measuring and weighing food and how many pounds I gained or lost. By the time I was 24, I felt crazy. I could not stop eating. I had crossed the invisible line that separates normal eaters from compulsive overeaters.

Today I use the word “recovery” instead of “abstinence”; I know abstinence refers to more than the physical aspect of the program, but my warped brain still equates it with dieting. I believe my recovery began at my first OA meeting in 1977. I measure what I know is true: the day I attended my first meeting and that I never left.

G-d started working in my life. I got a sponsor and I kept coming back. About a year into the program, I had what I considered perfect abstinence, with a weighed and measured food plan.

Then I had a horrible sugar binge and couldn’t stop eating. I was bingeing and dieting, wearing a size 8. My weight was the measure of my self-worth. I was insane, but I was honest at meetings and kept coming back. I was so deeply damaged by weighing, measuring, and perfectionist dieting that I had to develop a radical new mindset.

I had an epiphany on the bus one day: All food comes from G-d, and everything G-d makes is good, so no food is intrinsically bad. No foods are forbidden. It is my choice to abstain from certain foods because I don’t like how they affect me when I eat them.

Suddenly I understood that when I eat certain foods, it harms my spirituality. My connection to my Higher Power is blocked. Those foods trigger my character defects. I cannot be of service if I am filled with self-loathing, resentment, and anger.

This is what works for me today: I don’t weigh food or myself. My clothes and my size are my guide. Today, at age 62, I am a well-proportioned size 14. I work out at the gym five to six times a week as part of my physical plan of action.

Every day I pray, “G-d, please help me today. Help me choose the right foods to eat, the right words to say, and the right actions in all my relationships. Let me be of service in your world.”

My best service is one-on-one, sponsoring and sharing in meetings. Today I live by the Principles of the Twelve Steps, which is how I believe G-d wants everyone to live.

— Hope K., Elk Grove, California USA

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