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Twelve Tools for the Road

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On December 14, 2016, I was struck abstinent at the close of my first OA meeting. I’d blurted out that I could not give up a certain trigger food, then realized my foolish ravings came from a 312-pound (142-kg) man with a terrible food insanity. Since then, the OA Tools have helped me strive toward recovery. As I approach my eighty-fifth day of continuous recovery, I am nearing a 50-pound (23-kg) weight loss. In my quest to effectively work the program, I use the nine Tools currently recommended by OA, plus a few more I’ve found. For me, twelve is the magic number.

My plan of eating is a list of choices, like a menu. Six scheduled times a day, I simply prepare an acceptable choice from my pre-approved menu. More important for me is my food log: I record what I actually eat and the associated calories so that I track a balanced diet of nutritious, abstinent foods. I worked the first three Steps with guidance from OA literature and my group, and I’m looking forward to sponsorship to help me work more Steps. Meetings (and conferences and retreats) have been essential for me. Dialogue, support, and suggestions come in many forms: in-person contacts, telephone conversations, email exchanges, and text messages. Giving service to others is the greatest gift I can give to myself. I use writing to organize my thoughts, and I read our literature because it’s the lifeblood of the program. I write each day’s action plan the night before. There’s no time to obsess about food when I have plenty to do.

I see the Tool of anonymity as an obligation, a courtesy, and an assurance, so with it, I employ an idea I call “Right Thinking, Not Poor Thinking” to remind me to honor anonymity properly. When thinking about another person, I now try to see the good in that person rather than focusing on any defects I might perceive; I focus on principles before personalities.

“Listening to OA Podcasts” is an added personal tool I use. Hearing emotions in speakers’ voices is powerful. I also use “Commemorative Objects.” At my first meeting, I was given a coin for newcomers that has the Serenity Prayer on one side. During tough times in my recovery, I rub that lucky coin as if it was a rabbit’s foot. Soon, I’ll get a coin to celebrate ninety days of abstinence, and a medallion to commemorate losing 50 pounds (23 kg). This personal tool might not work for everybody, but, darn it, I find strength in rubbing a lucky object.

Finally, there’s “Mindfulness about Choices,” a handy personal tool I use when bad food thoughts arise. It’s a list of behavior choices—alternatives to overeating. My choices include exercise, meditation, chanting, gardening, singing, knitting, playing a musical instrument, and many others.

My math for calculating the Tools available to me could be seen as wacky; it is not often that nine equals twelve! Nevertheless, they are a great help to me as I work the OA program, and I feel certain that I am on the road to recovery.

— Paul M., Seattle, Washington, USA

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