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Up to Speed

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I am a compulsive overeater. While not every day of my thirty-nine years in OA has been an abstinent day, for many years now, I’ve been gratefully recovering and maintaining a healthy weight.

Being a teacher by profession has led me to watch for ways to boil things down to their simplest form. I look for little tricks to help me remember what’s most important. For example, I experimented with ways to use my action plan Tool early in the morning for success throughout the day. Success, for me, is thinking, speaking, and acting in ways that my Higher Power wills for me.

I use a steno notebook (the kind with a line down the middle of each page). I write the date at the top. On the right side, I write my to-do list; it might include a work schedule, errands, and plans for specific activities. At the bottom of my daily page, I usually include a quotation I like from one of my morning readings. And down the left margin, I write in capital letters S, P, E, E, D, which stands for Service, Prayer and meditation, Exercise, Emotional sobriety, and Diet (as in “dietary wellness”, my plan of eating). These are the basics of my daily recovery.

Service means I’ll look for ways to improve life, even in some small way, for someone else. It may be doing OA service or practicing a patient spirit toward loved ones or performing a random act of kindness toward a stranger. I try to use this idea from OA’s Just for Today wallet card: “do somebody a good turn, and not get found out.” That is a very gratifying form of service.

Prayer and meditation is starting my day with affirmative prayer, naming the qualities of my HP, and stating that these qualities are available for my use this day. For example, I say, “Wise Counselor, I am advised. Patient Teacher, I am learning. Faithful Sustainer, I am enthused.”

Exercise is my first “E.” When I first started using an abstinent food plan, I was afraid to exercise. I thought it would make me too hungry! Now, I take brisk walks with my dog about six days a week, practice yoga at home three days a week, and even do five days of weight training per week on my doctor’s advice. I enjoy the walks and usually do some praying while out in nature. I find yoga relaxing and enjoyable. The weight work is a chore I do not enjoy, but doing it anyway provides an experience of trust. I realize that some effort is most likely good for me.

Emotional sobriety, the second “E,” is something Bill W. wrote about regarding his struggle with depression. He wrote about his “faulty emotional dependencies” toward others, and even AA itself, that kept him from realizing full recovery. I practice emotional sobriety when I accept things I can’t change, choosing instead to see challenges as medicinal exercises for my healing. I practice a similar idea from Just for Today: “I will do at least two things I don’t want to do—just for exercise” (for me, that means there is no other payoff). So, I might choose to go to a restaurant my husband prefers and order a vegetable I don’t much like. This is the best way I know to break my faulty dependency of trying to arrange reality for my own comfort and pleasure.

Diet, the last letter of SPEED, only means “what I’m planning to eat today.” I was certainly on a different kind of diet before I found OA—a disastrous diet. Now, I eat for good health and positive energy. I think about what ingredients I have in the house, what I intend to make for dinner, and write my food plan for the day. There is something about writing down my plan for the day’s food that creates in me a desire to eat that way. It also saves me from needing to make food decisions when I’m tired and hungry.

At first, SPEED seemed like an odd word for my recovery plan, but then I remembered the old-fashioned admonition that folks used to use when seeing each other off: “Go with Godspeed.” These are my priorities and they allow me to proceed with my Higher Power, serenely through the day. I use this SPEED action plan imperfectly, but I have found it to be a big help. I encourage others to come up with techniques that work for them!

— Linda P., Kansas City, Kansas USA

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