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One Small Change

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When I first came to OA in 1985, I was blessed to walk into a meeting full of recovery, love, fellowship, and fun. Abstinent sponsors were available, and a group of about eight of us ate lunch together afterwards, did things together, and gave service beyond the group level. (Our specialty was entertainment for OA events.) We had parties at each other’s houses and called each other between meetings.

With this kind of support, embracing recovery was easy. I wanted what they had, and I did what they did. Together, we worked the Steps, used the Tools, and started building a good relationship with a Power greater than ourselves. Our abstinence back then was not bingeing; eating healthy, moderate meals; and avoiding trigger foods. Almost casually, I lost my excess 60 pounds (27 kg), and I happily continued in OA for another ten years.

My experience twenty years later was very different. After a long relapse, I weighed 300 pounds (136 kg) and had a long, hard struggle when I tried to return to abstinence. Over and over, I would get a few days or weeks of abstinence and then have another binge. For nearly two years, I worked one sponsor after another. Each told me what to do to become abstinent: some told me to follow defined food plans and others insisted I give up food categories or ingredients. I tried again and again but couldn’t do it. Sooner or later, I would go back to bingeing, feeling more and more like a complete failure.

Finally, a sponsor asked if there was just one change, however small, that I was willing to commit to for one day. I said yes. The idea came to me that I was willing to eat three meals a day with nothing in between and with no other conditions. We agreed that if I could make that one change then I would be abstinent. One day followed another, and soon I was losing weight. No wonder—I was only eating for three hours a day instead of eighteen!

A year later, I was blessed with the willingness to give up my main trigger food.

I’m still abstinent eight years after the first change. I have a food plan, I’ve identified foods and ingredients that I choose not to eat, and I still don’t eat between meals. I have returned to a life of happy OA recovery, fellowship, and service.

This gradual approach worked for me when nothing else did. I’m grateful to my sponsor, to OA, and to my Higher Power.

— Elizabeth C., St. Louis, Missouri USA

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