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My Action Plan: A Checklist

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I’ve been in Overeaters Anonymous for decades to help me deal with the many facets of my compulsive eating, including bingeing, dieting, starving, using laxatives, and overexercising. Before I joined OA, my weight ranged from a high of 150 pounds (68 kg) to a low of 89 (40 kg). At my lowest weight, I thought I looked fat, and at my highest, I thought I looked thin. As many have said in OA meetings, this disease lies.

Another lie my disease told me was that all I needed was a food plan. Over the years, I began working the Steps, but I still had trouble staying abstinent. It was then that I started using OA’s Tools of Recovery (at that time, there were eight Tools). But my disease told me it was too much work to use each Tool every day. I had trouble just remembering them all, let alone keeping track of which ones I’d used that day.

Then a few years later, in 2010, delegates to the World Service Business Conference approved a new Tool—the action plan—and suddenly, as we say here in New England, “the light dawned on Marblehead.”

Today, my action plan consists of writing out all the Tools, plus any other action I need to do to obtain, maintain, and strengthen my recovery over the next twenty-four hours. Most importantly, I maintain a checklist at the top of my daily journal page.

Going to a meeting, for example, gives me the opportunity to check off prayer, literature, the Steps, and more. By reaching out to a fellow in OA, I can check off telephone and service, even if I only leave a voicemail.

I check off each action and Tool as I use it throughout the day. I find that maintaining my abstinence is much easier if I monitor these activities, and I do my best to use every Tool every day. At night, I review this checklist as part of my Tenth Step and ask how I can do better the next day. The key word is “better”— not “perfect.”

The checklist reminds me that I can’t do this alone. The first word of Step One is “We,” and I can’t afford to forget this. My action plan reminds me of the importance of taking action to reinforce the “We.” I use prayer, meditation, writing, and the Steps to strengthen my partnership with a Power greater than myself. I use meetings, service, phone calls, sponsorship, and the Steps to build relationships with my fellows.

The checklist teaches me that if I put my program first, the rest will follow. It works if you work it, and you’re worth it— so try it!

— Lois S.

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