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Body by Willingness, Jeans by HP

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In August 2008, several of us were sitting in the proverbial OA circle before a discussion was to begin and joking about the way we fit on our chairs. My comment was, “My thighs always hang over the edge.” The man next to me noted he didn’t have that problem and mentioned he could “help me with my food.”

My response was one of anger. At the time, I had eight years of abstinence. My plan of eating included no sugar, no wheat, no sweeteners, no snack foods, no trigger foods, and three meals with nothing in between. My meals were balanced, and my portions were reasonable. Over the eighteen years I’d been in program, I had accepted gradual changes to my plan of eating from my HP, and while I was not at my goal weight of 150 pounds (68 kg), I had gotten used to the fact that, for the past eight years, I weighed 170 pounds (77 kg), down from 203 pounds (92 kg). I wasn’t having food cravings or obsessive thoughts. I want to stress that I was working the Steps, working with a sponsor, giving service, and had a relationship with my HP because I could not have maintained my weight had that not been the case. I was comfortable with my food, but I wondered if I was working my program correctly since my weight was not where I thought it should be. I practiced acceptance because it seemed my weight was where my HP wanted it to be at the time.

Now, back to the anger—I thanked the man for his concern and told him that I ate between 1,500 and 1,800 calories a day and didn’t need any help with my food. But the seed of doubt that already existed got a little room to grow. Later, I wondered, “How do I know what I’m actually eating? I don’t weigh or measure my food; I just eyeball it and do my best.”

I decided I would measure a couple of items to see how truthful I was being. I measured milk and salad dressing and quickly discerned that I was eating twice the recommended amount, which means I was eating more than I thought. I challenged my HP to remove my desire to use too much of these foods, and I became willing to measure them as a part of my plan of eating. I also asked to be shown if there was something else I was to do.

A month later, I received a call from a program friend (also my massage therapist) who was trying a new food plan, one that I had always thought of as rigid and a little crazy. Just talking with her stirred up my anxiety, and I was not very supportive.

We had an appointment scheduled a few days later, and that morning, when I got dressed, my jeans were really tight. I had noticed before that they’d been a little snug, but that morning, they were uncomfortably tight, almost couldn’t-get-them-zipped tight. “Wow,” I wondered, “Did I gain 10 pounds (5 kg) overnight?”

I reminded myself that my mind could play tricks on me and that this was just ”one of those fat days.” I went to my friend’s home, and after my massage, she invited me to stay for lunch.

“Oh, here we go,” I thought. “She’s trying to show me how great her new food plan is.” But since it was lunchtime and whatever she was cooking smelled good, I accepted.

The lunch was nutritious, well balanced, and filling, and we enjoyed talking about program and our lives. I left in my tight jeans thinking how much I valued this person in my life.

As I lay watching TV that night with my thighs begging for release from the restrictive denim, I decided I could do that food plan for one day. I called my sponsor and committed to giving it a try. Then, I called my friend and got the information on what to do. Turns out, it is one of the food plans now listed in the Where Do I Start? pamphlet, one I had looked at before but was unwilling to consider.

“Okay, HP, I will do this with some modifications because I am not willing to give up certain items not allowed on this plan. But I will weigh and measure and reduce their frequency of use.” Higher Power and my sponsor said okay, and the commitment was made. For the first time since joining OA, I bought a food scale and began measuring my food at home. The content of my meals changed, the amounts of some foods increased and others decreased, but I was always satisfied when I finished my meals. Each morning, I committed to doing this for one more day. It was easier than I ever would have thought, and within a year, my weight had dropped from 170 pounds (77 kg) to 140 pounds (64 kg). It has remained stable at that number for years.

My recovery has continued to grow in so many ways, but I enjoy the freedoms of being in a physically healthy body and not having to wonder if I could be doing more to achieve abstinence and recovery.

Physical recovery is of equal importance to emotional and spiritual recovery, and I have a threefold illness with a threefold solution. I could not have accepted and stuck to this food plan had I not done the foundational work over the years. HP had a plan, and it came to pass in just the right sequence.

I am grateful for every experience I’ve had in this journey and look forward to what is ahead. One day at a time, I can commit to a structured food plan that nourishes me in all ways. And the items I was not willing to let go of are no longer a part of my food plan. They have just slipped away as I realized I no longer needed them.

One last thing, the tight jeans belonged to my husband! My Higher Power will do anything to get my attention.

— Cyndy L.

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