Thursday, April 14, 2011

My OA experience and Food and God

I was skeptical about OA prior to going. So skeptical, in fact, that I avoided for a good, long 1.5 years. It's become obvious to me that there are certain bumps in the road -- some I see but cannot avoid -- that have impeded my progress on this journey. I was stuck at 235+/-5 since last May. In that time I've battled depression and been stuck inside for snowstorms and imbibed at Christmas and done all kinds of stuff that impeded my progress -- but I have not made it onward and upward with respect to the weight loss in almost a year.

During the past year it became clear to me that while making healthy choices has become easier, there are sometimes that I still struggle mightily and that I am still addicted to food and probably always will be. There was something mental going on with me -- it wasn't that I had plateau-ed and that my body/metabolism was fighting the weight loss; I was sabotaging my efforts to lose weight and to get healthy. The most frustrating(/sad/infuriating) part is that I could not completely figure out why, leaving me flummoxed.

I completely bought into the addict aspect of the OA program. Although my binges had become increasingly infrequent, they still happened on occasion. Although I have a healthier relationship with food, it was by no means a normal or functional one -- I still obsessed over food way too much. However, I refused to believe that I was "powerless" over food. Was I not maintaining the weight? I was. Had I not lost 60-70 lbs? I had. I was not powerless; I felt I COULD win over food.

That's not to say I'm not proud of maintaining; I am. It's also not to say I'm not stronger/smaller/more toned; I am. But, I have not been losing any significant weight and that is frustrating but a natural consequence of the actions I've made with respect to the food I've used to fuel my body.

I finally reached the end of the rope and, in response to HW given to me by my therapist, went to OA. The folks at OA helped me to reframe the "powerless over food" phrase into something that I can not only tolerate but into something that I love and has revolutionized my healthiness journey. Being powerless over food doesn't mean that food wins, it means that I'm not in control over food but that I can rely on a higher power (I believe in God, so I'll use the term God from now on) to help me with food and to be my strength when I am weak. This is not at all the same as my original interpretation of the meaning of being "powerless over food"; it is actually a great thing to be able to rely on someone more powerful than you to help you with something you struggle so much with, not a bad thing or conceding defeat to food.

It is funny, I always thought asking God to help me with food was too small -- something He could not possibly care about. I felt embarrassed and ashamed to ask for His help with making smart decisions. Finally, I decided "What do I have to lose? I'll give this a try". The first day I basically prayed and said, "God, I am giving my food to you today. Please help me to make wise choices." I felt silly and honestly a little ashamed, but I did it.

That day was so easy. I felt a peace about food I have not felt in a long time -- no obsessing between meals, no feeling chained to my phone to track everything on my WW app ASAP. I also didn't go to the other extreme of not wanting to track anything due either to malaise or guilt because of "bad" food I was eating, no wanting to eat more of something when I was full. I would imagine that is what it is like to have a "normal" attitude toward food. I have always wondered but never really experienced that (in case you haven't noticed, moderation really isn't my strong suit).

Now each morning I give my food to God as part of my daily morning ritual. I spend some time praying and focusing specifically on the food. I just don't obsess about food every moment of the day anymore (we're going on 3 weeks here...). It is so great. And, although it is not the point of OA, feeling at peace with my food has helped me to stay on WW and I've lost about 8 lbs since I started. I was out of town for 4 days at the beginning of the week -- I ate out the whole week basically -- and I still lost 1.5 lbs. Insane, and uncharted territory for me.

If I have learned nothing else from OA, it is that I can turn my food over to God and He will help me with it. I also realized that while I consider food something "small" or insignificant, it's really not to me -- to me it is paramount and has caused me all sorts of trouble and for that reason if no other, I can and should turn it over to God. Clearly He can help me with my food better than I can in my own strength.

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