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How OA Changed My Life

I received these payoffs from compulsively overeating:

Morbid obesity. I hate that description of myself, but I saw it on my medical records. Morbid obesity meant my overweight condition would kill me if continued; 100 pounds overweight is morbidly obese.

Pain, as in joints. My arthritis pain was aggravated by many years of morbid obesity. It has lessened considerably after nine and a half years in a normal body size.

Poor health. In addition to arthritis, I suffered borderline diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart palpitations and constant indigestion. I had two surgeries for bone spurs between my toes. I had knee surgery twice for damage resulting from overload on my joints. I was hospitalized twice for bowel problems.

Emotional flat line. I made life decisions while drugged on excess food, which adversely affected my life. I felt little pain, but also no joy, excitement, love or happiness. When I felt fear, anxiety or lack of love, I used food to live life on my terms.

Lack of clear judgment: While drugged, I made poor job decisions, married three alcoholics, ran up credit card debt and did not keep a clean home.

Lack of control. The majority of my decisions were based on food: my need to have it, how I would get it and my terror of not having it. While I felt that I controlled things, the truth was that food controlled me. I operated under false values.

Pleasure. What pleasure? I was depressed. Long ago, I must have had one pleasurable moment with food and then chased that dream for the next 39 years. Some life of pleasure! I pasted on a smile for the world. I lived a lie.

Loneliness. Food cannot hug me, hold me or converse with me. The night I hit my bottom I ate so much that I thought my stomach would burst, and I considered ways of ending my life. Food did not comfort me.

Delayed feelings. When I began feeling anxious, food took the edge off and delayed the feeling. Then I could take no action to solve whatever problem caused the anxiety.

Safety. I took no risks. I stayed in a false feeling of safety and did not grow as a person.

Demoralized character. I did nothing to build character. I had no desire to be moral, self-respecting or helpful to others.

Paranoia. I felt that people were out to get me. I ate to numb that feeling. I could not face the reality that most people were not even thinking about me!

I receive these payoffs from abstaining from compulsive overeating:

Good health. I am relieved of most health problems related to morbid obesity.

More time to think of others. I am surprised at how much time I have in my day to concentrate on work, family, program and friends now that I’m not obsessed with planning my next meal, calculating how many calories I’ve consumed, planning my shopping trips or what snack I could pick up.

Normal-size body. Maintaining a normal body size means last year’s jeans fit this year. I don’t have to keep three or more sizes in my closet. Everything fits!

Physical activity. When I turned 50, I climbed through the window of a racecar and drove 118.1 mph for six laps. I scuba dive, walk two big dogs and enjoy an active sex life with my husband. I swim and exercise, and I play on the floor with my grandchildren.

A new way of life. Because OA has removed my self-focused activities, I have the time and desire to serve others. I do a lot for my friends, family, OA, church, work and people I don’t even know.

A light in my eyes. Friends tell me I have that. My whole face genuinely smiles. I am not hiding behind a smile. When things are rough, I can think clearly to deal with problems and can see my cup as half full.

Textbook for living. That is what the Big Book is for me. For the most part, I relate to Bill’s story. When I compare, I run into trouble. My self-centeredness was dressed a little differently than Bill’s; mine was decorated with self-loathing and self-pity. Truth is, Bill and I went to the same prom.

When I look at these two states of being, I want to stay in the abstinent arena. I could go on, but will close here in gratitude for this shift in me—physically, emotionally and most of all spiritually. God bless OA for changing my life. Trust God and buy broccoli.

— Reprinted from Lifeline magazine

We of Overeaters Anonymous have made a discovery. At the very first meeting we attended, we learned that we were in the clutches of a dangerous illness, and that willpower, emotional health and self-confidence, which some of us had once possessed, were no defense against it.

We have found that the reasons for this illness are unimportant. What deserves the attention of the still-suffering compulsive overeater is this: There is a proven, workable method by which we can arrest our illness.

The OA recovery program is patterned after that of Alcoholics Anonymous. We use AA’s twelve steps and twelve traditions, changing only the words “alcoholic” and “alcohol” to “food” and “compulsive overeating.”

As our personal stories attest, the twelve-step program of recovery works as well for compulsive overeaters as it does for alcoholics.

Can we guarantee you this recovery? The answer is simple. If you will honestly face the truth about yourself and the illness; if you keep coming back to meetings to talk and listen to other recovering compulsive overeaters; if you will read our literature and that of Alcoholic Anonymous with an open mind; and most important, if you are willing to rely on a power greater than yourself for direction in your life, and to take the twelve steps to the best of your ability, we believe you can indeed join the ranks of those who recover.

To remedy the emotional, physical, and spiritual illness of compulsive overeating we offer several suggestions, but keep in mind that the basis of this program is spiritual, as evidenced by the twelve steps.

We are not a “diet and calories” club. We do not endorse any particular plan of eating. Once we become abstinent, the preoccupation with food diminishes and in many cases leaves us entirely. We then find that, to deal with our inner turmoil, we have to have a new way of thinking, of acting on life rather than reacting to it – in essence, a new way of living.

From this vantage point, we began the twelve-step program of recovery, moving beyond the food and the emotional havoc to a fuller living experience. As a result of practicing these steps, the symptom of compulsive overeating is removed on a daily basis, achieved through the process of surrendering to something greater than ourselves; the more total our surrender, the more freely realized our freedom from food obsession.

“But I’m too weak. I’ll never make it!” Don’t worry, we have all thought and said the same thing. The amazing secret to the success of this program is just that: weakness. It is weakness, not strength that binds us to each other and to a higher power and somehow gives us the ability to do what we cannot do alone.

If you decide you are one of us, we welcome you with open arms. Whatever your circumstances, we offer you the gift of acceptance. You are not alone anymore. Welcome to Overeaters Anonymous. Welcome home!