If you are a smoker, taking drugs, drinking alcohol, even sex crazed…you can give all those things up and be in recovery and live. Smoking, drugs, alcohol and sex are not requirements to be alive.
When you are an overeater. An emotional eater. A boredom eater. A name-that-title eater, it’s not that easy.
You cannot simply say that you are never going to eat again. That’s a hunger strike and you’ll die. Period.
So should you be in the category of those who have an unhealthy relationship with food you cannot simply break up with food. You can’t choose to eschew sustenance and live.
The mental part. The getting my head on about what my real issues were and what my real problems to be tackled were all helped me find a reasonable way of eating. Of living. Of sustaining myself.
If you are in AA, you are sober as many days as you have not had a drink. ONE DRINK is enough to put you back to ground zero. Can you imagine the program if you were surrounded by liquor, had it given out at work and Costco by kindly women in hairnets and smiling faces as they hand over the little toothpick on napkin items? It would be unimaginably difficult to stay sober! I know one friend who says that simply being offered a drink in a restaurant is difficult for them to decline and they try to go places with only non-alcoholic beverages to help steady them through a night out.
How about trying to kick the smoking habit if people walked through your workplace with all manner of cigarettes and glittery lighters on platters, in baskets and silver trays for holidays or kept cigarettes in bright foil wrappers on their desks offered each time you walked in their office?
It would be terribly hard to kick the habit!
And yet, faced with extra weight in a society that is largely mean and unforgiving, judgemental and presumptuous about those who are fat, there is an expectation that you can just snap your fingers and lose weight.
Magic diets, amazing fitness programs, even the use of willpower—I don’t believe that any of those are going to make you slim for life. Willpower is important. If it was the magic potion, then every drunk and tobacco addict could simply use that. But it is NOT that easy. It is not *EASY* at all.
It is, however, POSSIBLE. And you have a choice of telling yourself it is possible or IMPOSSIBLE. And if you choose possible, then a plan, with support and strategies, is absolutely needed.
Strategies for staying on track
Alcoholics are encouraged to have a sponsor and to regularly attend meetings—sometimes multiple a day—to keep their sobriety. Going into a bar three times a day and fixing sippy cups of margaritas would not be advised…yet there you are, in a kitchen three times a day and making those deliciously gooey PB&J sandwiches for your kids after school.
A workout partner can help you be accountable. A nutritionist can help you understand the NEEDS of your body and then you can battle the wants. They tend to be different, those needs and wants.
For me, a huge part…maybe the biggest part of all…was the psychology behind my eating. I still needed that movement. I still needed that nutritional help. I had the deep desire and the focus, dedication and drive—but much like the alcoholic who refuses to see there isn’t ever going to be an answer in the bottom of the bottle—I don’t think I’d have put my fork down long enough to tackle real issues that plagued me without the help of a qualified therapist.
Without allowing myself to experience the hurts again through talking through them and revealing the MOST PAINFUL parts of my life to a stranger. I had been carrying those hurts around for decades and had them exacerbated by the denial of or the diminished response by those that hurt me and so while yes—it hurt terribly to bring them all to the surface and evacuate the hurt that was deep in the pores of my soul—it was the only way to get that emotional acne cleared up.
And much like an alcoholic, I am always going to have the obese wiring existing in my mind. I can rewire, but the old behaviors are not forgotten or eliminated; simply overridden each and every moment of each and every day.
And with all the effort that conveys.
I don’t have an expectation that it will be easy or automatic for me. There are pieces that are easIER, sure, but they are not EASY. Just as the alcoholic didn’t drink today…or the past 20 years…they are, all the same, still an alcoholic. The teetotaling ways are paramount to remaining sober. Being a healthy weight today doesn’t mean I can go wild at the buffet and eat a container of ice cream day after day and not balloon back to my former physical self.
For me, not slacking off or taking for granted what I have achieved as a done deal and no need for maintenance is simply untenable. Right back to the drunk tank (or Women’s department, in my case) I would go.
Weaving in the right people at the right time in my journey was critical. And if the person you ask to help doesn’t really help…ask someone else. There were people who became toxic in my journey and I had to distance myself from them for my own health and happiness. And that is not to say it did not break my heart a little in the process, but my sense of self-preservation is high.
Help IS out there. Decide what it is you need, go after it, and don’t let anyone pull you from the path you choose to achieve your goals.
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