Yes, I lost 150 pounds in about two and a half years through the 12 step program of OA and I’m keeping if off BUT my major problem was an unmanageable life, (though the food was indeed killing me as I ate to keep from feeling my feelings)   Bill Wilson, a co-founder of AA) and the writer/editor of the Big Book said:  “I have an illness that only a spiritual experience can conquer.”
“So do I!” I said. I am not a religious person nor do I go to church. So what was this spiritual experience and how did I get it?
I did believe that a Power greater than myself could change me because it had been happening through the steps as I began to pray, meditate and practice the steps at first all on my own since I didn’t know where any other addicts were. I was typical: thin-skinned, quick to take offence at any perceived slight, self-centered, bad tempered, controlling, restless, irritable and discontent. In short, an adolescent though I was long past that age. Taking the 12 steps had begun to grow me up.
But what about the food?  Well, it was not my focus but I needed God’s help to sort out what to do  about it. I am a diabetic and at 325 pounds I had high blood pressure, could not walk far, get through the turnstile at a major store, had shortness of breath and was running out of clothing sizes that fit. I used a cane and was headed for a wheelchair. Now I need no diabetic meds, my blood pressure is at a reasonable level and I can walk anywhere I want. And my clothes…!
One day while praying I suddenly saw where the opportunity for the spiritual experience was. I have it three times a day since I am on the 301 plan now whereas before I was on the 24-7-365 plan. (I ate all the time, seven days a week, every day of the year) where now I eat three meals a day, one day at a time with only water in between.  This way of eating would have seemed completely impossible to me before. I had eaten the 24-7-365 for years and years and years (I am much older than most people in the program(.
So about the food. This is what, through God’s help, I figured out. There are three opportunities for a spiritual experience every day; breakfast, lunch and dinner. Everyone’s been invited to eat at the Captain’s table (one of those big honours on a cruise), but not everyone accepts the invitation. Some ignore it, some think they wouldn’t like the food, some get distracted on the way or tell themselves, ‘Why would the Captain want to eat with ME?’  (Some refuse to even believe there IS a Captain, though they are on His ship). But if, despite these fears, you go anyway and sit down with the Captain, I can tell you,  everything changes after that.
I would never be so rude as to watch television while I eat at His table, just the Captain and me. Or email, text, read, talk on the phone or hold a conversation with someone else or do anything but listen to the Captain talk to me. Sometimes I reply while slowly and properly I eat the excellent meals I have learned how to prepare since we’ve been together.
These meals are all sit down, arranged on a small dinner plate, portion-sized and nutritionally balanced, the right amount of calories for a woman my height and age that will enable me to lose weight and eventually to maintain the weight that my body settles at. Figuring all this out took some initial research but now I prepare them automatically; two fistfuls of veggies, protein the size of the palm of my hand and the thickness of my little finger, fruit the size of my fist, fat the size of the tip of my thumb, a little grain. No sugar, no white flour.
When I eat with the Captain I say grace, though I never did before. Then I look at the meal on my plate. I take half a forkful, chew and swallow (something that was missing in my old life as a two-fisted eater when I couldn’t shovel it in fast enough). Then I take another half forkful or spoonful. How does the food taste? How does it smell? What thoughts or feelings are going through my mind as I eat? Am I feeling full yet?
As soon as I feel full, I put down my fork and spoon and stop right there. A meal should not take more than an hour. Then I do not eat again till time for the next meal. I drink water with all my meals as well as tea with no milk or sugar. If I don’t feel full after eating, I wait 20 minutes and by that time, the full feeling has come since the food has been right-sized.
My meals are spaced at least four hours apart.  If I think I feel hungry in between, I look at the clock. If it is not time for the next meal, I know I may really be only thirsty or tired. I try drinking some water or tea. Or I take a nap. Or I may be bored which means I go find something absorbing to do, (the next right thing). All of this is just for one single day, not for the rest of my life as now is all I have.  And today, absolutely any eating I do will be done, only by his help, at the Captain’s table.
Compulsive food behaviour  is merely a symptom of my spiritual condition. My weight is none of my business . I initially needed something to keep my hands busy when I wasn’t working. If I was a knitter or crocheter, that might’ve helped.  My personal go-to project, when I can t garden in winter, is  decoupage with small boxes, lots of cut and paste and design. Some of these I called, ‘A little box of OA’ with the slogans that intrigued me this week, some flowers and pictures and ribbons… you get the idea. Then I give them away
Once my body got used to how much I was eating, it really let me know when I ate more than I needed. Now when I get that signal –  I stop immediately. I don’t worry about wasting food when my body says I am full. When unusable leftovers go into compost, they are being used fully as much as if I’d eaten them.
I am making sure that everything I eat is something I want to eat, delicious in most cases. I remind myself that this is not a diet but a permanent way of life. I made a list of everything I really liked. I add to it from time to time when things occur to me. I made sure there was no junk on it by following the nutrition guides on labels. Junk isn’t really ‘food’ as it has no  nutritious benefit and usually harmful qualities like high salt/sugar/saturated & trans fat/empty calories. From what is left I formed my food plan. I tell my body to pay attention – that I am feeding it and that this is the way it will be from now on out so get used to it. (Yes, I really do this).
I hardly realized when my weight started to go though I knew when the cravings stopped and my daily energy began to increase. Food wasn’t my focus. But  I felt stronger and i began to look forward to good meals three times a day.  I ask the Captain for abstinence, to keep eating the good food at his table, when I pray in the morning.
When I don’t eat at home, or when we have guests, I pray about this when I know ahead of time and work on eating mindfully and not getting uptight over comments about my weight, body size or eating. I try not to eat and talk at the same time. (put down the fork).  I use W.A.I.T a lot. (Why Am I Talking?) which means listening and letting others talk rather than trying to be the whole circus. Mindfulness covers lots more than just eating. Smiling and nodding work fine too.
About the time I started eating with the Captain,  I imagined a dialogue that used to go on in my stomach, the way I used to eat.
Inside me, I told myself is this little man whom I’ve made responsible for sorting out all the junk I was stuffing in my body.
One day he complains to me. (His name is Joe):
“Yo!” Joe yells. “You’ve got a problem.”
“What kind of problem?” I say
“Storage. Ya see, bodies don’t allow much space for that kinda thing. Protein we can burn. Calcium & veggies we can stick in the teeth and bones.  But we’ve run out of space for any more of this sweet crap and all this fat you keep on sending down. Have a heart, lady!”
“What have you been doing with it?” I ask
Joe gives a laugh that makes me nervous. “Lucky for you the skin is stretchy.”
“You mean…my rear end? and my waist?”
“Lady, you ain’t had a waist for years!” His little minions chuckle over that, standing around idle, Joe is saying, because I haven’t been giving them the veggies,calcium, grains and fruit they’ve been trained to deal with.
“Lookit,” Joe continues when I pause to consider what he said. “Don’tcha know that bodies need fuel just like a car needs gas. Can’t run the engine on the stuff you’ve been puttin’ down here.”
I can hear cries of ‘You tell her, Joe,’ and ‘right on,’ from the empty-handed veggie, grain and fruit guys.
“Keep up like this, lady and I’ll have to lay all these guys off,” Joe says. “They’ve been with you ever since you were born. But now all you give ’em to do is stomp down the fat and it’s gettin’ too crowded in here to even do much of that. We’re still stickin’ some of it in the liver but…” His voice trails off…
O I have been a very bad employer, I told myself when I woke up, looking down at my stomach. Not long after that, I started eating the things at the Captain’s table that will keep those workers inside me fully employed. Especially Joe. Much love to you today.

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