The Recovery Group is a Twelve Step support group for compulsive eaters

Personal Stories of Recovery

~ Mary ~

My name is Mary and I am a compulsive overeater. I weighed 376 lbs in Jan 2001 and wanted to die and didn't care how. I was squeezing into 36W's. I was using a cane because my joints couldn't carry around my body any more, taking more than 1/2 dozen medications for a variety of ailments (both mental and physical), used a CPAP machine for sleep apnea and started dreaming of my funeral in the oversized casket. I had a death wish. I have been in and out of 12 step programs for over 25 years. This is a progressive disease because back in 1979 I only had 40 lbs to lose. But each time I went back out there to do more research, I gained more weight and lost some, then gained some, and never really recovered. In Jan 2001 I looked into WLS. A friend at work reached out to me and helped me with a food plan so I could lose 15 lbs in order to see the doctor. But after staying off sugars & grains for two months, I started feeling better. So I put off seeing the doctor. I just kept doing this low carb commercial food plan with my coworker and lost a little more. About 18 months into this, I had lost about 65 lbs and realized I didn't need all the meds. So my doctor started reducing them little by little.

About two years I realized that I probably wasnít going to lose any more than the 76 lbs I had. I was down to 300 lbs and started looking into WLS again. This new team said I had to lose 15 lbs to see the doctor. I told them I already had and they said that I had to do it for them. So I just started attending their meetings and listening and trying out different suggestions for changing myself. I did realize early on that the surgery wouldnít be successful if I didnít make a commitment to changing my life style before surgery. I tried to challenge myself so I started to swim 3 times a week in a class for older ladies because this was the first exercise in decades. I started using a workbook to become more aware of my behaviors around food, and for the first time in 25 years started to see I was truly a compulsive overeater and food addict. I came to this understanding because I was eating the low carb food compulsively; I was eating healthy food compulsively. I couldnít stop eating. I didnít gain weight because I didnít eat sugars and grains, but I wasnít losing anymore. Then one day I discovered low carb bread products. Had one one day and then proceeded to add more and more. I was buying it by the case. This led to sneaking chocolate baking squares out of the pantry and eating them of course always counting the carbs and within one week of eating these sugar laden baking squares I had gained 5 lbs. It doesnít sound like a lot, but at this point I was down 105 lbs and knew if I didnít take desperate measures, I would gain all the weight back and end up dead or over 500 lbs.

At this point, I met a lady on a website that I used to support my low carb lifestyle that was doing a 12 step program for carb sensitive folks, so I wrote her and asked for the diet and she wrote back and said that the diet comes with a sponsor; you donít get one without the other. Anyway, God put her into my life and she became my first sponsor. This was 2 days before Christmas in 2003. I still had not had the WLS. My gut or intuitive thought told me it was not the right action for me, but I kept going to the meetings at the hospital for the WLS. I played with abstinence for the first six months, and then got serious and decided that I had to work the program the way it was intended. I ended up changing sponsors after 8 months, but never went a day without one. God led me to my next sponsor who led me through the 12 steps of HOW and I finished the last questions on 12/31/05. There were over 500 questions and I wrote diligently every day and read my writing to my sponsor every day.

I have been part of a 12 step program now for the last 2-1/2 years. I heard many times in OA that abstinence is the ACT of refraining from compulsive eating. It took a long time (25 yrs) and many diets for me to realize that in order to refrain from compulsive eating; I had to take the following actions. I call her every day after writing down my food. I commit it to her and to God; I weigh & measure 3 meals a day without exception and donít eat between meals no matter what except for herbal tea, diet soda or water. Abstinence is the most important action I take today through the grace of God.

I discovered I have food allergies to certain substances. Some of these I knew I had for over 12 years, but was unwilling or powerless to put them down. I am allergic to coffee, caffeine, chocolate, aspartame, corn and milk (except yogurt or hard cheese). I am food addicted to sugars and grains, meaning I canít have just one serving without setting off the phenomenon of craving. Today I recognize that when I want to eat, it is usually because of fear, doubt or insecurity that has crept into my life and I am being unwilling or powerless to deal with it; but today I can use the 4th step process and let God guide me. When I use the process, miracles happen.

Today I feel like a living miracle. Being 5í7Ē, I have a weight range in the 150ís. Never did I ever think I would ever reach this point, but I have been maintaining 156 lb. for the last 3 months. (Total loss 220 lbs). I still call my sponsor every day, write my food down and weigh & measure the 3 most beautiful meals I can create. I read and write from AA literature and read it to my sponsor each day. I have sponsees and make outreach phone calls and emails. I attend a variety of 12 step meetings and qualify for both OA and GSA when asked. I am working on the 7th step in an AWOL currently. My next project is to begin a Big Book Step Study process, God willing.

Some of the miracles in my life, aside from the weight loss, include wanting to LIVE today. I donít want to die anymore, although I know my time will come. After retiring from my job 3 years ago and thinking who would want to hire a 57 yr old woman, God found me the most perfect job. I knew the first day I came into this temp assignment that I was home. I had to pass some federal & state exams to keep the job which meant studying and learning new concepts. I used what I learned in program. One day at a time, control what I can (what & how much I studied), know what I canít control (the questions on the final) and let God take care of the rest. My HP came through and I passed both exams.

My husband joined me in this journey a couple of years ago and he has lost his weight and is maintaining as well. We are both about the size we were when we met 32 years ago. His asthma is in remission, and his BP and Chol are all normal. His doctor told him to keep doing whatever he is doing because it is working.

My meds are down to the barest minimum, only need 2 at the present. My BP is 110/65. Blood sugars are 88. Total cholesterol is 158, HDL 52, LDL 92, Trig 83. The cane I used found a new home along with the CPAP machine. Donít need them anymore.

My mind is clear so that I can hear the intuitive thoughts that God gives me each day. I am grateful and abstinent and committed to the 12 step program and to living out Godís will for me each and every day. Today I know that when I have a food thought, I can pause (as the Big Book says on pg 87) and hear the intuitive thoughts God gives me. For me the pause might be weighing my food or calling someone to help me through a difficult moment. Once I have the intuitive thought, then I can take the next right action. This program is so simple. Today I am willing to have an open heart and be honest with my food today. For me that is where I find the freedom from the obsessive thoughts in my mind.. I am still walking through fears, but I donít have to eat to numb the fears. Thank you, God.

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