Step One

We admitted we were powerless over
our compulsive behavior with food ~
that our lives had become unmanageable.



Dear Friends:

My name is John, and my email address is, should you want to write to me.I will be the step leader for this quarter. I do hope all of you have managed to get a sponsor. Sponsors are a big help.

A little over nine years ago I came to OA, and became abstinent the same day. The reason for this was very simple. I had already been defeated by the disease, and realized that I was going to die with the results of 54 years of compulsive eating, and probably in a shorter rather than a longer time. All the signs were negative, and getting worse. I had no more diets left in me, I knew. And besides, none of them had produced results that lasted any time anyway.

When I first came into the rooms, I had already done step one without knowing it. And I was both depressed and desperate. That day the speaker told his story, and it had great effect on me. He had been over 500 pounds, and had made a food plan that would fatten most of us nicely, but allowed him to lose his first 100 pounds. I thought to myself, I can manage something like that. It gave me a great hope when I saw how he had succeeded. He was at that time 17 years abstinent, and was no longer obese.

Someone has said that all addictions are but one form or another of an "eye" (I) disease. I, I, I. Ego. Of course, once upon a time, it was our ego seeking survival that found a substance that was helpful -- at least lowered the pain. But the substance had addictive powers, and in due time, we were hooked. Some of us are very hooked, others not so much yet.

I had a sponsoree who was all "eyes." He could never get the idea that he might as well give up control, since he didn't have any anyway. After a time, he declared that he needed what little time he had away from work to spend with his son, who was nine. He stopped coming to meetings, dropped his sponsor, etc. He was also a heavyweight, so it wasn't long before he had complications. And within weeks, he was dead. Now his son has a lifetime with no father, and in this case, mother either. Because he couldn't take an hour to go to a meeting, and to work the program.

He could never bring himself to say that he was defeated by a problem that was unto death. And so he died.

In the first step, we have to admit that we are powerless over food. I have had a number of atheists/agnostics who could grasp that being spiritual did not mean they had to adopt any creedal belief. But if you don't grasp that, as this fellow did, you can't admit that you are powerless. In such circumstances, powerlessness means simply loss of control, unthinkable chaos to such people. To me, powerlessness means finding a power greater than myself who can bring me out of the chaos I am already enduring, and calling it life.

For the second part of step one calls us to admit that our lives were unmanageable. We may think we are managing, but we are not. No one in active addiction makes good decisions. If they seem good, it's because all wider vision has been lost. Once in my state some people called for the organization of a group to be known as Clutterers Anonymous. Around two dozen people attended the organizational meeting, which was also the last meeting. It seems that everyone present was also a member of OA. What an analogy for life as a Compulsive Overeater.

My life was in shambles. Yes, I had done a number of notable things at one time or another. But in the end, I had nothing to show. I could use these successes simply to bolster my ego. My decisions became worse and worse. In the end, I wound up with virtually nothing.

If I said all this as an alcoholic, everyone would believe me without any question. Food is more insidious. COs don't realize how much food interferes with their mental processes. Food and dope stimulate exactly the same center in the brain. Food is addictive, however we may use it. Yet COs live about 20 years less than average, and have 33% more automobile accidents than others -- with the "others" including the drunk and high.

We really have to get serious, or this disease will kill us. And we are powerless to control it, and it either has or will make a mess of our lives. We need to get serious.

Today, I invite you to get serious with me, whether you are a newcomer or an old hand. Everyday of my life I have to take this disease seriously. I have to be conscious of it. It will never go away. But I can also tell you that the Program brings so many benefits that I couldn't begin to tell my own story about it.

Instead, look at the Promises of the Program (Big Book, pages 83 - 84). I list them here:


  • We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.
  • We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.
  • We will comprehend the word serenity.
  • And we will know peace.
  • No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.
  • That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear.
  • We will lose interest in selfish things and gain insight in our fellows.
  • Self-seeking will slip away.
  • Our whole attitude and outlook will change.
  • Fear of people and economic insecurity will leave us.
  • We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.
  • We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.

If this is what you want, as well as health itself, then let's get serious together and start the Steps.

I know of no other way that works, do you?

WTS 2002 Study, 3rd Quarter


1. What have you tried in the past to control your weight and life and health? Did any of these things bring any long term relief?

2. Is there something that is keeping you from being ready to admit that you are powerless over food? Really, this question, put another way, asks, are you ready to admit that you are an addict, and can't stop? What might be keeping you in denial -- for that is what it is. Let's get really truthful here.

3. Can you see how your ego is involved with your addictive process? Can you remember and list some of the things that may have led you to choose food as a way to block pain in your life? Remember that at that time, this may have been about the only decision open to you for survival. It's just that now it has outgrown its usefulness, and become a danger to life in itself. Try to remember when you stared eating, fasting, throwing up, using laxatives, or overexercising -- which is a certain form of bulimia. There was a guy who ran fifteen miles every day, and looked good. Then he broke his leg, and gained so much weight he couldn't run, and got worse and worse.

4. Stop and think about decisions you have made in your own life. Get out of the place of denial (which is not a river in Egypt), and take a good hard look at what has happened. Find some instances to write about decisions or events that illustrate that you are not in control, that life is unmanageable. Write about them. See what role your disease played in them.

5. If you kept a journal of your emotions, do you think there might be a correlation between eating and your moods and feelings? Can you illustrate some of these? What do you learn from this exercise?

Post as much as you feel you can, and share everything with your sponsor. You are probably no worse than the rest of us, anyway! And please remember two things:

1. This is an anonymous group. What you hear/read here, let it stay here. It is not for sharing with others elsewhere. We have to have a safe place if we are to recover.

2. If you have comments to make to someone who has posted, please do so to them personally, and not over the loop. We are going to be inundated with hundreds of emails this week, and if only a few people responded over the loop to each one, the number would run into the thousands, and we couldn't sort them out. If you're just plain enthusiastic, or even disgruntled, write to me.



Step Two

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