We admitted we were powerless over food,
that our lives had become unmanageable.



My name is January K., and I will be your Step Leader for this quarter. In this study I will make quite a few Big Book references which you are invited to read. (The Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book is available for reading on the internet at the Alcoholics Anonymous website): ---> (type in on your web browser)

I want to begin by saying that I am a compulsive overeater. It took me a while to realize this. I had trouble taking that first Step. The word, “powerless” always gave me an icky feeling. If I am not responsible for my food choices, who is?

For me, saying that I was powerless, (the first time I took Step One) was saying that I am willing to play the role of a professional, life-long victim. If I could not help myself, then no one could! In order to take Step 1, I had to develop a new outlook, a different perspective on the idea of "powerlessness."

My Higher Power re-interpreted Step 1 for me so that when I tell my sponsor or others that I have worked this Step, I sincerely mean it and I do not have to work a program of recovery as a "victim." I can help myself with God's help!

I am powerless only if I forget to include my Higher Power in my journey. In and of my own power, I could fail and keep falling back to where I was -- and this I will never do again, with God’s help.

My name is often given out to folks who are facing tough weight-loss and physical rehabilitative issues. This is my main experience, strength, and hope for those who suffer. My top weight was 386 pounds.

I'm still braving the odds, though I am nearing half the person I used to be. I have owned up to my responsibility in my compulsive overeating. I have identified the foods that set me off and make me crazy. I avoid those foods.

It took me quite a while to gain the confidence to come through the meeting doors because I had a lot of weight to lose, and my pride kept me out of the meeting doors for several years.

My latest challenge, which is indeed a Step One issue, of sorts, is that of a diabolical weight plateau that lasted 2 1/2 years. Though I was abstinent and the unmanageability of my food was being properly addressed, my weight continuously went up and down by 4 pounds for 2 1/2 years time. Four weeks ago, God broke this cycle for me! I am down an additional 16 pounds. Thank you Higher Power!

I cannot control / "manage" what my weight wants to do. Essentially, I am truly powerless over this. However, I can control what I feed myself, seek proper medical guidance and perform the amount of exercise that I need to do, I can control my continuity of these activities, go to meetings, do service and keep my "willing" attitude, not give up, keep one foot in front of the other, and leave the rest up to my body and its "Higher Mechanic." :)

Those that would like to know more about my story can go to (click on "January).

Is it any wonder that all my life I obsessed with my weight and couldn't seem do a thing about it? There was no word for what was wrong with me, or so I believed for many years, until I walked through the doors of my first OA meeting.

I'd had some fairly serious life issues in my growing up which had never been addressed. Coming into OA, it was the first time that I had heard that others who had abuse in their life backgrounds had turned to food. Those of us who did not overindulge in our food stuffs were still inclined to be overly and obsessively controlling with our food in extremely opposite ways which, again, defied the understanding of most family members, friends, even some of our health care providers.

Step One is about becoming aware or being willing to consider that you are powerless and your life is unmanageable.


Read Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over food---that our lives had become unmanageable.

1)Share with us about your current level of awareness that you have a weakness with food. How does this lead you, or how has it lead you in the past) to return to food for comfort?

2)In the A.A. Big Book, read the DOCTOR'S OPINION. Discuss the 3 levels of phenomenon of craving as it applies to your own life: emotional life, spiritual life, and physical life.

3)What is your current level of belief in your own powerlessness over food?

4)When we start Step One, we are at the beginning of the start of an ego adjustment. For me, my intent in learning about the steps and starting Step One didn't matter quite as much as my ATTITUDE toward taking it. The honesty in answering these questions is what counts. Are you willing to be honest with yourself and your Higher Power?


STEP ONE: We admitted we were powerless over food--that our lives had become unmanageable.

The Big Book says that we are without defense against "that first compulsive bite." Suggested Reading: pg 20-24.

In the past I had indulged in the thinking that I'd been so good, studied so hard, done such a fantastic job on the project at hand, or had such a rotten day at work, that surely I could indulge in just a taste of -------- (insert food item).

This thinking was so very flawed and perfectly fits the A.A. / O.A. definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again, hoping for different or better results.

1)Can you remember the first time this type of thinking interfered with your life? Discuss this with us here.

2)It is said that "when one overeater plants a seed in the mind of another, "the true nature of his malady" that the overeater will never be quite the same again.

As a newcomer, please discuss your hope that this will be true for you. As a person familiar with the Steps, share with us all how this saying has been true in your life so that we may gain hope and reaffirmation.

3)In Step One there are 3 things we must do in order to begin a better life: a) We must admit. b) We must become aware that we are powerless over food [without HP]. c) We must become aware that our lives are unmanageable [without HP].

4)What are your thoughts, at this point about powerlessness? Have you ever experienced "controlled eating"? (Times when you are able to control your food intake very well)? What is so different about those times than the unmanageable times?


STEP ONE: We admitted we were powerless over food -- that our lives had become unmanageable.

I'd heard as a newcomer, that starting the STEPS would be the beginning of an "ego reduction" for me. I worried about that, as I had nearly confused EGO with my damaged self-esteem as a formerly very large person.

By the taking of Step One, I came to learn that I am not seeking to belittle myself into believing that I am absolutely helpless. Instead, I am seeking to explore the possibilities that I have been living on auto-pilot, not being very mindful of what I was putting into my mind / spirit or my mouth, and the resultant thoughts and actions thereof.

I also had to face my qualms about devoting so much time to working my recovery. They said I should attend meetings, read the Big Book, and get a sponsor. Others even talked about journaling, making phone calls, and doing service. Where would I find all this time? I wondered.

I had to face the fact that if I did not become willing to find ways to bring some of these thing into my life, that I was going to die a slow and cruel death. This time I was going to have to make a sacrifice for myself. No one could do this for me.

All the years of thinking that I was young and had enough time to attend to "this weight loss and health stuff," that time was ticking by, going fast.

If my life was managed so well, how had I "managed" up to 386 pounds?

Clearly, I had to become more willing or possibly die.


1)Old ideas often block change for our betterment. What are some of your "old ideas"?

2)Facing our "powerlessness" over food can bring about fear. Enlisting the help of a sponsor, choosing a food plan of your choice (or that of your health care provider) working the steps, and using the tools is a very effective way to reduce fear.

What are your thoughts about this statement, if any, and which of these remedies (to reduce fear) are you currently using, and how is their use helping you in your recovery?

3)Part of my life being unmanageable is clearly described in Chapter 5, HOW IT WORKS, of the A.A. Big Book. It says: Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path.

In the first paragraph it talks about one character trait that is required for recovery. For all of us, as compulsive overeaters, this trait must become nearly more dominant than the traits of willingness, and footwork. This trait is HONESTY!

4)I have heard in the OA meeting rooms: Steps 1, 2, and 3 can be summarized in 3 easy sentences: I can't. God Can. I think I'll let Him.

What does "surrendering" mean to you? What does it feel like as applies to this program and your food choices? What has it meant for you in the past?

Even as we take Step One, we admit that we are powerless, that are lives have become unmanageable--the ultimate act of surrender.

For some of us, the act of surrendering is nearly unthinkable, for various reasons. It took me a number of years to realize that if I concentrate on doing the footwork of what is working for others, that involuntarily I am "surrendering" and allowing God to MANAGE my life. (This was helpful to me, and I wanted to pass it along).


Step Two

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