Step One

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



Leader's Introduction
Leader's Share and Step Questions




CINDI'S INTRODUCTION TO OUR WTS STUDY

Hi, I am Cindi, a compulsive overeater. You will be hearing me say that quite frequently. Why? Why should I constantly and continuously identify myself as a woman who has a food addiction? “The truth shall set you free.” My truth? Plain and simple, I am an addict. What is an addict? According to the dictionary on my desk, an addict is one who is psychologically or physiologically dependent upon a drug. Yep, that is me, a drug addict. I am physically addicted to sugar, emotionally dependent upon white flour products and food in excess. Sometimes I think it would be easier to be addicted to heroin or cocaine, something I could give up entirely and be done with but, no, I get to be a food addict.

How and when did my addiction hit? I grew up a normal eater at a normal weight. Food was not a problem for anyone in my family including me. Of course, back then, we did not have fast food restaurants or restaurants delivering to our door. In fact, we rarely went out to dinner except on vacation. We had our three meals a day and an evening snack before bedtime. Mom was not big on desserts or having sugar treats in the house. We ate healthy which is why the entire family was of normal weight. So, what happened to me?

Six weeks before my eighteenth birthday I was a bridesmaid in my cousin’s wedding. My hair was done up in a fancy hairdo and I had on a beautiful gown and make-up. I was grown up! Moreover, because I was nearly grown, my father decided I would be allowed to drink at the reception. After all, there were toasts to be made! I liked the champagne very much and continued to drink far too much. Sadly, I over indulged on the alcohol and passed out on the dance floor. So much for my first drinking experience! The next day I was in hangover hell. The alcohol I ingested caused a chemical imbalance in my system. Within days, I could not get enough sugar. For some reason, instead of craving alcohol and becoming an alcoholic, I craved sugar and became a food addict. For me, this one single event in my young life caused massive upheaval and chaos. Within six weeks, I had gained fifteen pounds. By the end of my senior year, I gained an additional fifteen pounds. Thirty pounds overweight when I had never had a problem with weight before! Thus began my thirty-five year saga as a woman with an active food addiction.

Through those years, my weight settled between 250 and 300 pounds. During my twenties and early thirties, I was able to diet and lose weight many times. However, in my mid-thirties, the last diet I was on broke me. I was unable to ever diet again, no matter how much I tried.

With the excess weight came the shame, guilt, embarrassment and self-hatred associated with my obesity. I learned early on to withdraw from the world and to keep my true self hidden. Isolation was a big factor in my continual denial. If I did not recognize what food was doing to me, then I did not have to face the truth.

On June 1, 2004, at the age of 52, I surrendered my disease of addiction to my Higher Power and was freed of my obsession with food. Over the past six years, I have lost 121 pounds and kept them off. During this step study, I will share with you my Experience, my Strength and my Hope aka ESH. The treatment program of the Twelve Steps of Overeaters Anonymous is responsible for my freedom. I have a disease and my disease is addiction and, for me, the Twelve Steps are the only way I can remain in recovery, set free by the truth.

Love in recovery,

Cindi

Suggestions for the Step Study:

Realize that no one is telling you what to do in program. Whatever directions you receive, they are suggestions only and it is up to you whether you follow through or not. We each work our own individual programs. My sponsor lovingly reminds me that a suggestion is like telling a person jumping from a plane they MAY need a parachute. So, keeping that in mind, it is suggested that you:

1. Find a sponsor, if you do not already have one, to help guide you and to listen to you while you are working through the steps and beyond. When sending in your answers to the step questions, send a copy to your sponsor also. If you do not have a sponsor, you will find directions in getting a sponsor at this link: www.therecoverygroup.org/sponsors.html.

2. This is an excellent chance to do your 90 meetings in 90 days while also working through the steps in 90 days. When I first became abstinent, the 90 & 90 suggestion really helped support me through those first fragile days. You may do online, phone, local or any kind of Twelve Step meeting.

3. Get a copy of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous along with The Twelve Steps & Twelve Traditions of OA. Both will be a huge benefit to you. To get a copy, visit www.oa.org or visit your local face to face meeting.
You can also find a copy of the AA book online at the following link: www.therecoverygroup.org/special/bbrecovery.html. Scroll all the way to the bottom to find the individual chapters.

4. Keep on file your answers to all step questions, as you will need to refer back to them in Steps Five through Nine.

5. Remember, you are not alone in this. Reach out to other members and your sponsor to help you through difficult sharing.

6. If you have a question, please type in the subject line of your reply: "Question" and I will try to answer as soon as possible. Thank you!



Step One

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




Leader's Share and Step Questions

Hi, I am Cindi, a compulsive overeater. The principle of Step One is honesty. How honest am I? Oh, I thought I was honest, cash register honest. After all, I made it a point of returning found money, secure in the knowledge of my righteousness. However, the OA program showed me the way of self-honesty, which allowed me to face the truth of my addiction.

D.E.N.I.A.L. Don’t Even Notice I Am Lying. As an addict, I was a world-class liar when it came to food. Even though I was obese, weighing between 250 and 300 pounds most of my adult life, I stayed in denial as long as possible. After all, if I refused to believe I was a food addict, I did not have to do anything about it. Right? I avoided mirrors as much as possible and never allowed anyone to take my picture if I could help it. If someone said anything unkind, and they did, about my being fat, I could refuse to hear. In fact, I got so good at “not hearing” others that I still have trouble today with listening. Once in a great while my being so overweight would rise up and shout at me, mostly when I outgrew the current size. I still remember those particular moments, when the truth demanded to be acknowledged, and I cried in sheer frustration at being unable to control my food intake. Then, of course, I would head to the refrigerator to eat more and soothe myself.

Truth remains the same, honesty changes with my awareness. (OA For Today, page 46)

There is a program saying that goes like this: Awareness leads to Acceptance, which leads to Action, the triple AAA’s of Twelve Step programs. When I first came to OA, my awareness level of what food was doing to me was nil because of my denial. I came to OA simply to lose enough weight so that someone would hire me after I had lost my job at the age of fifty. I did not come to OA to stop compulsively overeating. I had no interest in giving up my beloved food for longer than losing a few pounds. However, working my way through the Twelve Steps increased my awareness level steadily. The steps showed me exactly how harmful my addiction was to me and how it was destroying my life, not only physically but emotionally and spiritually. Eventually, even I had to admit that my food obsession was the problem not the excess weight. I spent the first two and a half years in program refusing to believe the truth, wanting ever so badly to stay in the food yet I also wanted to lose the weight and not be obese. For me, I could never reconcile those two factors: overeating and losing weight. I never understood that I could not continue to compulsively overeat AND lose weight. Those two things never made sense to me and why?

Because I am a food addict and, as an addict, I wanted to deny that my drug of choice was killing me. My awareness level continued to rise as I worked program and eventually I had to admit to myself the truth. I am an addict. I will always be an addict. I will be an addict until the day I die. As an addict, I cannot compulsively overeat IF I want to be abstinent, lose weight and be in recovery. How very difficult those few simple words are to ACCEPT! My increasing awareness led to my acceptance of the truth of my addiction.

As long as we refuse to recognize that we have this debilitating and ultimately fatal disease, we are not motivated to get the daily treatment for it which brings about our recovery. Denial of the truth leads to destruction. (OA 12 & 12, page 6)

“God, grant me the willingness to do whatever it takes to have really good recovery.” (Prayer created by me when I hit bottom.)

This simple prayer played a significant role in my acceptance of the truth. I remember saying this prayer on waking, before each meal and at the end of each of my days.

Acceptance of the truth came to me on June 1, 2004 when I finally gave up my denial and accepted the fact of my addiction. I am powerless over food and my life is unmanageable. Nothing I can do will change that fact in my life. Even if I would continue in denial, I would still be an addict. I can be an addict in hell or I can be an addict in recovery. On that day in June of 2004, I made a decision to accept my powerlessness and to let go of the food. Granted I did not want to do so but I was WILLING to do whatever it took to have really good recovery which is the third A in the triple AAA‘s of program, Action. The truth finally set me free from the obsession with food. I chose to be an addict in recovery.

Love in recovery,

Cindi


Step One: We admitted we were powerless over food and that our lives had become unmanageable.

The First Step Prayer:
Today, I ask for help with my addiction. Denial has kept me from seeing how powerless I am and how my life is unmanageable. I need to learn and remember that I have an incurable illness and that abstinence is the only way to deal with it. Amen

Principle of Step One:
In Step One we learn the principle of HONESTY as we admit our personal powerlessness over food, and the fact that without help we cannot successfully manage our own lives. (OA 12 & 12, page 103)

Instructions:
To help comprehend the questions, please read the Step One chapter in The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous. Also read, in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, the following chapters to understand the concept of addiction: A Doctor's Opinion, There is a Solution and More on Alcoholism.


Questions:

1. Write a history of your eating disorder in detail beginning as far back as you can remember up until the present. Include other solutions that you tried along with particular foods and behaviors that give you trouble. Many of you did a brief history with your introduction which is fine. You may go ahead and include the brief history with this question while adding onto it.)

2. How do your food behaviors affect you physically, emotionally and spiritually?

3. Do you have any health problems? Relationship problems? Financial problems? Job problems?

4. What is DENIAL costing you? What is your truth?

5. Are you interested in program as a way of life? Are you ready to change and to learn?


Suggestions that may help you with this step study:

Realize that no one is telling you what to do in program. Whatever directions you receive, they are suggestions only and it is up to you whether you follow through or not. We each work our own individual programs. My sponsor lovingly reminds me that a suggestion is like telling a person jumping from a plane they MAY need a parachute. So, keeping that in mind, it is suggested that you:

1. Find a sponsor, if you do not already have one, to help guide you and to listen to you while you are working through the steps and beyond. When sending in your answers to the step questions, send a copy to your sponsor also. If you do not have a sponsor, you will find directions in getting a sponsor at this link: www.therecoverygroup.org/sponsors.html.

2. This is an excellent chance to do your 90 meetings in 90 days while also working through the steps in 90 days. When I first became abstinent, the 90 & 90 suggestion really helped support me through those first fragile days. You may do online, phone, local or any kind of Twelve Step meeting.

3. Get a copy of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous along with The Twelve Steps & Twelve Traditions of OA. Both will be a huge benefit to you. To get a copy, visit www.oa.org or visit your local face to face meeting.

4. Keep on file your answers to all step questions, as you will need to refer back to them in Steps Five through Nine.

5. Remember, you are not alone in this. Reach out to other members and your sponsor to help you through difficult sharing.

6. If you have a question, please type in the subject line of your reply: "Question" and I will try to answer as soon as possible. Thank you!






Step One


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