In the OA rooms, we talked about recovery being like a three legged stool. You need to work on all three legs in order to be in balance – physical, emotional/mental, and spiritual.
When I first got that I had an eating disorder, a compulsive overeating disease, the positive effect on me emotionally was remarkable. It really helped me clean up my head and my heart. In ensuing years, even when I fell off of the wagon, I had a much clearer understanding of myself, my relationship with food, the role food and overeating played in my life, their effect on me, etc. I am convinced that without this understanding, I would not be successfully maintaining my post-bariatric surgery weight loss.
In the early days, however, the ultimate focus was physical recovery. Losing weight and restoring/regaining physical health were the goals. Even with the better concept of disease behavior, I yo-yo’d with my weight until I finally committed to weight loss surgery. If you’ve been with this blog from the beginning, or at least for a while, you know that I’ve lost a lot of weight and that I have worked on a lot of my issues, using this blog to help me process my thoughts and feelings.
Yet, for almost a year, I’ve been more stalled on my weight loss. I’ve pretty much maintained the level that I reached, but digging in and sustaining the rest of the effort to get to my goal weight has been a constant, annoying, upsetting and frustrating struggle. I gear up, employ a new strategy, go gung-ho for a while and then get stuck again. Hence the annoyance and frustration.
A few days ago, I blogged about the constant food chatter that goes on in my head. My dear, wonderful, long time friend read it and sent me a long email describing her struggle with the same thing. This friend has also spent a great deal of time in OA. She’s also had weight loss surgery and lost a phenomenal amount of weight. She gets the disease thing.
You know that old proverb that when the student is ready, the teacher appears? In her email, she openly talked about the fact that the food thoughts, the endless chatter and mental struggle ARE the disease to her. She shared that she needs to remember the powerlessness and the need for the spiritual connection to recovery.
I’ve been re-reading and studying her email for the last couple of days, absorbing the words into my heart. I see where I’ve been very intellectual about my approaches to food and recovery. I know how much emphasis I’ve placed on the physical recovery. I think those two legs of the stool needed my attention and they’re holding strong. It’s that third leg — the spiritual one — that’s wobbling. It needs my focus.
The first step of OA is admitting that I am powerless over food and that my life is unmanageable. My life might not seem to be unmanageable, but right now, when it comes to how much food obsession is controlling my thinking, trust me, it needs to be managed better. Until I remember step one and the powerlessness, I can’t embrace that a Higher Power can help me. However, once I do those two steps, I can make the decision to turn this over to the HP and accept the spiritual aspects of recovery.
It’s not religion, but I do need the spiritual connection with whatever represents a higher power to me.
What really connected for me today is that the physical recovery is not enough for me. Sure, I could go on for the rest of my life, be happy because I’ve lost so much weight and am maintaining. I could be satisfied with my greatly improved physical fitness.
But I’m not. It isn’t enough. I have more work to do. I am not enjoying the serenity of full recovery because of the mind chatter, the food obsession, the constant battle to stay on track and not give into the disease of compulsive eating. I want that serenity, that recovery, too. So, while I continue to maintain the physical exercise, et al, I need to reconnect to my spirit and emotional recovery. That’s my focus now.
Thank you, my dear friend, for sharing your story and struggle and bringing me the reminders that I needed to have, when I most needed them.
In other news, today I walked another 5K – this time for the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event in town. I didn’t shoot for a particular time goal. This was about being with friends and folks I know throughout our community, having fun, and raising both money and awareness. I raised more than $700, dyed and bedazzled a bra for the day, and had a great time walking. I never would have done this even before weight loss surgery and am glad that I could today.
Here’s the bra. After I dyed it, I hand sequinned/beaded the “ribbons” onto the cups. A little uneven, but as I said to friends, so are my boobs at my age.
Here’s me this morning. The idea is to wear the decorated bra on the outside of one’s clothes. (By the way, I’m not feeling myself up in this picture. I was trying to show off my pink fingernails at the same time.)
We saw quite a variety of great creations! It was really terrific to see a great turnout of people from the community, walking alongside the Overseas Highway in a spirited wave of pink!