8/16/2014

The Tools of Recovery: Literature

By Laura Moncur @ 2:21 pm — Filed under:

The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous at Amazon.comPart of the reason I have enjoyed so much success with Overeaters Anonymous is because of their tools of recovery. You can read more about them here:

I have to admit that I am VERY pleased with the OA literature. Unlike the Weight Watchers books I bought, which are just celebrity ego-fests “written” by the famous people who have happened to lose weight on the WW plan with the help of personal trainers and multiple chefs, they are written to HELP me. I read something from OA books every day to keep myself focused on what is important.

I especially like that almost ALL of the OA literature is available on Kindle:

  • The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous: This book was the first book I bought because the first meeting I attended was a Twelve and Twelve meeting. My sponsor and I went through it when she took me through the steps. I don’t find it as inspiring as the Big Book, but it is very helpful.
  • Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition: This is the most recent edition of the Big Book. It is written for alcoholics, but it’s amazing the similarities between my worst days of bingeing and the worst days of an alcoholic. My sponsor and I went through this book completely and there are many Big Book meetings in OA. I found it incredibly inspiring.
  • Overeaters Anonymous, Second Edition: This is a collection of stories about people with eating disorders and how they came to OA to be helped. Ironically, I don’t find it as inspiring as the Big Book, but it’s still a good read, especially if you’re having trouble getting past Step 1.
  • Abstinence, Second Edition: Members of Overeaters Anonymous Share Their Experience, Strength and Hope: This is a collection of stories about abstinence. Because each person defines their own abstinence, it was helpful to me to feel comfortable with my own definition of abstinence.
  • For Today: This is a GREAT book. It is arranged by date, with an entry to read every day. I find it incredibly inspiring and the daily quotes are lovely. It also has a great index so you can look up words like resentment or guilt and find entries to solve your problems.
  • Voices of Recovery: This is another daily reader, like For Today, that I have loved and read almost every day. Inspiring little stories organized by date.
  • Lifeline Sampler: Another collection of stories gleaned from the OA magazine, Lifeline. Inspiring, but longer stories than For Today or Voices of Recovery.
  • Seeking the Spiritual Path: A Collection from Lifeline: If you are having trouble with Step 2 and Step 3, these stories are quite helpful. Not many of them are written from an atheist point of view. It was NOT helpful to me. I found The God Gene by Dean H. Hamer to be FAR more helpful on my spiritual journey.
  • A New Beginning: Stories of Recovery from Relapse: For those who have found recovery in OA, but “fell off the wagon,” it might be helpful to read these stories about how people found there way back to healthy eating after losing it.
  • Beyond Our Wildest Dreams: A History of Overeaters Anonymous as Seen by the Founder: If you are interested in the history of OA and want more than the initial story written by the founder in the Overeaters Anonymous book, here is an in-depth history.

Only OA approved literature is recommended in the meetings because Tradition 6 states, “An OA group ought never endorse, finance or lend the OA name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.” I don’t have that limitation, however, so here are a couple of books that I have found that are also helpful.

Daily reading helps me immensely and I am always a better person when I take the time to read. Set a goal of 10-15 minutes of reading every day and you will have an easier ride on this happy road to destiny.


Overeaters Anonymous does not endorse anything on this entry or blog.

8/15/2014

The Tools of Recovery: Writing

By Laura Moncur @ 11:04 am — Filed under:

My journal...Part of the reason I have enjoyed so much success with Overeaters Anonymous is because of their tools of recovery. You can read more about them here:

Writing is something I do every day. I write in my journal. I write here. I write for other blogs. I write fiction. I am literally writing all day long, but writing about my eating problems specifically is the crux of this tool and it has helped me so much.

When I was working through the steps with my sponsor, she would assign writing to me every time we talked. It was amazing to me how much this helped me work through my emotions and the things that drove me to binge. Even now, I write a daily Step 10 and email it to my sponsor and I’m shocked at how answering those questions helps me feel better.

In larger cities, there are even meetings that use the tool of writing. In SLC, I attend one that reads from the big book for a while and then gives us ten minutes to write what we feel about the passage we read and then we share what we wrote. It is an inspirational meeting that never fails to make me feel better and less likely to eat the world.

Because I am a writer, I am particularly partial to this tool of recovery. I do it every day and it’s easy for me. If you haven’t tried it in your recovery, I suggest starting slow by setting a timer for five minutes and write constantly during that time. Don’t let yourself stop writing, even if you just write the words, “I don’t know what to write.” Keep going and you will eventually write something helpful to you. Do that every day for a week and the next week up the time to ten minutes. I personally write until I fill one page in my journal and I’m surprised at how much good comes from it every day.

Try using the writing tool in your recovery and you will find your days are filled with joy instead of constant eating.


Overeaters Anonymous does not endorse anything on this entry or blog.

8/14/2014

The Tools of Recovery: Telephone

By Laura Moncur @ 10:39 am — Filed under:

Tools of Recovery - TelephonePart of the reason I have enjoyed so much success with Overeaters Anonymous is because of their tools of recovery. You can read more about them here:

This tool is hard for me. I set a goal of doing two calls a day to other OA members and today, I am procrastinating that very goal. I can text quite regularly, but actually CALLING another person feel intrusive. I feel as if I am invading their lives rather than helping.

It’s even worse when I am feeling like I might eat the world. I’m perfectly willing to text all my OA friends, but to actually CALL them is hard for me. I don’t know when I got so reserved about picking up the phone. I have no idea when texting became more acceptable to me than calling someone on the phone.

With my sponsor, almost all of my contact with her is on the phone. I call her every day at 8 am. Sometimes she can talk, other times, I leave a message on her voice mail. I have to be honest, though. It has taken me months to get to the point where I’m willing to call her every single day.

If there is a tool of recovery that I don’t use as much as I should, it’s the telephone. That’s why I set a goal to use it. I guess I should go make those calls now…


Overeaters Anonymous does not endorse anything on this entry or blog.

Image via: Scream 1996 – Wikipedia

8/13/2014

The Tools of Recovery: Meetings

By Laura Moncur @ 8:43 am — Filed under:

The Tools of Recovery - OA MeetingsPart of the reason I have enjoyed so much success with Overeaters Anonymous is because of their tools of recovery. You can read more about them here:

MEETINGS! I was familiar with meetings! I had been going to Weight Watchers meetings for over a decade with little result. They told me to keep coming back and I kept coming back and I still didn’t lose weight. I was perfectly willing to devote myself to OA meetings. I was already in the habit of getting my butt in the door. I merely had been walking through the wrong door for the last ten years.

OA meetings are different than Weight Watchers meetings. OA meetings are even different than each other. Some of them are organized and regimented. Some of them remind me of a disorganized bunch of hippies. Some of them flirt with organization like a coquette. Some of them have leaders who are in charge every week. Some of them have a different leader each week. Some of them wander through the meeting with seemingly no leader until you realize that everyone there is so familiar with their style of meeting that they don’t need a leader at all.

No matter how organized or leadership driven, I have found peace and hope in every meeting. I’ve attended huge meetings in Las Vegas, tiny meetings in rural Utah and more meetings in Salt Lake City than I can count. They are all different, yet they have all helped me in some way.

There is one thing the meetings CAN’T do. They can’t work the steps for you. You have to do that on your own with a sponsor. Even Twelve and Twelve meetings that talk about the steps and traditions of OA don’t work the steps for you. You have to do that work on your own. The meetings will support your work, but they can’t do it for you. They aren’t enough on their own. That’s why they are only ONE tool of recovery.

For most people, their first step into OA happens at a meeting. If you are interested, you can find one here: Find a Meeting – Overeaters Anonymous


Overeaters Anonymous does not endorse anything on this entry or blog.

Image via: INWCC REVEAL14 Planning Meeting | IIDA – International Interior Design Association

8/12/2014

The Tools of Recovery: Sponsorship

By Laura Moncur @ 8:28 am — Filed under:

The Tools of Recovery: SponsorshipPart of the reason I have enjoyed so much success with Overeaters Anonymous is because of their tools of recovery. You can read more about them here:

I procrastinated getting a sponsor. I had been relieved of the compulsion to overeat, so I thought I could just work the steps alone. Most of us compulsive eaters have a fierce streak of independence, which keeps us isolated with this disease. I didn’t know it, but I was heading toward failure.

Fortunately, I was able to turn around and continue down the road to recovery.

We were at an abstinence workshop and for the first half of the meeting, we were grouped up. Then, they mixed up the groups halfway through and I was paired with a woman who was confident, thin and calm. When we talked, she had been a binge eater, just like me. We were working on the parts of the workshop that talked about sponsorship and I realized that I hadn’t chosen a sponsor because I was scared.

I was scared that a sponsor would starve me, just like my grandma starved me as a child.

Once I realized this fear, I immediately asked the woman who had been put in my group to be my sponsor. She lived far away from me, but that didn’t matter. She was willing to sponsor me over the telephone and we set aside times when we could be together. About 90% of my sponsorship has been over the phone, text and email. It didn’t matter because sponsorship doesn’t need physical presence to be helpful.

I like to think of sponsorship like this picture.

The Tools of Recovery: Sponsorship

I was a baby in the program and I needed someone STRONG and powerful to help me, like Microsoft and Prudential. Additionally, there are times, no matter how long we have been in recovery, that we ALL feel like babies again, needing someone strong to help us. But there is a flip side to sponsorship. As much as my sponsor helps me, I help her as well. Just like the advertising that Microsoft gets, my sponsor receives benefits from helping me.

We can’t survive this disease without sponsoring other people. We can’t keep our recovery until we give it away to another suffering individual. If you are procrastinating finding a sponsor in OA, STOP IT! Stop it right now. Find someone who is succeeding with the program and ask them to be your sponsor. In fact, I am available to sponsor right now and would be willing to help you if you reach out to me.


Overeaters Anonymous does not endorse anything on this entry or blog.

Image via: Inventor Showcase Sponsorship | DaVinci Institute

8/11/2014

The Tools of Recovery: A Plan of Eating

By Laura Moncur @ 12:09 pm — Filed under:

What Should I Eat? by seirenn-d4ce272 at deviant artPart of the reason I have enjoyed so much success with Overeaters Anonymous is because of their tools of recovery. You can read more about them here:

Before I ever came to OA, I had a plan of eating, but the only problem was I couldn’t follow it. Having a plan of eating is essential to recovery, but it’s the one that most of us already have. It’s something that we all have been desperately trying to follow for years until the day when we realize that we just can’t do it.

Ironically, the plan of eating is what so many newcomers to OA are looking for. “What am I supposed to eat?” “What constitutes ‘abstinence?’” I remember when I first attended an OA meeting in the conference room of the physical rehabilitation hospital, I stayed after the meeting expecting the nice lady to tell me exactly what I had to eat and how to measure whether I was abstinent or not. I was very frustrated when she told me that I had to decide.

They’re all a buncha hippies.

That’s what I told Mike. They just let anyone decide what to eat to lose weight. That doesn’t make any sense. But honestly, it was EXACTLY what I needed. We have all starved ourselves. We have all jumped on those strange food bandwagons that promised us svelte figures if we only eat certain foods or swallow magic concoctions. We have been doing this for so long that we KNOW (with a capital K), what we should eat to keep healthy, strong and to lose weight. We know WHAT to do. We just couldn’t do it.

So, I showed up at OA knowing to put my weight into my Lose It! app every day and let it tell me how many calories to eat. I showed up at OA knowing that if I eat every two and a half hours, I was less likely to binge and more able to STOP eating after each tiny meal. I KNEW how to eat to lose weight, but following any program was a struggle. The plan of eating was something I could always follow for a week or two (until the end, when I couldn’t even follow it for a few hours), but I was white-knuckling it. It was sheer will-power that kept me on a plan of eating. The OTHER tools helped me stay on the plan.

Don’t get me wrong. A plan of eating is important. Without it, we would slip into day-long binges just like before. All of us know how we SHOULD be eating. We came to OA because we couldn’t do it.


Overeaters Anonymous does not endorse anything on this entry or blog.

Image via: What should I eat? :33 by Seirenn on deviantART

8/6/2014

The Spiritual Awakening: On The Roof

By Laura Moncur @ 8:00 am — Filed under:

The God Gene: How Faith Is Hardwired into Our Genes at Amazon.comAs an atheist, it was difficult for me to come to Overeaters Anonymous. I knew I was a binge-eater, but I also knew that the program was heavy into spirituality and that kept me suffering with my disease for ten long years. After reading The God Gene by Dean H. Hamer, it’s easier to see why OA (and other 12 Step Programs) work, even if you are an atheist.

There is a reward in my brain when I overeat that is triggered by dopamine, but even stronger than that reward is the one triggered by spiritual experiences. One of them is the feeling that I call, “On The Roof.” It is a feeling of lifting up and being able to see the whole world: the past, present and future. This reaction is much less common than the feeling of the other presence and even less common than the feeling of being at one with the universe, but it is also far more powerful. So powerful that it can make you feel like you are going a little crazy.

You are not.

On The Roof from Starling FitnessThat feeling of lifting up and being able to see the whole world is a natural reaction in your brain that can be caused by psychotropic drug use, prayer, meditation and sheer desperation. It is a very rare reaction and highly sought after. Why?

BECAUSE IT FEELS GOOD.

The physical reaction that comes with the feeling of lifting up and being able to see the whole world makes your brain feel good. It feels even better than bingeing on the most sweet, salty or fatty foods you could imagine. If you do it on a regular basis, it can replace your craving for food and you no longer feel the need to overeat.

I have been On The Roof only once in my life, but it was such a powerful experience that it shaped my destiny. It was my first year of college and I was having trouble with Calculus. I just couldn’t understand it. At spring break, I went to my grandparents’ house (because I’m a wild and crazy girl). I brought my Calculus homework with me, hoping my grandpa could help me with it. He was the only one I knew whom I could turn to, but when I asked him to help me, he said, “With Calculus, you just get it or you don’t. I can’t help you.”

I was desperate and in tears. I remember vividly sitting in their kitchen at the round table. I can feel the vinyl tablecloth on the table with its fleece backing making it difficult for me to write on my paper. I had to put my paper on my folder to do my work. I was so desperate, just staring at my Calculus homework and crying when it happened. I felt as if I were lifting up from the kitchen table. Lifting up above all of mathematics. I could see the entire field of mathematics before me. To my left I could see my favorites of the past: Trig, Geometry, Algebra and even simple Arithmetic spanning in the distance to my left.

In front of me, I could FINALLY see it! Calculus and how it fit into the world of Math. It was easy to find the area of a square using Geometry. Once we knew about that pesky Pi, even the area of a circle was easy to calculate. But a curve! A curve was so hard! How could we calculate the area under a curve?! I could see the rectangles under a curve getting smaller and smaller until they reached an infinite number and finally achieving that perfect curvature. I could UNDERSTAND differentials!

Even more elusive, I could see into the future of Mathematics for me. I could see that if we knew the area under a curve that we would want to know the formula for it. I could see the need for integration as clearly as I could understand the need for division after learning multiplication. It was an awe-inspiring moment for me.

After that, Calculus was easy for me. Even the third semester of multi-variate Calculus did not daunt me because of that spiritual experience “On The Roof.” If you are lucky enough to have an experience like this, cling to it. Bring it up in your memory again. That awe-inspiring emotion got me all the way through college and it can keep you from bingeing.

OA depends heavily upon a spiritual awakening within its members for the program to work and the reason why is because that spiritual practice retrains the brain to deliver “feel-good” messages without eating too much food. It is the reason the program can even work for an atheist like me. If you have been avoiding going to OA because of the spiritual aspects of the program, read The God Gene and learn how spirituality is a physiological reaction that you can harness for your own benefit.


Overeaters Anonymous does not approve nor endorse this website or any of the views posted here.

On The Roof image via: Battle for Libya: Nichole Sobecki

8/5/2014

The Spiritual Awakening: At One With The Universe

By Laura Moncur @ 8:00 am — Filed under:

The God Gene: How Faith Is Hardwired into Our Genes at Amazon.comAs an atheist, it was difficult for me to come to Overeaters Anonymous. I knew I was a binge-eater, but I also knew that the program was heavy into spirituality and that kept me suffering with my disease for ten long years. After reading The God Gene by Dean H. Hamer, it’s easier to see why OA (and other 12 Step Programs) work, even if you are an atheist.

There is a reward in my brain when I overeat that is triggered by dopamine, but even stronger than that reward is the one triggered by spiritual experiences. One of them is the feeling that you are at one with the universe. This reaction is less common than the feeling of the other presence, but it is also far more powerful. So powerful that it can make you feel like you are going a little crazy.

You are not.

At One With The Universe from Starling FitnessThat feeling of being one with the universe is a natural reaction in your brain that can be caused by psychotropic drug use, rhythmic drumming, heavily percussive music, dancing, prayer or meditation. It is a reaction that has been harnessed by religions all over the world, from the spinning mystics of the Sufis, to the Native American dancing, and even the rhythmic African drumming. Why do they do it?

BECAUSE IT FEELS GOOD.

The physical reaction that comes with that rhythmic meditation that can create the feeling of being at one with the universe makes your brain feel good. It feels even better than bingeing on the most sweet, salty or fatty foods you could imagine. If you do it on a regular basis, it can replace your craving for food and you no longer feel the need to overeat.

I have only felt at one with the universe a few times. The most intense experience for me was at the end of a Blue Man concert. Mike and I were at the back of the theater, so we could see all the people in the audience below us. When it came time to pass the paper at the end of the show, the drums combined with the rhythmic movement of passing the paper above our heads snapped me into that spiritual state where I felt as if the music was part of me. I felt as if everyone in the audience was connected to me. I felt as if the entire theater was part of my body and I was part of the building. It was so powerful that it immediately brought tears to my eyes.

I’ve felt a similar feeling a few times before when I’ve gone dancing at clubs, at other concerts and even while running. It seems to me that doing something rhythmic like dancing or even the pounding of my feet on the pavement can pop me into that mind state.

OA depends heavily upon a spiritual awakening within its members for the program to work and the reason why is because that spiritual practice retrains the brain to deliver “feel-good” messages without eating too much food. It is the reason the program can even work for an atheist like me. If you have been avoiding going to OA because of the spiritual aspects of the program, read The God Gene and learn how spirituality is a physiological reaction that you can harness for your own benefit.


Overeaters Anonymous does not approve nor endorse this website or any of the views posted here.

At One With The Universe image via: Friday Inspiration – Being at One with the Universe

8/4/2014

The Spiritual Awakening: The Other Presence

By Laura Moncur @ 11:02 am — Filed under:

The God Gene: How Faith Is Hardwired into Our Genes at Amazon.comAs an atheist, it was difficult for me to come to Overeaters Anonymous. I knew I was a binge-eater, but I also knew that the program was heavy into spirituality and that kept me suffering with my disease for ten long years. After reading The God Gene by Dean H. Hamer, it’s easier to see why OA (and other 12 Step Programs) work, even if you are an atheist.

There is a reward in my brain when I overeat that is triggered by dopamine, but even stronger than that reward is the one triggered by spiritual experiences. One of them is the feeling that there is another presence. Most people feel that other presence and assume it is God, which is fine for them if their faith is so inclined, but for us atheists, we are uncomfortable with that feeling. We want to analyze it and worry that it might be a sign of mental illness.

It is not.

Ghosts in the Walls by pathogens d53ogduThat feeling of another presence with you is a natural reaction in your brain that can be caused by psychotropic drug use, electromagnetic fields, prayer or meditation. It is a reaction that happens so commonly in MRI machines that they literally warn patients that they will probably feel as if there is another presence in the room and to keep still despite that feeling. With meditation practice, one can conjure the feeling of another presence almost immediately with a deep breath, but why?

BECAUSE IT FEELS GOOD.

The physical reaction that comes with a deep meditation that can create the feeling of another presence makes your brain feel good. It feels even better than bingeing on the most sweet, salty or fatty foods you could imagine. If you do it every day, it can replace your craving for food and you no longer feel the need to overeat.

My favorite meditation for conjuring the feeling of the other presence is merely talking to it. I breathe deeply and imagine a part of myself that is all-powerful and in control of my actions. I thank it for the good things that have happened in my life. I tell it that I am completely incapable of controlling my eating and hand over all my food decisions over to it. I ask it for guidance on the things in my life that seem out of control. I send it all my love, kindness and affection. It doesn’t take long “talking” to that alternate part of my brain before it starts to feel as if there actually IS another presence there. THAT is the effect you are looking for. THAT is the reaction that you want to trigger within your brain to achieve a “high” that will be better than food could ever deliver.

OA depends heavily upon a spiritual awakening within its members for the program to work and the reason why is because that spiritual practice retrains the brain to deliver “feel-good” messages without eating too much food. It is the reason the program can even work for an atheist like me. If you have been avoiding going to OA because of the spiritual aspects of the program, read The God Gene and learn how spirituality is a physiological reaction that you can harness for your own benefit.


Overeaters Anonymous does not approve nor endorse this website or any of the views posted here.

Ghosts in the Wall image via: Ghost | A Faded Romantics Notebook

8/3/2014

The Dual Benefits of my Silent Refeeding Alarms

By Laura Moncur @ 8:35 am — Filed under:

I have been on a refeeding schedule for several months now. I talked about the idea here:

Back then, I wrote:

After months of not being able to follow my plan for more than an hour each morning, I finally have a tiny modicum of success. It appears that refeeding works for anorexics and binge eaters alike.

Fitbit Flex from Starling FitnessI now have months of success following my plan of eating and I can honestly say that it has helped me. I’ve released 45 pounds over the last six months, taking life one healthy meal at a time.

My FitBit goes off at 7:30 am for breakfast, 10 am for snack, 12:30 pm for lunch, 3 pm for a snack, 5:30 pm for dinner and finally 8 pm for a snack. It’s a good schedule for me and I can always tell myself if I’m hungry that I can eat again when my alarm goes off. It’s never more than two and a half hours away.

My riskiest behavior is when I skip meals. My FitBit will go off and I’ll think, “I’m not hungry right now. I’ll just skip this one.” I’m usually okay if I just skip one alarm, but if I skip two, I’m too hungry and find that I’m tempted to eat way too much.

And then the intrusive food thought came…

Mike and I were going to Las Vegas last week for our anniversary. I wanted to eat in Vegas those foods that are just not available at home. That’s just fine and can be fit into my eating plan, but the bad thought came to me, “I’ll just skip breakfast and morning snack and then I’ll have more calories for lunch and dinner in Vegas.”

This, my friends, is THE definition of my binge-eating disorder. That single thought is what has undermined me time and time again. It’s the thought that triggers months of bingeing. It’s the thought that brought me to the weight of 231.8 pounds at my highest. I have gotten down to 185 pounds eating when the alarms go off, so I’m not about to sacrifice that success.

There is a dual benefit to my silent refeeding alarms on my FitBit. Not only do they keep me from eating between meals, preventing me from bingeing all day long. They also keep me from starving myself. They tell me to eat, even when I think that I can go without food. As long as I treat those alarms like a command instead of a recommendation, I am able to keep my food intake within my caloric restrictions. Paradoxically, by forcing myself to eat every two and a half hours, I eat LESS.

The Vegas trip, by the way, was a complete success. I realized that I was having an unhealthy food thought and ate when the alarm told me to. It went off at 7:30 am and I ate a small and healthy breakfast. It went off again at 10 am and I had a snack. It went off a third time at 12:30 pm and we still weren’t in Vegas, so I had another snack. Even though I wanted to “save” those calories for Vegas, I ate something. When we rolled into town, my 3 pm alarm was going off, so we had lunch then at the place we wanted. Because I wasn’t starving, I was able to share a dish with Mike, even though there was some weird ordering mistake and they gave us TWO entrees instead of one.

If I hadn’t had my breakfast and those two snacks, I would have eaten that second entree all by myself instead of sharing one with Mike. When you look at the calories, I would have eaten MORE if I skipped breakfast and snacks. Instead, we got a to-go box and put that extra entree in the hotel fridge and I ate it for breakfast over the next two days.

If you are having a hard time keeping to your plan of eating or if you feel like you are hungry ALL the time, try setting alarms for yourself every two and a half hours. EAT when they go off, without question. It doesn’t have to be a lot of food. It can be a snack as small as five almonds or a few carrot sticks, but EAT. And then, DON’T eat between the alarms. If you still feel hungry, tell yourself, “I can eat when the next alarm goes off.” It’s only two and a half hours away. You can do anything for two hours. You will be SHOCKED at how easily you are able to stay within your caloric restrictions.

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