Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Treating the Problem

I sincerely hope that you readers are more patient with me than I am with myself.

Because I have some bad news and some good news.

Bad news first--I went off the deep end (AGAIN!) this weekend. Can you catch a whiff of my frustration here? Or is that the lingering residue of chocolate, ice cream sandwiches, and toasted cinnamon raisin bagel thins that you smell? ;)

Yup, after writing my upbeat and empowered post on Thursday about how I've learned how to recover from mistakes, on Thursday night I set out and ate eight ice cream sandwiches in. one. sitting. And my binge didn't stop there =(

I woke up on Friday with a swollen tummy and a bruised ego. I couldn't even think about my goals or this blog or getting back on track. All I could think about was numbing my guilt and pain from my binge. So, I continued to eat poorly for the rest of the weekend. I stuffed myself with all sorts of goodies--chocolate, macaroni and cheese, etc...--to avoid thinking about my never-ending cycle of binge/ diet repeat. I prayed that no one noticed my swollen face or the chocolate crumbs on my sweatshirt. And in my attempt to anxiously hide the evidence of my compulsive eating, I acted bizarrely and had trouble connecting with people. Overall, a. complete. utter. failure.

And then I snapped out of it. I 'fessed up about my binging, threw out the junk food, and decided that once again, I'd have to try again. But this time, I have a different game plan. This time, I know that I can't do this alone.

I decided to brave the doors of an Overeaters Anonymous Meeting. I went to their website and found this checklist, which convinced me that OA was the place for me.

1. Do you eat when you're not hungry? Yes.

2. Do you ever go on eating binges for no apparent reason? Yes.

3. Do you ever have feelings of guilt or remorse after overeating? Yes.

4. Do you give too much time and thought to food? Yes.

5. Do you look forward with pleasure and anticipation to the time when you can eat alone? Yes.

6. Do you plan secret binges ahead of time? Not really...

7. Do you eat sensibly before others and make up for it alone? Yes.

8. Is your weight affecting the way you live your life? Yes.

9. Have you ever tried to diet for a week (or longer), only to fall short of your goal? Yes.

10. Do you resent others telling you to "use a little willpower" to stop overeating? Yes.

11. Despite evidence to the contrary, have you continued to assert that you can diet "on your own" whenever you wish? Yes.

12. Do you crave to eat at a definite time, day or night, other than mealtime? Yes.

13. Do you eat to escape from worries or trouble? Yes.

14. Have you ever been treated for obesity or a food-related condition? No.

15. Does your eating make you or others unhappy? Yes.

So, as you can see, I scored about 13.5 out of 15 on this questionnaire, so I'm pretty sure I have this problem (if I wasn't convinced before). But the good news is that I'm not alone. There are other people in my community who struggle with the same problem, other people who sabotage themselves and hurt their bodies because they cannot control the compulsive drive to eat.

And perhaps more importantly, notice how I said "control." I think that's a key factor. I believe, in my heart of hearts, that I can control my urges to binge. I believe that if I just had the willpower and discipline, I could completely cut binging out of my life. So I diet. I structure my meals. I try to outsmart the compulsive part of my brain. But the truth is--I have a disease. According to OA, I have an "illness, an unhealthy condition of body and mind that can be relieved on a daily basis." In other words, this is not my fault.

I'm not trying to say that some leprechaun is putting butter in my mouth as I sleep. But what I am saying is that, for whatever reason--be it genetics or experience--I have developed a compulsive eating disorder that is causing me pain, sabotaging my weight loss efforts, and killing my self esteem. Now, this doesn't mean that I have to sit back and take it and become 500 pounds and have to be wheeled out of my house by eight construction workers. This is not an excuse to let this problem spiral out of control.

In other words, while the disease may be out of my control, I can choose to cure it. Because now that I am aware of the disease, I can work on treating it. So, that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to continue going to OA meetings, because my first one was great. I'm going to continue going to Weight Watchers and weighing in. I'm going to take each day one meal at a time. I'm going to work on fighting this disease by getting all the help and support I can get from wherever I can get it.

I'd like to tell you that from now on, I'm never going to have another binge, but I can't do that. What I can tell you is that I'm not going to binge today. That's the best I can do right now.

If you made it all the way down to the end of this long post, thank you! And if you don't mind sharing, can you relate to any of the items of OA's checklist?


  1. Wow, can I ever relate to this!!! I have definately struggled with eating disorders. I went through the list, reall: anorexia, bulimia (exercise, not purge, but still), EDNOS, binge-eating. This is why my weight has been a yo-yo since I was 19.

    The last few months I've felt as if I'm finally "cured" if that's the right word... It took therapy and WW. I never made it to OA, never felt "worthy" enough to attend that, but I did get lots of individual therapy.

    Would I still answer yes to any of the OA questions? Let me look at it: 1, 3, 4, 9. About a year ago, I said yes to about as many as you, so definately it's possible to overcome this! Great job joining OA, I'm so proud of yoU!!!

  2. Good for you for taking the empowering step of working with a program to help you with what is making you unhappy. If you're able to do so, I think it would be helpful to many people if you could post about the process and your experience with OA.

  3. I'm proud of you, Katie! Good luck!!!

  4. I think it's awesome you took a huge step for yourself and attended an OA meeting!!! That can be a scary thing - I can't even imagine myself walking into the meeting for the first time!

    I agree that self awareness is one of the most important parts of overcoming any self destructive behavior. I'm excited to hear about your progress attending these OA meetings.

    And yes, I can relate to that list and in fact answered "Yes" to most of the questions myself.

  5. Thanks for sharing this Katie. Would you consider doing a post about the meeting? I visited the OA website about a month ago and decided I wanted to attend meetings, but I have yet to get myself to go... I am SO nervous!! I really need help though because every day is a struggle with emotional and over eating. Yuck!

  6. Wow, thanks for all the amazing feedback! I will write a post about my OA meeting today or tomorrow. Ashleigh, everyone at the meeting was really nice and welcoming!

  7. I was thinking "Man, it feels good knowing that I'm not the only one who goes down this self-sabotaging road". I definitely answered Yes to about as many questions as you did. What are the meetings like?

  8. I can absolutely relate to the OA questionnaire. In fact, I don't know why I never went to a meeting. It's amazing and admirable that you're really really digging deep to find the reasons why you enter the cycle. You will succeed. I just know it :)

  9. Okay, you convince me with every blog post that we are so similar. I wrote a post almost a year and a half ago that was almost identical to the one you wrote today:


    I never did end up going to an actual meeting because of social anxiety issues and the fact that I got pregnant not long after that post, but I always felt like it could really work for me, too. I do think getting to the root of why we do this to ourselves is the key to getting on the right path. I am definitely interested to hear what you think of the meetings. I know I use the AA/OA motto of "one day at a time" allllll the time!

  10. Amy, wow, our posts are very similar! I love your blog by the way! So inspiring =)