how to quit overeating

Finding My Own Beliefs

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Accepting that there is a higher power than just ourselves is a big hurdle for a lot of people in recovery and I was no exception.

My Belief System

I grew up in a strict Christian home. We went to church every Sunday and participated in all the extra stuff like Wednesday night church, youth group and youth choir. I remember never wanting to go to church but I didn’t have much of a choice.

I also didn’t have much of choice when it came to what I believed. I was instructed to believe the same things my parents did. There was no room for doubt. I was meant to just accept it all.

The problem was with being in such a strict home, I wanted to rebel. And that meant partying, drugs and sneaking out a lot - typical teenage stuff. But then it also meant rebelling against my parents’ beliefs.

It was hard for me to just accept their version of God because it was theirs and not mine.

And although it made sense to me, it took me a long time to get over it and find my way back to God. I had to spend some time on the other side of the fence to truly realize how good it is on this side.

How To Change Your Beliefs

I had to go out on my own and question everything. I couldn’t just believe what I was told to believe. I had to experience God, or the lack thereof, myself. So that is what I did.

My God became drinking and eating. There was nothing else for me to hold onto. And all that did was lead me down a path of self-destruction. I ended up weighing 505 pounds and feeling like I was about to die at any moment from a heart attack. It also led to severe depression and anxiety. My existence seemed pretty pointless and I felt suicidal for a lot of years.

What changed it all was getting to a place with my drinking and eating where I HAD to change. I was physically in so much misery that I couldn’t take it anymore. Rock bottom. I was going to change or I was going to die. And the truth was, I didn’t really want to die. I just wanted to be free.

That is when I joined Overeaters Anonymous and started learning about the 12 steps of recovery. The genius of the 12 steps is that it brings you back to a relationship with God, one step at a time. If I could accept I was powerless over my addictions (Step One), then I could start to see that there is another power at work (Step Two). And here is the best part - I could define my “higher power” however I wanted to! That meant I got to choose what I believed. No one could tell me what to believe.

Choosing what to believe was the key that changed my whole life.

Now I was willing to look for God. I made a decision to look for him working in my life. And the minute I did that, I started seeing Him everywhere. He was working in my life in crazy ways. He always had been, I just never chose to see it before.

I was able to find my way back to God and this time it was MY God. I was able to choose to believe and to define who God was to me. I could take ownership of my beliefs which allowed me truly internalize them as truth.

It has been quite a journey and it took a while to redefine what I believe. The funny part is I still believe all the same things I was told to believe when I was a kid, but this time it was MY CHOICE and not my parents’. And THAT has made all the difference.

One Is Never Enough

One Is Never Enough

I am not like other people. I can’t do some of the things that other people can do. This is just a fact that I need to accept.

I can’t have one drink because one is never enough for me. I could never understand how people did that. If someone asked me to go “have a drink,” to me that meant we are going to get hammered! I would be 5 in and notice others just sipping on their first.

What is wrong with these people? Let’s do this!

Next thing you know I’m ordering shots for everyone to get them “caught up.” I thought I was the normal one. But it turns out I was wrong. Normal people like to have a drink, chat a little and then go home to their normal life. I have never been able to do that. I have never wanted to.

I can’t have an occasional treat, like ice cream or cake, because one treat leads to twenty. As soon as I get a taste, the sugar takes over and my cravings kick in. I may just have the one in front of present company, but then when I’m alone later, I am at the grocery story buying a quart of ice cream with hot fudge. I then proceed to spend the rest of my evening eating as much as I can until I get sick. You would think, then, that I had learned my lesson?

But no.

By the next day, I would be at it again. More ice cream. More hot fudge. More shame and guilt. I don’t understand how people can just have a piece of cake at a party and then be good for a while. That was never me. One was never enough. One was just a tease.

It may seem unfair at first that I am not normal. I have had my days of feeling sorry for myself. But the truth is it is a blessing to understand this about myself and to accept it because now I can stop trying to be like other people. Now I can stop getting mad at myself for not being able to “control myself” like other people seem to be able to do. I can stop beating myself up and focus on what I CAN do.

I get to eat delicious food every day that makes me feel great. I get to be free from the cycle of addiction and the mental obsession that takes over. I get to be free from cravings and I get to enjoy being clear headed and sober.

This life is awesome and although I may not be like other people, I am not alone. There is an army of us marching together. A “distinct entity” walking shoulder to shoulder and we are exactly the people we are supposed to be.

The Isolation Of Addiction

For me, drinking always starts as a social thing but then ends as an isolation tool. Drinking in high school was always about being at the party, trying to hook up with some girl. It was about friends and rebelling against our parents. It was fun and exciting.

But at the end of my drinking career, it became about getting away from people and being alone. That way I could drink as much as I wanted and as long as I wanted without judgement. I also didn’t have to pretend that I cared about the people around me because when I was getting drunk, it was all about me. It was purely for my pleasure and had nothing to do with the people around me. They just got in the way.

Even when I was around others, I couldn’t wait to be alone. I could care less about the party that use to be the best part. That’s when I knew something had changed. All I wanted to do was be alone with my drink and my food. Pretty soon the excitement was gone and it wasn’t fun anymore.

That is the progressiveness of my illness of addiction. It always starts out fun and ends up in misery. I can’t just have a few drinks to be social. I have to take it to the extreme. And the extreme is me, alone in a room, drinking more and more just trying to keep the party going a little longer. I could never drink enough. I could never eat enough. In the end, I was still sad and alone. All the drink and food did was add a hangover to the mess.

A life of drinking and overeating just isn’t a real answer. It isn’t sustainable. It may start out as fun, but it’s a lie. It may feel like a social lubricant at first, but for people like me, it always turns into a way to isolate. It promises comfort and joy, but it really brings sadness and pain.

I know now that I like to be alone. I get recharged by spending time on my own. And that’s ok. But I need to remember that I need people too. I am not meant to be isolated from the world. And I don’t want to be anymore because all that led to was extreme loneliness and sadness.

So I’m going to choose people over addiction today. I’ll see how that goes. And I have a feeling I will want to choose people again tomorrow.

Addiction Panic

I am an alcoholic and a food addict. I also have an anxiety disorder. My days of addiction were filled with panic attacks. I use to get them almost daily. Fear would grip my entire body. I felt like I was dying or I was going to have a seizure.

I would be so scared for my life in these moments and knew I had to quit drinking and overeating. I knew my bad habits were playing a big role in triggering these panic attacks. But then, when I would consider walking away from my addictions, the panic of not having my only comforts would kick in. It was a catch 22. Damned if I did. Damned if I didn’t.

Can I survive a life of continuing to get my fixes every day? But then, how would I survive without them?

Talk about insanity. I was stuck in the middle of these two choices for years and years. Both with food and alcohol. I remember being in a constant panic. If I didn’t get my fix, how would I survive? What would I have to look forward to every day? And this want became a real need. I needed the food and alcohol to survive and have any joy at all.

I felt trapped and unable to make a move. And this would cause endless bouts of depression and anxiety. It was a scary way to live my life.

Thank God He pulled me out when He did. He showed me it was possible to have joy without my indulgences. Matter of fact, the joy I experience now is real and lasting. And best of all, it has no side effects. I don’t have to suffer through days of hangovers just to get a few hours of fun in my life. I don’t have to spend my days feeling bloated and winded just so I could have a few hours of fun with food.

But the best part is the panic attacks are pretty much gone. I still may have a moment of panic here and there, but I now know how to deal with it. I can call on God to give me strength. I can reach out to my fellows for encouragement. I am not alone. And I am not relying on a deadly substance to get me through the day. The constant panic has been replaced by serenity and freedom.

I am finally free from this insanity and panic. And this freedom came from working the 12 steps of OA. I never want to go back to that life. And I can say honestly today that I will do whatever it takes to stay on this path of recovery and freedom from the panic that used to rule my life.

How To Make The Right Choice

We have a choice to make and we must make it every day.

Are we going to fight or give up?

Both are very real options and when we get up every day, we have to choose which one it’s going to be. And to not choose is in itself a decision to give up. It’s crucial that we make this decision first thing every morning. It will be the difference between success and failure in our lives.

Abstinence and sobriety take work. It takes an intentional attitude and an actual plan that we follow. So if we choose to fight, then we need to follow through by making a plan for our day and then following it.

The power of planning cannot be overstated. It doesn’t need to be an overly detailed plan, either. We just need to plan the following five things:

  1. What are we going to eat?

  2. When are we going to eat?

  3. How are we going to serve?

  4. What are we going to do to live out our true purpose in life?

  5. What are we going to do if temptation strikes?

If we have a plan that includes these five things, then we are going to win the fight that day. And at the end of the day, we can lay our heads down in victory, ready to get up the next day and make the choice to do it again.

And if one day, the fight seems like to much to bare, it’s ok. We don’t have to win every battle, we just need to keep showing up and choosing to fight. That’s how we will win the war. Success is nothing but a series of battles won, one day at a time. If we choose to fight every day, then we are guaranteed to have the successful life we have always dreamed of.

A Recovery Discussion: My Interview On The Way Out Podcast

Recently, I had the chance to be on The Way Out Podcast to talk about recovery and my new album, Welcome To The Fellowship. This podcast is a great resource for those of us going through recovery. When you need some encouragement or maybe you need some questions answered, The Way Out is a great place to go.

I hope you get some encouragement from this interview. Just click play below to take a listen.

What are the benefits of honesty?

“Honesty is truth and that truth shall set us free.”
-Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book Pg. 218

What a great quote from the Big Book. Honesty has been a big part of my recovery. Honesty towards others, sure, but mainly honesty with myself. It’s been one of the biggest challenges and also one of the biggest gifts.

To start getting better, I had to admit I was powerless. I had to accept that I had a problem and I needed help. I had to stop lying to myself saying “It’s not that bad” or “I’ll change someday.” The truth was I was dying. And once I could admit that honestly, I was finally willing and able to do what I needed to do to live.

And now every day I have to practice honesty to stay sober from alcohol and abstinent from compulsive overeating. I have to face the consequences of my actions, truthfully.

If I choose to drink again, I have to be honest with myself about what that would feel like. It would be fun for a few minutes or hours, but then it would be hell for days. I have to stop romanticizing my days of drinking and look at them for what they were - an insane cycle of misery and depression. That’s the truth, not this fuzzy memory I keep coming back to where those were the “best days of my life.” I was not living the dream. I was living the nightmare when I was drinking and by being honest with myself about that, I can push the alcohol away for another day.

When it comes to the food, I have to weigh and measure my food honestly, not trying to sneak in a little extra here and there. I have to report to my sponsor any changes I need to make in my food plan throughout the day. And I need to share my story with others - openly and honestly. This is the only way I can stay on a healthy path and it’s important to encourage others in their journey.

When you live a life of lies, you have to work really hard to keep them all straight and to try to make yourself believe them. It’s so much work and, honestly, it’s really exhausting. I don’t ever want to go back to that “house of cards” life. When you choose honesty, all that work goes away and you are free.

I’ve tried it both ways and I can say honestly that honesty has been the better path by far.