Posted by: innerpilgrimage | September 3, 2010

The H.A.L.T. (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired) Diet

      Okay. It looks like my trouble is stemming from one of the core issues that we face as OAers–the HALT factor.

      In OA (and AA), there is a recipe for relapse that is consistent and considered dangerous to one’s abstinence. “Never get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired” has been said to me more than once in meetings, a reminder of how the addiction gets back in easily. My Higher Power is abandoned for ego-driven control, and I am left with only habit to defend against it. And the will to fight is sapped as the internal messages that what I am doing is okay because I “need the comfort” of my addictive substance, or “I deserve” the addictive substance because I am suffering (from the discomfort of my addiction’s push against the boundaries of my abstinence). The irony lies in that the solution, in my addict-mind, is the thing which makes me suffer the most.
      I am not respecting my hunger like I should. I have been eating when I am not hungry, despite those things falling into my food plan. A food I can clearly identify as a trigger food (I eat too many servings of it, I want more and resent the limits of my food plan, and it causes binge cravings for other things) is indulged in–within the limits of my food plan. But it needs to be removed entirely, because I eat it compulsively. I think about it when I’m not eating it. I am thinking about getting more. I am playing games with my abstinence, and I am doing it willingly. My recovery mind sends up the warnings, but I ignore them. That is the first place I feel I am failing. I am not learning or acting on the clear warnings. I am not taking the opportunity and choosing to do without because that food item is bad for my recovery. I am officially sliding, yet have not slipped from my food plan. That. Stops. Today. And the only way it stops is if I give it to my Higher Power. To give it to my Higher Power, I need only to ask myself, “Am I hungry?” I slow down enough to listen to my body. If the answer is yes, I eat. If the answer is no, I do not eat. If the answer is “I’m not sure”, then I do not eat and wait for the yes. It’s simple. Hard to do, but simple.
      Anger is I think what drives that sense of deserving the comfort eating. Anger comes from feeling blocked, from a sense of being out of control. When I feel it, that means I didn’t give it to my Higher Power to process for me then return if it’s a real problem (as opposed to a perceived one). Anger equals discomfort, and when I indulge in addictive behavior because of anger, I am trying to numb it. Again, I need to release it to my Higher Power instead of try to wrest control over something I need to accept I cannot change at this time. It’s possible I can never change it; it’s possible it will change on its own. What I cannot do is make the change happen. It is a brick wall against which I push. When I feel like I’m trying to push over this wall, I need to stop and let my Higher Power either knock down the wall or let it stand and show me a way around or past it. Anger can be a good motivator, but not when it only brings despair and the desire to eat.
      I’ve been lonely by choice recently, isolating. When I isolate, I generally have a sedentary situation set up. When I am sedentary, I eat. There’s nothing more to it than that. Eating is more often “something to do” when I’m lonely. My Higher Power has a solution to loneliness–go out and be around people. Get out of the house. And, most important, hit a freaking meeting already. If I want lasting recovery, I need to be with people who change my sense of isolation. When I learned that most people don’t think like I do about food, I felt alone. When I walked into a meeting and realized that there is a worldwide network of people who think like I do about food, I do not feel alone. Therefore, meetings are vital to removing the element of loneliness.
      I have spent the last couple of weeks being tired. Yesterday morning, I knew I needed to return to bed to get a couple more hours of sleep. I did not do it. I stayed up. When I am tired, my skin aches, I feel irritable because I want to sleep, and I am too tired to interact with people. That feeds the loneliness and anger and can make me misinterpret hunger signals. Being tired is probably the source of the worst of my self-will run riot regarding addiction. When I am tired and know I need to rest so I can function at high capacity, I have a choice to give it over to my Higher Power and rest or take ego-willful control and act like a small child–unwilling to take a nap. I know I am impaired in thought and response and emotions. Thoughts pop into my head unopposed. Warnings are ignored. I am too tired to think straight and too obstinate to give it over to my Higher Power. Being tired, for me, is the most dangerous of the four because it is when the other three are given the power over me to walk me right into relapse.
      Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. It’s a recipe for relapse in my life. f I want to keep abstinence, it’s important I respect my body and mind’s needs.

      Recently, I have been looking at myself in mirrors and other reflective surfaces. Far too much, actually. When I do this, I remove the spiritual element from my recovery and return it to the physical. I judge myself harshly–I do not see the physical recovery I have been granted by my Higher Power. Instead, I see failure. I did not lose weight and end up in a Photoshopped/airbrushed body like my addicted mind thought I would. The numbers game left me bereft of a sense of reality. I “should” look one way, but I don’t. I get upset because I don’t consider a size 10 or size 12 to be a “real” victory. That drives the desire to push toward the 6, then 4, then 2. It doesn’t help that I still have trouble finding lingerie because I am barely outside the range of a “normal” store. The largest many stores has is a 38 back size. I’m a 40. What ticks me off even worse is that I have access to the look and size I want at the store I used to frequent for my clothing–Lane Bryant. I can get what I need there. They have my brassiere size in quantity. If I want one, I need to go back there and appreciate that I can get what I want. Not only can I get what I want, I can get it in the cuts and styles I want. But I want what I want where I want to get it, and that means I am limited by my own ego-driven will, my desire to control something which is outside of my control. My vanity is chipping away at my sanity, when I can enjoy sanity and knock it the Hell off. It’s not a defeat! I’ve gone from a size 46-plus back to a size 40 back. I need to appreciate that my Higher Power has freely given me the will to make it here. I don’t need to be a willowy 36-24-36 (which my body cannot do–my bones are too big). I am healthy, despite still having a lower muscle mass than I should have. And if it means so much to get to a 38 back and a size 10 dress, then I need to get into the gym and get on an elliptical trainer and into the free weights and build that muscle mass to between 35% and 40%. If I surrender my ego-driven will to a real Plan of Action, then my Higher Power will provide–just as it has over the last year when I surrendered my ego-driven will to a food plan. I guess the next stage of recovery is to surrender the benefits of regular exercise to my life. Again, my addict-mind wants what I want when I want it. And I want a perfect body with no skin sag and with muscles yesterday.
      In other words, I want my eighteen-year-old body back. And, with it, I want my life at eighteen, so I can have a do-over. There is the addiction, right there, asking for reality to completely be thrown aside so I can have what I want. Well, reality doesn’t bend to my will. Instead, my will should be bending to reality.
      I can willfully be humbly grateful that I am at a healthy weight. I can willfully be humbly grateful that I could have much more sagging skin but do not–what I have will probably tighten up over the next year if I care for my skin and exercise so the blood can carry the fuel needed to do the repairs. I can willfully be humbly thankful that I not only found a real solution which helps more than just my body–that brings me into reality on a daily basis. And I especially can willfully be humbly thankful that I found it just before I turned 40. So, if I want more physical recovery, I have the tools. I can be physically fit by 42, just as I achieved a healthy weight by 41. Hell, if I surrender to that Plan of Action, I can be fitter by 41. The promise of a real body so I can move through this real world is here and waiting for me only to reach for it. All I have to do is reach for it. That is all I have to do.
      I just have to set aside the self-will of laziness, the desire to have the weight loss alone. And to do that, I need to surrender to my Higher Power. And it is a need, as much as air, food, water, shelter, sleep, and love are. Surrender to my Higher Power, and I will have what I want–though with the reality of being here and now in my life.
      My name is Jess and I am a food addict. I owe it to myself to stop trying to recapture yesterday because I regret giving in to my addiction–whether or not I understood what I was doing to myself. I was given an out through the 12 Steps and I took it. I received the benefits of releasing my self-will to a Higher Power. I have experienced sanity and serenity, I have the ability to see with recovered eyes. I have experienced the coincidences and miracles of an HP-driven life. Despite the fear that it might sound insane, letting “God” control my life, I cannot forget that when I let “God” control my life, I am in the kind of sane control that allows me to live a life that contributes. I have willpower–that ability to act in the best interest of myself and others. Giving it up so I can be imprisoned by addiction, just because I don’t personally have the inner strength to do it alone is not a weakness.
      A war cannot be won by a single, lone soldier. It takes an army behind that soldier, and my Higher Power is that army. I have resources at my disposal. Now I have to use them.



  1. thanks

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