Posted by: innerpilgrimage | January 15, 2014

Celebrate The Days

      Yesterday, I reached four years and three months of food abstinence. It was less of a binge-free challenge and more of an eat-up-to-minimums day, but I ate abstinently . . . for my food plan. After I wrote my blog, I realized that I had reached abstinence.

      I was reminded of love2eatinpa’s binge-free bracelet. Though I am having trouble connecting to the individual entries for Confessions of a Compulsive Overeater, the online journal she worked on until 2011, I hope others can see the entries which I can’t.  Her idea for a binge-free bracelet was to mark time with beads of her own choosing. I think that’s a wonderful idea.
      In Overeaters Anonymous, we have chips available to mark abstinence. In my home group, they added the monthly AA chips to fill in the gaps between coins. The OA bookstore has official chips which celebrate being a Newcomer, thirty days of food abstinence, sixty days, ninety days, six months, nine months, and OA Birthdays from 1 to 20, 25, 30, 35, and 40. I find it sad that the coins which really helped the most aren’t there–the 24-hour chip and chips getting a food-abstinent person up to that first OA birthday (the first anniversary of food abstinence). My first home group’s use of the AA coins to fill in the missing months really helped as I carried the chips with me in my wallet, to have something tangible I could hold even as I was losing weight in program. Having body dysmorphia–to the point that I considered normal only an anorexic body shape–I couldn’t tell how I was proceeding. Now, I did have tangible changes over that time. I could fit through narrow spaces in a World War 2 airplane. I could run down a flight of stairs without getting winded or losing my balance. My stomach didn’t touch tables in booths at diners any more, nor did it almost touch the steering wheel of my car (it would have, if I didn’t have a 34″ inseam). When I lost the weight so that I couldn’t shop at Lane Bryant any longer, I still went to Lane Bryant. That came from decades of repetition, of choosing Lane Bryant as my sole source for clothing because I couldn’t shop anywhere else. That’s the power of a habit which turns into an addiction which one believes with the full force of faith that one cannot change.

      A habit supposedly changes after 30 days of repetition of a new habit.

      After a year of eating within the boundaries of a food plan, some things changed for me. I definitely changed how I saw a binge; it became much smaller, and at certain points, dangerously unhealthy. For example, I thought eating two pieces of bread instead of just one was a binge. How am I supposed to eat one sandwich if I think that’s a binge? Anorexia mentality, limiting myself mentally to one serving of anything in a sitting, put me at eating perhaps 600 calories per day on the outside. What I was vigilant about, however, were vegetables. I always ate vegetables because I didn’t eat them when I was compulsively bingeing.
      Anyway, this isn’t about my journey from binge-eating a pound of candy or chips or cookies in a sitting, or even how I could knock out a container of nutella or a pint of ice cream without batting an eye. This isn’t about realizing I was consistently eating 400 to 600 calories per day–and liking it because I felt powerful. This is about celebrating the decision to turn one’s will over to whatever-HP-one-believes-in and choosing to thrive. This is about being part of OA because it’s NOT a diet and calories club, not a we-provide-a-one-size-fits-all-diet-scheme-with-food. This is about the day being healthy, being able to choose to do more than walk to the fridge, being able to not get winded grocery shopping. This is about that one day at a time life.

      Celebrate the days of abstinence, one day at a time. Some day, you might take them for granted (like I do) instead of accept them with gratitude (like I once did). Clocking that first week one day at a time with beads, then that first month one day at a time is a tangible one can hold on to during the more challenging days of recovery.

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