Posted by: innerpilgrimage | February 2, 2017

A Day at A Time in the Relapse-to-Recovery Life


This morning I wanted to get up and weigh myself, in hopes that I magically lost a lot of weight since I started eating 24 hours at a time. Having lived this before, I know it’s a process. The first time around, I recall having the diet mentality as well. I wanted to reach a goal weight in days, not appreciating that it took time and commitment to program and to this new way of eating.

I raised my protein a bit, from the inconvenient 412.5 calories per day allowance to 450 calories per day. Adding this 37.5 calorie cap is convenient, since I break proteins down into three units of 25 per circle. This isn’t problematic. The last time I did it, I used a 2,000-calorie nutrition plan and was able to drive hard past my healthy zone into malnutrition. However, I am seven years (and a few months) older, so my caloric needs are lower than they previously were. I’m not bothering with minimums, I think, until I break the 200-lb. barrier and have months of program thinking practiced one day at a time.

By the numbers?

Grains      O O O O O O

One circle is 100 calories. I put a W into or above the circle to indicate a whole-grain choice, which I am supposed to try to make half or more of my servings (dietary fiber). Choosing whole grains over processed white-flour options has already kept stomach burn down. Corn and potatoes are, to me, nutritionally a starch. I put them here and spend too much time arguing with people about what a vegetable is versus a “grain”.  It’s based on an elevated starch content to me. That’s all.

Dairy        O O O

One circle is 100 calories. Soy milk and nut milks are treated as proteins. This particular section is important to me, since I want to keep my calcium intake up through daily nutrition. I prefer 1% milk because it’s one 8-oz. cup per one hundred calories. Despite its 90 calories, skim milk has no body or flavor to it. That 10 calories of fat makes a difference (and some fat is necessary to sustain the brain).

Fruit         O O

One circle is 60 calories. Yes, that’s weird, but fruit servings tend to be between 50 and 80 calories per serving. Using online nutrition calculators, I can make a fresh fruit serving size that fits neatly in there using a food scale.

Veggies   O O ⫏

One circle is 50 calories, making this total 125 calories of vegetables. To put it into perspective, though, five ounces of bagged, mixed salad is around 25 calories. That five ounces is around four cups of food–which helps as my stomach shrinks to fit my food plan after so many months and years of stretching it to fit my compulsive eating.

The vegetable category is generally a caloric and nutrition breakdown thing. Starchy vegetables are treated like grains. Legumes are protein-dense (and starchy) vegetables, which gets them put into the protein section.

Protein O O O O O O

One circle is 75 calories. This actually makes a bit of sense, since an ounce of beef or pork or lamb tends to be around 75 calories. Chicken and fish are the reason I divide a circle  into thirds. An ounce of them is around 25 calories. Vegetable proteins are wonderful, and they tend to be low calorie. As a one-time ovo-lacto vegetarian, soy-based proteins have a very important place. It does vary from 20 to 40 calories per ounce depending on firmness. Silken tofu can enrich dips and drinks, though it’s not the easy replacement for dairy some would have one believe. While I’m a big soy-as-alternative fan, it’s not for some. No big deal. I refuse to eat tempeh. It’s gross to me despite being a superfood protein to others.


Outside of that, I have to drink a lot of water to both stay hydrated in the dry location I live and to sometimes stave off hunger pangs while I consider what to eat. And I’m a huge fan of herbal teas, hot and iced, as a means to boost liquid intake. Peppermint is great, since it’s naturally sweet to me, and I love teas with cinnamon for the same reason. Then again, I grew up using sugar alternatives. Sugary drinks taste overwhelmingly syrupy in the same way I expect diet drinks taste watery and chemically to people who grew up on sugared drinks.

As for the scale? I’ve committed to weighing monthly at the end of each month. Next weigh-in is February 28th, 2017, which is making me nuts. I want to micromanage myself out of my abstinence by watching the scale and obsessing over the force gravity has on my body as measured by this spring-and-plate device. I want to see an unrealistic and shallow miracle.

I won’t have a 20-year-old willowy model’s body. I will have extra skin again. I will have large bones, still. And I will have to lean on the fellowship, as my Higher Power, to remind me that this isn’t a diet program, it’s a spiritual one meant to help heal the breaks and cracks throughout my psyche and my heart by reminding me that I’m not supposed to be an empty shell to be appreciated by others then cast aside. None of us is.

We each live in a rich inner world that touches the outer world and can affect others’ rich inner worlds. We’re saints and sinners and something in-between trying to become both well and better every day in every way. Seeing as I have no afterlife to look toward, I want to make this life count. Every day I act compulsively is a missed opportunity to have practiced living true to the person inside. If I’m feeling regrets, then I wasn’t honest.


So, I ran errands after I was agitated by the longing to find something sweet and sit and eat. Or worse, make something sweet and binge it then try to hide all evidence that it existed.

So, I ran errands.

I know I’m in it already, since the snack foods that I felt meh over when I was still relapsed suddenly were brighter and shinier and the siren songs were louder. My favorite was the mental reminder for me to pick up a particular candy that was carried at this one particular shop. What’s worse is that I have the sense that I forgot it instead of chose abstinence today.

Splitting those seconds. Whew. The weirdest things show up between reacting in compulsion and acting in recovery.


Pretty good day, though I did have three half-servings of a particularly tasty cracker for snack then as a crunch addition to my salad. Calorically? It’s one-and-a-half ounces of everyday sliced bread. However, the desire for more could have translated to a binge.

This is when program and the other tools really make the difference. The spiritual journey and the fellowship are what turns this from a diet I’m suffering to a healthy life in which I endeavor daily to live as fully as possible.

I have a confession: Most of my program literature is boxed in storage currently. I expect I’ll have to look online again for program inspiration across all of the different 12-Step addiction groups. But it is there. It doesn’t matter how many days and nights are chained up behind today’s 24 hours. Having relapsed, this is a powerful reminder that even five years of abstinence doesn’t mean a damn once one slides into relapse thinking. One can stumble along, as I did, hoping for a miracle yet not using the program tools.

I already recognize the cracks which are filled by fellowship and program. They’re unmistakable, and they are where relapse wedges itself in and creates wider and deeper gaps. While it’s a relief that the program thinking is still there (knowing what to do and what a particular mental manifestation of compulsion means), it’s not going to work without those tools I don’t have handy at this time.

I suppose I could enter the rooms again. I definitely need to get back into the literature. And I need to realize that piling on more 12-Step groups in order to address every little spiritual and mental and emotional complaint only complicates problems. It can all be addressed in OA, seeing as it does all come down to food being used to bury problems which I want to ignore.

And this leads to another confession: I wanted to have lasting friends out of program. I expected to have deep connections, to have a sponsor, to have it all. Hell, I even wrote a novel where the heroine got the guy and the recovery and the close fellowship. I suppose that’s something I need to address in my first meeting, then. I admit right here and now that I am intensely awkward and ate to comfort myself that I couldn’t connect to people well. Hypersensitive or introverted-to-egotistic egoism, the results are the same. I didn’t have friends when most people have the most in their lives. I drifted through social circles. Today, I have one friend who lives in another state and my spouse (and best friend) who has dealt with my crap as his wife for 20 years. They’re both wonderful. My husband even added ‘You’re worth it to us!’ on my little white-knuckle reminder card in my wallet which I had printed: IT WORKS IF YOU WORK IT, SO WORK IT BECAUSE YOU’RE WORTH IT.

So, I really would like to have friends in program, so I can chat beyond meeting about life in recovery and the challenges we face. I’d like to non-food socialize with people who empathize. I especially would like to have a sponsor or even a program buddy, so I can get up to Step 12 this time. That was utterly demoralizing to have stalled on the way. Most of the people I need to apologize to are either well out of contact or dead or have already received confessions and apologies. Though I do need to apologize to my mother for stealing cash from her purses and jewelry box to buy candy and snacks when I was a teen. It matters not that I learned it from my sister (she stole it to buy make-up and music).

Food can be as serious an addiction as any other. I’ve done the same things that other addicts have done to get my fix.

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