Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Stop The Insanity

About 4 holiday seasons ago, my brother and I went to shop for a gift for my mother. As we were shopping, my brother, who is 51/2 years older than me ran into a girl he went he was friends with in high school. I always liked this girl because she was, well, fat. But, when I saw her this time, she wasn't fat and I was floored. When we walked away I asked my brother what the hell was up and he told me that she had gone to Over-eaters Anonymous and that it had changed her life.

Now, I'm ready to jump on any sort of band wagon in order to lose weight. I'm still wondering why it can't be chopped off with scissors. So, of course I went online to find the closest OA meeting to my home and went.

I expected it to be a bunch of fat people lamenting about food, but what I found was quite different. There were some fat people there, but there were also skinny people, lots of them. I never really thought about skinny people having problems with over-eating because if I were thin, and eating didn't cause me to gain weight, then, well, I might never leave my room, but I guess that's why they were there.

I also never expected there to be classifications onto which you could be addicted. When the people got up there to speak, they'd introduce themselves and say what they were addicted to.

Mine would go something like this:

"Hi, I'm Emily and I'm addicted to food."

But theirs went something like this:

"Hi, I'm "so and so" and I'm a sugar, white flour, partially hydrogenated soy bean oil addict"


I never thought my eating could be broken down into things that I was truly addicted to. I'd choose something savoury over sweet any day of the week. So, I guess I'm not a sugar addict. Probably a carb addict, dairy addict, fried addict, but not sugar, maybe white flour.

At one point during the meeting they ask all the newcomers to come up and say hi. Usually, I'm not so keen on this, but I felt a sort of solidarity with these people, so I went up and said hello. As I was walking back to my seat a guy even gave me a high five. Did I stumble upon a new hunting ground for vulnerable fat men?

As the meeting progressed we were introduced to that weeks speaker. She was a sugar addict, white flour addict and told us stories about how she would hit up different bakeries and say that she was picking up a dozen or so pastries for parties. I have to say that this was my favorite part of the meeting. I love, love, love stories about binging, but, it got me thinking about how food is actually an addiction and I had to stop and ponder.

Could an addiction to food be worse than an addiction to a drug or alcohol? I think so. An alcoholic can quit and never have to be around alcohol again. Same with a drug addict. But, we HAVE to eat everyday. Not matter what, I have to put a certain amount of food in my mouth in order to sustain life. And, I think that sucks. It's basically telling an alcoholic to only drink a certain amount of alcohol in a day and not to go over his allotted portion. That's hard.

Anyway, I really liked OA and I wonder why, now I don't go back. Probably because I'm a tad bit lazy and the only meeting I know of conflicts with my Weight Watchers. How ironic is that!?


Anonymous said...

You might find that going to OA will do you a lot more good than Weight Watchers.

Not that there isn't a lot to respect about weight watchers, but OA can hit some spots that they don't address at WW. Sometimes getting into the psyche of things and finding what you are addicted to can do wonders for you and help you lose weight easier than if you didn't know.

Look, bottom line here is that weight is not so much a cosmetic issue as it is a health issue. Your heart and your lungs and your muscles, etc can only take so much stress and then they begin to deteriorate. If you want to live a long and healthy life and have children and live to see them grow up and have kids, then you need to make a stab at being healthy.

You can be overweight and be healthy....stop being lazy and walk some or dance or something...it helps and it is also great for depression. You are far too young and intelligent not to give it all you have to try and be healthy. Who cares if you aren't ever a size 5, that sucks anyway, but being healthy and a few pounds lighter is worth the work.

Anonymous said...

I don't think she ever asked for you opinion on whether she should lose weight or not. Her health isn't really your concern. You're very condescending.

Anonymous said...

nobody asked for yours either.

I wasn't being condescending I was being honest and not glossing over reality. I applaud this womans writing and her blog and enjoy it everyday, but I also would like to see her be healthy enough to continue it into a long life. She readily admits she is lazy as are most people today and so I am telling her what I tell myself daily, don't be lazy, get out and do something so your heart keeps pumping and your lungs keep working.

Anonymous said...

You two need to calm down...

Ducky said...

I've heard only good things about OA. I'm glad you enjoyed going.

Cassandra said...

This is actually the first I've heard of OA. Sounds like it could be a great place to go! Me? I'd need McDonalds A. That would be my addiction (other than my carb addiciton - and I'm proud to say that I haven't had McDs in about 2 months...).
Anyway, maybe investigating that route again could lead you in a new, different direction!

Anonymous said...

I think there should be rehab for fatties. Like I literally need somewhere to go where they would treat me like a heroin addict or something. Strap me to a bed, feed me only lettuce, oranges, and whole grains. For the first few days/week I will be in total withdrawal-- sweating, shaking, feeling nauseated (hmm, come to think of it I feel like that sometimes anyway, especially after binging, crazy!). I'll probably be screaming about how I hate all of you and I want to die, blah blah blah. But after a week or so maybe I would stop thinking about what I was going to eat next, or when I was going to eat next, or what other people would think if they saw me eating. Instead maybe I could start to treat food like the fuel my body requires in order to live as opposed to the compulsion/obsession/addiction that it is now. Anyway, I want some ice cream so I gotta go...

Anonymous said...

Anonymous? Is OA a 12-step program, where you have to put yourself in the hands of god? That wouldn't work for me, unless I first went to Atheists Anonymous.

[BTW, why does it take 60 seconds for the comments window to appear? Do I have to pay a membership fee to get the instantly appearing comments window?]

mainja said...

wow, lots aof anonymous comments here.

as for OA, i didn't realise for a long time that it was basically about eating disorders in general, as opposed to fat people.

but that was shattered when i found out that an anorexic person i knew started going as part of her treatment.

clubber1970 said...

I wish I had joined OA when I was younger. Then again, I wish I had done a LOT of things when I was younger! Ah, the joys of turning 35.

Beth said...

On yesterday's show, Oprah commented that she thought it would be easier to get off crack than food addiction for exactly the reason you mention. Ya gotta eat.

Michelle said...

To the anonymous poster about rehab for "fatties", there are such places. They are residential eating disorder clinics. You can find a list on something-fishy.org

Yes, OA is a 12-Step program. The steps do mention God; however, you are encouraged to substitute whatever entity you choose. Step 2 says "We came to believe that a power greater than our selves could restore us to sanity". Who or what that power is is completely up to you. For some it is God, or "the Universe", or their own higher self, or even just the strength of the OA group itself. The point is that we cannot do this all on our own. We need help from others to recover. OA makes a point of being open to everyone - agnostics and atheists included. You can go to Overeaters Anonymous' website www.oa.org

My experiences have been mixed. It really depends on the meeting you attend. Some meetings, especially those that have several members with long-time "recovery" can be quite helpful. In other meetings I've been to, the discussion tends to get bogged down and all about the disease rather than about the recovery.

OA doesn't get much press - mainly because they make no claims about weight loss and don't track any information about "success" of their program. The focus is not on the weight loss but on healing our addictions or compulsions involving food (overeating, bulimia, anorexia).

I hope this helps,

Laura Bora from Bufadora said...

I loved OA - the first time I went I couldn't believe there was a name for what I did..."COMPULSIVE OVEREATING". I wasn't a bulk binger, but I definitely overate and it was always against my well thought out plans. I'd get up in the morning and think, "OK today I'm going to have healthy food all day long!" and then next thing I knew I had an overwhelming urge to eat some Entemann's cookies...and over the course of the whole day I would eat the whole box. I never thought of myself as a "binger" because I wouldn't pound down huge quanitites, but I GRAZED all day, DEFINITELY overeating.

WHY? Well, I found out in OA. I was filling a hole...my best friend and I call it the "Soul Hole" and we try to stuff all kinds of shit in there. Shopping, men, food...whatever fills up that empty feeling.

You're right too about it being hard. We HAVE to eat. I am in AA too, and as awful as it was to kick drugs and alcohol, in a way it was merciful because I don't need that stuff to survive.

As OA "old timers" say, "You can stick the plug in the jug but you gotta take the tiger out of the cage three times a day." It's NOT easy...which is why the support of OA can be very helpful.

If you're in LA I know there's a lot of OA meetings around. I'm sure you can find others that aren't conflicting if you do want to go back.

I lost 90 pounds when I was in OA. (I stopped going and quit drinking and started eating again and very very slowly gained 70 back). I live in a very bodunky town in northern CT and don't have access to many OA meetings. The closest one is a 45 minute drive from me.

There were tons of awesome OA meetings in NYC...that's where I first went -- I miss those meetings and I miss those people. I had met people who lost 200 pounds. I met anorexics who came back from the brink of death.

The biggest thing that broke my heart (as a fatty) is that there were all these thin hot chicks there who HATED their bodies, just HATED them and I would have totally sold my mother into Moroccan white slavery to look like them. It gave me compassion for skinny broads because I can hate my body for a reason, I'm fat. But them? That's the deep roots of an eating disorder, having a "normal" body (or a socially acceptable one) and still feeling all gross and clunky.

I love your blog, because even though you talk about being lazy and stuff, there is such LIFE in you and it totally comes across.

Rock on, sister.

Michelle said...

I too live a long way from the awesome meetings in my area. It is a 90 minute drive one way.

Since reading fatty mcgee's post about OA though, I'm considering making the commitment to make that trip once a week. The people in OA really "get" you and whatever shameful, embarrassing thing you've done with food, they've been there, done that. They are so supportive and wonderful.

Also, about the skinny people there: often people in OA achieve a "normal" weight (whatever that is) but continue to attend the meetings to stay in recovery. Just like Alcoholics Anonymous.

Anonymous said...

I have a half-written entry for my own blog discussing the fact that food compulsions/addictions are the hardest due to inability to go 'cold turkey'. Though your entry is much better written! Maybe one day I'll get around to finishing and posting that sucker.


MidknytOwl said...

Personally, I found OA one of the worst experiences of my life.

Yeah, the 12 steps and the god thing - don't believe in a singular god myself, and the program seemed very god oreinted. Sure, they had a brochure on "What if I don't believe in god?" that mentioned the higher power thing, but everything else said god. Sure, they added "as we understand him" after they said that, but would it really have killed them to find some wording other than god? We also ended with everybody holding hands and saying some prayer (I think it's called the Serenity prayer or something - lord help me do things and help me with the things I can not do...)

Beyond the god thing, I don't like it's message. For example, step 6 is "Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character." and 7 is "Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings." No. I believe in personal responcibilty, and while I know there are other factors that have caused me to overeat in my life, the message tha OA gave was it was out of your hands and you needed to let god just make it go away. Nope, I need to stop eating at McDonalds. (Also, not the oozing Chrisitianity in those steps? Just reading it makes me feel like I'm in church.)

Therapy (for my previous bulimia) proved to be a much better experience.

Funny thing about the one meeting I attended - half of the group (which was like 7 people) were at least in their 60s. Really wasn't expecting that.

Peggy Nature said...

I'm not so down with OA. I think the concept is silly.

That said, this entry cracked me up. Sounds like you had a great time.

Nikki said...

Funny I clicked through here to see what the deal is with tampons from Hopeful Loser. Then I read this and I'm talking about the same thing over on my blog now.

I didn't really get OA because I am neither a grazer, binger, bullimic, or anorexic. I just eat the wrong foods a lot. It's hard to say. I go into must have carrot cake frenzies, but after a slice I'm fine. I'm not a big sugar eater, though I do like bread and rice. Not really big on those either.

I'm currently trying to figure out if I am a food addict or not. I have a problem with food, but addict?

I didn't really get OA because I believe in personal responsibility. I do believe in God, but still to this day don't think that God can really prevent me from eating or take the weight away which also makes me think about what I really believe about God. Anyway, I digress.

I'm glad I found your blog.

Anonymous said...

Just being fat doesn't mean that you're an overeater. There are fat people who think "I'm fat. The world just assumes I'm an overeater. Therefore I must be an overeater." I wish instead they would ask themselves: "Do I eat when I'm not hungry?", "Do I eat so much that I feel uncomfortably full?", & "Do I do these two things on just any old day, or only on very special occasions, like Christmas Day or my birthday?"

Regina said...

I don't want to live long enough to have children and see them grow up. I have no interest in having children.

Anonymous said...

that group sounds complicated! i would have just i'm addicted to chocolate, tuna and pringles - rather than all that other long stuff. still, it was good that you went.

Anonymous said...

This is Pudgy Purchaser again... Your guys' blog is just awesome. I feel like I'm reading my own thoughts when I read your posts, if I had the courage to put them out there.

As far as OA goes, I went and I really liked it for almost a year. Unfortunately, though, one of the most successful, positive members moved away and the meeting became totally focussed on the problems of one woman who had terminal cancer and a son who was a domestic abuser. I will be honest: my level of emotional maturity was not sufficient enough to cope with her detailed descriptions of her everyday life. I was 21 and became totally overwhelmed by her crises. She passed away in the year I left. To this day, I still feel guilty that I didn't stick things out and offer her more support. I was immature and just couldn't handle it.

I would love to go back to OA but the only meetings they have now are in the middle of the day. I was able to do so much work in my head and resolve so many issues there, but I still have so far to go. I hope one day I'll be able to go back.


Chelle said...

"Did I stumble upon a new hunting ground for vulnerable fat men?"


I'm so glad I found your blog, and like my plus sized, delayed-fashion clothes, I am still making my way through 2005 and 2006.

Thank you for the hilarity,

PS The "word verification" on this reply form is (true story) "spacesse". It sounds like a couture way to describe fat peoples clothes.