Thursday, May 27, 2010

Step One Assignment

Today, I presented my Step One assignment to the group. I am posting it here so that you can get to know me a little better.

Here is the assignment:

Step One: “We admitted we were powerless over our eating disorder - that our lives has become unmanageable.”

This step and any exercises that accompany it are more about admitting where we stand than about pushing forward. What sacrifices in life (happiness, health, and relationships) have you made, in order to protect your eating disorder and carry out the behaviors? The following questions are meant to help you realize what the eating disorder has taken from you and what has become of your life as a result. Your answers will help you clarify those strange terms “powerlessness” and “unmanageability.”
1. Make a list of food memories from an early age until now. This can go in order, or just be random. Its amazing how many memories you will find once you write down the obvious ones. So often we are tempted to overdo; see how much you can write down in half an hour or even twenty minutes. 
  • I remember eating from the giant family-sized box of gold fish after school (in middle school), sad that I wasn’t in the popular group and “nobody liked me.”
  • I remember restricting food when I was studying abroad because my medications made me feel full. It felt powerful to have control and be thin.
  • I remember when my dad used to take me and my friends to Taco Bell late on Saturday nights when I was about 10 years old.
  • I remember drinking bottles and bottles of very bitter cranberry juice to loose weight.
  • I remember dieting all throughout high school and college, feeling defeated every time I broke the diets.
  • I remember sneaking off to Subway in high school to get chocolate chip cookies and stuffing them in my mouth before I got home and anyone could see.
  • I remember my mom and grandma always writing in food journals and counting calories and points.
  • I remember my grandma would say “tomorrow is the first day of the rest of your life” when I would break a diet and need to start over.
  • I remember not eating in public and then going home after to eat everything in sight.
  • I remember bringing a turkey sandwich to school every day for years because it was healthy.
  • I remember when I was 14 or 15 that the server at McDonald’s asked me if I was pregnant. This happened two times after that incident. I will never forget how it made me feel.
  • I remember stealing food from my roommates cabinets and then denying that I did it.
  • I remember bingeing on so much Chinese food that I couldn’t stop throwing up. Then, I had to clean the puke out of my shower... gross.
  • I remember visiting a friend in Montreal and having a group on random strangers taunt me on the street, call me a “fat fuck," and ask my skinny friend why she was with me.
  • I remember requesting a special fridge and bringing 5 days of Jenny Craig meals with me to the Bahamas. I broke the diet on the first day and then felt guilty the whole trip.
  • I remember declining plans to stay at home and binge.
2. List foods you have binged on in the past and foods you have restricted. Again, don’t spend too much time on this.

Chick-fil-A, kolaches, bagels, cereal, goldfish, cookies, Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, milkshakes, chocolate, sandwhiches, tortillas and cheese, chips, crackers, pizza, Chinese food, cake, bread and butter, breadsticks

3. Have you promised yourself or others in the past that you would stop using your eating disorder? Did you try to stop acting in eating disordered ways and fail? Have you tried to reduce your eating disordered behavior and failed?

I have tried to reduce my bingeing countless times (for many years) by recording what I eat, counting points and calories, etc... and I have failed every time because I am embarrassed to write down what I binge on and see it in writing (even if it just for myself). Dieting and eating healthy only makes things worse. I notice that I binge less when I eat what I want and it is MY idea (when nobody is forcing me to do it, so it doesn’t feel like a diet).

4. Have you continued to use your eating disorder even though it has produced negative consequences in your life?

Yes, I have continued to binge even though it has caused me to gain a significant amount of weight. This has had horrible consequences in my life. I am too embarrassed by my body to have an intimate relationship or even be social. I don’t go to bars, parties, or anything where there are crowds. I only go to work and out to dinner. I had to back out of being in A’s wedding, I can’t wear any of my cute designer clothes, and I have had to buy an entire new wardrobe. I don’t wear anything without sleeves and avoid being outside where it is uncomfortable (because of my weight). I haven’t blown dry my hair in months. I don’t keep in touch with many friends from college because I don’t want them to see what I’ve become. I avoid being in pictured because I don’t want a record of how I look. I feel like I am only happy when I am sleeping. I can’t move to a new city, apply for new jobs, or go to grad school. I truly believe that I won’t ever get married or have kids because nobody will love me like this.

5. Have you ever done anything you would have stopped yourself from doing if you could have? If so, what specifically did you do? Do you ever do any of this habitually, or in a pattern of any sort?
If I could have, I would have stopped myself from gaining all of this weight back. I would have moved to a brand new city after college if I weren’t so scared. I wish I could have stopped myself from dieting and told myself to enjoy life. I would have stopped myself from standing down to my parents and listened more to my own thoughts and opinions.

6. Make a list of all of the things you missed and are missing because of your eating disorder or all the things you lost in life because of it.
  • I wasted my teenage years and half of my twenties dieting and counting calories. Aren’t these supposed to be the best years of my life?
  • I have lost hours and hours (and days) bingeing, just to feel horrible after
  • I have lost the ability to put myself out there to meet guys
  • I miss having a social life
  • I have lost countless friendships
  • I have missed life events (like A’s wedding)
  • I miss having fun and feeling free and uninhibited
  • I miss being happy and smiling
  • I miss going where I want to go regardless of who else is there
  • I miss feeling confident
  • I miss being able to walk up a flight of stairs without feeling winded
  • I have lost size 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, and 16, and gained almost 100 pounds since my thinnest weight.
  • I miss feeling like I have a future
  • I miss feeling like I can be in control around food
  • I miss feeling like I haven't completely ruined my life
  • I miss the person I used to be
Congratulations. You have, in essence, just taken Step One. Please don’t delay. Move on to Step Two. Step Two holds the ticket to freedom and a new life. Even if you don’t think you can do Step Two yet, get started. Even if you are not entirely sure you have done a perfect job at Step One, you will be probably working these steps again; the steps are such a useful process for understanding and solving problems that they are likely to become part of your daily life skills. Put Step One down now, and go on to Step Two.


  1. GREAT WORK! I'm glad you're doing this; I hope it helps you.

  2. I made it to your blog from Charlie's diary of a mad overeater. Are these questions part of OA?

    I began my blog after checking my husband into rehab for an addiction to pain killers ... after learning about NA (narcotics anonymous) I realized I have a serious problem, only with food. OA seems to have a lot in common with NA.

    Anyway - I'll be back here!!

  3. Hi Food Addict.

    Glad to have you here! :) I will check out your blog as well. Always happy to have new blogs to read.

    Not sure if these are "official" Step One questions, but I think Step One in any addiction program is similar. Feel free to use these questions and answer them yourself (on your blog if you wish).

    Some info about the 12 steps:

    Have a good night!

  4. Thanks, I think I will definitely work on those questions. I've been working on just thinking about myself.. and what's at teh core of my issue. This will be a good way to get myself on track! Also, I will take a look at the website.