Thursday, July 30, 2009

Why'd I Get Lapband?

I thought I'd talk about and show you some of the reasons why I went for lap band surgery. Obviously my health was the chief reason. I have the trifecta--high blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar. Not to mention osteo-arthritis that's exacerbated by the weight. I want to be healthy. I don't want to make a meal of drugs.

I also have a husband, 3 grown children and 2 grown stepchildren, and 7 grandchildren. They love me. I love them. I want to be able to take care of my grandchildren, keep up with them, play with them, pick them up and hug them, and take them places. That was getting hard to do. With 29 lbs. lost I'm already having a lot more fun with them.

I love to garden--flowers. It had become very painful and I had to go very slowly with the never-ending weeding. Artificial knees make it very difficult for me to kneel or squat for any length of time or to sit or lay down on the grass to weed. The weight made it even harder. My weight made it difficult to bend over or use a shovel. I would get breathless. I did some extended weeding and clipping yesterday and got done quickly and experienced no pain during or afterwards.

I love getting out and walking, going to fests and listening to music, singing in choir and on praise teams. Standing for any length of time was becoming more and more difficult. Walking also put me in pain. I walk over an hour now each day. The other day my husband and I went to downtown Chicago where we walked miles up and down Michigan Ave., all over Millenium Park and across to Daley Plaza and back. We walked from the Buckingham Fountain along the lakefront all the way to Navy Pier and all the way down the pier and back.

I was also finding it difficult to work. I teach at-risk students at a Christian school on the south side of Chicaco. I teach groups ranging from 8-12 students for 8 or 9 periods a day. I have the students with academic and frequently behavioral issue. I already struggle with high blood pressure and believe me there were times I could feel it go up. The kids would say, "Mrs. Flory you're turning red."

I'd stiffen so much when I'd sit for any length of time. Getting up to go to the board or to fetch materials was painful. Standing and teaching could only be done for short periods of time. Bending over students for any length of time was difficult.

I work in an old building with no handicapped accomodations and lots of stairs. I really began to wonder how much longer I could continue teaching. I'm only 57 and can't afford early retirement and was beginning to believe I'd have to go on disability.

Let me show you one of the reasons why I don't want to do that. I'm including a link to a video of a student of mine named Arthur. Arthur has an incredible story to tell. I'm an integral part of his story because I taught him to read and do math. You'll see me teaching him in the video. I helped interview him for the video though you won't hear me. I got my lap band in part because I didn't want to give up making a difference in children's lives.

Here's the link:

I felt like I was sacrificing my life in order to keep teaching. Hopefully, with the weight off, teaching will be much easier on me physically, and with more physical strength it should be mentally and emotionally less draining as well. In fact, I expect to experience a lot more joy while teaching. Constant pain robs you of joy. Joy should be effortless and should float like a ballon. When you're heavy, you are weighed down and joy becomes an effort. I want effortless, effervescent joy.

I want all barriers removed between myself and people and between myself and God. Food and fat are barriers to intimacy (see my last post.) I want to have fun and relax and enjoy myself around people without food getting in the way. I want to enjoy fellowship with God. I want to be by myself with him without being distracted by needing to go get something to eat, or by having to be chewing on something in order to concentrate on him.

Today I went out for lunch with a friend. We sat and talked and laughed for a long time. We shared about our lives. I ate half a spinach & chicken salad and took half home. It was enough. I set the extra to the side and forgot about it. It was a healthy choice. It was delicious and I enjoyed it. But it didn't get between me and my friend.

These are the reasons I got a lapband.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Perfectionism can sabotage compulsive overeaters very quickly. As I read the posts of other bandsters I can see people sabotaging themselves, beating themselves up, setting themselves up for failure, because they were less than perfect in their adherance to a food protocol. Many bandsters are able to relax with their bands and trust the bands. But not those going through band or bandster hell--that time when their bands have not yet been filled enough to create the restriction they need, and they're trying desperately to maintain the food protocol and lose weight using all the tricks that never worked for them in the past--at least not for long.

I've been losing weight while I wait for my first fill on August 11, but it's slowed way down. I told myself that it was good enough not to gain during this time. I've also given myself the accountability of writing in this blog every night and I think that really helps. I'm very aware of the trap of perfectionism and am trying to avoid it.

There are some posts from people in bandster hell that are almost despairing. They were so excited by the weight loss they experienced while on the liquid portion of the food protocol and are now utterly dismayed that as their eating returned to normal their weight loss has stopped. I particularly feel sorry for those who've had several fills and are not yet experiencing restriction.

I also see the addiction to weighing every day on the scale and how a normal variation in weight that causes a temporary small gain can sabotage them. Most times its just water weight from PMS or traveling in a car, but it sends them into a tizzy.

One bandster unexpectedly reached goal when her Dr. looked at her and told her to not pay attention to the BMI guidelines. She hadn't lost in a couple of months and was despairing of reaching a healthy BMI. Fortunately her Dr. looked at her and not at the charts. The woman is 175 lbs but wears a size 8 or 10. She has to be a beanpole and very tall or very muscular to weigh that much and wear that small a size. Or maybe she has thick legs. But she went from a size 26 to a size 8 and she was beating herself up for not being able to lose the last 7 or 8 lbs to reach a "normal" BMI.

Various people were posting about their BMI's (Body Mass Index) and whether they wanted to go for the "normal" BMI or the BMI Weight Watchers has said is the "healthiest." Thank God my Dr. never mentioned my BMI. He just eyeballed me and said, "Based on your age and your height you probably ought to go for about 170 lbs." I was so relieved. That'll put me in a size 14 or 12 which I am perfectly happy to wear. I feel great at that weight and look fine. I have no desire to be skinny.

Trying to look perfect was what got me started dieting when I wasn't even fat and led to the cycle of binge/purge(diet) that screwed up my metabolism and got me fat in the first place. Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt.

There was only ever one human being that did life perfectly and I'm not he. I'm me. And I'm loved for the Cheri I've been, the Cheri I'm becoming, and the Cheri I will be when all my warts and peccadillos and struggles aren't eliminated, but are transformed into something beautiful when he comes for me. None of this nonsense about food and weight and being perfect is going to amount to a hill of beans when he gathers me up in his arms and holds me and calls me his precious child.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Creating Intimacy

Intimacy. I was at a concert tonight where Derrell Evans (the singer/songwriter who wrote Trading My Sorrows) performed at my church. He spoke and sang about intimacy--how God desires intimacy with us. I spoke in an earlier blog about how everyone wants to be known. We want someone to know us with the layers peeled away--the real us. That's intimacy.

That's something we compulsive overeaters are not very good at. There are those in the field of psychiatry who have speculated that we surround ourselves with layers of fat in order to protect ourselves from intimacy--especially those who've been abused. Don't know if that's true, but I do think that food, like any addiction, can make real intimacy difficult. We do our best to keep the secret of how deep that addiction runs. There's a saying in recovery groups: We are only as sick as our secrets. How can another person truly know us if they don't know our addiction? How can we fully contribute to a relationship when so much time is spent protecting our secret?

I've heard people confess that they go from one fast food place to another ordering food at several places so that the order takers won't catch on that they're ordering so much food just for themselves. Others tell how they buy food and eat in their cars so their families won't know how much they're eating. Bulimia, whether using laxatives, throwing up, or excercise, is a way of hiding the compulsive overeating by not layering with fat. I have it on good authority that pizza is the hardest and worst food to throw up, while ice cream is the best because it tastes the same coming up as going down. One girl kept a bucket in her closet for throwing up so her family wouldn't suspect anything the way they would if she threw up in the toilet. We are all so good at hiding and stashing and sneaking food.

Combine secrets with low self-esteem and you've got a perfect recipe for getting involved with emotionally unavailable and even abusive people. Compulsive overeaters frequently stay in bad relationships because they don't believe anyone else would want to be with them. They're with people who are no more capable of receiving intimacy than we are of giving it.

So, yes, we have issues with intimacy. The rules in any dysfunctional family or relationship are: Don't talk(tell); Don't trust; and Don't feel. Keep the secret, trust no one with the peeled away version of yourself; and numb yourself (with the substance of your choice) so you don't have to feel.

So, how do we break the pattern of avoiding intimacy that we experience with God, with significant others, and with friends? In fact, food and other drugs put us in such a dissociative state that we may not even know, or experience intimacy, with ourselves.

First of all, I think God himself breaks through those barriers through the power of his Spirit and the sacrifice of his Son. We have to believe that and receive it. Nevertheless, we are going to have to accept help from other people--a 12 step sponsor and often a trained professional counselor--and possibly anti-depressants to help us get started on breaking the cycle. God generally works through human hands.

The counselor and/or a 12 step sponsor may be the first person we genuinely experience intimacy with as we begin to tell our secrets. We may find other safe people to practice intimacy with (like in 12 step groups) before we're able to share with those closest to us. And family are not always the safest recipients of our secrets. If they are not willing to work on their own intimacy issues, they may be people to whom we only go so far in revealing ourselves.

Working the steps takes us through the steps of intimacy. Taking our own moral inventory, sharing it with God and another human being, asking God to remove our defects of character, making amends to others, promptly admitting when we're wrong, sharing our recovery with others, passing it on, are all ways of learning intimacy. Writing is a great way to learn intimacy. To peel away layers and share what's underneath.

God already knows us, but like Adam and Eve we hide from him, too full of shame to walk in intimacy with him in the garden. He wants nothing more than to lavish us with love with arms opened wide. Go ahead. Fall into his arms. Let him peel away the layers. Nothing revealed will repell him. Ask him to put people in your life with whom you can experience intimacy. They may or may not be in a church. Not all church people are safe. But you can experience intimacy with God, with yourself, and with other human beings. It won't happen overnight. But full recovery from the effects of addiction requires learning intimacy.

"Oh taste and see that the Lord is good. For his mercy endureth forever."

Monday, July 27, 2009

Getting Rid of the Crap

Thought I'd give you a heads up on the topic today. In case you're squeamish. If you've ever been on the Atkins diet you know you lost weight but you probably also experienced constipation. You have to pick fibers that don't shoot up your blood sugar. I managed because I took ground flax seed and Psyllium Husk. I also found fish oil helped. Veggies and fruits are carbs and have to be limited on Atkins--especially fruit.

I've never been that fond of salads and raw veggies, and fruit is limited because of its high sugar content. Not that fruit ever helped me with a lifelong constipation problem. I could eat a lb of grapes or cherries and see no impact.

The food protocol for lap band is pretty close to the Atkins Diet. Protein first. Veggies and fruit in small quantities. Careful with the grains because they swell and stretch the stomach. Regular bread and rice can make you bp when they swell. Whole grains can be added cautiously to help control hunger after you've been on the band awhile and your stomach is healed.

So enter my old enemy, constipation. Laxatives barely help. I've added fish oil back and just a little ground flax seed. I'm scared of the Psyllium Husk because I know it expands in water. I drink my V8 everyday as well as some diet V8 Splash to get my veggies. I do have some cooked broccoli and califlower and green beans. All fruit has to be peeled and raw veggies can hurt the stomach. I eat a lot of beans (not green ones), but all they do is make me fart.

When I was a kid I was so constipated I only went 1x/wk after my big Sunday dinner. TMI, I know, but I gave you fair warning.

Excercise is supposed to help but I'm walking and hour and fifteen minutes everyday. Big meals actually used to help me move it through but I can no longe eat big meals.

I take a good multivitamin as well as calcium supplements and I get my dairy everyday, so I'm getting my nutrients.

This whole subject gives new meaning to the phrase: this too shall pass.

People do not like to be constipated. If you've ever dined in a nursing home you'll find prune juice to be a very popular item. I'd need to drink a quart.

I'm finding it hard to come up with any kind of spiritual or tool for recovery meaning to apply to this topic. Constipation is just a fact of life that you have to experiment with until you get relief, whether you've had lap band or not.

About the only metaphorical meaning I can come up with is that its important to get the crap in your life out of you. You need to do what it takes to get it moving on out or you'll end up with a sluggish brain and spirit and may actually end up with an impacted brain that's stuck on the same old ideas and ways of thinking and is not capable of changing for the better. Step 6 & 7 deal with becoming ready to have God remove all our defects of character and then humbly asking him to do so.

Work the steps, pray, read your Bible, read spiritual books, talk to people who don't look like you or think like you, journal, take some risks, go on adventures, take care of yourself, peel away another layer and reveal yourself, have fun, and don't take yourself too seriously or waste time beating yourself or other people up. Love God above all and your neighbor as yourself.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


Several people posted the past 2 days about having kids with major addictions. Some are taking care of grandchildren or have never seen their grandchildren due to removal from birth parent due to child endangerment.

My heart goes out to everyone dealing with addiction with their grown children. I have attended Alanon for years, gone to counseling, work currently a little bit with Celebrate Recovery. Spent some time posting back to those struggling. My first husband had an issue with alcohol. One of the best things I'm doing is dealing with my own addiction to food. I see codependency as closely tied into food addiction. Tough love and taking care of ourselves in relationships aides our own recovery and sets a good example to the other addicts or potential addicts (like our children) in our lives.

I had a wonderful Sunday. Church this morning and then a luncheon with a group that 20 years ago sponsored several Ethiopian refugees at a former church. One of the refugees was out here visiting with his wife and kids. We all reminisced about that time and some of the funny cultural differences and situations that arose. I ate a little bit of everything that looked good to me but did not overindulge.

Then I sang on a praise team at a special service this evening. We're a multicultural church and we had our annual Taste of Reconciliation. I had a few tastes of various countries, focusing on protein, a little of this and that. Did not overindulge. Didn't want to bp in the middle of a song on stage. LOL. Then we moved into the sanctuary where my praise team and invited singers and groups from other churches also sang--sometimes in other languages. We had a dynamite short sermon, dynamite music of all styles, I got to sing in Spanish. Haven't sung all summer since choir took a summer break. People left on such a spiritual high. Loved it.

Worship; acting justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with our God; 12-step recovery groups; spreading the good news of the Gospel and how we can recover even from our addictions; having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, I try to carry this message to others and to practice these principles in all my affairs.

Today was a gift. So many of the elements of recovery were there. Many of the things most precious to me were celebrated.

God is good all the time,
All the time God is good.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

What an Idiot!

What an idiot! I got in a minor fender bender today and got a ticket. I let myself be pressured by a honking driver who wanted me to pull out into fast-moving traffic and then swerved around me to get out of the parking lot driveway and pulled into traffic ahead of me. I followed him and hit a car he just missed. He was laughing as he pulled away. So I let an idiot turn me into one.

Loss of serenity. Letting someone else's bad behavior affect your decisions. Just a momentary lapse and...boom! No one hurt. My old car has just one more scrape but, of course, the other car was strategically hit in the right front quarter panel and the door with a scrape on the wheel cover. The mother of the young man driving the other car was understandably upset, but calmed down fairly quickly as I apologized and took responsibility.

What amazed me is how she, her son, and her daughter were all immediately on their cell phones and taking pictures with their phones as well as their handy-dandy camera. It all ended fairly amicably since I have good insurance and took responsibility.

But I'll have to go to court to get my license back. Had to call the insurance company. Felt like an idiot.

This is life. I love the serenity prayer at moments like this. It's become absorbed into my nature over the years and in an emergency I go right into that mode.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.

I couldn't change the fact that I got in an accident or that it was my fault, so I immediately accepted that fact and my responsibility. I could speak calmly and soothingly to the distraught, angry woman, quickly apologizing, and de-escalated the situation quite rapidly so that she apologized to me. I had ignored her screaming at me to stop my car and moved it to a safer place where it wouldn't block traffic and cause another accident. She thought I was leaving the scene. Once she realized my intent, she was embarassed.

Afterwards, I did not go home and eat.

Acceptance and serenity. Two major tools of recovery. I couldn't go back and change what happened, though I surely wish I could have. I didn't dwell on it. I had the courage to admit I was at fault and to change the atmosphere. I had the wisdom to know that I had to act to move my car right away and explain later.

Honesty is another huge tool of the program. "Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it!" Step 10 of the 12 steps.

I also made amends which is Step 9. In fact, by having a current license and carrying good insurance, I was prepared to make amends in just such a situation.

Now I did call the reckless driver a bad name--something to do with a donkey's hind end, but realized that would get me nowhere and I needed to take care of my business.

And I did. And I didn't eat.

God is good all the time!
All the time God is good!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Tell Your Story

I was in a restaurant today. I didn't think I'd been experiencing much restriction but I ate bread for the first time (other than a bite or two in the past.) Pita bread with goat cheese, tomato, olive and hummus. Also had a little spanakopita. I bp'd (productive burped, not British Petroleum)into a raised flower bed facing the street (we were seated outdoors) very discreetly. Yuck, yuck, yuck. The nutritionist was right when she said bread can expand in your stomach. I was eating slowly and chewing well and still bp'd. On a good note, my husband and I chewed up the sidewalk in downtown Chicago. I was able to walk and walk and walk. (Think about the initial letters in pita bread. Now reverse them and what do they spell?)

It was good to know that I still have some restriction, but not the nicest way to find out. I sat on the edge of the flower bed with my back to the restaurant and I think the only person who noticed was a motorist whose car was stopped right in front of me. I made sure not to look at her, till she was driving off. She had a very stange smile on her face.

Humor is such an important part of recovery. I told two Christian counselors the name of my blog and they both burst into laughter. Humor lends perspective and keeps us from taking ourselves too seriously. If you've ever been cornered by someone with serious issues who has no sense of humor and who takes every opportunity or topic in a conversation to relate a boring, deadly serious anecdote about themselves, you know exactly what I mean.

Telling our stories is also an important tool in recovery. And you have to tell the bad stuff, too, or the story's not complete and is not believable. If you can do it with a light touch, all the better. But there are some things that happen to us that are totally not funny. That's when we need to convey the emotion and the pain.

I think about people I know and love who were sexually abused. There is absolutely no way to make the telling of that funny. Yet I've seen women smile as they relate the story and minimize its impact on them. Their smiles are closer to grimaces, but they don't know that. I know women who are so damaged by what was done to them (especially with severe, long-term abuse) that they'll never be able to be in a normal healthy relationship or function optimally in the workplace--even after years of counseling and drug therapy.

Many women with eating disorders were sexually abused as children. That doesn't mean that all women with eating disorders were abused, nor do all women who were abused develop eating disorders. I was not abused. But a number of women who were, chose to tell me their stories. Sometimes I've been the first person they've ever told. For them, telling their stories is crucial. Each time they tell another person and are not shamed or rejected for telling, they get closer to healing. Keeping the secret has torn them apart internally. I think women have told me their stories because they sense I am a safe person to tell. All I can do is listen, and that's what I do. I don't tell others. Most of these stories cannot be for public consumption. Sometimes, after a person has told me, they'll find ways to avoid me. The fact that I know their secret is just too uncomfortable for them. But it broke the ice. It will be easier for them to tell the next person.

Everybody has a story to tell. Telling it helps the teller and the listener. When we who are Christians tell our stories, we tell of God's love for us and his grace in walking through the worst experiences with us. Whatever was done to us, was done to him. Whenever we suffer, he suffers. When we laugh, he laughs with us. His is the greatest story ever told, yet he'll listen to our story and hang on every word.

Tell your story.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

On-line Community and Friendship

In Bandster talk onederland is when the first number of your weight drops to a one. One hundred and something instead of two hundred or three hundred. You hit onederland when you drop to 199.9 lbs. Bandsters put count-down tickers to record their weightloss on their posts to various threads. You see their starting weight, current weight and goal weight. Those who "band" together during a certain month will pick a name which they proudly display in glitter letters on every post.

They celebrate various goals along their journey--onederland being one of them. They celebrate their "bandiversaries", one year, two year, etc. anniversaries of their band date. Jargon has always been a way to bind groups together.

Currently, many of the June Journeys are experiencing "band hell," that time when fills have not begun or not yet begun to make a difference with food restriction. I know I was very careful the past two days and finally lost almost 2 lbs. But today I'm hungry. Actually feeling stomach growling hunger. I'm trying to stick to protein but after I eat it I'm hungry again quickly. Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day. My first fill is August 11 so I've got a ways to go. So far I've lost 28 lbs. I'll be halfway when I reach 35 lbs lost and goal weight will be a 70 lb weight loss.
My clothes are falling off me. I need to go to the thrift store to find clothes--especially pants--that will see me through only a month or two--before they outgrow me. Pants are, of course, the hardest thing to buy at a thrift store.

Its nice to know I'm not alone on this journey. Its fun to discover and participate in a whole 'nuther world that has its own language and celebrations. My 50's plus group is talking about getting together. Deciding where in the United States to do that could be a real problem because we come from all over.

Some people denigrate the various internet communities like Facebook and, I'm assuming, Lapbandtalk as creating artificial intimacy. To me, it feels more like making acquainatances, checking each other out, finding common interests. and possibly establishing some unexpected friendships. There were times when I was in counseling groups and Alanon groups that I experienced some of the best sharing and friendship I've ever had. When the groups fell apart it left a hole in my life. We laughed and cried together, we went out for coffee together, we gave each other advice, but mostly we just listened.

I'm thinking Lapbandtalk is a gracelet (a little piece of God's grace) that's allowing me to once again conversate and share stories with people with a common interest. Before, it was the common interest of having a relative with an addiction. Now its our own addiction. Before the summer is out I hope to find a non-judgemental, non-rule driven support group that will help me continue this lifestyle change. But in the meantime, these fellow lap band journeyers with their willingness to share their stories have become friends. I don't always know their faces, but I'm beginning to know their stories.

In my life I've changed addresses, churches, husbands, interests, and jobs, and each of these changes has brought about a loss of friends. They get harder and harder to replace. I'm going to take my friendships where I can find them. And that includes the internet.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Just Write It

"Life is a journey, look for the smilemarkers along the way." Man, I need to get that copywrited. That's a bumper sticker in the making. That sentence popped into my head as I was finishing my blog late last night when I could barely see to finish the post. It became the title.

I really do love writing this blog. Even though I'm a pretty good writer I tend to put off writing things that I've committed to writing until the last minute. Procrastination. I've heard that procrastinators are frustrated perfectionists who put things off to the last minute in order to give themselves permission to do a less than perfect job.

Personally, I find that I can't concentrate enough to write until I'm up against a deadline. In the case of this blog, I start it when its really time to go to bed. By the time I'm finished I can barely see the page. I also can't stop writing until the ideas stop coming, another reason why I may be afraid to start. I'm always amazed when I'm done to find that its relatively coherent.

Often I just start with whatever pops into my head and keep going. When I'm done I re-read it and realize there's usually a theme. My brain organizes things without me even realizing it.

Still trying to figure out what the theme of this blog is. Or what it has to do with food addiction and lapband surgery.

Just musing on the whole writing process and the way creativity happens. Sometimes ideas pop into my head while I'm walking. Sometimes they're inspired by events of the day. Sometimes ideas that have been percolating in my subconscious for a long time finally rise to the top. Once I start writing about it I can't stop. If I'm passionate about a subject things particularly seem to flow. I'm passionate about food addiction and its effects on me and others.

Having the self-imposed discipline of posting everyday has made me more mindful of the events of the day, the thoughts going through my head, what's important that I need to talk about that others might appreciate.

Although each of these posts is written as a stand alone piece with some references to earlier posts, they are all connected. I'm tracing the history and issues of my addiction that come up while I record the information about where I am in my lapband journey. If I tried to write all this as a pre-planned book, it would never happen. But I've posted at least 40 times. Each post could almost be a chapter in a book. I've never believed I could ever write a book, but, in essence, that's what I'm doing.

I'm also able to really be myself while I'm writing this. You pretty much know the worst about me and you read me anyway. Some of you have written me or told me that you love how I'm unselfconscious, that I've moved you to tears, that you're praying for me, that I'm funny, that I'm inspiring. Mostly, I'm trying to be honest. Life is funny and life hurts.

Everybody secretly desires to by known by someone else. To have the protective outer layers peeled away and the real person emerge where they can love and receive love not just inspite of but because of their peccadillos and insecurities. Its a real risk to put yourself out there in public. Most of us aren't too successful revealing ourselves even to our families. In fact, families can be the least safe place for that kind of revelation.

I hope that those of you who struggle with similar issues (and who really doesn't? Mine is the human condition.) find your own voice and safe people with whom you can use it.

AA's fifth step states, "Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being (usually a sponsor) the exact nature of our wrongs," or maybe we should say admitted our exact nature.

If you're one of those honored with the peeled away self-revelations of another human being, be aware. You are holding something fragile and beautiful and quite perishable. Handle with care.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Look for the Smilemarkers

A sliver of moon was showing in the sky the other day while I was playing outside with my grandson, David (4yrs). As usual he wanted to know why. I told him the moon wanted to play with him. Later he was drinking chocolate milk on the front porch and said, "The moon is drinking chocolate milk. He has a chocolate milk mustache."

I love it when a four year old can use his imagination and make a joke. I love it when a four year old accidentally amuses me. David was riding in the van with his dad when he announced, "I want my crocs (sandals)." His dad stopped the car and asked him what he was wearing on his feet. David replied in all seriousness, "Dad, I'm wearing my toes."

Children and laughter go hand in hand. I love being a grandmother and not having to do much of anything when I babysit but enjoy the kids. My two year old granddaughter loves to play hide and seek in her house. She always hides in her closet and she always tells me she's going to hide in her closet. When I try to go home she frequently tells me "You're hungry and you need to eat," in order to keep me there. LOL. She already knows my weakness.

There's a lot of evidence that laughter is good medicine. The Reader's Digest knew that before there were studies proving it.

I use a lot of silly humor when I teach. To teach the ang sound I have a picture-card of a vampire with fangs showing. I'll put on my best Transylvanian accent, make my hands into claws, and say," I vant to bite your neck; I vish to suck your blood." The kids all shriek and laugh and are more likely to remember that ang makes the sound you hear in fang.

I have a game that involves tossing a soft ball back and forth between me and a group of kids while saying math facts. I love to watch for the kid who stops paying attention and I'll look at another child while throwing the ball at the daydreamer who frequently gets hit by the ball which cracks everyone up and serves notice to pay attention.

Today I was on Lapbandtalk, which has become my on-line support group and one of the women told a hysterically funny dream she'd had about another member of the group. Can't repeat it here because it involved partial nudity and showing off a well-shaped body part. Jokes were still flying hours later when I checked back in.

Some of the best and funniest speakers I ever heard were recovering alcoholics telling their stories at open AA meetings. Some of the things they did and the situations they got themselves into were, in retrospect, hysterically funny. Without the humor, they'd have been too painful to tell. The funniest stories I tell on myself involve my ADHD and some of the things I've done as a result.

Humor makes pain palatable. I'm not talking about sarcasm or angry ranting expletive deleted humor. Frankly, I don't consider that humor because it tends to be at other's expense. I'm talking about self-deprecating humor. Humor that gently pokes fun at the human condition but doesn't denigrate others.

One of the funniest stories my deceased mother-in-law told involved driving off to work with her teeth on top of the car. One of the funniest stories my son tells is what happened when he tied our 6 month old 75 lb. Chesapeake Bay Retriever to a lightweight charcoal grill in my parent's driveway. Thank God for the passing motorist who chased down the dog and stopped him before the grill chasing the dog down the street caused the dog to drop dead of a heart attack.

These stories and jokes we tell each other can only happen in community. We weren't created to live in isolation. And I firmly believe that God laughs with us. We're created in his image and he loves us with all our foibles so he must have quite a sense of humor. Humor is his gift to us, a gracelet that allows us to be refreshed, renewed, re-created and ready for the next thing life throws at us.

So, even though food addiction is a serious disease, I try not to take myself too seriously. Life is a journey. Look for the smilemarkers along the way.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Banding Our Heads

Bandsters have a saying, "If only they could band our heads." They refer to cravings as "head hunger." Over and over they talk about how the lap band is only a tool. Instead of diets, the lap band helps us initiate a lifestyle change. Some still measure, keep food diaries and plans, count calories or carbs or proteins or points, at least during the times they're struggling. But the goal is lifestyle change. Making healthy choices. Not being ruled by food.

Someday, maybe soon, they'll come up with a pill that helps with the head hunger. They're working on it. Until then, we use whatever tools work for us. The lap band is a big one. An amazing number of people are having various forms of weight loss surgery. Like me, they're desperate. Everything else has failed for them. I look at the ads Google puts on my blog page. Some of those things are legitimate. Many are quick fixes that don't work long term. Just the titles make me laugh.

Hope springs eternal, so people continue to try the latest diet fad. What's ironic is that our obsession with weight and dieting is killing us. It's making us fat. It screws up our metabolisms. We end up with metabolic sydrome--insulin resistance--which leads to high blood pressure, high cholesterol and triglycerides, and diabetes.

It would be a whole lot better for us if we all remained a little overweight than if we start the cycle of dieting and gaining the weight back. We weren't meant to stay teenager thin. How ironic that with women we have a cultural obsession to be thinner than women have ever been, yet obesity is reaching epidemic proportions. Forget swine flu or SARs. This is the real epidemic. And its a killer.

As a country we tend to think education can cure anything. I'm sure our already over-burdened educational system is going to be expected to start teaching eating disorders prevention, or nutritional health along with drug prevention and violence prevention and self-esteem lessons. But most of us who are compulsive eaters could get jobs as nutritionists. We have tons of nutritional education yet remain addicted to food. Education is not the cure.

Most of the food industry experiments with products and additives and supersizing and taste sensations just to get us to eat more so they'll profit more. Wouldn't surprise me if the same companies are also heavily invested in weight loss products. It's like the women's magazine covers. There's always a picture of someone who lost weight and a picture of a chocolate cake. What a schizophrenic society we live in.

For me, the biggest resource is God. These blogs are letters to him as well as to myself and whoever else out there is reading them. Essentially, I'm looking at every aspect of my life that contributes to the addiction problem and laying it out before him. Its a way for me to work the 12 steps of any good addiction recovery program.

The band is a tool to control the outward sign of this addiction. But real recovery comes with God's help, working the steps.

1. I'm admitting that I'm powerless over food and its making my life unmanageable.
2 I believe that only a power greater than myself (God) can restore me to sanity.
3. I turn my will and my life over to the care of that higher power.
4. I'm making a searching and fearless moral inventory of myself.
5. I'm admitting to God, to myself, and to another human being the exact nature of my wrongs.
6. I'm becoming entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. I'm humbly asking him to remove my shortcomings.
8. I've made a list of all the people I've harmed, and am becoming willing to make amends to them all.
9. I'm making dirct amends to such people wherever possible except when to do so would injure them or others.
10 I continue to take personal inventory and when I'm wrong promptly admit it.
11 I seek through prayer and meditation (and Bible reading) to improve my conscious contact with God and seek only knowledge of his will for me and the power to carry that out.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, I try to carry this message to other food addicts and to practice these principles in all my affairs.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Relatives--Help or Hindrance

My husband threw out all his night-time treats. Just because he loves me. Pretty cool. I let him know I was struggling with the treats he kept in the house and frequently ate in the evenings while we watched TV and played on our computers. In fact, I was just thinking about the ice cream in the freezer and, oops!, remembered Ken threw it out. Thank God. Thank you, Ken.

This disease is not fair to him. It's not fair that his choices impact me way beyond what they should. He can eat ice cream and then let it sit untouched for weeks. He had a taste for yellow cupcakes with chocolate frosting and decided to make them himself, ate a couple, and let the rest sit. For him, no big deal. For me, unbearable temptation.

I know they're there. Knowing makes them pop into my mind over and over. I have to reject eating them over and over and over. Taking care of myself by being honest with my husband was important for me to do. It's part of working on being less people-pleasing when its to my detriment. It is entirely to his credit that he chose to get rid of the snacks and not to eat snacks at night in front of me. He wants to be with me. It was his main reason for giving up smoking when he married me. He couldn't smoke around me and he wanted to be with me.

He'll probably still keep some treats hidden and eat them when I'm not around. That's fine. Out of sight, out of mind. If I don't know its there it won't be on my mind, either. Chances are Ken'll lose some weight, too, which wouldn't be a bad thing.

Night-time has always been my most difficult time. Food has always helped me wind down. Some people drink alcohol. I eat food--it puts me into a kind of carbohydrate coma. Those carbs generally come with fat attached. Perfect recipe for slowly but surely putting on the weight.

So many factors in eating disorders. It's such a complex disease. Relatives can help or they can hinder. Ideally, we shouldn't need the cooperation of our relatives. We're asking them to be codependent. But we also need to take care of ourselves. There are people who would deliberately sabotage those they profess to love. There are those relatives with the same addiction who have a vested interest in keeping you the same and not letting you change. There are those who don't know addiction at all and urge you to eat--they made it special just for you, it doesn't hurt to have a little once in a while, etc. There are also those who would never humble themselves and give up their right to eat what they want when they want it and might actually insist that buy those things yourself and keep them in the house for them.

With these people you need to have heavy-duty boundaries and perhaps actually keep them at a safe distance or even totally out of your life. I'm blessed that my husband is supportive. I'm blessed that he reads my blog because he wants to know me better and understand what I'm going through.

He's a little angry at having to change his lifestyle to accommodate my disease and he's entitled to be. But we talk about it. We're no longer ignoring the elephant (my eating disorder not me) in the room. I may get to the point where he can go back to eating snacks in front of me and keeping my favorites in the house, but not right now. Not with the reduced restriction I'm experiencing while waiting for my first fill.

Once again, weight loss surgery is a tool, not a solution. If I don't take care of myself in my relationships, it won't be as helpful.

I'm grateful that God gave me Ken.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Taking Care of Myself!

Just the past few days my energy has started coming back and today it roared into town. I walked for an hour and a half and then worked in the garden pulling weeds. Actually its my neighbor's garden. They generally grow weeds and their garden borders mine all the way between our long driveways. They actually have flowers buried in there this year but for years it was mostly weeds. I'd been getting in there this year to help them, they're elderly and both have severe diabetes.

But I haven't done any gardening since my surgery. I didn't want to dislodge my band with all the bending over, plus digging with the shovel puts pressure on the disc in my neck. Fortunately, I did an excellent job weeding my own gardens before surgery. They're just starting to need attention, but the neighbors weeds were tree sized. Some of them were trees.

I've finally got my blood pressure in the normal range--had to go back on all of my meds even after losing 27 lbs. I was holding off on going back on the magnesium and potassium gluconate ut it finally put my blood pressure back in the normal range. That means I feel safe hanging upside down on my incline board and that is really helping my neck. In fact my whole spine is decompressed and I have less trouble with my hip and lower back. That's helping me walk longer. I was also amazed at how quickly I cleaned out a mess of weeds. The loss of 27 lbs really makes a difference. Yeah!

I love gardening and walking. Those are the two activities I've tried to keep doing despite the arthritis pain. Both make me feel good. Both increase my serenity and my concentration.

My food is doing pretty well even though I'm no longer feeling much restriction. My first fill is on Aug. 11. I'm so glad I can garden again. It always keeps me busy and gives me serenity which in turn boosts my willpower. I was careful not to do too much. So far my neck is holding up quite well. (I think there's a pun in there.)

Struggling a little with the fact that my husband has ice cream in the house and he also made cupcakes with chocolate frosting (he's never baked in his life.) I've had a few tastes but haven't pigged out. I don't know if I can handle having things in the house that trigger cravings. I know that if I ask him he won't buy it for himself anymore, but that's not necessarily fair to him. We're trying to not spend money on fast food items or things like DQ, and its cheaper to make treats or have ice cream in the house than go out for them, but I may suggest that he go out to DQ rather than have it and eat it in the house.

I've let him know I'm struggling rather than keep on pretending I don't see him eating it. I need to be honest about the things I struggle with. That's healthier behavior than before. I don't want to make him responsible for my success. Hopefully, we'll reach a reasonable compromise that doesn't compromise my recovery.

My husband has been tackling the dismantling of the basement preparatory to Perma-Seal coming in in October and ending our water problems. What a mess that's been. We're able to leave the studs but are removing all paneling, the insulation behind it, and ugly ceiling tiles whose grids were nailed into the paneling and unsalvageable. We're gutting the bathroom, too. Then, little by little, as my husband's social security checks come in, we'll start putting things back together. Some of the expenses have turned out to not be as bad as we thought they were going to be. That helps.

We decided to repair my car. That cost around $1700 but it was a lot cheaper than buying even a cheap used car. We seem to have found a really good repair man one block from where we live. We should have been going to him for a long time.

So we've fixed one short term problem and are finally making progress on the long-term one. I can't tell you how depressing the basement issue has been. I think finally doing something about my health has given me the impetus to to make the basement a priority and to refuse to spend money on anything else (except emergencies like the car.)

Taking care of the basement water and mold problem, just like getting the lap band surgery, is taking care of myself. Getting my blood pressure under control, hanging from my incline board, walking, and gardening are also taking care of myself. Speaking up if I'm struggling with something, is taking care of myself.

I'm no longer feeling paralized. What a relief!

God is good all the time!
All the time God is good!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Food Addiction and Sensory Issues

After I wrote yesterday's blog I started thinking about my strong preferences for spicy food and strong aversion to green peppers (not to mention raw carrots and celery.) I remember a few years back there was some buzz in the dieting community about controlling weight through scents or little drops of flavoring. Can't remember which it was but a drop was either tasted or sniffed and that was supposed to satisfy cravings.

I suspect that method backfired and sent many testees with food addiction racing to the nearest grocery store. The product never made it to the diet shelves, but I think that there may be some merit to the idea that food addicts have more sensitive taste buds.

I wondered if the fact that I crave certain tastes, smells, and textures was somehow related to being ADHD. ADHD can be closely related to sensory integration issues in people. People with sensory issues often find some things too overwhelming for their senses while craving sensory input in other areas. Their senses aren't balanced. When they crave sensory input they may try parachuting or some other highly stimulating and risky behavior. Other times they may find the presense of a lot of people and commotion overwhelming and need to get totally away from it.

I can relate to both sides of that. I love singing on praise teams, acting in skits and am quite comfortable talking with a mike in front of large groups of people. Something in me turns on. I like to hold people's attention and it's partly what makes me an effective teacher. Being on stage stimulates me, but being in a big crowd of people (unless I'm outdoors) can overwhelm me. I start feeling claustrophobic and need to get out of there. I'll go home after talking all day and listening to kids talk and then I go home and don't even want my poor husband to talk to me. I'm in recovery mode.

So it does not surprise me that I'm full of strong likes and dislikes when it comes to food. I now enjoy fish but the smell used to make me avoid it. I don't like the texture of larger shrimp, but I now eat baby shrimp. I have recently started liking nutty whole grain breads, so my tastes are changing or my sensory needs are diminishing.

I don't think you'll ever see me substituting carrots or celery for crunchy snacks. I'd rather just do without the crunchy snacks. In fact, you won't hardly every see me eating raw vegetables. I much prefer them cooked. And if you're going to cook them, cook them long enough to be able to get a fork in them. I hate it when my fork bounces off the cooked vegetables. I mean, why did anyone bother turning on the stove?

I'm watching the salt now because of my blood pressure but I think dieticians absolutely have it wrong when they say cook it without salt and add the salt later. If you don't cook with the salt the flavor doesn't get into the food and you end up adding more and more salt to try to get it there.

So where am I going with this? I think it could be that people with strong food cravings may be seeking sensory input. They may eat the things they know they're supposed to eat but then they go looking for the food they really were craving and don't stop eating it until that sensory issue is met. Diets fail because diet food doesn't provide the sensory input food addicts crave, and they frequently try to force food addicts to eat food they abhor just because its "good for them"

I'm glad I've got the band because if I get carried away be a craving, the band will tell me when I've satisfied the craving and give my brain time to catch up and acknowledge it. I believe it takes the brain 20 minutes to recognize satiety which is why people can continue eating even after being full. My band won't let me do that, especiallly if I'm filling it with protein first.

So what do I do about the sensory issues? I think excersize can be a big part of meeting those needs. Currently my arthitis is limiting me to walking, but at least its summer and I can walk outside and get the extra stimulation provided by the elements of sun, fresh air, green plants and trees, flowers, and nice scenery.

Playing games on Facebook at night, checking the lapbandtalk website, and blogging give me mental stimulation and keep my hands busy. I may have to invest in a Wii. I think I could get into that.

With our economic situation I'm pretty much reduced to what I can do at home or visiting grandchildren, but, as grandma, I don't have to clean their house or cook their food or do their laundry. I can go out and sit in the sandbox and build sand castles or take them for a walk to the park or to visit the "neigh-neighs" (horses.) I can wade in the pool with them and get into water fights. I can help them blow bubbles. I can get all the hugs and kisses I want. Talk about sensory input.

And let's not forget singing and dancing before the Lord. I can always do more of that.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


I have no more real restriction. Unless I eat dry meat only (like deli meat or ground turkey) I can keep right on eating. My stomach must have shrunk from loss of swelling as well as less food and has lost some of its surrounding fat as I lost 27 lbs. So now the band is relatively loose. I'm also feeling hungry in between meals. As soon as I realized it I called my Dr. to make an appointment for my first fill. Unfortunately I can't get in till August 11. That means that from now until then I'm going to be going on willpower alone.

It's amazing how comforting it was knowing I couldn't eat more than a certain amount without causing myself discomfort. I would feel that approaching fullness and know that I didn't want to PB (productive burp where the stuck food comes right back up with the burp relieving the discomfort), nor did I want to be slimed--think how your mouth starts watering when you smell food or even think about it. You've already started the digestive process, only the extra phlegm that helps wash down and moisten your food overproduces after a BP and there's no room in your tiny tummy so it comes back up while still being produced. Gross, I know. And enough to make you not overeat. Experiencing this phenomena once was enough.

I just about had a panic attack when I actually felt hunger for the first time since before my surgery. I don't know how to handle hunger. Most of the time I avoided it by eating before I felt it. Every diet I've ever been on was made miserable by having to endure hunger combined with cravings. I can remember following good diet advice--don't go to a party hungry, you'll overeat. So I would eat ahead of time and still binge on the party food.

On Oprah, Oprah tends to ask the question what are you hungry for. She tends to go with the emotional eating pardigm. Well, I'm hungry for food. Sure, codependency and ADHD and, for sure, confrontation, all trigger binges in me. But I just plain like food. I love chocolate in just about every way possible. I love spicy foods, whether Mexican, Thai, Ethiopian, Chinese, or Indian.

I love the rich smoothness of chocolate and ice cream, the crunchy saltiness of chips and cheetos, the smell and flavor of meats fixed many different ways. I really don't care for raw veggies and green peppers taste horrible and can wreck the flavor if used too freely in sauces. I don't like crunching into uncooked onions in a hot dish. I love onions that are used to flavour food, not give it texture. I have strong likes and dislikes. I like fruit if its fresh and really sweet. I eat cake and donuts for the frosting and fillings and frequently throw out the rest. I'll eat the chocolate chips out of a cookie and throw out the cookie. I don't want cottage cheese in my jello or nuts in most sweet things unless they're chocolate candy. I am triggered by food--the sight, smell, and taste of it, and I have very strong taste and texture preferences. Tomato sauce is great, raw tomtoes not so much. The lap band was keeping me safe and now its not. Not till August 11. There are people with lap bands who actually gain weight during this waiting period (pun intended.) I read the posts from and people are full of fear during this time period. They know what its like to try to do it on willpower and, like me, have failed miserably over and over again.

Phillipians 4:12 says:
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I know the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

Pray for me!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Dance More!

I was watching Big Momma's House 2 today and just burst out laughing at the antics of Big Momma; Big Momma landing in the mud bath splashing mud all over the beautiful women in the spa; Big Momma running down the beach in her tight yellow swim suit; Big Momma teaching the kids to dance and swing their butts.

Yes it was fake fat, but there was no shame, no hiding it, no refusal to participate in life because of the fat. Remember when Women's shows and magazine articles always promoted dark clothes for "full-figured" women in order to look slim? No bright colors, no horizontal stripes, no bold patterns. I remember a stong hint for me to not wear yellow on stage. Not only do many people prefer that we fade into the background, they also prefer that we not draw attention to ourselves in behavioral ways either. Exuberance draws attention to your fat.

Many of us refuse to live like that. But we know people who do. People who won't go swimming in public, who girdle themselves to death trying to contain the uncontainable, who always wear black. Others of us won't let ourselves be so limited.

In fact, I bounce around so much when I'm singing praise music (I've never been able to stand still if there's a beat) in church that I got an anonymous note from someone suggesting I go out and buy better foundational garments. Actually, that was the second note. The first note implied that with all my "jumping around back there and lifting my arms" I was keeping people from being able to see the other singers. I'm in a multicultural church and all the African-American women on my Gospel praise team just started laughing when I read them the notes. One told me to dance more. Obviously "Anonymous" was white and uptight.

I love colors and textures and bold jewelry. I try to dress with flare and flattery. Other than winter pants, I only have a few items that are black. And I still "jump around" and clap and raise my arms when singing. My husband and I will go to fests to listen to various bands, and we're usually the first ones (and sometimes only ones) to get up and dance. We do the same at weddings and we usually don't even drink. We do a pretty good hustle. We're also the first ones on the floor for the electric or cha-cha slides.

This is pretty amazing considering I come from a Dutch Christian Reformed church background. Some of them didn't even believe in dancing in wooden shoes. When those from my generation do dance, they tend to look like they're dancing in wooden shoes. Rythym is not their strong suite. Singing hymns in harmony is.

Once I lose this weight, I want to dance more. Get some more lessons. I'm always physically in pain afterwards (and sometimes before) from my arthritis, but I save my Vicodin from my surgeries (which I hardly use) for dancing.

God meant for life to be celebrated. I hope you dance--more!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Everything I've Been Through

I scheduled my first fill for August 11. I'm noticing hunger between meals the past few days. I'm also finding that I could keep eating when I'm done with my food, more food than I was able to choke down until the past week. So I went ahead and scheduled my fill. They'll only put in a little. See how I do. Put in a little more. See how I do, until I hit what people call "the sweet spot." At which point, as far as I can figure, things become easier.

As long as I follow the basic food plan and the protocol for when to drink fluids, which I described in an earlier blog, hunger and the desire to eat both diminish greatly. Not everyone reaches that point. You can still eat around the band by drinking with your meals, you can eat things like ice cream which slide past the band, you can consistently make less than healthy food choices. Your results won't be as good.

Weight loss surgery, no matter what kind, is just a tool. I have to keep doing the footwork. I'm finding a lot of support on-line on the Lap Band Surgery and Lap Band Discussion Forum. I'm hoping to find a non-shaming support group to help me deal with my food issues and gently hold me accountable. I plan to continue writing in this blog as various issues come up. Just the discipline of writing every night helps hold me accountable.

I feel amazingly empty of feelings and thoughts tonight. I think I drained myself (temporarily)talking about shame and guilt, ADHD, and, especially, yesterday's post on codependency. That was a difficult post to write. I learned a lot about codependency and addiction in my years attending a 12-step program for people who have been impacted by someone else's addiction.

Addiction is a family disease and not just the addict or alcoholic's problem. Food helped me cope, it helped me survive, but it, too, becomes an addiction. It's an unhealthy relationship that stabs you in the back. Codependency has to be dealt with in order to recover from food addiction.

There's a song going through my head. We've been singing it in church fairly frequently.

Lord I offer my life to you,
Everything I've been through,
Use it for your glory.

Lord I offer my days to you,
lifting my praise to you,
As a pleasing sacrifice

Lord I offer you my life.


Monday, July 13, 2009

That Way Lies Death

We are all codependents. If we aren't then we're probably sociopaths. Some are drill sergeant codependents, ordering everyone around for what we think is their own good. Others are helicopters, hovering over people, trying to keep them happy. Both believe that what they're doing is for other people's own good. Both are controlling, and both styles prevent other people from learning life lessons they need to learn. Both do for others what they should be doing for themselves. Both end up being resented. Some people alternate between both styles.

The style that is most associated with eating disorders and food addiction is the people-pleasing, keep the peace at whatever cost, submit to the controlling person, negate yourself, take care of others at the expense of yourself style of codependency. The fact is that nobody else can control what or whether or not you eat. Parents of young children soon find this out with their toddlers. People may binge on food to keep from feeling or to medicate the depression, anxiety, loss of sense of self, suppressed anger, etc., or they refuse to eat at all in an attempt to regain some form of control in their lives. Nobody can make me eat, and nobody can stop me from eating.

For women especially, Christianity compounds the issue because it gets justified Biblically. Blessed are the peacemakers, submit to your husbands, in humilty each consider the other better than himself. I'm not going to get into the twisting of the Bible that has led to this form of codependent mentality, but I am going to say the the Bible Belt has some of the largest concentration of women suffering from depression as well as women suffering from obesity.

Being raised in a family affected by substance abuse also contributes to codependency. So does physical and sexual abuse. Even the constant badgering by someone determined to control the thoughts, emotions, beliefs, and actions of those around him/her is a form of abuse that creates codepedency. Its emotional, spiritual, and mental battering.

How do we counteract these influences when they were so much a part of the way we were raised? It doesn't happen overnight.

I can remember a rough time in my life when everyday as I would walk around the neighborhood I would chant, "I am somebody, I am worthwhile, I am somebody, I am God's child." I journaled, I expressed myself through poetry and art. I wrote letters to God in which I poured out my feelings of despair and anger. I attended 12-step programs for codependents. I went on medication for depression. I got counseling. I got a job. I started doing things that made me feel good, that I was good at. I got many change back messages from my family and sometimes I was not nice in the way I broke off some of my codependent behavior.

I still struggle with codependency. I am one of those who can alternate between the people-pleasing form of codependency and its frequent recourse to manipulation, passive-agressive behavior, and avoidance of any form of confrontation, and trying to control the situation by giving lots of advice. When I'm really feeling powerless in the face of someone else's attempts to control me, or treat me like I'm dumb and don't know what I'm talking about, I have been known to yell.

And I eat. I don't think its any coincidence that the times I was successful in getting off the weight, I felt in control of my own life. Everytime I gained it back, with interest, I felt like I had given up my control in order to please someone else, that I was avoiding needed confrontation about behaviors that were jeapordizing me emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and financially. That I wasn't taking care of myself in these ways.

I am far from having it all together. I think the times I've resorted to yelling have been times when the pain of suppressing my feelings and thoughts was so great I've had to vent some of the steam before I could channel it and use it to say and do what really needed to be said and done.

I know this, God did not design me to be a doormat for people to wipe their feet on. And I'm not doing those who would try this any favors by letting them get away with it. Hopefully, I'll find balance and appropriateness in the way I express myself. But I need to express myself and not ignore the feelings or stuff them. That way lies death.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Small Victories

My tummy is no longer sticking out farther than my boobs. That's when I stand straight and look down. I can now see my feet when I'm walking without craining my neck--not yet when I'm standing straight, but when I'm walking. When I'm sleeping I can shift my body without having to wake up to do it. I'm in my "skinny" fat clothes. I was developing sleep apnea. I'm no longer snorting myself awake. I can cross my knees. On the Dr.'s charts I'm no longer obese, I'm overweight. And that motorcyclist today was definitely checking me out. Victories are marked in many ways.

Officially I've lost 24 lbs. since I began this journey, as much as carrying my 1 yr. old grandchild. I think about what that means for my lower back and my knees. I had developed a kind of waddle where I sort of rocked from side to side as I walked, especially when I first stood up. I was hoping my fake knees would last 15-20 years before needing replacement but they were starting to bother me. They're already doing better.

The other day I sat on the side of a foot high sandbox in order to make sand castles with my grandkids. I was able to stand straight up from that position. That's a pretty low crouch for a 5'9" woman with fake knees.

Little things. Things thinner people take for granted. Why do some people think we would wantonly and willingly give up these things in order to gorge ourselves on food? We lost them little by little, inch by inch, mouthful by mouthful.

We battle food on a daily basis. We battle for our lives on a daily basis--sometimes each minute of every day. Some battles we win, some we lose. I'm winning these little battles right now. My lap band and my Higher Power, whom I choose to call God, are helping. I'm going to celebrate each victory.

My stomach only sticks out as far as my boobs. Hallelujah!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Evidence of God's Sense of Humor--ADHD

The connection between ADHD and compulsive eating is something I've been noticing in myself for some time. I've never actually read a study directly connecting them, but ADHD in women is known to cause depression and low self-esteem since it often affects our ability to keep up with things that are automatically expected of women--like neat, clean houses, organized schedules (for the whole family), doing all the shopping, following recipes, etc. We spend a lot of time trying to be good at things we're not good at, and trying to fit the mold (which nobody really does-but we don't even come close.) Eating has always helped me concentrate and focus and sit still.

Maybe there is a study out there that shows a relationship. I found one article that mentioned it but I mislaid it. LOL. One of the strongest markers of ADHD in women is disorganization and an inability to stay on task. (Although some people actually overcompensate and become rigidly organized because otherwise the world is too overwhelming.) ADHD people tend to be more right-brained and creative.

I read Steven Covey's 7 Habits of Effective People 2 or 3 times, attended training in 7 Habits of Effective Organizations, and had a Covey/Franklin Dayplanner, which I was continually searching for and forgetting to write stuff in. I can tell you what people need to do to act organized and I can fool people into thinking that I am organized (temporarily) but it didn't change the way I was made. I make lists and lose them. I go to the store with a list, check things off, and still come home without something on the list. I don't do recipes with more than 3 ingredients. I cook by the seat of my pants.

I've come up with many compensating techniques that have helped me survive. Food, especially chocolate, is one of them. Chocolate, of course, is full of caffeine. People with ADHD frequently self-medicate with caffeine. They are also more prone to self-medicate with alcohol, tobacco, and certain drugs. So why shouldn't food be one of the "drugs?" Chocolate is also known to produce seratonin in the brain and therefore is a natural antidepressant. Like we need one more excuse to eat it. But food and chocolate helped me survive. I think I should be grateful for them even though I now have to move past them.

The high protein low carb nature of the food recommedations for bandsters works very well with my ADHD. I'm supposed to pick protein first and then veggies and fruit and if there's still room I can have a little bit of of carbs like potatoes, noodles, rice, etc. I keep Atkins high protein shakes on hand if I don't feel like cooking or if I feel like my stomach really doesn't want solid protein right now which, first thing in the morning, it tends to reject.

My stomach definitely does the weighing and measuring for me on the protein, especially if I don't drink for 30 minutes before, or during, or for 30 minutes after the meal. I am quickly full and have little room for anything else. I put a variety of proteins in my home so I don't get bored with my food choices. I'm not a huge veggie and fruit eater but I have V8 and diet V8 Splash as part of my 64 oz of liquid and I get my dairy in my two 20 oz. iced decaf lattes with 1% milk and Splenda. I sip one all morning and one all afternoon, and the milk seems to keep me from getting hungry. I have a very skinny straw that only allows me to sip, so I'm not gulping my liquids or finishing them fast. I have sugar free low-fat pudding snacks for at night if I'm hungry, and low-fat Mexican cheeze to make the proteins taste better. These help toward my dairy, too.

I don't make potatoes, rice, or noodles and so am not tempted. If I'm eating somewhere other than at home I may allow myself a little--after I've eaten protein.

I may try a taste of this or that treat at a party, just to not feel deprived but then I go into another room away from the food and stay there.

This is actually a pretty simple diet. It doesn't involve any planning or writing down my food. It doesn't involve weighing or measuring portions. It works with my ADHD instead of against it and I'm not walking around feeling guilty for not being able to do all those other techniques just like I was not able to use a planner.

I'm walking at least 45 minutes a day which helps control my ADHD as well as my appetite. At night I write my blog which is really helping me to not eat at a time when I used to eat treats non-stop. It's also helping me to explore the reasons I eat. Putting it down on paper is really helping me deal with and eliminate the cravings.

Writing has always been a way to get what's stuck inside me, ideas, feelings, etc. out where I can deal with them. I've said before that ideas flow out my fingers like confetti when I'm composing. Its like my creative, feeling, flight of ideas right brain cooperates instead of fights with my language centered, logical left brain to create amazingly (to me) well-written organized articles.

I'm learning to love this crazy complex lady who alternates between being a ditz and being competent, sticking my foot in my mouth and moving people to tears, letting myself be controlled by other people and overcontrolling others, hubris and self-contempt.

It is so amazing that God loves me, that he gave me the the gift of ADHD with all its attendant problems and joys. He also gives me the tools to survive and even thrive. ADHD people are frequently huge brainstormers and creative problem solvers. We are the best solvers of the problems our ADHD creates. Such irony. God has a sense of humor.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Cheri and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Let's just summarize the day this way. My mom broke her patella (knee cap) in a fall yesterday (actually 2 days ago. I just looked at the clock) while she was with me, but we didn't know it at first because she could walk, so did not take her immediately to the hospital and went home instead. My dad and I got into a control contest and ended up yelling at each other. Not my best moment or his either.

In addition my car needs major work and we're deciding what we can actually afford to do: repair it for more than its worth, buy a used car with just as many miles and pay twice the repair cost of my car, buy a more recent used car with less miles and double that price, or buy a new car and double it again. We may even choose to drop to one car since I'm the only one holding down a job in this economy. My husband was forced to take early retirement.

Meanwhile, we're getting estimates and putting together a game plan for just about gutting our finished basement to get rid of the mold and fixing the water problem with permaseal. The smell downstairs is awful.

It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

I'm aware that I'm going to once again have to deal with issues that go back more than half a century and that I have no doubt have contributed to my eating disorder. I have some real unresolved anger issues I need to work through.

The good news is, I'm going through all this without overeating. I may actually be feeling and reacting more viscerally than usual because I'm not numbing the feelings with food. I haven't been this hopping mad in a long time.

It could be worse. My sister lost her job yesterday, and her husband has run out of unemployment from his job loss. They still have three young children at home.

So where is God in all this? I remember when I was going through a divorce and I would hear well-meaning people say "God doesn't give you more than you can handle." First of all, I don't believe God is the source of the evil things that happen in this world. Secondly, I know I didn't handle all the crap that went on at that time. I couldn't even fathom it all. But I never felt so loved and cared for or had such a sense of trust that I would be provided for--and I was. I tell people that I've changed that horrible saying to, "God doesn't allow more to happen to you than what he can handle." Because I didn't handle that bad time at all. He did.

One thing I know I did at that time was to totally let go and let God. I didn't have the mental, psychological, or financial resources to deal with anything. I had all I could do to put one foot in front of the other. God took care of everything.

And maybe that's where I need to be right now. I do believe in doing the footwork and letting God take care of the results. But lately I haven't even known what footwork I should be doing, especially with the basement and the car. We've been hit with one expense after the other and increasingly less income to pay for them.

So, although I'm not going to stop doing the footwork, I am going to really have to let go and let God. I need to totally trust him with the results.

I need to thank him everyday for the food on my table (and my newfound ability to not stuff myself with it), for the roof over my head (even though it leaks), for the clothes on my back (even though they're starting to fall off me) and the shoes on my feet (which other than my flip-flops are pretty much reduced to a black pair of tennis shoes which look really funny with my summer capris.)

God is good all the time.
All the time God is good.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Did Adam and Eve have Bellybuttons?

One of the craziest arguments I ever got into was about whether Adam and Eve had bellybuttons. Some argued that since they were never born they wouldn't have had an umbilical cord. Others argued that they had to have had them or could not have genetically passed them on to their children. This was back when I was a freshman in college and as you can tell, this was a fairly conservative group of Christian young people.

It's a which came first, the chicken or the egg kind of dilemma.

The same thing is true of trying to get at the root causes of compulsive overeating. Their seems to be more and more evidence of brain chemistry at work in food addictions as well as genetic pre-dispositions to having these problems. At the same time, emotional factors seem to play a big role in all eating disorders and for some people seem to have been the trigger for their addictions. Social and spiritual issues are also involved. Chicken or egg?

Likewise, in dealing with compulsive overeating, a variety of tools is needed to find recovery. Some people find it helpful to to keep track of their food and plan it ahead of time. I have no problem with this as long as they don't expect me to do it, too. Just thinking about doing it makes me want to eat.

I don't have a problem with it as long as it doesn't become just another form of the disease, another food obsession, with the restrictions reaching the point of ridiculousness. I knew one man who was genuinely allergic to gluten so he eliminated all gluten from his diet and felt much better. He was no longer heavy but he decided he was addicted to carbs, especially simple carbs and eliminated all carbs other than fruits and vegetables. Then he switched from caffeine to decaf but decided decaf was now an addiction and had to be eliminated. Of course, sugar substitutes were an addiction, and oversized portions were an addiction so he weighed and measured everything. I don't think he ate red meat. His food plan became his bible. He and another woman who didn't have the gluten issue but had been massively overweight and followed the same food plan combined forces and began promoting their food plan in OA meetings.

Many people asked them to be sponsors because they appeared to be successful in conquering their food addiction. Those of us who didn't adopt their plan began to feel like misfits. Eventually they formed their own recovery business, divorced their respective spouses and married each other. When I went back to OA recently I saw a lot of that same mentality.

The fact is that I am totally incapable of that kind of rigidity. I really am officially diagnosed as ADHD and my friends and co-workers know it and joke about it with me. I designed my job so that my assistants would take care of all paperwork and details and organization that drive me crazy. At home my husband does the same. This has freed me up to stop trying to be someone I'm not, and allowed me to do what I'm really good at--teaching and tutoring at-risk students with all my creative juices flowing, with flexibility and the ability to change lesson plans in a heartbeat and fly by the seat of my pants in a new direction when the situation needs it.

Many of the emotional issues that contribute to my eating disorder arise from being an ADHD girl in a school, church, and social setting where that was not acceptable (it hadn't even been given a name, yet). Its taken me a long time to learn to love my ADHD and the gifts its given me. I can't be around people who trigger that old shame from my childhood, people who think that everyone should be able to recover using the same rigid techniques.

This past year I really saw and measured the progress my students made over time, I saw ideas I had bloom and take on a life of their own in ways that really helped and will help the school. My classroom and my work have been enormously blessed. My ability to see the big picture and implement a long-term vision for my classroom paid off. My classroom is where I am most myself, where my ADHD is my biggest asset.

I think that's partly what gave me the courage to go ahead with the lapband. I picked a tool that works for me and coordinates well with my ADHD. Instead of ADHD being the trigger for compulsive overeating, I'm letting it be part of the cure. This blog is evidence of that.

I am becoming the person God has always meant for me to be. I am doing the good work he set aside for me to do. I will not be made over into the image of those who would shame me for not being like them. I want to be made over more and more into his image. I want to hear, "Well done my good and faithful servant. Enter into my rest."

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Balance--Eat When You're Hungry, Stop When You're Full

I love the internet. One of the sites I visited was the official homepage of a 12-step group called Eating Disorders Anonymous. I've copied some of their guidelines here because some of the 12-step programs and church programs for compulsive eaters have turned into highly restrictive, food plan obsessed, weight obsessed, rule obsessed places. I've made the comment that they have not freed themselves from food obsession at all. Having read more about anorexia and bulimia, I believe they've merely traded labels for their disorder. Even after lapband its still easy to stay stuck in that mentality. I see it in a lot of posts.

Now, this program (EDA's)makes more sense to me.

Our primary purpose is to recover from our eating disorders and to carry this message of recovery to others with eating disorders. In EDA, we try to focus on the solution, not the problem. Solutions have to do with recognizing life choices and making them responsibly. Diets and weight management techniques do not solve our thinking problems. EDA endorses sound nutrition and discourages any form of rigidity around food.
** Balance – not abstinence -- is our goal. **
In EDA, recovery means living without obsessing on food, weight and body image. In our eating disorders, we sometimes felt like helpless victims. Recovery means gaining or regaining the power to see our options, to make careful choices in our lives. Recovery means rebuilding trust with ourselves, a gradual process that requires much motivation and support. As we learn and practice careful self-honesty, self-care and self-expression, we gain authenticity, perspective, peace and empowerment.

There are no EDA meetings near me but I would go if there were. Instead of abstinance (which you can't do anyway since we have to eat), the focus is balance. For anorexics and bulemics, diets and weight management techniques, rigidity around food, including rigid restrictions and food plans, are recognized as part of the disease, not a cure for them.

For those of us with compulsive eating disorders who do not purge (except when in our dieting phase--the diet being the purge) lap band surgery is a tool we use to achieve balance. Once I get to my lap band fill I won't be restricted from any food, I'll just have to be careful with some that don't work well with the new tummy. The lap band will do the weighing and measuring for me leaving me free to not obsess over food. I would like to be able to occassionally have a treat without it triggering old unhealthy thinking (like guilt) and cravings that will lead me back into the food.

I don't want my time being spent on food plans and obsessing over my next meal. In fact, with my ADHD, I'm pretty incapable of that anyway. Tonight I looked in the cabinet and decided I wanted salmon. There was no low-fat mayo which I'm not that fond of, but I saw some spinach dip, not low-fat but good fats. I mixed that in, put in some tomato and basil pesto, and chopped some green olives into it. I couldn't eat a whole lot of it because it was so filling, but it tasted great. My husband polished off what I couldn't eat, which was most of it. So, no food plan, no obsessing about supper, just look and see what's there that puts protein first and make it taste good. I'm doing so well, I actually have to force myself to eat more between meals in order to get enough dairy, fruit, and veggies and even enough protein. I'm just not hungry.

I have developed a bit of an internet obsession for exploring websites related to the disease, but that's because its summer and I'm not working. It's also related to my ADHD. I'll get passionately interested in a subject and fill my mind with all kinds of info about it, relay that info to people to whom it would solve a problem or be helpful, and then, eventually, my active interest fades. But this is a life-long problem, so I'll probably always keep abreast of the latest thinking on the subject-especially if its helpful to me.

It's about balance and allowing the pendulum to swing back. Eat when you're hungry, stop when you're full.

All things in moderation was what Paul said in the New Testament. Eat when you're hungry, stop when you're full.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders. Did you know that compulsive overeating is considered part of the spectrum of eating disorders? You think of Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa as eating disorders but compulsive overeating, sometimes followed by dieting, is part of the whole binge/purge syndrome. Did you know that the average girl now starts dieting at age 8? Did you know that those who very rigidly follow the healthiest diet they can find, eliminating all fat and chemicals and whatever else they are convinced is unhealthy end up with life-threatening symptoms from not getting enough nutrition? That this newly recognized disorder has been given its own name--Orthorexia? I've seen a lot of that in some of the OA meetings I've attended. Here is a website if you want more information:

Here's part of their advice for preventing eating disorders:
Listen to your body.
Eat what you want, when you are truly hungry. Stop when you're full. And eat exactly what appeals to you. Do this instead of any diet, and you are unlikely to ever have a weight problem, let alone an eating disorder. Eat when you are truly hungry. Stop when you are full.

I remember thinking I should be thinner as a teenager. It was easy to lose the weight. I was still able to eat a lot because I was very active. I still ate what I liked, which wasn't neccessarily good for me, I just ate less of it. I ate enough good stuff to still be very healthy. I got married at 19 and started gaining, but not much. Then I finished college while pregnant and each succeeding pregnancy brought bigger babies and more weight. Each time I dieted afterward. This was the start. And it just ballooned. Gain, lose, gain even more.

Now my goal weight is a weight that I once thought was fat.

How much of my eating disorder got started because of wanting to be pefect, physically? How much was genetic predisposition? How much was emotional issues related to living with undiagnosed, unrecognized ADHD? How much was co-dependancy issues from negating self and doing for everyone else? How much was a spiritual issue of not allowing myself to be fully loved by God?

Don't know. Doesn't matter. I have an eating disorder. I am a compulsive over-eater. I am a food addict.

I need to work on the physical side of the addiction hence the lap band surgery, following the food protocol and let's not forget to mention excercise.

The psychological issues are things that I've been working on for a long time, learning to love myself the way I am including my ADHD for which I'd been shamed and shamed myself, and which always made me feel like a square peg in a round hole. And then there's my co-dependancy issues (think care-taking without taking care of self) which most Christian girls are well-trained in, and which having been married to an alcoholic were especially brought out in me.

There are the social issues that impact body image--I held off on this surgery to make sure I wasn't doing it to look good (though there's nothing wrong with that), but because I genuinely craved better health.

And there are the spiritual issues. I think contentment, mindfulness, gratitude, acceptance, and serenity are big spiritual issues. I have to learn to be content whether in want (need) or in plenty. No matter what the circumstance. And I can only be content in all circumstances through Christ who strengthens me. This blog is getting long. I'm not done exploring these topics, not by a long shot. But now I need to take care of myself and go to bed.

Great website

Great website to explore for bandsters or those thinking about getting banded.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Life in the Lap Band Lane

I'm beginning to think that the pain I get that seems to be in my neck is actually still gas in the abdominal cavity pressing on the nerve that leads up to my shoulders. Then there's swallowed air. I'm becoming an expert at swallowing a little, burping a little, swallowing a little, burping a little. Can't belch. Not enough room in the stomach for that. Then, of course, there's the feel free to fart frequently rule.

These things should all settle down--I hope. Had a caramel steamer (hot skim milk with caramel in it) tonight. It was way too sweet. I also distinctly noticed that I felt weak and breathless afterwards. Won't try that again. I've hardly had any sugar except what's in low sugar juices, which I don't drink that much, and in milk which also has protein and in 5 oz of V8. The regular protein and low sugar have got to have been keeping my blood sugar pretty stable. The caramel probably shocked my system.

I'm also keeping pretty close track on my blood pressure. I woke up two mornings in a row with high blood pressure. At least this morning I wasn't dizzy. (I made sure I took a few swallows of Kiefer before I went to bed whereas the night before I ate at 5:30 and didn't really have anything but water the rest of the night. I actually forgot to have a snack.) My right arm has definitely got much higher pressure than my left. I'm really tired of doctors but I'm going to have to go to my regular physician to deal with the blood sugar issues and the crazy blood pressure.

In the summer I also usually see the dentist, eye doctor, and have a mammogram, because I'm off school.

In everything but the food I've usually taken pretty good care of myself. I've always tried to exercise even with the weight and the arthritis. So why should I, or anyone else, feel guilty about taking care of ourselves with the life-threatening condition of obesity?

What is it about this condition and us choosing to do something proven to work that brings out the worst in some other people? And why do we listen to them and care?

Many people don't understand this disease. They don't see it as a medical condition that frequently requires a medical solution. Sometimes it seems they'd rather you died and went down fighting the disease on your own than that you get the help that could save your life and help you win the war. They are shame-based people who have to transfer that shame onto others.

The Bible boils down all the rules and regulations of life to "Love God above all and your neighbor as yourself." In Micah 6 it says, "Act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God."

So don't let others "should" on you. Don't "should" on yourself. And don't "should" on other people. But its OK to burp and fart.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Wearing my Purple Ribbon

Right now I'm a little concerned about the next few weeks while I wait for my first fill of my new lap band. As I heal from the surgery I can tell that there's less and less restriction from eating larger quantities of food. I'm not hungry yet, and the cravings have not returned in full force--more like twinges. I can generally wait them out. But I'm on a roll. I've lost 20 pounds. I'm already feeling and looking better. I'm in clothes that were too tight last summer. I'm hoping to keep losing while I wait for my first fill. This disease is insidious and just the knowledge that I can eat more makes me want to eat more before the real restriction starts to kick in.

I did have a scare this morning. I woke up quite dizzy-twice. I thought I'd better check my blood pressure--it could be too low or too high. I took the pressure in my right arm-which I never do and which my Dr.s never do. It was quite high. I took it in my left arm and it was a little high. Now I'm going to have to start taking it in both arms. I may have to make sure I take it as soon as I get up in the morning to see if I have a sudden surge regularly whenever I get up. It may mean another trip to the Dr.

I'm hoping that it was an anomaly, perhaps caused by the change in diet and weight and my body's just adjusting. Mostly my blood pressure has been going down.

I also read more on the lap band website and was struck anew by all the guilt people feel who've had lap band sugery. Especially Christians and members of OA and FAA. That is so incredibly sad. There's a lot of debate over whether or not to tell people about it, and who's safe to tell--especially in church and in OA and FAA meetings, which are places we ought to feel safest. I'm glad I made the decision to put it out there for everyone and to make my struggles public.

In an earlier blog I said that we ought to hold marathons and walkathons and start wearing purple ribbons to build awareness of this life-threatening disease and to offer support for those who suffer from it as well as dollars for research to help prevent and control it. It worked for breast cancer. I would bet more people die from this disease. In fact, obesity is a risk factor for breast cancer (and heart disease, strokes, colon cancer, diabetes and more). Breast cancer used to be an unmentionable disease. Now we all proudly wear pink ribbons. Let's get obesity and all food addicitons out of the closet and into the light of day so that no one ever has to feel guilty about seeking a medical solution for this medical condition anymore than they would getting treatment for breast cancer.

Why purple? Because those of us with this disease are all wounded hearts, because that color hasn't been used yet, and because we, too, are God's children. That makes us royalty.

God Grants Grace, not Guilt

I spent a lot of time yesterday and today exploring a lapband website. There's a religious forum with a page for Christians and there's a 12-step forum with a few threads for those attending OA (Overeaters Anonymous) and FAA(Food Addicts Anonymous.) After reading many of the posts I came to a not-so-surprising conclusion. Guilt and shame are a way of life for people suffering from food addiction. People seem to be heaping guilt either on themselves or on others.

Christians accuse themselves of gluttony and beat themselves up over that. Other Christians really do say horrible things to them like, "Why are you getting that surgery, why don't you just pray?" Many Christian weight loss groups can have so many rules to follow that most people are bound to fail heaping guilt upon guilt.

OA and FAA attenders get accused of taking the "easier, softer way" if they get lap band surgery for which they beat themselves up. They also suffer attacks from the food nazis who have taken over OA and FAA and and who are addicted to adding food restriction upon food restriction and enforcing rule upon rule.

Guilt and shame have a horrible history of sabotaging recovery and driving people deeper into the food (or any other addictions).

Whether you believe addictions are sin or not (I believe they are brain-based disorders, not sin, that came into this world as a result of sin and that under their influence people do commit sin), beating yourself up over them is a sure-fire path to relapse.

Serenity is extremely important in recovery and those consumed by guilt and self-blame have no serenity.

We need to break the bondage of guilt. Especially unearned guilt and shame. God gave us the gift of grace, not of guilt. I like to say I gave up guilt for Lent.

As far as the rigid rule makers and enforcers--most of these people have simply replaced one type of food obsession with another and their rigid adherance to a code is all they've got. They transfer their internal shame and need for control onto others. It's just another insidious form of this disease. They don't know grace, and hence can't grant it.

Someday, Grace will come again and banish all guilt. He will wipe away every tear from our eyes. Come quickly Lord Jesus.