Evidence is not required to make the statement that The “(Addiction) Anonymous” groups have been a powerful force for good in the fight against addictions ranging from obesity to substance abuse to pornography. Many experts have tried to analyze the success of these organizations in an effort to duplicate or at least understand the process. The first step in Alcoholics Anonymous looks like this:
“We admitted we were powerless over alcohol– that our lives had become unmanageable.”
Today, I want to reflect on this point and look at it in the framework of obesity.
Growth begins in a place of deficiency.
How do you feel about a “know it all”? If you’re like the rest of the human world, this phrase does not have a positive connotation. Have you ever tried to offer guidance or assistance to a seemingly omniscient person only to find that nothing you could say to help or educate him or her? Perhaps this person infuriated or frustrated you. At the very least, you probably didn’t enjoy the experience. It is a paradox that there is great power in surrender. It is by admitting that we do not know everything that we pick up a book and begin to read. It is by admitting that we need help that we seek it. Know it alls never learn a thing because, well, they know everything, right?
Burning the Forest Down
Forests come back with greater vibrancy and life after a forest fire because the heat from the fire causes seeds that have been held in reserve in cones for years, waiting for their opportunity to bring forth the next generation. Maybe once in a lifetime, most people will have what alcoholics call a “moment of clarity” (Thanks Pulp Fiction) and manage to see our lives as a recently cleared forest. During these moments we have two choices: 1) Mourn the loss of the old trees. 2) Choose to cultivate the recently released seeds. There is nothing wrong with a period of mourning in our moment of clarity. The only tragedy is not using this moment to rebuild.
For me, November 2010 was my moment of clarity. I had become powerless over my addiction to unhealthy food and I knew I needed help. Overeaters Anonymous lists some of the following questions to help you identify that you are at this stage with overeating:
- Do I eat when I’m not hungry, or not eat when my body needs nourishment?
- Do I have feelings of guilt, shame or embarrassment about my weight or the way I eat?
- Do I eat sensibly in front of others and then make up for it when I am alone?
- When my emotions are intense—whether positive or negative—do I find myself reaching for food?
- Do I need to chew or have something in my mouth all the time: food, gum, mints, candies or beverages?
For me, this moment came in a moment of spiritual introspection wherein I realized that the way I was treating my body was contrary to what I felt was God’s will and that I was robbing myself and my children of quality of life (and probably quantity). I had tried so many times to overcome this thorn in my side with no success. It was at this one pivotal moment that I finally knew I had become powerless and needed help. I had a vision of the entire forest of my life burning down and it was at this moment that I knew I could rebuild something glorious, but I needed help. For me that help came through the loving support of my family and dear friends (including one who wrote a meal plan for me) and most importantly, my journey was started in my faith, which gave me a firm foundation to build on.
Are you having a moment?
I can’t recommend enough taking advantage of your moment of clarity. If you haven’t had one, seek one. I live every day with the knowledge of three things: 1) I don’t know everything. 2) I can do better. 3) There are people out there who know more and do it better and I would be foolish not to learn from them. Take a moment to cry if you need it. Then take a breath and figure out where to start cultivating. Water the seeds and don’t stop until you’re surrounded by trees. Then go find another forest to burn down and make better.** ** This is a metaphor and not an encouragement of arson. That being said, professionally I work for a company that rebuilds homes that have burnt down so please call me if you take this literally as I could always use more business.