Method for Living

The first time I entered the OA rooms in the late ’80s, I knew I had found what I needed. I was so impressed by the honesty I heard and amazed by people openly sharing their character defects. It was an eye-opener. I don’t think I even thought about my character defects before that day. I was who I was, end of story.

As I continued to attend OA meetings and work the Twelve Steps, I learned to look at my character defects. I was more grateful for the emotional and spiritual aspects of the program. Weight was not my priority, even though I came to OA to lose weight and now maintain a 25-pound (11-kg) weight loss. is program was so refreshing. I found a method whereby I learned to look at how I was living my life through looking for my character defects, recognizing them, accepting them, and then working on removing them through the Twelve Steps.

I came to learn that my greatest character defect was codependency. I don’t know if I even knew what that meant before OA. I was busy fixing everybody else’s life. Poor me, I spent so much time taking care of other people and their problems that I didn’t even see or understand I was probably hurting them and myself. Being busy taking care of others and their problems, I didn’t have to look at myself.

I have come a long way in my recovery from codependency thanks to OA and the Twelve Steps. It has made such a positive difference in my life. Every day I continue to work on codependency and other defects that I have come to recognize, including perfectionism, impatience, and intolerance. Now that I am aware that I have these character defects, I can work on removing them. Learning to deal with my character defects has improved my life and my relationships so much. I am so grateful to OA for a much better and satisfying way to live my life today.

~ Joanie B. (from eLifeline, October 2015)

What I Needed

When I started OA in August 2015, I thought many things about the program seemed unnecessary or ought to be changed. Some of the Tools seemed pointless—what did they have to do with losing weight? The Twelve Steps seemed good, but surely I didn’t need to work them, because I had dealt with all that stuff before (I thought). I believed in God, my Higher Power. I already knew I had a spiritual problem, but knowing this had not changed anything. So many things about OA just didn’t work with the diet I thought I needed to find. Was this program really what I needed?

I did become abstinent by about the fourth week, but at first my abstinence was more a formula for a new diet than a comfortable plan of eating.

Being an all-or-nothing kind of person, I decided to try everything just to find out for sure if this really worked. So many testimonials said it did and so many people had long-term success stories. I devoured all the OA-approved literature I could get my hands on. As I read I started to see just how much sense it makes, this way of living. As I worked through the Steps with a sponsor, I became aware of some of the reasons I started to overeat as a child and continued to overeat through my sixty-three years until the day I became abstinent.

I dealt with the years of resentment I had for some people (most of them are dead and gone). I started to feel an amazing freedom I had never felt with any of the many diets I had tried. There was serenity and freedom I had never felt and a new, amazing relationship with God.

Yes, this was what I needed—all of it! Nine months later I am down over 90 pounds (41 kg) and feeling an amazing joy and peace that I’ve never had before. Keep coming back! It works if you work it!

~ Judy W., Ontario, Canada (from eLifeline, Sept 2016)

Should I Quit?

I had many years of Twelve Step recovery from an addiction unrelated to food, and I thought adding OA would be a snap. I joined OA in January 2010, and because of my previous Twelve Step experience, I knew I had to attend meetings and get a sponsor. Within the first three weeks, I found meetings I liked, and I still have the same sponsor today.

My sponsor asked me to write down everything I ate and when I ate it. She also asked me to do a “daily fifteen” list five things for which I was grateful, five things for which I needed to forgive myself, and five things I’d done well. I emailed the list to her every day along with my food diary. We began to work the Steps, I wrote answers to questions, and we talked every Sunday morning. I lost about 20 pounds (9 kg) in the first six months and became secretary of our small group.

By eight months, I noticed I had stopped losing weight. I became dissatised with my program and began looking for differences instead of similarities in the stories I was hearing. I determined OA wasn’t working for me and it was time to give it up. But I had four months left on my commitment as secretary, so I decided I couldn’t quit something I hadn’t really tried.

I told myself I could quit OA if it did not work for me after I had incorporated all the program Tools into my recovery for the balance of my service position. I began making daily phone calls to get to know people so that when I did have a bad day, I was already in the habit of reaching out. I added another meeting, so I was attending three to five Twelve Step meetings weekly. I added more OA literature to my long-established daily reading, writing, prayer, and meditation practices.

I worked the steps with my  sponsor. I redefined my ever-evolving plan of eating using a nutritionist and OA literature. I provided service to my two regular groups by rotating my service position at each meeting and, among other things, typing up phone lists and steering committee notes. I practiced anonymity, and I incorporated an action plan into my OA framework. Surprise! I lost another 30 pounds (14 kg) over the next year. I am not a Cinderella story. I continue to trudge (not jump, hop, or skip, but trudge) this road of happy destiny.

My weight loss has stalled again, but I am learning to balance life as it comes along. I haven’t regained the weight I’ve lost, and my emotional maturity and spiritual connection continue to expand. With my chronic health issues, I need to re ne food choices even more and remain creative with exercise to keep losing weight. After going through the Twelve Steps with abstinence questions, studying the Traditions, and experiencing a multitude of spiritual quests, my learning continues. My only job is to remain teachable.

“I am not a Cinderella story, but I am learning to balance life.”

If you haven’t guessed, I decided not to quit OA at the end of that original service term. I’m still working for OA, and it is working for me.

~ Laurie B., Rohnert Park, California USA (from eLifeline, Sept 2016)