Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Food Thing, Again

Enough with the politics. Let’s talk about me. 

I had something of an epiphany today about my off-and-on recovery from the food addiction thing. I’ve lost 56 pounds out of 125 that I need to lose. It has taken me a looooooooooong time to get this much off, and there have been many setbacks. Make of that what you will.

At any rate, I go to this weight-loss meeting every week. It’s the big famous one, if that matters to you.

Today, our leader did this thing where a volunteer puts on a vest with lots and lots of pockets, and the leader starts loading the pockets with 5-pound bags of sand, up to the total weight the volunteer has lost. Then the leader takes the apron off and the person gets to see how much lighter they feel.

Gimmicky but cute, right? Well, three people volunteered; each had lost about 25 pounds. I was surprised at their reaction: all three seemed genuinely shocked as each bag of sand got loaded. And genuinely relieved when the vest came off.

Something told me I needed to do this, too, so I finally worked up the nerve to volunteer. She loaded the sand on, bag by bag, until she reached 50 pounds – all she had.

I, too, was genuinely shocked. Up to about 30 pounds, each five-pound bag made an alarming difference in how heavy the vest felt. After about 30 pounds, though, the incremental weight of each bag didn’t feel as dramatic. (perhaps this is the “quantum weight” I’ve talked about before).

While the physical impact had diminished, each five pounds after 30 affected me more and more emotionally. I felt like I was suffocating.  Literally and figuratively, I was sinking. Drowning. I felt a growing despair that was too familiar. When she took the vest off, another surprise: a physical rush.

It’s one thing to carry that sort of extra weight voluntarily for a few minutes. It’s something else to live with it 24/7 year after year. I don’t ever want to forget the feeling I had with that extra 50 pounds, because the odds are against me. A recently released study suggests that junk-food addiction may be more like heroin and cocaine addiction than previously thought. I suspect they’re right.

A friend recently told me, as he was congratulating me for my progress in losing weight, that it was time to step up my game. He was right, but I haven’t done it. Indeed, even today I found myself thinking, “yeah, but people don’t actually do all this stuff, do they?” 

Most folks in recovery have heard that “this program isn’t for people who need it. It’s for people who want it.” But recently I heard someone say that the 12-step program isn’t for people who need it or for people who want it. It’s for people who do it. I agree. And – surprise, surprise! – I am not exempt from that.

So, it looks like I’ll be stepping up my game after all.


  1. I don't know how many times I've lost and gained back extra weight, each time getting a little heavier. As I age I find it harder and harder to lose weight. I'm having a lot of trouble with my knees and hips. I'm convinced that losing more weight would help; I just can't seem to do it. Hang in there; it will be much better if you do it now.

  2. Way to go! Keep up the good work. If you need any motivation stop by my blog Fitness Achievement