For as long as I remember, I’ve wanted to be just a few pounds lighter. Whether I weighed 150 or 250, it was never right. I forever sought the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow – the rainbow being the dial on my bathroom scale.
I’ve done no-fat, low-fat, no-carb, low-carb. I’ve done raw, vegetarian, vegan, Mediterranean. cabbage soup, carrots, and juice. I’ve done South Beach, Atkins, Weight Watchers, Slim for Life, Fit for Life, Dr. Ornish. I’ve binged and purged and colon cleansed. I considered surgery.
And yeah, I lost weight. Lots of weight. Sometimes I even managed to keep it off for a few months; once I kept it off for nearly three years. But it always came back. It came back because I was changing my behaviors, but not my belief systems. I had self-control, until my self-control wore out and I drowned myself in an ocean of whipped cream. With a cherry on top.
Someone suggested OA – Overeaters Anonymous. After I got over my initial embarrassment at being a “compulsive eater,” I totally identified with the concept! It wasn’t that I just needed to try harder, it was that I couldn’t do it alone. OA was great. But… a few months after I started, I made a bar mitzvah, and, there was the Kiddush and the party and the Shabbos. I was under tremendous pressure, even worse time constraints, and I stopped going to meetings, stopped making recovery calls. My sponsor had her own things going on in her life, and between the two of us, I somehow dropped out of the program.
At that point, I simply gave up. I knew I would never change. I knew that even if I managed to lose weight, sooner or later I’d be my old out-of-control self again. And anyway, I reasoned, being overweight was better than forcing myself to throw up, which is what I did when I started obsessing about how much I’d gained.
And then I found Mifgashim, Retorno’s outpatient program. Just like OA, Mifgashim’s program is based on the 12 Step program. But there is a crucial difference. With OA, I went to meetings when I was motivated to go and stayed home when I wasn’t, coming and going as I pleased. In Mifgashim, I have a sponsor who isn’t there just when I initiate, she’s there, period. She makes sure I come to meetings. She makes sure I share. She took charge of my program, and she’s going to stay in charge until we both feel I have the tools to keep my own recovery in good shape. My program also includes group therapy. I am learning so much about myself: why I have an unhealthy relationship with food, where else in my life I need to set boundaries… The insights I have week after week are incredibly helpful. And finally, finally, I feel empowered.
I’m only in the program for a few months so far. But I know this is not just the next stop on my weight-loss weight-gain roller coaster. Because the program has nothing to do with my weight! Sure, I’m fitting into clothes I haven’t seen in ten years. But that’s only a side benefit; I don’t even feel the need to weigh myself anymore. What really counts is that I once again have free choice. I’m no longer a slave to my appetite, to the scale, or to what others think of me. I’m starting to accept myself, and love myself.
And that weighs in heavier than anything else.