Saturday, January 29, 2011

It Works If You Work It... Even When You're Sick!

Hi Everyone. My name is Charlie, and I'm a compulsive overeater.

::Hi, Charlie!::

Thursday afternoon I got sick. I mean really, really sick. I was out to lunch with Mrs. Charlie, and I started to feel a little sluggish, a little woozy... Frankly, it felt like I was getting drunk. I couldn't articulate my thoughts. It was as effort to speak. My food didn't taste good. In fact, I had to basically force myself to eat it. This is not normal.

I was already feeling a little bit icky, but I chalked that up to the fact that I was on Day One of my caffeine abstinence. I had a low-grade headache, and I was definitely a little bit cranky.

Anyway, as I drove back to the office, I wondered whether I ought to be driving at all, and then I realized I was going to throw up. Well, once I was back at work it was only a matter of time before I was in the bathroom losing my lunch. I curled up on the couch in my office and slept on and off for an hour or so. Then I slowly started to drive home. I soon realized that I wasn't going to make it home... so I hurriedly pulled into a KFC and threw up in their bathroom. Nasty.

Then I got home and basically collapsed on the couch. It was awful. I threw up once again here at home before my stomach started to settle down.

I was concerned about my abstinence. I didn't want to eat anything! But I had committed to eating certain food for the day, and to eat more or less than that pre-committed food constitutes a slip in OA-HOW. I talked to a few sponsors before I could get mine on the phone. And I changed over to a "sick plan" that enabled me to continue to eat, but to commit things like "up to 2 cups of cooked green beans" rather than a definite amount. That put a ceiling on what I could eat but wouldn't force me to eat what I couldn't get down.

It worked! The program worked! I worked the program, and I'm still abstinent. I woke up yesterday after sleeping like a brick for nine hours, and felt so much better! My stomach was still a little rumbly, but I was much better. I could even go to work.

And today I'm back to normal, still abstinent. And now with a plan in place for the next time I get sick.

And here's a recipe my sponsor shared with me... It was really good!

1 cup V-8
1/2 cup cooked rice
3 oz. cooked chicken, cut up
1/2 oz. cheese, shredded
2 tbsp sour cream

It makes a great tomato soup! And it works for me in my plan. Dinner for me is 2 veggies, 1 starch, 1 protein, 2 fats... Perfect!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A New Abstinence

My name is Charlie, and I'm a compulsive overeater.

::Hi, Charlie!::

Well, friends, it's Day One.

But don't worry... I'm still abstinent. By the grace of God, through the structure of OA-HOW, and with the support and love of people like you, I have 5-1/2 months of freedom from compulsive overeating.

No, this is a new kind of abstinence. And I'm not sure how long it will last, or how long it will need to last. Today I surrendered caffeine.

Here's where I veer into the land of possible TMI. (That's "too much information" for those who didn't know, so feel free to leave now...) See, I've been having some symptoms of prostate trouble. Ugh. I have to pee all the time. I wake up in the middle of the night to pee. And so on. It's not cool. And I'm only 39 years old... SO after seeing a doctor a few times and getting lots of tests run (some more, um... invasive than others), it has been concluded that there's apparently nothing wrong with me. Hmmm...

So the next step is a urologist if my symptoms don't clear up. But first, a suggested test. My doc asked how much caffeine I drink every day. He said caffeine intake can sometimes cause the things I'm experiencing, and he recommended I stop the caffeine for a few weeks as a test. If I'm still having troubles, then I'm supposed to go off coffee and soda altogether and do water only for two weeks.

He was so apologetic... Telling me I could do it, and it didn't have to be forever... and the funny thing is, I was totally cool about it. I was totally at peace. I knew that I would treat it like I do my abstinent eating, one day at a time. God is with me.

So today starts a day with no caffeine. One day. I'm sipping my decaf, and I've packed my Diet Cherry 7-Up for lunch. Honestly, I'm a little sluggish, and I have a bit of a headache, which I expect to get worse. I have been a "problem drinker" when it comes to caffeine. 6-7 cups of coffee a day, and probably 4-5 cans of Diet Coke. God help me. And God will.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Plan of Eating

Hey Friends! My name is Charlie, and I'm a compulsive overeater.

::Hi, Charlie!::

I have the privilege of reading and "pitching" on A Plan of Eating tonight on the phone meeting. It starts in about 30 minutes, so this will give me some time to process what I'm going to say and a chance to write a new blog entry at the same time!

The reading starts by saying "A food plan is a commitment to recovery." I like that, and I've found it to be true in my life. My commitment to recovery began the moment I became willing to lay down the food, to trust that someone else was going to be in charge from now on... I turned my life and my will over to the care of my Higher Power by turning my food decisions over to the care of my sponsor and a medical professional.

I love this sentence: "Food is written down, called in to our sponsor, and committed, so that we can get on with our recovery and out of the food." In the 5-1/2 months I've been abstinent, I've found this to be true in so many ways... For the first time in my adult life, I feel wholly at peace about my life.

The 9th Step Promises say, in part, "...Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change... We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves. Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us - sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them."

I honestly think that's exactly what I'm experiencing... I'm already beginning to experience these incredible promises! The more I work this program, the more purposeful I become, the more disciplined, the better able to deal with life on life's terms. And it all starts with the Plan of Eating.

I have a conference coming up next week. I will be in a hotel and conference center in Chicago for a week. It's my 11th year going to this particular conference, and I look forward to it every year. I get to see dear friends and colleages that I respect so much. Most of the time, our free time revolves around hanging out in restaurants and bars, talking and laughing deep into the night. I've been worried about how I would follow my Plan of Eating in Chicago. I knew I would stay abstinent. I'm committed to abstinence, and I've already received such gifts as a result... I just didn't know exactly how I would stay abstinent.

I finally reached a decision last weekend. Simple is best. I typically eat very simply, even repetitively. I often commit the same foods to my sponsor day after day. Why change anything in Chicago? It's not that I'm unwilling to weigh and measure in restaurants. I do that whenever I choose to go out. But for the sake of peace and simplicity, I decided to eat in my room or to pack my meals and take them with me. My wife found an online grocery delivery service, and we ordered a week's worth of groceries, to be delivered the day I arrive. I stocked up on non perishables wherever possible, and I even ordered plasticware, a can opener and plates! I called the hotel and ordered a refrigerator for my room, and I'm all set. The total cost was less than half what I would normally spend in a week of eating in restaurants, so my employer was more than happy to pay for everything.

I'm excited about next week now. As the reading says, now I can get on with my recovery and out of the food. My choices are already made. I feel great peace about next week, and I can enjoy my friends and all the benefits of the conference without getting bogged down in food obsession.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Living the Promises... Already

My name is Charlie, and I'm a compulsive overeater.

::Hi, Charlie!::

Funny. I thought things would slow down a bit after Christmas. And I haven't even blogged in three weeks. It's been pretty crazy in my life... I won't waste your time or mine detailing all the things I've got going on. Just believe me when I say my work, my graduate studies, my responsibilities as a dad and husband, and my OA-HOW program are taking a lot of my time.

You know the crazy thing? I'm happier and more at peace than I have been in a long, long time. I'm content. I'm abstinent... Over 5-1/2 months now! At my last weigh-in, I weighed 177 pounds. That means I've surrendered 55.2 pounds to God, and I'm only 15 pounds or so away from my maintenance weight.

The Big Book says: "If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are halfway through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves. Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us - sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them."

I honestly think that's exactly what I'm experiencing... I'm already beginning to experience these incredible promises! The more I do this, the more I work the steps, follow the plan, surrender my life and my will to God, make my calls, eat abstinently... the more purposeful I become, the more disciplined, the better able to deal with life on life's terms.

Tired tonight, but happy. Grateful.

I have a big conference in Chicago next week, so I'm working hard to get all my work done before I go. I'm trying to get a week ahead in my seminary class, too, so I don't have to work on it there. All that to say, I don't have a lot of time to blog this week, but I have two topics I really want to write about... 1) A great food idea I'm going to implement in Chicago, and 2) body image issues...Hope I get to them!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Back to Life, Back to Reality

My name is Charlie, and I'm a compulsive overeater.

::Hi, Charlie!::

It's 7:35 on Monday morning. I woke up at 5:30; made a pot of coffee; did my daily reading/writing assignment; talked to my sponsor at 6 to commit my food for the day and read my writing to her; made and ate a delicious, abstinent breakfast (4 oz. cottage cheese, 1 tbsp. almonds, 1 banana, 1 egg, 2 oz. sausage, 1 piece toast); worked on my to do list; read a little bit on my new Kindle (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, if you must know); put on one of my favorite albums from 2010 (Janelle Monae's The ArchAndroid); caught up on some blogs; and now I'm trying to muster up the energy to leave the table, take a shower and get dressed.

I have the kids at home for one more day before school starts, so I want to take them to a movie or something. Anyone seen Secretariat? That's probably what we'll see, cuz it's at the cheap theater. It's either that or the creepy looking CGI movie about owls... My oldest needs to take the test for his driver's permit. Ugh. And yay! Can't wait till he can take over some of the driving for the family.

Christmas was wonderful and stressful all at the same time, and I'm sad and happy it's over. My phone calls with my sponsor have been kind of free-floating over the past two weeks, but this morning we got back to our normal 6am time, and that feels good. As an addict in recovery, I function best with lots of structure in my life. It started with a structured program of recovery, but I'm finding that this structure finds its way into other parts of my life as well. I thrive when I'm living on-plan. My life has a framework. I get things done. I can rest in the reality that I've done what I can do every day.

So tomorrow it's back to work, full-time. I've been kind of free with work the past week as well. They were cool about it since I basically lived at the church over Christmas. Let's see, what's coming up in this semester?

I'm taking another seminary class online... Interpreting the Old Testament. (Although in honor of my friend G. Rabanon, maybe I should should re-name it, "Christians Trying to Interpret Hebrew Scripture.")

I'm considering incorporating some regular exercise into my life. (Oh dear, this is starting to sound like those dreaded "New Year's Resolution" thingies.) Honestly, though, I'm not sure I can find one more free hour in my week. God will lead me. Give me ears to hear and a willing heart, Lord...

Having worked with my first sponsee and dropped said sponsee (another post for another time), I am now ready to work with another. Let me know if you or someone you know needs a sponsor. I am happy to work with you/him/her if there is willingness to follow the HOW guidelines. One thing I'm very clear about is that I can only sponsor as I have been sponsored. I pass the program on as it's been passed down to me. Here are the guidelines I follow, in a nutshell, and I would be even more clear and specific if we talk about possibly working together. You can email me at charlie (dot) edinburgh (at) gmail (dot) com or call using the Google Voice number in the sidebar.

I'll be heading to Chicago for a conference in February. It's one of my favorite things to do every year. I see lots of great friends, experience wonderful rest and refreshment, hear great speakers and music and so on. And this year I'll be presenting a workshop one of the days. I'm nervous and excited all at the same time. And I'm wondering what abstinence will look like for me that week. I'm planning to be abstinent, but I don't quite know how. I am not interested in future-tripping at this point, but I do need to start planning. I'll talk more about this as it gets closer.

Believe it or not, I need to start Easter planning. Easter is the high point of the year in terms of Christian worship. My choir is on hiatus until February 9, but when we come back together, I need to be ready for them and have all the music planned.

These are the things I often wait to do until the last minute... and although I always get through them, they are not as good as they could be if I had planned. I have hope that this year will be better - as I continue to work my program of recovery and live within this day-to-day structure.

And what would a new year be without the chaos of kids? In 2010, my kids will be involved in drum lessons, gymnastics, church youth activities, math tutoring, soccer, track, guitar lessons, piano lessons. Oh, and school. Oh, and Mrs. Charlie and I will be driving them to all these places.

OK, I think I have found the willingness to get off my ass. Sorry this post was so random... But look, I have posted three times in three days! Woo-hoo!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Thank You

My name is Charlie, and I'm a compulsive overeater.

::Hi, Charlie!::

I just want to say "Thank you" to my readers. You have encouraged me and challenged me. You have been an essential part of my recovery over the last several years. For me, 2010 started in relapse. I kept trying to get abstinent, trying to control my food and my eating behaviors, doing the same thing again and again but expecting different results. Finally in August, by the grace of God and with a little help from my friends, I found that abstinence that I needed so desperately. I should say that it was given to me, a beautiful gift that I hold on to with everything I have.

And that abstinence has served me well, through a very busy and stressful Christmas season at church, through weddings and parties and vacations and holidays. This program works if I work it.

I realize that I haven't had much of an online presence over the last month or so. I hope to be back to blogging and Tweeting more regularly in the New Year. Thanks to all of you who've hung in there and been so encouraging.

Peace and joy to you in 2011!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Grateful in 2011

Hi. My name is Charlie, and I'm a compulsive overeater.

::Hi, Charlie!::

I'm grateful today that I don't have to make myself crazy with resolutions and promises to God and myself, promises that I know I can't keep. For today I'm choosing to live like I lived yesterday and the day before that and the day before that one too. I'm taking it one day at a time, living the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous to the best of my ability.

It's a day like every other day, full of hope and recovery. A day of miracles. I'm so grateful.