Local and national speakers will tell how they overcame compulsive eating at the state Overeaters Anonymous convention this weekend.
About Anonymous: The author is a compulsive overeater. A Star Tribune employee, he wrote articles about his experience in Overeaters Anonymous in March 2004 and March 2006. Today's article is a followup. It appears without a byline because a basic OA tradition is that members maintain anonymity in the media.
I was desperate. I overate every night and could not stop. Diets no longer worked. I was trying to maintain an 80-pound weight loss by running 50 miles a week, but my weight was climbing anyway. I had just about given up hope.
That was six years ago.
After a lifetime of yo-yo dieting, I've maintained a healthy weight and have not overeaten since Sept. 4, 2002. The binges have stopped and the food cravings have disappeared.
The reason for my recovery has little to do with me and everything to do with Overeaters Anonymous, which I joined in 2002. I follow the HOW format (which stands for honesty, open-mindedness and willingness). The HOW program has attracted hundreds of members in the Twin Cities, mushroomed into a dozen local meetings and spawned nationwide telephone meetings.
Overeaters Anonymous will hold its annual three-day state convention in Bloomington beginning Friday; national and local speakers will share their stories of recovery.
Newcomers are welcome.
Although OA members have had large weight losses, the most remarkable aspect of the program is that they have been able to keep it off, which is unusual, given reports that 90 percent or more of dieters regain their weight.
David, 56, of Plymouth, weighed 312 pounds and thought he'd die prematurely. "I became an avid reader of obituaries in the paper and became especially interested in photographs of people who appeared to be overweight." He joined OA in 2003, lost 117 pounds and kept it off. He attributes it to "the discipline and support through the HOW program." He follows a food plan from a nutritionist, calls a sponsor daily and weighs and measures his food.
Laura, 49, of Minneapolis, a bulimic, says she became a "full-blown compulsive overeater" at 16. "I wore a pathway in my brain that whenever I would feel uncomfortable, I would eat." She became obsessed with weight, nearly starving herself, and began purging in her early 30s. Laura attended an OA state convention and has followed the HOW method since 2001. She says she no longer has the desire to purge or overeat and maintains a 20-pound weight loss "the healthy way now."
Mary Ellen, 62, Eden Prairie, came to OA in 2003. She lost 95 pounds on the HOW method and has kept it off. She's gone from a size 28 to 8. Her doctor has taken her off her diabetes medication. "My doctor tells my I have reversed the effects of diabetes," she says.
OA follows the 12-step program developed by Alcoholics Anonymous. The first step is acknowledging we are powerless over food, which Catherine, 37, of Minneapolis, readily admits. After work, she says, she filled herself "to bursting" with cookies and candy and kept gaining weight. "The fat would roll over the top of my pants. It wasn't pretty."
After joining OA using the HOW format, she lost 70 pounds, kept it off three years and went from a size 22 to 8.
She's also worked the 12 steps, including writing down her resentments and her role in them, and made amends to people and institutions, except when to do so would hurt them or others. "It relieved me from the guilt that I was harboring for years," she says. "Without that resolution, I would have had all that stuff going on in my head, which would have driven me back to the food."
Catherine says she's much happier than she used to be. "I believe I'm a saner person and a better person."
The author is firstname.lastname@example.org.