When I am asked to tell my story, I always start by saying that I was born September 10, 1950 and on September 11, 1950 I was a compulsive overeater. I truly believe that. I cannot remember a day in my life that food was not the number one thought in my mind until I went to COR Retreat.
My first recollection that I had a food problem was early in my grade school days. I remember going to get school clothes and having to go to the “chubby section” to find something that fit. That has never changed, to this day. I can remember never being able to find the “in clothes” that the other people were wearing; they didn’t make them in my size. I can remember the pants that would wear out between the legs because I didn’t have a lot of different clothes because it was hard to find stuff that fit me. I can remember zippers breaking and seams splitting. “Holy nightmare,” not good memories!
My relationship with food and being overweight has been with me all my life until COR Retreat. It ruled my life! I was powerless over food and it became my best friend, helping to deal with all my problems. I used food while going through school to help deal with the pain of low self-esteem. I didn’t feel that I fit in with other classmates. I never had the relationships other people had. I would feel less than others. The only way I knew how to deal with this was with food and that would always make things worse.
I was in a serious motorcycle accident when I was 17 and became permanently disabled with a deformed left leg. How did I deal with the life changing experience? I ATE FOOD! I had no life skills to deal with my emotions so I turned to food.
In my late teens I started the commercial weight programs to lose the extra pounds. For the next 40 years I fought with the yo-yo effect of losing and gaining weight. I could lose weight at the drop of a hat, but would gain it back just as fast and each time adding on a few more pounds. Toward the end of the 90’s I started to give up the battle. I was resigned to the fact that I was never going to lose weight! My body was wearing out and I started using an electric scooter to get around because I couldn’t walk that well anymore. I was very depressed and very heavy.
Then I did something I swore I would never do to lose weight because I knew “I could do this on my own!” I had a gastric bypass. I was very, very heavy when I had the bypass and lost 250 pounds plus, I thought my life would be great when that happened, but it wasn’t. Within a couple years I started to gain weight, not because the bypass didn’t work but because my food addiction was devious. I found a way to eat food that would feed the addiction and cause me to gain weight.
About six years ago, I gave up my battle with alcohol and joined a 12 step program. After about a year of sobriety, I found a 12 step program for overweight people. I hung around this program for a couple years but that did not accomplish much. I was still pretty much in denial about two things: that I had a disease and could not recover by myself.
I had a friend introduce me to COR Retreat. It was at a Saturday night speakers meeting that I heard a simple message that put me on the road of recovery. I heard the speaker talk about when they first started their journey. A sponsor gave them a food plan of 3 meals per day, nothing in-between, 1 day at a time. The speaker asked their sponsor, “What happens at night when I am hungry?” Their sponsor said to them, “You pray!” That was the message I needed to hear. I thought, “That is something I can do!” I tried it that evening and that was the beginning of my abstinent journey!
It has been wonderful being abstinent for the last 2 years! I have become an active member of a 12 step program for food. I have learned to live life on life’s terms. I’ve lost my obsession with food! I feel like a participant of life rather than a victim of life. I have learned to feel my feelings and that it is ok. I am starting to accept myself. Basically, I am learning a new way of life that is really freeing and peaceful! I learned what the void was in my life. I would lose weight and feel like I had this energy I didn’t know what to do with. I truly believe it was my spirituality that was not being nurtured. I was not “using” food anymore and that meant I had to deal with my feelings. I did not have the tools to do that.
Now, because of COR Retreat and the 12 steps, I have learned how to recover spiritually, physically, and emotionally and this lets me live a more peaceful, serene life.
I have been relieved of 190 pounds during this journey. It was interesting that the weight wasn’t something I even thought about while writing this, but it is the byproduct of recovery. The saying, “food is but a symptom” is very true! When I first came to COR Retreat I rode in on my electric scooter, now I WALK in to share my story of recovery with others. I will probably always have to use a crutch but at least I can now get around without the electric scooter!
I recently heard someone say that they were going to spend as much time and energy recovering as did they when they were compulsively overeating. That makes a lot of sense to me! We all wonder what our calling in life is to be. At this point in my life I have to say that I want to spend as much energy and time in recovery as I did in disease!
About COR Retreat
COR Retreat is a residential retreat program that teaches a way to live free from the obsession with food through a 12 step program. COR Retreats are 5-day programs, scheduled each month at the McIver Center in Wayzata, MN.