Call 941-378-2122 or click here to register on the ACORN website.
Often the start of a new year brings the desire to make commitments and promises to change habits, begin a new health routine or sign up for a new class. This used to mean resolutions around diet and exercise with the sole purpose of losing weight. Whether it was 24 hours or 3 months later, the time ALWAYS came when I just gave up, accompanied with the message, “there you are again; you’re a complete failure with no willpower whatsoever.” I eventually just stopped making New Year’s resolutions.
Then, in January 2015, at Sugar Free Place in Bradenton, I was introduced to abstinence and recovery from food addiction. Each year since then, January brings another 365 days of freedom from food obsession along with awareness and action of what I need to do—one day at a time—for the next 365 days to maintain abstinence and deepen my spiritual, mental and physical healing.
ACORN strongly believes in the importance of staying connected with your ACORN alumni network. It offers a safe place to be accountable and honest with others. The first alumni weekend of 2018 is at Sugar Free Place in sunny (read warm) Florida, February 2-4. The topic—drum roll, please—is RELAPSE PREVENTION!! Anyone, whether currently in strong recovery or in major relapse, can benefit from time set aside to focus on this topic. Feedback from the November Relapse Prevention workshop was overwhelmingly positive.
Relapse can be a scary word. I have every right to be afraid of relapse. It could kill me. While relapse is common in addiction recovery, relapse is not inevitable nor is it mandatory! The more we understand the relapse process, the less threatening it needs to be.
Here are a few facts about relapse:
We cannot relapse until we have had some period of sustained recovery (meaning complete abstinence from the foods we are addicted to for a period of time after initial detox).
The relapse process starts long before we take the first bite or pick up our substance.
Abstinence is ONLY A PREREQUISITE to food addiction recovery; abstinence is not the end of recovery.
People stop attending 12-Step meetings and working their recovery program because they are alreadyin a relapse process.
People in relapse are not aware of their individual relapse warning signs as they are happening and don’t recognize them until after the fact.
If you have any interest in avoiding a relapse—or getting out of a relapse—then, this ACORN Alumni Relapse Prevention Weekend is for you. We will cover the facts noted above, as well as much more. This work is crucial for all food addicts on a journey of long-term recovery.
The upcoming Relapse Prevention workshop starts on Friday, February 2, at 6 pm and ends Sunday, February 4, at 3 pm. It is offered at an amazing price of $550 US which includes lodging and meals. The last RP workshop filled quickly, so reserve your spot NOW! Register today at https://foodaddiction.com/programs/registration/.
Join your ACORN alumni and staff for a weekend of recovery support. Who knows, we may even have a little FUN!!
Here’s to an amazing 2018,
P.S. Want to deepen your recovery even more? Join us a few days before the Relapse Prevention weekend at our 5-day Living In Recovery Program, January 27-31. Click here for details and more information.
Happy New Year!!!
As 2017 comes to a close and the newness of 2018 settles upon us, I can’t help but think about gratitude. I have so much to be grateful for. I don’t always see this, but, if I choose, it is always there, available for me to be aware of and bask in the glory of my gratitude.
I was reminded of this recently when talking with a friend on a very rainy, gray day here in Vancouver. She said, “Wow, it’s raining so hard today.” The next words out of my mouth were going to be, “I know! Isn’t it awful, I hate these days.” However, before I could get those words out of my mouth, she said, “It’s great! My car was so dirty and now it’s clean!”Yea, right, that’s just what I was thinking….NOT!!
It is so easy for me to fall into the depths of negativity and self-pity. Sometimes it feels like it’s my “comfort zone” since I spent so much of my life there. I never knew that was what I was doing or even that I had any other choice. Life just seemed hard, and it was definitely hard on me, or so I thought. The idea never occurred to me that I was completely responsible for how I saw things and whether life was “hard on me.” This doesn’t mean that struggles wouldn’t appear in my life—after all, that is life. What it means though, is that I get to choose how I view things and, therefore, I get to choose to believe life is “hard” or that life at times is “beautifully challenging.”
I have spent a lot of time with my niece (yes, the one and only Georgia, who, as I am sure you have noticed, I love to squeak into any newsletter that I possibly can) and my other sister’s two dogs in the last month. Wow! Talk about gratitude and staying in the moment; young children and animals are an amazing reminder of how this can be done. They have all taught me some beautiful lessons in the last couple of weeks.
Georgia and I were walking to the park with the dogs and I said, “Georgia I am feeling a bit sad because this is the last time I am going to see you before I go back to Florida for a couple of months.” She was quiet for a minute and I could see her little mind racing, and then, she looked at me with a bit of a furrowed brow, raised her hands with palms facing upward and said, “But we’re here together now”! From the mouths of babes; what brilliance this beautiful little 4-year-old human being had just shared with me. Amanda, be grateful for what is happening NOW!!
I think the key for me to remember is that I always have a choice everyday in how I view each situation that comes my way. So I ask myself—and each of you—to be cognizant of the fact that when our thoughts say, “Life is Hard” our next thought can be, “Life is beautiful and I am grateful for this situation because I know, if I choose to, I can grow and learn from it.”
Today is January 3rd and I am reminded of the many events of 2017 and am in awe of what I have to be grateful for. There are so many miracles in my life. My top 10 gratitudes for 2017 are:
Freedom from the bondage of food for another 365 days.
The ability of my body to physically re-build its way back to health and strength after years of abuse.
My powerful, strong, smart, beautiful niece Georgia and the role I get to play in her life because of abstinence and recovery.
That I have a career which allows me to support others who are travelling the same path as me in recovery from the brutal disease of food addiction, and, therefore, get to witness on a daily basis the strength, tenacity and hope of human beings.
The country and city I call home, Vancouver, Canada, for its natural beauty, diversity and the freedoms it allows me.
All the long walks I have taken in the stunning forests in Vancouveor or along the gorgeous beaches in Florida.
The summer vacation I took with my Mom where I showed up as a responsible, respectful adult who had the ability to get outside of herself and truly “see” my Mom for all her amazingness.
For all the people in recovery who walk this path with me and show me that recovery is possible one day at a time.
For my family who stuck with me through active addiction and is now allowing me the opportunity to show up differently, one day at a time, and slowly gain back their trust.
For my daily growing relationship with my higher power who, when I let go of control, truly guides me to a life beyond my wildest dreams.
Also keep your eyes open for information on upcoming events in Vancouver happening in March.
When: Friday, Jan 19 to Wednesday, Jan 24 (starts Fri at 7 pm and ends Wed at 2 pm) and/or Tuesday, Feb 6 to Sunday, Feb 11 (starts Tues at 7 pm and ends Sun at 2 pm).
Where: Sugar Free Place, Bradenton Florida
Cost: $2,175 USD includes program, lodging and all meals ($1,925 for those who have previously attended an ACORN Primary Intensive)
What: ACORN’s “powerful” and “life-changing” 5-day program
Join Phil and Amanda for ACORN’s signature program, The Primary Intensive. This 5-day structured residential program includes practice using a food plan, education about the disease, process groups, challenging denial, structured activities, individual reading and writing assignments, and resources for support. Open to those new to food addiction recovery and to those who want to deepen their recovery in an abstinent environment.
What: A 5-day program supporting participants to strengthen their recovery in a supportive and abstinent environment
The goal of the “Living in Recovery Workshop” is to enable participants to take home what they practice during their stay. The workshop is less structured than the ACORN Primary Intensive and provides two process groups each day for attendees to address their individual recovery issues and attend relevant educational lectures.
Participants will stay in a residential home; prepare their own meals following their individual, abstinence-based food plans; participate in Twelve Step meetings; and have a daily practice of reading and writing.
Come for a Relapse Prevention weekend and enjoy R&R, Recharge and Recovery.
When: Friday, Feb 2 to Sunday, Feb 4
(starts Fri at 6 pm and ends Sun at 3 pm)
Where: Sugar Free Place, Bradenton Florida
Cost: $550 USD includes program, lodging and all meals
What: An event for ACORN alumni only that focuses on RELAPSE PREVENTION!
Join Phil and Amanda for an amazing weekend as we delve into this vital aspect of ongoing recovery. Explore the whys, the hows and, most importantly, the “how nots!!” The Relapse Prevention weekend is an eye-opening andlifesaving event, providing participants the tools to actually “STOP” a relapse process in its early stages—meaning before they pick up the food! I believe that all of us in recovery can benefit from this work. One recent participant stated,“This relapse work was the missing piece for me.”
Wow, I can’t believe we are already well into December!! Time just seems to keep flying by.
We just completed an amazing month of recovery in Vancouver! We kicked off the month with an ACORN Alumni Relapse Prevention Weekend, which was fantastic! Ten alumni joined Phil and me for a weekend of learning about relapse warning signs and what we can do NOW to prevent getting too deep into the relapse process. Remember, the food is the last to go; relapse starts long before we actually pick up our substance. We will be offering this practical and powerful three-day program in Florida in February and in Vancouver in early April. Stay tuned for more details.
November was Diabetes Awareness month and I had great intentions of getting a blog out about this topic. While this was continually on my agenda, as I said above, time just seemed to keep flying right on by. So, I digress, back to November being Diabetes Awareness month.
Diabetes affected me personally, and I see its negative effects on the lives of many people that I know, both personally and professionally. And the kicker to this is that having Type 2 Diabetes was, for me, completely avoidable; and this seems to be the same for the majority of people I know who have this diagnosis. We know today that Type 2 Diabetes is oftentimes preventable. For me, the Type 2 Diabetes diagnosis was completely a symptom of my primary disease of food addiction.
I remember my doctor telling me for a couple of years that I needed to be careful because I was “pre-diabetic.” I would leave those appointments feeling ashamed and embarrassed, blaming my lack of willpower as the reason I couldn’t stop shoving so much food in my mouth. I would then be determined that I would change. But….of course, I couldn’t. I really wanted to and I really tried, but nothing changed. In fact, it just seemed to get worse.
In June 2013, I went to yet another doctor’s appointment—except this one specialized in Obesity! My hopes were high; I was hoping with all my might that this might be the day when I finally got the help I really needed, whatever that was. And I did get help; I was told that I was no longer pre-diabetic. Now, I was a full-blown diabetic with type 2 Diabetes!
The good news was the doctor prescribed me a medication that would control my blood sugar levels; I only had to inject myself with it every day. How simple is that?! PLUS…wait, there’s more good news…it would help me lose weight. YAY!!! Phew, I was finally getting some real help. My doctor was treating me for diabetes, high blood pressure, anxiety, sleep management and obesity!! Great stuff, right? Wrong!!
All along, I was being treated for the wrong disease! All of the maladies I was being treated for were symptoms—horrible consequences—of the primary disease I really had. I had untreated food addiction and, until I received treatment for that disease, my symptoms might be managed but they would continue to worsen … which indeed they did!! I continued to see this doctor who regularly suggested I consider weight loss surgery. (Remember that I had already had weight loss surgery and it had completely failed because I couldn’t follow the diet.)
Needless to say, not a lot changed in the next few years; my anxiety, sleep apnea, diabetes and high blood pressure were being “managed” by drugs; my weight was holding steady at about 300 pounds, and I continued to hate myself and believe I was a complete failure.
Thank goodness this ended when I finally received a proper diagnosis and, therefore, proper treatment, and was presented with a solution to the disease I actually had which, wouldn’t you know, cured ALL of my secondary diseases. I was taken off all Diabetes medications within six months. This is not rare; we have worked with others who, under doctor supervision, have had their insulin reduced after only a few weeks of abstinence.
Those of us who work in this field and/or have walked the path with other recovering food addicts have been witness to this over and over again. It is my hope that, in the near future, one of the solutions presented to those with Type 2 Diabetes will be to consider treatment for food addiction.
Check out our upcoming events. In mid-January, we kick off another four weeks of recovery in Florida:
UPDATED JANUARY/FEBRUARY EVENT SCHEDULE
Primary Intensive – January 19 – 24
Extended Recovery Support/LIR – January 27 – 31
Relapse Prevention Weekend – February 2 – 4
Primary Intensive – February 6 – 11
Remember, abstinence and recovery first, absolutely.
Wishing you peace and abstinence during the holiday season,
Thanksgiving Day, as celebrated in North America, is traditionally a time to gather with family and friends to give thanks for our many blessings. In the United States, Thanksgiving is on the fourth Thursday of November; and in Canada, it is the second Monday in October. (Do you know which other world country celebrates their Thanksgiving, like in the US, on November 23rd this year? See the answer below.)
The meaning of Thanksgiving can easily become lost under the cloud of huge meals and the ever-encroaching commercialism of the holiday season. Sometimes we see others “enjoying” themselves with all the foods we “can’t eat” and we end up feeling “deprived.” It’s important for me to remember that when I am not abstinent, I am “depriving” myself of the experience of being present with myself, with others, and with my higher power. For those of us with the disease of food addiction, it is imperative that we approach this day of Thanksgiving just as we would any other day by asking ourselves: What do I need to do—today—to put my abstinence and recovery first?
Here are just a few ideas that might be helpful:
Maintain the same recovery disciplines as any other day.
Remind yourself that short-term pleasure is not worth long-term pain.
Make phone calls to your support network. Your call may help someone else get through a challenging time.
Plan meals and quantities ahead of time and commit them to a sponsor.
If you find yourself in a challenging situation, whether with food or with emotions, call someone and ask for help—or leave and visit another time.
Look at what you can bring to the gathering—service, laughter, an abstinent dish to share.
Attend the Wednesday night “Nuts and Bolts of Abstinence” free support call.
Reflect upon who will be attending the gathering and come up with one gratitude for each person—and then share it with them.
Laugh, have fun, cheer for your favorite football team.
Express gratitude at the end of the day. Sending you love and joy,
Mary, Phil, Raynea and Amanda
Answer: Japan Kinr? Kansha no Hi is a national public holiday that Japan celebrates every November 23. Derived from ancient harvest festival rituals named Niinamesai, its modern meaning is more tied to a celebration of hard work and community involvement, hence its translation: Labor Thanksgiving Day. Today it is celebrated with labor organization-led festivities, and children creating crafts and gifts for local police officers.
Book 3 is now available on Amazon. Order your copy today!
Quietly and without fanfare, overweight and obese people, as well as some “normal weight” people, have been identifying themselves as food addicted … and they are recovering from their addiction to food! In the early 60’s, some people began to recognize that they were eating compulsively because they were chemically dependent on specific foods, just as alcoholics were dependent on alcohol. Further, these people learned that they could treat their compulsive overeating as alcoholics had learned to treat their alcoholism in Alcoholics Anonymous. Read more…
I am sitting in the group room at Sugar Free Place in Bradenton, Florida. It’s 9:00 Saturday morning, and we just finished gentle breakfast on the first morning of a Primary Intensive. It is quiet and peaceful as all the participants are working on their first assignments and preparing for our first group which starts in about 30 minutes. It is another beautiful day here in Florida, about 27 degrees (that’s 81 for those of you who speak in Fahrenheit) and sunny.
As I sit here, I can’t help but feel a sense of awe and hope at the prospect of all of these people starting their recovery journey – a journey that will be challenging; a journey that can often be painful; a journey that for me, personally, has been the most amazing and rewarding journey of my life!
Where will your recovery journey next take YOU?
We have some amazing recovery opportunities happening in Vancouver throughout the entire month of November. That’s right, 28 continuous days of recovery support with ACORN. So, instead of gearing up for another season of eating and bondage, take advantage of the extra support available now and gear up for a season of freedom. NOW is the time.
Nov. 3 – 5: Retreat/Reunion Weekend
Nov. 10 – 15: ACORN’s signature program, The Primary Intensive
Nov. 16 – 30: Living in Recovery Program
Or, combine all of the above for a full month of recovery (substantial discounts available when combining events)!
Come for some R&R, Recharge, Recovery and Relapse Prevention
When: Friday, Nov. 3 to Sunday, Nov. 5 (starts Friday at 7 pm and ends Sunday at 3 pm)
Where: Richmond, BC
Cost: $500 USD includes program, lodging and all meals
What: A 3-day event for ACORN alumni only that will focus on RELAPSE PREVENTION!
Join Phil and me for an amazing weekend as we delve into relapse prevention. Explore the whys, the hows and, most importantly, the how nots!! I truly don’t know one of us in recovery that could not benefit from this work. I have been taking several clients through this relapse prevention work, and it has been quite eye opening and lifesaving, allowing people to actually “STOP” a relapse in its early stages – meaning, before they picked up the food!
When: Friday, Nov. 10 to Wednesday, November 15 (starts Friday at 7 pm and ends Wednesday at 2 pm)
Where: Vancouver, BC
Cost: $2,175 USD includes program, lodging and all meals
What: ACORN’s “powerful” and “life changing” 5-day signature treatment program
Join Phil and me for ACORN’s signature program, The Primary Intensive. This is a 5-day structured residential program that includes practice using a food plan, education about the disease, challenging denial and resources for support.
Space is limited to 10 participants!
The Intensive supports and promotes food abstinence and Twelve Step work through a process of groups, education, structured activities and individual reading and writing assignments. Open to those new to food addiction recovery and to those who want to deepen their recovery in an abstinent environment.
What: A one or two week residential program enabling participants to deepen their recovery in a “real -world” environment
“Living in Recovery” is a residential program offering participants a “real-world” environment – participants will stay in a residential home, grocery shop at local markets, prepare their own abstinent meals (with staff guidance), participate in Twelve Step meetings, daily practice journaling & writing, and attend daily facilitator-led process groups. This opportunity is sure to enhance your commitment to ongoing physical, mental, emotional and spiritual growth. Sign up today!
Wow, it’s already the final week of September!! This brings us to the end of Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. While it may be the end of the month, it’s not the end of the unnecessary suffering and despair that children who are struggling with weight and food dependency face every day. Let’s not turn away from this epidemic in hopes that someone else will take care of it; because no one else is! We, the recovered food addicts who have the knowledge, tools and solution, are responsible for speaking up for and supporting the children in our lives.
I was struck last week by an article on the front page of the New York Times: “How Big Business Got Brazil Hooked on Junk Food.”The article points out that, due to declining growth of sales in the wealthiest countries, multinational food companies like Nestle, PepsiCo and General Mills have been “aggressively” selling their products in developing nations. These are the same nations where only a generation ago their people were suffering from hunger and malnutrition. Now they are struggling with a new epidemic, obesity, which breeds diabetes, heart disease and chronic illness.
The story goes on to say that there are now 108 million obese children worldwide. This statistic is alarming to me for many reasons, but the biggest reason is that obesity is, in the vast majority of cases, preventable! The president of Coca-Cola International, Ahmet Bozer, is quoted as recently stating, “There’s 600 million teenagers who have not had a Coke in the last week. So the opportunity for that is huge.” Basically, these companies are gunning for our kids to up their sales and profit.
Carlos A. Monteiro, Professor of Nutrition and Public Health, at University of Sao Paulo in Brazil goes on to say, “What we have is a war between two food systems, a traditional diet of real food once produced by the farmers around you and the producers of ultra-processed food designed to be over-consumed and which in some cases are addictive.” He goes on to say, “It’s a war, but one food system has disproportionately more power than the other”!
It is shocking to me that food is actually designed to be “over-consumed.” In other words, food is designed to become addictive, so that kids – and adults – are unable to stop eating it. It’s designed so that our kids – and adults – will lose the choice of whether to eat it or not. All designed so that certain food companies can make more money. This is a harsh reality, but it’s one we need to be aware of and be pro-active about.
As Childhood Obesity Awareness Month comes to a close, let’s ensure that we don’t end the attention this epidemic deserves. I don’t want any child to go through what I did as an overweight kid – the bullying, shaming, relentless teasing – and then, ultimately, move from an obese child to an obese, food addicted adult.
Here is a picture of my niece Georgia (yes, I know I will use any excuse to be able to show her off to all of you) sitting at a picnic table this summer eating lunch with me. My commitment for Childhood Obesity Awareness Month was to refrain from buying or providing her (or any child in my life) any “sugary” treats for the month of September. It was tougher than I thought it would be; instead, we went on healthy picnics with delicious food, gorgeous scenery and fun games.
I believe the best thing we can do to support our kids is to continue to focus on our own recovery. Therefore, we have been cooking up several events to continue the amazing recovery we at ACORN witness every day. Here is a list of the life changing events scheduled for the rest of the year:
October 6-11: Primary Intensive, Bradenton Florida $1700 (non – alumni $1950) – ACORN’s 5-day structured residential program to support those struggling with food dependency. Price includes meals; lodging is additional.
October 14-16: 3-Days with Phil, Bradenton Florida $1500 – This workshop will help you work on deep emotional and spiritual blocks that prevent you from maintaining long-term abstinence and recovery.
November 3-5: ACORN Alumni Retreat/Reunion, Vancouver BC, $500 – A weekend of recovery, fellowship and fun. We will focus on relapse prevention, Steps 4-9 and Body Image. Price includes lodging & meals.
November 10-15: Primary Intensive, Vancouver BC $1700 (non-alumni $1950) – ACORN’s 5-day structured residential program to support those struggling with food dependency. Price includes meals; lodging is additional.
November 16-30: Living In Recovery, Vancouver BC, 1 week $1500, 2 weeks $2600 – A 2-week program that will enable participants to take home what they practice during their stay. Participants will be provided with a “real-world” environment: they will stay in a residential home, grocery shop at local markets, prepare their own meals following their individual abstinence based food plans, participate in 12 Step meetings, have a daily practice of journaling and writing as well as attend scheduled daily process groups and educational talks. Price includes lodging; participants pay for their own food.
December 8-13: Primary Intensive, Bradenton Florida – ACORN’s 5-day structured residential program to support those struggling with food dependency. Price includes meals; lodging is additional.
As you can see we are working hard to create events for all people, in many locations, in many price ranges and on many different dates.
I hope to see you sometime in 2017 at one of our events. Book now to save your spot and to ensure your recovery is strong heading into the holidays and New Year.
With love and abstinence,
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