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Sharing SHiFTs by Amanda ~ Expectations and Self-Created Chaos

After a year of following her food plan to the letter and a weight loss of over 100 pounds, she was ready for a new life! Her sponsor had told her not to begin a relationship until after her first year in recovery and now, on her one-year anniversary, she was expecting to find the prince she’d always pictured in her mind.

She also wanted a better job and maybe even a new place to live. Her apartment had grown noisy and she wanted to live in a house where she and her incoming prince would be able to start a family.

The day of her anniversary came and went without her prince showing up. Then, another day, a week, a month, two months and still nothing. She began to feel frustrated and sad. How could this happen to her? She had worked so hard to stay abstinent. Where were all the rewards she expected?

She spent the next few months angry, depressed and sad. Though she continued to follow her food plan, she was tempted to overeat in ways that she hadn’t been before and she lost the serenity that comes from being abstinent. Her life became chaotic.

Years later, she would come to realize that it was her own expectations about how her life would be on her year anniversary that caused the pain she felt at this time.

For food addicts, expectations can be a dangerous thing that begins a downward spiral towards relapse. The strong feelings that arise from not getting what we want or think we deserve can sometimes be unmanageable for some food addicts in recovery. Even more, this self-created chaos that comes from expectations can cause an unrest within ourselves that makes us vulnerable to relapse.

Rather than having expectations in our lives and creating chaos for ourselves, it’s better if we can learn to live each day the best that we can. Over time, these well-lived days will add up to an amazing life without the self-created chaos that comes from expectations.

Sharing SHiFts by Amanda ~ It’s All Routine….Until It’s Not!

Over the past few months, many of us have experienced great disruptions in our daily routines. Some, who once woke up early to go to work, are now at home with very different schedules. And now, as things begin to re-open, many will experience another disruption in the routines they have created during quarantine.

For many people, changing their daily routine isn’t a big deal. For food addicts, however, having a consistent routine that includes a regular schedule of meal times is crucial to recovery. Before recovery, many food addicts stayed up bingeing late into the night after others were asleep, not waking up until the afternoon. Others spent the majority of the day in bed as sleep was the only time they felt peace from the relentless food thoughts that filled their waking hours.

In recovery, food addicts learn to create and follow a routine that includes waking up early enough to have three meals and a snack at night with four to five hours in between.  The importance of this routine cannot be understated.

While it’s easy to understand that food addicts must stop eating foods that cause physical and/or emotional cravings, it’s not always easy to remember how important the basic elements of recovery are.

One of the first things that happens to food addicts who’ve relapsed is a break in their regular routines, whether that is not attending support group meetings or changing mealtimes or slipping back into their old habits of staying up too late.  For some, the relapse happens slowly and gradually as the routines and habits they’ve set up begin to break down.  For others, it’s much quicker.  For every food addict, relapse is devastating.

Rather than putting aside daily routines, it is much easier and safer for food addicts to continue following the healthy habits they have created in their lives.  Doing this is one of the best ways to prevent relapse.

Sharing SHiFTs by Amanda ~ Abstinence First, Absolutely!

At this point in time, our world is facing great challenges. These challenges are serious and can feel overwhelming. There’s a lot of frustration, anger, and fear in the nation and among food addicts.

It’s normal and natural to feel these feelings. Many food addicts have spent years, even decades denying feelings they labeled negative or bad and using them as an excuse to binge. While it may seem challenging to get through the unprecedented events now taking place without overeating, it is possible and the key to doing that is to put abstinence first, absolutely, no matter what.

In our Acorn Intensive program, where food addicts undergo detoxification from addictive foods, experience truly sober eating, and begin the recovery process of addressing underlying issues at a profound level, attendees are given a binder with information, suggestions, and worksheets designed to create and maintain long-term food addiction recovery.

The very first suggestion in that binder is “Abstinence First, Absolutely!” The reason for this is to strongly reinforce the practice of making sure food addicts put their abstinence and recovery program first in their lives no matter what is happening around them.

The idea of putting abstinence first, absolutely has never been more important than it is now.

And….it’s never been easier to find an excuse to binge than it is now.

Think about these two things for a second and let them really sink in. What this means is that now, more than ever, abstinence needs to come first no matter what.  Without abstinence, life becomes a vicious cycle of bingeing and feeling ashamed then bingeing again.

Getting through this challenging time successfully, or any difficult period in our lives, is only possible if abstinence is first absolutely. There is nothing that is worth going back to the destructive life of addiction. No food will ever taste good enough to wipe away the buckets full of shame that will come with eating it. There is not one thing in this world that tastes as good as abstinence feels.

Keep working your program and putting abstinence first.  It is the only way to survive and eventually thrive.

Sharing SHiFTs by Amanda ~ Black Lives Matter

We posted this on our Facebook pages this week. It’s repeated here because we believe it’s so important.

At SHiFT, we stand together in support of the fight for racial justice. We oppose the systemic racism inherent in our nation that marginalized communities face each day.

Black Lives Matter. Food addiction affects people of all races. The reality is that black people are dying from the consequences of food addiction at higher rates than the rest of the population. African American women have the highest rates of obesity or being overweight compared to other groups in the United States. About 4 out of 5 African American women are overweight or obese.  In 2018, non-Hispanic blacks were 1.3 times more likely to be obese as compared to non-Hispanic whites. In 2018, African American women were 50 percent more likely to be obese than non-Hispanic white women. People who are overweight are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, high levels of blood fats, diabetes and LDL cholesterol – all risk factors for heart disease and stroke. 

Access to healthy foods is restricted in low-income areas and racial and ethnic inequities exist in areas where there are no grocery stores that sell fresh fruit and vegetables.

We recognize that we can do more.

Moving forward, we will work harder to address systemic racism and to prioritize anti-racism as an organization.

We are with you and we’re listening.

Sharing SHiFTs by Amanda ~ Moving Forward: One Step At A Time

As our nation begins to open up again, we’re faced with moving forward into the unknown. Though experts can speculate what may or may not happen, no one knows for sure. It’s like that with food addiction recovery.

Many of the food addicts who first come to us have no idea what will happen. They don’t know what changes they will need to make or how these changes will affect their lives. Mostly, they are afraid and sometimes angry that they have to be with us.

For some, their fears are overwhelming and they are paralyzed and want to run. For others, their anger fuels their rebellion to the suggestions we make. In both cases, fear and anger are opposite ends of the same idea – a reaction to a journey into the unknown.

The answer for these people and for us today is to keep moving forward, one step at a time. Instead of focusing on what will happen tomorrow or the day after or the week after, simply focus on the next step without looking at the entire journey.

One step at a time, our lives are manageable. Looking at weeks, months, and years is overwhelming and doesn’t help anything.

In my own life, I used to think that if I could just figure out how things would work out then I would be prepared for whatever happened.  Time and time again, I’ve learned that no matter how hard I concentrate on the many ways a situation can play out, there’s at least ten I didn’t think of and more than one I could never have imagined.

My recovery from food addiction is the best example.

A month before I came into an Acorn Intensive, I had tried for years to get into recovery but no matter what I did, I couldn’t. I was preparing to live the rest of my life fat and miserable yet the next month everything changed and here I am over five years later living a life I never could have imagined.

So, let’s all keep moving forward one step at a time and we can get through this together!

Sharing SHiFTs by Amanda ~ Where Does Willingness Come From?

Willingness is the key to working a successful recovery program. When food addicts come into our programs some are willing to do anything to get into recovery while others wonder how they can become willing to work through the activities that will result in long-term recovery.

Though there is no one place where someone can go to pick up a jar of willingness, there are a few ways a food addict develops willingness. The most common way is to get to a point of feeling so much pain that the food addict is willing to do anything to stop feeling the intense pain that is now part of their life. This is known as hitting a bottom.

When a food addict hits a bottom, it’s literally that – the bottom of the pain they can tolerate. The pain has become unbearable and the food addict has hit the bottom of the container of pain that is possible for them to experience.

For some food addicts, hearing about this intense pain and knowing that they are headed in that direction, helps them to develop willingness as a means of avoiding future pain. In other words, these food addicts become willing to get into recovery so that they don’t have to hit bottom and experience intense pain.

Another way, a food addict becomes willing is to meditate on the idea of what willingness looks like in their lives. If this person were willing, what would they do?  How would they act? What steps would they take that they are not willing to right now? Putting our focus on something, oftentimes brings that into our lives.

This doesn’t mean that we can simply demand willingness to appear and it will.  Sometimes focusing on willingness may take days, months, or even years.

We’ve heard of several food addicts who were unwilling to enter a recovery program for over ten years then woke up one day willing to do anything to bring recovery into their lives.

We are all different and willingness comes to each of us in our own unique way.  The best thing we can do is to remember just how important willingness is to our recovery program.