Click here for the SHiFT Strong Online Meeting Schedule


REMINDER 7:00 PM EST. TODAY: Don’t miss session “2” of the Q & A with Phil and Amanda! 

Thursday, September 6 at 7:00 p.m. EST.  Session 2 Q & A with Phil and Amanda (click the highlighted link below to join us)

Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android:
Or iPhone one-tap :
US: +16699006833,,7776123099#  or +16468769923,,7776123099#
Or Telephone:
Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):
US: +1 669 900 6833  or +1 646 876 9923
Meeting ID: 777 612 3099
International numbers available:

Thank you and I hope you will join us for one or both of the sessions!

Please, forward to anyone you think may be interested in either of the sessions!

5-Day Food Addiction Retreat comes to San Diego

“Summer freedom” – I’m not sure if prior to my recovery I would have included those two words in the same sentence and really meant them.

Summer means sunshine, warmth, outdoor fun, beautiful flowers filling the air with exquisite scents, daylight lasting until after 9 p.m., swim suits, shorts and tank tops.  For me, before recovery, my “summer freedom” equaled profuse sweating, with perspiration rolling down my neck and face and my hair sticking to my forehead–a very sexy look!  Added to that was an uncomfortable heat rash, meaning major chafing between my legs and under my stomach roll … painful, and often smelly, not to mention amusing!  When I thought no one was looking, I walked as if a beach ball were stuffed between my legs so my thighs wouldn’t rub together and exacerbate the rash. “Summer freedom” also meant avoiding the beach and pools at all costs–or going only when I was basically the only other human being there because if people saw me in my bathing suit, they would know I was overweight (Ummm, I think it was pretty obvious fully clothed, Amanda). “Summer freedom” also meant lying to my friends when they invited me to places like the beach. It meant camping, which I actually really enjoyed until the sadness crept in, mainly because camping included eating junk food all day and night. As the rest of the world became excited and energized, connecting with others in the picturesque outdoors, I stood on the sidelines watching–sad, lonely, and ashamed–and all the while desperately trying to portray that all was good and that my life was great.

The truth was my life was far from great as I was tethered to my obsession with food, body and weight. No, freedom was not a word I would use to describe my life, and certainly not a word I would use to describe summer.

Today “freedom” is exactly the word I would use to describe the feelings I’ve been experiencing this summer. I have the “freedom” to take my niece, Georgia, hiking up Grouse Mountain and know that when she gets tired and “can’t walk anymore,” as is almost a guarantee with any four-year-old, I have the ability to hoist her onto my shoulders and keep going. (I know Georgia doesn’t look too impressed in this picture, but I promise we had a super fun day–this was just after her dramatic experience of “being cold, wanting to go home, and not being able to take one more step,” which was followed two minutes later by her “having so much fun!”)


I have the freedom to hop on my bike with my Dad and go for a spin around beautiful Vancouver.




And I’ve saved the best for last:  I have the freedom to snuggle with my niece and feel the pure contentment, peace and utter joy that this little human being is in my life. Yes, I could have done this before, as well as all the other things listed above.  However, they would have been far more physically challenging–I didn’t really have a lap that my niece could sit on!  More importantly, I would not have been truly present, as my mind would have been hijacked either by obsessing over how I looked or what I was going to be able to eat next–or even more devastating, how much I hated  myself and my life!

Yes, recovery has brought me freedom to live a life beyond my wildest dreams, including all the ups, downs, and in-betweens that make up life in our magnificent world. It has allowed me to show up for my niece and for everyone else in my life in an authentic, integral way.

Today I am truly grateful that I can honestly say “summer” and “freedom” in the same sentence and know they truly fit together.

Join me in beautiful San Diego September 21-26 for five life-changing days. 

5-Day Food Addiction Retreat
Date:  September 21-26
Includes: 4 delicious, home-cooked meals a day, lodging in a beautiful San Diego home, daily yoga, and the tools needed to begin your journey of food freedom.

For more information please email me directly at or visit our website at

Q & A with Phil and Amanda Sunday, Sept 2 and Thursday, Sept 6

Do you have questions about food addiction or the ACORN Primary Intensive?


I would like to take a moment to welcome you to ACORN and thank you for contacting us. This MAY be your first step to Recovery!

I know you have probably received our “welcome” letter with attachments regarding the ACORN Primary Intensive© but, I would like to take this one step further to answer your questions and be sure you understand what you can expect during this lifesaving program.

We have scheduled two Question & Answer sessions with Phil Werdell (ACORN founder and facilitator) and Amanda Leith (ACORN facilitator). In this session, we will give an overview of what to expect at an ACORN Primary Intensive and leave time for your questions toward the end.

Please, let me know if you are interested in either of these dates/time as we will only take a limited number for the first session. If you have questions before the Q & A sessions, let me know and I will do my best to answer!

This session will be no cost to you and best of all you, will receive a 10% discount for your first ACORN Primary Intensive.

Sunday, September 2 at 2:00 p.m. EST.  Session 1 Q & A with Phil and Amanda (click the highlighted link below to join us)

Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android:
Or iPhone one-tap :
US: +16699006833,,7776123099#  or +16468769923,,7776123099#
Or Telephone:
Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):
US: +1 669 900 6833  or +1 646 876 9923
Meeting ID: 777 612 3099

Thursday, September 6 at 7:00 p.m. EST.  Session 2 Q & A with Phil and Amanda (click the highlighted link below to join us)
Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android:
Or iPhone one-tap :
US: +16699006833,,7776123099#  or +16468769923,,7776123099#
Or Telephone:
Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):
US: +1 669 900 6833  or +1 646 876 9923
Meeting ID: 777 612 3099
International numbers available:

Thank you and I hope you will join us for one or both of the sessions!

Please, forward to anyone you think may be interested in either of the sessions!

Thank you,


September 21 – 26 ~  Primary Intensive – San Diego, CA
October 9 – 14  ~ Primary Intensive – Bradenton, FL
October 15 – 20 ~   Living In Recovery – Bradenton, FL
November 23 – 25 ~  Alumni Weekend – Codependency for Food Addicts – Vancouver, B.C.
November 27 – December 2 ~  Primary Intensive – Vancouver, B.C.
December 3 – 9 ~  Living In Recovery  – Vancouver, B.C.
January 18 – 23 ~  Primary Intensive  – Bradenton, FL
January 24 – 30 ~   Living In Recovery – Bradenton, FL
Feb 1 – 3 ~  Alumni Weekend – Bradenton, FL
Feb 8 – 13 ~  Primary Intensive – Private Group – Bradenton, FL

What the Heck is Self-Care?

I had very mixed up ideas about this throughout my life…these ideas included calling in sick to stay home bingeing and watching TV all day, buying myself an ice cream cone because I deserved it, missing exercise class because I was “too tired and went last week” and buying new clothes instead of using my money to go to the dentist as clothes made me “look good”. These are all warped ideas and they were the best I could come up with prior to recovery…to me, self-care used to mean doing anything I wanted and that made me “feel good”. All of these things were designed to make me “Feel Good”.

“Feeling good” now comes to me very differently than it used to. The things that truly fill me up and therefore leave me feeling happy, peaceful and content now include:

  • Following through when I say I will do something
  • Rigorously eating my abstinent food plan every day
  • Walking in nature
  • Riding my bike, flying down a hill
  • Connection to my Higher Power through daily meditation and prayer
  • Playing with my 5-year old niece, Georgia ( you knew I had to get that one in there)
  • Laughing until my stomach hurts with my Mom
  • Making my bed every morning
  • Doing the dishes after each meal
  • Being compassionate to others in pain due to food addiction
  • Telling the truth

And I could go on and on…that actually surprised me. When I started writing this list I couldn’t think of much and then once I started they just kept flowing. Wow! My life is pretty amazing and I “feel good” so much more than I ever used to. Even when I am struggling (which let’s be real…is often, for the simple fact that I am a human being which means I will have challenges every day of my life) I can still feel good and look after myself. It’s actually imperative that I practice good self-care, I believe that recovery is just that…self-care and looking after myself! So these things actually are life-saving for me. What actions are life-saving for you? What makes you “feel good” and what is your personal definition of “self-care”?

Would love to hear your thoughts on this.




Miraculous Journey

Happy June!!

We are just days away from the beginning of summer…yay! I used to dread summer as for me it meant shame and pain. Shame of my obese body that I wasn’t willing to stuff into summer clothes (tank tops, shorts and bathing suits) and the physical pain of the rashes that showed up on my body from the multiple places where my skin chafed (you know what I mean, between my thighs, under my tummy…etc.). Thanks to recovery, summer means something very different for me now! It also seems like it means something different to Skylar. Skylar is an ACORN alum who joined us at our Primary Intensive just over a year ago. In honor of Men’s Health Month (yes, June is Men’s Health month) we asked Skylar to share a bit of his recovery journey with us…..and WOW what a journey! Keep reading to hear where Skylar was only 12 months ago and where he is now. Truly inspiring.

I would love to hear from our other male alum about their journey too, drop me a line, say hi and give me an update.

We also have some exciting news…TWO new locations for upcoming events!! Click here for the details. Ok, I will give you a hint…one location may possibly be in California and one location may possibly be in New England.

May your June be filled with inner peace, abstinence and growth,


I’m a 49-year-old married guy who’s been overweight most all of my life. 

As a reference, just over a year ago I weighed in at around 350 lbs. and this weight was quite normal for me. I’ve had periods of some weight release over the years, with diets, trainers and personal cooks. All of these were things I knew I needed just to get me on track to be able to get on with my life and get some “normal” eating habits. 

I’ve had a lot of experience with drug and alcohol addiction. I’ve been around the rooms of 12  Step fellowships for 24 years at the end of this month. This is something that I hold true and love to celebrate. I’ve worked the steps with a sponsor and have taken a lot of other men through the steps. But I did all this with an obese body; not looking within as my eating became an addiction. 

About nine years ago, I first found the rooms of OA. Realizing that “I knew this stuff”, I did what I knew I needed to do. I got a sponsor, bought some literature and wrote out an abstinence list of foods that were my “alcoholic foods”. I started working on the steps, and I lost some weight. I got some freedom, but for a long time, I felt like it was still just a diet that I was on and there was a bunch of foods that I couldn’t eat. Volume of eating and time of eating were things that were still up to me to decide. When I ate out with friends or went to restaurants; as long as I was mindful about what my decisions were I was good: I still had my abstinence. 

Over time I started to allow more and more foods into my life that weren’t there before. At least I wasn’t bingeing on this or that I told myself. But over time I had my weight back although I believed that I felt good about myself. I was somewhat shamed about going to OA meetings so I just started to skip those. And so I was back to the life that I’ve always known, minus a few things I learned in OA. Some time went by and I really fell back into the food, and my ever expanding wardrobe had to get a few new additions to it in the 4 to 5X size range. 

Just over a year ago an old friend from OA paid me a visit. She said that my time was up and the only way out of the food addiction for me was to go to treatment. This was something I had looked at for months and even years. Within the hour, I was booked into the center. I was terrified but completely willing to do this. Over and over I considered and reconsidered: I wanted this, but I was about to get on a plane and check myself into treatment. Am I that screwed up? I knew that I didn’t know what else I could do. From that moment on I decided to stop the binge eating. I put down the sugar and a few other foods that were obviously not doing me any good, and I just waited out my days until I got on the plane.

On May 2017, I arrived, alone and a bit nervous, but totally willing to start something. I didn’t want to call this a new chapter, but it was definitely something different. 

Day 1. I met the group of people who were in a similar situation as me. We talked about food plans and a whole bunch of other stuff and I committed my food for the first time to someone. That week was kind of like going to summer camp, except by the end of it I was able to have a better understanding what food addiction looks like, and how it had me in its grips. 

Committing my food to a sponsor. Weighing and measuring. I was committing to all the things I said I would do at treatment. It was hard. In fact some days it really sucked, but I had willingness. Where it came from I don’t know, but I had it. The one other thing I knew I needed that nothing else out there offered me was a sense of spirituality.

Spirituality was something that helped me all those years ago in my other 12 Step program. Whatever it was back then, I really needed it now more than ever. So when I got home I checked in with my sponsor and scheduled time to work the steps. I did a bunch of grocery shopping and had to clean my kitchen. But not only with a rag and cleaning products; I got a friend to come over and give it a smudge. Some burning sage and an eagle feather filled my kitchen with smoke from the abalone shell. I placed some crystals around. I sat in the middle of my kitchen floor and started to meditate. I needed all the help I could get. And some sort of connection with the powers that be is where the difference lies. I’ve spiritualized my kitchen. 

I made a commitment to my sponsor that I was going to do this food plan unchanged, weighed and measured for 90 days before reevaluating. My 90 days had come and gone, not always easy, but I did it. With the help of a dietitian, my sponsor and my sponsor’s sponsor, I did make some slight adjustment to my food plan. I definitely now know I can’t do this alone. 

Today I have a great relationship with what I get to eat and with my sponsor. I go to meetings regularly and I really understand more than ever what food addiction means to me. I have admitted that I’m a food addict, powerless over food. One day at a time. I get to be free! I’m now under 200 lbs., somewhere I haven’t been since I’m sure I was a teenager. I’m feeling better than I’ve ever felt, and loving the life I get to live today.

Upcoming ACORN Events

Weekly Teleconference “Nuts & Bolts”

Please join us Wednesday evenings for recovery support.

This no-cost abstinence support group is open to all. Led by Sherri Goodman, professional trainee.
Wednesdays at 7 pm (EST.)
Conference call in number:
(605) 468-8002
Access Number 1014962#