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Bernice's Story: No Longer Afraid of a Cookie

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Part One:

Let me tell you a little about myself. I'll be 49 years old on December 28th, I'm married (for 20 years), have no children (except the man I'm married to, bless his heart!), and work as an Executive Secretary at a large city public library.

I have always (that's a-l-w-a-y-s!) battled with my weight and compulsive eating. I've tried every single diet under the sun and some that I even made up on my own. I've joined and quit Weight Watchers five times. The last time I walked out of a meeting, I vowed never to go back. Why did I leave? Because I got so damn tired of the women in that meeting standing up and saying, "I was so bad this weekend. I ate a cookie!" You ate a cookie?! Even then, before knowing all of the stuff I've learned in the past few weeks, I KNEW that there was something seriously wrong with that statement.

Two weeks ago, I signed up for the OA (Overeaters Anonymous) loop. Again, I found myself thinking I had come home. I threw myself into the rules and regulations of beginning the 12-step program and seriously started looking for a sponsor. And I read—oh how I read—book after book after book dealing with Overeater's Anonymous. But, after 8 days of "abstinence", and after reading hundreds of posts from other OA members, I discovered that little nagging feeling in the back of my head. You know the on—it's the kind you get when something is not quite right—just a wee bit outta kilter!

I pulled back and started thinking about what was wrong. And then it hit me: for 2 weeks, I had been looking at myself in the mirror in the morning and saying, "You have a disease. You are sick. You need professional help." I found that I suddenly didn't like saying those words to myself. I didn't feel like I had a "disease"—I just have a problem with food. The second thing I realized is that I was still putting myself on a diet—and a very strict one at that—and I know full well what happens to me when I try to diet. Oh brother! There's no food safe within miles when I finally let go.

Then about a week ago, a Guardian Angel (you know who you are!!!!), sent me an e-mail and said, "Have you tried reading Overcoming Overeating?" She also directed me to the OO home page. Well, I went to the home page and read every single word. I jumped up from my desk and went to the stacks to see if we had the OO Book. Unfortunately, we did not, but we did have a copy of When Women Stop Hating Their Bodies, so I checked it out on Friday and began reading it.

By the following Wednesday, I made a trip to a bookstore and bought not only that book but a copy of Overcoming Overeating. And suddenly I felt the very beginnings of "real" healing. I don't want to live in a world where I'm afraid of a bag of cookies! I don't want to live a life where I am constantly thinking about what I'm going to eat, when I'm going to eat it, and writing it down. I don't want to hate myself anymore.

I also let go! For the first time in 30 years I stopped thinking about weight loss and started thinking about acceptance. And I realized that if I never lost a single ounce, it would be alright! I mean it would TRULY be alright. Because what I want to ultimately achieve is that LOVE OF LIFE again! So THIS weekend, I started looking in the mirror and smiling at my reflection and saying out loud, "Hello! Let's get to know one another, shall we?"

Part Two (about a month later):

I have now been allowing myself to eat every single thing I wanted. I've eaten more cookies and more ice cream and more candy since beginning this process than I have in the past year. And each and every time I did I made sure NOT to yell at myself. I knew that there was a very good reason for doing this. And after nearly 3 weeks of continuous "sweet" eating, I realized that I was slowly but surely killing each and every demon that had plagued me since I was a little girl.

I'm now no longer afraid of cookies. Can you believe that?! And I'm not afraid of Bridge Mix candy either, or butter pecan ice cream, or triple chocolate cake. I can walk into a bakery now and not break out in a sweat or buy items and hide them when I get home. The madness has begun to pass and will soon be gone.

Now I find myself craving fruits and vegetables and whole grain breads! They make my body sing when I eat them, and I find that they are just what I want. That's where the discussion of healthy foods on the e-mail list was so important to me. Because I was beginning to feel the same sense of "guilt" in wanting a broccoli salad as opposed to a piece of cake. But it's what I wanted!!!! And it's what satisfied me. Does this mean I'll never eat cookies again. Oh bet me! I'm sure I'll go home some day and want just that for dinner with a glass of milk. The difference is: it's what I'll want, and it will satisfy me…

Ok… now for the downside?!?!

So I go into my closet to get dressed for work and find that 3 of the 4 blouses I pulled out didn't fit. "Uh oh," I said. "See what happens when you eat 'sweets' for 3 weeks instead of dieting? Now look what you went and did. You can't fit into your clothes. Keep it up and you'll hit 300 pounds by Christmas. Then what will you do?!" I have to admit, the thought put me in a right panic for 2 whole days. And then I went into action. Did I begin a diet? Well, truth is I did think about it—for about 10 minutes—before saying to myself, "Therein lies madness, Bernice! You'll undo everything you've accomplished so far!"

"But the clothes… they don't fit!" I cried.

"That's right, they don't fit—so what are you going to do about that?"

Well, I'll tell you what I did. I grabbed a roll of garbage bags and began throwing things out of my closet and onto the bed. Every single thing that did not fit was bagged. (And here's the funny part: some of this stuff I've been hanging onto for so long thinking I'd eventually fit into it—when I pulled at the gummed waistbands, they disintegrated!!!!!) By the time I was done, I had 4 piles—and 30 empty hangers! My friend Sabrina will be the lucky one, cause most of the "good clothes" will go to her. The rest were just too pathetic to keep.

Now, when I open up my closet, I am no longer plagued with clothes staring at me saying, "Diet and you'll fit into us. Diet and you'll fit into us!" Rather, I see clothes that I can wear now—that say, "Do you want sophisticated or casual today? Do you feel vibrant or muted?"

Step 2 of the process faced and accomplished.


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