The Trouble with 12-Step
When I arrived on the 12-step scene 25+ years ago, recovery depended on God's grace toward you. A few years later, it depended on your good works. Perfectly executed, weighed and measured every day, dependent on approval of a sponsor and multiple daily contacts with other suffering individuals.
I went to meetings, got sponsors, became a sponsor, followed food plans, worked the steps, relapsed, worked them again, recovered, and slipped some more. I served on regional boards, went to national meetings, spoke at international workshops, seminars and retreats. It was exhausting.
I found out there are worse things than being fat and feeling crazy around food. You could be thin and crazy too.
I believe in focusing on the solution, and not on the problem. If food is a symptom, not a root cause, then dieting is never going to fix what's wrong with us.
After a lifetime of weight cycling and trying every single thing I could to fix my body image problem, I fired the food police. Stepping off the diet train was the most freeing thing I have ever done. I discovered that the compulsive urges to binge that plagued me were not due to any white food substance or food addiction. It was the natural, biological result of restrictive eating. I began practicing the principals of Intuitive Eating and found them so freeing and so in tune with the core issues of 12-step recovery, that I want to share it with every discouraged dieter, relapsing food addict, food obsessed female, and body shamed woman I can.
Diet recovery statistics show that the 5% who keep their weight off long term is no better than placebo. We have been brainwashed. Instead of diets delivering on their 'happily ever after' promises, we put ourselves in a position of war with our bodies and psyche time after time.
The Lies We Believe
Many of us look back fondly at our first diet - almost like a first love. We felt sexy, smug, empowered and bullet proof! But statistics show that up to 2/3 of the people who lose weight on a diet go on to gain it back AND MORE. Each time we restrict in an effort to lose weight, our bodies become more efficient at ensuring we survive the famine. We get lowered metabolism and pack on a few more pounds for insurance.
The next diet isn't quite as easy or as empowering. We have suffered the humiliation of regain and double our efforts. Our bodies still cooperate - for a season.
Do this enough times and it is called weight cycling. Studies show that to be more damaging to our health than staying heavy in the first place. It certainly beats the crap out of us emotionally.
Eventually, we find we cannot stay on a diet for a month, a week, or sometimes even a day. We blame ourselves, our willpower, our age, our genetics, our environment. But we have a hard time believing that the $60 billion diet industry could be perpetrating a lie just to keep us coming back.