Weights and Measures

Weights and Measures

By Lawrence Scott 02/27/15

Obesity rates have skyrocketed in the last three years as we learn every day on the news, but most of us choose to ignore it. 

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Lawrence Scott
Lawrence Scott

What you are about to read is not about how many years you drank or have been sober, how many Quaaludes you put into your body in the ‘70s, or even how many people are at your particular meeting today. This is about a much-maligned topic in the arenas of addiction and treatment—obesity. 

The topic is avoided because it is often difficult to admit that some substances may be harmful to your health, coupled with the fact that it’s not alcohol, drugs, gambling or even legal addictive substances such as cigarettes or caffeine. The majority of substance abuse treatment centers don’t talk about nutrition and good health with their patients. Heart-related deaths, diabetes, and many other comorbidities associated with obesity, in addition to the psychological toll it takes are more of a factor in total deaths in the United States than all of the aforementioned vices combined. This is all according to the latest edition of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention from 2013: 

Note especially that obesity rates have skyrocketed in the last three years as we learn every day on the news, but most of us choose to ignore it. It’s become a growing epidemic abroad, as well. It affects all people across societal strata and ethnic groups. 

There is, of course, Overeaters Anonymous for people who embrace the 12-step philosophy, which was my personal introduction to the Big Book. As I’ve evidenced, OA is an interesting animal within the addiction community. It’s a joke to some, who believe that it contributes nothing and the same fat people (note: mostly women) get together every week and bitch and moan about how they didn’t lose two pounds the previous week. To a certain extent, this is not such a poor description for what an OA meeting truly is. On the other hand, some lose weight, celebrate the numbers lost and confidence gained, all forgetting that there are morbidly obese people among them who have tried to lose weight and failed 101 times.

I was housed in a treatment center, then in a halfway house for food addiction. Subsequently, I moved to that area for a few years to work. Now, I can attest to you that I did not fail OA, because I lost about 90 pounds at the time, but did the program fail me? I worked my butt off in the program as a sponsor and as a sponsee. I stuck to it for a full three years and then my depression set in and I turned back to food for comfort. I slowly gained the weight back, as I would go to other meetings, eat all the food that either another member or I brought and went back to unhealthy eating habits. This, of course, is not the only reason I gained back all of my weight, but it is an inherent part of the ritual of a meeting, in general.

As a result, in June, 2001, I weighed 409 pounds. As I gained the weight there were many times that I was either invisible or the source of many people’s scorn, whose derisive attitudes made it impossible not to feel some sort of psychic pain, as well. I had endured this inner torture for years. “It was just part of my makeup,”  I reasoned. I assumed and resigned myself to the fact that I’d have to live with being obese for the rest of my life. Then, in 2002, I had the opportunity to have gastric bypass surgery which, even now, is looked down upon as a quick fix. There is nothing further from the truth.

As difficult as it was back before I had gastric bypass surgery in 2002, I wasn’t prepared for the fact that my depression and anxiety just became worse over the past twelve years or so. Even as I lost weight at a very quick rate at the beginning. I found, as the years progressed, it became easier and easier to eat certain foods that were once more difficult to eat. My stomach had grown and therefore, my appetite grew. I didn’t exercise much, if at all, and I gained back 80 pounds. Certain exogenous circumstances, including an accident that led me down the pharmaceutical route to comfort for a short period of time, became my reasons to eat more. I went to NA meetings and the cake, cookies and other junk food were always laid out for the faithful and of course, I had to fork over the consumables from time-to-time and overate. 

When I stopped going to meetings after detoxing from Percocet in 2009 (after being overprescribed by my PCP) and then kicking it in five months with Suboxone. I have been prescribed Percocet since then, but I can moderate it now to where I don’t need more after the pain is gone. After the bout with Percocet five years ago, I still had problems, of course, as we all do. For the first four years, I was in and out of doing well and until March of 2013, I had severe struggles with depression and anxiety.

Since that time, with the help of my doctors, who changed certain medications and with the aid of physical therapists, I have started to feel better. After over a year of hardly getting out of my bed, I started to walk slowly for fifteen minutes, then thirty minutes and by this past August of 2014, I was able to get up the fortitude to join a gym. As of this writing, I work out almost daily. I take care of myself as never before, physically, emotionally and spiritually. I see a therapist regularly. I eat things that are healthy for me. By virtue of that, I have lost 86 pounds and I’m gaining muscle mass for the first time in my 53 years of living on this Earth. There are times that I miss the fast foods but they are few and far between now. The medications I was taking were starting to work for the first time ever. I need fewer of them, as a result, as well. I did this all of my own volition and more importantly, by myself.

There may be a parallel to you here between the fact that people who don’t follow a good food plan and exercise will obviously gain weight and between the people who don’t follow a plan that is positively guaranteed to work if you work it, are ultimately doomed to failure. This is a fallacy, though. There is a double standard at work here amongst many people who follow the 12-step philosophy. I chose to put the food in my mouth and nobody forced me to do it. I had the power to follow the dozens of diets that were forced in front of me. I tried every means imaginable to humankind, as in OA, there is no “set program” that one must follow to in order to lose weight.  

However, people still meet at diners before and after AA, NA, GA and other meetings to commiserate, even after eating all of the doughnuts before and during the meeting.  In the end, does the phrase “half-measures availed us nothing,” mean that I shouldn’t measure my half-cup of flour for which the recipe calls and put in the full sack? The latter action makes as much sense as the phrase itself.

Do you consider people who are fat—lazy and unmotivated slobs? Think about that for a minute and ask yourself if you believe that you may have a choice to what you put into your body, albeit the heroin in your veins, the Whiskey Sour down your throat. or the Snickers candy bar you just ate.

Lawrence has a Master’s Degree in Languages and Linguistics and is currently a freelance translator and writer. He speaks several languages and has traveled, worked and lived around the world, including Mexico, Uruguay, China and most of Western Europe. He has written extensively on the Twelve Steps, its history and its current place in society.

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Lawrence Scott has a Master’s Degree in Languages and Linguistics and is currently a freelance translator and writer. He speaks several languages and has traveled, worked and lived around the world, including Mexico, Uruguay, China and most of Western Europe. He has written extensively on the Twelve Steps, its history and its current place in society.

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