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LETTERS mailbox

Dear OO,

It's such a pleasure to be part of a group of smart people who have, once again, survived the cycle of ending one year and starting another without making any kind of "resolution" about their weight and food.

It has not been easy resisting the promises of Jenny, Ultra Slim, Weight Watchers, and Nutri-System combined—they know us well and get organized for the "diet season."

In particular, they offer the sublime illusion of "beginning" that comes with each new year.

You see, I used to live for beginnings. Any beginning, you name it: the beginning of a meal, a day, a week, a month, a season, a relationship, a school year, a decade…

I still remember myself years ago, sitting on the damp ground one cold night, staring through the fog at the city hall clock, mechanically eating from a bag of donuts. It was a quarter to midnight, and those were to be my last donuts for as long as I lived. The idea was that by the twelfth ring of midnight, like the Cinderella of dieting, I would throw away whatever was left of the donuts and somehow walk away from this shamanic ritual transformed into the person I wanted to be more than anything in the world: someone who would never go off her diet again.

That was a lonely birthday night, but it could have been any Sunday night, 31st of the month, last day of spring, or New Year's Eve. With every beginning came the hope for the ultimate metamorphosis into thinness, the hope to finally correct what seemed to be so hopelessly wrong: my body, my food, myself.

Among the many things that feeding myself on demand has revealed to me, one stands out while I am writing to you, in the midst of holiday shopping and planning a New Year's party with friends. It is the deep, abiding knowledge and acceptance that Life is not elsewhere. It is not after I have finished the last chocolate in the box, not next summer, not after the twelfth toll of midnight, but every moment that I live. And yes, this includes the traffic jam on this rainy bad-hair-day after an unsettling discussion with a close friend, as well as the moments of delight which I was always too busy counting calories or planning mutinies to ever notice.

For me, and I hope for you, 1994 will be a year of continuation and refinement, not transformation. Occasionally, on the rainy bad-hair days, I miss the illusionary power of the twelve bells of midnight. Most of the time, though, I think I am—we are—pretty lucky indeed.

Magic is not where I used to think it was.


Dear OO,

What a joy to hear of the upcoming newsletter. I can't begin to tell you how much I have grown thanks to the Overcoming Overeating program. It will be very supportive to hear of different struggles and accomplishments in the future.

I feel I have succeeded with the Overcoming Overeating program, even though it wasn't an easy route. My main problem is trying to explain the anti-diet rebellion to others. No one believes me.

Considering the years of compulsive eating/dieting that I have suffered through, thanks to the Overcoming Overeating program, I have a new, never-ending spirit of energy and enthusiasm toward myself and life in general. I now strive to be challenged academically, spiritually, mentally and physically. I no longer have a limit to my growth, and, most important, I believe in myself. I realize I have the strength to determine what each new breath will bring.

Thank you again for the Overcoming Overeating program and the peace of mind you have given me.

Sincerely,

Kay


Dear OO,

At work I am surrounded by an active Weight Watcher member on one side and an active Nutri-System member on the other! Thank God I read your book in Spring 1991. I'm not skinny by any means, but I don't have any guilt about not being on another diet either—any guilt would make me binge!

Looking forward to your newsletter,

Elaine


Dear Jane and Carol,

I just had to write you to thank you for the best Holiday Season I've ever had in my life! The best Christmas gift I received this year was the freedom from my food addiction and obsession! Thank you for making this possible for me!

Thanksgiving and Christmas were both wonderful. My family was here visiting, and I was actually more interested in spending time visiting with them instead of being obsessed with all the food that was around! In fact, I ate less at both holiday meals than I ever have before—not because I was "fighting" to control my eating—but simply because I just wasn't really interested in the food, except to satisfy my stomach hunger! Something that really helped me was to reassure myself that I could always have more—even the "special" items that we usually only have at the holiday meals, I could make again and again after the holidays if I wanted to! This idea really helped me to calm down about the food and not have the urgency to eat it all in a hurry before it gets away from me!

We had so many leftovers and so much food was all around me, that I was completely "calm" about it! In the past, I would have been so worried about not getting enough of the foods I loved before everyone else ate it all that I'd have binged the whole time—since it was "acceptable" to binge at these times. But this time, I knew my family was only here for a few days, but the food would be here long after they were gone. So I was more focused on my family. To me, this is how a "normal eater" would react! As a matter of fact, we still have some of the food from Christmas. It's there on the counter, and I have a little bit here and there, but I'm not being controlled by it like I used to be. Although there have been holidays in the past where I was able to control my intake, I was always just dying for the food on the inside! This time was so different—I didn't even think about the foods—except when my stomach got hungry.

I know I'm going on and on about this, but I'm so excited about it! This is truly a miracle in my life! If you had told me about 14 months ago that by the end of 1993 I would no longer have a food obsession and compulsion to binge, I never would have believed you! But it's true. I can hardly believe it myself. It's hard to believe I'm the same person. Even my husband is amazed. Another amazing fact is that I no longer have "food dreams!" You know, the kind of dreams where you're binging on all the foods you're trying to avoid eating—and then wake up and feel so frightened and ashamed until you realize it was just a dream! I guess now that my body and mind are not deprived of food anymore there's no reason for my subconscious to dream about it! This just shows how deep the food obsession goes.

The other thing I've noticed lately is that, just like your book suggests, the foods I thought were my "favorites" (like cake, cookies, ice cream, and chocolate) are not really my favorites anymore. The other day we were at a restaurant, and when we went to the "dessert bar" I actually wanted the cantaloupe and honeydew melon instead of ice cream! I never thought I'd see the day when I'd choose fruit over ice cream! And the best part about it was that it was MY choice, not some stupid diet telling me to eat fruit! I feel like I have so much more dignity now. Oh, and I just went to the doctor last week and I actually lost 5 pounds over the holidays. This is only a side benefit, since I'm not even trying to lose weight, but it does let me know that my eating is really changing—without me having to deprive myself in any way! I was just so wrapped up in my family over the holidays, that I naturally ate less and in the process, let go of some weight!

Also, I'm so much more emotionally stable these days! I guess it's because I was so involved in either binging or dieting before, and that was taking up all of my mental energy. Now I feel so FREE and calm about food! I'm actually able to spend more time living instead of in a food fog. I wish everyone could find out about this way of eating. I get so frustrated when I watch talk shows about dieting—especially the ones that have so-called "experts" about it—and I want to talk to every one of them about your methods.

Well, I just had to thank you again for changing my life so drastically! I feel like for the first time since I was seven years old, I'm actually a normal eater now!

Gratefully,

Jacki

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