OA Member Stories

A Place to Share Your Experience, Strength, and Hope

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Writing is one of OA’s nine Tools of Recovery.

Share your Experience, Strength, and Hope story here – OA Carrying the Message Blog
This Twelve Step Program is My Way of Life Today ~ 10.23.2023

I remember the first OA meeting I attended was on a Wednesday lunchtime meeting in September 1985 on the recommendation of a therapist. At that time, I suffered from many addictions: overeating, debt, drugs and alcohol. But I thought if I got thin, my life would turn around. When I entered the OA meeting room, I felt totally at home.

I grew up in a critical household. In my home, I had to appear “happy” all the time. Feelings were denied and not expressed. My first recollection of overeating is when I was 4 years old. I would watch cartoons on Saturday morning, and I would keep going back to the kitchen for more white bread. However, it was important to my mother that I was thin, so when I was in eighth grade, she took me to a doctor who prescribed diet pills. Later, I tried commercial pay and weigh programs. I was only 5 feet tall, and at my highest weight I was 155 pounds, so I was very focused on my body and my weight. These diets worked until they didn’t.

In those days, there were no OA-specific books. We used AA literature. There was also not a lot of structure. For example, I didn’t even have a sponsor for a few years. But I did use whatever tools OA provided. In 1993 my husband left. To cope, every day I wrote down three things that gave me joy, that I’ve accomplished or that I was grateful for. This practice has been a mainstay throughout my years in OA, as I still write a daily gratitude list.

I have been clean and sober since September 1985. I got abstinent from sugar a couple of years after I started OA and have a list of 9 alcoholic foods that I do not eat. I have been mostly abstinent over the years, but I have had relapses. Through it all, I did not give up and I always came back.

However, the strongest recovery I’ve had has been in the last 10 years. Today, I have a great sponsor who is taking me through the Steps again. The 4th Step is a regular part of my recovery, and when I use it to address life problems, the discomfort is lifted every time. Zoom meetings were a godsend. Since the pandemic, I have attended a meeting every day. I also volunteer to do service, which is an integral part of my program.

To me, recovery is living a sane and useful life, and not eating compulsively. I have found that it is easier to recover when I am abstinent. The program I follow today includes a food plan that was provided by a nutritionist. I weigh and measure my food at home. I keep my food simple, and work on enjoying it more. I used to have a problem with night eating. I call another OA every night at 9 pm and commit to her that I am done eating. I am grateful to have had physical recovery, losing about 40 pounds.

Today I have a morning routine and a night routine. In the morning I read OA or AA literature, including For Today, Voices of Recovery, or an AA daily reader Twenty Four Hours a Day. Then I write a couple of sentences about each reading. Writing has been especially effective for me. Throughout the day I reach out to fellows by calling or texting. I’m grateful to receive calls. Before bed, I write a nightly review and send it to my sponsor.

Over time, I have gained a lot of insight and maturity, and watched myself grow spiritually and emotionally. This program has given me a life and continues to give me joy. I don’t beat myself up anymore. Life keeps getting better and better. Today I love myself! I know I do not have to go through life alone because of Program and my HP who loves me so much. I enjoy stability, rather than the chaos I used to thrive on. I have a greater degree of acceptance of myself and others. I don’t try to change others.

What works for me is honesty: no secrets, no lying. I speak my own truth. Today I am in a better place with my family. I have strengthened my relationship with my daughter, as I was not there for her a lot when I was in my disease. I have a grandson and feel like HP is guiding me to be the best “Mimi” I can be.

To the newcomer: keep coming to meetings, as many as you can. Don’t try to figure things out for yourself but ask your OA fellows and HP for guidance. There is a lot of hope in the rooms. Everyone was a newcomer once. Welcome!

“Peggy R”

OA Toolkit: Sponsorship ~ 10.20.2023

Q: Do you have a sponsor and are you a sponsor?
Laura: Yes, I have a sponsor and I sponsor two people.

Q: How does sponsorship help your recovery?
Laura: I am inspired by my sponsees. They blow my mind with their courage and bravery. I get to watch their recovery unfold through their willingness to share their truth, to grow, change, and follow suggestions. I appreciate the way that getting to know someone over several years creates a kind of shorthand that people can have with one another. For example, my sponsor can tease me a little bit and say, “oh, sounds like your anxiety is rearing up again.” Or, “which character defect do you think is activated right now?” I value the depth of rapport that is developed over time..

Q: How much do you talk to your sponsor? What do you try to focus on?
Laura: I’m fortunate that my sponsor is retired and is a little bit more accessible. So we don’t have set calling times and I reach out as needed, generally a couple of times a week. I also reach out to him by email. I send a list of my daily action plan, my gratitude for the previous day, and the fears I’m surrendering to God. Those are the three items I cover in my morning check-in. I have a separate food sponsor. I report to her on an as-needed basis. That’s how I work with my sponsors. My sponsees do call me at a set time and that works well for them and for me. So everybody is different..

Q: In your time in program, how have you found sponsors?
Laura: I have found sponsors at meetings, by getting to know people through outreach calls, and by asking if they are available. I’ve also sometimes networked with people. For example, someone will ask me if I’m available to sponsor them. If I’m not, I may know someone else who’s available to sponsor, so I refer them.

I find it works well to suggest a two-week temporary sponsorship arrangement. That’s what I do with everyone who asks me to sponsor them. It gives them a chance to get to know my style and see if we are a good match. Sometimes, it’s just a scheduling issue and our schedules don’t correspond. By testing it out for two weeks. the prospective sponsee and sponsor can then decide if they want to work together on a more permanent basis..

I believe deeply in the powerful connection that can come from having another person who is carefully following my recovery, and providing guidance, spiritual input, help with the steps, and an inspiration to do service and abstain each day..

“Laura S”

Many Surrenders: Enjoying Long Term Recovery in OA ~ 6.26.2023

Like many compulsive eaters, I believe that I have been addicted to food since infancy. I was especially addicted to sugar in all forms, including simply spooning raw sugar or chocolate syrup into my mouth. But I also ate paper, baseball cards and other things most children don’t eat. I grew up in a family where addictions weren’t obvious to me, yet there were loads of relatives who were overweight or had problems with alcohol. I now understand that there was not enough love and attention to go around in my family. I relied on food for comfort and to fill the emotional void I was experiencing. I began to gain weight as I entered puberty. I was lonely, and introverted. I was teased by classmates and often felt left out of activities. I felt shame about my body, about my clothes and not fitting in. At age 16, I began drinking.

After grade school, I entered the seminary with the hope that a spiritual environment would provide a place for me to heal. But unfortunately, it didn’t. I also gained a great deal of weight while at the seminary and left after my four years of college were completed. I did not think that the religious life was for me, but in the seminary, I discovered that I had a calling to help people, and that led me to social work and nonprofit work.

I had very little experience dating, but I married and had three children. Life was emotionally difficult, and I had lots of fear and insecurity. Over time, the marriage became harder and more stressful. I was using food to cope and still struggling with my weight. I lost and regained 80 pounds three times. From ages 16-30, I used both alcohol and overeating to get through each day. Through a near-miss accident while drunk, and a conversation with a therapist, I reluctantly started going to Alcoholics Anonymous in 1980. When I stopped drinking alcohol, my eating increased.

I did not know about Overeaters Anonymous at that time. But I went to an AA meeting and met a woman who was also going to OA. She told me about OA and after an A.A. friend helped me with my fear that going to O.A. would hurt my A.A. recovery, I attended my first OA meeting at a hospital in Baltimore. I knew I was home! OA gave me the language to describe how lonely and isolated I was and gave me a path to hope and recovery.

I immediately recognized that for me, sugar was like alcohol. Miraculously, I was relieved of the sugar addiction immediately. I got a sponsor and began working the Steps. I gradually lost weight. But I still held on to old ideas and behaviors. Slowly, one by one, I surrendered those substances that I was clinging to. Over time, I surrendered flour and bread, and later, with great reluctance, I surrendered caffeine. Caffeine withdrawal proved to be even harder than sugar withdrawal. One thing I was consistent about was going to meetings.

About 4-5 years ago, I finally faced the fact that I was holding on to the right to use comfort foods. It wasn’t very often in my mind – every 3-6 months or so. I rationalized that as long as I wasn’t gaining weight and stopped after an hour or two, it wasn’t a problem. I came to see I was playing with fire. I realized that I hadn’t fully surrendered my food or my life. Like other foods and behaviors, I resisted giving up, I kept thinking that I could control and manage my life by my own power.

The truth is that I needed to get honest, surrender and continue to grow along spiritual lines. I increased my morning quiet time for prayer & meditation. Besides my three “home” OA meetings, I attended parts of a morning OA phone meeting several mornings a week. I increased my connection with HP throughout the day by taking spiritual breaks of 3-5 minutes to rest and ask for guidance.

Through attending meetings and doing service, I got to know people and develop friendships. For me, doing service is critical. The A.A. Big Book states quite clearly that service works when all else fails. Service is essential for long-term abstinence and a sane and joyful life.

Being in community allows me to have joy in my life and combined with the joy of being in HP’s presence, silences the food thoughts. When I surrendered to being in Gods’ love, and began trusting Gods’ presence in my life, I was fulfilled. Service and working the Twelve Steps ensure these gifts continue.

I have been in OA for over forty years. My weight has been stable for over 30 years. I have abstained from sugar this entire time and most recently have four years of abstinence. I don’t ever forget that I am one bite away from a binge. The Twelve Steps are a way of life for me. OA has taught me how to love and demonstrated how to strengthen my relationships. I am grateful for all I have learned and for the many OA fellows who continue to help me learn, stay abstinent and grow along spiritual lines.

“Tom A”

Taking OA Overseas ~ 6.26.2023

I used the Program to guard my abstinence during my solo 3-week trip to Italy this spring. While abroad, I decided that I didn’t need to eat the best local foods in the best regional restaurants. “Food is not part of the adventure,” I told myself. The highlights of each day were sightseeing and interacting with others. I implemented other strategies as well. The local people eat dinner later than we do here in America, so I found small cafes that served earlier suppers. When supper was over, I was done eating for the day. I also didn’t keep food in my hotel room, walked a lot, and stopped for snacks of mineral water and fruit during the day. When I was tired, I relaxed in places where I could focus on people-watching, not food. Some of my strategies would apply to travel anywhere. I said the Serenity Prayer every day and read OA posts on private Facebook pages to stay connected with the Program. I’m moving my attention away from food, both at home and while traveling. It’s a profound mental shift, which I’ve been working on since joining OA. Having a plan, and working it, helped me avoid overeating and truly enjoy my vacation. “Laurie S”

Taking OA Back Home ~ 6.26.2023

I vacationed back home in the Midwest this spring, spending two weeks catching up with my two sisters and my extended family. Before leaving, I realized that maintaining my abstinence would depend on taking time to mentally, physically, and spiritually prepare for each day.

I decided to take mornings for myself and spend afternoons and evenings with family. I kept my regular morning routine–reading OA literature, meditating, exercising, and having a planned breakfast. Before leaving Maryland, I located a yoga studio and swimming pool near my sisters and figured out how to continue my morning meditation sessions with my regular partners.

The vacation was not without struggles. Many females in my family are ‘food pushers.’ When I visited, they made special meals and baked wonderful goodies in my honor. It was hard to keep turning away all the second helpings they pushed in my direction. I had a couple of slips, but I didn’t give in most of the time. On balance, I felt successful.

I had to be careful not to start eating the way my sisters did. Both of them would benefit from OA, but they’re not ready right now. I often shopped for my own groceries. For a road trip to see relatives, I packed my own lunch and brought along veggie snacks to share. My sisters mostly picked up things to eat at fast-food restaurants and gas stations along our route. However, they did share some of my veggies, which made me feel good.

In retrospect, I’d say my plans and day-to-day efforts made the vacation better than I had anticipated. I had a great visit.

“Stephanie M”

What Anonymity Means To Me ~ 6.26.2023

Anonymity — as described in OA’s approved literature — assures us that only we, as individual OA members, have the right to make our membership known to others. Anonymity at the level of press, radio, films, television, and other public media of communication means that we never allow our faces or last names to be used once we identify ourselves as OA members (Tradition Eleven).

Within the Fellowship, anonymity means that whatever we share with another OA member will be respected and kept confidential. What we hear at meetings should remain there.

In anonymity, we set aside our vanity, our unhealthy pride and our station in life. At meetings we are compulsive overeaters, not our jobs, our marital status or public persona. In anonymity we can be who we are. We are discreet in our shares. There is a great slogan pertinent to anonymity: “We share our ESH (experience, strength and hope) at the meeting and our mess with our sponsors.” The tool of anonymity assures the newcomer that their anonymity is sacred, they are not required to “spill all” to total strangers. We get to heal in our own emotional backyard.

Because of anonymity, we can trust that there will be no gossip or criticism. We trust others, and others trust us. What a gift! It is a truism in life that none of us can truly know each other, but with anonymity we gain an intimacy with others that is so different from our lives of isolation.

There are places where we do make sacrifices of anonymity. For example, in the past, some of us have staffed booths at public health fairs. We offer literature and local meeting schedules to health professionals, concerned friends and overeaters alike. As OA fellows, we let the public know that we are here as a resource.

We must and can, in anonymity, carry the message that OA is an option for those silently suffering from the stigma of eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia or binging; obesity; or just living a life isolated and small. The stigma of our disease can be softened by the anonymity offered in OA.

Finally, anonymity is not secrecy. When others see a change in our attitude or our physical state (a healthy weight) we can share our recovery on a one-to-one basis, or more broadly by sharing our stories when we are asked to lead a meeting or on our OA anniversary.

“J, Silver Spring”

Learning to Forgive, Accept and Love Myself ~ 5.2.2023

Food was always a big part of my life. I was the sixth of eight children, and with so many siblings, I learned to sneak food because I was afraid there wouldn’t be enough for me. From a young age, I also learned to use food as a way of gaining my mother’s attention. At 16, I alternated between restricting and binging, quickly losing 25 lbs., then immediately gaining 40 lbs. When I was 17 I was at a potluck dinner where there were several tables laden with dishes, and I decided that I had to have not just a taste, but a serving of each. I ate and ate until I couldn’t sit or stand comfortably because my belly was so swollen. I was afraid I would have to go to the hospital.

My weight – and my self-esteem – continued to fluctuate up and down through college and into my young adult life. By my late 30’s, I was married with two children. My husband and I struggled with healthy communication, and I would eat when I was angry or resentful. We got into therapy, and I was fortunate to be led to a therapist with expertise in addiction. I committed to her that I would try OA.

When I joined OA, I had a hard time “identifying in.” It took me about six months to really accept that I was powerless over food, and another five months to ask for help. However, once I found my sponsor, I had someone to be accountable to, and was able to become abstinent. By example, my sponsor taught me how to forgive and accept myself. She showed me what self-love looks like. She also introduced the concept of gratitude. With her guidance, I started working the program.

I never expected to be in OA 26+ years later! Today, food does not rule my life, I do not live in shame or guilt, and I do not have secrets. My spiritual practice is stronger, and I have a much better personal relationship with my Higher Power. I have grown in my ability to accept and embrace others as they are. I have developed better relationships with my adult daughters by learning how to respect their autonomy and accept their decisions. When my husband died unexpectedly two years ago, our marriage was full of love and respect, and had healed to the point that I had no regrets in letting him go. I have learned that “happiness is an inside job” and I can fill myself with love without being greedy. When I practice self-care I can be of service to others. I put my oxygen mask on first, before trying to help anyone else.

I have been transformed by the grace of God. OA has spoiled my compulsive overeating. Now I cannot tell lies about food, and I cannot trick myself if my behavior is hurting me or someone else. I am no longer in the grip of being “not good enough.” I am so grateful that my eyes have been opened. Today I know that I have enough, I do enough, and I am enough.

To the newcomer, I would like to say: please don’t talk yourself out of really trying OA. Visit several meetings and you will be sure to find someone sharing YOUR story – because they have lived it themselves. We do not judge, and we love you until you can love yourself. There is no longer any need to live in your secret pain.

“Teresa D”

How I Use the Plan of Eating Tool ~ 5.2.2023

I follow a food plan from a nutritionist. I am a Type 1 diabetic and need to eat on a regular schedule, even if I am not hungry. My food plan consists of planned meals and snacks when I need to eat to regulate my blood sugar.

I eat almost the same foods every day. If you had told me when I joined OA that I would do this, I would have laughed. But now it’s not hard and I enjoy the predictability and freedom from making bad choices.

It helps me so much that someone else came up with my food plan. Left to my own devices, I would make up something that would feed my disease and not my recovery. I definitely recommend working with a nutritionist or food sponsor to come up with your food plan. And, of course, ask your Higher Power to help you too.


Personal Recovery Through Service to Others ~ 1.12.2023

Service at the Intergroup level has had a lasting impact on my recovery. I came into OA knowing very little about the OA structure and the “inverted triangle.” The fellows and my sponsor encouraged me to serve as the Intergroup representative for my face-to-face home meeting. Since I knew giving back was important for my own recovery, I said “yes” to the opportunity. I walked into my first Intergroup meeting not knowing what to expect and another representative immediately reached out to me and explained the ins and outs of what the meeting was about, the committee structure, and how much service at this program had benefited her recovery.

Flash forward a few years and I went from newbie Intergroup rep to Outreach Committee chair, vice chair and then Intergroup chair. In each of those service positions I learned (and practiced) the OA principles of unity, love, perseverance, humility, willingness as well as patience, kindness, and tolerance and more love. I learned that service to others was critical to keeping me abstinent and I found myself doing service outside of the rooms as well. I also was incredibly fortunate to serve as a Region Representative and a World Service Business Conference Delegate. In each case, I continued to experience the joy of giving of my time and heart to others and to OA without any expectation of return apart from knowing that it is critical to keeping OA alive and thriving so that it is available to help the still suffering compulsive overeater. Thank you, OA!

“Intergroup Member”

Building Relationships Through Service ~ 1.12.2023

I value the 12 steps of OA and recognize that service, however small, helps me get beyond myself and connected to the larger group and my Higher Power. I also value how others have made this program available to me.

My initial introduction to the Intergroup was when I first served as an Intergroup rep for my home group. It seemed like a simple and manageable task (I certainly could find a few hours every month to give to a meeting for the good of OA). Later, I volunteered to chair the Intergroup. I value the Intergroup members and skills they contributed, and especially the friendships I made through that work. Many of those members have been instrumental in my recovery. I still support the DC Metro Area OA by updating the When & Where list, and value that this is a task I can do regardless of my crazy schedule.

“Intergroup Member”

Recovery, One Step at A Time ~ 1.12.2023

I am involved in Intergroup for the same reason I volunteered to pick up and respond to calls to the Answering Service on Fridays many years ago. At that time, I was going through an emotionally difficult time and staying abstinent on Friday night was particularly hard. I found that calling the answering service and returning the calls of people who called asking for information about OA kept me abstinent that day and increased the odds I would be abstinent that weekend. Each of my sponsors have told me repeatedly that service works when all else fails and that this is a “we” program. We need each other! Intergroup is our way of making sure there are OA meetings and information available about OA. That helps us all stay abstinent and recovered through working the Twelve Steps and being connected in fellowship.

“Intergroup Member”

Whether You Are a Newcomer or an “Old-Timer” You Can Make a Difference ~ 1.12.2023

Service is a necessary part of OA recovery. We cannot keep our recovery unless we give it away. It is an opportunity and a challenge for both the OA newcomer and the OA “old-timer.” For the newcomer it is an opportunity to offer time and energy to carry the message at the simplest, most manageable level. For the “old-timer” it is the opportunity to stretch ourselves to do something new or different. In either case, it allows us to move beyond pride and fear and to ask for help from another more experienced OA fellow!

For me, giving service is a reminder of OA’s diversity in geography and demographics. It takes me out of my bubble of isolation and ego. Recently I sent out OA postcards to two AA clubs where OA meetings are held on behalf of our OA-DC Metro IG. Different neighborhoods, different age groups and yet all practicing the OA steps and traditions.

“Service is slimming” is an old OA slogan. Yes, that is true, but giving service also raises my self-esteem, supports my recovery, and allows me to bring to life OA’s Responsibility Pledge “Always to extend the hand and heart of OA to all who share my compulsion; for this I am responsible.”

“Intergroup Member”

One Day at a Time, I Got a Life ~ 11.14.2022

I was in my late 30’s with 2 little kids when I came to OA. I was 210 lb. and 5’2”. I spent my whole life feeling massively overweight—and now I really was. My parents talked to me about my food and my weight every day since I was 11 years old. They even took me to a diet doctor at 12! I felt that they could only see my weight, not me.

Before OA I had gone on many diets. I went to Weight Watchers twice and got the pin. Every time I gained everything back. At 35 I could not go up a slight hill to sled with my kids. I couldn’t look in the mirror except at my face. I felt the rolls on my body and loathed them and me. I was hiding food from my husband who never cared about my weight. All I thought about was food. I searched the cabinets for the taste that would make everything better. So when my neighbor went to OA and lost a lot of weight, I went with her. 35 years later I maintain a 76 lb weight loss.

Today, I weigh and measure my food and my life. Program taught me that committing to a structured way of eating freed me to live life. I also learned that overeating was a way to escape life, my feelings, and my fears. So I work the steps, go to meetings, sponsor, and am sponsored. Having a way of living that helped me handle life and a community to share it with was essential. Turning over the responsibilities and fears of my life to a Higher Power meant I didn’t have to fix it. I learned I was not alone.

In Program, I recovered my relationship with my parents, my husband, and God. I learned to stop yelling, to be more valuing of others, to make healthy relationships. I started a business with my partner and used the steps, traditions, and tools to guide how I managed the business. I faced my daughter’s addiction and my husband’s death. I ramped down the business, moved, and created a new path in life. And so much more. Everyday is not perfect but I can be present for life, my kids, my grandkids, and my passions because I have a program to guide me.

If you are a newcomer I will tell you what was told to me. Follow the program. Do what you are told. Fall over the wall and don’t argue about how you want to do things your way. I have been blessed to be a leader with people who want to follow my ideas. But in Program I’m committed to following the plan that has come before me. Have a food plan, weigh and measure, work the steps, get a sponsor, go to meetings, do service one day at a time. And 35 years later I’m abstinent and have a life.


You Can Regain Your Life ~ 1.2.2022

Before OA, life was unmanageable. Everything revolved around food. Good times as well as life’s challenges. My family encouraged me to try OA. I didn’t want to continue to live life from a position of fear…fear about everything.Now, one day at a time, life is about dealing with life…on life’s terms and not eating over it. I enjoy life now. I’m not just waiting until “i get to my goal weight.”

If you’re thinking about OA, just do it! Come to a meeting and be fully willing to re-gain your life…one day at a time.I am grateful for the tools and principles of the OA program. They have enabled me to “intuitively know how to handle life,” and no longer feel fear about making any and every decision in my life.

“Louis” – 18 years in program. 321 days abstinent from sugar, and moving forward, one day at a time!

You Can’t Keep It Unless You Give It Away ~ 11.28.2021

Service is an integral part of my recovery. If I wasn’t doing service, I’m not sure how I’d be able to maintain my abstinence. Doing service at meetings, such as reaching out to newcomers helps me feel like I am part of a community. By sharing my experience, strength and hope I have learned how to be open, honest and vulnerable. More importantly, I have learned from others about their recovery, which reinforces mine. I represent my home group at the DC-Metro Intergroup meeting.

I really enjoy attending the Intergroup meetings because I get insight into what OA is working on worldwide, as well as what’s happening locally. I get to contribute my ideas and help shape the work of the Intergroup for the benefit of my fellows.

Finally, one of my most valuable service experiences is being a sponsor. It was important to me to feel secure in my abstinence before I started. Thus, knowing that I am guiding my sponsee on their road to recovery helps keep me abstinent. Moreover, I get to work the Steps along with my sponsee, which enriches my own program. I’ve stopped obsessing about myself and my abstinence because I have positive actions to focus on instead.

“Barbara C”

Doing Service Raised My Self-Esteem ~ 11.28.2021

When I joined OA, I was encouraged by more experienced fellows to do service. They told me that “service is slimming.” I started out with the simple things, like speaking up at meetings, sharing my experience, and making phone calls to newcomers and other members.

I soon became a sponsor. As a result, I saw how my daily Step 12 practice of service supported my abstinence and recovery. Over time, I volunteered for service roles in my home group, and later served at the Intergroup and Region 7 levels. What I learned is that when I extended my attention beyond my own problems, and focused on how I can be helpful to others, I felt more connected to my fellows and open to asking for help myself.

Doing so put me in the middle of the herd, which in nature, is the safest place to be. Being in the middle of the herd is a place for me to be open and honest, and reinforces that I am not alone in my disease. I feel good about myself, and my self-esteem grows. Inside the herd, I am able to develop a relationship with my HP and trust that he/she will walk with me in my journey of recovery and abstinence.

“Anna S”

Happy, Joyous and Free ~ 8.2.2021

I am a garden variety compulsive overeater who has lost about 100 pounds through following the 12 Steps and 9 tools of Overeaters Anonymous. Relapse has been a part of my story, but I haven’t had an eating binge in over 16 years. More amazing to me is the fact that I haven’t wanted or needed to binge in those 16 years. It’s wonderful to wear smaller clothes that fit year after year, but much more important to me is the freedom from gorging on food in secret as quickly as I could, the severe physical discomfort that followed, vows never to binge again, and then as soon as the discomfort eased, starting all over again.

My obsession with food started early in childhood but the weight didn’t pile on until my teens. I tried every remedy I could think of: diet clubs, gyms, fat farms, weight loss doctors, diet pills, fasts, nutritionists, group and individual therapy. Some worked for a short time, but I inevitably returned to compulsive eating, each time bingeing worse than before.

While I was bingeing, my career and personal life suffered. How could I excel at work when I was “hung over” from a huge binge the night before? How could I be a loving family member or friend when I was spending all my energy either fighting food cravings or giving in to them? And romance? I certainly didn’t want a potential romantic partner to see my obese body which I hid in oversized clothing.

My life today is full and spiritual satisfying. I am retired from a successful and fulfilling career. I am blessed with many close friends. I move my body, enjoying walking, dancing, and even going to the gym. I met my amazing husband in OA and had a wonderful, loving 35-year marriage. When he died almost two years ago, I was devastated, but thanks to OA and my Higher Power, never did I turn to eating to deal with the pain. That may be the biggest miracle of all.

“M” – recovering compulsive overeater

What Do You Have to Lose? ~ 6.30.2021

From early childhood, I was addicted to sugar. I ate raw sugar and was always looking for money to buy sugar candy and soda. As I got older, I combined eating with drinking alcohol. As a result, I was overweight by 50 to 80 pounds most of my life until I came to OA. I did not realize that eating compulsively was impacting my mood. I went to four or five different therapists. We talked and they told me I was mildly depressed. They never connected my eating and drinking with either my feelings or my behaviors. I no longer could buy my pants at a regular store. I was both glad there was a Big and Tall Store and embarrassed that I needed it because of my weight.

I had lost 80 pounds 3 different times between age 25 and 30. I was very successful at diets, but I always gained the weight back and could not use the same diet successfully twice. I had gained over 80 pounds and knew another diet would not work. I had started to go to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings for my drinking. I met a woman there who told me about Overeaters Anonymous. I was afraid to go. I thought it might hurt my A.A. program. I asked my A.A. sponsor and he asked me what I had to lose by trying it. When I went to my first meeting, I knew I was home. People there understood me and had the same problems. I was relieved and had hope about my weight for the first time in my adult life.

I have been recovering from compulsive eating through the Twelve Steps for several decades. I am not depressed. I am not addicted to sugar. My weight has stayed stable at about the same weight for two decades and I don’t worry about gaining weight or my clothes not fitting. Emotionally I am able to relate to people at a deeper level and enter into loving relationships with family and friends. Spiritually my faith in a Higher Power grows the more time I devote to prayer and meditation and being of service to others.

To someone thinking of trying OA, I would say what my A.A. sponsor said to me: “What do you have to lose?” If food is making your life messy and at times unbearable, it may be time to try something new. The Twelve Steps are a proven method that millions have used to return to health, joyful living. Why not give OA and the Twelve Steps a try. Like me, many of us think we are different and not that bad. We want to just become a little involved. From my experience and that of others, half-commitments only extends your pain. Join us and give it a try. Come to some meetings, get a temporary sponsor and start learning what life without compulsive eating is like. We are there for you and our recovery depends on sharing our experience with you. Help us and yourself by joining us.

Tom A

Living Quietly ~ 6.6.2021

This past year I discovered something about myself that has led me to have a quieter, gentler life. My self-righteousness drove many of my decisions to stand at the forefront of making a change in some aspect of the OA program. Whether that change was a decision that was made at World Service, or an idea of something we do in meetings would be “better” done differently, I spoke up, loudly and ego-ly, and put it “out there.” The response I got most frequently was rejection and objection, with a few dissenters, iconoclast, and mavericks, deciding yeah, I had the right idea. How I live today, how I live in meetings and in life, I aim to be quiet, to be one of many. I am an “early adopter”, someone who seeks and finds information before most folks even think there is an issue. That is just the way my brain works, quick and perceptive. Along with my self-righteousness always came rationalizations about why something needed to be done, but ultimately, it was about how something affected me.

Today, I don’t speak up because I’m not impelled from an inner place. I listen and share only when I either have more information, or can say something no one else has mentioned. I don’t have the answers but I am willing to be a vehicle for getting answers. This is so different from my previous stance of “You are going to listen to me because….” I know today that nothing needs to be done in a specific moment, that change is hugely challenging for so many of us, and that when I became just “one of many” my life became a slower, harmonious place in which I dwell.

“S” OA-HOW (Honest, Open-Minded and Willing) 34 years in OA, 2 in HOW abstinence

Food is Now in its Place ~ 5.13.2021

I have been a compulsive overeater all of my life. Even when I was a young child, I over ate and hid my eating of treats. I come from a family that has other compulsive eaters (my mother and my sister) and others with different compulsive behaviors.

As I grew into adulthood, I found that whenever I was experiencing strong emotions (whether happy or sad) or was stressed, I would turn to food. Eventually, I became morbidly obese. I tried all kinds of diets — pay and weigh, programs where the company provides the food, medication, liquid diets, and hypnosis. I eventually got a lap band and lost more than 100 pounds. But, that did not stop my compulsive behaviors. I gained almost 80 of those pounds back. Then I heard about OA.

I had tried everything to lose the weight and keep it off. Nothing had worked. I was miserable and desperate. The doctor who had performed my lap band surgery was recommending another surgery to me. One of the nurses in his office mentioned OA to me.

I came to OA in my mid 50’s in 2014. Since then, I have lost the weight and been able to keep it off. I have lost more than 100 pounds from my all time non-pregnancy high weight. Food is now in its place. I am no longer dominated by thoughts about what I am going to eat and beating myself up over what I have eaten.

Most importantly, I am now present for my loved ones and not hiding myself in the food. I deal with the emotions and the stress of everyday life without turning to food. I am physically able to do things that I could not do 10 years ago. I live each day thankful for OA.
Before I joined, I was concerned that OA was a religious program and that others would proselytize to me. That is not the case. You do not need to believe in God to work the OA program and have success in it.

I am convinced that I would have died from complications from obesity without OA. I am amazed that my body withstood fifty years of abuse due to my overeating. Now, I am grateful that I have quality time to spend with my family and friends.

To newcomers, I say give OA a try!


Grateful for Every Day ~ 5.3.2021

Life before OA was a great deal of discouragement and frustration over not being able to control my weight.  I tried diets galore and even Pay and Weigh programs. and was able to lose the weight but was not able to maintain it.  I’m sure I figured I just needed more willpower. 

I was 12th stepped into OA by a work colleague who had started the program and was eager to share it.  She said the best thing for me to do was to go to a meeting because she didn’t know how to explain it.  I went and was confused but kept coming back because the people I saw were hopeful and seemed happy to be there. 

My life now centers around working the program–the steps, traditions, meetings, and Higher Power plus, of course, the fellowship.  Even though I’ve been in program awhile I know the disease of compulsive eating is around the corner ready to take over again.  This is a simple program but it’s not easy.  We only have to work it one 24-hour period at a time. For example, I only have to be abstinent today–it’s all I have to work with anyway and tomorrow will take care of itself. 

For someone new in the program I’d say to just take it easy.  There’s no rush. Right now you are on Step One and that’s enough work to admit to oneself the powerlessness over food  and owning up to an unmanageable life. Continue to show up for meetings even if you don’t understand. Try to talk to others and ask them how they work their program. Be open. Not everything you hear will apply to you, but you’ll be surprised by how much does. 

Today I’ m grateful for a life where food doesn’t control my time, energy and soul.  I’ve been able to stay healthy for the most part, do things, travel, and still keep my abstinence.  My emotional life is not a series of highs and lows, obsessive thinking, resentment, and anger.  I’ve learned how to set boundaries and ask for what I want instead of expecting people to read my mind. One of the things we say is “I came for the vanity but stayed for the sanity.” Most importantly I found a Higher Power who is always there for me and a wonderful fellowship of friends who have enriched my life. 


–40 years in program and grateful for every day