My love-hate, on-off relationship with Weight Watchers, which began in my adolescence, may have been my first dysfunctional diet hookup but WW and I were not exclusive. I also had an early dalliance with Overeaters Anonymous. I was pushed into this one by my mother. She worked with an OA member and apparently they had numerous smoke break chats about the muffin top I was cultivating while leaning against the brick wall of our local Winn-Dixie. I didn’t have much of a choice in the matter. I was going to OA with a total stranger and I was going to like it. I remember I was already firmly planted in the sullen, eyeliner-overload phase of teenage-hood, so when a bespectacled chunky little 50-something with the personality of a wet noodle came to pick me up, I was less than enthused. After an awkward send off by my mother and an even more awkward car ride to a local hospital cafeteria, I entered my first and last OA meeting. The actual meeting was a blur. What I do remember is getting lots and lots of brochures with a heavy emphasis on a “higher power” who would help me through my diet journey and nothing about what I should or should not actually be eating. There was also a lot of hand holding, crying and confessions. At this point in my life, I really didn’t have a lot to add to the discussion besides the fact that I just liked Doritos and Coke a little too much. It was all way too deep for me at that age.
To be fair to OA, it really didn’t get a fair shot from me. I was too young and too consumed with memorizing the lyrics to the latest Duran Duran songs to pour my whole heart and soul out to a room full of strangers. Besides that, I didn’t have a whole lot to pour out yet. In retrospect, there were actually issues that were causing me to stuff myself with potato chip sandwiches, but I just didn’t realize it at the time and as a moody adolescent I certainly was not feeling the urge to explore my feelings in a room full of strangers.
I did learn a tremendously valuable lesson from the whole experience though. I may not have completely internalized it at the time, but this was one of the first experiences that crystalized the fact that you can not force anyone to do anything they are not ready to do.