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STEP 1: DOES YOUR ED AFFECT YOUR LIFE?
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THE FIRST STEP TO RECOVERY
The following exercise is adapted from Step 1 of the 12-Steps to overcoming addiction. Various forms of this exercise have been widely distributed through the addiction recovery community.

"We admitted we are powerless over our addiction-and that our lives had become unmanageable."
Answer the following questions with total honesty. Be very specific- don't generalize!

The goals of this assignment are:
1. To understand that you cannot control your use of eating-disorder behaviors (you cannot do them halfway and expect not to get progressively worse over time).
2. To identify the damage that your eating disorder has caused.
Who's in control- my eating habits or me?
1. How have your eating/exercise behaviors placed your life or the lives of others in jeopardy?
A.
B.
C.

2. Have you ever encouraged anyone else to engage in eating-disordered behavior? Have you triggered them? (even if the triggering was unintentional) Explain:

3. How have you tried to control your symptoms? (cutting back on purging, switching to another 'diet plan', purging/restricting only on specific occassions, giving up some behaviors but not others)?
B.
C.
D.

4. What behaviors did your family, friends, or co-workers object to most?
A.
B.
C.

5. A. How many times have you tried to stop and started again?
B. List the last three times. When, Why, & How Lonq were you able to stay abstinent.
1.
2.
3.

6. A. Give a history of your experience and involvement with treatment/recovery/therapy.
B. If you have a history in any treatment programs, what prevented you from maintaining your recovery?

7. Progression indicates tolerance/ changes in your body. Symptoms include: purge/restrict/exercise/use pills more often, in larger amounts, switch to stronger chemicals, use for longer periods of time, increase tolerance (need more of the chemical to get the same effect). List two examples of your Progression.
A.
B.

8. Blackouts are periods of time that are not registered in the memory of the brain. List two examples of times you are aware you had a Blackout.
A.
B.

9. Passing out happens when we stress our body so much that our body shuts down so that we continue to add stress (stress can equal: dehydration, low blood sugar, not enough energy, etc). List three examples of embarrassing times that you passed out.
A.
B.
C.

10. List the three most embarrassing or shameful things you've done related to your eating disorder.
A.
B.
C.

11. Legal
A. How many crimes have you committed as a result of your eating disorder (example, stealing food, driving without being able to think clearly, etc)?
B. Have you ever been arrested for anything related directly or indirectly to your eating disorder (damaging property as a result of purging, being caught stealing food or money for food)? List dates, crimes and any other pending legal matters.

12. What types of physical problems do you have as a result of your use of eating disorder symptoms?
A.
B.
C.

13. Preoccupation means looking forward to engaging in symptom use; setting up situations in order to purge/avoid eating/binge; or being preoccupied in our thoughts when we are doing something else. Give two examples of your Preoccupation:
A.
B.

14. Powerlessness can best be defined as times when we did not want to use symptoms/or wanted to feel 'normal', and we were powerless over our eating disorder and still lost control. Give five examples of specific instances. Some common times are holidays, weddings, family occasions, etc.
List: Approximate date? Reason why you wanted? What happened? Consequences of your behaviors at those particular instances?
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

15. A. List all mind-altering or potentially harmful eating/exercise/pill behaviors you have used:
B. List the behaviors you feel you engaged in without being in control?
C. Do you believe that you can continue any eating-disordered behavior without consequence?

16. At it's worst level, how much were you purging/exercising/restricting/etc? (amount & frequency)?


UNMANAGEABILITY
Unmanageability refers to the damage done by our eating disorder.
1. This disease affects every area of our lives. List two specific examples when your eating disorder caused damage in the following areas of your life.

A. Girlfriend/Boyfriend/Significant Other/Spouse
1.
2.

B. Parents
1.
2.

C. Children
1.
2.

D. Other Family
1.
2.

E. Friends
1.
2.

F. Social Activities
1.
2.

G. Work
1.
2.

H. Property (car accidents, houses, personal possessions, loans, etc.)
1.
2.

I. Sexuality with Significant Other
1.
2.

J. Inappropriate Sexual Behavior
1.
2.

K. Spirituality
1.
2.

How has your eating disorder affected your ability to identify and/or express your ability to identify and/or express your feelings?

3. What personality changes did you experience as a result of using behaviors and being physically compromised? (Such as a Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde effect.)

4. A. How much money have you directly spent in your life on binge food and/or diet products?
Average per week = $
Total per month x4 = $
Total per year x12 = $
Total years using x = $

B. What other expenses have you incurred as a result of your eating behavior; i.e. legal fees, car repairs, alimony, treatment, medical expenses, etc.?

C. Given the number of years you have binged/used diet products, what potential income have you lost?

4. What crisis, besides the one that got you to where you are now, would have eventually happened? List at least three:
A.
B.
C.

6. Defense mechanisms- The following is a list of defense mechanisms. These are the ways that your mind made it okay to continue engaging in eating-disordered behaviors. List specific quotes of statements you have made, thoughts or situations relating to each of the following defense mechanisms:

A.Temper Tantrums -Fighting, yelling, or threatening for an excuse to engage in behaviors.
1.
2.

B. Hostile Silence -"If I cut them off with silence, they will give up or give in."
1.
2.

C. Rationalization -Trying to provide a reasonable explanation for irrational behavior. What reasons did you give yourself to explain, to yourself, why you have used. For example, "I work better" or "I'm a better lover" or "Eating makes me cranky" etc.
1.
2.
3.
4.

D. Minimizing- Making our eating disorder seem less severe than it is and therefore not a subject of concern.
1.
2.

E. Blaming -Simply blaming some person, place or thing for our eating disordered behaviors.
1.
2.

F. The Nevers -To avoid talking about what has happened as a result of our eating disorder by focusing on what has NOT happened yet.
1.
2.
3.

G. Changing Focus -To avoid confrontation by avoiding the topic.
1.
2.

H. Making Enemies -To make bad guys out of those who confront and try to help.
1.
2.

I. Allying -To make friends with those who agree with your eating-disordered lifestyle.
1.
2.

J. Comparing Out -" I'm not as bad as others because..."
1.
2.
3.

7-A. What are your biggest regrets due to your eating disorder?
7-B. What are the biggest dreams your eating disorder caused you to relinquish?

8. Now that you are nearing completion of this step one, what feelings have you experienced during this step?

9-A. Write out a statement explaining why you now believe you have a chronic, progressive and potentially fatal disease.
9-B. What do you plan to do to treat this disease?

10. Give twelve reasons why you should continue with recovery and treatment.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
11.
12.

11. List the three accomplishments in your life that you are most proud of:
1.
2.
3.

12. Write out what dreams you have for a life without your eating disorder.







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