Christine's Journey to Find Peace with Food

COR Retreat has literally saved my life and given me back sanity. I wish everyone looking for neutrality with food would find COR, it is truly life changing. My only regret is not having found COR Retreat before age 49.

My Mom told me from the time I was able to start taking solid foods that I reminded her of a baby bird taking food from their mother, she could never get food in me fast enough and I was always looking for more. Growing up I had a happy home life. My brother and I were constantly outside, active and playing sports. Because of this the food really didn’t become problematic until the age of 14, when my image of a “perfect” childhood started to come crashing down around me. Emotional situations amped up in my life and so did the food. I started trying to manage my weight through all the latest fad diets, exercise and diet programs. I remember my dad bringing back some gelatinous liquid, a “miracle cure” for weight loss from one of his business trips overseas. I tried to stomach it down yet couldn’t. I used to say to family and friends “if only my taste buds were gone, then everything wouldn’t taste so good”. Incredibly enough, it never crossed my mind that I might be a food addict.

Christine at COR Retreat in November 2018

My family didn’t struggle with food issues, so I felt I was constantly scrutinized for anything I put in my mouth. I heard “do you really need that extra helping?”, “why not have a salad?”, “you’re such a pretty girl if you just lost the weight”. I started hiding food under my bed to keep it secret. The highlight of my weekend was when we’d host a party. Parties meant food and good food, not just everyday food or food from our garden. At these events I started to feel shame and embarrassment. Even though I wasn’t considered obese yet, I was still heavier than others, and was constantly asked to perform “chubby” by squishing my checks together and talking through them, in front of family and friends, which made everyone laugh. I also realized that making people laugh was something I liked to do and became good at. This became an effective defense mechanism and started a pattern of me putting myself down to entertain others.  

At age 24, I married a verbally abusive man. Although I felt broken, I somehow managed to get out of that marriage but my up and down weight roller coaster continued for years. Somehow and through the grace of God, I finally met my soulmate, Greg.  At age 36, I got married. Things felt amazing in my life until the high hit a low when we journeyed down a road of infertility. Over the next 5 years I went through IVF, Cholmed, Donor Eggs, Donor blastocysts, and five miscarriages. I hit my lowest point when I told my husband “I give you permission to leave me, you didn’t sign up for this”. Thankfully, he replied “I didn’t marry you for your baby making capabilities, I married you for you. It will be okay, we will grow our family through another way”. We did! After 2 years of looking and hoping we grew our family through two amazing open adoptions. With open adoption came a unique set of emotional complications which we still navigate today but we wouldn’t have it any other way.

The next four years were a blur – waking up several times a night (both kids were born premature), getting up early for work, rushing home, making dinner, putting the kids down for the night, cleaning the house….repeat. A friend got me to try yet another diet program. The program worked for a while, but I then went back to my old habits and gained even more weight back.

In July 2018 my father died. At the same time my company went through a tough merger and my father-in-law had a major stroke. It felt like everything was falling apart around me. I felt panic. I needed to regain myself and get rid of the craziness in my head. Even with a supportive husband, I felt depressed and lost. I reached out to my doctor and the response I received was; “let's discuss diet and exercise”. I was so angry at this response; didn’t she know I was finally asking for help? I never ask for help!

Christine in March 2019

I hit my highest weight at 230 pounds, wearing a size 20. I googled Overeaters Retreats near me and one popped up in Minnesota, four states away. I had not left my kids in the 7 years since they were born. November 7, 2018 I walked through the doors of COR feeling scared, alone, defeated, frustrated and broken. I was afraid that the retreat was going to shove God down my throat (it didn’t), and I was prepared to fight it at every step of the way. I also remember thinking, if I didn’t have this relationship with God, how was this program going to possibly work for me? Was I going to “get it?” I struggled with the higher power concept but thankfully came to a simpler spiritual understanding by the end of the retreat. I’d hear people start to share their own stories. Little by little things started to sound familiar, and I could relate. Then something happened. I cried. I had been through so much hurt that I didn’t realize the wall I had built up being strong not only for myself, but for others. I didn’t cry at anything, so when the tears started, I felt shocked, raw and exposed. I’d be sharing at the retreat through tears and then jokingly say “it’s this darn house’s fault I’m crying!”. I no longer had food to fall back on. I asked Nancy, the facilitator, “How is this not just like another diet? You’re telling me I can’t eat my trigger foods,” and her response was simple “it just is”. She looked so peaceful saying it. I just had to believe that with all the speakers saying the same thing, there had to be truth to it. Working the program was the solution.
 
Leaving COR felt very scary. Even though I had a support system in place and very supportive husband and children back home, I felt intense anxiety. I “tested” my higher power when I got off the plane back in Boston. I was exhausted, with a 9:00pm flight arrival. I knew my husband and sleeping kids were waiting in the car to pick me up. I could hardly wait at the luggage carousel. Completely exhausted, I looked up to my higher power, and said…”Okay, if you really are there, then show me a sign. Show me by having my luggage come off the carousel first”. I did not expect this to happen and was completely awe struck when the first huge bag to come off was mine, coincidence or not, in all its glory. I laughed out loud, and said “of course you are, thank you”. I pulled it off and ran out the door to my family in the car. My kids had woken up and were jumping in their seats, excited to see me. I wiped away my tears of happiness, my heart feeling full.

Christine in October 2019, 11 Months after COR Retreat

I stand today 88 pounds lighter. The weight loss is only a side effect of what I gained through COR. COR gave me back what I had lost: Hope. It gave me a true sense of safety and community. The knowledge that my body reacts differently to certain foods which triggers cravings, was mind blowing! COR Retreat gave me the tools to be successful; the program introduced me to the Big Book, to work with a sponsor, to go to an OA meeting and to listen to A Vision for You recordings and live meetings. I have made such amazing friendships with individuals who know exactly what I’m going through, who are just a call or text away.

I’m a wife, mother of two and full-time employee so my life doesn’t stop for much. I make time for my program. Making myself a priority hasn’t taken away from my family. In fact is has been quite the opposite, it is showing them how to be healthy through mind, body and spirit. I start my day with self-love and end it with my family at dinner where we all share our three gratitudes. Meditation for me is done in the car on my commute to the office. It is a quiet time and allows me time to reflect. I also listen to A Vision for You podcasts. This is the only “me time” I have right now. 

For 12 step work, I do a daily inventory and steps 10/11 worksheet from COR. I do this with my husband before we go to sleep. This has helped our relationship grow stronger. If I have a conflict that day, I do my best to make amends right away, so it doesn’t linger. I have a 15-minute call every morning with my sponsee which helps keeps me in the program every day, even if my schedule doesn’t feel like it can. I attend a weekly OA meeting and often run it. I don’t obsess about the scale anymore and am thankful that I have peace around the food.

If you’re reading this and are thinking about attending COR Retreat for the first time, don’t second guess it. Just do it. The road to recovery isn’t a straight line, but COR Retreat leads you down the right path.

About COR Retreat
COR Retreat is a residential retreat program that teaches a way to live free from the obsession with food through a 12 step program. COR Retreats are 5-day programs, scheduled each month at the McIver Center in Wayzata, MN.

Learn more about the COR Retreat Experience, and register online to attend an upcoming retreat

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