And If Not Now, When?

Last night we got the news that a friend had passed away unexpectedly. As sad as the occurrence is, it felt especially tragic because he had become decidedly overweight and dropped dead before his thirty-ninth birthday.

What do you say about a life snuffed out so early?

You and I know that morbid obesity is of epidemic proportions in this society. Year by year we are collectively getting fatter and fatter, and it’s killing us.

And is it any wonder? All we need do is turn on a television to witness a parade of imbecilic corporate shills bombarding us with culinary hemlock in the guise of good times and instant gratification. The assault is endless: clowns and come-to-life bubbleheads and stoners – even buffed-out guys with drool spilling down their chins to hipper-than-hip voiceovers of “Don’t bother me, I’m eating”.

The implication is clear: it’s O.K. to call that pizza guy at 11 P.M. because, after all, you deserve a break today. And tomorrow and the day after, if you live that long.

And on the other side of the coin, there’s the multi-billion dollar weight loss industry. Anyone for a Thigh Master or a Lap Band surgery? C’mon everyone – sing along: “let your new life begin” while some factory surgeon is cutting you open and wrapping plastic around your intestines.

I know, I know: not everyone out there is a conscienceless twit looking to victimize fat people. Witness the spectacle of “The Biggest Loser” to get a firsthand look at how compulsive eating ravages the human body beyond recognition. And there’s the in-shape trainers alternately screaming at or crying with the victims. Are they well intended? Who knows? One thing for sure: Jillian Michaels ain’t having any trouble paying her mortgage.

I suspect that I’m so emotionally impacted by all this because I’m a compulsive eater.

I’ve been one since I was a kid. My proclivity is to eat – and eat and eat. If I’m happy, I want to eat. If I’m sad, I want to eat. If I’m frightened, envious, angry or resentful, I want to eat.

To all you “normies” out there, it sounds crazy, right? What could possibly make someone want to ingest obscene amounts of food which would eventually render them disfigured and societal outcasts? Sure, everyone likes an ice cream sundae once in a while, but dude, where’s your sense of control? Don’t you have any dignity?

My only answer is this: think of it like alcoholism. Why does an alcoholic keep drinking to the point of oblivion? Why can’t he just stop when he’s had enough? It’s the same with a compulsive eater – I promise you. There’s no internal measuring stick for what’s enough – there just isn’t.

And make no mistake about it: every – repeat every significantly overweight person you see is a compulsive eater, whether they want to admit it or not.

I hadn’t planned to write about this. To tell you the truth, I’m sitting here dressed to go to the gym and I’m eager to get there. By God’s grace, today I’m eating healthy. I’m in a spiritual program of recovery and I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my life. I’m getting in shape and life is good.

But it hasn’t always been like this. Those who are longtime members of my synagogue have witnessed me on a pulpit struggling with my disease – and it is a disease, make no mistake – on a public platform for years.

But today I’m angry. I’m angry because that kid ate himself to death instead of choosing to get help: thirty-eight years old and he’s done.

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say it the way I’m thinking it: if you’re a compulsive eater – and you know in your heart if you are – there is a solution. Despite what anyone else tells you, you’ve got a disease, just as sure as if you had, God forbid, cancer.

There is treatment and it doesn’t cost a dime. There are fellowships where you can find relief, a day at a time. All you need is an admission that your life has become so crippled and demoralized by your eating that you just can’t take it anymore. Your only expenditure need be a real, sincere willingness to admit that you can’t do it on your own, and you’ll go from there.

And the best thing about it is that the corporate sponsor is God – the same Almighty God which gives us all the infinite blessings in our lives.

Don’t die early if you can help it.

Don’t con yourself into thinking you’ve got time to put it off, because you don’t.

Life is too precious – don’t wait another minute. You owe it to yourself and your family.

There’s a quote attributed to a scholarly rabbi named Hillel which, in Hebrew, reads “V’im lo achshav ay’matai”.

Translation: “And if not now, when?”


Compulsive Eaters Anonymous – H.O.W.

Overeaters Anonymous                       


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