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by Jack and Lois Trimpey, Co-Founders, Rational Recovery

There is enough information on this sheet for many people to completely recover from chronic obesity.

With Addictive Voice Recognition Technique® (AVRT), the game of weight control is rigged heavily in your favor. Regardless of whether overeating is a disease (most unlikely!), regardless of what genes you have inherited, and regardless of what earlier problems you may have had, your food addiction may be understood as a natural function of the human brain. The sole cause of your overweight is your Addictive Voice. In effect, you have two separate "brains" within your head. One is primitive, similar to the brain of a dog or a horse. This we call the midbrain. It is basically the brain of a beast, and its only purpose is to survive. The "beast brain" generates survival appetites that drive the rest of the body toward what it demands, such as oxygen, food, sex, and fluids. In some people, the midbrain is convinced that starvation is just around the corner, demanding more food than survival requires. The body then stores energy in the form of fat for later use to prevent starvation.

But another brain sits on top of the beast brain, the cerebral cortex. This "new brain," or neocortex, allows human beings to be conscious, to think, to have language, and to solve problems. Your neocortex is "you," and you can override any appetite, even for oxygen. (Anyone can stop breathing until unconscious; starving oneself to death is not difficult.) In AVRT, you will use your neocortex, your human brain, your self, to override the appetite for unnecessary food. By taking independent action, you may avoid "treatment" or diet programs that are costly or disagreeable, and harmful entanglements with the recovery group movement.

If you have tried many times to lose weight, but continued to overeat against your own better judgment, you may think that you are unable to control your eating behavior. This is an example of the Addictive Voice (AV), removing your resolve to eat correctly. The Feast Beast, your desire to eat too much, is ruthless in getting what it wants. It can "talk" to you, in your own voice. For example, if you wisely decide that you will eat less and avoid fatty foods, you will soon hear that old, familiar voice telling you why you should continue eating abundantly and/or enjoyably. You may imagine a picture of what you want to eat, and see yourself eating enjoyably to relieve "terrible hunger." That is your AV. Though you made a wise decision to eat correctly, your Feast Beast has enlisted your language and visual centers to seduce you into overeating. AVRT allows you to override your midbrain, and seize control. If you compete you will win; beasts by nature are short on intelligence.

There are two parties to your overeating problem - you and "it," the addictive voice. "It," the addictive voice, is simply any thinking, imagery, or feeling that supports incorrect eating ever. With your intelligence, you can easily recognize your Feast Beast's thoughts and feelings.

The structural model of addiction shows that the Feast Beast has no direct means to get what it wants. It must appeal to you to get the amount and kind of food that it "needs." It cannot speak, it cannot see, it has no arms or legs, and it has no intelligence of its own. But it uses your thoughts, sees through your eyes, creates strong feelings, and persuades you to use your hands, arms, and legs in order to obtain unnecessary food.

Addiction Diction (sm)

Your Feast Beast's favorite pronoun is "I." When you hear the thought, "I want a snack," you may recapture "I" by adding a "t" to the "I." Then you will hear yourself thinking, "It wants a snack." After you have recaptured "I," your Feast Beast will resort to the pronoun, "you," and you will hear, "You have been good; you can splurge a little. It won't really matter much, especially if you exercise." Sometimes, it may speak for both parties, you and it, by saying, "We need a little something. Let's go get some donuts." Recognizing the Feast Beast's use of pronouns is part of Addiction Dictionsm, a potent way to tame your Feast Beast.

Once started, AVRT is practically effortless. When you recognize the primitive origin of the Addictive Voice, it will usually fall silent, and then return later. It may whine a lot, but you arc in control. Beasts have feelings, so when you have stopped eating fatty foods for a few days, and reduced the amount that you consume, you may feel physically uncomfortable. This is a normal, harmless phase when your body is adapting. Within a week or two, your appetite will go into the background and you will have more energy to pursue your real goals in life. But your Feast Beast will lunge at you and tell you that any discomfort you feel is a warning that you are harming yourself, and that you had better eat more, especially "nutritious" (fatty) food. Your Feast Beast, unable to tolerate hunger, will enlist your ability to reason, using any warped logic, to find new reasons to eat incorrectly. For example, it will tell you that you eat for reasons other than the pleasure of eating, such as anxiety or loneliness, or it will say you are congenitally defective. When you confront your Feast Beast, it may generate strong feelings such as anxiety, depression, or anger. When you recognize those feelings as your Addictive Voice, they will fade.

Instead of struggling one-day-at-a-time toward a weight goal, you may make a five-word Big Plan to never eat incorrectly, "I will never eat incorrectly." To the Feast Beast, a permanent plan for eating correctly is frightening because it appears to threaten survival. Therefore making a Big Plan may trigger feelings such as anxiety, sorrow, or anger, and endless reasons to postpone the decision. Those feelings are not truly yours, but only those of a frightened animal. Your old enemy is on the run. Your Feast Beast is just a beast, and it will finally accept you as its master.

Play Taps For Your Beast

As you vanquish your old enemy, play TAPS for it. There are four axes of a dietary Big Plan: Time, Amount, Place, and Stuff. Because AVRT is simple and effective, you may be tempted to make a Big Plan that you cannot stick to over the long run. TAPS allows a progressive approach, one axis at a time, until you have the results you want and are confident of lifetime stability. Some start with just one axis, like Time, e.g., "I will never eat after 8 PM." This alone may produce gratifying results. But if stronger measures are needed, the Place axis may be added, e.g., "I will also never eat in front of the TV (or in a motor vehicle, or in my bedroom, etc.)

Without addressing what and how much you eat, you can lose considerable amounts of weight with discipline on other axes. Some may prefer to start with Stuff (or Substance), e.g., focusing on one or several "culprit foods" that trigger bingeing, e.g., "I will never again eat ice cream (or pizza, spaghetti, candy, pastries, etc.)" Simple, direct, and very effective. Finally, The Amount one eats may be the key. Never having seconds, never eating a meat portion larger than a deck of cards, never allowing different foods to overlap or touch on your plate, and other amount strategies can have significant effect on weight loss. Together, TAPS is a way to gradually add to an eating plan that you can stick to forever.

When you have made your Big Plan, you may feel a great relief. This is the abstinence commitment effect (ACE), showing that you clearly understand the concepts of AVRT. A Big Plan changes the way your future looks, and depression may no longer have a purpose in your life. Stay alert for new Beast activity, which may be sudden or gradual. It doesn't give up easily, and it is a strong opponent. When you feel the struggle within you, it is only your old enemy having a hard time with its new master ­ you. Knowing this builds great confidence that your food addiction and overweight condition are over once and for all.

Taming the Feast Beast is available at the Rational Recovery Bookstore

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