Focused Living, One Month at a Time

Monday, October 31, 2011

Challenge #4, October 2011: DRYING OUT

I will not drink any alcohol this month

“First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you.”  ~F.  Scott Fitzgerald 

This was less challenging than last month, but still not easy for me.  I was going to go on the wagon, abstain, teetotal, get sober and experience my own personal prohibition. Even while watching the calories last month, I was still in the habit of a glass or two of wine or beer almost every night.  And before last month, occasionally even more than that in a single night.  Logically I know this isn’t good for me and definitely works against my generally healthy active lifestyle, but I had just fallen into this habit.  Actually instead of a muffin top like I referred to last month, I think I have more of a “wine waist” – a noticeable pooch made up of too many unburned glasses of pinot noir and chardonnay, at least that’s what it feels like.  So it is time to try and change this habit and reduce consumption - get out of this unhealthy rut.

How it went
All good for the first 6 days – more club soda, water, tea, etc.  I had even strategized to sample the non-alcoholic beers (Becks tasted the best) and wines (both the red and white I tried were not much more than vinegary glorified grape juice – a bust!).  I was feeling good, less fuzzy in the mornings overall, and my workouts definitely went better.  But I finally guess I just had a craving for something, and poured myself a shot of rum on the seventh day.   It tasted extra alcohol-ish, like rubbing alcohol almost but with a better nose to it, and not especially good although I did finish it, and then I stopped.  Most evenings after that were fine, except when I just wanted a sip or a half glass of good red wine once in a while, which was 3 nights.  One of them was a special birthday dinner for my boyfriend, so it was sort of excusable but not really – I felt guilty afterward.  And one night home alone I actually went for the bottle of cheap champagne that was lurking in the back of the fridge – quickly sucked down a small glass, then another, burped heavily, then dumped the rest down the drain.
So 26 out of 31 days sober, not perfect but better than my 1500 calorie a day record so I was somewhat satisfied.  I have already been thinking, that later on in this overall project it may be worthwhile to redo some of these months that I don’t get a “perfect score” on – this may well be one of them.  Or at least maybe make up for the 5 off days by going sober for another 5 days at some point, that sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?

Key Observations
·      My mom decided to join me on this month, and maybe because she doesn’t drink much anyway, this was pretty easy for her.  The only time she had a drink was after a long day of driving up in Central and Northern California on curvy Pacific Coast Highway, and just wanted a glass of wine to calm her nerves a bit – highly excusable!
·      As I said, I like to eat.  I realized that yes I definitely like to drink alcohol too, but the benefits aren’t really worth the costs overall, and less is definitely better for me and how I like to operate.  During this month I went on two extraordinary trips:   Esalen for a weekend writing workshop, and the Grand Canyon on a rafting trip with O.A.R.S. over the end of October and beginning of November.  Both adventures were full of new and exciting sights, experiences, and actions – none of which needed or would have been improved by alcohol – I found myself consciously recognizing this.  However…after only mint tea and hot chocolate each night in the 30 degree evenings camping along the Colorado River – I did appreciate that newly allowed glass of red wine on November 1st, it definitely had an extra warmth and satisfaction about it.
·      Watching the final season of Rescue Me during this month with a heightened awareness of alcoholism – Tommy Gavin’s constant battle with his demons and the depth of his disease were fictional and unfamiliar to me, but I could understand the challenges to his willpower at times.  And I noticed that watching the disfunctionality of so many of the characters on that show actually made me want a drink, hmmm...interesting.  I certainly don’t want the drinks I drink to start taking their own drinks, as F. Scott points out above.
·      Even though I drank somewhat less, I didn’t lose any more weight – stayed at exactly the same as the previous month.  Will keep working on this too…