I'm just 5 days away from the 13-week goal I set myself back in January. After that, I guess I'll stop counting days again. I'm not really counting now, but when I post I look it up. The numbers are starting to matter a lot less. Initially it mattered a lot, though. I wanted to know where I was in the process compared to last time around, and when it was really tough, somehow it helped me a lot to see that I'd already done this once before. Now, at 12 weeks and a couple of days, I feel good. This not drinking thing has been a bit of work, but it's worth it!
This past week, I decided to make some changes in my eating. For the past couple of years, I've been eating mostly whole foods without much wheat or sugar, and it works for me. Last time when I quit drinking, I stayed pretty firm on this, and I was really healthy. I occasionally had a sweet, or ate a bit too much dark chocolate, but nothing too serious. This time, I fell into thinking that having sweets as "treats" was the way to go. What bollocks! I feel like crap when I eat a big wodge of cake or lots of sugar. Really, really crap. That's why I changed how I ate in the first place. So telling myself I deserve something that's going to make me feel awful, just because I'm avoiding something else that would make me feel awful, it's just nonsense. (Disclaimer: I'm not the wheat and sugar police. Eat what you want! I'm just saying I don't feel good when I eat it, and I shouldn't be doing that. Some people seem able to eat loads, and they do OK. If that's you, good for you, It's not me, that's all I'm saying.)
Anyway, about a week ago, I realized I'd had enough. I had a little talk with myself, the way I have to, and said, that's it, no second cup of coffee as soon as the first one is done, because my one cup is actually a 4 ounce espresso, and 2 of those means I'm vibrating. And no more mainlining honey, or heading out for that giant slice of carrot cake that puts me in a coma, just because it's the afternoon and I'm on a big deadline and it's hard to cope. Sometimes I do crave a sweet. But a crisp apple, cut into little chunks sprinkled with cinnamon and crumbled walnuts and topped with a couple of tablespoons of strained plain yoghurt, that's real food. I can eat that, get a little hit of sweet, without the icky belly or the jittery sugar high and subsequent crash. Also, because it's real food, I'm not hungry later, and the sweet craving goes. In the evening, after dinner, I have a cup of herbal tea and two or three squares of dark chocolate, the 75% or 85% kind. No one's deprived over here! It tastes good, I eat it very, very slowly, and if I want more, I can have it the next night after dinner.
Also, I started moving again. Again, though I'm usually super active, lately I have a strange schedule, and for a few weeks I'd got out of both running and biking. So if the sugar wasn't making me feel awful, being stuck indoors sitting on a chair sure was. Jeepers! Friday afternoon I went for a run in the driving rain, and I was so happy I was giddy! Why was I not doing this? I don't know. Somehow, I'd started to get caught in some very poor thinking, and I lost the focus on what makes me feel well. I was using deadlines as an excuse, but really, I'm going to be on deadlines for the next six years (six years!) or more, so if I have to wait till that's over before I take better care, I'm done for. I'm in this for the long haul, and it will only work if I find a way to live that I can keep doing.
It's just been a few days, but I feel a lot better already. There is something about going into the kitchen and having a sweet when I know it's not great for me that's so much like drinking. When I do that, I'm on a kind of autopilot, and everything I've learned about what works best for me exists in some numb other-self while I head for the sugar. It's such a strange feeling. And it's easy to start excusing it, because the ex-drinkers are mostly a sugar-happy lot, and will say that the sugar isn't the worst you can do, and you have to be careful not to do too much at once, so eat up. Fair enough. You can't start a whole bunch of new habits at the same time, and for the first few weeks after quitting the drink, there is some serious sweet craving going on. But I'm past that part now. Dropping all my healthy habits can't be good either. If exercise and good eating sustains me, then avoiding it as a reward just isn't on.
In other news: I'm not too concerned about booze these days. I don't miss it often, and when I do, it's pretty easy to get around. Two days ago, I submitted the final draft of my thesis (hooray!!!) and when I hit "send" on my email, I yelled, "Someone please remind me why I don't drink any more, because this right now would be a good time to drink!" My partner was in the kitchen, and he poured us sparkling glasses of something (not booze!) so we could raise a toast. All in all, I wanted a drink for about ten seconds. Surely I can resist the occasional ten-second impulse!
At the dinner party I attended the other night, it wasn't awkward not drinking and, except for a moment when we arrived and I saw the pretty bottles and glasses lined up on the counter, I didn't want wine. Yes, those moments are work to get through. But my point (reminding myself here) is, they are only moments, and then there's the whole evening to enjoy, not staying stuck in those moments.
Three more days on deadlines and I have a little reprieve. Time to get back to work here. It's sunny and warm outdoors, so if I get a few pages done, I can go for a long walk in the afternoon, then come back and write a bit more. So enough lolly-gagging here.
Wishing you all peace and joy and sunny afternoons!