Saturday, September 24, 2011

Recalibrating the Recalibration

So, let me get this started by advising that - while technically I'm almost a week into Phase 2 of the recalibration - I am not following the "half a unit of alcohol daily with bubbly water" thing. I really tried, if you count thinking about it excessively as trying, but I just couldn't get past the engrained perspective that a spritzer isn't worthy of my personality. How then, you might be wondering, is Phase 2 different from Phase 3? Well, more or less, simply inasmuch as phase 3 includes swapping up "good carbs" on occasion for "yummy carbs" i.e. couscous for cake. That latitude is not built into Phase 2.

Furthermore, as I did my "trying", I was increasingly able to clearly articulate what not drinking did not do for me. (Only in my mind, obvs, cuz this sentence is an inarticulate disaster.)

Not drinking alcohol for the better part of 2 weeks did NOT:
  • Improve my skin
  • Improve my mood
  • Improve my experience of food - or anything else, for that matter
  • Melt pounds of fat from my midsection (or even half-pounds)
It did however:
  • Give me a good opportunity to consider the nature of deprivation - something I generally avoid at all costs, though there are lessons to learn along that path; and
  • Facilitate an experiment I've never before tried, designed to a) determine how I'd feel without alcohol for a (semi) extended period which isn't pregnancy - BTW, that's a torturous time to have to give up booze... and b) determine whether de-puffing and/or fat loss, in my body, would be motivated by a lack of alcohol (remember that's my mother's theory).
If nothing else, the reduction of hard-to-metabolize, non-nutritious carb calories has arguably led to the beginnings of my return to desired proportions. But, frankly, I was surprised it didn't have more of a notable physical affect. Apparently, 2 - 3 glasses of wine, for an extended period, is likely no more responsible for my de-toning (at least at this age and stage) than all the pastry I combined with it.

For me, the choice is to continue to abstain - which is the psychic equivalent, to me, of living with food allergies. If you know me well / my relationship to this topic, you will know that I am regrettably intolerant of food intolerance (and by this I mean no offense to the people who struggle with it legitimately) - or to drink real glasses of wine (and by that I mean ones not watered down by Perrier - a soft beverage I do respect in its unadulterated form).

Since my return to Boozlandia, I have had 1 drink a day (5 oz, clearly measured) of red wine. What does it do for me? It complements my food, which I choose so carefully for its correlative and aesthetic qualities. (I am a staunch LOVER of food, peeps.) It makes me feel like I'm a "regular person" not a "dieter". It tastes good. It relaxes me after a long day at work. It's something I associate with friendship and good conversation and travel and freedom from daily responsibility. Does it actually produce those things? Of course not. It's a freakin' glass of wine, not a framework the likes of which I've worked my entire adult life to create.

Nonetheless, that's where I'm at. Apparently, the second edition of my best-selling lifestyle recalibration will have an option in Phase 2.

For what it's worth, I spend very little time thinking about exciting food I'm not eating. I ingest excellent, protein rich things, don't snack, and eschew all sugar but from occasional fruit and a small dose of chocolate. (I'm pretending I'm Jennifer Aniston.) And I do feel it's having an effect.

What about you? What does alcohol mean to you? Or "dieting"? How do you relate to perceived deprivation? What foods / drink can you give up reasonably easily? Which ones leave you fixated on lack?


  1. Oh, this is a complex and loaded (no pun intended) topic for me too. The alcohol because my mother was either an alcoholic or a "problem drinker" depending on who you talk to. My money's in the "alcoholic" camp just from some of the attendant personality traits and behaviors. I like my wine too, and the occasional glass of scotch. I LOVE beer but it puts weight on me like nothing else. What I'm finding though is that my body doesn't tolerate alcohol as well as it used to. If I have more than a glass and a half of wine in one evening, I have a terrible time sleeping and often my digestive system goes on the rampage. So I keep it to one glass, maybe another half if we're out to dinner, but stop there. That's hard because I like the whole wine thing: tasting, pairing with food, terroir.

    I don't do well with the concept of dietary deprivation either, due to so many years of being very eating disordered and getting myself out of it by allowing myself to eat what I wanted. When I focus on how certain foods make me *feel* it's easier to pass up the junk. If I eat one of those Krispy Kreme donuts my co-worker brought in, I know I'll be having a blood sugar crash by 11am. My next project is to start sourcing some sustainably/humanely raised meat. I've been feeling torn about eating animal products, though I know my body does LOTS better when I do.

  2. I actually have a few food allergies, and celery, carrots and mustard are not exactly run of the mill ones. For me, those foods changed in taste. I've never liked mustard (reacted with my first pickle), always thought celery was bitter (19 when that started) and after the summer of hives, carrots went from being tasty sweet treats to bitter. So, it's harder to give up something you want to eat (pastry) but shouldn't because it still tastes good when you do have it. There is no reward for me in eating carrots. Unless you like hives and wheezing.

    We have cut down on carbs at dinner, I've always like whole wheat bread more than white (although I'm a succer for rye). So I'm okay with cutting out most non-nutritious carbs. I don't think I could cut them all out and be happy.

    Alcohol plays a pretty big roll in our house too, more so for my husband than me. I love me a glass of wine, cider or rum & coke, mostly on the weekends. I think the problem for us is the ability to stop at that 5 oz glass of wine. Also my husband thinks in terms of fairness rather than alcohol tollerance. So now I actually have to remind him I would like to sew tonight more than split the bottle 50:50. I take medication that impacts my ability to process alcohol, I'm better than I was, but I'm still pretty giggly on the second glass. He may be able to play guitar and whatever at half a bottle, but I can't trust myself to concentrate properly.

  3. Great job!! Yes, I allow a wine glass or two when I'm low-carbing it. Without too much problem. But, my downfall is Pepsi. Seriously. Ridiculous, I know! I do think you're going to get fantastic results just hang in there. I myself have been backsliding fighting off a bad head cold this week. Cold=eat what you want. Good luck!

  4. At the risk of ruining our burgeoning cyber-friendship, I'll admit that in earlier years, white wine spritzers were part of my occasional weightloss plans. Luckily, I quickly recognized them for the abomination that they are and would now rather have the bubbly water on its own and save the calories for proper wine appreciation. I would echo Pseu's point about my body's decreasing ability to handle alcohol, and am trying to stop at one or two glasses with a meal so that I sleep better. That said, we split a lovely bottle of '07 Bordeaux and I didn't regret a drop.

  5. Actually, I rarely drink alcohol, and never anything with bubbles! Blame it on that piece Dodie K wrote for Vogue a gazillion years ago. I like still, spring water at the end of a meal, unless I am out somewhere wonderful and do not have any maternal duties on my plate or on the horizon.

  6. I can easily go two weeks without drinking -- I never drink at home, so if I wind up not going anywhere, I'm not drinking -- and I've never felt significantly different during those weeks than drinking weeks!

  7. I used to drink wine at dinner every night but rarely do now, primarily because it is not as fun by myself. Sometimes I do have a glass, but very rarely two. Sometimes I have a drink. I can't see that the alcohol per se has impacted my waistline in any negative way, although I too have noticed that if I drink too heavily I sleep badly, and if that drinking takes the form of too much wine, or if too many carbohydrates go along with the alcohol, I will suffer more (for example, margarita night at my LYS can be problematic with either too many margaritas or just one margarita but too many chips). I can go for weeks without drinking, and then I might drink every night, it depends on what is happening in my social life.

    I think the carbs have a greater affect on the waistline, and there are so many things that are higher in carbs than a glass of wine. I am not sure that on a cellular level our bodies care one whit about "good" vs "bad" carbs, so my philosophy is to eat what I want but be mindful trying to maintain whatever balance seems to be working for me at the time. I don't particularly feel more virtuous for eating quinoa instead of cake, unless I really just wanted quinoa, and if I substitute the quinoa for the cake I really wanted, I eat too much, still feel resentful, and probably have an upset tummy as well. Its a lose, lose situation.

    I don't like the idea of "dieting" in that there is always the "non-dieting" and it sets up a whole mentality of deprivation and reward.

    I am suspicious of saying that there is any particular food a person "can't" live without, it is more obviously a set of priorities. If the risk/benefit ratio is important enough, one adapts. I speak from experience here, and there is no need to go into the details, but I can say that for me there has to be a compromise between enjoyment of life and being thin. I can handle being a size or two larger more than I can handle strict adherence to deprivation, but I also accept that I can't have all-cake-all-the-time, although that is probably what my inborn sweet tooth would desire.

  8. Hey everyone: I LOVE these comments...

    Sue: Adverse reactions to booze sure take the edge off. I find it interesting to hear that you have left behind disordered eating by staunchly avoiding the feeling of deprivation. When I feel deprived, it makes me loopy. So I relate to what you're saying.

    Sera: I have to say, if you have to have yucky allergies - carrots are the way to go :-) (Though I know, given that they're in many foods, it must be a challenge.) How intriguing that your challenge is the stopping. I am in no way a moderate person, so whenever I start anything, I have to plan that end game.

    Pammie: Amazing! I know so many other people who experience pop as their downfall. I know it's not the same, but you should try Perrier or club soda. You might find the bubbles are what you love most about the drink. Feel better...

    F: Don't worry - I still love moderate people! :-) I do know what you mean about sleep being affected if you drink too much. I find it's more about when I drink. I stop by about 8 pm. Since I think I've metabolized it by then, I don't find it keeps me awake.

    Ms C: Fair enough. Let Vogue set out our guiding principles!

    Wendy: Now replace the word "alcohol" with "Cadbury Dairy Milk". :-)

    Mardel: I love this comment! For you the wine drinking really is a social experience. And I always find the people who can take it or leave it (see Wendy above) to be very enlightened. I mean, I'm not even that way about cake. You are so right, IMO, about balancing satiety with health. I have a shape and size that appeals to me because it fits my clothes and my image of how I like to look. I don't have any desire to be slimmer than that. It would take way too much work - and hunger (which I loathe).

  9. I think blogger must have eaten my earlier comment, but these are great!

    Mardel's comment: I don't like the idea of "dieting" in that there is always the "non-dieting" and it sets up a whole mentality of deprivation and reward.

    That's exactly how I feel.

    I take note that the women in my age category are reducing alchohol intake.

    It sounds like what you're doing is working and not making you feel deprived, so good for you!

  10. I love food. I'm a very poor "dieter." I hate to think that I can't have something and if I go without something I enjoy I usually end up binging on it a bit. Thankfully, I'm pretty darn good at moderation and portion control and stopping when I'm full or after one glass or whatever. So it all works out.

    I would feel deprived if I thought I couldn't have a glass of wine at night ... and yet I sometimes forget to have it if I get busy. It's all mental.

  11. Two weeks doesn't seem enough time -- maybe give it more time?

    I think diets are really bad for you, and I tend to think of it more as a lifestyle choice that is permanent. If I eat a rich meal, I balance it out by eating light meals the rest of the day. I also eat like 5x a day with smaller meals throughout, and I try to make everything I eat count nutrition-wise. I also walk everywhere and go to the dojo 3x a week for exercise. I started all of this not b/c of looks or weight, but to help deal with my depression through exercise. I also don't believe in deprivation (am eating homemade cookies right now at 2am lol)

    I think in the end it's finding out what eating habits work for you and your lifestyle, and what makes you feel healthy at the end of the day.

  12. Susan: I have such a complicated relationship with desire...

    Stacey: It seems that you've got a fantastic attitude that works perfectly for you!

    Janice: I agree that diets are bad for you - if only because they aren't sustainable. I too follow the path of eating light after eating heavily - though sometimes I lose my way :-). And I walk miles a day to stay sane - no joke.