First of all, I am very proud to say that this is day 7. Concluding my first week of complete sobriety in over 10 years. Yay me! I’ve said before that it isn’t my intention to stay stone sober for the rest of my life, so this isn’t one of those “First week of the rest of your life” things. I don’t want a keychain or anything. But completing this week gives me a sense of power over my destiny that I haven’t felt in a long time. I suppose you could say it’s intoxicating. I mean, you could say that if you wanted to be a dick.
But I also want to talk about something else that’s been on my mind in reference to cutting booze out of my life, at least as a daily indulgence, and that’s my health/weight. I consider myself a pretty healthy person. I exercise daily, I have a very healthy diet (especially now that I’ve cut out the alcohol,) my medical stats are quite good. Also, I am fat. I don’t mean that in a derogatory way, to myself or anyone else. I mean it as any other descriptor, like short or brown-eyed, which I am also. My fatness has been a part of my life for pretty much ever. When I was a teenager I was at the high end of sizes at the mall stores, and thought I was hideous, but don’t all teenagers pretty much think that? Oh the angst, it burns!
For a brief period, when I first got to college, I had a very active lifestyle and the pounds seemed to melt away. But it wasn’t too long before I discovered parties & beer in kegs and big oceans of booze and the pounds returned. And they brought friends. I’ve bounced back & forth from the high end of the normal size range to the low end of the plus-size range my whole adult life. When I was about to get married, I tried a half-assed attempt at dieting, but I’d never really had a clue about nutrition and didn’t really know what I was doing, so voila, it worked about as well as you’d think, and I wound up getting married in a size 20 wedding dress. But in my defense, bridal sizes are like dog years or something so that’s probably only about a 16 if it were some other dress. I wasn’t weighing myself regularly in those days, but I think my highest was about 240, and I’m 5’3″.
In 2005 I decided to try Weight Watchers, and I learned a lot about nutrition that I didn’t know, like what fiber is for example. At that time they were doing this thing called Flex Points where you got a certain number of Points for the day and then some (I think 35?) free Points you could distribute throughout the week or use in one go for a splurge. When I started, I weighed 223, and that meant that I got 26 Points per day. Woo hoo! Being an engineer and thus mathematically oriented, I immediately sat down & began the calculations of how many of my precious points I would need to allocate for booze so that I could structure my meals with the remaining points. Priorities, right? So, I figured out that to drink as much as I felt I needed, I would need to reserve 12 Points. Every. Day. And those 35 Flex Points? What did I use them for? Well I just saved them for the weekend, so I could have even more booze then.
Some of the people reading this are going to think Jesus Christ! I don’t think you can do that. But you can. And you’d be surprised how easy it is. I had 2 Points for breakfast: a granola bar & black coffee with Splenda. 2 Points for lunch: a green salad with 2tbsp of lowfat ranch dressing. And 10 Points for dinner, which was typically some lean meat with vegetables and some sauces or high fiber tortillas or something. Nick & I came up with all kinds of great low cal meals. And it worked. When I quit going to the meetings, I was at 182. I lost about 40lbs.
And the exercise, well. I found that I could earn myself 5 extra Points by working out on an eliptical machine for 70 minutes. Yep. An hour & ten minutes. Sometimes I would drink the extra points, sometimes I would just reserve them & my numbers looked even better that week. The best part? When you’re all tired & starving, you get REALLY wasted.
Ya, healthy, right? I know, I was the picture of health! Hungover, starving, tired all the time. Yes, you’re probably thinking that I was abusing the system, that it isn’t meant to be used like that. Yes, I know. I knew it at the time too. But I had priorities and getting drunk was just more important than getting thin. And, hard as it is to believe, you can do both to some degree. But I felt like crap. I felt cheated. Which is why, eventually, I stopped counting. And the weight came back on. I continued to eat healthily, just in amounts that my body needed. Plus the booze.
I’ve been working out & eating a healthy diet pretty regularly for several years now, but my emphasis hasn’t been on losing weight. It isn’t really about that for me. It’s more about getting properly fit & properly healthy. Because your body needs fuel, no two ways about it, and dieting is stupid, frustrating, and doesn’t really work in the long run. In my opinion, it’s unhealthy.
So now I’m about 210. The way I see it, cutting the booze out of my life is saving me about 400 calories a day. That’s over 2000 on the weekdays alone. I’m thinking that I’m probably going to lose some weight. If I don’t, that’s okay, because I’m pretty sure it will show in my athletic performance, even if it doesn’t show on the scale. Running faster & longer is a much higher priority for me than the size of my booty.
As far as I’m concerned, it’s just one of the perks of sobriety.