Thursday, January 30, 2014

Sober Day #93: Diets vs. Lifestyle Changes

A long time ago, I used to be fat.  For many years I struggled with being on a diet, off a diet, dieting strictly, rebelling by eating.  When I finally decided to make a permanent change, it was effective, and I have now been slender and fit for 10+ years.  How?

Baby Steps and Sustainable Changes.  For me, with my impaired fasting glucose, low carb eating is the healthiest choice.  So I made really tiny changes- baby steps- one little tiny bit at a time.  A change like, eating something instead of nothing for breakfast every day.  A change like waiting 10 minutes before having a higher carb snack I wanted, seeing if the urge dissipated (sometimes it did).  And I made these slowly and kindly enough that they were sustainable, something I could easily live with long term.  And it has worked well.

How does this apply to alcohol cessation?

(1)  How I got to the place of tackling 100 days.  For about the 6 months before starting this, I'd been thinking about modifying my alcohol intake.  One baby step was having 3 days a week of no alcohol.  Another was waiting an hour or more after arriving home before pouring a glass of wine.  Another was having a glass of water before pouring each glass of wine.  And so on.  The aggregate effect was to loosen Wolfie's hold on me enough that I could even contemplate 100 days in a row without alcohol.

(2)  Once I began my 100 days, I used another set of baby steps.  Although the No Alcohol was, in a sense, equivalent to a crash diet, there were so many other aspects of my life impacted by this.  I spent the first 2-3 weeks mourning the loss of my old reliable friend alcohol.  The baby step of using Belle's approach, providing non-alcohol treats, was commitment-saving.  Continuing to confront (with the help of my therapist) the issues I'd used alcohol to avoid- this made a number of away-from-alcohol steps, all strung together.

(3)  So what is Diet vs. Deprivation vs. Sustainable for me as far as alcohol is concerned?  To be determined.  If I even whisper to myself:  "No more wine, ever", that deprived, rebellious feeling begins to kick in.  On the other hand, if I think of drinking a glass or two of wine daily, no more?  That really doesn't compute.  I know I wouldn't be able to do that.  Too often, that glass or two would compel me onward to another 2, or 3, or more.  So that isn't a type of moderation I'll try at all.  Between those two, however, there is a vast space.  Ranging from one glass of champagne each year on New Year's Eve, to wine on other 'special occasions,' to wine once monthly, or once weekly.

I am pretty nervous about this, but I also feel compelled to experiment.  To my surprise, I have not had a huge amount of trouble getting through what will soon be 100 days.  Perhaps this bodes well for mixing mostly abstinence with occasional days of wine.  If not, it will be back to no-wine-at-all, at least for a period of time longer than 100 days. Something sustainable...

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I'd love to hear about your journey, and hear your take on my journey. Comments are very welcome!!