I have been at a total loss for words lately. I've drafted three posts over the last few days, but they were really just babbling about nothing. I'm hoping that today's will actually be worth posting 😉
I know I've written a little about this before, but this topic has actually been affecting me quite a bit this year as I'm learning more and more about myself and my body.
As you probably know, when I was losing the weight in 2009-2010, I drank a glass of wine just about every single day. I looked forward to having a glass of wine and a sweet of some sort (usually chocolate) every evening. And I lost weight for 52 weeks in a row.
I always measured out my wine, and I'd usually have 4-8 ounces, depending on how many Points/calories I wanted to spend. A 5-ounce glass has roughly 100 calories, so I wasn't consuming many calories from wine. And it worked out fine!
Early this year, when I stopped trying to count calories, I just tried to focus on not binge eating or eating for emotional reasons. Mostly, I was focused on my mental health, and my weight followed suit. For the first time ever, I dropped back down to my goal weight without counting calories.
I also wasn't drinking (much). I went about eight weeks without any alcohol during the summer, but even before that, I only had a handful of drinks over a several month period.
I suspected that limiting or eliminating alcohol played a role in my not binge eating, but I wasn't sure. Over the last month or so, I've really started to pay attention to my alcohol consumption and how it affects me (physically and mentally).
There have been several occasions where I've had alcohol recently, mainly because I've been getting together with friends frequently. I know I don't have to drink when I'm with friends, but it's hard not to. I got together with friends many times over the summer, and I was totally fine always volunteering to be the designated driver.
But then the “special occasions” got more frequent, and I've noticed that the alcohol really does affect my weight and mood in a lot of ways.
|Delicious blackberry cider in Portland|
To name a few ways that alcohol has affected me this year:
1) I get lazy. It doesn't matter if I have one drink or five the night before, I feel super lazy the next day, and sometimes even two days later. I was so excited about getting back to running, but over the last couple of weeks, I've found it very hard to get the energy to do it. Last week, I only ran twice, and I had planned to run three times. Three times is not too much to ask!
2) It makes me not care so much about doing what is best for me. Again, running is a good example. It's not just that I don't have the energy to run, it's that I don't care if I run or not.
3) I am hungry all the time. And not just “mental hunger” (appetite); legitimate hunger, where my stomach growls and feels like an empty pit. Because of this, I've been eating more than usual; and therefore, my weight is up. Last week, I was at 136, and this week, 136.4. In that way, alcohol does make me gain weight; the only reason I was able to lose weight before, in 2009-2010, was because I was measuring and counting the calories in the drinks. Now that I eat when I'm hungry, and the alcohol makes me hungry, I'm eating more. Result: weight gain.
4) Alcohol causes me a ton of anxiety. I might feel relaxed for a short time after having a drink, but then hours later, I am filled with generalized anxiety. And since I tend to eat when I'm anxious, it has been hard not to eat for emotional reasons. This wasn't an issue at all when I wasn't drinking for weeks (or months) at a time.
5) It makes my moods shift kind of drastically; and for someone with bipolar, that's a bad thing. The goal is to keep my mood stable, and alcohol makes that impossible.
So, it's kind of hard accepting the fact that I really need to abstain from drinking altogether, but I know it's what I need to do. I'm not even going to think too far ahead, because the thought of not enjoying margaritas (my very fave) is just sad. (I'm not saying I will never ever have a drink again–because that's highly unlikely–but I'd like to avoid it as much as I can.)
|Good-bye margaritas. It's been real.|
Right now, I'll just concentrate on the moment. When I wasn't drinking at all for a while, it was because I really hated the (almost) immediate physical effects on me: swollen hands (literally within 4-5 sips of a glass of wine, my hands feel warm and puffy); racing heartbeat; an uncomfortable hot/cold feeling (I can't tell whether I feel hot or cold, and it's really annoying); and insomnia. I don't sleep well at ALL if I've had even a single drink the night before.
|Drinks with Caitlin a few weeks ago|
My mental health is the most important task to me right now, and if that means not drinking when all my friends are, then I accept that. I have a Winers meeting (the wine club that Renee and I started in 2009) on Saturday, and it's the most fun one we do all year: Christmas! We bring a bottle of wine and an appetizer or dessert to share with everyone, and we have a white elephant gift exchange.
It's going to be so hard to be the only one not having wine at a “Winers” meeting! I've done it before, though, so I know I can handle it. I just wish I didn't like wine so much, haha 😉 Mostly, I just don't want anyone to think I'm being self-righteous or that I'm judging people for drinking. The reality is, I wish I could enjoy it with them! But my body has other ideas, so I just have to do what is best for me.
|Out with friends at a brewery in Seattle, and drinking boring water. But I felt good!|
When I was abstaining most of the time this year, I replaced a nightly glass of wine with a can of La Croix or flavored Perrier. I looked forward to that as much as I did my wine! I never used to buy it, because it's very expensive; but I justified the cost by not buying alcohol, so it ended up saving me money in the long run.
In the late summer, however, I decided to stop spending my “allowance” money on the water. It seemed like a waste of money to me. But I think that the water and snack routine every night helped me quite a bit. Like I said, I looked forward to it. So, I bought some La Croix today, and I'm going to go back to having one every night.
Sometimes I will have tart red cherry juice in a wine glass–it looks like a very deep red wine and the tartness tastes tannic. I can almost envision that it's actually wine 😉
Anyway, I'm very curious about any of you that may want to share… does alcohol affect your weight, either directly (the immediate calories) or indirectly (like eating for emotional reasons)? Does it affect your mood or emotions like it does for me? Make you unmotivated? I can't be the only one (at least I hope not) so I'd love to hear some other experiences.
I haven't written a Thrifty Thursday post in a while, so I am going to make sure to do that tomorrow!