Saturday, July 10, 2010

I can't do this any more

Warning: brutal honesty, self assessment and 
unblinking personal confession ahead. 
Read at your own risk.

I think I became a non-drinker today. Or, at the most, I became an eventual minimal drinker. Here's why.

My dad was an alcoholic who died at 62 due to physical complications from cirrhosis. I've known since I was a teen (in the midst of his alcoholism) that I have a genetic predisposition to alcoholism; therefore, I've always been wary and concerned about it. When I was married to my first husband, I didn't drink hardly at all. He didn't drink at all and I only drank when we were together with one couple. But even then, I'd drink beyond what I should.That's a pattern that I can trace throughout my 20s, 30s, 40s and right up to today.

In the past 15 years, John's and my drinking has ramped up. We discovered wine about 10 years ago and mostly abandoned drinking anything else in favor of wine. We used to drink on weekends, then every night. We seem powerless to stop the escalation. Moderation is not a common word to me, at least not in practice.

Thinking back, I've had many occasions where my overdrinking has been an issue. At our daughter Holly's wedding, I caused a scene. When Erin and Mike were making plans for their wedding, they originally didn't want to have alcohol served and it was due to my scene at Holly's wedding. I promised not to drink at their reception so we could allow our guests to have beer and wine. We had another incident at a Fourth of July party several years ago where Johnnie and I both drank so much that we ended up sleeping fully dressed on the floor of our bedroom next to Daisy, our dog. We still don't remember how we ended up there.

First we'd go through a 750 ml bottle, then it progressed to a bottle and a half, then two. More recently we've been drinking boxed wines (there are some decent ones out there if you get past the Almaden and Franzia junk) and downing about one every couple days.

We did an in-depth budget analysis a couple months ago and, in digging into our monthly expenses, I discovered how much we were spending on wine. It was a bunch. 

I've been getting increasingly concerned about my wine consumption for the past few months primarily because of my weight. Over that same 15 year period, I've put on about 40 pounds. Not earth shattering but still depressing and discouraging for me and to me.  I can keep my weight steady (albeit in a range I dislike) these days but taking weight off is virtually impossible.

I've been castigating myself daily for the last several months about my weight and my inability to stick with a healthy eating plan. And for continuing to overconsume wine every night.  To the point of self hate and considering asking my doctor to increase my anti-depressant because I was feeling as thought it wasn't working any more.

Two weeks ago, I read an article on that articulated clearly for me the connection between alcohol and weight loss -- or I should say, the lack of weight loss. I'll add the article to the bottom of this post if you're interested in reading it. I woke up two weeks ago Sunday and decided that I wasn't going to drink anything alcoholic until I took off the weight.

I have had not much difficulty staying away from wine for the past two weeks. Of course, both John and I have been sick with strep and para-influenza (the adult version of croup) -- thanks to our granddaughter Lucy -- for the bulk of that time so I've felt like crap. A couple times wine sounded good but we didn't have any open and I settled for cookies instead. Still not a great choice but better for me in the long run.

This past week I went to see a nutritionist/weight loss counselor I've worked with successfully in the past. Part of my weight loss desperation theory is that I need the accountability and one-on-one counseling to focus on my weight loss. It's not cheap but it appears to be what I need to do. While I haven't taken off a lot of weight yet, I have had success in dropping about six pounds in the last two weeks. My resolve to eat properly is not sabotaged when I don't drink in the evenings.

So last night, we went to see The Moody Blues with Mike and Jane, longtime friends we see three or four times a year. They are both heavy drinkers but always appear to handle it reasonably well. John's and my first date was at a Moody Blues concert at this same outdoor venue 19 years ago so being there is always a sentimental occasion for us.  John surprised me when we were getting ready to go to the concert by suggesting we take a small thermos of white wine with us to drink in the parking lot as we were tailgating before the concert. So we took the wine and drank two glasses in quick succession before going into the show.

And it happened again. Once we were inside, I suggested getting more wine to drink during the concert and we did. Then Jane (of the couple we were with) couldn't finish her bottle of wine (the vendor puts the contents of the bottle into a large plastic cup) so Johnnie and I had yet another glass to help her finish. We're real shooters like that.

After the concert I drove home and thank God, I was cognizant enough and together enough to (a) not have an accident and (b) drive reasonably and moderately. However, if we had been stopped by the police or encountered a sobriety checkpoint, there is no doubt in my mind that I would have failed the test in spades. We both fully support the "don't drink and drink" philosophy and have almost completely stopped drinking when we're out so we don't put ourselves or anyone else in jeopardy. I sincerely thank God that we weren't stopped last night.

After we got home, rather than going to bed like sane people, we opened the thermos of wine from the concert and finished it. Dopes. I don't remember going upstairs and getting ready for bed. And that's not the first time I've had blank outs (I can't call them black outs because I didn't pass out - I just do not remember anything at all but I remained conscious). 

Today I feel awful. I woke up with a killer headache. So did Johnnie. Truthfully, I think I was still buzzed for at least half of the day. Around 5:30 this evening, I went upstairs and vomited. Little to get rid of but at least my stomach feels better. We were supposed to have our great friends Ken and Bridget over tonight for dinner but I called them half an hour before their arrival and asked to reschedule. To my credit, I told Bridget honestly why. She knows Mike and Jane so she could understand why I I was tempted to overimbibe, although they really don't deserve to be the scapegoats for my own lack of control. Kindly, she suggested that maybe I had a bug. No bug. Too much alcohol but thanks for your kind excuse, Bridgie.

I don't believe I need to go to rehab or join an AA meeting. I've done Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA) to understand the process and deal with the aftermath of my dad's drinking. I understand the steps. So I'm counting this public confession as addressing steps 1-8 and 10-12. I am omitting step 9 because I don't believe I have harmed anyone besides Johnnie (to whom I haven't already apologized) and we had a very open and honest discussion about all this an hour ago.

So. Here I am, filled with remorse, self-loathing and embarrassment. Again. Until and if I can get myself under control, I am not drinking. I can't do this any more.

I feel better already.

Here's the article from

Alcohol and Weight Loss
Can You Have Both?
-- By Liz Noelcke, Staff Writer
Alcohol and weight loss are enemies, but an occasional drink can have a place in a healthy lifestyle. In fact, many experts note the health benefits of consuming a single drink per day, including a reduced risk for high blood pressure. If, however, you are exceeding one drink daily, you might be sabotaging your weight loss plans.

Alcohol is metabolized differently than other foods and beverages. Under normal conditions,
your body gets its energy from the calories in carbohydrates, fats and proteins that need to be slowly digested in the stomach—but not when alcohol is present. When alcohol is consumed, it gets special privileges and needs no digestion. The alcohol molecules diffuse through the stomach wall as soon as they arrive and can reach the brain and liver in minutes. This reaction is slightly slowed when there is also food in your system, but as soon as the mixed contents enter the small intestine, the alcohol grabs first place and is absorbed quickly. The alcohol then arrives at the liver for processing. The liver places all of its attention on the alcohol. Therefore, the carbohydrates (glucose) and dietary fats are just changed into body fat, waiting to be carried away for permanent fat storage in the body.

Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning that it causes water loss and dehydration. Along with this water loss you lose important minerals, such as magnesium, potassium, calcium and zinc. These minerals are vital to the maintenance of fluid balance, chemical reactions, and muscle contraction and relaxation.

Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram and offers NO nutritional value. It only adds empty
calories to your diet. Why not spend your calorie budget on something healthier?

Alcohol affects your body in other negative ways. Drinking might help induce sleep, but the
sleep you get isn't very deep. Ultimately, as a result, you get less rest. Alcohol can also increase the amount of acid that your stomach produces, causing your stomach lining to become inflamed. Over time, excessive alcohol use can lead to serious health problems, including stomach ulcers, liver disease, and heart troubles.

Alcohol lowers your inhibitions, which is detrimental to your diet plans. Alcohol actually
stimulates your appetite. While you might be full from a comparable amount of calories from food, several drinks might not fill you up. On top of that, research shows that if you drink before or during a meal, both your inhibitions and willpower are reduced. In this state, you are more likely to overeat—especially greasy or fried foods—which can add to your waistline. To avoid this, wait to order that drink until you're done with your meal.

Many foods that accompany drinking (peanuts, pretzels, chips) are salty, which can make you
thirsty, encouraging you to drink even more. To avoid overdrinking, sip on a glass of water in
between each alcoholic beverage.

Skipping a meal to save your calories for drinks later is a bad idea. Many drinkers know they'll be having some alcohol later, whether going to a bar, party, or just kicking back at home. Knowing that drinking entails extra calories, it may be tempting to "bank" some calories by skipping a meal or two. This is a bad move. If you come to the bar hungry, you are even more likely to munch on the snacks, and drinking on an empty stomach enhances the negative effects of alcohol. If you're planning on drinking later, eat a healthy meal first. You'll feel fuller, which will stop you from overdrinking. If you are worried about a looming night out with friends, include an extra 30 minutes of exercise to balance your calories—instead of skipping a meal.

What are more important, calories or carbs? You might think that drinking liquor is more diet friendly because it has no carbohydrates, while both wine and beer do contain carbs. But dieters need to watch calories, and liquor only has a few calories less than beer or wine. Plus, it is often mixed with other drinks, adding even more empty calories. Hard liquor contains around 100 calories per shot, so adding a mixer increases calories even more. If you are going to mix liquor with anything, opt for a diet or club soda, instead of fruit juice or regular soda. Sweeter drinks, whether liquor or wine, tend to have more sugar, and therefore more calories. In that respect, dry wines usually have fewer calories than sweet wines.

The list below breaks down the number of calories in typical alcoholic drinks. Compare some
of your favorites to make a good choice next time you decide to indulge in a serving of alcohol.

Drink Serving Size Calories

Red wine 5 oz. 100
White wine 5 oz. 100
Champagne 5 oz. 130
Light beer 12 oz. 105
Regular beer 12 oz. 140
Dark beer 12 oz. 170
Cosmopolitan 3 oz. 165
Martini 3 oz. 205
Long Island iced tea 8 oz. 400
Gin & Tonic 8 oz. 175
Rum & Soda 8 oz. 180
Margarita 8 oz. 200
Whiskey Sour 4 oz. 200

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