Saturday, 28 March 2015

The Significance and Excitement of 28th March 2015


Today I am 2 years sober.
or
104 weeks
or
730 days
or
many many hours, depending on how you are currently counting your sober time.

Either way, that represents a lot of wine I have not consumed: at my last pace it would be at least 500 bottles of wine and that's only allowing for 5 per week, with no extra at the weekend or other occasions deemed 'special' in some way or other.

500 bottles of wine! Picture that for a moment, it seems much more significant than 2 years!

I haven't mentioned the date at home. OH would not realise, ask, wonder, nor find it in any way relevant, so I quietly congratulate myself while looking at the two new beads I bought for my charm bracelet. They're fairly plain, white and a little shiny and have no resemblance to a drink, glass, or bottle of wine, but I love them, and I know exactly what they represent.

I'm surprised at how 2 years with no alcohol seems to be both a massive deal and a non event at the same time. It's a big part of my life because... it doesn't feature in my life, and as time passes it features even less in my thoughts and falls outwith my radar.
The 'challenges' are no longer challenging, they are just the way things are now. I firmly believe there is no option. Indeed, I don't actually want any option. I would not have a glass of wine even if you told me I could and could stop at that one. I don't see the point any more.
Alcohol was almost like a massive storm, a tornado even, whipping up chaos and destruction in its pathway with me tightly sucked into its vortex. For many years I stayed there, unable to see the solution was to remove it from the equation and allow the storm to pass.

I can see it clearly now, and believe me when I say, there is no-one more surprised by this than me.



Friday, 27 March 2015

The (Drunk) Girl on The Train

I had a couple of long train journeys this week so downloaded the latest chic-type psychological thriller 'Girl on the Train' by Paula Hawkins which I thought was very appropriate.
I am enjoying it and am intrigued as information is gradually unveiled. The female protagonist is called Rachel, funnily enough, and it is written in the first person.

Rachel is an alcoholic.

Yet she is in denial of this (up to where I am anyway). She exhibits all the classic signs of alcohol being problematic and taking over her life. I've had many of them in the past including:

Waiting until her flatmate goes out and she is home alone to drink excessively
Drinking at times and in ways she feels reassured is 'socially acceptable'
Wondering what exactly happened the night before- when flashes of memory reappear intermittently and randomly. Flitting into her mind and out again before they can be grasped or joined up.
Regret.
Despair.
Continuing to drink while knowing it is causing negative consequences
Observing she cannot stop after one or two, or even three or four and worries about the unpredictability of how her drinking session will end.

I could go on but you probably recognise many of these feelings too, plus perhaps some others.

I'm enjoying the main story in the book but I am further enjoying watching someone else's (fictional) car crash life and wondering how it will turn out.

There is a review of the book in the Guardian here and it is available to buy in all the usual outlets.


Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Another first!


For the first time I have achieved the magical 10,000 steps per day over the last 7 days. I feel as if I have too! Exhausted after the weekend. All this was by being busy in general plus a 90 min walk in the park with a friend one day and a shopping trip another!
Fingers crossed for a weight loss this week!
Hope all is going well in the sober world. Remember you're not beaten until you don't get up again! Keep trying and you will succeed. 

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

What do Politics and Diets Have in Common?

It's often said that a week is a very long time in politics but I would argue it's an even longer time in Diet World.
In Diet World the whole shee-bang can change in an instant leading to hopes dashed or emotions elevated to higher planes, depending on any number of nebulous factors, each of which holds supreme power over the longevity of a diet.
 I am so happy that it all seems to be lining up for me this week. The Cambridge plan is working. I can do it. I am not hungry. I Am Not Hungry. More than this, my continual want for more and more has vanished. Whilst being akin to the want I had for more and more wine, with cake and biscuits the cravings have gone entirely, much more quickly.

I've no hankering after what I may want or have to eat. I've no complicated substitutions going on in my head. My rigid 'packet and protein plan' is black and white with no options for deviation. Just the kind of rules I understand and can abide by.

I had reached the stage of being utterly fed up with the way I looked, weighed and was eating yet seemed to be unable to affect it. I was ready to give it up, to change, and give myself over to some other system that would force me to play by the rules of engagement, no grey areas.

This all sounds very familiar and I am now wondering if I truly have an addictive personality and the toxic sugar/fat mix had gone from just being in my life to dominating my life, in the way wine did before (and cigarettes did before that). Perhaps I am a cereal serial addict? The only way I can succeed is with an all or nothing approach.

'What next?' I ask myself but in the meantime I'm taking full advantage of my motivation.

(ps: lost 4lbs in week 1 but when you are as short as me, please believe that is quite significant.) x

Friday, 13 March 2015

My New Treat

Definition. Treat (n.) 'something special that gives someone pleasure'.

Then:

My treat was undoubtedly wine, more wine, and even some more wine if there was an occasion. Sometimes a meal was thrown in to make it look half way respectable but this was not obligatory. The problem was that 'something special' implies something that is not usual nor routine and my wine drinking had become both. It was no longer a treat, it was a necessity, and later a burden.

And Then:

I resurrected my love of cake, chocolate and biscuits and these were my new treats. Sweet treats in the evenings, desserts in restaurants and the odd binge on excessive chocolate just to show the world who was boss after a bad day. But then these foods became habitual, then regular until recently when my diet (as in what I was eating, certainly not a diet in the weight reducing sense) became based around these foods. Far from being a treat they were sabotaging my new booze free life. My mood went down as my weight went up and the 'fits me now' part of my wardrobe rapidly diminished.

I've since learnt that the addiction to alcohol may have gone but the addictive behaviour remains. All I need is to become addicted to something that is good for me. Suggestions welcome.

Now: 

Having had a successful week void of sugar and refined carbs I needed a treat. Wine and chocolate were out. I was loathe to buy clothes in the next size up.
I bought daffodils.
Not one bunch but three.
They fulfil the requirements of a treat: I don't usually buy flowers, viewing them as something else I must look after and clear up after. They are a  treat as they give me pleasure looking at their smiley heads cuddled together. I can imagine them giggling as I took the photo. They make me feel positive and optimistic. They are a bright sign that winter is ending.

I wonder what would happen if I bought flowers every week? Then twice a week. Then every day. What if I became addicted to having flowers around my home? What then?

Monday, 9 March 2015

Different Problem: Same Solution

Then:
While I was drinking I had a degree of anxiety about gaining weight. I knew wine was exceedingly calorific (and G & slimline T just did not hit the same spot) and compensated with fewer and fewer food calories and as much exercise as my nauseating hangover allowed. Before a big night out I would exercise throughout the day and eat as little as possible. If eating out I would choose the salad (dressing on the side), no starter (more wine time whilst stomach empty) and definitely no dessert. Not even a consideration. Never.
And all this micro-management worked to a degree. Largely, my weight stayed acceptable (although I must have been malnourished) despite fluctuating with frequent morning after the night before carb and junk food fests.

Now:
When I stopped drinking, I did not lose weight. On the contrary: my anxiety has gone and I am more relaxed about everything. This is usually a good thing but being more relaxed about my eating and weight means 'Yes, I'll just have that, no, it doesn't matter, of course I'm having dessert'. The excuse of not having wine and lots of spare calories does not stretch to half of what I eat.
In the last few months I have tried endless diets, read 'moderation'. And guess what? It doesn't work. I've tried and failed so often it reminds me exactly of my attempts at moderating wine.
So, from yesterday I'm tackling my biscuit laden diet the same way. By having none at all. Not even one. Not even for a treat or on a special occasion, in an attempt to break the cycle of failure, eat clean, eat when I'm hungry and eat nutritious stuff rather than sweet treats. I'm doing the Cambridge plan: three meal replacement products and one protein based meal per day thrown in.
I've heard about the horrid 3 day cold turkey phase as carbs are lowered and sugar eliminated. I've never lasted beyond 36 hours due to fatigue and headache but this time I'm going to roll with it and ride the storm, putting my faith in those who have done it before me, who promise it gets easier and tell me I will never look back. Just like those sober for a longer time than me did to encourage me through the difficult start of that journey. I know it won't be easy but then neither was giving up wine. Perhaps I've forgotten how excruciatingly difficult those first 3 days were?
As I said to myself on Day 1 going AF, if I don't make the change now, what will it take to make me do it? And as ever, I'll be doing it one day at a time. Abstaining only for today, and tomorrow I will make that decision again. 

Friday, 6 March 2015

Deep in Thought

This week I was invited to complete a 'Recovery Rocks' interview with Veronica Valli. I jumped at the chance to discuss the benefits of sobriety with another so like-minded as truly believe that doing so reinforces these positives for me, and will do for the readers of Veronica's website.


It consisted of eight questions and boy, did those questions make me think more deeply about the last couple of years than I ever have until now!

It is easy to become blasé about the enormity of giving up alcohol in this world. The changes we experience and benefits we enjoy come gradually, sequentially, making it easy to miss the magnitude of their sum total; in the way that by seeing someone each day you do not notice their gradual changes the way you do if you see them once every two years!

That's what this interview was for me. It made me go back and think hard to define and pin down the key changes in my life, to articulate them on the page without waffle. I was surprised by some of my answers and also by how long it took me to decide what my true answer was! For example 'If you could go back in time to when you were drinking, what would you tell yourself?'  While there are lots of things I could tell myself, I found it difficult to think of something that the drinking me would have taken seriously or believed.

It was a therapeutic, affirming experience for me and I'm grateful to Veronica for inviting me to take part in her series. You can read the whole interview with here. Enjoy.

Follow @SoberRachel