Saturday, May 25, 2013

Week 19 -Back to the Drawing Board. Also, This Week's Habit Raises Genuine Concerns

The happy thought for the day:  The Friday street fair has moved back to 43rdStreet.  I no longer have to deal withall of that temptation right outside my door. 
 
The less-than-happy-thought: Bad, bad week!  I’m sure it would have been fine if I had kept all indulgence to Mom’s birthday party on Sunday.  Unfortunately, I could not keep my hands off the leftovers.  I should have sent every last bit of pulled pork home with my family in care packages.  I should not have kept some of my brother’s macaroni and cheese for myself no matter how good it was.  

So right now I regained those three pounds again.

Now for the coming week I’m going on vacation.  I’ll be in San Francisco.  Could there be more of a foodie city than SanFrancisco?  I’m going to want to eateverything!  At least my hotel has a gym and San Francisco is a good walking city. I will get my exercise in.  I just have to take it one day (or one meal) at a time.  Make the best choices possible and rememberthe 80% rule.  What more can I ask of myself?
 
This week’s habit is something near and dear to my heart.For the next two weeks I can only drink calorie-free beverages.  This is a challenge meant to truly take myteam and me out of our comfort zones and do something radical.  It’s also a very wise challenge.  Liquid calories can be a major contributor toweight gain.
 
I’m pretty well prepared for this challenge in some ways.  I drink water almost exclusively.  I drink it obsessively.  I always have a bottle ofwater on my desk at work.  I have one with me at the gym.  I have one with me at dance class.  I drink water with breakfast, lunch, and dinner when eating meals at home and at work.  Despite all of this, the calorie-free beverage thing is harder than it looks.

I’m not a coffee drinker. I think coffee on its own is a pretty foul substance.  I never wanted to be one of those people who feels dependent on coffee to feel able to handle a normal day, so I never really forced myself to get over the child’s aversion to coffee.  (As I like to say, I don’t have to drink coffee to prove I’m a grownup.)  Coffee can be perfectly lovely when well-diluted with hot milk in a latte or cappuccino or dosed heavily with cream.  It can flavor a dessert deliciously.  If I truly feel  the need to jolt my nervous system after a bad night’s sleep or before a long drive, that coffee is either in latte form or contains enough cream to send a cardiologist running to my side.  So now if I really feel as if I need that jolt, I have some strong black tea.
 
The lessons this week have focused on how to enjoy calorie-free coffee and tea, whether or not artificially sweetened beverage sare a wise choice, and how much hydration we really need.  At the end of the week they put the focus on the other caloric beverage some people just can’t do without.
 
I once had this for a Facebook status:
 
Facebook:  Convincing me all of my friends are alcoholics since 2008.
 
It was meant in good humor, and of course it received a fewlaughs, but in some ways it isn’t a joke. Every time I am on Facebook, I see some meme posted about drinking.  I see statuses about the bars my friends attend and the drinks consumed, and that glass of wine they absolutely must have to smooth over a rough day. Maybe I shouldn’t worry.  I make posts like this after all and I’m not a heavy drinker.  I may enjoy a buzz, but I don’t like to be out of control of my faculties.  I don’t like drunkenness.  I also have a low tolerance, so that buzz comes easily (sometimes before I even finish one drink).  Due to sleep issues I generally don’t drink on weeknights.  I also don’t drink things other than wine or a few specific cocktails.  I hate beer.  I hate most hard liquors.  (Once again, I never saw a reason to get overmy childhood aversions and acquire a taste. Just like with coffee, I don’t have to drink beer or scotch to prove I’m an adult.) I don’t feel it’s in my best interest to self-medicate. 

It seems that in the past ten years I have seen and read andheard quite a lot of warnings about alcoholism being on the rise amongwomen.  It seems the groups most indanger are younger women attempting to achieve the Sex and the City lifestyle where going out for happy hour cocktails is a nightly event and girls' nights out are booze-filled evenings at clubs.  The other group is women in their 30s and 40s who see their wine as their “Mommy Time Out.”   When I go to big events whether it's a company picnic, a wedding or a birthday party, it's practically considered an insult if alcohol isn't served.  People see alcohol as necessary for a good time.  In any case, what seems harmless can spiral out of control. 

I'm glad I'm not the only noticing and concerned about the level of alcohol consumption among women.  Lean Eating is taking it really seriously this week by making us take a long hard look at our drinking habits. 

Here is an excerpt from the lesson:

Whether it's a glass of wine with dinner or a few beers with friends on a sunny patio after work, alcohol in moderation has a place in a balanced, healthy diet. Problem is, what defines moderation?
Well, here's our guideline:
 
Can you temporarily go without your regular alcoholic drinks for two weeks without feeling uncomfortable?
 
If not, then you may not be drinking in moderation. Alcohol may be helping you cope with things.
And it may be time to face that.
 
How does alcohol fit into a "fit person" lifestyle and when does it become a problem?  There are many ways we "self-medicate" when things aren't going our well.  Alcohol is one of them.  Food is another.  Some of us simply tune out the world with the TV.  Others might over-exercise.  How does any of that help us achieve our goals? 
 
This week I managed to ruin my compliance for the day when I saw I had a swallow of pinot grigio left in the fridge.  I decided to finish the bottle off just out of habit.  I wasn't even thinking about my goal of not drinking.  If someone like me has thoughtless little incidents like this, how hard is it for someone for whom reaching for a drink is far more ingrained? 
 
My teammates who say they truly don't feel that they can go two weeks without alcohol to reach out to their coaches for help.  Hopefully they will.  For the rest of us who might straddle the line between it being something doable and it being a true problem, everyone has to remember that alcohol both encourages weight loss and encourages to reshift our focus and find more healthful ways of dealing with stress, celebrating, or having a good time.
 
I know my compliance won't be perfect this week.  I'm going on a winery tour on Thursday for one thing.  I booked a couple fine dining establishments for dinner and I'll probably allow myself a glass at those.  Can I tolerate just drinking water at casual restaurants?  Yeah.  I can.  And I will.  I don't need alcohol to enjoy what I know is going to be a fantastic vacation.

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