Deciding to Eat Well in Sobriety

So, I’ve been sober for 56 days now. Overall, the journey has been pretty good. With a few emotional bumps here and there, I can safely say I’ve come out of the last (almost) two months with a clearer sense of what I’m trying to do (live a healthier, more authentic life), and why I’m trying to do it (so I can be better for myself and others).

However, one thing I haven’t really gotten is the thing that a lot of people experience when they kick the booze: weight loss.

I know, I know. Getting and staying sober isn’t supposed to be about the weight loss. Not primarily, anyway. The fact that I’m not drinking has undoubtedly helped my health more than it would’ve been helped had I kept drinking and lost a couple of pounds through strict diet and exercise.

But, I mean… dangit. I’m a white female standing at 5’6’’ and 175 pounds.  My pant size is anywhere from a 12 to 14, depending on the brand. My BMI is in the upper ranges of the “overweight” category, and even though I feel so much healthier and stronger, I can’t lie and say that I don’t also wish for a reduction in dress size, or some kind of way to quantify/qualify the drop in excess calories (600-1000 on a regular basis).

Even though I’ve been biking to work and bringing healthy lunches instead of going out and buying pizza or sushi from Whole Foods everyday, I’m not seeing the kind of outward physical progress that I was quietly, secretly hoping for.

I realize that part of this issue was caused by the fact that, for the first 30 days, I kind of allowed myself to go ham on food (no pun intended), because if I was going to cut something as big as alcohol out of my life, I didn’t want to create additional stress by trying to pile on dietary restrictions or lots of exercise. So, I ate what I wanted. Fortunately I didn’t actually gain any weight, but I think I kept myself from losing anything by supplementing my alcohol cravings with whatever food I wanted: quesadillas, ice cream, Cadbury Flake bars, tacos, a brownie on top of lunch, pizza, spoonfuls of peanut butter.

For what it’s worth, I’m glad I gave myself that freedom. I was focusing a lot of energy into restructuring my drinking identity into a non-drinking identity, so trying to be a strict eater probably would’ve created a bust.

But I’m here now, two months in, and while I’m not bigger or heavier, I’m realizing that the way I’ve been eating and the way I look don’t exactly match the idea of who and what I want to be. I don’t want or need to be model-thin, or at the iron Man level of athletic, but I want my drive for health and wellness to be something that shows both on the inside, and on the outside. Y’know, I want to be able to wear my little black dress and feel sexy, not just okay.

I’m also kind of scared of trading an alcohol addiction for food/sugar addiction. I know my tendency to go hard on sugary and carb-heavy treats, and I’m certain I replaced all of the carbs from beer with carbs in ice cream, chocolate and pizza over the past two months.

So, what can I do? That’s a mostly rhetorical question. I’m pretty aware of what needs to be done, to help me continue feeling like I’m on the right path for my health and wellness: I need to set yet another boundary for myself. I know which foods I crave most, and they’re not the magical health foods you find at your local co-op; they’re the greasy, sugary, comforting foods that are so easy to stuff down, and so easy to regret.

It’s funny, though. For some reason, i find myself anxious about reducing or “quitting” some of these unhealthy foods for some of the same reasons I was anxious about quitting alcohol. Namely, what will others think? Will they think I’ve become boring? Am I putting yet another boundary between myself and fun?

Like, if my boyfriend wants to order pizza for our weekly trivia (which is at a local brewery, by the way!), am I creating yet another social wall between myself and others by not indulging? Will people think of me as the boring sober girl with annoying dietary restrictions?

But, unlike when I was thinking about quitting drinking, I have a new way of trying to approach these fears, and that’s by asking myself this simple question:

Who fucking cares?

In a culture where we simultaneously celebrate over-indulgence while looking at it with a critical eye, self-flagellation for failing to do things the “right way” has become the norm.

Society says two things at once:

This pizza is so f*cking tasty that everyone will be your friend when you order it. Why don’t you add a giant chocolate lava cake to your order for only $2.99?

AND

Obesity is an epidemic sweeping the nation. We have to be mindful of eating more healthfully and getting enough exercise. Failing to take care of this may prove deadly for millions nationwide.

Society says:

It’s Friday (or Saturday, or Labor Day, or Thanksgiving, or your best friend’s birthday, or any normal Tuesday) – time to get WASTED!

AND

Drink responsibly. Always stay within the recommended limits. Talk to your doctor if you believe you have a drinking problem.

And we, as consumers, are left trying to figure out what the fuck to do with all of the conflicting information.

If I don’t eat pizza (or get wasted) with my friends, will I become a social pariah? Am I boring?!

AND

Oh man, why did I eat (drink) so much? I’m such an idiot! I’ll never do that again!

It’s goddamn exhausting.

When it comes down to it, doing what feels good isn’t always what’s best, but doing what’s best will almost always end up feeling good.

It’s easier to eat hoards of pizza that are conveniently delivered to your doorstep, and then hate yourself the next day while pinching at your tummy fat and frowning at yourself in the mirror.

It’s harder to drive/walk/bike/bus to the store, pick up fresh fruits and veggies, and cook yourself a good meal at home, but you wake up hopefully feeling a whole hell of a lot better about yourself.

And all the while, we wonder if what we’re doing is socially acceptable.

Why is it so important for us to find acceptance from others?

More, why is doing what’s best typically the socially undesirable thing? Roasted veggies versus mac-n-cheese, water versus beer, staying in and binge-watching Netflix versus putting some hours in at the gym?

I realize more and more every day that what I do with my body is seriously, 100% my business (and, if necessary, the business of my doctor). If people want to see me as boring, or want to call me a wet blanket, because I choose to do things that aren’t exactly fun, but that will benefit me in the long-run, well… so be it.

Now excuse me while I go and drive right past the taco place that’s on my route home. I’ve got a boring, healthy, sober dinner that’s just calling my name.

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9 thoughts on “Deciding to Eat Well in Sobriety

  1. I lost 15 pounds in the first two months of sobriety but realized that I was he profiling my sobriety big time by trying to do too many right things at once. So I gave myself permission to eat whatever I wanted and gained back 10 pounds. And you know what, I haven’t worried too much about for 8.5 months.

    But as I approach a year, I’m keenly aware that tisbis the next step in a healthier life. So, on my anniversary I plan to start addressing it. I know that I have the strength now and that I’ll be successful, and that those pounds will come off.

    I’m sure that when you’re ready (and that may very well be now) the weight loss will come. But don’t stress over it if it’s not immediate. Your body is going through tremendous change right now. I was told that it took 90 days for my body to adjust to not having booze in its system and truly begin to heal.

    Best wishes and happy weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the support! I know once I really apply myself to eating healthier and getting back to the gym for my regular weight-lifting routine, I’ll start seeing the results I want. I’ve been careful of over-extending myself, too, which is probably why I feel behind – but in reality, I just need to give myself a break 😀
      Happy weekend to you, too!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I can really identify with the weight loss thing. I didn’t lose an ounce for 4 months and it was really disappointing. I felt really shallow but I had assumed it would drop off when I stopped glugging at least a bottle of wine each night. Not an ounce.

    Recently though as I approach 6 months the scales are starting to move in the “right” direction. My sugar cravings have subsided and I just feel more in balance.

    It will come. You are doing great. Tori. X

    PS – the thing I most identified with was the eating spoonfuls of peanut butter. I did that !! I wonder if it’s our bodies telling us we need something in peanut butter ? That’s my theory any way !!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I was absolutely the same way! Aside from thinking, ‘hey my life is going to get significantly better’, one of the main things i was most excited about when I quit drinking was the idea that weight would just fall off. Unfortunately that’s not always the case. Especially since cutting alcohol out of your diet often leaves you with crazy sugar cravings. I did exactly what you did – let myself eat whatever I wanted for the first few months. I am about to hit 6 months and am just now starting to really take into consideration the things I put into my mouth. But I still have to be careful, because I can easily get obsessed with the idea of weight loss/dieting/etc, which isn’t good as far as my sobriety goes! Sometimes when I’m getting down on myself about eating one too many cookies I have to just sit back and remind myself how amazing being sober is and how far I’ve come.

    It’ll get easier, I promise! One thing that has really helped me to eat better is to truly appreciate how great I feel after a healthy, filling meal or snack. Instead of saying, oh this will help me lose weight, I say, oh this will help me feel amazing, etc.

    You’re doing great, fuck what’s socially acceptable =)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Just letting you know that from my dad who is 4 years sober now (and put on weight when he quit), that weight gain is one of the big things recent sober folks face. It is precisely what you talk about, that it’s replacing one high calorie thing with another. I super want to encourage you and I love how you question that double standard about society’s expectations regarding health and weight! I’m SUPER recently sober (I saw you read my first post), so finding other cool peeps to create a sober community is really important to me. I can’t wait to read more!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey! Thanks for your comment. I’m trying to be very gentle with myself about the weight thing. I know that staying alcohol free is my biggest goal, and once I feel confident and steady with that, taking on diet & exercise changes will be much easier. I’m impatient, so I just gotta remember that it takes time 🙂

      Congrats on getting sober, and welcome to the sober blogosphere. It’s fun here! Looking forward to reading more from you!

      Liked by 1 person

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