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