Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Sweet November

I didn’t want to jinx it by writing about it before, but now that November is over, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate myself and my fabulous boyfriend on our first-ever dry month. That’s right, for thirty straight days, all of November, neither of us consumed even a sip of alcohol. It isn't as if we have ever been really hardcore drinkers, but we are quite social, and while in Europe, we ended up imbibing on Italian wine or Irish beer and whiskey almost everyday for 14 straight days. Then, upon our return, we were going out and catching up with the friends we’d missed while being gone for two weeks and drinking even more. A couple of beers here, a couple of glasses of wine with dinner there, a couple of crazy Friday nights here and there.

I was starting to wonder if my good time was actually dependent on drinking. Plus, let’s face it, I am definitely not in my twenties anymore, and the extra calories from the alcohol alone, not to mention the foods I decide to eat when my inhibitions are slightly lowered, are enough to turn me off of it while I am in the midst of trying to lose a substantial amount of weight. I also just wanted to see, or even to make sure, that I could do it. We did do it; here’s how it went down.

Week One was easy enough because there wasn’t too much going on. I did notice that I had a couple of actual cravings for a drink. I’m not sure if the cravings were physical or psychological, but either way, it made me feel kind of bad about myself. Things at work were a little stressful, and I would come home in a bad mood. Normally, I would think nothing of having a big glass of wine as I transitioned from being Angry-Work-Cara to becoming Nice-At-Home-Cara, but since I couldn’t have it, I became slightly obsessed (this is also the reason I am world’s worst dieter.) Maybe I was actually transitioning into Boozehound-Cara without realizing it. This was not the way I wanted to live my life. On the positive side, it was easy to make any cravings disappear by doing something physical. I would take my dog for a run, and then come home and drink tea and Crystal Light, and that seemed to do the trick. This was also the first week since I quit smoking that I didn’t even think about a cigarette. Was it just me, or was I actually becoming a healthy person?

The second Saturday of the month was a friend’s birthday party. We met the group for “drinks and dinner” at a local bar that is known for having the best burgers in Denver. Mike and I showed up to hang out for a couple of hours, had a small burger and a couple of Diet Cokes each and, surprisingly, a really good time. After dinner, the group was headed to a club, but we declined. We were home warm in our bed by 10 o’clock. The next morning, without having to force myself, I got up early and went for a run with my dog.

We went to a hockey game that Sunday night with a group from Mike’s work. This is where it gets interesting because Mike actually works for one of the biggest breweries in the country, and so free or extremely cheap beer is basically a staple in our lives, not to mention the source of the bread-winning income. (I’m not sure why, but writers do not get paid as much as analytical math-geniuses…it just isn’t fair.) Anyway, for his work event we had the luxury suite and the beer was free, a reward for Mike’s team performing well on a big project. Luckily, the water and soda were free, too. I had three bottles of water, a Diet Pepsi (surprisingly, there is no Diet Coke at the Pepsi Center) and, in between the twelve trips to the bathroom, I also managed to eat my weight (also known as a very large amount) in items selected from the junk food spread laid out before us. I ate a bratwurst, and then I ate nachos, and then I munched stolen handfuls from a huge basket of caramel corn until I felt like I was going to projectile vomit. I never felt like I was missing out by not drinking with everyone else, but then again, I made up for it by morphing into a huge hog in front of Mike’s co-workers. So much for the calorie deficit.

During the week, we had it down to a science. We made dinner together every night, never really thought too much about drinking, and went along our merry way. At least we wouldn’t have thought much about it if I hadn’t kept babbling about how well we were doing, and how sometimes I wanted a glass of wine, and how, wow, didn’t a beer sound good. Mike finally asked me why I insisted on continually talking about it, and honestly, I wasn’t really sure; I just felt like discussing it all the time. Mike on the other hand was planning to just power through it without talking about it, kind of an “out-of-mind, out-of-mind” mentality. For him, the first rule of the dry month was: don’t talk about the dry month. This is one of the main differences between Mike and I, I mean besides the fact that we have completely opposite personalities and ways of thinking. I needed to talk about it; I needed to bond with him over our shared goal. I was using it as a conversation cornerstone, while he was just going on with his life. I was driving him absolutely crazy. If he’d been allowed, I would have driven him to drink.

Week Three started with me weighing in at eight pounds less than I did on the first of the month. Eight!!! It also started with our Warren Miller extravaganza night (read about it in Ladies Room-ology 101). Everyone at our table was enjoying the five-liter jugs of wine they serve at Buca di Beppo. That’s right, they bring you wine in huge gallon-plus bottles which, unless you lift weights fairly frequently, are just about impossible to pour into your glass. I think that night was the hardest for Mike because his two best friends from college were there. This is also the night that I learned that people who are slightly intoxicated are much more hilarious and not nearly as annoying when I am slightly intoxicated, too. This was a valuable lesson, because it also made me wonder if I become slightly annoying and not very funny when I have had a few drinks. In my mind, a couple of cocktails makes the opposite happen, I become the life of the party and people begin falling in love with me left and right. By not drinking, I learned that, in my mind, I am wrong.

I’m sure you are beginning to see the pattern here. We went to all the usual events that we would normally go to for all of November, and we ordered drinks like Diet Coke and club soda, even getting wild once and having a round of Arnold Palmers. We were good, and it paid off. I lost weight, never thought about smoking, and actually felt like being active, instead of the usual where I am active, but I bitch about it the entire time. Plus, I never once felt like crap when I woke up in the morning. What an epiphany. My drinking habits are officially changed for life.

“Ummm, hello, Cara? This is adulthood calling, and I have arrived.”

The night of November 30th, Mike and I went to meet our friends at Happy Hour League. (umm, yes, we are sort of on a drinking team, but it isn’t as bad as it sounds) We drank water the whole time and caught up with everyone right up until we started to not completely like them anymore. Then we went home. The next day would bring the Santa Pub Crawl, a charity event that we attend every year. I would have drinks that night, but I would drink them armed with my new knowledge:

I do not need to drink to have a good time;
I am a grownup who does not have to give into peer pressure;
I am in charge of everything I put into my body; and
Anything that makes me lose eight pounds in three weeks is not only something I will try again, but it very well may become my new religion. Cheers.


Crabby McSlacker said...

That's inspiring! Especially with the holiday season coming up and tons of parties and boozing going on, sounds like you're going into it with the right attitude.

Crabby McSlacker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cara said...

Hi, Crabby!

Thanks for the comments. I just sent you an email. My address is vollecc @ hotmail.com. (no spaces:)) thanks!!

katieo said...

Wow. Awesome post. I and I really did laugh out loud when I came to this:

Anything that makes me lose eight pounds in three weeks is not only something I will try again, but it very well may become my new religion.


Cara said...

Thanks, Katie! It was hard at first, but now, I am pretty much sold. I am so cognisant of how many calories it amounts to that I am not even really that interested in it. I mean, besides that one big glass of wine sometimes :)

Maggie said...

Great post! I linked here through some other site, and am really happy I did. You have a great turn of the phrase, as my mom would say. Congrats on the dry month!

Cara said...

Thanks, Maggie! I'm really glad you stopped by, too; I really appreciate it.