Monday, October 13, 2008

An Epiphany

About four weeks ago my BFF Bettina decided to go on a diet. We were sitting in the BBY (Big Back Yard) having a drink and letting the dogs play when we (read:I) started talking about being fat and unhappy about it. We both know that stomach fat can lead to diabetes, stroke and heart disease and that's where we both carry our weight. (I don't think thunder thighs can kill you...can it?)

The very next day as she was fixing my drink she announced that she was on a diet and she wasn't going to drink. For that week, as was our habit, we would meet for an hour and let the dogs play and then meet uptown at 5:00 for cocktail hour. Normally we'd have a drink or two in the BBY and another couple-ten uptown. Now it was water and a diet pop for her. I figured when we got uptown she'd eventually break down and have a drink with me. I knew she was a stubborn German woman, but I didn't think she was that committed.

I should have known better though, because when she decided to stop smoking several years ago she just STOPPED. Period. End of discussion. Man - that woman has willpower!

Because she is my best friend, I didn't want her to suffer alone. So, in the spirit of friendship, I decided to quit drinking as well. To lose weight, you know. And it is working. Very well, in fact. But, you know what else I found out? I FEEL better. I feel better waking up, I have more energy during the day, and I just seem...well...happier.

And I'm also trying to quit smoking with Chantix. Wow. Two addictions at once. How much willpower can a person have I wonder. I have gone from 2+ packs a day to less than one, but I can't seem to get that last little craving out of my system. Yet.

My epiphany? Well, last night as I was watching TV, I suddenly realized that I was silently trying to decide which of my THREE cravings to give in to: 1) have a drink; 2) have a cigarette; or 3) have a cookie. Which one would hurt me the least? I suddenly realized that I had THREE addictions and they are all bitches. (For the record - I had a cigarette.)

I started this whole "no drinking" crap to lose weight. What I'm finding is that one of my addictions (either alcohol or tobacco) is ratcheting up my sweet tooth like mad. Luckily said sweet tooth is a midget compared to carbohydrate tooth, but it can really pitch a fit when told "no".

Will I drink again? Probably...maybe. I miss having a glass of wine with supper or a drink with friends. It's all the drinks that follow that I don't miss. Will I eventually quit smoking? God, I hope so! It's a disgusting, filthy habit that makes no one happy. Least of all me. Can I eventually take off this weight and (more importantly) keep it off? Yes - I think I can. I've never been a heavy woman, just average height and weight. I know that I need to start exercising if I'm going to maintain any weight loss and as soon as I can, I plan on starting a walking program.

Too little too late? Nah. We do what we can, when we can. Who knows how many days, hours or minutes we have left to live. How we live those precious minutes is what is most important. Taking charge of our own lives is the first step. Follow-through is the next. Commitment is the result.


mari said...

Sally, that's a beautiful post. The hardest part is the beginning. You realize how much of what you drink, smoke and eat is also habit, and breaking habits is hard! They're the accumulation of years of incorporating them into your daily life. Good luck with everything. You sure have the right attitude toward the changes you're making.

Alecto said...

Oh Bravo!!! (and yes you sure can!) My husband and I quit smoking two years ago Oct 3. It took everything we had to do it plus the Chantix which we stayed on for four weeks and then got off. In the mean time I thought it might be nice to lose 20 pounds just to avoid being a statistic and it felt wonderful. It still feels wonderful and I do like to drink!

Reenie said...

Omigoodness, I have a lot to say about this.

As many know, because I am very open about it, I attend AA meetings nearly every day. It’s not to ward off compulsion. It’s about a change in lifestyle I adopted about two years ago. (I went in and out for a year) People assume that we folk in AA are gutter drunks, drinking from brown paper bags, broken people, and marked for life. That may have been the case many years ago. A lot of people including myself experienced soft bottoms/landings. I drank waaaay too much after my divorce. I wanted to be numb. I drank alone and I also drank with another friend who was lonely. The hardest thing about joining the program was telling her *the party* was over for me. That was a year ago and she just recently joined me. :)

Amazingly, I stopped smoking at the same time with the help of Chantix. It’s been one year and my health insurance premiums have been discounted as a result. Yay!

*sniffle* I thought I would lose weight when I quit drinking. I was consuming a lot of vodka calories each day, but I also quit smoking, which I think made it a wash. I have no regrets – I am soooooo glad I do neither anymore. Rarely, if ever, do I have the compulsion to drink. I don’t miss it. I’ve had to change my playmates and playgrounds and that was hard at first, but the exchange has been the MOST remarkable group of people I have ever, ever known. I love my *tribe* more than family. I adore my AA friends.

Sally, I’m not for a moment suggesting AA for you. It was the only surefire way I could adopt the lifestyle I was seeking. I stick with AA because of the serenity the program brings to a person’s life.

Oh, the sweet tooth thingy is a real phenomenon, unfortunately. It seems universal. *sigh* I gained 20 pounds that I’m now struggling to take off. It’s hard at my senior age. :(

Anyway, thanks for letting me speak so long here and good luck! xoxo

Sally said...

Mari, Alecto and Reenie - Thank you SO much for your support. It truly is deeply appreciated. Still alcohol free after three weeks and (surprisingly) it's not that hard. Now, if I could just give up these FUCKING CIGARETTES!! The triggers are my downfall...still tying though. Thanks again ladies.

Reenie said...

Okay, here goes Ms. Blabbermouth again:

Don’t be hard on yourself regarding the cigarettes, though for all obvious reasons they need to go at some point. Chantix helped me a lot. I smoked for 40+ years so I haven’t dodged any bullet here, but I feel better and better about myself. It was also much easier for me because by the end I was only smoking when I was drinking and drinking when I was smoking. My brain was wired and linked to only doing them simultaneously. So when I gave up drinking, it was a whole lot easier to give up the smokes. But the challenges never seem to cease. :) Because of my arthritis, any extra weight is so detrimental to me well-being. *sigh* It’s a constant battle.

Anyway, one day at a time, first things first, and be good to yourself.

I. Am. So. Proud. Of. You! xoxo Reenie

tommiejo said...

You can do it! I stopped smoking using nicorette gum. The weight is, well...a different story. 8)

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

This makes me click my heels Sally.
Don't beat up on yourself! Take it one day at a time.
The sugar crave I think is your body resetting from all the alcohol sugar calories. Alcohol is really just sugar and your body is use to it. I know it doesn't sound logical but many people have told me that when the craving hits if they do something physical for 10 minutes some or all of the craving passes. If not at least they spent some of the calorie/energy.
I do hope you keep it all in your sites. You really can do it.

Ginni Dee said...

You go girl!! I'm proud of you for doing're going to be so happy you did. I quit a 3 pack a day habit about 25 yrs ago. I've never been sorry about it! Now if I could dump all this excess weight, I'd be thrilled!!

Sally said...

tommiejoe, Tanna and Ginni - Thanks for your encouragement. I've only smoked since 1984 (started during a messy divorce) so I should be able to quit easily. Right? Right......

Sandi @the WhistleStop Cafe said...

We'll be cheering you on.
You can do it!
You will feel so much better~ day by day.

Iowa Gardening Woman said...

I am a former smoker and it for me was the worse addition to give. It took years before I no longer wanted a cigarette. Good luck and good karma............ :)

Anonymous said...

Nicotine is the addictive drug in tobacco smoke that causes smokers to continue to smoke. Addicted smokers need enough nicotine over a day to ‘feel normal’ – to satisfy cravings or control their mood. How much nicotine a smoker needs determines how much smoke they are likely to inhale, no matter what type of cigarette they smoke.

Reenie said...

Me again.

I reread some of the comments including yours. Good stuff!

My addiction to alcohol was not at all like my addiction to nicotine. Alcohol was a habit for me, which is far different than an addiction per my way of thinking. That’s probably true for a lot of people these days. A lot of people are giving up the drink because they hunger for a lifestyle change. I just got sick and tired of being sick and tired. LOL. I had zero side effects from abstaining from alcohol. I did have to change my playground and playmates (again, habit and triggers), and that was tough. But one of my friends ended up following me into the program. Yay! Cigarettes are evil, period. They are pure addiction coupled with habit. I was lucky that it was so easy for me to give up. I am grateful. Hang in there! Thanks for letting me gab some more. :)

Sally said...

Reenie, you just gab all you want. I love your input. And, again, thank you EVERYONE for your kind comments. It helps.