One topic I get more questions about than (almost) any other is weight.
We assume, for obvious reasons, that whilst quitting drinking is going to be hard, a major bonus will be skinniness! After all, one bottle of wine contains around 600 calories. One week's worth of wine (assuming a bottle a day) is 4,200 calories - two whole day's worth!
I googled alcohol and weight loss, and found endless fitness sites that state, categorically, that the quickest, simplest way to lose weight is to cut out alcohol.
Sadly, it doesn't seem to be that simple for us.
I'm sure that, for the moderate drinker, the equation really is straightforward, but I know from all the e-mails I get and blogs I read that for we more 'enthusiastic' imbibers is often doesn't work like that.
As far as I can tell there are two main reasons:
The first is that, after years of pouring in liquid calories that have to be metabolised by the liver before anything we eat, we have rather messed up our metabolisms. Our bodies are not 'finely tuned engines' but are totally over lubricated. If you think about how long it takes to deal with our messed up brains, then imagine how long it takes your body to even itself out too.
The second reasons is that so many of us turn to sugar to help with cravings (see Cross Addictions). Sugar gives us the quick dopamine hit that we've been missing, plus it's comforting. Hell, we deserve a bit of a treat given all this bl***y denial.
But it becomes really easy for sugar to become our new 'sodit'. We used to think 'I've had a hard day, so - sod it - I'll have a glass of wine.' Now we think 'I'm pissed off and knackered. Sod it, I'll have a bar of chocolate.'
I really don't think that we can beat ourselves up about any of this. We need to be kind to ourselves, and to reward ourselves from time to time. BUT, weight loss can be a huge motivation, so if it's at all possible to develop a habit of using exercise (running, yoga, whatever) as a way of dealing with cravings rather than food, then obviously that makes more sense.
Needless to say, I have yet to practise what I preach in this respect....
These 'little treats', the sodits, can quickly add up. One slice of chocolate cake, a hot chocolate and two Becks Blues is easily the equivalent, in calorie terms, of that bottle of wine. So you can see how easy it becomes to actually gain weight, rather than lose it when you quit.
When I quit, nearly 4 months ago, I did lose around a pound a week for the first 6 weeks. BUT then I stopped losing weight and started gaining! I was horrified. I didn't mention it here because I didn't want to de-motivate anyone.
So, the reason I'm mentioning it now is that....drum roll......finally the weight seems to be FALLING OFF! 2 pounds a week.
Since day 1 I have lost a total of 10 pounds. 2.5 inches off the waist and wine belly, and 3.5 inches off the butt. I weight less now than I have for FIVE YEARS!
The difference is, I think, partly a matter of time, and of the metabolism evening out, and partly down to getting used to listening to what your body is telling you.
We have spent years, decades even, drowning out our body's natural responses. It says "Yikes! That's a poison! What are you doing to me?" We say "shut up and have a Nurofen!" It says "I'm not hungry, I've just been drugged and dehydrated." We say "shut up and have a greasy fry up."
I feel terrible about what I've put my body through for so long, and feel it's now time to show it some respect. So I'm listening. If I end up eating all the leftovers after the children's supper (which I often do), then I don't just eat again, automatically, with the husband. I check if I'm feeling hungry and if I'm not I don't eat.
God that sounds like toddler level nutrition. I do apologise. But, spookily, it's totally new to me.
I used to eat for all sorts of reasons - cross, bored, hungover, drunk. Now I eat when I'm hungry and stop when I'm not. And it's working, despite the fact that I'm still having my treats - the hot chocolates, cake and AF beers.
Please let me, and everyone else, know how you're doing on the journey to beach-body-ready, and any tips you have in the comments below....
Have a great weekend!
P.S. For an update on my progress then see this post from January 2016 (click here)
To buy the book, telling the story of my first year sober, with lots of help, advice and few laughs along the way, click here.
Related posts: The Wine Belly, From Muffin-Topped, Puffy Faced Alcohol Addict to Goddess! and Wine Bellies Can Kill!