I Still Love Wine

So you know how I gave up alcohol and caffeine and all kinds of other stuff to try and get pregnant?

I felt great after I ditched those things. Like a million bucks.

And then I got pregnant (still kind of can’t believe it), so the sauce-free run continued.

Once I had the baby, I thought maybe I could ride it out and be a crazy health nut forever.

But no.

I fell off that wagon hard.

BOOM! (That’s the sound of me hitting the ground after falling off the wagon.)

Wine and me? We’re cool again. Caffeine? Practically my right-hand man. Oh, and I still have, like, 20 pounds of baby weight to lose.

Sigh. I need to get my act together again at some point.

Until then, bottoms up!

Wine-stealing runt.
Wine-stealing runt.


Oh, the holidays. ‘Tis the season of craziness. I blame them for my shoddy blog performance as of late. I promise to be better once the New Year rolls around. Right now I’m having trouble focusing for more than 2.5 seconds.

I wanted to take a moment to say that in just a few days, I will have been sober for three months. Three months! So far it has been pretty smooth. I would say the holiday season is the hardest it’s been yet, but definitely still manageable.

For example, my work party. I walked in to this.

How did this chick not pass out?

Yes, you are seeing that correctly. That is indeed a woman in a bodysuit, hanging upside down and pouring drinks. Now who wouldn’t want that lady to pour them a nice cocktail?

Also, let’s face it. I always feel socially awkward at big parties, especially work parties. A little upside-down drink  would have helped me feel more comfortable. But instead, I snacked on some appetizers, chatted for a few minutes and rolled out before the dance floor started going strong. Did I feel lame? A little. Maybe in time I will learn how to not drink and still have a killer time at these functions, but I’m not there yet. And I’m okay with that.

Thanksgiving, on the other hand, was less of a problem. First of all, only four out of the twelve people at my house were drinking, so being in the majority made it easier. Secondly, since I wasn’t guzzling wine before dinner, I found that I wasn’t as full after my huge meal as I usually am. I didn’t have to change into sweatpants or lay on the floor. Score! Plus, I was just so happy to be spending time with my mom and the rest of my fam, that alcohol was pretty far from the forefront of my mind.

I still don’t feel any of the drastic changes people describe after giving up the sauce. My energy level is the same. I still have trouble getting out of bed and being productive on the weekends (case in point, I am writing this blog post from bed on a Sunday morning). But I do feel healthier. It’s a subtle thing, for sure. But overall, I feel more balanced, both physically and mentally. I also feel like I have more control over my thoughts and actions (in a good way—not a calorie counting, borderline eating disorder way).

That said, I saw a Jameson ad on Facebook the other day and got all nostalgic. That was my shot of choice, as well a major bonding activity with my best girl, Jill. So I’m still glad this whole abstaining thing isn’t permanent. But who knows, maybe when I do start drinking again, I’ll be able to just have a glass of wine or two with dinner and not feel the need to keep going until the bottle is sucked dry.

A girl can dream, right?

Ciao, Caffeine! Mwah!

The final cup. (Don't even think about making fun of my Tinkerbell mug.)

Next up on the chopping block: caffeine. As a matter of fact I’m drinking my last cup of coffee…now.

Lest you start thinking, ‘Seriously? You’re cutting out something else awesome? What is with you?’ I will share why. Number one, caffeine makes me feel like crap. I get the jitters, big time. Even just one cup of half-caff (which is what I’ve been drinking these days) makes me all keyed up and anxious. And I’m already anxious enough, thank you very much.

I’ve tried to give up caffeine before for this reason and failed. But now that I’ve successfully ditched alcohol (one month and counting), I’m feeling pretty cocky. Me against caffeine? I’m totally winning that fight. Boom!

Plus, if I proclaim on this blog that I’m going to do something, I pretty much have to do it. Otherwise, I’ll feel like an idiot.

Reason number two: fertility. Just as there have been studies saying alcohol negatively effects fertility, there have been the same studies for caffeine. And just like with the alcohol studies, there are also studies saying that caffeine has no effect. But why chance it? Especially if I know it makes me feel bad anyway.

I think this one might be a little trickier to navigate than alcohol, though, because caffeine is in lots of stuff, including chocolate. I may not cut out chocolate completely. Even I’m not that crazy. I’ll have to ponder it some more. But I’m going to attempt to keep chocolate to a minimum, since I’m trying to chill with the amount of sugar I eat anyway. But coffee is definitely out, as well as caffeinated tea and any type of soda.

So there you have it. My next step on the road to health. This has been a fun journey so far. Thanks for coming along for the ride.

Two Weeks Down, ?? Left To Go

One easy way to avoid alcohol: hang out with pregnant chicks.

First things first, a huge thanks to all of you who commented on my post about giving up alcohol. I felt some serious love and support from you guys. And I love you all right back.

I want to give a special shout-out to my friend Zac, who offered to abstain from alcohol until I get pregnant. For those of you who don’t already know Zac: he will actually do this. That’s just the kind of guy he is. For your sake, Zac, I hope I get pregnant soon!

It’s been two weeks and a day since I’ve had a drink. And guess what? It’s totally fine. So far. I made it through a concert. I made it through a wedding. I even made it through a visit with my brother, who might be my favorite drinking buddy on the planet.

I’ve been sitting here for the past few minutes trying to figure out why it has been fairly easy for me to drop something that was such a huge part of my life. I’m guessing it has much to do with the fact that every time I’ve had a drink for the past month or two I felt guilty about it. I felt bad about myself when I was drinking and even worse the next morning. I wasn’t listening to the voice telling me I needed to stop and I knew it. So I think finally quitting was a relief. No more guilt! No more nagging inner voice being like, “Dude, what are you doing?”

Do I feel amazing and more energetic than I have in years? Nah. I feel pretty much the same, physically. Although, not having a hangover is definitely nice. Mostly the changes I’ve noticed have been mental. I feel more at peace. Finally – after months of hemming and hawing – I had the courage to make a major, healthier change for myself. And that feels pretty darn good.

I doubt every day will be as easy as these first two weeks. Of course not. This could just be the honeymoon period, right? But seeing as I have my end goal in mind and a wealth of support from all of you, I believe I’ll be just fine.

A sober (and happy) me in Pumpkin Land.

A Wino’s Farewell to Wine

I love wine.

I love the taste, the smell, the way it makes me feel. I love wineries, wine bars and wine menus at restaurants. I love it all. I even like wine in boxes.

But I’m giving it up. For now.

Last night I made the (very difficult) decision to kick alcohol to the curb until I get pregnant.

A few factors spurred this decision. First, there are some studies linking alcohol to decreased fertility. I didn’t pay any mind to these studies when I first read about them. There are other studies out there saying alcohol while trying to conceive is No Big Deal. Indeed, many of my dearest friends were 100% tipsy when they got pregnant. Alcohol does not seem to mess with the average gal’s fertility much, so why should I worry about it?

Because when it comes down to it, I’m not the average gal trying to get pregnant. Even though I’ve had a couple periods since I’ve started upping my fat intake, they’re still not super regular and I’m ovulating way late in my cycle.

Second, I’ve been doing (and blogging about) so many things to make myself healthier these last few months, that ditching the sauce seems like the next logical step in the process. One thing has been naturally leading to the next as I’ve been slowly, but surely, building a healthier me.

And finally, I’m willing to go to great lengths to get pregnant, if necessary. I’d try Clomid, I’d inject myself with drugs and, yes, I would do IVF, the final frontier. Hopefully I won’t have to do those things, but that’s beside the point. If I’m willing to do all of those things, then why shouldn’t I be willing to try giving up alcohol first? It’s certainly more natural and less invasive than the things mentioned above. Plus, those medications, etc., are so expensive that I’d feel like I was wasting my time and money if I wasn’t as healthy as possible before I even thought about trying them.

Bottom line: it just feels like the right thing to do right now. I’ve written a lot recently about listening to the needs of my body and paying attention to my inner voice. And right now my inner voice is pretty much screaming at me about this.

But it is not going to be easy. Drinking is so much a part of my relationships and activities that I think I’m going to feel lost without it. After an emotional day, I could always uncork a bottle. When I was bored? Another bottle. Oh and let’s not forget celebrations. That’s at least two bottles.

It’s going to be totally weird for me to navigate all of that without my trusty elixir.

Why am I telling you all this? Because I need your support. Even if you just post a comment on this blog or say something supportive to me in passing, it would really help a lot.

I’m not going to give up alcohol forever. Oh hell no. But for now, I must make the following goodbyes. Because it’s not just my beloved wine that’s got to go, it’s everything:

Goodbye, beer sampler...
Goodbye, Guinness...
Goodbye, car bombs. Godspeed.

Give Me A Break

My apologies for the recent blogging silence. I’ve been taking a break, both literally and figuratively.

A couple weekends ago I went from this:

To this:

…in a matter of seconds.

Hello, broken nose! Hello, lacerated lip!

Here’s the story: I was camping with some friends and we decided to go hiking. Just an easy trail – no one was really into exerting themselves. We were psyched for a nice day out in the wilderness.

But, ahem, we were unprepared. A few reasons why we were dumb about the hike from the outset:

1. We’d had a few drinks the night before and everyone was hungover and dehydrated.

2. We only brought three bottles of water…for four adults and three dogs.

3. We didn’t bring a map.

4. My hiking shoes were old. (This one’s all me.)

Not surprisingly, we got lost. Six hours later, our easy hike was turned into an all-out quest. I was worried about the dogs. I was worried about taking a shower. I was worried about how soon I could eat a hamburger. I was not at all worried about where I was putting my feet.

So I fell. Hard. And since I was carrying a big plastic dog leash, I couldn’t break the fall with my hands – I broke it with my face instead. And let me tell you, it was scary. And there was a lot of blood. I immediately started screaming.

First I yelled out, “I broke my nose!” Then I yelled, “I’m going to die!” Then, “But I liked my noooooose!” Glad to see that even in a moment of terror, I still had the presence of mind to be vain.

Anyway. As you can see, there were numerous factors that contributed to my fall. But I know, deep in the place where you know these things, that I fell because I was exhausted. Not just from our long, unprepared-for hike, but from life in general.

I wouldn’t take a break, so my body gave me one. Literally.

I am an over-planner. I love to do stuff and I hate to say no. I hate it. I feel like if I say no to a proposed plan, the planner will think I don’t love them. Or that they won’t invite me again the next time. So I end up saying yes to virtually everything that comes my way, which means I am almost always over extended. My exhaustion from summer comings and goings had been building and building and I wasn’t listening to it. I thought I could just power through until the fall.

But the truth is, you should never power through. There should always be enough time – even if it’s only an hour here and there – to rest, relax and rejuvenate. This may mean I have to cancel plans at the last minute sometimes. It may mean I have to say no. But it’s something I need to do. I need to take care of myself because I am the only one who really knows how I’m feeling.

This is the lesson I’m taking from my epic spill. To listen to my body.

Everyone else, please, make an example out of me! The next time you’re burning a candle at both ends, just take a look of that lovely photo of my busted up face. Or use it to scare small children. Whatever.

And with that, I’m off to take a nap!

Who’s Afraid of Needles?

Not Me. Not anymore.

I get pricked with dozens of needles each week (willingly) at this place:

Philadelphia Community Acupuncture. It’s up the road from my house and it’s awesome.

But real quick, a little acupuncture 101. Here’s what goes down: an acupuncturist sticks super-thin (and I mean thin, like hair thin) needles into various points in your skin. This is supposed to improve circulation, as well as release endorphins and serotonin into your brain. All of this allegedly makes you feel like a rock star and cures a variety of ailments.

In the US, acupuncture is usually performed in cubicles or other sectioned-off spaces, but this place treats everyone in the same room, in recliner chairs. They say this is more in line with traditional practices in Asia. Something about creating a collective energetic field and blah, blah, blah. You can choose to sit in a fancy modern mesh recliner or an old-school plush lazy boy with a blanket over it. I always go for the lazy boy.

Sound weird? It is, a little, at first. But the treatment room is in a huge old firehouse with brick walls and high ceilings. Light filters through big windows, making everything look warm and soft. There’s usually soothing music playing on low in the background and everyone talks in whispers. It’s very calming. Plus, the style of acupuncture they use only inserts needles on your arms up to your elbow, your legs up to you knees, and your head. So it’s not like you have to strip down or lift up your shirt or anything. Because that would be weird.

Does it hurt? Nah, not really. The needles are so thin and they don’t go very deep. Once in a while, they’ll put one in a tough spot, like the side of my foot or the web between my thumb and index finger, and that will hurt. But usually only for a second.

Here’s the cool part. After the acupuncturist finishes inserting the needles, covers me with blankets and tells me to have a good rest, something happens. I close my eyes and, bam, I get a rush. My body feels light and heavy at the same time. I feel instantly relaxed. After a few minutes, I find that I can’t really open my eyes, even if I wanted to. And, sometimes, I fall asleep.

I fall asleep.

I do not take naps. Ever. My mind is constantly humming with all sorts of anxious-making thoughts. I am mentally wired, always. So the fact that I can fall asleep in a room that is not my bedroom, surrounded by dozens of people, in the middle of the day, is a small miracle.

I originally started going to Philadelphia Community Acupuncture to treat carpal tunnel and irregular periods. My carpal tunnel, which had been bothering me for a couple of years, was gone within a month. Poof. The irregular periods? Well, that’s just taking a little longer, I suppose.

Regardless of what acupuncture cures or doesn’t cure for me, every time I get up from that recliner, I feel rested, relaxed and calm. To me, that is worth a million bucks. And then some.

The Weighting Game

Weight, eesh. This is a rough topic for me. I could probably write an entire book on this subject, but for your sake, I’ll try to be succinct.

I joined Weight Watchers in May 2010. On the whole, Weight Watchers is awesome. The program encourages you to eat healthy, unprocessed foods—lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. It’s based on a point system and you get a certain point allotment each day. On average, whole foods, like meat and vegetables, have a lower points value than something processed, like, say, a 100 Calorie Pack.

I had always thought of myself as a healthy eater, but this program required me to put everything I ate under a microscope. And I realized I was eating a ton of preservatives, chemicals and refined sugar. So overall, Wight Watchers changed my life for the better. But an eating plan, even the healthiest eating plan, can’t control what goes on in my mind. Weight Watchers is not my therapist and can’t possibly address all of the BS about eating and body image that plays on a constant loop in my head.

My goal was to lose a few pounds for my wedding. Here’s a picture of me wedding dress shopping in September 2009, nine months before I joined.

It’s not like I was a total whale. I mean, I looked fine. But regardless, I wanted to feel extra-special-beautiful on my wedding day. I didn’t want to look at a single picture and think, well that would be a better picture if my arm wasn’t so chunks.

Because I’m a control freak, I discovered I was really, alarmingly good at Weight Watchers. I followed the program to the letter and I lost weight every week. I was feeling great, and I soon saw the scale drop to the lowest I’ve ever seen it in my adult life, even lower than my high school weight. Slowly but surely, I passed the 10 pound mark, and then 15. And I thought, why stop now? I eventually had to pause temporarily after my last wedding dress fitting because if I lost anymore, my dress would be hanging off of me. All told, I lost a little over twenty pounds before my wedding.

Mission accomplished. I felt amazing on my wedding day.

So now that it was over, I could go back to my regular weight, or at least ease up a little. Right?

Wrong. I became convinced that if I gained a single pound, people would start whispering about how I let myself go. Plus, I really liked the way I looked now. For the first time in my life, I felt completely happy with the way my clothes fit on me. I had an excuse to buy all new pants! It was exhilarating. So I continued to lose.

At my lightest, I weighed 118 pounds. Which, really, is not that small for some people. But on me, it didn’t look right. Friends who had previously said I looked good started saying I looked too skinny. When I took off my shirt I could see all of my ribs, clearly defined. And you know what? I liked it. From then on, my measure on whether I was “skinny enough” was how clearly I could see my ribs.

Kind of effed, no?

Fortunately or unfortunately for me, 118 lbs was not sustainable, unless I said goodbye to my social life. Those of you who know me know I enjoy imbibing a healthy share of adult beverages (and alcohol costs a lot of Weight Watchers points). So after a month or two, I went back up to 125-ish and stayed that way until my recent vacation. But that was hard to sustain, too, especially if I wanted to keep boozing it up every weekend. I put myself on a modified Weight Watchers plan. Basically, I ate less than my daily points allotment during the week so I could drink mass amounts of wine and, inevitably, binge eat on the weekends. Even though I was still eating healthy, whole foods, I cut out anything extra. Instead of olive oil, I cooked with Pam, and so on. This went on for months, even though, logically, I knew it couldn’t be very healthy. And it didn’t help that every time I went to a doctor they assured me that I was a normal weight for my height.

How, at 33 years old, could I have let myself get into such an unhealthy cycle? Isn’t this the kind of crap that college-age kids pull? How did I get so addicted to smaller jeans and hearing people say I looked good that I would endanger my own health? The answer is, I don’t know.

It wasn’t until a few weeks before my recent vacation that something clicked in my brain. All of a sudden I was like, oh, maybe my eating habits have something to do with my missing-in-action period. After that, I began eating a little more and, most importantly, I cut back on the alcohol. Seeing the doctor last week just confirmed what the little voice in my head was already telling me.

The doctor tells me to eat more fat. I’m doing this, with gusto. But this probably means I’ll gain some weight. Which is fine, especially if it means I’ll be healthier and able to sustain a pregnancy. I’d pretty much do anything for that. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t struggling with it. For more than a year a large portion of my energy has been focused on tightly controlling what I eat. And I have to let some of that control go now. And it’s scary.

But so worth it.