Many of you know that I’m currently participating in Dry Feb for the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS). I decided to do it for a few reasons: to see if I could or if I’d miss my nightly glass of wine, to make myself a guinea pig for habit change research and, I have to admit, to see if I’d lose a little bit of stubborn belly fat.
I’m now three weeks in and a number of people have asked how it’s going or if I feel any different. I have to say, I don’t physically feel a lot different. The CCS sends motivational information each week and in week one it said one of the first things you may notice is a difference in your skin. I definitely see a difference there. It’s February; the dry time of year. I run a humidifier at my bedside to combat dry skin and frequent nosebleeds. But I have noticed that my skin and my hair isn’t as dry. I even caught myself rubbing my freshly washed face and muttering “so smooth”, and then I got creeped out and felt like I was in a scene from Silence of the Lambs.
I don’t actually miss my nightly glass of wine but I do notice the habits I’ve created and have had to change. I knew going in that I would likely have some habits to break, so I made sure my SodaStream had a cartridge ready to go, that I had some lemon and lime to flavour my water and that I had a good supply of tea. For those of you who know me well, you know that I like my tea. It may be a small addiction, which I feel is pretty harmless. On a side note, I recently joined the David’s Tea Facebook group and have come to realize that I do NOT have a tea problem. I keep showing the pictures to my husband so he understands this and won’t shake his head at every David’s Tea box that shows up at our door.
But I digress. I’ve noticed that on the weekend, reaching for a glass of wine around 5:30 while I’m doing dinner prep is a habit; which leads to a glass of wine with dinner and then maybe a top up after dinner. It really hit me when I actually went to reach for a wine glass and then thought, “Wait a minute. I’m not doing this because I WANT it, I’m doing it because I’ve just always done it.” The act of prepping a weekend dinner was my trigger. Aha! So, I have awareness of that habit loop now and I choose to drink flavoured water or even a cold Zevia or Coca-Cola instead. The Coca-Cola is a carryover from my days before I drank wine and is still my favourite thing to drink. I managed to break that habit years ago but could still drink it every single day if it weren’t for all the sugar. That damn original Coke recipe!
Now keep in mind that this is just my own personal experience that I am sharing. I usually had one glass of wine during the week with dinner but for the three nights of the weekend would have a “few” glasses of wine and maybe even a cocktail in the late afternoon; just to give you perspective. I know that’s not a lot but I will use this experience to limit it to weekends in a mindful manner going forward. For me, it’s just a lot of unnecessary calories and sugar. I do want to point out that some people really do have an addiction. I know that. You know that. So, this topic shouldn’t be taken lightly. Part of my training in trauma sensitive yoga is for addiction and recovery so I recognize how hard it can be to get help, maintain sobriety and recover to form healthy habits.
My first husband was an alcoholic. I almost wrote a book on all the stupid shit he did while he was trying to get to a drinking establishment (he didn’t like to drink at home), trying to stay longer at said drinking establishment or while he was drinking. His brother and I even had a nickname for him when he did his stupid shit – “Jojo”. We would ask “is he just drunk or Jojo drunk?” (The book was even already titled “Memories of Jojo”). We knew when Jojo came out that something was going to burn, break or both. I started to write the stories but they ended up all being the same. He drank, did something stupid, pissed me and/or others off and then passed out. It wasn’t funny. It was sad. It eventually led to our marriage breakdown which was also sad. He denied he had a drinking problem because he took Mondays off from drinking just to prove that he didn’t need to drink every day. I suspect he took Mondays off because Sundays were his heaviest drinking day, starting around noon, and he needed to recover before starting up again on Tuesday. So, I’ve seen it firsthand. It’s an illness and nothing to be treated lightly.
If you have an alcoholic in your life, you need to take care of yourself. And that might leave you with some guilt if you have to take yourself out of the alcoholic’s life to do so. I know this also. My doctor is the one who told me I had to get out, if he wasn’t willing to get help, as it was affecting my health that much.
As I move into the fourth and final week of my Dry Feb experiment/charitable act, I do so with a deeper awareness of the habits I had formed and their triggers, the ease of how you can overdo it and even a deeper level of compassion for those who truly struggle with addiction.
As for losing the bit of belly fat; well, you see, I didn’t give up cheese and there’s the rub. I’ve come to call my belly the “wine and cheese” belly so I guess to truly have an impact I would have to give up both. Or not. I choose. I choose cheese….wouldn’t you?!