Thursday, February 5, 2015

The 2015 Journey. Ending the Insanity. #1

It's a New Year. We are prone to New Years resolutions. Studies show while we start with the best intentions, we so often fail. It's the physical fitness industry dream season. But, what about when they aren't just resolutions, but game changers that without success could mean a failed love of our life and marriage, failed career and/or even the end of our being?

We all have a routine. We all have parts of that routine that we know we should change. Yet, we most often don't. It's too comfortable. It's what we know. My parents did it. So did my Grandparents, Great Grandparents. Since I can remember, adults walk in the house at the end of the day, at 5, 5:30, 6, whatever the time (always after 5) and make cocktails. Not just simple mixed drinks, but Martinis, Manhattans or straight up alcohol on the rocks. So even if they did only have one, which wasn't always the case, before dinner, it's more than a beer, a glass of wine or a simple mixed drink.

A glass of wine at dinner can even be considered healthy for you, depending on the study. Perhaps a 2nd glass isn't so bad. But beyond that after your before dinner martini?

My one Grandmother never drank after dinner. I am not so sure that wasn't true for my Grandfather on the other side of the family. But, they were usually smashed before they sat at the table. If you have a glass of wine or a gin and tonic before dinner, a glass of wine at dinner and maybe one following, that isn't so bad, at least to me, over what should be 4 or so hours with food. It's the excess at each stage that becomes the insanity.

I've committed myself to ending such insanity this year. I haven't felt a need to outright quit drinking, though promised if I can't reel myself in I will do what I need to do. Historically, I have shown not to have an overly addictive personality. I have a habitual personality, but can break habits. When I used methods to quit smoking, they didn't work. When I just quit, I stopped. I went back under a stressful time for a bit as a habit and again just quit. I had a couple of brief, stupid rounds with crystal meth years ago, but just up and ended them. No rehabilitation, other than some short lived therapy, where I spent my time trying to figure out how to fill the habit which created my social life on weekends. I have met so many, despite making earnest efforts, who have had incredible battles with all of the above and other substances.  Some, including members of my family, starting with my own Mother and her Father, never prevail.

I've also realized my excesses tend to come more from anxiety and boredom.

When I smoked, it was because I was anxious or otherwise just plain bored. If I was engaged and busy, I never smoked. Simple example, I seldom smoked during the day while working. Most of my co-workers, in most of my positions, never knew I smoked unless it eventually "came out" at an evening business occasion. Introduce anxiety, sometimes boredom, and yes, alcohol. I remember once being at a black tie event with a client who was also a friend. My co-worker looked at me astonished "I never knew you smoked." I replied, "I only smoke when I am drinking." My client replied "Problem is he is never not drinking." Before anyone reads way into it, it was meant in humor, though I certainly haven't ever been known as a light weight or occasional drinker. I never was a huge smoker, but a smoker. A normal day, maybe 5 cigs all day and night. A crazy drunken escapade or major tension, perhaps half a pack or even more.

I am sitting here quantifying things and I think that is a big mistake. Sure, you can fool yourself, but you can also be true to yourself. Over the last month, I've more than cut in half what was an excessive drinking habit. One that due to stress and conflicts at home became all the more extreme in recent months. I can't say it hasn't at times been a challenge. There are often occasions where I think "a drink would be so good right now." But, I redirect my focus. When I drink, if I even remotely question in my head whether to have another, I just don't pour it. I know that it means I've had enough.

My new "Happy Hour" is going to the gym. I try and do cycle classes at 5:30 one or two nights a week and I will continue to add other classes. Otherwise, it's when I work out almost every day, unless I have something else scheduled at the end of the day. Doing so means I don't get home until usually 7 or later. I shower, drink water and have no desire to drink until perhaps after dinner is cooked and I am sitting down watching TV or at my computer. Tired from a long day ending with an intense workout, I not only don't desire drinking as much, but my "life span" narrows. If I eat dinner at 8, by 10 and almost always by 11, I am ready for bed.

I've also noticed that I don't any longer like any feeling of being intoxicated. I do like the taste of certain alcohol. I do enjoy certain beverages. But, in a very short period of time, find I am not all happy or comfortable if I find myself feeling really buzzed and I haven't known from drunk since the beginning of the year.

That occasional beer or wine with lunch. Just don't do it. No Bloody Mary's, no bottomless brunches. I am not going to tell you I will never do any of these, but I've just taken them out of what I used to consider an acceptable routine.

As a result, I've lost 15 pounds in the last 6 weeks, even coming off the holidays. I sleep better. I feel better. I am ending the insanity.

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