All Laid Out, In Black and White

Sometimes I should be more careful what I wish for.  I started keeping a journal – actually I started keeping TWO food/exercise journals.  One is basically a mock-up of a WW journal, with spaces for points (I’m just couning 50 calories as a point, and ignoring the other WW rules) and protein (because I’m supposed to be eating a LOT of it, according to my doctor).  The other is something I found at the bookstore, and it’s got daily spaces for food (which I’ve been mostly ignoring, except to fill in end-of-day calorie counts from my OTHER journal), exercise, start-of-week stats and end-of-week stats. 

And there it is, in black and white. 

I’ve known for a long time that when I stop bingeing, I binge on other things.  Usually I either end up drinking too much or spending too much.  Since I’ve spent the last several years digging myself out of debt (for things like coffee and makeup), I’m not a big spender anymore – or more accurately, I’m better able to keep a lid on it now.  I still have days, but they’re relatively few and far between.

That leaves drinking.  When I don’t binge, I drink.  A LOT.  (And when I DO binge, I don’t particularly drink.)  For a long time I worried that I was an alcoholic, but after looking at the data this last week, I don’t think that anymore.  The drinking is just a substitute.  Truth be told, I’d rather eat ice cream than drink wine, but wine will do in a pinch. 

So when I started realizing (a few days in) that I was drinking quite a bit, I started writing it down in the weekly book.  I wrote down what I drank, how many I had, the approximate calorie content of said binge, AND the calories from any food I ended up eating (that I wouldn’t have eaten if I hadn’t been drinking).

Holy hell.  It was a lot.  A. LOT.  The drinks alone ended up being about 2000 calories.  Yes, you read that right.  Yes, a shot of liquor is about 100 calories.  Yes, that translated into 20 drinks in 7 days.  Now, in all fairness, this was a new low for me.  I do not, as a rule, drink that much (I can’t actually remember the last time I had that much to drink over a week).  But this week was the first week of the new “diet,” and since I wasn’t eating for stress relief, I swapped out for alcohol.  Oh, and don’t forget the extra food, because a couple of those nights I got really drunk and inhaled junk food.  So add another 1500 calories in alcohol-induced binges.  Thirty-five hundred calories.  The proverbial pound.  (“Proverbial” because yanno, people’s bodies don’t really work in quite such precise measurements as “3500 calories = 1 pound.”  It’s an estimate, at best.  But still.)

It’s funny: I’d never written down weekly totals.  I’ve kept track of my drinking and bingeing on a daily basis, but I hadn’t ever stopped to add up a week.  I’m reeling a little bit right now, I have to say.  Somehow the daily numbers don’t have quite the impact as the weekly total did.

And the true irony here is that the thing I’m most concerned about is not my health.  That SHOULD be what I’m most concerned about, but it’s not.  What I’m concerned about is how drinking/eating that much will affect my weight-loss efforts.  Straight-up vanity is what I’m worried about.  So I find it ironic that vanity, that sister to deadly sins pride and envy, that emotion that got me into trouble with food in the first place, might just be the driving force behind my efforts to FIX the food issues, and by extension, the alcohol issues.  Talk about coming full-circle.

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12 responses to “All Laid Out, In Black and White

  1. Gotta hold my hands up and admit this offence myself 🙂
    Only I drink a couple of drinks because I’ve found over the years drinking totally knocks my appetite on the head. It’s weird but true. Mostly I think because I rarely experience hunger like other people, my version of “Hunger” tends to be anxiety, whack it on the head with a drink or two and things become bareable. I know exactly what you mean about the health issue too. It’s the last thing I think about when I pick up a bottle of wine, or a glass of vodka. It’s all about the calories for me. I was doing Drunkarexia before they had a name for it 🙂

    Do you think it might be anxiety related for you too? Do you find it difficult to “settle” in the evenings? Sometimes it feels like boredom. Or is it habit? For me drinking is embedded in my routine, which ever routine that happens to be. Be it, routine to knock off the hunger cramps, or just a mental picture of sitting down at the computer with a glass of wine “in control”. Could you try swapping the mixers you use? Not that artificial sweetners are better health wise than sugar, but it’s an option? Watering down wine with diet lemonade, or halving shots. Or buying more expensive wine – thus hoping to be more sparing with the “dosage” LOL.

    {Hugs} sorry I’ve been so quiet, I’ve been reading though.

    Lola x

  2. I keep track of everything I eat and I try to keep it between 1000 and 1200 calories. The problem is I don’t include my alcoholic drinks, and that can add a hell of a lot of calories as you’ve discovered. So if I want to drink I need to cut back on the food. Or vice versa.

  3. Wow – what a brave post! As a lifetime non-drinker, I’m not sure what to say except I hope you figure it all out. I def. know how heart-stopping it can be to add up all your excess cals for a week though.

  4. Twenty drinks in seven days? Around here, that’s only a social evening! (kidding, really – we never drink that much in one night – it usually has to spread over into the next morning to fit them all in!)

    Mix your drinks with water or club soda.
    Wine spritzer?
    Beer spritzer? (Well, okay, perhaps that doesn’t work for everything….)

    I really, really NEVER want to know how many calories I drink in a social evening – especially this week – three evenings of socializing makes me want to check myself in somewhere to dry out, if it wasn’t for the fact that I’m already really, really dehydrated from drinking so much…..

  5. Sounds like that diary is coming in really handy to alert you to what’s going on–making that connection between trading off bingeing on food with drinking too much sounds like a really powerful observation.

    And while health is always most important, if it helps your motivation to consider the weight gain/vanity aspects, I’d say, use that too! Sounds like being aware of the extra calories you get from drinking too much is a real motivator to cut down, which I’m sure your liver will appreciate in the long run.

  6. Don’t beat yourself up. The whole point of the journal is to give yourself an accurate picture of what’s happening. I’m not much of a drinker, but I’m a night-eater of the first order and it really took journaling for a time for me to see how much I was eating in the evenings. But it also was necessary in order for me to come up with ways to change that behavior.

    Vanity may not be a ‘noble’ pursuit, but I think it’s totally human and, if people are honest, at least part of the motivation for anyone who wants to lose weight. So long as nobody sacrifices health for vanity, who cares.

  7. Hey, Lola! I’m glad to hear from you. Hope things are going ok for you. I did try the methods you recommend, but I have to admit they don’t seem to slow the drinking. Well, no: expensive wine can PREVENT it from getting to this point, but once I’m here, I pretty much have to go cold-turkey. Or lukewarm turkey: a drink in bed, with a book, face washed, and go to sleep right after. And yes, I think it’s probably anxiety, although I’ve found when I DON’T drink that the anxiety goes away after a while. So maybe part of it is alcohol-induced anxiety? The anxiety of my body trying to process that much crap? I dunno. I should get back to meditating though. That would help.

    Harriet, FWIW, I find that if I don’t eat ENOUGH my drinking gets worse. I know that on 1000-1200 calories a day, I have a really hard time not bingeing because the alcohol is my body’s way of getting some much-needed energy. (Alcohol is just straight sugar, in its way.) If you’re struggling with the same thing, that might help. I know it mitigated mine.

    Thanks, Charlotte. It is a little mind-numbing to realize how much I’ve just been mindlessly consuming. *sigh*

    Bag Lady, I have to admit that I’ve had those same social evenings! “Beer spritzer” . . . I don’t know about that one! Ha! I think what worries me most right now is the solitary drinking; the drinking just to drink, you know? To mute the voices in my head and make everything go away. Same song, different tune.

    Crabby I had that same thought about my liver. Poor liver. I’m working on it. And I’m glad to see it all laid out in the journal, even though I don’t really want to acknowlege it, if that makes sense. But the numbers don’t lie. *wince*

    Attrice, it’s funny that you mention night-eating. That was always when I binged: after dark, alone in the house. I find myself drinking the same way. And I’ll definitely use the vanity; I’m just trying to learn how to use it without cutting myself with it, you know what I mean?

  8. Beer spritzer 🙂

    My first problem with Writing It Down.
    Problem #2 is Facing what I’ve written down.

    You’ve got probs #1 and #2 solved, so you’re doing better than I am.

  9. It’s surprising how much it adds up to. In my case, it would probably be less from alcohol (light weight), more from the food after. I’m definitely trying to minimize my drinking, especially in situations where food is abundant and available. Same with when I quit cigarettes, I can drink only where it would be really inconvenient to obtain smokes. Not the healthiest way to do impulse control, but whatever works.

  10. That was a very amazingly courageous post to write/read.

    I’d say, I have seen similar behavior in my own self (also watching my sister) (she had WLS in Nov, down 80lbs).
    But she went from food to booze to booze and food, and food and booze and fooze and bood. Whatever was convenient at that moment. Not any longer though. She’s cured thru surgery.

    As for BagLady’s comment, a beer spritzer, I think, is when you put beer in a spray bottle on a hot day.

    You sound like an addict (like me). Hope that doesn’t get in your craw too much when I make my pronouncement (pontificating) . But when you go from one thing to another, it’s that inner compulsion drawing you to grab the nearest (and dearest) fix. Too bad those fixes are never Endust, a cloth or a gardening trowel and seeds.

    This is difficult. When I get those, what I call, Zombie Arms spreading out in front of me, compelling me toward food or toward the tequila, I will try to ask myself, “What do you really want?” 99% of the time, it’s not a drink or food. About 50% of the time, I’m actually successful in stopping The Monster. And to me, it does feel like a monster has taken over.

    Remember what Julia said, “Save the liver.”

  11. wow. maybe you’re drinking for me 🙂

  12. I don’t know about “Facing it,” Merry. I’m not sure I really WANT to face it. Guess I should have thought of that before I started writing it down, huh? Ha!

    Yeah Julie, I’ve definitely adhered to drinking/bingeing/spending rules in the past. I’ve had pretty hit-or-miss luck with them, so I’m not sure what I’ll try next. Maybe Intuitive Drinking? LOL, it seemed to work with the food. I’m not sure it’s the same with alcohol, though. 😉

    POD, no offense taken; I’m definitely an addict. But my drug of choice is food for sure. It’s taken me a while to really see that, but alcohol is definitely a substitute for food. I don’t know that it makes it any easier to DEAL with, but it gave me some peace of mind to think that maybe I’m still just ONE mess (bingeing) as opposed to MULTIPLE messes (a bingeing alcoholic). Does that make sense? And the bit about “what you really want” – I think that’s kind of where I’m heading right now, too. Sort of the Intuitive Drinking I was joking about to Julie just now. The other thing for me I think is taking the stigma away. I KNOW it’s bad for me, but when I think of it in those terms it actually triggers another round – much like bingeing does. I’m thinking I’ll have to give myself the Food Talk, only with alcohol: “Do you really want that? If you want it, you can have it: you’re a grown up. It doesn’t make you a good person or a bad person – it’s just a different choice. But make sure it’s really what you want.” And so on. It’s helped a lot on the food front; I wonder if it would work on alcohol, too.

    LOL, Emily! Maybe that’s it! I could TOTALLY rationalize the quantity if I were drinking for multiple people! *cracks up*

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