I’ve Been Sober For 2 Weeks
Well, I am sure that title is going to get a lot of people’s attention. This is probably the hardest post I’ve ever written and it is long overdue. Alas, it is not as bad as it sounds, but life could have been without change.
To understand where this post comes from, I have to start back in December. My family had the wonderful opportunity to visit my parents in Thailand for two weeks. I am not going to make you sit through a travel post; I’ll just cut to the chase. There was a lot of eating, a lot of resting, a whole hell of a lot of ATM fees, the most amazing culture, and plenty of family. It was simply an amazing time and the best vacation I’ve ever taken.
But besides all that “but of course” was something I didn’t expect. Once we got to Thailand, my cousins were kind of enough to give us some fresh baby bananas. After 24 hours of flying and eating things rewarmed in plastic, this is was like getting a rack of steaming hot BBQ ribs out of your special needs bag on the Ironman ran. So fresh and simple.
This was a trend that was to follow. Over the next two weeks, we dined on everything from huge fresh shrimp to tiny, salty, fried worms. (Look, we don’t eat a lot of bugs in Thailand, but I had to try it when I saw it). I won’t bore you with the details of our menu, but my focus is what happened because of this: my wife and I never felt better. We were faced with heat, cold, jet lag, and toilets that border on something that should be judged at The Hague. All while toting 4 kids, one with a peanut allergy (yes, a peanut allergy in Thailand with 24 hours of flying). But despite all this, we awoke every day well slept, fresh feeling, non bloated, and full of energy.
At the same time, I was reading a book recommended by friend, called Eat Fat, Get Thin by a Dr. Hyman. A fascinating read, it talks of the importance of non-processed, local foods, as well as healthy fats. Sure, there are some things in the pages that the MD in me raises my eyebrows to, but the overall message was alluring.
After we arrived back, we did what any American away from the USA for a long time does: we had pizza. And wouldn’t you know it, we felt terrible. Of course, maybe it was the insane west to east jet lag or the raw oyster buffet we tried two days before flying (brilliant), but the “gut feeling” was enough to trust.
So with that, my wife and I finally jumped on the New Year’s resolution band wagon and decided to change the way we eat drastically. We had a few basic rules:
- No processed foods. The less something looks like food that grew or walked in a field, the less likely we were to eat it.
- Eat as local as possible.
- Limit unhealthy carbs.
- Eat much more fruits and vegetables
- Cutback drastically on alcohol.
First the processed food. Normally, the family unit goes out 1 or two times a week. Usually pizza or the breweries. Gone. We didn’t have a terrible diet by any means (McDonalds 1-3 times a year), but still, we enjoyed Chex Mix, diet sodas, Pop Tarts, and chocolate. LOTS of chocolate. All of that? Gone too. I nearly cried watching my Christmas bag of Chex Mix go into the trash.
As for the local foods, it was an eye opening experience to see how difficult, and expensive, it is to eat local. Last week, I picked up a package of beautiful looking grass fed beef. Sure win right? Turned it over to find it was raised and butchered in Australia and then processed further in America. YUM. Through some investigation, I was able to find some local meat sources but….if anything is getting thinner it is going to be my wallet.
Carbs. This has probably been the most difficult. No more breads, chips, pitas. No more pretzels. How do you make a grass fed hamburger without bread??? (You actually can, but that is a different post). If there was anything I was craving during my transition, it was a big ass bowl of potatoes.
There are many things one can get addicted to when traveling to Thailand. Fortunately for us, the only thing we came back needing more of was fruit. Lychees. Dragon fruit. Jack Fruit. Mango. Papaya. Even Durian. It was everywhere, and we ate all of it like there was no tomorrow. So, filling our pantry with fruits was no problem.
The above has been my life for two weeks now. Many vegetables and fruits with healthy, non chemical infused meats. No more microwaved breakfast sandwiches from Costcos, but instead home blended smoothies with spinach, avocado, almond butter, almond milk, and a fiber supplement. And the result of the financial and mental strain? WE FEEL GREAT. I emphasize we, because my wife is on the same transition. We both have more energy. We are sleeping better. Our minds our clearer. And our bowel movements are something akin to pooping a Beethoven symphony.
But lets cut to the chase. You came here to find out if I am an alcoholic. The answer to that is NO. I don’t rush out of work to slip in an IPA. I don’t wake up with a glass of scotch. I don’t find myself in my truck wondering what happened the night before or how I got home. I dislike getting drunk, and absolutely despite having a hangover.
BUT. (Any true addictive personality knows there is always a but)
For people with my family history and tendencies, I was on a slope more slippery than Trump’s approval rating. I didn’t typically drink a lot, but I drank frequently. Lunch with the wife on the weekend? Lets have a beer. Dinner meeting? Lets have a scotch. Finished up a six mile interval session? Time for a session beer. Got nothing else to do while waiting for the plane to board. Lets have a martini. Drinking was just becoming a filler in my life. And while I wasn’t about to murder my wife with an axe, there were ramifications. My belly was approaching the end of 1st trimester. I felt less energized. And projects, my many personal projects, sat idle.
So, I put down the bottle and picked up the water. For the past two weeks, my wife and I have been alcohol free. This was actually probably bad for our health, but we had to see how we felt. I am happy to say, it wasn’t that bad. We didn’t get the shakes. I wasn’t drooling when passing by the local pubs. And the craving was non existent. What was the hardest was sitting around in drinking areas while waiting for something else to happen. For example, yesterday I had to wait for my youngest daughter to finish skiing. Normally, I wouldn’t have had any problem ordering up an IPA and kicking back. But hell hath no fury like a Type A personality with determination. I poured a free glass of water and sat back with my phone and waited. Grueling? Yep. Unnecessary? Yep. Something I needed to prove to myself? Yes.
I turned 40 a month ago. And I am happy that this new chapter in my life is happening now instead of at 65 and on Medicare. As I have always said, life is a practice of moderation. Buddhist teachings tell us that the middle way is often the best. I am certainly not giving up drinking, or yogurt pretzels, or real hamburgers. But Ive learned now what can happen to our bodies when we assume that the world’s corporations will take care of us rather than vice versa. We need to take care of ourselves.
2018 is going to be a big year for me. I am part of the Ironman Executive Challenge. I’ve signed up to get coached by Purple Patch Fitness. And I’m happier than ever. Stay tuned and follow the adventure. Now, off to make a meat crust pizza.