The Second Stage Of Drinking Less Alcohol, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:15am


Cutting Back On Alcohol

Two and a half years ago I wrote a post about cutting back on alcohol. Last week I got an email from a reader, about her own struggles and progress in the same endeavor. She included a link to this excellent article in Real Simple.

Seems like I am not alone. Thanks, Olivia Pope.

Two-thirds of American women consume alcohol regularly (having at least one drink within the past week), with most citing wine as their beverage of choice, according to a 2013 Gallup poll. That number has stayed fairly constant over the past two decades, but something more significant has changed: An increasing number of us are overimbibing.

It wasn’t the first email I’ve gotten about the alcohol post, and I’d been thinking about updating you with my current status. Thank you C., for the necessary impetus. So here we go.

The First Stage Of Cutting Back

In case you don’t want to read that first post today, I described a series of methods I’d found to keep myself to one glass of wine a night, or 7 glasses a week. That’s what doctors now recommend for women. More than that, the dangers of alcohol start to outweigh the benefits.

What Did I Learn In That First Stage?

  1. It’s really hard to find enough will power to consume only one glass, night after night after night. I found, over time, that I was not able to compensate reliably for a night of two glasses by subsequent abstention. This meant I’d drink 8-9 glasses of wine/week. Too much.
  2. I missed being able to, as I called it in the first post, “Blow myself up.” I’m hard-wired for anxiety. Not depression, not consuming rage, but a too-large flight of butterflies that land in my chest, fluttering dread.  Drinking 2+ glasses of wine kills the pests, for a while. I take no anti-anxiety medicine, by the way, except for airplane flights.

Approaching The Second Stage Of Drinking Less

I probably would have remained in that first stage for a long while, but in the summer of 2014 my daughter and I traveled to England. Where we drank a lot. Pub lunches, restaurant wines, and festive dinners with friends.

When I got home I thought, “My liver needs a break.” And I decided on 30 days without drinking. In fact I clocked 28, as I ran into my birthday. Close enough. I was looking for long-term change, not short-term box checking. After that, I decided I’d drink only on the weekends, or if we went out to dinner. Or on vacation.

Life In The Second Stage

And so I’ve done, ever since. Except when I was sick and on medications that didn’t allow alcohol, when I drank nothing for weeks at a time.

How’s it going?

I manage to, reliably, drink no more than 7 glasses of wine/week. I manage to enjoy, because let me say right now that enjoy it I do, a night or two/week in which I drink 2, or even 2.5. And I manage, with a non-breaking of back amount of effort, to drink no alcohol 3-4 nights/week. I confess to sometimes going out to dinner primarily because I want a sanctioned glass of wine. Not virtuous, but effective in terms of my overall goal. I focus on the results rather than my weakness.

Oh, and grapefruit juice, mixed with carbonated water, to drink while cooking. Secret weapon.

Is This A Perfect Mode Of Life?

Of course not.

I wish for a world in which I could drink without the addiction — because I’m clear it is one — kicking in. But that’s not reality. I wish for a world in which I suffered no anxiety, but that’s not reality either. What I have is a world of excellent wines with good food, a reasonable amount of will power exerted, and medical blessing.

Oh, and good sleep. Some nights I even sleep all the way through. All the way through, guys!

Why Am I Telling You This?

That first post stirred up some We Hate Lisa And She Is An Alcoholic And 12-Step Is The Only Way feedback, here and out on the Internet. Oh well. I write now because I know that people find my first post and I want them to know what might come next. I want them to know that for some of us, this is not easy.

And yet, it’s doable, for some of us.

I understand, this may not be you. If you need help, feel no shame. Get it. If you need a program, feel no shame, go.

In fact, nobody should feel shame. Alcohol wants us to drink it. That’s how I look at it. We may not want to drink too much, but the alcohol insists. Shame supports our compliance. When I first started this project, I also began to tell everyone I knew that I drank too much and was working on it.

Why not? Strength in numbers.

I also know than in two years I may write another post in which we learn that the second stage stopped working, and I’ve quit altogether or tried a different approach. I’ll tell you. Like I said, no shame. Benefit of getting older.

Have a wonderful weekend.

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57 Comments

  • 10/24/15
    10:10 am

    Reply

    Frances/Materfamilias said...

    You’re so brave! But we knew that already…ferry is just docking so I’d better get to my car but I wanted to applaud here before I forget or get too busy. Returning home after 7 weeks in lands of much good wine, you can bet I’m mulling…. Happy weekend!

    10/24/15
    11:08 am
    Lisa said...

    @Frances/Materfamilias, Thank you:). And since I waive my program on vacation, I’d have to reset it for a 7-week trip. To the lands of excellent cheap red wines, to make matters, well, more so!

  • 10/24/15
    10:18 am

    Reply

    Susan said...

    Lisa, I have about the same program you do. I confine my wine (or other) drinking to restaurant meals (one glass) or weekend evenings at our farm (maybe two glasses). And, many restaurant meals without a glass of wine. Like you, I had let my fondness for chilling out get out of hand. I recognized there was a problem (my father was an alcoholic–unacknowledged). And yes, there will be those who say we cannot do this. But, the simple fact is that we are doing it.

    10/24/15
    11:10 am
    Lisa said...

    @Susan, I’m in good company! I will confess here, among commenting friends, that my one failure point is the first night when my husband leaves for business travel. I can’t seem to give up a few glasses of wine to alleviate that anxiety, no matter the day of the week. I’m trying, that one is hard. But even in departure weeks I still manage to stay at the 7 glasses, or maybe a fraction over.

  • 10/24/15
    11:19 am

    Reply

    Chronica Domus said...

    This is a brave post, and honest. Not many have the you know whats to openly discuss this so I commend you for that.

    It seems you’ve found the best solution for you and I’m happy it is working. Everything in moderation, and you’ve benefited from it by the sounds of things, well done!

    I’m lucky I don’t come from a gene pool of anxious people. I’m truly thankful for it because I know it can be very challenging to deal with (all I have to do is look at my better half’s family). I also know that medication can be very damaging so, again, I commend you for finding what works best for you.

    Keep it up, you are an inspiration!

    10/24/15
    11:22 am
    Lisa said...

    @Chronica Domus, Thank you. I appreciate what you say, and without being ungrateful, I will add only that I am also genetically hard-wired to say what I think. To blurt. So as one way to redeem myself from the times of not having been able to hold my tongue, I now try to say difficult things that might help others in the saying. But, mostly, thank you:).

  • 10/24/15
    11:43 am

    Reply

    Kathy said...

    Anxiety is my main “mental health” problem too. I do drink red wine every night, and usually just one glass, but it’s increased some since my mom’s death and this is a good reminder for me to be more mindful of watching it.

    I’m curious if your husband drinks at all? Or if you find it easier to not drink when he’s traveling?

    I find it hard to have nothing when mine is having wine :(

    10/24/15
    7:56 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Kathy, Oddly, I have a very hard time the day my husband leaves on a trip. After that, the issue is more where I am than where he is. My triggers don’t seem to be what other people are doing, but, I totally see how they could be.

    I wonder, why are some of us anxious and other prone to depression? What is the actual chemistry behind it? I am sure they’ll figure it out some day in the not too distant future.

    10/27/15
    5:56 pm
    Mamavalveeta03 said...

    @Kathy, Interesting questions, Kathy. My husband gave up drinking altogether over 30 years ago, but I continued to drink. Oddly, I used to be more “all or nothing” but that has changed as my palate has matured and I discovered Pinot Noir. He is not uncomfortable with me imbibing, and as a mom to a 17-yr old, I never forget that her eyes are on me.

    11/03/15
    1:26 pm
    Susan Lucas said...

    @Kathy,
    With regard to depression and anxiety: Both are eliminated by remaining in the present. Depression is a fixation on the past whereas anxiety is attention placed in the future. I read that in one of Eckhart Tolle’s books. Knowing that helps me focus and redirect to the present. I’m not “fixed” but I don’t stay in those places as long now that I understand it better. And yes, thank you for your honesty. It’s very helpful to share your struggles and your adaptations.

    11/04/15
    8:17 am
    Lisa said...

    @Susan Lucas, I’ve heard this – I think it’s a very useful construct.

  • 10/24/15
    11:48 am

    Reply

    Sarah said...

    One bit of silver lining in having my gallbladder go kaput…I no longer can drink more than 1.5 servings of alcohol in an evening without a date with the porcelain throne, especially if there was a richer-than-I’m-used-to meal. Probably TMI…but I hear I’m not alone in the observation. So I volunteer for Designated Driver most celebratory outings, and treat solo anxiety with Zumba, or cranking the music up and the car windows down, or singing in the church choir, or embroidery accompanied by media filmed in British countrysides, or building Pinterest boards, or bathroom scrubbing.

    10/24/15
    8:02 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Sarah, So sorry for your gallbladder giving up the ghost but I have to say: a) you’ve got a great attitude b) your solo anxiety remedies all sound really awesome and valuable to those of us without gallbladder problems, so thank you.

  • 10/24/15
    12:02 pm

    Reply

    Katherine C. James said...

    In 2004 when my now ex-husband ended our relationship in an attacking way with no preamble at a time when I was vulnerable, and took his problems to heart as mine, I was in extreme emotional pain, and began to try to numb my pain with alcohol. Alcohol was not my drug of choice, food was, so while I tried the alcohol method on and off over a number of painful years, it didn’t work for me because I don’t long for alcohol as much as I long for food when I’m feeling anxious. When I was first diagnosed with what is now known as C-PTSD in 2007, I gained 100 pounds in a short period of time. I isolated myself, stayed in bed except for my weekly psychologist visit, and ate. It was all in an attempt to stem the same anxiety to which you refer. All my life, I’d been a normal size person without much effort; I’d eaten well and exercised, and enjoyed both. I drank cocktails for pleasure, but not daily or to excess. Finding myself facing 220 pounds with no idea I was at the top weight, only knowing I was out of control, was terrifying. Post divorce, I’ve lost the majority of those pounds by exercising, and eating well. I could lose all of the weight, but I’m currently trying to determine the weight where I’m comfortable with both my face and my body. To my surprise, my health is good; I’m grateful to my body for that. Currently, I enjoy a cocktail or a glass of wine occasionally. Wine has never been my drink of choice. My house host drinks a glass of red wine in the evening, and I now join him some evenings with intention, for the pleasure of the ritual, the taste of the wine, and the positive effects of which I’ve read. There is serious alcoholism on both the American Indian side of my family and on the side with European ancestry origins. I’m grateful I’m not one of my family members who has been affected by alcoholism, probably because I had the good fortune to have parents who didn’t really drink. At the same time, I realize my own longing to eat too much of the wrong kinds of food when I’m sad or stressed is the equivalent. Exercise, nutritious food, staying connected to others, breathing, and meditation are the things I use to quiet my own version of the anxiety you describe. Excess alcohol only serves to make me more anxious, because of the blood sugar effect it has. I enjoy a cocktail when I’m happiest, not when I’m anxious. My mother’s recent death, and all that has involved, has ratcheted up my anxiety, so I’m being watchful about my choices in all areas of my life. My biggest pitfalls are inactivity and isolation. If I move and stay connected I find all the rest falls more easily into place. Our culture has certain things we have labeled as negative that just are. It is brave for you to talk about your experience and your choices; no one should criticize you for being both brave and honest. I support you in doing what works best for you, and I admire your honesty. Sending you support and understanding. xo.

    10/24/15
    8:04 pm
    Lisa said...

    Oh @Katherine C. James, I knew about your PTSD but not the way it manifested in eating. So sorry, and so happy you’ve found your way back. Thank you for your courage in discussing your issues and your process of recovery here.

  • 10/24/15
    12:31 pm

    Reply

    Roseag said...

    I’m glad to hear it’s going well for you. I quit drinking 20 years ago without regret, and appreciate that it’s hard. I go to pubs and restaurants and grill the waitstaff about whether their iced tea is unsweetened and do they brew it. That stuff they dispense from syrup, full of fake flavoring so, is awful. Have you tried drinking vinegars, aka Shrubs? They’re different if you get tired of grapefruit juice.

    Happily many of my oldest friends are on the wagon these days, coincidence I guess, so it’s not a social issue for me.

    10/24/15
    8:04 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Roseag, Drinking vinegars? No! I will have to give it a shot!

  • 10/24/15
    12:45 pm

    Reply

    Linda @ a design snack said...

    Lisa, I thought you were incredibly brave with your first post. You still are but now will add ‘fearless’.

    10/24/15
    8:09 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Linda @ a design snack, Thank you.

  • 10/24/15
    12:47 pm

    Reply

    Danielle said...

    I also struggle with anxiety. For some reason drinking never appealed to me – the taste of most alcohol is too bitter! I deal with it by taking a low dose of anti-anxiety medication and going to therapy. Meditation and exercise help too. Just sharing my story. Mental health is so overlooked in our society! Glad you are taking care of yourself.

  • 10/24/15
    12:48 pm

    Reply

    Danielle said...

    Also, your grapefruit spritzer sounds delish :)

    10/24/15
    8:09 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Danielle, Grapefruit spritzers all around! Glad you are managing your own anxiety in a way that works for you.

  • 10/24/15
    1:00 pm

    Reply

    Jane said...

    I admire your courage in talking honestly about your problems and no one should criticize you for any of it. We are only human. It would be great if we could all be so brave as to talk openly about our weaknesses. Anxiety is my biggest problem and I have earned the moniker Worry Wart as far back as I can remember and from everyone I know! I enjoy a glass of wine with dinner, too, but it doesn’t solve my problem. Exercise and talking to my therapist helps. I am glad that you are doing well with your plan.

    10/24/15
    8:15 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Jane, Hugs to you Worry Wart:). I am glad you have a plan too.

  • 10/24/15
    1:00 pm

    Reply

    K-Line said...

    Well, I’m reading this on a Sat afternoon, drinking a glass of wine. I sense that our perspectives on drinking are almost identical. And I’ve gone through exactly the same process to get to the same place. Sure, I’d love to drink whatever I’d like and when. But it’s fattening and it’s not good for you. So I’m undertaking the very same plan as you except, sometimes when I go out to dinner I don’t drink.

    No question – I love alcohol. But I love lots of things excessively and booze is not the one to capitulate on. I give that honor to sugar. :-)

    10/24/15
    8:16 pm
    Lisa said...

    @K-Line, Yes, picking our battles means choosing where to lose as much as where to win:). I hope you enjoyed your glass of wine.

  • 10/24/15
    1:23 pm

    Reply

    dottoressa said...

    Dear Lisa,you are very brave and honest person and I admire you in so many ways. This is only one of the reasons
    Your first “alcohol posts” happend to be one of your first posts I read, and thought the same as today. I drive all the time, so drink very rarely although I like wine
    I know how difficult and brave it must be for you and I’m glad that you succeed <3
    Dottoressa

    10/24/15
    8:17 pm
    Lisa said...

    @dottoressa, Thank you very much. <3

  • 10/24/15
    2:27 pm

    Reply

    MJ said...

    I’m glad this new approach is working for you. I do the same, although there’s not much virtue involved since anxiety is not as much of an issue for me. I think that at least once I suggested that you might sleep better without the glass of wine, so I’m glad that seems to be helping. Good luck in keeping at it.

    10/24/15
    8:18 pm
    Lisa said...

    @MJ, Thanks. And the better sleep has been a real joy and delight. You were right.

  • 10/24/15
    2:36 pm

    Reply

    Faux Fuchsia said...

    good for you. I’m trying it too, but to lose weight. You have to do something 17 times before it becomes a habit. x

    10/24/15
    3:05 pm
    Poppy B. said...

    @Faux Fuchsia, Great minds think alike! I commented just below before I read your comment. I like wine but hate the calories, damn it.

    10/24/15
    8:19 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Faux Fuchsia, I’d heard it takes 30 days but 17 times would be about 30 days, so, perfect.

  • 10/24/15
    3:03 pm

    Reply

    Poppy B. said...

    Hi Lisa,

    Thanks for the update! I, too, am cutting back, and finding it a challenge. I find food more addictive than alcohol (with coffee somewhere in the middle) and what I’m really trying to do is find a less fattening way of de-stressing, because this muffin top isn’t going anywhere. Sigh. After we spent a month celebrating our new status as empty nesters, my husband and I vowed to stick to one glass of wine/one bottle of beer a day. I find the easiest way to make it stick is to drink red wine. I find white wine much more delicious and thirst-quenching, so I drink it faster. Red wine (or very bitter beer) makes me slow way down.

    I’ve also discovered Kombucha, which is delicious, low-calorie, and full of the right kind of intestinal bugs. It’s less sweet then soft drinks and pairs well with lunch or casual meals. Worth a try!

    As always, it’s a pleasure to read your thoughtful posts.

    10/24/15
    8:33 pm
    Marie said...

    @Poppy B., Is kombucha really delicious? I always thought it was something that people choked down for the sake of their health. I’ll have to actually try it. Is there a brand that you recommend??

  • 10/24/15
    4:41 pm

    Reply

    Lynn said...

    I have been reading your blog for sometime now. This is the first time I have commented as I could have written this post myself, especially the part about using wine to self medicate anxiety and to de-stress.
    Three years ago I decided on the same plan you have except I don’t drink on weekends because I know I would over drink. In fact, I do not keep wine in my home as I know I would drink it if it was there. I just really like the taste of wine. So I limit myself to when I eat out or on vacations.
    I worry about the pull wine has on me but so far I feel that this plan is working for me. It allows me to enjoy wine but keeps me from putting my health at risk. I hope it continues to work for you also.
    Thanks for addressing this topic so honestly. It takes a lot of courage to do so.

    10/25/15
    10:57 am
    Lisa said...

    @Lynn, Nice to meet you, and thank you for adding your experience and approach to the discussion. It sounds to me like you really know yourself and your limits. That, in a nutshell, is the goal.

  • 10/24/15
    5:27 pm

    Reply

    Mardel said...

    This is a fearless and brave post. We are all but human and we all struggle with things, not necessarily the same things.

    This post really resonates on many levels, one being that I am prone to anxiety as well, and although I call it melancholy, it is really not depression but a form of chronic anxiety. Meditation and attempting to be more mindful has helped. And has also made me aware that I need to be mindful of wine. I like red wine (not really white), but if I have one glass I always want another, and it takes two to quiet the fluttering in my chest. I have decided that living alone this is too dangerous. I can happily go for days or weeks without alcohol, but it is too easy to drink too much, with the attendant risk of becoming dependent. So I limit it now to social occasions.

    10/25/15
    10:58 am
    Lisa said...

    @Mardel, Sounds like a good plan. And I am now beginning to work on figuring out meditation. If that sounds like a totally beginner, it is:).

  • 10/24/15
    6:12 pm

    Reply

    DiSantLawr said...

    Uncanny. I am sitting here drinking my “mocktail” of lime seltzer with a splash of tonic in a fancy glass when I peruse upon your blog post. I had read and bookmarked your earlier post about cutting back and have read and reread it many times.
    Seems that we are among good company, and a large company at that. I love how you say “Alcohol wants us to drink it.” Yep. My one nightly vodka on the rocks became two and then they grew. It felt good to have the edges soften and blur and begin to feel a bit squishy and relaxed. I looked forward to it. Too much and too often. When drinking began to feel like a formerly entertaining friend that had become demanding and a little possessive, I decided I needed some space from that ‘friend.’ So, even before I read this post I had already started my new phase of moderation. Very much like you, I want to be able to continue to enjoy drinking. I want to drink on MY terms, not on alcohol’s.
    Part of my drinking dynamic is that I am a latecomer to it. I rarely drank hard alcohol before age 45, and only wine socially. My Ex drank enough for both of us and I always felt I needed to be a designated adult/driver. Now new life, new husband, new circle, hello martinis! It felt earned, grown-up, deserved. But I am smart enough to see where this could be headed, and at 53 I don’t want to end up a puffy, sad old hipster, slurring ever so slightly while pontificating, trying to enjoy the buzz and look cool at the same time. So , I raise my bubbly mocktail in salute to you and to Moderation! Thanks for being brave and honest.

    10/25/15
    11:00 am
    Lisa said...

    @DiSantLawr, I raise my grapefruit and San Pellegrino back at you:). I came to drinking also in my late 40s, which, in some ways, was a very good thing. By the time I felt the pull of alcohol strongly I was old enough to be able to step back, breathe deeply, and set a plan in motion.

  • 10/24/15
    6:29 pm

    Reply

    Bungalow Hostess said...

    You are very brave to put this post together and I recall reading your first one. I drink wine most nights. Fortunately I am on Weighg Watchers and wine has a point count that factors into my daily point range. If I were to drink too much I would have no points left for food!
    Everything in moderation seems to fit here.
    Thank you for another thought provoking post…you are a trail blazer.

    10/25/15
    11:01 am
    Lisa said...

    @Bungalow Hostess, <3 to you. And Weight Watchers becomes your program for moderation in all things:).

  • 10/24/15
    6:47 pm

    Reply

    Andrea said...

    Maybe you should go cold turkey … no half measures, just stop altogether. Alcohol is one of the worse addictions out there, and the sooner you rid yourself of it, the better off you’ll be. If you can feel you can abstain anytime you want though, then you might be fine. Drinking 8-9 glasses a week vs the recommended 7 isn’t measurably more if you average it only sometimes…

    10/25/15
    3:14 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Andrea, I can abstain, when I’m motivated. If I felt I needed to, I could. But I really don’t think I need to. I don’t abstain from sugar, for example, I manage my consumption. This feels really similar to me.

  • 10/24/15
    7:17 pm

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    Claire said...

    Hey Lisa: What no one mentions–and I have been reading your blog for a while now so I am making certain assumptions–but wine and food WORK together beautifully. They compliment each other. If someone is not a foodie, then I think it is easy to jettison the booze. But for me, a former chef, a meal isn’t quite complete without a glass of wine complementing the meal. Like you, I’ve started limiting my intake to Friday nights–when we go out to dinner–occasionally on the weekend, and the one margarita on Tuesday night at the local Mexican dive. This is purely for caloric reasons and because of the empty calories AND, why, hello, insomnia, my old friend. But if I just said, screw it, middle-aged pounds, then I think I would be in the same boat you are. Limiting it because it could own me so easily. I’ve come to terms with no having wine with most meals because I’m still working full-time and I pretty much slop food on the table most nights. But on Sunday nights my husband and I always have a really nice dinner. And I splurge and buy a nice bottle of wine. Because a good meal really does taste better with a nice bottle of wine. So, like you, I’ve made a deal with myself. Limit because you can. Splurge because you can. But you can only splurge if you limit. I think as we age we come to terms with the concept of the “art of the deal” with one’s self. It’s an awareness and acknowledgment of self.

    10/25/15
    3:21 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Claire, “Limit because you can. Splurge because you can. But you can only splurge if you limit. I think as we age we come to terms with the concept of the “art of the deal” with one’s self. It’s an awareness and acknowledgment of self.” And there we have it. It’s also true that I’ve got access, here, to some absolutely phenomenal wines. The Cabs of Napa, 1990s. And drinking a glass or two with a good dinner, or, alternatively with a pizza, is one of life’s truly wonderful experiences.

  • 10/24/15
    8:46 pm

    Reply

    Marie said...

    Wonderful post, Lisa. I know so many women who struggle with drinking too much wine, not an overtly excessive amount, but more than is optimal for them. Aside from addictive properties or emotion-numbing effects, it’s just alluring. Good for you for recognizing the problem, finding a way to deal with it, and writing about it here.

    I used to enjoy wine, but could never tolerate more than one glass a day. Even that much made me feel sluggish the next day. As I’ve gotten older and cut down on sugar, I’ve become sensitive to the sugar in wine. Now I have only the occasional glass, probably no more than a few times a year.

    But I’m drinking beer. Not every evening, but I would like to. And lately I’ve been drinking Crabbie’s hard ginger beer – really wonderful stuff, low alcohol content but high sugar content. So I need to give it up.

    Sorry for the rambling. Both of my parents were alcoholics, as were many members of my very large Irish family. I think that this experience immunized me against alcoholism. I have an addictive personality but have never had a desire to have more than one glass of wine or beer. Sugar is another matter.

    10/25/15
    3:23 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Marie, Not a ramble at all. There are so many factors involved in alcohol consumption, genetics, family history, sugar, habit, and so on. I think it’s great how many people here have commented on sugar in the same breath as their thoughts on alcohol – I do find them to be very, very similar, excepting the (Puritanically disapproved of) inebriation.

  • 10/25/15
    4:42 am

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    DaniBP said...

    Lisa I remember the first post you wrote really well because it helped me to cut back on the wine. I gave up red wine entirely, have never had any taste for hard alcohol so I’m down to having a bit of white wine or champagne. Definitely not every day. I will drink a hard cider almost every day though, it’s made locally and quite delicious, gluten-free and fairly low in sugars. As Poppy mentioned above Kombucha is another delicious drink and is alcohol-free.
    I have struggled with anxiety and there’s nothing like a drink to calm down… your initial post was helpful because it wasn’t about cutting out alcohol completely but rather managing it, which is quite a bit more difficult. XO

    10/25/15
    3:27 pm
    Lisa said...

    @DaniBP, I am so happy to be of use. And for some reason I had assumed Kombucha would be gross. It isn’t? I had no idea! Thank you!

  • 10/25/15
    7:53 am

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    AK said...

    I find one glass of wine weakens my resolve to have only one glass. Anyway, congratulations on cutting back. Other enjoyable drinks: cold brew iced coffee with milk and stevia, and soda, with homemade simple syrup and carbonated water.

    10/25/15
    3:33 pm
    Lisa said...

    @AK, “I find one glass of wine weakens my resolve to have only one glass.” Bingo. Although I am finding now that there are nights when I only want one glass. Fine tuning, fine tuning.

  • 10/25/15
    9:47 am

    Reply

    Sandra Sallin said...

    Bravo to you. I admire your self control and honesty. I think when we reveal our weaknesses on line we connect with many people who are alone and rejoice when they find out they’re not alone.

    My problem is food. I wish I had your determination and willpower. Would you please write a post on how you stay so slim? How do you eat and exercise?

    10/25/15
    4:06 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Sandra Sallin, Thank you. As for my diet/exercise, have no fear, I’ve written about it! Here are some links:

    http://amidprivilege.com/?p=3430
    http://amidprivilege.com/?p=10768
    http://amidprivilege.com/?p=21300

    These days the specific fitness activities are: I see a personal trainer twice a week for an hour each visit, I take an hour+ walk at least once a week, usually do one day of strenuous gardening or housework a week.

  • 10/25/15
    1:25 pm

    Reply

    Jannike said...

    Great post. so perfectly timed with my own need to cut back on the wine and find other ways to deal with seasonal depression. I’m back at the gym, with a trainer, at least once a week, I’ve joined the onsite gym at work and started taking aquajogging classes. All in a effort to learn how to exercise with arthritic feet. For the past year I’ve been feeling sorry for myself and gotten really sloppy with the food and alcohol. Time to reign it in, but it’s tough.

    10/25/15
    4:07 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Jannike, It is tough. And the aches and pains of aging don’t help. I know that when one of my sore spots acts up I am much more prone to go for 2 glasses not 1. Good for you, being proactive.

  • 10/25/15
    1:51 pm

    Reply

    Karena said...

    Lisa I think you are very brave to deal with this and to share the issue with your readers.

    While I love to have a glass or two of wine, sometimes even two gives me a migraine, so I think am fortunate in that regard (the migraine is always going to be worse than the good feeling of an extra glass of wine.)So there are evenings where it just doesn’t sound good and I will have hot tea in the winter especially.

    xoxo
    Karena
    The Arts by Karena
    Artist Lesley Schiff

    10/25/15
    4:09 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Karena, Kind of a good news/bad news situation. Always good to see the good news more clearly than the bad. I hope you are feeling well.

  • 10/25/15
    2:10 pm

    Reply

    Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

    Lisa, this was beautifully written, from the heart, about a hard/difficult subject to discuss even with the closest of friends & family. Thank you for taking the time to write this. I’m with you totally.
    Sam

    10/25/15
    4:58 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen, Thanks so much. I really appreciate the support.

  • 10/25/15
    3:18 pm

    Reply

    Marilyn Leslie said...

    Lisa, Thank you for posting about drinking too much wine, I have been trying to cot back for some time. I usually drink two 5oz glasses a night, but the calories are not kind. I limit it to meal times and try to not have a glass afterwards. I’m trying to change to weekends only,so to is my fresh start. Thanks for the encouragement.

  • 10/25/15
    3:20 pm

    Reply

    Marilyn Leslie said...

    I mean tomorrow is my fresh start.

    10/25/15
    4:58 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Marilyn Leslie, Best of luck! I’ll be cheering on the sidelines!

  • 10/25/15
    6:26 pm

    Reply

    Janet said...

    Your post is making me feel frightened for you. As people age, their ability to metabolize alcohol decreases, and in fact the guidelines for diagnosing alcoholism change. If you’ve never been to an AA meeting, why not just go? You don’t need to say or do anything. Lots of smart, competent, and lovely people get tangled up in alcohol – and some of them are at AA putting their lives back together on a much happier basis.

    10/25/15
    8:20 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Janet, I can promise you, there is nothing to feel frightened about. I am if anything over-vigilant, and over-confessing. At this point I don’t even meet any criteria in the DSM for alcohol issues. My life hasn’t fallen apart, there’s no putting it back together to be done. I’m just looking at alcohol through the same lens I look at everything I write about – a close one. I am taking this time in retirement to try and deserve the privilege I have been granted by getting better at every part of life.

  • 10/25/15
    7:08 pm

    Reply

    Candace said...

    Recently I read a book on PTSD which spoke in one chapter about “the problem is the treatment”. What is considered a problem – obesity, alcohol dependence, any addition (and mine is sugar), is that individual’s way of treating a much deeper issue. I totally agree with this – sugar calms me and the world is alright. Trying to keep our “treatments” from ruling our lives is difficult. Thank you for sharing your personal life with us. xoxo

    10/25/15
    8:23 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Candace, You’re welcome. I feel so very lucky to have the time and the wherewithal to figure this all out on my own terms. I’ve been able to move from what was classified as heavy dependence to a level of drinking that barely registers on anyone’s scale of problematic, except my own. It takes lots of intent, but I’m so happy to be managing. You too seem to have an awareness of what you struggle with, I hope it’s a struggle you win.

    10/26/15
    7:15 am
    DiSantLawr said...

    @Candace, Great insight. Thanks for that.

  • 10/26/15
    6:37 am

    Reply

    Jennifer said...

    I’m doing a similar program, and finding it much too hard to stick to. It’s easier for me to have no wine, than one glass. And if my husband is having a glass, it’s almost impossible not to join him. Yes, it’s a problem for me. One I hope to control. Working on it!
    Thanks for bringing it up again.

    10/26/15
    10:06 am
    Lisa said...

    @Jennifer, Yup, none is easier than one. I have gotten quite used to abstaining when others do not, however.

  • 10/26/15
    7:24 am

    Reply

    LL said...

    Fellow anxiety sufferer here, though my self-medication of choice is food. I find that mindfulness can be very effective to combat it, but it’s a struggle. Because what I really want is to lose myself, so mindfulness can be sharply painful.

    Thank you for writing about this. My favorite posts are always your analytical ones.

    10/26/15
    10:10 am
    Lisa said...

    @LL, You’re welcome. I am glad the analytical bent adds some value. And I am interested by what you say about mindfulness. For me it’s more like I simply can’t get to quiet mindfulness, the flutter in my chest is too violent. I think I ought to focus on working on the breath.

  • 10/26/15
    11:43 am

    Reply

    rb said...

    Dang it, now I want a glass of wine!

    I had developed a 1-2 glass/night white wine habit until recently. It definitely added some pounds but it was my way of relaxing. I’d start with a glass while cooking dinner, then have another glass with dinner. And then occasionally top that off to have next to me while the husband and I watched TV for an hour or so. Though that last one doesn’t count because I usually conked out before I drank it.

    Heartburn to the rescue. I don’t know what has changed about my system but I can no longer handle the acidity of white wine. I like red wine but not enough to have a glass every evening.

    So now my drinking schedule is like yours. In hindsight I was drinking too much, probably, but really it was the darn acid reflux that “done me in.”

    10/26/15
    2:41 pm
    Lisa said...

    @rb, Sometimes we’re saved by our strengths, and sometimes by our weaknesses!

  • 10/26/15
    12:23 pm

    Reply

    Patsy said...

    Maybe you should start smoking pot!

    10/26/15
    2:41 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Patsy, Back in the day, as a California teen, I found it made me more nervous;).

  • 10/26/15
    1:38 pm

    Reply

    Duchesse said...

    @ Patsy: A friend of ours uses pot (in tincture form) for anxiety and I think you might be on to something…as someone wrote, “No guy ever smoked a joint and busted up his apartment.”
    @ Lisa: From what I have seen (both professionally and personally) moderation is harder for many persons than abstinence. But, I think it is a fine strategy; the key is knowing what we need, not what the substance is saying to us. I’m like you; my joke is I’m paying $14 a glass in a bistro in order to only have one.

    10/26/15
    2:43 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Duchesse, Oh, yes, outsource where possible;). And if it becomes harder to moderate than abstain, I’ll move to abstaining. Really not there yet. It takes only a little more effort than my diet habits do, and I am hoping the extra is simply because this habit is new.

    10/27/15
    5:55 am
    Duchesse said...

    @Duchesse, Lisa, I just realized, I like Stage Two but I do not want to go to Stage Three; I’d love to live the rest of my life enjoying all the pleasures, as long as they are available.

    I am also recognizing old programming from my parents- that the person who refused a glass of champagne for a wedding toast, etc. “for no good reason” (AA was a good reason) was a real killjoy.

    10/27/15
    8:44 am
    Lisa said...

    I too hope to stay at Stage Two forever. Such a good way to put it, “enjoying all the pleasures, as long as they are available.”

  • 10/26/15
    1:38 pm

    Reply

    WorthyStyle said...

    I’m so proud of you, TM. Keep up knowing and/or learning your limits and just reassessing. Healthy for the mind, body, and soul!

    10/26/15
    2:44 pm
    Lisa said...

    @WorthyStyle, Thank you! Learning and relearning, all the time.

  • 10/26/15
    1:54 pm

    Reply

    BarbG said...

    There’s a blog that may be of interest DrinkingDiaries.com.

    10/26/15
    2:44 pm
    Lisa said...

    @BarbG, Just happened upon that. Thanks.

  • 10/26/15
    6:01 pm

    Reply

    Stephen Andrew said...

    my choice in words may be odd, but this is so interesting. I’m liberal with pouring a drink when I’d like one. Though I routinely take 1-2 week breaks if I feel I’ve overdone it. My drinking was cut dramatically when I got my dog. 5:30AM wake up whimpers are a lot easier to take when you’re either not hungover or only mildly so. I’ve always lived in cocktail culture so I had to be taught that a martini or a gin and tonic on a weekday lunch was taboo. Not that it stops me, but at least now I know. How funny you’d mention your grapefruit virgin cocktail. After Naomi left a comment on my blog about a grapefruit g&t with Tanqueray, I started enjoying them immensely. I was concerned when I wanted on bright and early in the morning! This was unlike me and unsettling. I mixed a ginless tonic with grapefruit and lime and was just as satisfied. I felt downright proud when I realized I was craving fruit juice and not booze for breakfast. I appreciate the pragmatic tone with which this post is written.

    10/27/15
    3:32 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Stephen Andrew, Coming from families of drink, one approaches this whole experience from a very unique perspective;). Me too.

  • 10/26/15
    8:03 pm

    Reply

    Candice said...

    I just recently discovered your blog and am pleased to see this post! I have made the choice to go on a sabbatical from alcohol for the rest of the year. For me, it is going so well, that although I still plan to re-evaluate on January 1 (I will be spending NYE sober), I am honestly considering just sticking with an alcohol-free life. It is nice to see others out there discussing this topic as I feel it is very timely. I know a lot of young, old, and all ages in between, women, who drink a lot of wine. It’s not a bad thing, necessarily, but it can be. It is good for us to be open-minded and honest. Thank you for sharing.

    10/27/15
    8:43 am
    Lisa said...

    Nice to meet you! And I’m happy you’ve found something that works. We’ve all got our own goals and temperaments to deal with.

  • 10/27/15
    9:04 am

    Reply

    Jean S said...

    “…yet why not say what happened?”

    For me, things changed when I went through menopause. I found that all sources of sugar–including alcohol–triggered hot flashes. I’m a little less reactive now, but it’s still a bit of an issue.

    10/27/15
    3:35 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Jean S, Our bodies sometimes look out for us. xox.

  • 10/27/15
    10:13 am

    Reply

    Kathryn Fenner said...

    I, too, have the anxiety gene, and do find it helps to take enough Zoloft. That said, I know I drink just as you did–a tad too much, too often, to calm the butterflies. I am struggling with some 55-years-old weight gain, and despite all my best efforts that would have worked before, realize I maybe need to cut the alcohol. So I’m going to try it your way and see what happens. Thanks for the inspiration!

    I discovered grapefruit and soda back in the 80s–I call it a Longboat, after Longboat Key, on the Florida Gulf Coast, where a friend and I would watch the sun set over the water (not something you get to see often on the East Coast!) sipping a “Longboat”….I need to check to see whether it will interfere with any meds I am taking, though.

    10/27/15
    3:45 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Kathryn Fenner, I will immediately begin calling my G&Ss a “Longboat,” in your honor. I’m glad Zoloft works for you. We all have our issues and our solutions. A big hug and a smooch from me.

  • 10/27/15
    10:34 am

    Reply

    Nelson Bartley said...

    Such a great post and thank you for sharing. I see more and more of my friends with kids that are grown-or almost grown-now drinking every night. And they are drinking to excess. Almost a bottle of wine a night. Multiple beers. Not healthy.
    By the end of the day I crave the savory taste of beer or wine…not so much the alcohol. Don’t have the anxiety issue. But sometimes one turns to two. Seldom more, but still too much for every night. Right now I have cut back to one beer a night-easier to measure than wine which can be “topped off” too easily. And because I am in Colorado where only 3.2 beer is sold at the grocery store-that’s what I have started buying. Practically water but the taste is there and it satisfies my craving for something besides the tea I drink most during the day.
    When I am in groups of women drinking-I stick strictly to the glass of wine, glass of water, glass of wine, two glasses of water routine, at least if I drink three glasses,I don’t feel it the next day as I stay hydrated.
    I, too, come from a family of functional alcoholics so keep that info in the back of my mind. But my parents at 92 and 91 still sit down every night and have one glass of wine as they watch the Wheel of Fortune. If you are at their house you will have a glass thrust into your hand and to me it is such a civilized way to wrap up the day. A perfect way to reconnect and share your day-something they have done since before I was born.
    So a challenge and just like weight-something that needs watching but not something I am ready to give up entirely.

    10/28/15
    11:23 am
    Lisa said...

    @Nelson Bartley, Yes, that’s it, how to keep the civilized part of drinking and avoid the destructive part. I’m with you.

  • 10/27/15
    11:03 am

    Reply

    Holly said...

    This is such a great post, Lisa. i try not to drink during the week, either, and I doubt that I consume more than four to five glasses of good red wine a week. I have a family history of alcoholism, and I really don’t need the extra calories or negative impact on my sleep or my energy level the next day. I do enjoy good wine paired with a relaxing family weekend meal that I have cooked, or a nice dinner out. I am going to share this with my husband as he drinks at least five nights a week, due to stress/anxiety, and consumes more than he realizes or probably would admit. I have told him that all the running in the world won’t help his midsection if he continues to drink so many extra calories a night!!

    10/28/15
    11:31 am
    Lisa said...

    @Holly, Hard to address that which we can’t admit. But I totally understand the way in which one starts to drink for stress relief and then gets caught and can’t get out without a plan.

  • 10/27/15
    2:54 pm

    Reply

    Julie said...

    Sometimes the universe gives us what we need, and I think your posts on alcohol may be just that. Wish me luck….

    10/28/15
    11:47 am
    Lisa said...

    @Julie, I’m a big believer in the universe. I wish you all the luck and some fortitude besides.

  • 10/27/15
    3:20 pm

    Reply

    Lindsey Back said...

    I have just read your post and thought you might be interested in this latest research (link – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3289187/Month-drinking-slashes-risk-disease-Abstaining-heal-liver-lower-blood-pressure-cholesterol-levels.html. ) Keep up the good work I think a lot of people bluff themselves into thinking they don’t have a problem, the fact that you have addressed it is a step forward. I drink with dinner with my husband as it relaxes us as we sit and talk about the day which is an important ‘de-brief’ for us both..and we were drinking too much. Some might say you don’t need wine to do that but the answer is it works for us and we are more relaxed because we do it! Having said that we have cut down and I now have a jug of water on the table and I try to save some of my wine for when I have finished eating and we are sitting chatting so any top up is minimal. Keep us posted it helps if you know others are in a similar position. Cheers!

    10/28/15
    11:49 am
    Lisa said...

    @Lindsey Back, I am glad to know that the 30-day abstention has some proven medical benefits, as well as being a good way to break a habit. And I totally understand your ritual with your husband, and hope you can keep it in place at the level you want.

  • 10/27/15
    4:58 pm

    Reply

    Mamavalveeta03 said...

    Thanks, Lisa, for being so honest with us. You didn’t have to be, and I know that you’re aware of that. Who am I to judge you for drinking? I suffer from anxiety and depression, and I DO take medication. And I love my wine and my craft beer, and don’t intend to give them up, even though I used to binge drink in college. But that was 30 years ago and I’ve been able to moderate my drinking since then. It can be done. 12-step programs are not the only way. And that’s yours to decide!

    10/28/15
    11:50 am
    Lisa said...

    @Mamavalveeta03, You are very welcome. I also appreciate your honest about your medications. Our lives are ours to decide, and ours to know what’s working and what is not. Honesty, then, to ourselves.

  • 10/28/15
    3:44 am

    Reply

    pve said...

    I find that a smaller glass is a treat and that it is something to be celebrated in sips. Today, it seems many are struggling with addictions and behavioral issues and there are so many other choices to turn to rather than alchohol and drugs. I commend you for this post and sharing your progress.
    pve

    10/28/15
    11:50 am
    Lisa said...

    @pve, Learning to sip. So critical. Drinking excellent wines helps with that. Thank you.

  • 10/28/15
    10:20 am

    Reply

    Laura said...

    great post
    thank you for sharing

    10/28/15
    11:51 am
    Lisa said...

    @Laura, Thank you. And you are welcome. :)

  • 10/29/15
    4:13 pm

    Reply

    Patty said...

    Lisa,
    My husband and I enjoy a glass of nice wine in the evening. This ritual started after our retirement and we have even gone so far as to travel to France a few times to expand our knowledge of wines.
    Lately, I began to realize that my glass was becoming half the bottle or more.
    A few weeks ago a dear friend shared her story. After her divorce and when her sons were at home so enjoyed a single martini when she came home from work. But when her youngest left for college she realized that she didn’t want to be the lady that drank alone at home.
    Three weeks ago my husband went out of town for business. I told him, “I have a new rule. I don’t drink alone.”‘ He has been away for 3 weeks. I do miss him and the stress reliever of a nightly glass of wine. I’ve been experimenting with herbal teas and I’m on my way to buy the suggested grapefruit juice and sparkling water.
    Thank you for your timely post.

    10/29/15
    8:43 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Patty, You are very welcome. Three weeks is a very long business trip, you have my nod of recognition. I hope you like the grapefruit juice/sparkling water concoction. Sometimes I add pomegranate too. Tang helps.

  • 10/29/15
    6:04 pm

    Reply

    Murphy said...

    Thank you for sharing your progress! I think it’s especially easy to slip into increasing wine consumption once all the kids have moved out. On a related note, I feel less alone now that I know so many other women suffer from anxiety, as I do too!

    10/29/15
    8:45 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Murphy, You are totally not alone. It’s so funny, I guess I always felt like the sensations of anxiety were just mine to bear, not to talk about as though they were a thing. But then I subtitled the blog, “style, some anxiety, and the raptures of living,” and then suddenly there it was. I don’t want to complain too much, I certainly don’t suffer as some do, but, on the other hand, if being open about my levels of it helps anyone, that’s great. Even if it only helped me, I guess:).

  • 11/01/15
    3:47 am

    Reply

    Caroline No said...

    ooooo, this is so interesting. I’ve recently given up drinking completely. I was at the 2 sometimes 3 glass of wine per night stage, reaching for the bottle as soon as my son had gone to sleep. Clearly not healthy. I have absolutely zero willpower, so knew a 1 or 2 a day rule was not going to work for me.

    So far I am at ten weeks, and have had a pint and a half at a gig. I’ve relaxed the NO drinking at all rule to a ‘drink for joy’ rule – holidays, weddings, Christmas… But I am feeling so much healthier without alcohol I’m pretty sure I will stay moderate.

    Until then I’m staying well away from it. I’ve drunk pretty consistently since I was young, and when I look at how many years that is it’s sobering in itself. Like you, I drink to take away stress, or to ‘blow myself up’ – I used to call it ‘letting off steam’, as I drank more than anyone else at the table/party.

    So now I’m having to stare the stress right in the face. It’s pretty dull. Sobering is a good word for it. I’m actually feeling pretty bored at the moment. But I’m hoping through the sobering boredom will come clarity. (I need to rethink my career path, for instance. So let’s rethink it, instead of drinking the thought of it away!)

    Here’s to your continuing healthy moderation. Isn’t the sleep thing GREAT?

    11/04/15
    8:16 am
    Lisa said...

    @Caroline No, Ah, million congratulations to you for having noticed this young. Sleeping is excellent, and boredom a spur to creativity, I think. I wish you fortitude and excitement that has nothing to do with intoxication.

  • 11/04/15
    6:17 pm

    Reply

    Bonnie said...

    My favourite line “I wanted to drink the way I wanted to, not the way the alcohol wanted me to.” That is me right now. I have known i have a problem for quite some time and even with liver test results showing me the hard evidence of where this could be heading, I am still in denial. It is a stress relief at the end of the day, it takes the edge off my impatience so I feel I am nicer to the kids, and it is the way we socialise. I feel so proud on the nights I don’t drink or can stick to one glass and so damned disappointed in myself when I polish off a bottle (like i did last night). Sadly, my body is so used to it, that i am still functional the next day. I am going to give your program a red hot go. I don’t think abstinence is the way to go for me. Thanks for your posts and sharing the journey.

    11/05/15
    7:18 pm
    Lisa said...

    Ah, yes, if the liver tests are bad you do need to do something more than what you’re doing now. It’s so hard to make that effort, and then disappoint yourself. I have found the key to be to remove as many decisions from the process as possible. If I want a glass of wine on Tuesday, I just can’t have it. As opposed to trying to drink “less” and then failing. I really empathize. Red hot go for it.

  • 11/06/15
    9:38 pm

    Reply

    Cathy said...

    I came back to this post to take it in again. I want to thank you for the way you have written about this; it really helps me to feel and understand what you experience (both the anxiety and the relationship to alcohol). I have some experience with addictive food behavior that I have partially untangled, but the triggers are different.

    You are brave and vulnerable in telling us about the way you are choosing to handle things.

    11/07/15
    7:36 am
    Lisa said...

    Thank you. In turn, your comment helps me to feel that the self-reveal isn’t too self-indulgent.

  • 01/04/17
    12:52 pm

    Reply

    Denise said...

    I logged on to your site to check out tge sequin jacket gift when I saw this posting. I don’t think I saw the first one. I have been trying to cut back myself as I just don’t sleep well when I drink a couple of glasses of wine. I think your approach is a good one and I hope it’s still working. I love to drink wine when I cook so I will try your grapefruit trick. So far I have found nothing that pleases me and like many said, after one glass, it is hard to not drink the next. I’m doing much better in limiting ,ysekf except New Years Eve!! Ugh. Stay well.

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