The date that many people abandon their New Year’s Resolutions, January 17, has passed. If you made New Year’s resolutions, I hope that you are still on your plan. Changes in oneself are the hardest changes to make. But when we are committed, we can change. In 2019 I made a commitment to myself to lose weight and to stop drinking alcohol. I stopped drinking alcohol on May 7, 2019, and I lost 35 pounds since. Before that May date, I had lost 10 pounds, so in the past year I lost 45 pounds, and (so far!) I have kept the weight off. Here is a little information about my story.
On May 7, 2019, a friend (my most frequent drinking partner) and I vowed to each other that we were going to stop drinking. I stopped drinking alcohol that day, more than eight months ago. I have said more than once that you can eat, or you can drink, but you can’t do both! That is not true for everyone, but it is true for many. And of course, healthy eating is more important than (unhealthy) drinking.
I attribute much of my weight loss to not drinking alcohol. I also became serious about Weight Watchers. Although I had been paying my monthly fee for several years (boy, I wish I had that money!) I was not committed to the plan. When I became committed and worked the plan, the plan worked. I made WW Lifetime (again!) on July 13, 2019, reaching my goal weight of 130 pounds. At my most recent WW weigh-in on January 2, 2020, I weighed 110 pounds. I may lose five more pounds, but I do not want to lose any more weight than that. I do want to firm up, especially in my legs and arms, and that will only happen with exercise.
I have thought a lot about what has been different for me and in me this time for me to be successful with my weight loss. There are several success factors.
Certainly, the alcohol is one part of it, but not the only variable. Weight Watchers is a big part of it. But I am the biggest part. For whatever reason, and I am not really sure why this time I became committed. I faced myself and decided that I was no longer going to be overweight, whatever it took to change that. I knew that Weight Watchers is the only diet plan that has ever worked for me once the diet ended, and although I have regained my lost weight more than once, I knew that was about me, not the plan. I also, according to a life coach friend of mine, stopped stuffing myself with food as a cover for other needs. (Thank you for the “stuffing” insight, dear Rivka.)
This time I became serious about working the WW plan. I have not missed a weekly weigh-in since I rejoined May 14, 2019, until I made Lifetime and my required weigh-ins became monthly, and I have not missed any of those. I have not gained any weight from week-to-week, losing every week since rejoining except one, and that week I maintained the weight I weighed the week before.
I also have been diligent about tracking my food intake, not missing a day of recording. I have also not eaten more points than I am allowed most days and I have not gone over my weekly point allowance any week. I am proof that if one works the plan, the plan works. And that is without exercising, not even exercise walking. I do need to exercise for health reasons, but I have not needed to exercise for weight-loss reasons. In my case, at least, weight loss is more about food intake than activity.
Now I am focused on maintenance, and I know from experience that this is the harder part. I have had the urge more than once to drink a glass of wine, but I have not done so. While I have said since May 7, 2019, that I am not saying that I will never drink alcohol again, this is a day-to-day decision. I have not found any good reason to start back drinking. For the most part, I am the same person I was when I stopped drinking, related to not being able to do “one and done.” So far, I have not been willing to take the risk to go back to my old habits, which I believe would result in weight gain.
What have I learned about myself these eight months? There are several lessons in this journey.
I believe that if I drink alcohol again, I will regain my weight. I choose to eliminate that possibility or probability. Additionally, I feel better, sleep better, and (my friends and family say!) I behave better, which I attribute more to the absence of alcohol than to the weight loss.
I strongly believe that a major key to my weight loss is the daily and even more often focus on my food choices. Tracking is required for me to keep up with what I have consumed. While we like to think we can manage that in our heads without writing it down, I can’t. There is something helpful about writing down what I have consumed as soon as possible after having consumed it, or even before. Knowing that I have a commitment to write everything down has helped me to not overeat or to avoid eating and drinking what is calorie-laden.
I have learned through this experience the power of habits. Thankfully my alcohol habit was not an addiction, or it would not have been as easy for me to just quit “cold turkey.” But we do not know when a habit will become an addiction. I choose to not take that chance again.
I have not changed the places I frequent or my friends. I still go to bars with others who drink alcohol and order iced tea or diet coke. I do not enjoy those places as much now, but I go, deciding that this change is my plan, not my husband’s or my friends’. I still buy wine for others, although I do not stock it unless I am expecting company that drinks it. I am not tempted to drink wine because it is in the house. Being able to frequent the same old places and keep wine in the house for others without being tempted to consume it myself are examples that (at least I believe,) my drinking was a habit, not an addiction. I am so grateful for that.
I feel lighter, physically and emotionally. I am proud of the person I am; not gloating, but proud. I have conquered something major, and I am proud of that.
I do not assume that I will ever be able to let the pressure off and eat or drink what I want. This is a lifetime plan for me, and more than in name only. I am committed to WW forever, and to tracking and monthly WW weigh-ins, and daily weight monitoring at home. I step on the scale at home every morning, and that works for me.
I do plan to begin exercise walking soon, and when I do that diligently, I will be able to consume more calories and not gain weight. But the “consuming more calories” is a slippery slope, and I plan to be careful about any behaviors that might result in weight gain.
I know my history, and I know history can repeat itself. I also know that it doesn’t have to.