In the middle of my year at J School I was fond of joking to my friends that I had become an alcoholic.
This joke had great resonance because I have been known as such a health fiend that people still think I am a vegetarian decades after I became an omnivore, believe that I live at the gym, refuse to eat sugar or refined carbs, eschew coffee for green tea, down herbs and supplements and am generally virtuous to the point of obsession.
There is some justification for this image. I do go to the gym or exercise nearly every day of the week. I am on constant carb patrol. I only started drinking coffee in earnest in my late 30's and am a proponent of green tea and its healthful properties. I read food ingredients religiously. I took a course in herbal medicine. I enlisted midwives for the births of my two younger children...being greatly critical of the conventional medical approach to pregnancy and childbirth.
Therefore, the image of myself as a raging alcoholic was comical to me more than anyone else...in the way that it is amusing to see your straight-laced aunt get plastered at a family Bar Mitzvah.
As someone who barely needs substances to do wacky things, wine and tequila tend to push me waaaaay over the top. Which is a fun fact, except in the opinion of a select few family members who do not relish the sight of me singing in karaoke bars, dancing with strangers or making provocative pronouncements.
But the wake-up call came as I realized that the price of being constantly drunkish was -- HORRORS!!! -- weight gain.
After posting on Facebook about the dark lining on the silver cloud of drinking mid-summer, which sparked dozens of responses, I realized I wasn't alone. The battle of Booze vs. Body is waged by many, mostly women, it seems, though some men weighed in (pardon the pun) with one concerned fellow giving me his cellphone number in case I needed "to talk."
Yet I let things coast during the summer months, working by day, living La Vida Loca by night, becoming a 50-year-old party girl with eating habits that were more appropriate to, say, a teenage boy.
That is, potato chips suddenly became a food group in my personal pyramid. Ten string cheeses seemed an appropriate dinner choice. Popcorn was my friend. Pizza (okay, without the crust, but still) was a perfect lunch. Ooey gooey power bars looked like dinner. I wasn't eating a lot...just the wrong stuff.
HOWEVER...with the return to my urban life (farewell Love Shack, closed up this past Sunday!) the extra poundage has compelled me to change my lifestyle. After all, I've got miniskirts to rock, cute dresses to zip over my hips, bodices that do not accommodate my suddenly-zaftig bosom.
Stay tuned for news of my post-alcoholic life, which includes a nutritional overhaul as well. Farewell potato chips. String cheese, it's been good to know ya. There are other measures as well, including those that have to be squeezed, those that are sprinkled over salad and those that are sold at Vitamin Shoppe.
Also, as the daughter of a shrink, I'm curious to find out just what lies beneath my recently-discovered love of being blitzed, interested in seeing what my life looks like without the filter of booze, wondering whether my adventures in alcohol were just that...or something else; liquid escape, a form of self-medication.