On my birthday last year, I made a list of 40 things I wanted to accomplish before I turned 40 (March 1st). I have a few weeks left and there are a few of those goals that I either failed or abandoned (impossible to complete before the deadline), but I’ve completed the majority of items on that list. Of the eight that are left, two of the really big ones will be complete today: go 100 days without a binge, and go 100 days without any alcohol.**
This is not the first time I’ve gotten close to that 100-day mark in the last year. During the summer, I’d gone 93 days without a binge before anxiety took over. It was only a small binge (half a bag of popcorn and two cookies), but the mentality of a binge was there nonetheless, and I started the clock over. I tend to binge when I’m having a lot of anxiety, particularly if I don’t know the root of that anxiety (which makes me even more anxious). I’ve worked really hard over the last year to try to get this habit in check. I wasn’t a binge-eater before life fell apart in 2014, and I’d like to minimize this destructive disorderly eating as much as possible. Since my last birthday, I’ve only binged on 11 days. Several of those were in-a-row days, and so if I combine those into one long uber-binge, that cuts down to only 8 binges. Today is Day 100 of my current streak, and I plan to continue that streak as long as possible. I’m trying to teach myself longterm habits to handle and deal with binge-inducing emotions without attacking my body with food.
My reasons for trying to go without alcohol for 100 days straight were twofold. First, I’d noticed that I tend to eat a lot more when I drink alcohol, especially wine. This is true even if I drink only a small amount. Looking at the situation from a bodily perspective, I’d guess this is my body’s way of protecting me from dehydration and all those hangover-like effects of alcohol. Notably, I’ve never had a hangover. Even when I’ve been smashing drunk, I’ve had no hangover, probably because I tend to eat a ton of food and drink lots of water at the same time that I drink. The only times I don’t overeat while drinking alcohol are when I haven’t had anything to drink in awhile and I’m in a social dinner situation (having a glass of wine at my dad’s house or out at a restaurant with family, for instance).
Second, I seem to hold onto weight for weeks after drinking, and I wanted to see if going for a long period of time without alcohol would help me lose weight. A couple times over the last year, I went 35-40 days without any alcohol and that did seem to help me with weight loss. However, the effectiveness seems to diminish after about a month, as far as I can tell with so little data. The effects of a glass of wine on rare occasions don’t seem to undo or stop weight loss, either – only if I’m having alcohol regularly or in large quantities. This makes sense given the bodily self-protection mode I discussed above. So I’m going to continue to abstain from alcohol today, on my day 100, but tomorrow I’ll have a glass of wine when Jason and I go out for Valentine’s day. Afterwards, I’ll just keep that to the very occasional glass on special gatherings and cut completely again if my weight starts to suffer.
**Note: Despite these two goals beginning/ending on the same day, the two don’t always go hand-in-hand. Last summer, for instance, I went 93 days without binging despite alcohol being a regular part of my diet. I just happened to have my last binge on a day that also included alcohol.