Monday, August 29, 2011

Day 6 - Mixed Drinks

I can't believe it's already Day 6! I actually wrote Day 5 up there and then had to recount! This is the by far the fastest and easiest cleanse I've done so far - and the first weekend, which is always the hardest, is already over!

Discovered a great new drink for brunch yesterday. I often have a morning glory (sparkling wine and orange juice kind) with brunch when we cook at home or especially if we go out. Yesterday we stayed in and made omelets and fresh home fries. As we started cooking, I realized I missed not being able to sip my fizzy morning glory. I didn't necessarily miss the kick of alcohol - and if so, just for a second and I just took a deep breath (breathe through your cravings when you get them ... it's a great trick.) But I miss the fresh fizziness of the drink itself.

So I mixed up an interesting new concoction. I bought a bottle of Pom Wonderful the other day because it has just so many wonderful health claims. Along with it I got a bottle of lemon-flavored Perrier. Yesterday before brunch I was so craving some fizzy fun that I mixed a few ounces of Pom and topped it off with lemon-flavored Perrier in a champagne glass. It wasn't too sweet, had a bit of kick to it and that lovely fizz. Plus the glass made it seem special. I let my husband taste it and he was a bit confused by how much I liked it, but I thought it was an excellent - and healthy - accompaniment to a "dry" brunch.

You may not like this one, but experiment with different juices and other drinks. Mix them together, add them to plain water. The Pom Wonderful is so concentrated I just needed about a couple of tablespoons in water yesterday to make a nice refreshing option to H20. Plus I think at room temperature it would be a great substitute for red wine. Will try it on the next pasta night.

Having said the fun stuff, we watched the MTV Video Music Awards yesterday and Russell Brand - charming and gorgeous as he is - pissed me off ever so slightly by talking about Amy Winehouse's "disease" in his (very lovely) memorial to her. Of course, Russell is a member of A.A. and N.A. himself and it seems to be working out for him. I'm delighted about that. And it reminds me that there are people out there who may not be able to handle a life of cleansing.

I've known for many years that there is a "scale" of alcoholism. But perhaps it's even more complex than I thought. Maybe there are people whose problem qualifies as a "disease." Who cannot get through a weekend just drinking Pom Wonderful and Perrier. And maybe there are some of us who can.

A.A. insists that anyone who can stop drinking on their own is not an alcoholic - no matter what the NADD quiz says about a "scale" of alcoholism. I don't qualify as an alcoholic in any way for them. Never did - because I was able to do that six-month cleanse.

Listen, if you're finding dry weekends too much, if your withdrawal symptoms go beyond wanting a little fizz with your brunch, really search your soul and decide whether or not you need serious help with your problem.

However, if cleansing is working for you, if you find it challenging but helpful, congratulations! It's going to get even better and easier for you. I had a wonderful sober weekend with countless - absolutely countless - moments of fun and joy and happiness. I've said it before, but being happy when I'm sober is one of the greatest gifts of cleansing. I wish you many, many sober happy moments - whether you're cleansing or whether your join A.A.!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Day 5 - Fun with Fractions

Discovered a great new drink last night: Pom Wonderful pomegranate juice. I watered it down because it's very concentrated and like all fruit juices high in sugar. But with all the good stuff you're getting in there, it's worth it. Polyphenol anti-oxidants to fight free radicals, vitamin C for collagen and muscle health, Vitamin K for blood coagulation, Potassium for lower blood pressure and strong bones, iron for the production of hemoglobin, and even fiber to help reduce bad cholesterol and maintain digestive regularity. Always lovely to discover a healthy new drink on a cleanse.

My first Friday and Saturday nights are over. That's always a big milestone. It's actually been the easiest and most pleasant cleanse I've taken so far. I'm not sure if the timing has anything to do with it, but I do know that cleanses get easier with each cycle. This one, however, has proven it to me beyond the shadow of a doubt.

But if you're flagging, I've found that it's fun to "fraction" your way through your cleanse. After day 2, you're 1/14th of the way through. After day 4, you're 1/7th of the way through. After day 7 you're, 1/4 of the ... well you get the point. You'll notice how quickly you're actually doubling your accomplishment. Once you start getting to 1/2 and 3/4, it really gets exciting. You never had this kind of fun in algebra class.


Friday, August 26, 2011

Day 3 - Easy Does It

It's already Friday. I know my first whole week isn't done, but hitting that first Friday is a bit of a milestone. I am now completely confident in recommending Wednesday as the start of any cleanse because it makes that first week go by so much faster.

Yesterday afternoon we had an appointment with our banker. We had about 45 minutes to kill and my husband hadn't eaten, so we decided to go to a restaurant across the street for a little bite. This is a resto I've been in about a million times since the 1980s. Meaning I've had about a billion drinks there. My husband was really surprised that I suggested it. He kept asking, "Are you sure?" But I'm sure now, yes I am. I can handle anything when I cleanse.

We were lead to a nice table on the covered patio and I nursed the top half of a cranberry & H20 and picked at his fries. It wasn't quite as fun as when we're drinking - but the place is not known for it's 10 oz glasses of wine (like many of my fave haunts) so it's not as if I was missing that much of a buzz. It was completely painless!

While we were ordering, I told my husband he could have a beer if he wanted. Last night on the couch, he actually teared up. "You looked me in the eyes and made me believe that it was okay to have a beer," he said. And that's because it WAS okay. We talked a bit more about the whole idea of cleansing - and he was still emotional. He's so proud of me, he says. He really believes in cleansing - the whole idea of it, no matter how fresh or new it is. Because it's helped us so much.

I believe in it, too.

Having said that ... I am staring down the barrel of my first weekend ... wish me luck!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Day 2 - Smooth Sailing

That was the easiest first day of a cleanse I've ever had. Plus the little snap of fall in the air, it seems to be preparing me - as it always did - for a new time in my life. And that's what a cleanse is ... it's a break, it's a retreat, it's a journey, it's a change.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Day One

Well, it's that time again. It's a bit of an overcast morning - and I'm feeling the effects from a day and night of partying. I had a glass of wine at a matinee yesterday (love those VIP screening rooms! Saw "The Whistlerblower" - a true story about human trafficking in war-torn Serejevo in the late 90s. Excellent movie but absolutely harrowing. Go see!). Then I had a glass of rose out on the balcony with the hubs. There was sparkling wine before dinner, red wine with pasta, and a glass of white in there somewhere too. I basically subjected my body to every kind of wine I could. And this morning when I woke up feeling a bit of a hangover, I knew I was "ready" to cleanse.

Now you don't HAVE to overdo it before a cleanse, I just find that indulging a bit more than usual really helps me be "ready" for a cleanse - plus it's really fun, too. And it's the unpredictability and lifestyle variety of the plan that helps it work so well.

It really does help to feel "ready" for a cleanse. It's nice when it feels right. And today, it feels right. Strangely, on Monday, when I thought that was my last day, I felt a little reluctant. It's not unusual to feel that to some degree when you start cleansing - it happens, but it also goes away quickly. Because anticipating a cleanse is actually worse than being on one.

But when it made so much more sense to change my start day to today - Wednesday instead of Tuesday - I really enjoyed that extra day. I savored every sip of wine. I smiled lovingly at my wine glass several times during the day. But then, last night ... what was left of it went down the drain.

Wine is like a friend that way. A friend who goes on vacation every now and again. And it's okay when that friend is away because I get some much-needed me-time. And most importantly, behind all this fuzzy-wuzzy stuff is the fact that yes, I must break up my exposure to an addictive substance because I've been addicted before. It is for my health and happiness that I cleanse ... and I know that in my heart because I see (and feel) the improvement in my life as the years go by. It's almost as if cleansing becomes a spiritual time for me. And to tell you the truth, I've never felt so welcoming of one yet. I've noticed this, too - cleansing not only becomes easier each time, it also becomes more enjoyable. Which is another reason I really feel "ready" today.

And so ... happy cleanse!

"I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence and insanity to anyone ... but they've always worked for me."
Hunter S. Thompson

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

:)

Here's a great idea I just discovered: plan your cleanse for a certain day and then if it makes sense, postpone it another day!

My husband and I were at lunch on a patio yesterday afternoon. It was such a beautiful day and I was having a big glass of white wine and pasta, enjoying a late August patio day for the first time in years (since I usually cleanse all through August) and certainly the last one in August for me this season - that includes wine, anyway.

I explained to the hubs that if I started my cleanse on a Tuesday (today), then I'd be coming off it on a Tuesday which is not only generally an off-night - but also the night of a new class I'm taking next month. So it will be an off-night anyway. We had plenty of wine in the house for another day so it made a lot of sense. I decided to start the cleanse tomorrow (Wednesday) instead. Meaning one whole other day of partying.

I had such a great day yesterday. After lunch - at which I had two glasses of wine - we went shopping. Then last night we had dinner at our favorite Indian restaurant. The meal is actually fine to eat without wine, so we do go there when I'm cleansing - but the spicy food is extra special with wine. So it ended up being such a great day - and I have one more to enjoy.

Tonight it will be spaghetti and meatballs - and red wine. Plenty of it. Then tomorrow, the cleanse will begin ... That's how to turn that frown upside-down. :)

Monday, August 22, 2011

:(

It's my last drinking day before my second semi-annual cleanse. I put a "sad-face" up there because to be honest, the day is sometimes a bit sad. You've had so much fun partying in the weeks leading up to the cleanse, you've usually gone for dinner with your fun drinking-friends, spent extra time at family barbecues, started your weekends with morning glories ... sigh ... and that's all over for 28 days.

But hey - I'm not gonna be too down about it because the cleanse starts tomorrow. I still have today to party!

Plus I also know that this is just a temporary feeling. Because I know how good cleansing is for me, I know how fast time goes by, and I know that they bring much happiness and joy of their own kind to my life when I'm on them. I think waiting for them to approach is worse than actually being on one. So don't feel too sorry for me - it's not all :(. There's lots of :) too.

Will check in again tomorrow ... probably hung over!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Countdown Time

So it's the last full week of drinking for me. My summer cleanse starts next Tuesday.

We were out with another couple for dinner last night - to a groovy, dimly-lit neighborhood spot. I had three glasses of white wine. That's usually more than I have with a meal but we were partying and I was feeling fine.

But when the waitress came around and asked if we wanted another round, my friend looked across the table at me. We'd been keeping pace with each other so her third wine glass was empty, too. "Do you want one?" she asked me. I said 'no.' I honestly didn't feel like a fourth. I thought I'd be too drunk. But she went ahead and ordered a glass of red and I had a few sips of that.

We all walked home on a lovely, balmy summer night. It was a great evening. Lots of laughter and storytelling and great food. But I was pretty proud of myself, turning down a glass of wine about five days from starting a cleanse.

What is happening to me? Am I becoming a prude?

Just kidding. But I am impressed that even this close to a cleanse, not only do I have control, but I'm making wise choices without feeling ripped off at all.

I'll really have to make up for it this weekend. ;)

Friday, August 12, 2011

I'm fine, thanks.

Last night, the hubs and I went to a patio for dinner and drinks. There were six of us altogether, sitting outside on a midsummer night as the sun started to go down. We had a wonderful time, with much laughter and storytelling.

The wine was served in 8 oz carafes with a big empty glass; I like that. It's always fun to top up your wine glass - it's very elegant and it feels as if you're getting more.

I had two carafes of the Faccioli Pinot Grigio 2009. When I was getting down to the end of the second, I noticed everyone else was finishing up their second drinks, too. It was still pretty early and the waitress came over to ask if we wanted another round. We were staying for a while, but most everyone was driving, so nobody ordered another.

I don't drive - so naturally, I didn't have to worry about that. And it was clear from the mood of the gang and how much water and/or booze everyone had to finish that we were still going to be there for a while to finish up. I wasn't drunk so I know the hubs wouldn't have had a problem if I wanted to have another drink. Especially since my next cleanse is coming up in less than two weeks.

But you know what? I didn't order one.

That in itself is a pretty big milestone, considering in the old days I would've pounded back at least one more carafe, if not two. But more importantly is this:

I didn't CARE if I had another one.

I honestly didn't care one way or another. After the waitress left with my empty wine glass, I didn't feel resentful or bitter or anxious. I wasn't sitting there fidgeting and bored, waiting to leave so I could drink more at home. Which is exactly the way life was before I started cleansing.

To me (other than the fabulous company) that was the great gift of the night. Not only did I not drink too much - but I didn't care when I wasn't drinking at all. To anyone with a drinking problem, you know what a relief that would be. Being able to take or leave another drink without ruining your mood. But that's the freedom and control that cleansing can give you. And I am so grateful for that on this wonderful sunny Friday morning.

Plus I don't have a hangover. :)

Friday, August 5, 2011

Party on ...

My dance card is filling up as my next 28-day cleanse approaches. This is the first August since 2003 that I've been drinking. I usually cleanse in August, but since travel plans changed my February cleanse to March, August is now a drinking month for me.

And is it ever. I was at lunch with a friend yesterday and we had a bit too much wine to drink. I sent her home in a cab, laughing all the way. Then I came home and took a nap.

I'm feeling that lunchtime indulgence this morning though. I made myself a cup of Milk Thistle tea for detoxing. But I'm also steeping my own blend of anti-inflammatory tea right now, too. It's delicious and simple and all natural. If you're nursing a bit of a hangover, give it a try. The soothing blend of spices will help settle your whole system.

In a tea-ball or loose tea caddy, place:
4-6 cardamom pods, scored with a knife.
6-8 black peppercorns
6-8 whole dried cloves
1 stick of cinnamon
1 slice of fresh ginger (or plain ginger tea bag)

Place all ingredients in a cup of very hot water and let steep for 15 minutes. Add sweetener if you like, but I usually don't.

To tell you the truth, I think I'm going to need more than natural anti-inflammatory tea to recover today. But that's okay because my cleanse is coming up. I can tell my body needs it. But so does my life. I am - believe it or not - actually looking forward to it.

But for the next two weeks or so, I will be busy catching up with friends and relatives I might not see while I'm cleansing. So cheers! :)