Monday, June 10, 2013

Not So Rosy

I was feeling a bit 'down' this morning. Might be hormonal. Might be Monday-itis. Might be the rain. Might be the fact that I indulged in quite a bit of rose wine this weekend. Since I don't drink hard liquor, different kinds of wines help keep things lively. So I usually have white, red and a sparkling wine on the go.

But lately I've  wanted to cut down on the carbon dioxide I ingest. Not that there's any serious need to worry about C02. Most studies have found it has no harmful effect on bones, digestion or other bodily functions.  But I'm like a walking ad for the Lowe's slogan: "Never stop improving." And I've been feeling a bit burp-y and bloated after sparkling wine lately, so I wanted to fix that. Just like I want to fix everything.

Because this plan isn't just about maintaining control over my drinking. It's part of a larger, overarching obsession I've had all my life with natural wellness. Meaning the tweaking never stops. I'm always experimenting with different health, beauty and fitness routines. Which is why I got in a bottle of rose wine this weekend instead of sparkling white.

Here's where the problem came in. We were watching the French Open (Roland Garros) on Saturday, in particular the super-fun match between Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova. I was enjoying an afternoon glass of rose along with the game.

The ladies were so competitive, so strong, so focused (not to mention gorgeous!) it was awesome to watch.  I'd see them bunching their fists when they scored - and I'd bunch my fists, too. I started making comments which felt a bit aggressive and tough. I thought  I was just getting into the match. But then I looked down at my glass of rose and I felt a trill of worry.

Was the rose wine making me aggro? 

Because the last time I had a bad blackout drunk was after drinking waaaay too much rose wine at a wedding in 2008. It was an awful night - I write all about it in the upcoming book. Terrifying, worrisome, guilt-inducing - because I'd already been on the plan for five years and my several-times-a-week vicious blackouts just weren't happening anymore.

I had to do some serious soul-searching recovering that weekend. And I came to some pretty amazing conclusions. But I also couldn't shake the fact that maybe - just maybe - the rose had something to do with it ...

I discovered rose wine in France in 1989. I was backpacking across Europe with the ex and we crossed the English Channel to St. Malo. St. Malo is an ancient walled city in Brittany, once the site of a 6th Century monastery. Over the years, it's become a popular resort town and it's absolutely breathtaking to visit. I had my first glass of rose wine - with ice - there that summer. It was a favorite all through France - and into Italy - so ever since, rose has been part of summer for me, too.

(btw rose gets its distinct coloring by different ways of "pressing" red grapes. The less time the skins have contact with the juice, the paler pink the wine will be.)

As much as I love rose, I'd never "binged" on it as much as I did the night of the wedding blackout. I don't even remember how many glasses I had. For no reason (except that I drank too much!) I got so angry, out-of-control and depressed. But did the mood come first? Or did the rose have something to do with it? I was also just coming off a 28-day cleanse, so overindulging was a definite no-no, but I still couldn't help but wonder ...

Do different kinds of alcohol have that much of an impact on my mood? 

Officially, whether we're sipping champagne or downing tequila shots, there is no chemical difference between the alcohol content of liquors. All drinking alcohol is ethanol. Therefore it shouldn't affect you any differently. However, all my life I've been aware of having different reactions to different booze. Rum makes me laugh and get silly. Rye makes me aggressive. Scotch turned my mother into a raging beast. Too much vodka can bring me down.

There are also lots of examples out there about how people feel they have different reactions to different types of drinks. So even if Chemistry 101 can't back it up completely, some people have at least a subjective awareness of different reactions to different booze.

As for my own response to rose, I  had two other glasses over the weekend and I was fine. So it might have been the Williams/Sharapova Effect. But I definitely plan on coming to a bona fide scientific conclusion over the summer. One way or another, it'll be one of the more enjoyable science experiments ever conducted. ;)

The reason I bring it up is because the plan can be so effective in helping you get control of your drinking quickly, that there might be a risk of taking it for granted. Despite the new ease and relaxation you might have about alcohol - which is such an improvement over worry and fear - I still wouldn't want anyone to feel they can totally let their guard down - even once they do have control.

Because you should continue to be conscious of your drinking - just as you should be conscious of everything that affects your life and health. That should include how different drinks affect your mood. How different people affect your mood when you're drinking. How the environment might influence how you feel when you drink.  If the time of day or week have anything to do with how you feel. And of course you should always be monitoring the amount you drink and how that affects you, too.

This vigilance isn't about being paranoid. It's not hyper-tense, nailing biting, white knuckle fear. No. It's just a mature, calm consciousness of not only our drinking, but everything that affects our physical and emotional health.

Because the plan is essentially about staying happy. And enjoying your life. And in order to do that, you've always got to be conscious about what brings you pleasure and what brings you anxiety. Since alcohol has such a complex effect on neural functioning and moods, we should always be aware of how it's affecting us - good and bad.

Luckily, these concerns are pretty few and far between. In fact, it was such a fleeting feeling on Saturday afternoon I wasn't even sure I should mention it (a post about celebrity rehab guru, Dr. Drew Pinsky had to get bumped). But I want to share the different feelings I have about alcohol as they come up. I believe the plan is a far-reaching, effective - even a self-correcting - way to reverse a drinking problem. However, we still have to bring our own responsibility to the mix.

So don't be afraid to monitor your own moods when you drink. Try to be conscious of what makes you happy - and what doesn't - when it comes to every aspect of your life. And that includes alcohol.

Like the ad says: Never stop improving ... and you won't ever stop improving. Or striving or growing or reaching or learning or searching or dreaming ...

Oh, but here's one improvement ... at least there was no more burping! :)