Bikini Bod

Cutting alcohol out of my life was surprisingly easy. It started with a 30-day Dry June challenge, followed by a public declaration of identifying as sober curious. 

In this article on VeryWellMind, Sara Sheppard says being sober curious is about the option to choose, question, or change your drinking habits for health-focused reasons.

It’s not hard to see the immediate benefits of waking up without a hangover, being productive all day every damn day, and having the energy to work a day job and two side hustles.

But there is something I never anticipated to be the biggest struggle of being alcohol-free–and it has nothing to do with alcohol. 

It’s the new habit I picked up when I stopped drinking. It’s ice creaming. Yes, I’ve made it into a verb. 

I guess in addition to identifying as sober curious; I’m coming out as dessert curious. Meaning, after years of abstaining from sweets, I’ve found myself more interested in a candy bar than the actual bar. 

The new habit I’ve picked up has left me a little self-conscious about the extra calories I’m consuming, but here’s a little bit more about why I’m not mad about swapping habits. 

And you get a coping mechanism, and you get a coping mechanism, and you … get the picture. 

It might sound silly, but I really didn’t understand why I finally have a sweet tooth for the first time in the 39 years of my life. 

For the last three months, I’ve devoured ice cream or some other form of dessert almost every damn day. 

I’ve got a lot of shame wrapped up in food, eating, and body image — so it took a lot of courage for me to tell my therapist, “I stopped drinking, but I have no idea why I can’t stop eating ice cream.

It was especially vexing to me because I couldn’t blame lack of willpower. There’s a plethora of other temptations I can easily turn away. But why not this one? 

Admitting this addiction was like admitting I am an imposter. As a certified yoga instructor, I taut the benefits of clean eating, healthy living, and physical fitness. Plus, it’s dairy, for goodness sakes–how could I!

My therapist’s hot take: Comfort. That’s it. That’s the reason. I need comfort, so I’m craving comfort food. 

I’m using ice cream as a coping mechanism for the stress of living in a global pandemic, coupled with taking on a new job, buying a house, and unraveling a 15-year marriage. 

Yeah, that’s a lot. I’ll take ice creaming over binge drinking as a coping tool, thank you very much. 

I get it, though — everything in moderation. I can’t survive on vanilla custard with peanut butter cups stirred in. (Wait, can I?)

My therapist’s advice: Go easy on myself, and use my support system for comfort. 

Thank God, I finally found a tribe of people that support me unconditionally … and eat ice cream with me (*wink*). 

Why cheat days are dumb AF (IMHO).

Oh no, not popcorn math again.” My son would often complain when I started calculating my calories in the MyFitnessPal app. 

I used to pre-calculate my cheat treats. My son coined the term “popcorn math” because the most notorious offender of my calorie counting obsession was a bag of microwave popcorn. 

I guess the “secret” in Pop Secret is how many damn calories you’re actually consuming. I legit once spent 30 minutes in an algebraic equation trying to convert the calories listed in the volume of unpopped kernels to the 1/2 a bag I’d consume later that night. Spoiler alert: I still don’t know if I calculated that shit correctly. 

The mental stress of making sure I didn’t “overeat” was too damn much. 

Monday-Thursday would be spent carb-free and in a calorie deficit. Then the freakin’ weekend was all about Tito’s, añejo tequila, and dry AF red wine. The only problem is, I wasn’t just drinking my cheat calories–I’d eat all the things once I lowered my inhibitions with a few cocktails. 

That’s why it was all so dumb. I’d consume all the calories that were in my deficit all week. 

Macros, moderation, and mindfulness.

Nowadays, I don’t drink, and I eat a damn treat whenever I want. I only track my calories loosely–more so to make sure I’m getting enough of each macro (the caloric breakdown between carbs, protein and fats). 

Because I’ve been low-key considering going vegetarian, or at least more “meat conscious,” I need to make sure my plant-based foods are giving me the nutrients I need. 

I have to admit, I’ve been afraid to step on the scale, but when I finally broke down and did, I’m only about three pounds over my goal weight. I’m not mad about it. 

I’ve got to give myself a little grace. Being in a calorie deficit is just one thing I can’t stress about right now. I’m still consuming lots of healthy, whole fruits and vegetables, but I’ve removed the restrictions around certain food avoidance. 

A funny thing happened when I stopped avoiding particular food groups (like dessert) combined with the absence of alcohol. Since nothing is forbidden — and there’s nothing to lower my inhibitions — ice creaming has become a non-event. 

Meaning, I eat it, and I’m over it. There’s no guilt wrapped up in it. There’s no self-punishment in my workout the next day. 

I am mindful that I have adopted this habit. And even though I’d prefer to go back to eating it moderately, I’ve found it’s simply something I’ve accepted as part of my life right now. 

Maybe instead of Sober October, I’ll challenge myself to an ice cream-free October. That seemed to be the key to kicking off my sober lifestyle. Who’s in?

If you’re in evaluating your eating patterns and trying to find some grace in some bad habits you’ve picked up, I’m sending you all my peace, love, and ice cream.