Alcohol-Free Football Season Game Plan


Football season is upon us. I am giddy thinking about everything Fall. This has always been my favorite season. I love that the crisp weather necessitates jeans and a hoodie sweatshirt. I love taking our kids to the pumpkin patch and apple-picking. Having grown up going to college football games and coming from a family of diehard fans, I love watching NFL games on Sundays. And I love all the treats of the season, of course: fresh apple cider donuts, pumpkin spice coffee, pumpkin spice muffins, pumpkin beer –

Oh wait. There won’t be any of that this year.

Right. Alcohol-free Fall. Lazy sober Sundays watching football. Hmm. This will be… different.

In years past, pumpkin beer was a seasonal staple. Before I joined WeightWatchers in 2017, a typical Sunday evening spent watching the game would include a couple of pumpkin beers and half a large pizza, and then half a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, and maybe some wine. I would go to bed feeling buzzed and looking like I was well into a second trimester of pregnancy, my belly bloated to its max. I would wake Monday morning feeling gross, guilt-ridden, and paralyzed at the thought of having to start a new week.

Those days are behind me now. Half a large pizza is now one or two slices on the Sundays I choose to indulge. I always have a huge pile of veggies or a big salad along with it. And Enlightened ice cream occupies Ben & Jerry’s former freezer drawer. I feel good that I’ve reformed my eating habits. And I do not miss that pizza-and-beer-belly.

But I’m a little nervous about facing my first-ever alcohol-free football season. I felt momentarily sorry for myself walking past the pumpkin beer at the grocery store yesterday. So I decided, much like Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, I’ve got to get my head in the game. Time to strategize how I’m going to not just survive – but enjoy! – football season without booze. No pity parties allowed at this sober tailgate, people.

Here is my game plan:

1. Exercise – I have been doing #Peloton rides on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Gotta keep this up because it puts me in a healthy mindset to start the day, and it’s easier to stick to good habits when I’ve worked out.

2. Hydration is everything! And now that it’s getting cooler I will start drinking tea again. Water, tea, seltzer, and the occasional Propel when I want something sweet make for a deep and diverse beverage line-up.

3. 1-SmartPoint hot dogs and 3-SmartPoint chicken brats – I discovered these at the grocery store and the brats in particular are delish! A great substitute for the fattier stuff. I’ll add sauerkraut for the probiotic benefits, and to help to offset the small batch artisanal tortilla chips I refuse to give up.

4. Fruit and veg – Load up on ‘em! Always.

5. Most importantly: remember why I really love football season – I don’t love it (just) because it’s an excuse to eat small batch artisanal tortilla chips. I love it because football is entertaining and provides plentiful opportunities for family snuggles and relaxation. We love teaching our kids about the game and our favorite players. Watching a game together on a Sunday afternoon is a welcome pause in the action of the school year and busy extracurricular schedule. Football time is family time, and that is why I really love it. I never loved it for the booze. I just had football and booze intertwined in my subconscious. Let the re-wiring commence!

So, as much as I am feeling a slight pang of longing for pumpkin beer, I am feeling a deeper pang of excitement at the thought of experiencing our family football bonding – and everything else I love about Fall – with complete clarity and presence.

Clear eyes, full heart, can’t lose.

Who’s Got the Power? My First Year on Weight Watchers

Today is my one-year Weight Watchers anniversary.

Am I at my goal weight? No.

I am at my original goal weight, and that is ok. Because this past year has been about so much more than that.

My original goal weight has become my new “I feel puffy and need to get back on track” weight. That’s where I am today. And after three weeks of craziness (international travel with two young kids, a family case of strep throat, then head colds, and currently on day five of a power outage), I am ok with that.

I am more than ok. Because I have something that I didn’t have a year ago, when I set out on this journey. I have faith in myself. I believe in myself. I know exactly what I am doing and I know that I will get back to where I want to be.

Right now I am stress-eating. We have been out of our house for four days and out of our routine for three weeks. While I have managed to spend some of that time on the wagon, I’ve also allowed myself to give into my go-to cravings: tortilla chips, Nutella, and chocolate. I wish I were stronger. I wish I didn’t resort to junk food as a “reward” in times of stress. Because, of course, putting this crapola into my body is not a reward. It’s a burden. A moment of pleasure that instantly weighs me down mentally and physically. And that weight lasts a lot longer than the fleeting pleasure.

But I do it anyway. And I accept that. For now.

Because I’m in this for the long haul. I’ve run two marathons in my life. This is my third.

When I joined WW a year ago, I was desperate. My eating and drinking were out of control. I was squeezing into my clothes. I had little energy and patience. Working out felt like a hopeless chore. I needed some structure and someone else’s rules to follow because I wasn’t sticking to my own.

WW has opened a door to an existence that I didn’t believe was possible. I used to think my old weight was just the way my body was going to be after having two kids. I used to think it was fine to eat whatever I want because nothing would ever change. I used to think I would never be able to control my alcohol cravings. I felt disgusting. And, finally, fed up.

I didn’t know what else to do. So I joined WW. I stepped through that door. And while I have not yet arrived at my ultimate destination, I left the first 20lbs behind. Confidently over the threshold, I closed the door and flipped the deadbolt. I will never see those 20lbs again. The next five are hanging on for dear life, and the five after that still feel somewhat out of reach. But this is a journey. This is a marathon. I haven’t crossed the finish line, but I haven’t hit the wall either. I’m still going strong.

One year in. I wish I could have posted dramatic before and after photos, but I wasn’t up to it today. So I got a pedicure. I’d show it to you, but I forgot to shave my toes and my left big toenail is still growing back after a nasty incident with a pair of pointy-toe flats.

But under these Converse All-Stars, beneath my socks, my toenails are painted a fierce, sassy and confident shade of neon watermelon.

And under my stress-eating-induced bloat, beneath my sweatshirt and leggings, I am a fierce, sassy and confident person and mama and athlete and writer and warrior and wife.

I’ve been writing this post throughout the day. Between grocery trips and school runs and karate classes, amidst not knowing when or if our electricity would be restored before the next storm hits in a matter of hours.

And guess what? The power – finally! – came on.

We have power.

I have power.

THAT is what I have taken away from my first year on Weight Watchers. I. Have. Power.

And I take responsibility. For the good decisions and the bad. I alone have the power to learn from these decisions. And I am. I am learning so much about myself and I am becoming a better person and mom and wife every day.

Because every day leads me closer to the me I want to be. She has eluded me over the years. And at times I have almost lost her.

But not this time. Not ever again, I hope.

Because I have the power now.

Who’s the Boss

UGH. I have been in a sugar-and-salt spiral all week. I haven’t posted for awhile because I kept expecting myself to emerge from it so I could post something victorious: “I was in a spiral but I got myself out and now I feel amazing!”

But that is not my reality. In reality, I just ate two bowls of cereal.

This week, I have latched on to every excuse I can think of and raided my pantry with an embarrassing level of determination to dig and find any remaining chocolate from Christmas. The only tortilla chips I didn’t eat are in the bag that I bought my husband for Valentine’s Day (and covered in sticker hearts, so romantic) because I ate the other bag that I bought him when he was sick. My self-control has gone completely out the window and I feel disgusting.

But let’s focus on the positive. I completed my goal of four workouts. And after today’s 6am spin (live from Pyeongchang! Did anyone else do that Peloton ride? So fun!!) I completed a 10-min abs workout WITHOUT STOPPING. This is a big NSV for me because I have been attempting this same workout for months and this is the first time I have done it all the way through without taking a break.

My other NSV is that I have had no wine or other alcohol at home all week. My eating is out of control right now, but my drinking is completely in control. Completely. In. Control. As embarrassed as I am about my eating, I need to give myself permission to feel proud. Because just six weeks ago I never thought I would be in control of my drinking. I never thought I could make it through a witching hour without either white knuckles or a drink in my hand. I’ll admit that I have been more tempted this week than in previous weeks, and I’m sure that’s related to the fact that I have consumed epic amounts of crap. Vicious cycle and whatnot. But I AM breaking from that vicious cycle. I am no longer a wino, no longer a lush. My kids no longer see me clinging to my “mommy juice” every evening like my life depends on it.

I wish I had it all under control. If I had eaten clean this week as planned, I would be feeling amazing right now. On top of the world. But I’m not. I don’t have it all under control. I am not stronger than my food cravings right now, and that is incredibly frustrating.

But I own you, alcohol cravings. I am in charge. I’m the boss of you. And you are getting weaker and weaker. You tried to take advantage of me when I was spiraling this week, but I didn’t let you. Because I’m getting stronger and stronger.

So today I vow to forgive myself for my pantry trespasses. I vow to learn from my behavior this week, to remember how crappy I feel, to understand why I binged the way I did. And the next time the pressures of life make me want to stuff my face, I will do better.

Post-Binge Reflections

Not a perfect day. But a better day. I accept that, and I am so grateful. Weight Watchers has given me the ability to bounce back and the permission to forgive myself and move on from heinous snack attacks (and last night’s was truly epic) with grace. To move on with self-love and confidence even in the darkest and most embarrassing moments.

I consumed 96 smart points yesterday (I am given 23 smart points each day). About 15% of those points were healthy. The rest was absolute crap. I ate so much I felt sick. Part of me was hoping I’d actually throw up, and that is a disgusting and scary place to be. Thanks to my wonderful hubby I was able to laugh just enough to not be completely overcome with misery. We joked about the tortilla chip-chocolate-caramel corn baby in my belly and how I was experiencing third trimester discomfort coupled with first trimester nausea. Yeehaw!

That snack devil baby caused me to have sugar sweats all night. My daughter woke me at 3:30am and I was drenched, had a horrible taste in my mouth, and actually smelled bad! EWW. It was as gross as a bad night of drinking. And while I’m proud I didn’t drink, my eyes (and nostrils, sorry, TMI) are now open to the impact of overindulging in sugar and salt. It ain’t pretty and it ain’t cute.

One of my very wise and thoughtful friends on Connect reminded me today to think about what I’ve learned from Annie Grace and This Naked Mind and apply it here. She reminded me that WILLPOWER IS A FINITE RESOURCE. (Any lightbulbs going off for anyone else??)

I am already frayed from travel prep and helping my son and husband through yucky viruses last week. I used a LOT of willpower at a lunchtime play date yesterday, and then the afternoon struck, and various life stressors pushed me past being able to white-knuckle myself to dinnertime. I remain amazed and thrilled that I had no desire to drink. And now the realization that I can apply Annie Grace’s guidance to eating and not just drinking will be hugely helpful.

The picture above is a portrait of me that my daughter – then age 3 – drew of me the day before our family embarked upon our second cross-country move in 8 months. Yeah, I was a little stressed out during that time in my life. Not surprisingly, I was also at my heaviest weight. I laminated the drawing and keep it constantly at hand, as a reminder of what true stress really is and how the way we react and adapt obviously impacts our children.

In the grand scheme, last night’s sober snack binge is not a big deal. Nor is the fact that I’ve gone over my points again today. What’s important is that I am learning from every step of this journey – the steps forward as well as the steps back. And if I can stay in a place of gratitude and receptivity and resilience, one of these days I’ll turn around and see that I’m far beyond where I ever thought I could be.

Supermom Yesterday, Schlump Today

I am not going to make my workout goal this week. I am not going to make my blue dot goal this week either. This is, of course, discouraging. And I fear yet another gain when I step on the scale for my weigh-in tomorrow. But after Supermomming it while my husband was bedridden with a nasty virus yesterday, I had a restless night of sleep sequestered with my two dogs in our tiny and remarkably stuffy guest room (no one has ever complained! Our house guests are too polite!).

I woke up with legs that felt like jelly and a face so puffy I had to second-guess whether or not I drank a bottle of wine last night. I didn’t, of course, which made the puffy face feel very unfair. Cue the pity party! Let’s bake! And so I did.

Today I’ve been trying to focus on self-care while ticking off necessary to-do’s and not falling too far into my current slump. I WANT TO EAT ALL THE THINGS. I have already eaten too many tortilla chips. Bought them yesterday using the excuse of bringing my sick hubby his favorite snack – and I’ve eaten half the bag. Ughhh!!! Oh, and I’ve also had three slices of the Mudhustler Elvis Cake I made. Wtf?!! Get it together!

I am down to a wee pile of weeklies to get me through the rest of this day. I am determined to at least stay within my points. And so I will.

But I’m otherwise feeling frustrated and thinking I need to focus more on portion control and also not eating so much processed food. My stomach has not been happy with me all week. I’m determined to figure out how to make Freestyle work for me instead of against me but I think I’ve just taken too much advantage of the zero-point foods and tempting hacks that I see on Connect.

We leave for London in six days. I am not going to track while we’re there so I really want to get ahead of it and get on that plane feeling svelte and energized. Right now I feel like I’m at the bottom of a mountain of tortilla chips.

Oh but I’m not drinking! At least there’s that!

Dry January Day 30

Pictured here is a little vignette I like to call “Husband Working Late: 2018 vs. 2017.” On the right side we have how I would have handled a weeknight solo prior to Dry January. On the left side we have my night tonight. Either way, #imomsohard (obviously) and that pint of Enlightened Snickerdoodle is SO going down (only 7 smart points!). But besides the glass and the ice cream, I am gobsmacked by how my habits have changed in just 30 days.

I had another dream last night that I drank an entire bottle of wine and actually woke myself up in a panic before the relief of reality set in. As much as I dislike interrupted sleep, I have to have a moment for how refreshing it is to wake up and feel relief instead of regret!

Tonight when I was putting this photo op together, even just holding the bottle of wine made me feel very strange. I’m still not ready to say goodbye forever, I don’t think. But even though my husband won’t be home until late and I have a rare and welcome night to myself I was not tempted to open that bottle AT ALL.

At the beginning of this month, and in fact for several months and years prior, I never could have imagined getting myself to a place like this. A place of zero temptation. It feels like a miracle, truly.

So I’m going to relish the silence in my house and have a moment for mama. Some time to reflect and celebrate. To feel exactly where I am mentally and emotionally as the last day of January looms beyond tonight’s full moon.

Am I ready for it? I’m not ready for it! Am I?

Yes, I am. Yes I am.

Dry January Day 27

I am staking my claim. Planting my flag into the dirt of this beautiful day. Posting early so that I can spend the rest of the day being totally present and productive with my family and focusing on clean eating.

Today I shall #SaturSLAY. It’s on, y’all.

Workout done: another awesome #ww_warrior Peloton ride, onto which I tacked 15 minutes of abs and 10 glorious minutes of stretching.

Today I will score a blue dot which eluded me yesterday as I dug deep into that damn bag of small batch artisanal restaurant-style tortilla chips. (Why can’t I quit you???)

And no booze of course!

The sun is shining, the deep freeze has lifted, it’s Day 27 of Dry January, and I’ve left yesterday in the dust.

It’s a good day to slay. How will you slay today?

Photo credit: my 6-year-old daughter (who can’t read yet – ha!)