Falling off the wagon, rolling in the dust awhile, and climbing back on
So Part II as promised. After I got back from my meditation retreat (with both limbs intact but not feeling as relaxed and refreshed as one might think), I had four days to recover and catch up on all my work before leaving for a long weekend with a friend. This was to be immediately followed by a weeklong workshop. In a previous post on the topic of my first business trip after going primal, I said I was worried the trip would propel me into a downward spiral of out-of-control drinking and eating from which I would not soon recover, well...
[B]Beginning to lose my footing[/B]
On the surface it didn't start out too badly. For our long weekend, I'd found an apartment for my friend and I so that we could cook instead of eating every meal out. And this worked pretty well, despite the fact that my friend is a vegetarian. I was cooking my primal meals and walking a lot and getting plenty of sleep and even doing Tabata burpees and meditating for 20 minutes a day. Actually sounds like I was doing great, doesn't it? In reality: my knees were already beginning to tremble from the effort of staying on the wagon.
Three things made it hard:
1) I was feeling stressed and guilty because in the four days before the trip, instead of catching up on my work (which was a pretty impossible task it must be said) and preparing for the workshop, I'd been indulging in Japanese bed therapy. Stress + guilt = strong desire for instant escape and nothing provides an instant escape quite like a smooth, velvety amarone or a dry, aromatic pinot grigio or [insert favorite wine here].
2) Also this friend and I have a history of drinking together. Most of my friends are not true drinkers; I mean they drink, but they are the sort of people who will leave half a glass of wine on the table, which kills me. I have to fight the urge to drink it for them. This friend is not like that - she really knows how to tie one on. But pre-trip I'd 'fessed up to her about my 1 - 2 bottle a day habit and asked for her help and, being a good friend, she agreed to no drinking, at least in front of me. But I missed it, the drinking. We hadn't seen each other for a while and she was also somewhat stressed and so we were both a little grouchy and I missed the easy camaraderie that comes with alcohol.
3) We were in Italy - the land of pasta and pizza and gelato. 'Nuff said.
But despite all this, I was still standing when I arrived at the conference center. I did not, as I did on the meditation retreat, pack my own food supply, partially because all those cans of fish are seriously heavy and would have put me over the weight limit on my flight, and partially because I'd thought it would be OK - I'd put that I was gluten intolerant on my registration form and had written in the comments "as long as you have protein and vegetables, I'll be fine." I should have known better and stocked up in-country. Hindsight 20-20 and all that.
As it was, I had little to no control over my food supply. Aside from breakfast, all of the meals were plated. You could still choose not to eat what was set in front of you of course, but that requires cast-iron control, which I do not have. Lunch was usually vegetarian - a risotto or potato pie or some other concoction of white carbs and veggies. This left me in a serious slump in the afternoon, invariably just when I was supposed to be presenting or leading a breakout group or contributing insightful commentary.
Dinner was OK...except for desert. It wasn't that I ate any - the waiters would bring out these gorgeous, mouthwatering confections, including, my favorite, tiramisu, and for gluten-free me: an apple or if I was lucky a nectarine. I tried telling myself, "this is so much healthier than what they're eating." You can imagine how well that worked. I would go back to my room feeling sorry for myself and devour the package of complimentary cookies that the housekeeping staff kept leaving, which weren't even that good and still left me feeling horribly deprived not to mention bloated.
But my real downfall: booze. They served wine with lunch and dinner, and before dinner there was prosecco on the terrace and after dinner there was brandy and Italian liquors with intriguing labels. I held out until prosecco on the terrace that first day when one of my fellow workshop attendees asked if he could get me a glass. I said (teetering on the edge of the wagon, arms pinwheeling), "Oh, no, that's OK." And he said, "Are you sure?" And of course I was not sure. I felt ill-prepared for the workshop and I was finding it difficult to put on my charming, "Hi, nice to meet you" face and so I was not sure at all. He got me a glass. And I was telling myself that I was only going to have that one glass...ok, maybe two, but that was it.
And amazingly, I stuck to it - gritted my teeth and made it through seven opportunities to imbibe without touching a drop. But by number eight, I was exhausted. When they popped the cork on that bottle of prosecco on the third day, I was there, glass in hand.[I] But [/I]I was still exercising some measure of restraint: not drinking at lunch and restricting myself to a couple of glasses on the terrace and at dinner. In other words, I was being dragged in the dust behind the wagon while I struggled to hold on by my fingernails.
[B]Rolling in the dust[/B]
By the time I got back home, I was a white knuckled mess. That's when I lost my grip completely. I went out and bought a bottle of my favorite cava, a pizza, and a package of gingersnaps, and got into bed with my laptop - all the shows that I'd missed while I was away queued up in iTunes. I told myself "OK, you can have the weekend; get it out of your system; come Monday, you're getting your act together." Come Monday I did not get my act together; come Monday I did not get out of bed.
Japanese bed therapy + binging on carbs, alcohol and bad TV-->
feeling horribly guilty and lame for my lack of self-control-->
resolving to climb back on the wagon-->
pouring any booze left in the house down the sink + buying lots of healthy food-->
feeling overwhelmed by all the stuff I have to do (or think I have to do) to climb back on the wagon-->
a retreat to Japanese bed therapy + binging on carbs, alcohol and bad TV while healthy food rotted in the crisper.
I felt terrible most of the time - except when I was drinking. I was ostensibly working from home, but wasn't producing anything. Co-workers were beginning to send concerned e-mails. It got to the point where I was ashamed to even leave the house because I didn't have the energy to wash my hair. I decided enough was enough. I reminded myself of how good I felt when I was on the wagon. How within just a couple of days of going primal, my energy levels and my mood improved.
[B]Climbing back on[/B]
And so I did it. I managed to get out of bed and stay upright for most of the day. I washed my hair and did some laundry and went to the market. I started cooking for myself again. I stopped drinking. I started returning my friends' calls and answering e-mail and reading Mark's Daily Apple again. I stopped lying (by omission) to my friends and my therapist. I asked for help. I made a list of work things I needed to do and started ticking them off.
And so the past week or so I've been doing pretty well, although I still feel kind of shaky. For example, I told myself I would work this weekend to try to minimize some off the fall-out from my three weeks of Japanese bed therapy. Probably not a good idea (as I noted before, stress + guilt = strong desire for instant escape). The cravings have come back and last night I ate half a 100 gram bar of dark chocolate and drank a glass of wine from the small bottle I'd intended for my venison marinade. Not terrible slips, but if your footing isn't that steady, before you know it, you're rolling ass over teakettle in the dust.
So why did this business trip go so differently than the first one?
1) I went in to it feeling stressed and guilty, i.e., already teetering on the edge.
2) I had no control over my food supply, which made me feel out of control generally.
3) It was longer - a day or so away from my routine is doable, a week apparently is not, at least not at this stage.
4) I didn't have a good support network - on the first trip I was with colleagues whom I know pretty well and like a lot, on this trip I was with a facilitator whom I know and don't like and a bunch of people I didn't know.
This is a monster of a post and it's been hard writing it all down, but I'm glad I did. I want to be able to go back and read this to remind myself of how bad it feels to fall off the wagon and how hard it is to climb back on and of the things that help and the things that hurt.
One of the things that helps is this forum, so I've decided that I'm going to try to post every day, at least to report on what I'm eating and drinking.
So for today:
Brunch - goat's milk latte + 3 egg omelette with asparagus and goat cheese (cooked with ghee)
Snack - goat's milk yoghurt (really hitting the dairy today) with dark chocolate, blue berries and walnuts
Appetizer - 3 pepperoncini stuffed with tuna (discovered these delicious little mouthfuls on my trip and found some here at an extortionately high markup)
Dinner (actual) - venison steak marinated in red wine and herbs (btw cooking venison - more challenging than one might think - kept stabbing it with a meat thermometer and it never did register above 45C/113F but turned out medium-well instead of the medium-rare I was aiming for), broccoli sautéed in ghee and garlic, green salad with tomatoes and vinaigrette.
Burning the midnight oil without frying myself
Last night I stayed up working till 3 to meet a deadline. Unfortunately, this is not so unusual for me - it's how I manage not to lose my job despite all the Japanese bed therapy. Pre-primal I would have fuelled myself on liters of diet coke and whatever I could find in the fridge. Sometimes I would use late nights as an excuse for a binge - I felt like forcing myself to work late took so much willpower that there wasn't any left for activities like guarding the cookie jar (not that I have a cookie jar - cookies don't hang around my house long enough to need storage).
But last night was a bit different - instead of diet coke I chose green tea (green chai in fact) and OK, I did continue to nibble into the wee hours, but on an organic, free-range, nitrate-free pork sausage instead of cookies (cookies were my favorite working binge food - I'm sure if you turned my old laptop upside down and shook it, a bunch of crumbs would fall out). In retrospect, I probably should have gone ahead and eaten a proper dinner when I got home from my class even though it was late, instead of taking a more tapas-like approach, but all in all a vast improvement. Out of curiosity, I plugged everything I ate yesterday into a calorie and nutrition counter - 40 grams of carbs and around 2000 calories, which considering it was a 21-hour day seems entirely reasonable.
I think I worked more productively, although brain was obviously beginning to shut down because instead of sending off the finished product to my colleague, I accidentally mailed him a much earlier draft, basically random natterings at that stage, so this morning he was thinking I'd finally gone completely off my nut. I was kicking myself, but gotta let it go. I was able to send the right version and now everyone is happy.
And I definitely felt better today than I would have expected. The usual post-all-nighter symptoms, such as bloat, irritation with...everything, feeling like my head is ready to fall off at the first puff of wind, did not materialise. Today I was not as sharp as usual, but I was sharp enough to make it through the day without fatally injuring or embarrassing myself. And I tried to be extra kind to myself - made sure I took the time for vitamins, and dog cuddling, and healthy food preparation. Speaking of which...
Breakfast: goat's milk latte
Lunch: BAS w/ mixed greens, watercress, a can of salmon, steamed asparagus, red and yellow peppers, sun dried tomatoes, walnuts and homemade vinaigrette + black coffee with cinnamon (I brought my own)
Snack: dried pork sausage (will I ever get sick of it?)
Dinner: left over goulash and sauerkraut (even better than the first time around) + spice tea
To compliment sprinting for trains, added stair climbing (probably about 20 flights over the course of the day - my organisation is spread out over 4th, 5th and 6th floor).
I wore a new dress today. I bought it last week - a size smaller than I have been wearing and it was tight, but the next size up was way too big. I debated, but in the end decided to be optimistic. Today it fit! OK, still a tiny bit tight across the bust, but not noticeably. Got several compliments:o