Time To Stop My W(h)ining

[See updates at the bottom of the post.]

I love wine. My love of the wheat, amber, and ruby-coloured drink only comes second to my love of food in general. 

My husband and I share a bottle or part thereof nearly every evening with dinner. It complements a meal nicely and it's just one of those lovely treats in life that makes every day that much sweeter.

So, why am I going to quit for a while?

My favourite during the WDS "Portland Experience" a local wine, beer and food tasting. This Portland-produced Viognier by Hip Chicks was delicious.

My favourite during the WDS "Portland Experience" a local wine, beer and food tasting. This Portland-produced Viognier by Hip Chicks was delicious.

I'm finding that I've developed quite the hedonic adaptation to this nectar of the gods. I've come to expect a glass or two with dinner. My body anticipates the warm feel that the first sip of a good red wine before the bottle is even open. I like the mellow feeling that ensues by the end of the meal--artificial relaxation in a glass bottle. I'm taking it for granted. It's become an expectation and, as a result, I'm enjoying it less. 

I also think that a slight wine buzz is an excuse to mellow out and check out of life at the end of the day, when continuing on with fruitful activities after dinner is likely to give me more long-term satisfaction.

I can use the after-dinner time to read, write, work out, declutter, blog (no, I don't find blogging and cabernet mix all that well), or catch up on any loose ends I should address before turning in for the night.

Why now?

I've been mulling this idea over for a while but something specific made me decide now's a great time: as odd as it will sound, it's the upcoming need to take anti-malaria medication.

In exactly one month, I'll be heading off to South Africa. And a lovely part of preparing for and going on this trip is the need to take Malarone, a nasty drug that will ensure that I don't fall victim to P. falciparum, a nasty and sometimes deadly parasite.

Malarone is rough on the body and particularly rough on the liver. Jaundice and a number of digestive troubles are some of the potential consequences of taking this drug cocktail. Given the possible nasty side effects, I thought that going "dry" for a month prior to the trip and during the trip itself would be advisable.

It's too bad because South Africa has amazing wines but I value my health and wellbeing more than making my taste buds happy in the moment. Priorities can be a bummer sometimes but that's what being a grown up is all about. C'est la vie! Right?

What benefits am I expecting to get from abstaining?

  1. Resetting my body and my brain: I'm so used to wine as part of my last meal of the day that it bothers me that I'm not enjoying it as much as I should. I expect it and I would likely whine like a toddler if I didn't have it when I want it. But I would prefer to enjoy it like I currently enjoy sushi. I only have sushi once in a while, usually when I travel or to celebrate a special occasion, and it's a great experience every time.
  2. Reducing expenses for a few months: Even at the lower end of the cost spectrum (we buy reds in the $8 - $10 CDN category), wine drinking is an expensive habit.
  3. Resetting my perception of wine as a fixed monthly expense: Funny that I have trouble spending $10 on a sushi roll, but don't have the same view about wine. Something's off here. I like the idea of not having wine every day. Letting my Riedel wine glasses sit idle for a while is likely to help me do that more readily, as my body will no longer expect its daily dose after a certain number of weeks. That will result in savings that will help me keep improving our level household savings over the long term.
  4. Deriving health benefits: I've developed a resistance to wine's effects and I'm more likely now to have 2 glasses as opposed to one. As a smallish woman, one glass is definitely better for me overall. Also, as noted above, abstaining from alcohol of any sort will improve my Safari experience by reducing the potential for, or severity of, side effects brought about by taking Malarone.

Amazing sushi dinner I enjoyed on July 11, 2014 during our trip to Portland. I enjoyed it along with a nice local Pinot Gris.

My plan to achieve the desired benefits:

I'm going to hit the reset button. I'm going "dry" for 60 days, from today, July 17th, until and including September 17th. Yes, I know that's 63 days. Work with me here. I'm allowing 3 days in order to celebrate special occasions, including my birthday, but I somehow doubt I'll use all three days. I'm calling them a buffer. We'll see what happens...

I've picked September 17th as the last day for a specific reason: September 18th to 20th is FinCon14 baby and I'm going to enjoy every aspect of the conference, including some amazing meals in New Orleans! The wine ban will be lifted and I can't wait to report back to you at the end of it all.

I'm really curious to see how the next few months unfolds. I haven't cut out wine for ages. I've done it in the past as part of a health regimen or an externally-imposed challenge of some sort, but never because I wanted to see if it would enhance my life in some specific ways. I'm excited to see how it goes and how the experience might change my perspective regarding a ritual I've come to take for granted.

Cheers for now.

Do you have a pesky hedonic adaptation that needs a "reset"? How do you handle lifestyle-inflation-habit creep? Or, how have you managed to avoid it?

UPDATE #1 - Day 15: Well, I'm surprised it's already been 15 days. It didn't seem to be much of an adjustment. I did buy one bottle of alcohol-free red wine 5 days ago for an occasion and it was fine. I'll likely try the white at an upcoming birthday dinner where wine will be the norm at the table (I guess I want to be "normal"). Truth be told I don't miss it much. It's so much easier to do something when your mind is made up.

UPDATE #2 - Day 28: Success continues. I have not had a drop of wine (or any other alcoholic beverage for that matter) and everything's still humming along nicely. I've had 4 special events so far: date night, dinner out, BBQ with friends and a birthday party, all of them dry. I didn't feel deprived in the least either, thanks to the alcohol-free wine I've been able to either bring along or offer. Some might say it's a crutch, but to me it feels like a treat to have an alternative that's still "special" it its own way. We'll see how I do on vacation...stay tuned.

UPDATE #3- Final Update - Well, the experiment is over. I had no wine before the trip. Period. Once I was abroad, I waited for a week to see how my body adapted to the Malarone, and then I, well, went for it. I started with a 1/2 glass the first day, then a full glass with dinner the second day and then a glass with lunch, then a glass with dinner. The most I had were 3 glasses in a day, when the wine was FREE! Once I got back home, I stopped imbibing again for the last week of the medication and have slowly been incorporating wine back into my regular life.

What lesson did I learn from this little experiment, despite exceeding my self-imposed limit? It's good to hit the "reset" button from time to time. Sometimes, something, be it a habit, as substance, a thought pattern or behaviour is too much of a good thing and abstaining from it can be a blessing. I am likely do do this again sooner than later, with wine and other "goodies" I may find I overindulge in from time to time. A life well lived is all about balance and moderation and we're never quite done finding that balance, are we?

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