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Chatted with the Author of the Book I Just Read

Saturday, August 30, 2014

I just ordered the book "How to Change Your Drinking - A Harm Reduction Guide to Alcohol" by Kenneth Anderson from Amazon and read it immediately when it arrived yesterday.

I quickly realized that I had been following the principles of the book for the past two years with SparkPeople without even realizing it. For 2 years, I had been engaging in "alcohol-free streaks" for indefinite periods of time in order to limit my drinking and consequently lose weight. My longest streak was 107 days from November 2013 to February 2014 in which I lost 14 pounds. This past summer I did a streak of 35 days alcohol free in which I lost 10 pounds.

Of course, other people had other reasons for limiting their drinking and other strategies for achieving their goals.

I went on the chat room after reading the book and wrote that I had been thinking the SAME things as outlined in the book and had been following the SAME principles as he had written about in the book. I wrote in the chat room that "I wished I had written the book" !

THEN - I realized that I was chatting with the AUTHOR ! I was a little embarrassed ! LOL !

I wrote, "OH ! You're the AUTHOR ! Can I have your autograph ?"

He laughed and obliged with a little "funny smily face".

I had never been in a chat room before. That was SO COOL ! That the AUTHOR of the book I had just read was online with me and responding to me !

Well, needless to say, I highly recommend the book to anyone who is unhappy with the amount of alcohol they are drinking. It doesn't pass judgement. It makes so much sense. It is so helpful. It is exactly what has worked for me.

Try it. You might like it.


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JUST_BRENDA 8/30/2014 6:03PM


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1CRAZYDOG 8/30/2014 11:03AM

    Too cool!

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    How fun!

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ZRIE014 8/30/2014 1:18AM

  keep it up

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WEARINGTHIN 8/30/2014 1:16AM

    I quit drinking moderately about 6 or 7 weeks ago, for weight loss purposes. So far, no weight lost. I'm now taking more extreme measures with my food consumption, and still not drinking. Glenn

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I Broke the Rules - and Lost 40 Pounds Anyway !

Friday, August 22, 2014

I don't track my food.

I don't work out.

I don't always eat breakfast.

I don't go to bed at the same time every night.

I don't get up at the same time every morning.

I don't avoid soda.

I don't avoid carbs.

I don't DIET.

I don't follow any of the "Rules".


My weight has dropped from 205 to 165. And all my blood work is PERFECT ! Even my blood pressure has dropped from 140/90 to 120/80 without medication !

So how did that happen ? ! ?

I only did TWO THINGS !

I logged onto SparkPeople EVERYDAY - -
I cut down on drinking alcohol.

I admit it. For the previous nine years, I had consumed alcohol almost every evening and had quickly put on and then carried those 40 extra pounds. I was in the "obese" BMI category - around 200 pounds for nine years. (Sept. 2003 - Sept 2012 when I joined SP). I was "always" trying to lose weight and I sometimes would succeed for about 10 pounds and then put it back on. You know. Yo-Yo Dieting.

No I wasn't your "classic" alcoholic. I didn't drink when I was young. (I'm 56 now). I've never had a drink before work. I never drank in the morning. I've never had a DUI. But I must confess - - I have an "alcohol use disorder" as the medical community is now calling it. It is recommended that women only consume ONE alcoholic drink per day or SEVEN per week (and NO, you can't save them up and have them all in one night !). I definitely FAR EXCEEDED that limit.

And an "alcohol use disorder" is a negative pattern of alcohol use involving:
Tolerance (being able to consume more and more alcohol with the same effect)
Withdrawal (having negative symptoms when you quit drinking - think "hangover")
Consuming more alcohol OR for longer periods of time than was intended
Other negative life problems (such as DUI, violence, job loss, relationship loss, etc.)

So YES, I DO have an "alcohol use disorder". I realize that. But I REFUSE to say like Step ONE in AA, "Hi, my name is Valerie and I'm an alcoholic. I am powerless over alcohol and my life has become unmanageable !"

I will NOT claim the label "alcoholic" to my name. The ONLY label I'll claim is that "I'm a CHILD OF GOD". I listen to Joel Osteen every Sunday and he always reminds us to NEVER claim negative labels to our name. I'd rather say: "I am STRONG. I make Good Choices. I am FREE of this addiction.

And I will NEVER say I am POWERLESS over alcohol. I am NOT powerless. Yes, I WAS before I found GOD. But NOW I have the POWER of the Holy Spirit of our Almighty God inside of me. "I CAN do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me" (Phillipians 4:13) I have a bracelet with that inscription on it that reminds me of that fact. I never take it off.

I CAN (with the help of my God) resist buying that bottle of booze or wine or beer.
I CAN be around other people drinking alcohol and not have any myself.
I CAN have a good time and be happy without alcohol.

So I'm a success story. Logging on to SparkPeople every day kept me accountable and gave me the help and support and motivation I needed to "cut down on alcohol". And I lost 40 pounds and got healthy.

I never went to AA as I don't agree with their "12-Step Program" although it works for some people. Yes, I do agree that you need a "Higher Power" to conquer your addiction. But that's as far as I go. I'm not going to "feel guilty" and try to make amends to everyone I have "hurt" in my life. The mistakes I made were not usually alcohol-related. I much prefer the philosophy of either of the following websites:

Most Americans consume some alcohol and I think that is an area that is often overlooked when people try to lose weight. Not only are there LOTS of unnecessary and downright UNHEALTHY calories, but alcohol slows down your metabolism as well, leading to weight gain in most people. And how many women that you know that drink can STOP after just ONE DRINK ? ! Face it. ONE leads to TWO, which leads to "just one more" which leads to the whole bottle. Admit it. Can YOU have only ONE drink once you open that bottle ? (Sure, some women CAN - but that is RARE. Can YOU ? Be honest.)

So I have had many alcohol-free streaks; the longest one being 107 days which was over the holidays from November 7, 2013 to February 22, 2014. Yes, I actually didn't drink over Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Eve, and Valentines Day. I even amazed myself. I thank God for the willpower. I lost 14 pounds over that 3 1/2 months. Woo-Hoo !

Basically, when I joined SP, I identified what the problem was for ME. I hadn't been an overeater. But I DID drink alcohol on almost a daily basis. I then addressed MY problem. I did some research online. I read several good books on "how to quit drinking" such as
"The Easy Way to Stop Drinking" by Allen Carr
"Kick the Drink . . . Easily!" by Jason Vale
"Why You Drink . . . And How to Stop" by Veronica Valli

And I kept motivated with SparkPeople.
And I prayed.
And it WORKED !
I'm alcohol-free for TODAY. (One day at a time) And I'm thinner and healthier and happier.

I broke the rules. (Well most of them, anyway) And I lost 40 Pounds.
Join me in "TOAST" to SparkPeople with a non-alcoholic drink of your choice. CHEERS !

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FITTEREVERYDAY 8/30/2014 11:26AM

    Avoiding carbs doesn't work at all for me. I don't lose weight, I just lose my mind. I get tired, cranky, mopey. I don't exercise. I hate everyone and everything. My body aches. I crave things I don't even like... just a bad deal.

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FORZACHANDMATT 8/30/2014 10:29AM

    Love this - thanks for sharing

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PURPLEPEONY 8/27/2014 8:08AM


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    Great blog. You have done an amazing job of solving the problem and you have done it in a way that works for you. I think it is interesting the way you targeted and focused on the main problem and didn't get all hung up on things that weren't your problem. You didn't create all kinds of unnecessary anxiety or activity. You just went after what was your main issue.

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CAPECODBABE 8/23/2014 7:20AM

    emoticon emoticon on the weight loss

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JUST_BRENDA 8/22/2014 2:27PM


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1CRAZYDOG 8/22/2014 1:50PM


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I'm 56 years old. When will I ever grow-up ?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

I'm 56 years old and even though my mother is 83, she's still my mom and the mother/daughter dynamic still continues. I guess our relationship will never change until the day one of us dies, probably her before me. I am grateful, however, that she is still "sharp as a tack" without any signs of Alzheimer's. That is a true blessing. But here is what transpired recently, and keeps on re-playing over and over in my mind, really driving me crazy:

I call my mom up north in Wisconsin every Sunday afternoon. I've been living in Florida for over 30 years. I've been very faithful in keeping in touch with her, but I do feel badly that I can't do more to help her now that my dad is gone and she is gettng old.

I've been telling her how The Lion's Club paid for me to have an eye exam and get a new pair of bifocal glasses. I told her how grateful I was to them and how much I just LOVED my new glasses. She doesn't have a computer and asked that I send her a picture. I had never had one of my digital photos printed before but I got online to Walgreens and found out it was really easy and inexpensive to have a print made and mailed to me within a couple days. Then I sent her a beautiful "Thinking of you" card with my photo wearing my new glasses.

My mom didn't answer the phone twice on Sunday. She still has an old fashioned rotary dial big black phone on the kitchen wall since 1957 with the same phone number for over 57 years ! I called her again on Monday evening and she didn't answer again. I admit I was getting a little worried. I finally got in touch with her last night, Tuesday evening, and when she didn't mention the photo, I asked her if she liked my picture.

She replied, "Well, I don't know about those GLASSES !"
I was taken aback. "Really !?", I asked, "You don't like my new glasses ? I LOVE them !"
She said she's not used to me wearing glasses. Granted I did wear contact lenses for 30 years from age 18 to age 48, but I've been wearing glasses for 8 years now, and when my mom came for a visit 3 years ago, I was wearing glasses at all times. I have severe myopia (nearsightedness).

Then I reminded her that I've lost 40 pounds since she had seen me last.
She said, "Well, you can't tell that in the picture !"
I said, "Yes, you can ! My face is a LOT thinner !"

My mom went on to brag about my sister, who she clearly favors, going on a 3 week photo safari in South Africa. I commented that "I'm not into that type of thing. I'm happy to just bake muffins in my kitchen."

She told me, "I'll tell your sister that you're thinking of her !"
I gave her an unenthusiatic, "Yea, sure", and ended the conversation.

I was left so upset that my mother didn't thank me for the picture and couldn't make even ONE positive comment about it ! Was it too much for her to say, "You look nice" ? Was that too much to ask? She has NEVER given me a compliment my entire life. Will she ever say anything nice to me before she dies? Will I ever stop caring ? I'm 56 years old. What difference does it make whether she likes the picture or not ? Will I EVER stop craving her approval? Will I ever grow up ?

But she will always be my "mom" and I will always be her "daughter" no matter how old we get, I guess. Funny.

I KNOW I look better than I did two years ago when I joined SparkPeople. I've lost 40 pounds! I've gotten healthy by quitting drinking alcohol and walking. My blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, hemoglobin, all my blood work, is now perfect ! I've come a LONG WAY. I FEEL better about myself. I don't NEED my mother's approval. I KNOW it and FEEL it that I am MUCH healthier and more attractive.

Dr Phil is often known to say, "When you can't get what you need from someone else, sometimes you just have to give it to yourself. " That's what I've had to do all my life when it comes to "praise" from my mother.

And I have all you wonderful, Sparkers !


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PURPLEPEONY 8/27/2014 8:03AM


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ALIIDA 8/23/2014 5:46AM

    I was around fifty when I learnt my mother had a year or two left. I was not the favorite child either. I thought a lot about our relationship at that time. I noticed that the more I grasped for her attention or approval, even at fifty, the more she withheld it, so one day I said to myself, "I don't care," and behaved as if I didn't care. A look of bewilderment crossed her face. I think for her it all happened on a subconscious level - a kind of cat-and-mouse game she'd played all my life.

Now when I think back to some things she said or did, I realize she loved me, and although I don't see her through rose-tinted glasses even now, I have a softer view of her.

I hope there's something in this story that could help.

You look lovely!

Comment edited on: 8/23/2014 5:54:38 AM

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ASCHENBRODEL 8/21/2014 5:07PM

  You are beautiful, and nothing anyone thinks or says changes that fact. emoticon

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JUST_BRENDA 8/21/2014 5:32AM

    emoticon emoticon
I'm sorry to hear your experience. emoticon
You have done well for yourself and you really do look great. Those glasses complement you. Ah, parents can drive us nuts!
It is important that you validate yourself rather than going to others.... well, okay, that's the official advice/truth but it is hard to do, especially when we encounter such refusal from a loved one.
This too shall pass.
We love you Val!!!

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    Gosh, that is really a shame. You are doing so well........look great and I do think the glasses look great. It is too bad that you cannot get some positive feedback from your Mom, but unfortunately that is sometimes the way it goes. Good advice from Dr. Phil.

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1CRAZYDOG 8/20/2014 6:07PM

    Well, it is hurtful no to hear something positive from your Mo. BUT you are still standing, still living, still breathing and doesn't seem like she's going to change So, get your feedback where you can, including here!


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    That is really a shame Val, as you look beautiful and healthful in that picture! Trust me, the fact that mom can't reach out and affirm you is not YOUR problem, it's hers. You just keep being you and reaching out to her...not specifically for her love and approval, but for yourself. Your compassionate and loyal heart that reaches out to her week after week after week, in spite of her lack of ability to affirm you, will have no regrets when "the day one of us dies, probably her before me". When that day comes, it will be important that you can affirm and approve of YOURSELF, so accept that being happy with yourself IS enough! You're doing GREAT! emoticon emoticon

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SQUIRRELMOMMA1 8/20/2014 12:23PM

    When my mother was still alive she was exactly like yours. It drove me crazy and at one point I stopped speaking to her for about 4 months because it caused so much pain. But I was there when she got hurt and I'm the daughter that took off work to help her learn to walk again (not the favorite sister). I feel blessed that I was there for her in the final years of her life. They drive us crazy but we continue to love them anyway.

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LITTLEDUTCH 8/20/2014 12:21PM

    Sorry your mom can't see the beautiful spirit in you, because it's obvious that its there. You are improving your health and your body for YOU, not her, so don't put so much stock into whether she compliments you or not. It sounds like she's been this way forever, so even if she wanted to do it differently she probably doesn't know how. On another note, I gave up my contacts a couple of years ago and I love my glasses.

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    You are your own best friend and with negative people - even if it's your own blood relative, it's best to let go and let God. You are doing great! The fact that you keep in touch with her weekly despite how she has made you feel all of your life is commendable. We love you here at SP Val!! You do look great!!

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Focus on God's Promises (not the Problem)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

I've been watching Joel Osteen every Sunday for 8 years now. I always find him inspirational and uplifting. He is always so "positive".

Today Joel talked about focusing on God's "Promises" rather than on your "Problem".

During the first 6 years of listening to Joel, I always prayed that I would "lose weight". I was around 200 pounds at the time. My doctor had told me to get down between 160 and 170. It seemed impossible. I tried unsuccessfully over and over. I would lose up to 10 pounds but then regain it quickly. I had God's Promise in my heart that one day I would be "thin" but I didn't really believe that it would ever happen.

Two years ago in September of 2012, I discovered SparkPeople.

I got SERIOUS. I got MOTIVATED. I set up a simple program for myself of
l. Eating a lot of veggies
2. Walking
3. Cutting back on alcohol

I STUCK WITH IT. I had set backs - BUT I DIDN'T GIVE UP !

I had "streaks" of being alcohol-free in which I would lose weight. My longest one being 107 days, over the holidays, no less, from November 8th 2013 to February 22, 2014, in which I lost 14 pounds from 177 down to 163.

God's Promise had come true. (Even though I never really believed it would happen, I have to admit). I was in the 160's like my doctor had recommended. I had lost 40 pounds ! I was AMAZED ! Not at MYSELF, but rather that GOD had made my DREAM come TRUE ! HE had brought SparkPeople come into my life. HE had helped me to realize that alcohol was my main problem and that alcohol is what had made me gain the 40 pounds in the first place and what I needed to eliminate from my diet in order to LOSE that weight. GOD had helped me resist that glass of wine or mixed drink. GOD had kept me strong. GOD had kept me MOTIVATED to NEVER GIVE UP. If I "messed up", I would have to recommit to being alcohol - free. The very next day. I would have to "quit drinking" again.

Now God has given me the promise of losing more weight and getting down into the 150's.

I need to focus on God's promise - not on how insurmountable the problem may seem.

I WILL lose another 10 pounds ! They say the last 10 pounds is the hardest, but I WILL DO IT !
Because God has promised. And God's promises always come true. Maybe not in "our" time but in "God's" time. I WILL weigh in the 150's. I WILL reach my GOAL Weight.

And then I WILL maintain in the 150's.
Because God has put the PROMISE in my heart.
And God's PROMISES always come true ! I've seen it in my life over and over. I've been so blessed. I just need to BELIEVE - and focus on HIS PROMISE !

God has promised me in my heart that I will reach my Goal weight of 155.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JUST_BRENDA 8/17/2014 12:00PM

    emoticon blog!
You can do this Val!

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    emoticon with God's promises and your resolve!

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Alcohol and Excuses

Thursday, August 14, 2014

I've got a thousand excuses to drink alcohol:
I want to relax.
I want to celebrate.
I want to socialize.
I'm upset.
I'm lonely.
I'm happy.
I'm sad.
It tastes good.
It's refreshing.
I'm thirsty.
The list goes on.

This week I used the death of the amazing Robin Williams as an excuse to buy a bottle of wine and drown my sorrows. He deserved better than that. We did however, play some special songs as our little tribute to the great actor and comedian.
"Send in the Clowns" by Judy Collins
"Tears of a Clown" by Smokey Robinson
"Rockin' Robin" done by The Jackson Five
"The Rose" done by Bette Midler
"Long Black Train" by Josh Turner
One of my favorite movies of all time was a Robin Williams movie about Heaven and the after-life called "What Dreams May Come" If you've never seen it, I'd recommend it highly, especially in these circumstances. This beautiful man will be sorely missed.

That bottle of wine ended a great 35 day alcohol-free streak from July 8th to August 11th. In that month my weight dropped from 177 to 167 -- 10 Big Fat Pounds ! Woo-Hoo ! I was thrilled. Now after my blubbering binge, I have gained 2 pounds. Hopefully it is just water weight and will come off again quickly.

I'm in the middle of my 3-Month Challenge ending on my 2nd Sparkiversary on September 10th, 2014. I wanted to be down into the 150's by then. With one month to go, and another 10 pounds, it is going to be difficult. Definitely a REAL Challenge !

I'm back to being alcohol-free and on day #2 of this streak. I had a streak of 107 days last year. 41 days in the Spring, and now this 35 day streak this summer, so I know I CAN do it ! I'm very determined. It's certainly NOT rocket science with my weight loss. When I avoid alcohol and generally eat healthy, I LOSE weight. Simple. I always get a lot of walking in my daily life since I live without a vehicle. Everyday I need to walk to one store or another, or to the bank, or to the post office, etc. So avoiding alcohol has always been the KEY for ME ! I'm not tempted to binge on food. But, boy oh boy, does that alcohol tempt me ! Fortunately, the urges to have a drink lessen after a few days and I can drink ice water (by the gallon). Then after about a month, I start to miss it a lot, and think that I can have "just a little". WRONG ! Once I open that bottle of wine, I'm not going to quit until that bottle is empty. I should know that by now. So I HAVE to remember this: "Don't START !" Don't get a sip of alcohol - because for me, that is a "slippery slope".

I've come a long way in 2 years - starting out at over 200 pounds and now down in the 160's. I've learned so much with SparkPeople - especially about my relationship with alcohol. This has been a journey - one that is far from over. I'm going to "keep on going" and "never give up". I'm thinner, healthier, stronger. My blood pressure has come down to normal. My Cholesterol is well below 200 and my other lipids (HDL, LDL, Triglycerides) are optimal as well. In fact all my blood work is perfect.

So no more excuses. I need to be alcohol-free to reach my goal of 159 by September 10th. (29 days to go.)

And Farewell Robin Williams, may you find the "peace" that you couldn't find in life.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SOFT_VAL67 8/16/2014 9:38AM

    I was counting daily. And I forgot how long I went really AF. I would guess about 3 or 4 months.
I did have some, (ok, an entire fifth) of rum, while on vacation at the beach. That was spread out over 3 days.
Had mixed it the night before and let it chill in the fridge, pina coladas on the beach.
And I might have had a couple of cans of coors light since then.
I have a bottle of wine and almost a bottle of vodka, untouched.
I keep thinking of giving them away. But why put that problem off on someone else.
The bottle of vodka is hidden in a cabinet and the wine looks pretty sitting on my bakers rack.
Last weekend I bought a 6 pack of the small bottles of beer, but havent drank any yet.
Honey finished off 2 bottles on my behalf.
I have noticed he is drinking alot more, he said yesterday hes thinking of quitting again. I hope he does.
Congrats on the 10 pounds.
I think my metabolism must be playing tricks with me, it seems when I was drinking more, I was also losing more weight. I dont want to test that theory. I think you have it under control and yes, the loss of RW weighs heavily on all of us who grew up with him and since hes been around for decades, that is a wide range of people.
Just keep your mind in the place it is now, you are doing great.

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KLMEIRING 8/16/2014 8:08AM

    emoticon emoticon

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LEANJEAN6 8/16/2014 7:40AM

    alcohol-free------ and stronger------You can do this!-Lynda

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    That 'first' drink is truly the killer ... and you're right - there are always excuses about why we want that first drink. You've done incredibly well this year! My longest streak was only 33 days - and "Just for Today" I'm committing to getting back to being AF.

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JUST_BRENDA 8/15/2014 8:12AM

    You can do it Val! You've come a long way over 2 years: physically, mentally and emotionally!

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1CRAZYDOG 8/14/2014 8:29PM

    HUGS and you know the drill! We're here to support you.

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PURPLEPEONY 8/14/2014 7:18PM

    emoticon emoticon

R.I.P. Robin Williams

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