My first week Wrestling with Franklin / by AB Mann

My first week Wrestling with Franklin.

The Drunken Bunny man

I'm focusing on temperance as that was the idea - focus on one a week for 13 weeks. I clearly have issues with Frugality and Industry but there will be time enough for that later.

Alyska likes to say that I pour from the top. I eyeball from above the glass rather than using anything that might disspell my self-perceived preternatural liquid measuring capabilities. It’s a terrible habit born of alcohol tolerance - though smaller now, I used to be a pretty big dude who could hold his liquor. I would pour generously to account for generous proportions and the desire to hit the fuzzy state of inebriation more effectively.

Amidst my 30s and having lost much weight since college, old habits soften my resolve much faster than I think (and who signed me up for that?). Which, of course, is impaired with all that booze in my brain. I know I do it, and admitting to it generates a little shame.

So, unmeasured consumption is my kryptonite, both expressed by using hard to measure serving procedures. Cocktails poured from the top, food served in bowls, both lead me to excess. The major failures this week indicated in the dark marks in the grid above stem from this.

My favorite cocktail, the Manhattan (named for Dr. Manhattan who mixes them one atom at a time), contains about 40% alcohol the way I mix it. 2fl oz whiskey, .75fl oz vermouth, liberal dashes of bitters, many cherries. It is easily two “drinks” worth of booze. Delicious booze.

But there in lies the issue: waaaaay too much alcohol even for one drink and I was ignoring it. Does anyone person need that much?

It depends on your goals, I guess, and mine are rarely “drink this tasty thing for it is tasty”. It’s always “relax” after a long day and that is nonspecific at best, at worst a moving target leading well past relaxed to hangover.

Heading into the week, I laid out a few specific goals to keep in mind as I focus on building temperance. And htey were specifically geared towards this failing.

  1. no alcohol on an empty stomach
  2. and no more than one, measured drink (4oz wine or 1oz whisky or 3oz port)
  3. stop eating before feeling full

I adhered to #1 perfectly - no booze right after getting home from work or gym when I’d not eaten in half a day. So, that’s good. Two of the dark mark days are failures in #2 - cocktails. Minus New Year’s Eve, partially - I willfully had a second drink but this was after I already ate much more than I should have in Thai food. So, that was probably a doubleplusungood day.

On Food and Cooking

This week has illuminated more completely my problems with over-eating. As with pouring from the top, I over-eat when I order food (which I suspect is partially the restaurant modus operandi) and when I serve myself from small-looking dishes. I have no idea how much food my bowls hold but I sure as hell fill them up anyway.

Nor do I eat slowly. This is somewhat exacerbated in my exercise routine which I have been more aggressive with lately and thus make myself hungrier in the evenings. Being ravenous when you sit down does not lead to temperate eating, just bloated stomach and aching later that night.

I have been, though, much better proportioned in most of my meals. I eat two meals a day at work because it is subsidized and ultra-convenient - my office is literally down the hall from an on-site coffee shop that sells bacon and eggs in the morning. Breakfast is two hard boiled eggs and 4 slices of bacon, occasionally six or a piece of fruit if the previous night was a weight training night. This is about 400 calories at most and plenty of good protein and fat.

Lunch, I have been eating much more salad or bread-less sandwiches in much more reasonable size. I try to limit myself to about 5oz meat for the latter with plenty of pickled goods on the side. Salads I don’t really take care aside from not going crazy with oil and vinegar. But “going nuts” on salad greens is a silly concept (if you’re counting calories).

Dinner is really my problem. I don’t cook bad food, bad here defined as loaded with carbohydrates (I try to eat very low carb, less than 80g a day). I just don’t portion it well. I buy gargantuan steaks or pressure cook 3 pounds of chili at a time which leads to regular over-eating as described above.

This episode brought you by: A Measuring Cup

My best solution, aside from eating more mindfully, is as mundane as serving myself from measuring cups. It’s hard to admit that - it feels like I have to treat myself like an uncontrollable child. But, in truth, these are bad habits I’ve been carrying with me for years. Given that I am better than not in most situations, giving myself quantifiable good/too much line can only help.

It mostly helped with my drinking problems and stands to reason it will help elsewhere. Numbers give you power, especially when you can learn that 6oz of stew is filling but 8oz is filling to discomfort. Which is the important distinction - both get you to satisfaction but only one of them will let you stay mobile for the remainder of the evening. (Hint, it’s the second one.)

So. Lessons from the week:

  1. Measure your intake, and that means food too.
  2. Eat more mindfully and, when in doubt, leave food on the plate.
  3. Cocktails cock it all up so stop pouring from the top.

In conclusion, drinking is still awesome

Temperance is not about abstaining from anything. Identifying things that encouraged intemperate behavior will help. Like knowing the sheer amount of booze in my typical cocktail will encourage me to just mix the dang thing smaller, not stop drinking them.

Otherwise, continuing with previously stated intentions will help.

Uncovering flaws is ultimately a joyous thing because we can acknowledge them and work to reduce them. At that’s the whole point of this enterprise.