Going Cold Turkey

It’s been four weeks.

On that Sunday morning, in Reillanne market, I shook hands with a friend as we agreed to go off the booze together.

It’s not that I drink very much, mind you.  It’s just that, over time, one or two glasses of wine the odd night has become three or four glasses of wine almost every night.  And it’s the waste of time that bugs me.  Once we’ve had a glass of wine, that’s it, we’re grounded.  No quick spin up to the ridge or the forest to walk the dogs; no nipping into Forcalquier or Ceréste to visit our friends or have an ice-cream.  And on the rare occasions when I’ve over-indulged at lunch-time, the afternoon is a write-off, too.

So, in the interests of proving to myself that I’m not a raving alcoholic and in the interests of supporting my friend, we vowed to stay dry for a month.  A nice little side-effect would be some weight loss, we agreed.  I’ve put on 5kg since moving to Provence.  Yeah.  11lbs.  The wine is surely responsible for a large percentage of my weight gain, I reckoned.

Day 2 was the most difficult.  We barbecued on our little terrace in the cool of the evening.  I would have loved a glass of white (or two) but I stuck to my guns and drank sparkling water, on the rocks with a wedge of lime, instead.  There were one or two other evenings when I missed it, but that was the worst.  Other than that, there were no nightmares, no crankiness, no DTs, no hysterical ramblings, so I guess I did indeed prove that I’m not a raving alky.

After week one, I hopped eagerly onto the scales to see how much weight I had lost.  A kilo, I thought, maybe even two?

Alas, no.  I had lost half a kilo.  HALF A FRIKKIN’ KILO!!  About a pound, for those of you outside of the metric system.   Fer feck’s sake, I’d lose that much with a big… never mind.

I was disappointed, but still determined to stay on the wagon.  To help the weight come off, I tried to eat more fruit and veg and less bready stuff, but it’s so difficult.  How can I be in France and not eat croissants?  That just seems rude.

By the end of week two, I had lost just over another half kilo.  It’s so difficult to watch what I eat when we have people staying with us, I rationalised.  We keep buying bread and croissants and quiches and nice cheeses and biscuits.  It’ll be easier when everyone goes home.  Then I had a brainwave.  I would be all alone for the last week of my self-imposed dry spell.  I’ll go off dairy products for that week, I decided.  There’ll be no-one buying fancy cheese or nice bread that’s just begging to be slathered with butter.  Sure, it’ll be no bother.

Week three was pretty hectic and stressful for a variety of reasons.  I have to confess I cracked and had one (only one) glass of wine over the weekend – I felt I deserved a little treat.  Even so, when I stepped on the scales on Monday morning, I had lost almost a kilo and a half that week.  Total weight loss was now 2.3kg.  Yippee!  I could feel it in the waistband of my shorts : I no longer felt like I was being sliced in two when I did up the button.  Great stuff.  Now for a week with no dairy products.  Maybe I’ll even lose a whole 2kg, I mused… that would bring me close to what I was when we arrived here almost a year ago.

I poured the last two drops of milk into my mug of Barry’s tea that morning.  I’ll be drinking it black for the next seven days, I thought.  No problem.

Normally I have a yoghurt with fruit for breakfast.  I’ll just have fruit for brekkie next week, I decided.  I like fruit.  It’ll be easy.

Later that morning, I ate the last piece of bread with just some marmalade smeared on it.  It was a bit dry and chewy.  I washed it down with a mug of black tea.  Hmm, maybe I’d better stay off bread for the week, I thought.  It’s not great without butter.  I won’t miss bread.

I ate nectarines, bananas, grapes, strawberries, kiwis and pears all week.  I am completely and utterly sick of fruit.  I ate Greek salad with no yummy feta crumbled over it.  I had loads of salads, decorated with olives, lardons, black pudding and anything else I could think of, but they were all sadly lacking in cheese.  After three days, I was craving bread so I bought a demi-baguette and dipped it in olive oil as I ate my lunchtime tuna salad.  Normally I like eating bread this way, but all I could think of was how good it would be with a thick layer of butter on it.  I spread mayonnaise on it instead and turned it into a tuna sandwich.  I missed the butter I would normally have plastered on one of the pieces of bread.

By the end of the week, I was craving butter, milk and cheese with every ounce of my being.  By night, I dreamed of eating toast, dripping with melted butter that ran down my fingers and had to be licked off.  When I woke up in the mornings, my first thought was of a nice cup of Barry’s with a splash of milk, before I shook myself fully awake and remembered I would be drinking it black.  Coming up to lunchtime, I imagined myself tearing open a fresh, warm baguette and plastering it with cold butter, straight from the fridge, then watching it melt a little at the edges before I bit off a healthy hunk.  In the evenings, I tortured myself with visions of spaghetti bolognaise topped off with mounds of grated parmesan before I cooked up my pork chop, pasta and vegetables.  Walking past the dairy section in the supermarket was the stuff of nightmares as I looked at the yoghurts and the creme fraiche and the beurre de Bretagne (the closest thing to proper Irish butter here).  I refused to walk down the cheese aisle.  God knows what would have happened.  Putting my back out and the ensuing migraine actually helped, as I was essentially house-bound for three days and was forced to stay away from the shops.

Finally, somehow, it was Monday morning.  Time for the final weigh-in.  I had been so good all week.  Even when I put my back out I didn’t weaken, and I had stayed off crisps all week, too (anyone who knows me knows what a big deal THAT is).  Surely I’ll have lost close on the 2kg, I thought, despite the three days of near-immobility.

Pulled out the scales, made sure it was level (very important).  Deep breath and step on…

Well blow this!  I had lost weight all right, but only just over half a kilo.  A week of torture, for half a kilo?  Feck that!  Where’s the butter?  I’m spreading it on my croissant and washing it down with a decent cuppa Barry’s (with just the right amount of milk in it) before I down a yoghurt, followed by a nice chunk of Brie.


Giving up alcohol?  Easy-peasy.  Giving up dairy?  Never again.

Total weight loss over four weeks : 3kg.  

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