Tag Archives: scotch

The Power of…

Me with my favorite Scotch! St. Pat's 2009

As you all know I have migraines.

I also love scotch and wine, artisan cheeses and newly baked bread, Chinese food and pickles.  

I’ve wiped out cheeses, bread and MSG from my diet (and probably a lot of things that I can’t remember because they were easy and I didn’t miss them). Pickles are new for me as a possible trigger so they will need to go.

My diet is so bland at times and the only thing I use as a reward system is scotch and wine. I don’t eat sweets much and I don’t like chocolate.

I need to give up wine.

The problem is that wine does not equal migraine every time which makes it like playing roulette. Actually the same things that happen in the brain of a gambler happens in mine. Inconsistent stimulus is actually more powerful than consistent. Ask anyone who likes to play the slots.

Unfortunately this is keeping me thinking that the wine is not hurting me – but as a friend pointed out this morning it is, and I need to give it up. I also know that he isn’t going to let me off the hook so I need to really let it go.

The scotch is fine in moderation but I’m starting to have problems with moderation. I don’t tend to an addictive personality so this is new to me and I’ve been trying to sort out the “why” behind the behavior.

Last night, at a party, a friend of mine may have stumbled upon a clue as to why I love scotch so much. And it may also help me go back to moderation. Information, after all, is the beginning of change.

My friend at the party connected my love of the smell of scotch with the fact that I don’t tolerate most scents well. Almost everything that I can smell makes me ill from headaches and sneezing, or my ears will itch and my throat will close. But not scotch. I’ve been known to pour a little bit of scotch into a glass and just have it next to me while I read or write because the smell makes me so happy. I don’t even drink it.

When I had a job, scotch was the thing I did to move from the work day into the evening. The ritual of pouring a glass and sipping it while I wandered the house getting ready for whatever I was planning for the evening kept me sane.

In the Fall of 2007 I hired a personal trainer.

Not only did he put me on an amazing physical regiment but he also provided me with some dietary guidelines that my body responded well to. I was allowed one glass – 1.5 ounces – of scotch per day. I became obsessed with the exercise and the eating pattern and allowed myself my one scotch per night.

I don’t think there was a time when I was happier.

There is nothing I want more than to get back to that. It was after that, that the migraines started, as everything fell apart. Migraines make me crave carbs, bad carbs, things like goldfish crackers and bread that also qualify in my book as comfort food. I felt crummy, I ate carbs, the carbs added to my body fat, migraines would sideline me for days or weeks, and I would start the cycle all over again.

But like I said – moderation is a problem for me right now.

I’ve always said that the best thing about living alone is the control you have over your environment. The next best thing is not having someone around to criticize your choices – but that is another story. The answer for now is to not have it in the house just like I don’t have soups with MSG, cheese, or bread.

I also noticed a positive shift in my behavior now that I’ve started focusing on exercise and diet again. I make better choices. One of the interesting things that occurred when I was working with my trainer was my unwillingness to work as hard as I was and blow the benefits by poor food choices.

Last night was an example – when I was training I would have left before I poured myself the second drink or ate anything that I didn’t bring. But it was late and I was having fun so I cheated a little. The farther I get into my training the more I know I will be unwilling to cheat.

This morning started the daily weighting portion of the exercise.

From here on out I weigh every day. Cardio is 4+ times a week either 45 minutes on the elliptical or my ~ 4 mile walk. Weights and Yoga start out as twice a week. I eat every three hours and my diet is high in protein and complex carbohydrates like fruits and vegetables. I will stay away from bread, white rice, and cheese… and alcohol. If you want to make it hard to lose weight… keep drinking.

I have a theory that as my fitness level rises my migraines will become fewer.

I’ll let you know.

~ Tess

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My Last Vice

Riedel Sommeliers Single Malt Scotch Glass

Sometime last week I realized I was my own worst enemy.

I’ve been suffering from insomnia and migraines but I haven’t stopped drinking. Any idiot knows that those three don’t play well together.

The problem was that until recently I couldn’t see the affect the alcohol was having on the migraines because it was so slight. It bumps an existing migraine about 0.5 on the pain scale. You know that scale. The one the doctor always asks you. “On a scale of 0 to 10 how much pain are you in?” When you are having daily migraines in the 7-9 category the increase in magnitude of a 0.5 just isn’t enough to register.  

My daily migraines are closer to a 1 so now I’m noticing.

It is the insomnia that is the real kicker. Some days a single drink will cause me to wake up every hour or so. But wine and scotch are part of my lifestyle. They are part of how I view myself.

Funny – I’m sure that is similar to how smokers feel.

We have so many hang-ups around drinking in our culture I have a feeling many of you are out there labeling me. Label away. I’ve been referring to myself as the “family alcoholic” for some time now. I’m one of the only ones who drinks.

At least I’ve discovered that I’m not addicted, but I don’t have an addictive personality so that wasn’t a surprise. I can stop and I can limit. I just like to drink. I love the adventure of tasting new wines and visiting old scotches. Only now I need to make the decision about when and when.

It’s all about health.

Health is one of those things that I like to manage myself. Now I know that for me to sleep well and limit that minor bump on the migraine, I have to limit my consumption. Sometimes one drink is too much but often I don’t know until the next day if I’ve caused a negative impact.

Logic says that I should be saying good bye…

The thing is I’ve changed my diet, my exercise program, where I go and who I go out with, all to limit my need for drugs to manage my health. Alcohol is my last food related vice. I never had many but they are all gone. The fried egg sandwiches, nachos, soft drinks, aged cheese, fresh baked bread, and goldfish crackers are all things of the past. There is nothing left to comfort myself with or use as a reward system.

That was what the scotch was for.

Scotch is the ritual that allows me to relax. It was what helped me handle the stress when everything in my life was falling apart. Just the smell of a good island scotch makes me smile. There is enormous power in the wafting scent of peat and seaweed, a strange sort of something that my brain responds to with pleasure.

My scotch brought me happiness when few things in my life did. Often it was less than a glass. Sometimes when I had a migraine I would simply pour enough in so that I could smell it.

I need sleep, but I love my scotch. I wonder if there is any way I can keep my vice and still provide my brain with its much needed downtime?

Moderation in all things I suppose.

We shall see.

~ Tess

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Tis the Season…

Riedel Sommeliers Single Malt Scotch Glass

The holidays are now nipping at our heels and I just wanted to take a moment to wish everyone happiness over the next few days.  

In our Christian centric country it seems that everyone has found a way to adapt to the patterns no matter what their faith – including Christmas. Although I know at least one person will sulk through tomorrow – many of us will take the holiday and make it our own.

So, here is a toast to you – my lovely loyal readers – from one of no faith to people of many. May the next few days be filled with friends and family, good food, good conversation… and lots of scotch!!!!

Cheers!

~ Tess Anderson

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The things you won’t give up.

I’ve been dreaming about finances….

That’s what happens when you are unemployed for nearly 10 months. Eventually the money starts getting tighter and tighter. To-date I’ve stayed out of debt and kept ahead of the bills… but it looks like that time is coming to an end.

So – where to cut?

I’ve already started doing most of my shopping at WinCo rather than New Seasons. I’ve given up the idea of any new clothes. I only go out a couple times a month and I haven’t purchased a DVD or bought anything on iTunes in forever.

It wasn’t like I was a spend-a-holic before.

That is a bit of a problem for me, not because I can’t cut things out, but because I’m rather frugal so to decrease my spending now means that I will have to get rid of things that I don’t like living without.

Single Malt Scotch – for instance.

Yes – I may have to cut back on my scotch in order to afford to have my house cleaned. Not having my house cleaned is necessary for my existence. Well if not existence – then my health. And health is one of the reasons why the budget has constricted.

Because the government’s assistance with COBRA has run out and my ~$150 a month COBRA has now jumped to ~$500 a month. Not exactly something that I can afford. I’m currently waiting to hear back about the private healthcare that I applied for last week. If that works then I won’t be plowing through my savings quite as fast.

Now it is time to look at every expenditure.

And I mean every penny – from how much I am spending on food to if I can get coffee I like for cheaper. Can I cut back on my Netflix? I don’t have cable TV but I do need the internet. I could stop going out altogether – but that seems drastic – and I’ve already switched from scotch to wine when I go out – a rather amazing savings but harder on me since the wine can trigger a migraine.

Where else can one cut? Or is there really a point when you can’t go any farther?

Okay – you can always go farther. But at what point do you start to lose the things that have become a part of you? When to you say… “STOP I want my life back?” I don’t really want my old life back. I miss the paycheck – but not much else. I’ve discovered I really am a recluse who likes to spend all day working by herself. And it isn’t like there is a lot of jobs out there – my state still has 10.7% unemployment.  

I’m going to have to look at what I can cut – but in January. For now I’m just going to hope I can finish the Christmas shopping without breaking the budget or killing too much of my savings.

I know there are a lot of us out there – without jobs or dealing with the season with less pay – how are you doing it? What are you funding vs. what are you giving up? I’d love to know…

~ Tess Anderson

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