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May 29, 2013

32 Things To Do Instead of Drinking Wine

I think women are hardwired to drink wine. Maybe it’s some genetic thing or tied to estrogen or something :) but for whatever reason, when I talk to female clients, probably 75% of them mention their desire to drink wine, either nightly or weekly.

And I am right there with them.

I have a confession to make. I drink wine. A lot. Probably more than I should.

If you’ve been reading JillFit since its inception in 2010, you have probably seen me go through stages of various cheats and sweets. For a while I was on a sugar-free fro-yo kick, and then for a good year and a half I was doing weekly Reese’s Pieces masterpieces, but over the last six months, it’s been red wine. In fact, I haven’t done Reese’s probably since last fall. You guys know that I don’t follow a strict dieting plan, and that I use preemptive cheats to maintain my weight fairly effortlessly. And red wine has become “the thing” I’ve been doing lately. No Reeses, no fro-yo, no cheat meals, no unplanned cheats, no crazy weekend overindulgences. In fact, my eating is very controlled, as a result of PRACTICE, and because of that, I CHOOSE to have wine at specific times.

Red wine is probably the most healthy options if you are going to drink. Besides, it contains antioxidants and research shows a small amount helps decrease heart disease risk. But it’s only healthy and can be used as a preemptive cheat if you are doing it moderately. For example, 1-2 glasses at a sitting, 1-2x each week. Which is what I do. That’s it. And the way you know if a preemptive cheat is working, is a) if you can maintain your weight with it in your diet and not gain, b) it keeps you for overindulging further (i.e. nips your cravings in the bud) and c) satisfies and makes your life more enjoyable.

I drink wine. But I also ADJUST my eating based on that.

It is a CHOICE that I make consciously, so when I know I am going to drink, I don’t do starchy foods at all, with it or around it. I don’t do any other sweets, treats or cheats. In fact, it keeps me from wanting those things. It takes the edge off my cravings. If you find yourself drinking, and as a result, you are eating more and worse stuff, then you probably shouldn’t incorporate it at all.

I also adjust my daily food intake on the days I will have wine. I simply don’t eat as much, I control portions more and I eat less calories in general by eating more veggies and lean protein, and I decrease my fat intake because fat cals add up quickly, and I don’t do sugar, period. I don’t count anything, though. I simply manage my meals, choose the right foods and don’t stuff myself.

An important consideration: If you’re going to drink alcohol, you have to adjust your eating.

Drinking wine every night is largely behavioral–it’s part of a habitual relaxation process

A few insights if you feel the urge to drink nightly–which will NOT help your waistline: Part of what we like about drinking wine is the routine of it. We get home, we’re tired and we feel a sense of relaxation with those first couple sips of wine. But the bottom line is that nightly drinking, if your goal is fat loss, is not smart. So if you want, start making the conscious choice to have it 1-2x a week if you want (like I do) and the rest of the nights, you’ll need to find a way to break that habit.

Find other ways to “relax” without booze.

Alas! Here are some ideas for you. If I find that I’m jonesing, I adjust tactics and find an activity I can do instead that will satisfy me just as much, or at least take my mind off it. Hopefully these will help you too!

  1. Blog. Get your creative juices flowing, and write on whatever excites you. You can get a free blog at
  2. Pay the bills. Not the most fun thing, but it takes an hour or so, and there’s kind of nothing that feels as awesome when you are done. Just think, you don’t have to do it again until next month!
  3. Get in bed and read. My personal favorite. I literally will get in bed some nights AT SEVEN, just to avoid eating crap, drinking wine and because I love reading. Bonus points for brushing your teeth!
  4. Write letters to friends (you know, snail mail). How awesome is it to receive real, actual cards in the mail from people? Now imagine your friends opening your card!
  5. Make a huge cup of hot tea. I like Yogi BedTime tea or chamomile for the evening. A great way to wind down, but more importantly, it occupies your mouth for an hour!
  6. Use the ME cocoa drink to satisfy your cravings. A great way to get the taste of chocolate without the cals & sugar. Use 1-2 TB of unsweetened cocoa powder, plus hot water and stevia to sweeten. Add a splash of unsweetened almond milk to thicken it up.
  7. Go work out. Sometimes I work out at 7pm on Friday or Saturday nights. Partially because I love an empty gym but also to curb the temptation to open a bottle of red. Evening workouts are eaters-uppers of time.
  8. Book an evening massage instead of going home. Sometimes getting home at 5pm is torture: “Holy crap, I have FIVE HOURS in front of me to try to avoid food!!” Lol. Get out of the house and enjoy yourself dammit!
  9. Hit a group fitness class. I used to do this all the time–just do something fun with a group of women. Zumba, step aerobics, boxing, whatever. Don’t stress about Is this the best thing for fat loss? Just have fun!
  10. Take a long hot bath. Read, relax, doze in and out and enjoy it. This also helps with blood circulation and lowers cortisol. Give yourself an hour of “me time.”
  11. Do the sauna & steam room if you have access. Also great for blood circulation and rejuvenation. If your gym has these, don’t overlook them. Even if you don’t work out, you can still hit these for enjoyment and relaxation purposes.
  12. Clean the house or do laundry. Not my personal faves as I’m not the most domestic of women (just ask my husband), but doing chores or laundry certainly can keep us up and moving.
  13. Go out to dinner and order Pellegrino w/ lime. Often we want to order wine at dinner because it gives us something to do/enjoy while we are waiting for our food. I started doing Pellegrino w/ extra lime and found it just as satisfying and helped tame my appetite so I didn’t order booze or eat bread.
  14. Write in your journal. Dear diary… There’s no right way to do this, just have fun with it. You can write whole paragraphs or just thoughts. Spend at least 20 minutes with it. I think you’ll find it cathartic.
  15. Update your FitBit or other healthy activities tracking device. I recently got the Up bracelet from JawBone and Jade loves his FitBit. This helps with mindfulness and it’s cool to see how you really eat and exercise.
  16. Do a tweetathon. One of my personal faves. Jump on Twitter, pick a hashtag, like #nutrition or #exercise and tweet your ass off. Offer your followers great info they can use and that can make a difference for them.
  17. Bake some healthy, clean treats. Even though I hate cooking, I do love clean baking (and more importantly trying out the results!). Try this one, or this one, or this one. You’re welcome.
  18. Have sex :)
  19. Call a friend or family member to catch up. We could probably all be doing more of this. Plan out your week–who are you talking to on Monday? How about Tuesday? Wednesday?
  20. Stalk people on Facebook (just kidding …but not really)
  21. Write that book you’ve been thinking about. Sit down at your computer and let your mind go. Put it down–that novel you’ve been thinking about, those thoughts on mindset you want to get down or hell, write your life story! We all have a book in us!
  22. Hit a coffee shop for some decaf. One of my favorite tactics lately. I am so much more productive at coffee shops than I am at home, so I’ve been blocking 4-7pm out lately for coffee shop work time. Very effective.
  23. Shop online. misses you!
  24. Do living room yoga. Mess around on the mat or YouTube a quick flow. Even 20 minutes can make a difference! Even just stretch.
  25. Prep food for the week. Shop, chop, cut, sauté, bake, steam and Tupperware that shit.
  26. Sit on the couch with your significant other and just talk. On the days we can’t walk in the morning, Jade and I will do this. It’s nice to touch base and spend some daily QT together to say more than a passing “Hi.” Turn the TV off and give each other your full attention.
  27. Play a board game with the fam (or poker if you’re with the Tetas). When was the last time you did this? Exactly! :)
  28. Read archives from the JillFit blog (just kidding …but not really). Seriously though.
  29. Enroll in an online or evening class, like a cooking class or a Metabolic Effect educational course (preferably not a wine tasting! :)).
  30. Write an email newsletter sequence if you have an email list. For my Best of You Coaching Club members, we talk about this a lot. Email newsletters to your peeps is a great way to offer awesome content, connect with readers and utilize your time wisely.
  31. Create a few new healthy recipes to share with your friends or try out. Not quite my thing, but for those of you foodies out there, prove to us that fat loss can taste good!
  32. Go for an evening walk. Now that the summer is upon us, evenings are light enough (and usually warm enough) for this. A 60-minute LEISURE walk helps us relax, lowers cortisol and clears our mind. No power walking!

And there you have it! No excuses! Pick one or two and try them, see how you do! You don’t have to do them all, just try what might work for you. NOTE: One thing I really DON’T suggest is watching TV, because we also have routines around that, right? Snacking, “relaxing” with food, and it’s just too easy to bring the wine to the couch.

Remember, drinking a little wine here and there can be just fine, it’s when you make it a daily habit that it can get you in trouble and affect your results. Be smart. Be picky. Be discerning. And stay conscious of your choices. Good luck! Ox, Jill

Related: The First Step in Quitting the Deprive-then-Binge Cycle


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