Saturday, September 05, 2009

What to Do About My Drinking

I'm going back to Buenos Aires in three and a half weeks, and on my mind is how I am going to stay healthy when I get back. I am going to try and stay active, and eat a paleo-ish type diet.

One question I still haven't completely come to a decision on is what to do about drinking. Here in the U.S., I drink moderately by most standards. I have a hangover usually twice a year or so, on New Year's Day and the day after my birthday. I have wine or cocktails two or three times a week, and don't have more than three drinks usually. Two drinks is probably average.

When I was in Buenos Aires, I drank more than that. I couldn't give an average per day or week, but I was hung over a lot more than twice in a year. There are several reasons that drinking is easier there:
  • It's cheap. If you earn dollars, alcohol is very inexpensive. You can get a good bottle of Malbec for about $5 U.S. You can get a liter of beer for $2.
  • It's easily available. The grocery store is 50 yards from my front door. Two of the most popular bars for tourists and expats are within two blocks. Some stores deliver.
  • It's the center of social activities: Social gatherings are almost always in bars, and at parties, I am given a filled wine glass as soon as I walk in the door.
  • I don't have to drive. After dinner, I only have to be coherent enough to give a taxi driver my address, and I'm home.
  • I have more leisure time. Because I have domestic help, my life is centered around work and play. When work is over, it's over, and I have more time to enjoy myself.
There are a lot of expats over 40 who develop red noses and drink in the early afternoon. Bars are full of them. I know several people whom I think are on the edge of drinking dangerously, and one who has a definite problem. I don't want to be one of them. I don't think I have to quit drinking altogether. But I need to monitor myself.

So the question is: how do I maintain moderation while surrounded by excess? Give myself rules? Two drink max? No alcohol at home?

How do you handle moderation?

This post was written, in part, for where Julia writes about her expat adventures, as well as on this blog. You can follow her in both places.


Genkimundo said...

Hey Julia,
What an interesting dilemma. I definitely agree the BA environment is more conducive to drinking. I consider myself a moderate drinker as well, but now that I'm in SD, I am drinking a lot less. Here as you know, you have to drive everywhere, it gets expensive and there are tons of activities besides just drinking. You can definitely find lots of places to drink, but I feel you kinda have to go out of your way for it and drinking to excess is just asking for trouble.

So back to moderation. It doesn't sound like fun to impose rules on yourself, but if you have the discipline to carry through with them, then it's a short-term solution I guess.

Longer term, I think it's about what you decide to do with your leisure time and that in turn may influence the groups of people you hang out with. In my case, the majority of my drinking was when I was hanging out with my expat friends. Once I started an activity with some Argentines, (in my case Roller Hockey) I started hanging out with them socially and my leisure time drinking cut back. They were more addicted to ice cream than alcohol! (a different problem to have) :-)

With your bike trips, it seems you guys like to be out and about so I'd try to figure out some activities down there that you two can enjoy. I biked in BA and it was more an adrenaline rush with the traffic than relaxing exercise. I found getting out to the countryside is far and a pain in the arse. But being active in BA is not easy. So what you have gained in leisure time, you need to give back with the extra effort to be healthy and active. I know things can be twice as hard and take twice as long to get going down there, but it sounds to me like you are ready to make that trade off.

Te mando un beso y manda un abrazo para Rob.


Julia said...

Hi Jonathan,

Thanks for the comments. I agree, I think finding leisure activities that don't focus on food and drink is key. Hope your adjustment in SD is going well.