The Problem With ‘Being Good’ Monday To Thursday

The Problem With ‘Being Good’ Monday To Thursday

Back when I was drinking too much, but I didn’t know what to do about it, I tried hard to ‘be good’ from Monday to Thursday.

I could get my head around staying alcohol-free during the working week. But a sober Friday, Saturday and Sunday? That was not going to happen!

Because I wasn’t ready to quit completely, being good during the week seemed like the next best thing.

What I didn’t realise is that there’s a big problem with ‘Monday to Thursday sobriety’.

In fact, there are actually 3 different issues…

 

You’re teaching yourself that you can’t quit long term

If you’re only ever sober during the working week, what you’re really telling yourself is that alcohol-free living is only ever possible when you’re at work, in a routine and not doing anything fun. Basically – you’re treating sobriety like a strict diet.

Not only are you teaching yourself to believe that you can’t stop properly, you’re also reinforcing the idea that sobriety = hard and boring, whereas drinking = joy. Long term, successful sobriety happens when you realise that you can live a full and happy life without alcohol, no matter what day of the week it is.

 

You never get time to do the all important mindset work

When you’re only ever stopping for a few days, all you can really do is cross your fingers and hope for the best. You’re not giving yourself enough time to get clear on why you’ve been drinking, tackle the root causes or find some sober tools (i.e. alternative coping mechanisms).

To be happily alcohol-free, you’ll also want to work on your mindset, tackle your limiting beliefs and educate yourself about alcohol. Doing all that stuff takes a little while, and you deserve the time and space to make a proper go of it.

 

You never, ever get to the good bit!

If you’re only quitting from Monday to Thursday, here’s what you’ve got to know: you’re forcing yourself to repeat the hardest bit of sobriety again and again and again. Seriously – the early days are some of the hardest! So why keep putting yourself through it?

It takes time to find your sober feet, overcome a few challenges, smash some sober firsts and gain a bit of momentum. Studies show that you need 66 days for a new habit to bed in – so it’s hardly surprising that taking four days off here and there isn’t enough.

 

What to do instead:

You don’t need to quit forever (that’s way too intimidating). But you do need to be able to experience sobriety properly and see what it’s REALLY like. And that means taking a break from drinking for two or three months. That’s when you start to see what it’s really all about.

Taking alcohol off the table for a defined period of time means you can give sobriety 100% and throw yourself into it, whilst feeling safe in the knowledge that at a set point in time, you will stop, review and decide what happens next. What’ve you got to lose?

If you need support to stop drinking or take a break from booze, click here for details of my online course.

 

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3 ‘Rules’ Keeping You Stuck In The Drinking Cycle

3 ‘Rules’ Keeping You Stuck In The Drinking Cycle

“I’m not stupid. I’m not helpless. So why can’t I figure out how to stop drinking?”

This is something I used to ask myself a lot.

In other areas of my life I was proactive and determined; I was great at problem solving and finding solutions.

So when it came to sobriety, why was I so stuck?

If you’ve been asking yourself the same question, this blog is for you.

I wanted to share a few of the sneaky, inner beliefs that can trip you up and keep you stuck in the drinking cycle:

 

“I need a vision – a long term plan. I can’t start before I’ve got it all figured out.”

In many areas of life, long term goal setting makes sense, because most of us like to know what we’re working towards before we begin. But when it comes to sobriety, this approach can lead to so much overwhelm you never even get started.

Your mind races years into the future and suddenly, you’re worrying about things that haven’t even happened yet. The thought of being sober forever is so intimidating you can’t bring yourself to get started.

How to get around this:

The trick is to move forward with a short term plan – one that gives you something to work towards, and lets you experience alcohol free living properly, without being so intimidating it feels unachievable.

Taking a break for two or three months is a perfect place to start, because it gives you the chance to overcome a few challenges and test drive sobriety properly, without you getting too freaked out about it.

Once your break is over, you can see how you feel at the end. Perhaps you’ll set another short term goal. Or maybe you’ll go back to drinking. Whatever the outcome, you’re in control and moving forward, step by (manageable) step.

 

“You don’t need to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”
Martin Luther King Jr.

 

“I can’t fail. I have to get this right.”

To get ahead in school, you had to pass your exams. To get promoted at work, you have to hit your targets. In most areas of our lives, we’re conditioned to think that success = good, and failure = bad.

So it makes perfect sense that we’re not keen on trying something that exposes us to a massive risk of failure. When we’re so fearful of failing, putting up with the status quo can feel much safer (even if it is making us unhappy).

How to get around this:

The key is to reframe your relationship to failure. This doesn’t mean setting out with the express intention of drinking as soon as things get challenging, but it does mean not beating yourself up if something goes wrong.

When I think about my students, most of them have a string of ‘failures’ behind them. Perhaps they joined my course after struggling to quit alone. Maybe they ‘wasted’ a month going to AA meetings and getting nowhere.

But those ‘failures’ weren’t really failures – they were part of the journey. When you’re doing something great (and sobriety is great!) the chances are you won’t figure it all out the first time. You are going to fall flat on your face at some point. The important thing is that you get back up again.

 

“Failure is success in progress.”
Albert Einstein

 

“I’ve got to keep this a secret and figure it out by myself.”

No one else can run the race, take the exam or ace that job interview for you. I bet you’re used to relying on yourself and you’re proud of the fact that you can (usually) figure things out on your own. Your drinking is your business… right?

The thing is, your drinking isn’t just about you. It impacts every area of your life, from your health to your relationships. When you’re struggling with alcohol, your partner knows about it. Your kids pick up on it. Your friends notice something is off.

How to get around this:

Start looking at how you handle other challenges e.g. losing weight, training for a run, parenthood, learning new job skills… you get the idea. How often do you truly go it alone? Or do you look elsewhere for help, guidance and support?

If you’ve been struggling to figure this all out on your own, now is the time to get out of your own head and start thinking about where you can get some support. We all need a bit of accountability and an outside perspective at times.

Addiction thrives in isolation, so start inviting people in. If you’ve got friends and family to talk to, ask for their support. But if you’re not comfortable confiding in those around you, seek out help elsewhere – it doesn’t have to be face to face. (If you want to join my online community, there’s more information about my coaching programme here.)

 

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”
Helen Keller

 

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5 Inspiring Women Who Don’t Drink Alcohol

5 Inspiring Women Who Don’t Drink Alcohol

International Women’s Day is just around the corner – so I wanted to celebrate the achievements of inspiring women who don’t drink alcohol.

I’ve written before about sober celebrities, because it’s amazing just how many stars have quit booze.

But my blog today isn’t your typical run down of famous faces who don’t drink alcohol.

Instead, I’ve picked out 5 amazing, alcohol-free women who truly impress and inspire me:

 

Brene Brown

“For me, vulnerability led to anxiety, which led to shame, which led to disconnection, which led to Bud Light.”

Brene Brown was an obscure academic – an associate professor of social work at the University of Houston – until her TED talk on vulnerability went viral.

Nowadays, she’s an Oprah approved author with a string of best-selling books. Millions of people have been changed by her research into courage, vulnerability, shame and empathy. If you’re a woman – and a drinker – then I strongly recommend you check out her books.

Brene Brown quit drinking and smoking 20 years ago and I’m sure if she hadn’t done so, her important research may never have come to light.

My favourite quote:

“I wasn’t raised with the skills and emotional practice needed to ‘lean into discomfort’, so over time I basically became a take-the-edge-off-aholic. But they don’t have meetings for that. After some brief experimenting, I learned that describing your addiction that way in a traditional twelve step meeting doesn’t always go over very well with the purists…”

 

Marian Keyes

“The last time I had a drink was January 18th 1994. I feel so lucky. Anyone who’s struggling with alcohol, I promise you it’s possible to live a wonderful life – an infinitely better life – without it.”

I discovered Marian Keyes’ novels sometime during the late 90s and instantly loved them. Her books are often dismissively referred to as ‘chick lit’, but they tackle some pretty dark subjects. If you haven’t read Rachel’s Holiday (about a cocaine and alcohol addict drying out) then you must.

The best-selling author has been open about her other struggles too, particularly her battle with depression, which hit her in 2009 and lasted for three years. She later wrote a memoir about how baking helped her through her illness.

My favourite quote:

“I was convinced that if I couldn’t drink, my life wasn’t worth living. I was wrong.”

 

Christine Lagarde

“I stopped drinking more than 15 years ago. I realised that I just couldn’t do it all – travel and work and drink.”

Christine Lagarde is the managing director of the International Monetary Fund. She is the first woman to head the IMF and was ranked the 3rd most powerful woman in the world by Forbes magazine last year.

Poised, chic and straight talking, she’s criticised the male-dominated, testosterone-fuelled culture at global banks, claiming that “if it had been Lehman Sisters rather than Lehman Brothers, the world might well look a lot different today.”

As well as being teetotal, Lagarde is also a vegetarian – both are traits which are practically a sin in her home country, France!

My favourite quote:

“If you are a little bit overweight, that’s fine. If you have gray hair, so be it. If you have big feet, so be it—I’m a size 11. It’s about being reconciled with yourself and projecting yourself—to friends, at work—as you are.”

 

Davina McCall

“I had to grieve not drinking. That was so sad. But I knew that alcohol was the gateway to drugs for me, and it would still be the gateway. It’s just not worth it.”

These days, the 50 year old is the poster girl for healthy living, but the TV presenter and fitness fanatic was addicted to drugs in her twenties, after a tough childhood with an alcoholic mother who abandoned her.

I think I fell in love with Davina McCall during her gruelling 500 mile Sport Relief triathlon a few years ago, when she showed incredible strength and resilience.

She’s refreshingly unapologetic about her commitment to fitness and wellbeing. And yet somehow, she makes you feel as if you can do it too.

Favourite quote:

“A problem doesn’t have to be the end of your life or make you a victim. I am who I am because of the mistakes I’ve made.”

 

Sarah Millican

“My life is so busy that if I do have a day off I don’t want to spend it vomiting.”

Sarah Millican was 29 and working in a job centre when her first marriage ended. She turned her divorce into stand up – and struck comedy gold.

What do I like about Sarah Millican? Well, she’s unashamedly herself: an exercise-shy, pen-collecting, cake-lover who doesn’t drink because “the after effects weren’t worth the fun times”.

Fed up with the state of women’s magazines, she launched her own one with “no photoshopping, no calorie counting, no cellulite circling.” After critics mocked her for wearing a flowery dress on the red carpet, she deliberately wore it again, to make the point that she should be judged on her comedy, not her clothes.

Favourite quote:

“When people asked why I wasn’t drinking, I used to say, ‘I’m on big tablets.’ Now, if they try to push me into having a drink, I just say, ‘I don’t respond to peer pressure.’ If I did, I’d have had sex a lot earlier than I did.”

 

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8 Reasons Not To Drink Next Weekend

8 Reasons Not To Drink Next Weekend

When I was trying to quit drinking, I kept coming up against the same problem.

Stopping from Monday to Thursday was ok. It was more or less achievable (unless I had a super stressful week.)

But the weekends? They were totally different.

For a long time, I just couldn’t get my head around the idea of being sober on a Friday and Saturday night.

And yet every Monday started the same way: with me regretting how much time I’d wasted drinking and feeling hungover.

I wish I’d known back then just how amazing alcohol-free weekends can be. They’re a MASSIVE lifestyle upgrade.

If you need some inspiration to make next weekend different from the last, this blog is for you.

 

Here are 8 reasons not to drink next weekend.

 

1. You’ll give your body what it really needs

By the end of the week, most of us are tired. Drinking can seem comforting because it provides a brief, artificial high – but then what happens? You sleep badly and don’t get the rest you need.

Listening to your body and going to bed early on a Friday might not sound very rock n roll, but hey – passing out on the sofa isn’t exactly wild either!

 

2. You can relax properly

Here’s something you’re missing out on when you drink: the feeling of genuine, real life relaxation. It’s so different from the fake sensation created by booze. Drinking actually puts your body under a lot of stress, as the author Jason Vale explains:

“Alcohol causes low blood sugar, drains the body of water, overworks the liver, pancreas and kidneys and leeches oxygen from the brain. That doesn’t sound very relaxing to me…”

 

3. You’ll actually get stuff done

As a drinker, I should’ve won medals for my ability to procrastinate. Boring, straightforward chores morphed into gigantuan tasks that were put off until the very last second.

These days, that kind of stuff gets done and dusted with the minimal amount of fuss. That means I have time to do what I really want to do, which brings me on to my next point…

 

4. You’ll have more time for fun stuff

Alcohol is such a time thief. A large chunk of my weekend used to be spent drinking, recovering from drinking or doing my other favourite hobby – beating myself up about my drinking! It took up SO much time.

In sobriety, the weekends feel longer and more fulfilling, because you have time to actually do the things you enjoy and make the most of your precious time off.

 

5. You’ll follow through on your promises

You know that thing you said you’d help your friend with? The Saturday morning park run you’ve been meaning to do for ages? And that family meal you promised you’d organise?

It’s really hard to show up for yourself or other people when your weekend is controlled by a drug that makes you forgetful, sluggish and ultimately not yourself.

 

6. You’ll have more quality time with the people you care about

Perhaps you’re not able to spend much time with your children or partner during the week, because life is dominated by school runs, homework, commuting, making dinner etc.

If you live for the weekends and love spending time with your family, why let alcohol take you away from them? Why numb out and make that time together less memorable?

 

7. You’ll lose the Sunday night blues

Alright, so being sober doesn’t mean you’ll skip into work on Monday morning, but you are going to feel so much better when you lose the hangxiety (yes it’s a real thing – read more here)

It’s horrible when Sunday evening rolls around and you’re feeling as tired as you were on Friday night and you’re beating yourself up for drinking too much.

 

8. You’ll feel so much happier

If you’re reading this after a weekend of heavy drinking, you already know how alcohol affects your self-esteem, confidence and wellbeing. Now take a moment to fast forward to next Monday.

Imagine how great you’ll feel knowing that you’ve made the most of your weekend, overcome a challenge, looked after yourself, followed through on your promises and dared to live life a little differently. It will be so worth it.

 

Now it’s your turn…

I’ve shared 8 reasons not to drink next weekend, but I’m sure there are many more. So let me know – what motivates you?

Start making a list and keep it close by, so you’re ready for next weekend.

If you need some support to make sobriety stick, click here for details of my online course 🙂

 

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When You’re A Health Nut By Day And A Boozer By Night

When You’re A Health Nut By Day And A Boozer By Night

When people find out that I no longer drink, they often expect to hear some crazy tale of drama and debauchery.

But if you’ve followed my blog for a while, you’ll know I was never a rock bottom boozer.

Even at the height of my drinking career, I was firmly in the ‘grey zone’.

Yes, alcohol was causing me problems and making me unhappy… but I was also doing a pretty good job of making sure everything looked fine on the outside.

I worked out. I ran. I watched my weight. Most people would’ve described me as ‘health conscious’.

And that’s the inspiration behind today’s blog.

Here’s what happens when you’re a health nut by day – and a boozer by night:

 

You’re really open minded about everything… except sobriety

Hula hooping classes? Hot yoga? Soul cycle? The maple syrup diet? Sure thing. When it came to most health and fitness crazes, I’d give anything a go. But sobriety? That thing where you learn to relax naturally, without inhaling a glass of wine first? That was a bit too weird.

 

Selective calorie counting

Throughout the day I’d try to keep track of how much I’d eaten, in a bid to shift a few stubborn pounds. But as soon as I started drinking, all that went out the window. Calculating liquid calories was too complicated (and depressing) so I’d pretend they didn’t exist. Sadly, my waistline did notice…

 

Selective fact finding

As a drinker, I could’ve told you all about the merits of quitting gluten and the risks of not getting enough exercise. But booze? Hmmm. That was a bit of a vague area in my mind, because frankly, I didn’t want to know. The information I did retain was remarkably one sided, which brings me on to my next point…

 

Drinking for the ‘health benefits’

If you told me you eat chocolate for the milk content, I would’ve rolled my eyes. And yet I was perfectly happy convincing myself that I was drinking red wine for the ‘health benefits’. A little bit is good for you, right? (It isn’t actually. That myth has been busted.)

 

Chemicals? What chemicals?

By day, I’d scrutinise food labels so I could be sure of what was in the products I bought. No e-numbers, weird ingredients or nasty chemicals for me, thank you very much! But when it came to wine, I liked to think it was just mashed up grapes. Read this if you’re in the dark too.

 

Spending a fortune on beauty products

I was always trying to work out why my skin was going haywire. Was it my cleanser? My moisturiser? Maybe I just hadn’t found the right brand for my skin? Well as it turns out, the right beauty ‘brand’ for me (and many others) is alcohol free. I wrote more about that here.

 

Drugs: just say no?

Antibiotics? Painkillers? I’d only take them if I really had to. I’ve never liked popping pills for any old reason – it just feels wrong. And yet I’d happily self medicate with alcohol, ignoring the fact that it was, ahem, also a drug… one that kills and harms a lot of people.

 

In summary…

If you recognise yourself in this blog, then I’m guessing that you, like me, really value your health. If you’re investing a lot of time and energy into living a healthy lifestyle, it’s worth taking a proper look at how drinking is affecting that. Is alcohol is supporting or sabotaging your goals?

If you need any support to stop drinking, click here for details of my online course.

 

Download your free Wine O'Clock Survival Guide!

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What’s Your Relationship With Alcohol Really Like?

What’s Your Relationship With Alcohol Really Like?

If your relationship with alcohol was a real-life relationship with a romantic partner, what kind of relationship would it be?

It might seem like a weird question to pose, but when you really think about this, it brings up all kinds of juicy questions…

Here are 8 different boozy ‘relationships’ – which one sounds the most like you?

 

The happy marriage

To be honest, if you’re reading this blog then you’re unlikely to fall into this category, but I’ve put it here for context. In a happy marriage there’s trust and respect, and you have each other’s backs. You do not wake up at 3am determined to never see your partner again!

 

The occasional hook up

You and booze can go for ages without any contact. No texts, no nothing. But then you run into each other in the pub and suddenly, you’re all over each other. You wake up the next day feeling uneasy, but you’re able to put it to the back of your mind… until next time.

 

The doomed love affair

When you only saw each other at the weekends, or enjoyed a quickie after work, things were great. But now alcohol’s moved in permanently and you find the side effects pretty irritating and unsexy. Why can’t you go back to how things were? The novelty has truly worn off.

 

The looks-great-in-public relationship

When you and booze are out together, partying and networking feels so much easier. You look so good together, never taking things too far or losing control. If your friends knew how different your relationship was behind closed doors, they’d be shocked… and worried.

 

The stormy relationship

“That’s it!” You yell. “I’m fed up of this. Pack your bags!” Alcohol gathers a few things, knowing full well that you don’t really mean it. Sure enough, by mid afternoon you’re wondering if you overreacted. You can’t split up – you’re made for each other. Things will be different this time…

 

The addictive relationship

You have so many ‘rules’ governing your relationship with alcohol, and yet somehow booze is still a constant presence. You vow to only see each other a few days a week and yet you always go back for more. You’re unhappy, yet unable to imagine a life without drinking.

 

The trial separation

You and booze are officially ‘on a break’. You’re feeling much better than you thought you would – you’d forgotten what this freedom felt like. But when you catch alcohol lusting over someone new at the bar, you feel a stab of jealousy. That was you once. Where did things go wrong?

 

The happy divorcee

It’s been months now. Friends say you look happier. Lighter. Less tired. You feel more confident. When you spot booze out and about, chatting up other people in the supermarket, you’re surprised to discover you feel nothing. The past is the past. You’re going to be just fine on your own.

 

The big question…

If your relationship with alcohol was a real life one (with a living, breathing human) would you be happy with how things are?

Would you resign yourself to putting up with the status quo? Or would you feel you deserved better? Would you take action?

If you need some help breaking up with booze, you can find details of my online course here.

 

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