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.

 

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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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5 Tips To Help You Stay Motivated This February

5 Tips To Help You Stay Motivated This February

If you want to look better, feel happier, boost your energy, save money, beat anxiety and lose weight this February… then alcohol-free is the way to go!

Sobriety is a massive upgrade for all areas of your life.

But in order to experience these amazing benefits, you’ve got to find a way of sticking with sobriety even when times are tough.

So let’s talk about 5 practical things you can do to stay motivated and smash your alcohol-free goals this month:

 

Create a sobriety photo album on your phone

This is a great way to record your sober highlights. Maybe you did something fun that wouldn’t have happened if you’d been hungover, or you’ve noticed how much better your skin looks since you quit.

Keep the photos in an album on your phone, so you can revisit them whenever you need a pick-me-up or a reminder of exactly why you’re doing this.

Tip: You can also flip this around and create a ‘negative’ photo album if you find that more powerful. Some people like visual reminders of why they’re changing and what happens when they drink.

 

Drink two glasses of water at 4pm

It’s no coincidence that we feel the strongest urge to drink at the end of the day – a time when we’re often tired, hungry and thirsty.

Many drinkers confuse cravings to drink with the body’s natural signs that we’re hungry or thirsty. Drinking water at this time of day will make you feel less sluggish. Be sure to have a snack too, if you’re hungry.

Tip: Set a reminder on your phone to prompt you to drink water. That way you’ll definitely remember!

 

Start a ‘what’s going well’ list

When we’re finding change hard, it can be easy to fall into negative thought patterns. And when you constantly feel a bit beaten down by life, what’s the point in even trying?

Keeping a ‘what’s going well’ list helps you get some perspective and foster a more positive mindset. Make a commitment to write down one thing a day, no matter how big or small it is.

Tip: You could keep this list on your phone, or write it on scraps of paper that you add to a gratitude jar.

 

Tame your social media

Social media influences our mood and motivation more than we realise. If your Facebook feed is full of wine o’clock memes or posts that make you feel bad, now’s the time to do something about it.

Unfollow people who make you feel negative. Experiment with deleting the Facebook app from your phone, or moving it away from your home screen, so it’s not the first thing you see. (This helps reduce mindless scrolling.) Try it and see how you feel – you can always move things back!

Tip: Social media can be a force for good if you use it with intention – you could create a new profile on your favourite platform and build a little sober bubble for yourself. If you want to follow me on Instagram I’m here.

 

Bookend your day

Try to start and close the day with a bit of sobriety work – it really makes a difference to your mindset and helps you stay motivated.

You could read a sobriety related book (here’s a good list) or a blog, listen to a podcast or do something else that supports your sobriety. This will help you stay inspired and keep alcohol free living top of mind.

Tip: Audiobooks are a great way of ‘reading’ a book. Even if you only listen for 10 mins in the car or as you get ready for work, you could soon get through a whole book pretty effortlessly.

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4 Common Thoughts At The End Of Dry January

4 Common Thoughts At The End Of Dry January

We’re approaching the end of Dry January – how was it for you?

Whether you’ve found it hard or easy, I know that by this point in the month many people start to wonder:

  • “Does taking the whole of January off prove I don’t have a problem?”
  • “Will this break from drinking make me great at moderating now?”
  • “I miss the taste so much. I can’t wait to pour my first glass of wine.”
  • “Phew, it’s nearly over. I can get my life back!”

Today’s blog isn’t about nagging you to stay sober or making you feel bad if you’re ready to go back to booze. But it is about helping you make wise choices, because sometimes our minds play tricks on us.

Before I quit drinking for good, I did a couple of Dry Januarys and Sober Octobers (with mixed results) and there’s so much I wish I’d known back then.

If you recognise yourself in any of the statements above, this blog will help answer your questions, so you can move forward with intention.

 

“Does taking the whole of January off prove that I don’t have a problem?”

This train of thought stems from the idea that there are two types of drinkers – ‘normal’ drinkers and alcoholics. Quitting for a month proves that you’re not a raging alcoholic, so that means everything is totally hunky dory… right?

Here’s the thing – at the height of my drinking career, I also quit for a month. Lots of people do. I didn’t particularly enjoy it, but I did it. I needed to prove to myself that everything was FINE at a time when things really weren’t fine.

Rather than worrying about whether you do or don’t ‘have a problem’, focus on how you feel instead. Write down what you loved about this month, what you disliked and why you want to drink again. Get it all down in black and white so you have a record.

If you decide to drink again, make sure you journal about it. Record how you feel in the moment, the morning after and in the days between drinking sessions. This is important data about how alcohol affects your quality of life – and that’s what really matters.

 

“Will this break from drinking make me great at moderating now?”

Here’s what you need to know: if you go back to drinking after a month off, your tolerance to the drug is going to be much lower, so you won’t need as much in order to feel the effects. This will make it seem as if you’re ‘controlling’ your intake better, but you aren’t really.

Once you’ve put this powerful drug back into your system, your body (and that booze loving part of your brain) will say something along the lines of “let’s do this again, soon…” and so before long, you will drink again.

Next time, you’ll need to drink a bit more in order to feel the same effects, so it will be harder to stop at one. The time after that you’ll need even more… and all of a sudden, you’ll be back to where you were before.

The slide back into your old drinking patterns may happen slowly, or it may happen fast (it’s different for different people) but it will happen. (I wrote more about why moderation doesn’t work here).

 

“I miss the taste so much. I can’t wait to pour my first glass of wine.”

If you’ve been fantasising about pouring a glass of your favourite wine at the end of Dry January, here’s my tip for you: take your time over it. Ask yourself, how does this taste? Is this as good as I remembered it to be?

Here’s the thing: most of us had to work quite hard to acquire our taste for wine, which means most of us also lose our taste for it over time. After a whole month off, you might find your favourite wine isn’t quite how you remembered – perhaps it’s vinegary or has an unappealing smell.

If that much-longed-for glass of wine tastes disappointing – but you force it down anyway – take note of that. This behaviour suggests you’re not really drinking for the taste.

Of course, people drink for many reasons other than taste and that’s ok. My point is simply, don’t kid yourself it’s all about the taste for you if it isn’t. If you’re going to use this powerful drug again, it’s important to know why you’re doing it.

 

“Phew, it’s nearly over. I can get my life back!”

This blog isn’t about shaming anyone who’s tried alcohol free living and has decided they’re happier keeping the drug in their life. But I do want you to make a decision you’ll feel good about.

Before February 1st arrives, take some time out to write down how Dry January has benefited your health, happiness, finances, free time, sleep, wellbeing and self esteem. Has it improved your outlook on life? Get this stuff out of your head and onto paper.

Double check you did the work. Did you read at least one book about AF living? Did you challenge your beliefs about booze and educate yourself about the drug? Did you do the all-important mindset work?

When I coach women to stop drinking, we spend a lot of time getting clear on the myths, illusions and romanticisation that surrounds this boozy world we live in. It’s so important you give yourself the chance to do that too, before you decide that alcohol-free living isn’t your thing.

 

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2018 In Review: Our Alcohol Free Highlights Of The Year

2018 In Review: Our Alcohol Free Highlights Of The Year

I’m not normally one to brag, but I think today’s blog might just be my best one of the year!

It’s not because I’ve written anything special – in fact, I’ve hardly contributed to this at all.

Instead, I asked some of the women who’ve taken my Getting Unstuck course to talk us through their alcohol free highlights of 2018.

They’ve each shared a picture that sums up their favourite sober moment from the past 12 months.

The result? A really, really inspiring read!

You’ll love reading this if you’re thinking about taking a break from booze in the new year, or you’ve been wondering what an alcohol free life is *really* like.

(And if you’re heading into your first ever AF Christmas and you need a bit of motivation, this will definitely give you a boost)

 

2018 In Review: Our Alcohol Free Highlights Of The Year

 

“This picture is everything!! My first grandchild. I was about 2 months sober at the time and am now at 8 months AF. The picture was taken at 4am and I never would have been there sober, present and grateful if it weren’t for your course.”

 

“My daughter and I did a 5k obstacle colour run. I am 64 so not bad for an old girl and I certainly would not have been able to do it if I was drinking!”

 

“I went to Colorado with a girlfriend for a fun alcohol free weekend and we went hiking at Rocky Mountain national park. Here is my ‘yay, I am AF pose!’”

 

“Going on my first AF holiday in February after quitting in January and realising I wasn’t just AF but I was actually enjoying it… this pic is me arriving at the hotel, still in my travel clothes waiting for our room to be ready after a long flight and a hellish taxi ride and my first thought was ‘I need a drink’… and choosing a lovely mocktail.”

 

“This was my first AF vacation outside the US. Getting my passport stamped used to be an excuse to drink and party, but last summer I spent 3 weeks in Nova Scotia and Quebec completely AF. It was much more fun because I was present for everything, and I came back rested instead of wrecked and resentful. Looking forward to the next one in Scandinavia in March. 150 days AF tomorrow!”

 

“Partying sober at my local Pride festival! 🌈 ❤️ I danced my socks off to a Dolly Parton tribute singer, laughed so hard & generally had a blast. Then I got to leave when I wanted, drive myself home & wake up with a clear head the next morning 😁”

 

“I was accepted into Physician Assistant school, at the school I wanted! If it hadn’t been for quitting alcohol, I would never would have gone for this dream!”

 

“I ran a 5km muddy dog challenge with my springador, Meg. An amazing achievement for 2 reasons…1) I am not, nor will I ever be, a runner and I wanted to see if I could at least run 5km; 2) I did it on my own! Surrounded by strangers! And it was a lovely experience to simply rely on myself.”

 

“I was broken hearted after losing one of my lovely golden retrievers at the end of August. Yet I’m glad I was AF through her illness as I was able to be there for her. I still have her sister Poppy, and 6 weeks ago Ruby joined us! She’s now 16 weeks and it’s essential for me to be AF to manage her. Poppy and I are really enjoying having her – I wouldn’t have contemplated getting a pup if I’d still been drinking.”

 

“My highlight was being at my two friends weddings, sober and present, enjoying the whole event from start to finish… no regrets or forgetting all the fun stuff that happened.”

 

“I don’t have a specific highlight, but the biggest change is the time I spend with my family. I’m so much more present and willing to help out now. We have sleepovers all the time with our nieces and nephew. I was able to fly down and spend time with my Gram for her 87th birthday and see my mom. We adopted a new dog. None of this would have happened had we been drinking.”

 

“My AF highlight was when I did trap karaoke in front of hundreds of people! I was nervous and I almost didn’t perform, but I was persistent and got on stage! It was so exhilarating and fun!”

 

“My sober 50th birthday party!”

 

“Completing the national 3 peaks challenge in under 24 hours (23 hours and 51 minutes). Ben Nevis (Scotland), Scafell Pike (England) and Snowdon (Wales) ❄️ This is me near the summit of Ben Nevis in June with snow.”

 

“My visit to Barcelona was booked and paid for by money I would have wasted on wine. I fell head over heels in love with this city and embraced all that it had to offer – I had adventures rather than sitting in bars. The best bit about being sober is seeing these things with fresh eyes and a clear mind. What’s not to love about colourful fountains dancing to cheesy 80s music!”

 

<< Click here to find out more about the Getting Unstuck course >>

 

Let me know…

What’s been your alcohol free highlight of 2018? If you’ve got a favourite sober moment you’d like to share, I’d love to hear about it!

 

Download your free Wine O'Clock Survival Guide!

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Fighting Cravings: How To Stop Them In Their Tracks

Fighting Cravings: How To Stop Them In Their Tracks

Cravings are common in early sobriety.

Suddenly, drinking is all you can think about and that little voice in your head whispers, “just one won’t hurt!”

It’s normal to experience cravings. They’re not a sign that you’re weak, flawed or destined for failure. They’re just a sign that you’re changing a habit and you’re feeling it.

I know how tough cravings are to deal with, particularly during the boozy festive season, when there’s so much alcohol around.

So this blog is all about going back to basics. Here are 5 simple strategies for stopping cravings in their tracks:

 

Listen to the craving

Cravings nearly always have something to tell us – they’re often a sign that something is wrong. We need to address the problem, rather than trying to smother it with booze.

Often, the message cravings have for us is that we’re hungry and thirsty. Seriously – it can be that simple. Having a glass of water and a snack can be a simple fix.

 

Play the movie to the end

Close your eyes and picture what will really happen if you have ‘just one drink’. How will you feel later tonight or tomorrow morning? Spend two minutes doing this. Be brutally honest.

The fantasy is always that you’ll be able to control your alcohol use this time – but if you could do that, you would’ve figured out how to do so by now. (I explained why moderation rarely works here).

 

Ask: how will alcohol fix this situation?

Remember, booze doesn’t change things. Whatever you’re drinking to escape will still be there when you sober up (only it’ll be even harder to cope with because you’re hungover).

People always talk about alcohol being ‘relaxing’ and ‘a great stress buster’. But I’ve yet to meet anyone who feels calm and stress free the morning after drinking too much.

 

Change your surroundings

Get outside and go for a walk. You could run off your cravings, or swim away from them, or sweat them out in hot yoga. Even something simple like a hot bath or shower helps.

Cravings are often a sign that we need a break and some headspace. Forcing yourself to change your surroundings can help satisfy this need.

 

If all else fails, strike a deal

Agree that you’ll reconsider the situation – tomorrow morning. Deciding to drink again is a big deal, so you’ll want to sleep on it first. You’re simply postponing the decision.

It’s unlikely you’ll wake up in the morning and think “I should’ve drunk last night!” But if you do, well – you know what to do! At least you’ll be making that decision in the cold light of day.

 

Bonus tip: don’t forget to do the deep work

Consider the tips above as emergency first aid. They’ll help you get out of a craving when you’re in one – but for long term, happy sobriety you really do need more of a strategy.

Focus on building a solid sober foundation for yourself. This means educating yourself about alcohol and addiction, learning new coping mechanisms and tackling the root causes behind your drinking.

(This is the kind of work we do in my stop drinking course, Getting Unstuck)

 

Let me know…

How do you deal with cravings? If there’s something that helps you stay on track during difficult times, I’m sure other people would love to hear about it. Leave a comment below!

 

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