I stopped drinking alcohol: Here is what happened

I stopped drinking alcohol: Here is what happened

What a year of sobriety has taught me. It was April 2018 when I had my last drink.  In this post, I share why I stopped drinking alcohol and what happened when I did it. 

If you look at all my Instagram photos before April 2018 you would probably see me holding a drink in every second photo. 

I am not writing this from a place of being ‘pure’, holy’ or some sort of health guru.   I have always had a lot of fun drinking and I looked forward to it.

I’m also not writing this as some sort of recovering alcoholic or anything.

I have never considered myself a problem drinker, and that’s not why I quit.  I would say I used to drink as much as the average Australian. Alcohol made me feel less stressed, more confident, friendly, and generally more fun to be around and I felt more free.  It’s like when I drank I become another person, even if it was just a happier, less stressed and better dancing person.

But it got to a point where I felt alcohol was no longer serving me in a positive way.  Maybe it never has but I just woke up one day knowing that alcohol was doing me more harm than good and the feeling was so strong that I couldn’t ignore it. 

I realised I was using alcohol habitually to have fun and stress less. Despite the good times I had when I had a drink or two, I always hated the aftermath of it all…. being hungover, tired from the late nights, wasting money, having unexplained anxiety, feeling like absolute crap and probably my least favourite thing, missing a whole Sunday with the family just because I drank the night before! Sometimes I would feel like crap for days and this would impact everything from how I would start my day, my week, work out, parent my kids and the list goes on.

Most importantly, I had the realisation that consuming alcohol would never have a positive effect on my health and it certainly was not helping some of my ongoing health issues.   I never thought drinking alcohol could actually be causing unnecessary stress on my body and making my symptoms worse and possibly making me sicker in the long term. 

And that’s not to mention my poor liver.    Did you know our livers basically work their asses off 24/7 to detox our body which allows us to heal and be healthy.  Our environment already exposes us to enough toxins so our liver is at hark work already, let alone when we drink something like alcohol, which is essentially a toxin.  Add a health issue into the mix then imagine how hard your body is working just to keep it at some sort of equilibrium.

And what probably disturbed me the most is that I started to build up quite a tolerance to it.  I used to get tipsy off half a glass but then it got to the point I had to consume more and more to get to that ‘magical place’.  

So I woke up one day, after a fun night out and quite literally said, ‘that’s it!”  It happened by accident, and I certainly didn’t plan it. Initially, I was just going to have a month off but I felt so good I decided to do another month, and then another, until I had gone so long without it I couldn’t possibly think of going back.

It’s been 14 months now, and I’m still thriving, happy and alive. I’ve done four girls weekends, two holidays, a couple of weddings, countless dinners, dates, and all sorts of events including networking ones all completely SOBER and I’m standing strong as a better version of myself!

So if you are curious about having a little break from alcohol, or maybe you are thinking about stopping altogether, here are some things you may like to know about life on the other side:

The average Australian will binge drink without even realising.

Did you know that binge drinking is classed as having six or more standard drinks in one sitting?  That’s one shot of alcohol, half a glass of wine and probably a little less than what you will find in a premix over a period like having a couple over dinner. You can learn more about what a standard drink is here on the Australia Drug Foundation website. In our culture, it doesn’t take much to go over the quota of six drinks in one sitting. 

Be clear on your intention and motivation to stop drinking. 

It could be health or fitness related, or maybe you are trying to save money or simply want to have a break.  Take a moment to really think about why you want to stop drinking and be clear on it. Use this as your motivation to keep going and stand strong during those times you might be tempted.  

Your physical health will improve

No more bloating, unnecessary calories, eating junk food at 2am, loading your liver with toxins, missing out on exercise or being sedentary. You’ll probably lose weight and your energy will improve.

Life without hangovers is pure bliss! 

No more wasteful sleep-ins, feeling seedy, and slothing around all day just to feel human again.  Let’s face it, hangovers are horrible and you will say goodbye to them when you stop drinking!

Your wallet and bank accounts are going to love you!

I have saved SO much money not drinking alcohol.  Do the math on how much you spend every time you drink. When you stop, that money stays in your pocket.  Did someone say online shopping? 

I learned how to take pleasure in the simple things

This is probably what I love most about life since I stopped drinking. The little things that I may have brushed over mindlessly have turned into some of the greatest things that I enjoy. Like the excitement I get from music when I hear a good tune or the concept of being completely present in the moment in whatever I am doing whether it’s a catch up with friends or family, eating a lovely and healthy meal, going for a walk alone or doing a work out. Since not drinking I have learned how to witness how my body reacts in these little moments of pure joy and indulge in every single second.

But I am not going to lie, the journey has not always been easy…

You will grow

Drinking can easily mask any insecurities you may have and you may feel it boosts your confidence and when you stop the skeletons in your closet can pop up.   I found the more stressed I was, the heavier I would drink. When I stopped drinking I suddenly had to take a good look in the mirror and really face the music (like dealing with stress in new ways) but from this I GREW! My relationship with myself and others has improved.

Your social life will change

Some of those relationships that were forged around having a couple of drinks might fade into the background when you stop drinking.  You will have to find new ways to connect by swapping the boozy dinners and nights out for morning walks, smoothie dates or doing a workout together! But being the one who instigates catch ups like this with friends is definitely not a bad thing! It’s likely to impact your friendships in a positive way and weed out the ones that aren’t so good. You can thank me later.

You will have to learn how to deal with people

People will ask if there is something wrong with you, if you are feeling ok, are pregnant, or sick? People do this because they feel judged because you are not drinking and then they may question their own behaviors.   The trick is to be prepared for the questions, stand strong and own your response. You should be proud! But on the contrary, there will be loads of people who won’t even care!

You can still have fun without drinking - yes it’s true! 

It all comes down to your mindset. Just get your butt on the dance floor and start dancing, go on that date, go to that hens, dress up and go out.  It might take a little bit of getting used to but not drinking doesn’t have to be completely life-changing. I often joke that I’ll be the ‘loosest’ person in the room, even when I am sober.  I just get out there and have fun still and I don’t need to be drunk to do it.   During the times you are craving it, or know you might be tempted, come prepared with a substitute, pour it into a champagne glass and cheers! My fave drink to have is Kombucha, but you could try flavoured mineral water or juice.

All in all, stay positive and celebrate the new you!

Take it day by day and know that no habit is permanent which takes the pressures off.  Just focus on your goal and remember why you started.  

Not drinking has affected my life in so many positive ways.  What started as a little challenge to myself, has turned into something truly life changing. I am not even sure I can look back now. 

I really hope this has given you some food for thought and inspired you in some way or another.

If you are willing to give it a try, make sure you drop me a line and let me know how you go. 

Until next time,

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