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Support!

This week has been one of the the harder ones in regards to being sober.

In Australia Melbourne cup is one of the biggest events in the calendar. We get to finish work early, we get super dressed up and head off to whatever venue has been booked for us. Its a really good day. The free drinks flow, the food is usually delicious and everyone gets hammered. I am usually the one who is most up for it. This year was different. I wasn’t drinking. I was determined to still enjoy myself and not dread the event.

I called the venue ahead of arriving to ask what non alcohol drinks they have, they had Carlton zero, I was happy as! It make a difference if people think you are drinking then you don’t have to explain yourself.

We arrive at 12.30pm, the race is at 3pm, I left at 3.30pm LOL! I have 3 Carlton zero’s, had a nice time but I started to feel the turn in the way people were acting and knew it was my cue to leave. The main reason of telling this story is the my manager didn’t drink and stayed with me the whole time. She wanted to support me, it meant a lot as I would never ask anyone too or expect anyone too. It helped.

I am finding that a lot of people are very supportive, more so than I expected. My best friend is great and really understanding as to why I am doing it. My work colleagues get it. My 8 year old daughter who obviously doesn’t understand the main reason behind it but I think is benefiting from me not drinking the most.

The biggest shout out needs to go to my husband. He is one of my 10 followers and reads every post. If you read my first introduction to the blog you will know that one of my fears was it affecting our relationship in a negative way. We think that our relationship is built on our love to socialise (as well as other things of course) which in turn means our love for alcohol and getting boozy. Nearly 7 weeks to not drinking and I am thinking how wrong that is that we think that. Ok so we are not out dancing the night away until 3am, we are not having drunken conversations that will mean nothing the next day or laughing hysterically at things that are not actually not funny but how often do we even do that anymore? I think the last time was a year ago when we had a night out in the city.

Instead and I hope he will agree we are probably in the happiest place we have ever been. I don’t know why. When I try to pin it down one of the things that come to mind is because I or even we are less irritable, my mood is better so I am more tolerant, I feel calmer, I feel good! He does too, he is drinking a lot less and making an effort to eat healthier. If I didn’t have his support or if he moaned about it then this process would have been so much harder. I am so grateful for him.

Its made me realise how important support is and surrounding yourself with those who do support you is a must.

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FOMO

I don’t get it anymore. It probably stopped about a year ago for me. I used to get it bad. I never missed anything and said yes to everything. Every work event, every social event, literally everything.

When I first got to Sydney form the UK being invited out and attending was the only was to meet people and build relationships. You are not sure who you actually want to be friends with so you have to try them all out, right? So I would go out at least twice a week. They were all drinking events, some free and some not free, didn’t matter, all would end with me being drunk. There is a big bubbles culture here with groups of girlfriends. There’s constantly a bottle being bought by who’s ever round it is and your glass is always full. You cant monitor how much you drink therefore before you know it you’ve drank 2 bottle of prosecco and you are hammered!

After 2-3 years of this is Sydney I started to tire of it. Sick of the horrendous hangovers, bored of the bear fear and I would always get my self in trouble by talking to someone about something I shouldn’t to some I shouldn’t have said it too so would have constant anxiety.

I made some great friends along the way but if I look back I am confident I didn’t make them friends because they liked me wasted, surely it was because they actually liked me!

So yeah, I just got over it. I also know that after 9pm when everyone is sloshed no-one remembers anything anyway so i’m not missing out there.

These days I’m much happier staying in with the fam, movie nice food and bed at 10pm (if not earlier), or a nice meal with a friend, long walks or something active. S many people will say I am boring, that’s there problem, I couldn’t be happier doing those things.

So I think the new term is JOMO, joy of missing out. I love that.

Calories

We throw the word calorie around a lot but I’m betting a lot of us don’t actual know or understand what it actual is?

Are all calories equal?

Is fat loss just down to calories in calories out?

Diets don’t work!

These are big debates in the nutrition world.

So what is a calorie?

A calorie is a unit of energy.  More scientifically a calorie is defined as the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of 1 kilogram of water from 0 to 1 degree Celsius.  Way to complicated eh!

So are all calories equal?  Well, yes in terms of a measurement.  100 calories of chocolate is the same as 100 calories of broccoli.  Just like 1kg of feathers weights the same as 1kg of sugar.

Are all calories equal in how they are broken down in the body? No they are not. It’s just not that simple. 

Let’s start with the thermic effect of food.  This means the energy required for digestion, absorption and the disposal of ingested nutrients. 

Protein for example has the highest thermic effect of food, 25-30% of the calories of protein are lost as heat when it metabolises in the body.  Carbs is only 6-8% and fat 2-3%.  This is one reason why higher protein diets are favoured by some for fat loss.  However it’s not such a big difference over the day, some studies have shown that high protein diets boost metabolism by 80-100 calories per day. So interesting!

 I could go on about protein a little more but I think it deserves its own post so I will do that at a later date.  I’ll try to stay on track talking about calories.

Fibre!  We all know what this is but did you know that it is not absorbed in the body?  Fibre is a type of carbohydrate that helps us to feel full without contributing to calories because it doesn’t digest.  High fibre foods are not fully absorbed, for example it’s said that the energy content of an almond is over estimated by 32%.  Great news!  Let’s eat more fibre! It will make our gut happier too!

Is fat loss just down to calories in calories out?

In principle yes.  This has been proven over and over again in studies. The principle of fat loss is that you need to burn more calories that you take in.  The method is the diet choice you make for example if you track macro’s or you do a low carb diet all of which create a calorie deficit.

The other view point is that calories in calories out doesn’t take into consideration hormones imbalances, insulin resistance, PCOS and other health problems.  This view point claims that certain diets help with their health condition, let’s say some believe that a low carb diet helps with insulin resistance.  Again all these methods create a calorie deficit.

So you see, it is about creating that calorie deficit for fat loss and this deficit can vary depending on each individual.  Taking into considerations such as activity levels, your energy you burn at rest, the energy you burn by metabolizing food, calories absorbed through your food quality and hormones. They all matter but if you want to lose fat you still need to be burning off more than you consume.

So do diets work? 

Yes they do if they are creating an energy deficit and you can adhere to that method.  You need to find the right method.  Why would you do low carb if you love bread?  Why would you skip breakfast if you wake up starving and hangry?  Why would you stop eating gluten if you are not intolerant or have celiac disease?  People tend to set themselves up for failure with extremes.  Extremes are not necessary for fat loss.

So yes, calories in calories out is an oversimplification as you need to factor in many variables but the principle for fat loss, weight maintenance or weight gain is scientifically proven.

I will do another post specifically on fat loss soon but I think it’s important to understand the not so simple calorie to begin with.  

I felt this blog was difficult to write as there is so much more to say and it would be very easy to make this post the size of war and peace so I hope I picked out what I think we need to know and understand.  I hope the takeaway is that we are all very different in what works for one and that the quality of food matters.  There is no needs for extreme diets that you cant stick to because they are unrealistic and not sustainable.  You just need to find the deficit that works for you and your lifestyle.

Emma x

What is Healthy anyway?

What does Healthy mean?

I thought I would base my very first nutrition post on overall health, it’s a huge subject so brace yourself for a long post.

In a bid to keep this blog a personal one to me and my experiences I will give you a brief breakdown to my own ongoing journey to achieving optimal health.  As a teenage I was chubby, I was always active though.  I was on the netball team, cross country team and walked to and from school every day.  I would say if I didn’t do these things I would have been a lot bigger.  My relationship with food was awful and I had no idea about nutrition. It wasn’t a thing like it is now.  From being a teenager I would binge, mostly on chocolate but also crisps.  It was in the family, both my sister and me used to sit there devouring all this food in the evening and it didn’t stop for me until my 20’s.  I remember my first diet.  I ate 1000 calories per day, spent 60 minutes in the gym doing only cardio machines, never lifted a weight in my life as they made you bulky, I also worked in a job where I was on my feet 9 hours a day.  It’s fair to say I lost a couple of stone very easily in a short space of time.  My nutrition was so poor I had bad spot breakouts and my hormones where out of whack but I still binged and I thought I was fat. I was a stone underweight and was lucky to still be getting my period.  My relationship with food was not good!  I had never heard of quinoa or a complex carb.  I healthy meal for me was a low calorie ready meal from Marks and spencers.

I could go on and on about the different diets I’ve tried over the years, same as many I’m sure, weight watchers, slimming world, keto, Atkins, intermittent fasting none of which actually promoted health eating.  I mean, come on, you can eat unlimited Muller light yoghurts depending on the colour of the day.  It’s no wonder we are all confused about what we can eat. Don’t even get me started on exercising makes you fat!!  I have lost weight, gained weight, had a baby, been healthy, been unhealthy, drank too much alcohol, stopping drinking alcohol, over exercised, under exercised.

Fast forward 15 years and I am studying nutrition and hope to qualify in May but I am still trying to find that balance just like everyone else.  I have learnt that health is not just about your number on the scales and that there is so much more involved.  Educating myself has helped so much but I still get confused with all the miss information out there.  Constantly questioning myself which I think is part of the learning process.

I don’t claim to know it all but I what I talk about in my blogs comes from a very good place of wanted to spread information what in my opinion based on my learnings and experiences which is what an evidence practitioner should do.

So what does Healthy mean?

There are 6 facets of health.

  • Social – This is your lifestyle, your social life, being part of a community, sense of purpose would come under this facet
  • Physical – this can be aesthetic, activity and movement, health goal, nutrition
  • Emotional – spiritual health, your thoughts, feelings and behaviours
  • Economical – what resources you have, for example your financial situation
  • Intellectual – Your education
  • Psychological – your mental health

I could break these down one by one but I fear I will lose you so instead I would like to talk about the blue zones as we are on the subject of overall health.

There are 5 blue zones across the world.  This means these places have the highest concentration of people living to the age of 100 +.  They are the healthiest people on the plant.

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/books/features/5-blue-zones-where-the-worlds-healthiest-people-live/

What you will notice if you clicked on the link is that none of the blue zones are vegan, low carb or fasting for 16 hours.  Instead they eat probably 90% plant based food including fresh fruit and vegetable, legumes, some fresh fish and good quality meats.  Pretty balanced eh?

The blue zones are not the healthiest in the world just because of diet.  This is what they are doing.

High physical activity
Sense of community and purpose – friends/family
Good sleep
Low stress and good mental health
Balance approach to nutrition
Very little alcohol or moderate
Good amount of sun exposure – vitamin D – I notice they are all coastal locations

Should we be taking a leaf out of the blue zones book?  Is it achievable? I personally like the sound of it and I think there are lots of things we can take from what they do.  I think we do try.

I have days where I feel like I am smashing through life, it’s all in control then other days where I am balancing all the plates and couple might fall and then it’s all out of whack.

I think striving for balance has a lot to answer for too!

What is balance?   Home/work life balance.  Energy balance. Getting enough sleep.  Moderate alcohol intake. Taking your own time but also being there for your family and friends.  It’s all so over whelming isn’t it? I sometimes think striving for balance equals striving for perfection which I am certainly guilty of and then it can affect your anxiety.

Maybe if we aim to master a facet at a time, forming habits before moving on to the next facet.

All the facets link.  This is how they link for me.

Intellectual – educating myself on what works for me

Economical – this for me would be what food is affordable for me and my family, what supplements can I afford to take if any, what activities can I take part in

Physical – if I get my nutrition right this then goes hand in hand with activity and I feel good, getting enough sleep

Emotional and social – feeling more confident to socialise, more energy for work, clear minded and good habits, taking time for myself, getting out in the sunshine, spending time with family

Psychological – all the above help to keep you mind in check

When I do all this right then I am on a roll.  Unfortunately life can get in the way and upset the balance and it doesn’t always go to plan. 

For me the take away from this and I hope you are thinking about too is that Health is so broad and not just about the food we eat and what we weigh, there is a lot more to think about.

I would love to hear what health means to you and what you think of the facets of health?!

Emma x

Emma are you still off the booze?

My final alcohol only blog!

I’ve been quiet I know, the thing is as time goes on I have less to say about my sober journey. At first I blogged to keep me accountable, then I discovered this wonderful community, I even realised I looked forward to writing the blog as I had so much to get off my chest. I don’t anymore. Although I love my life as it is right now there is nothing eventful happening, no big parties to stay sober through, its just work, family, study, gym and I love it.

So I have been thinking about changing the theme of my blog.

If you haven’t read previously I am at the later stages of a nutrition course, once I pass my exams I will be a nutritionist. I love to learn about health, all aspects of it and not just nutrition. Aside from the study I am doing I non stop listen to health, training and nutrition podcasts, listen to audio books and read articles all to develop my passion and knowledge for it. From all the learning I do about health I also love to practice being healthy too!

From my next post I will pick a subject to write about based on the evidence I have discovered/learnt to back it up and the experiences that I have also had with that subject. It will still be a personal blog and alcohol will still feature a lot i’m sure (er health!)

Aside from it being great experience for me to write about nutrition its also a stepping stone to building my confidence to get out onto other social media platforms eventually so I would love any questions or feedback along the way especially if you don’t agree with what I’m saying. Even though social media is a positive in some respects I also need to develop a thicker skin so I can handle myself out there. So when I am a famous nutritionist to the stars you can say you were with me from the beginning LOL!

I don’t have a huge amount of followers however the followers I have I would love to keep as you have offered my support when I have needed it and I hope the blog will still be relevant/helpful to your journey to a healthier life, that’s why we don’t drink isn’t it?

Emma xx

PS – yes I am still off the booze!

Out with the old in with the new!

As time ticks on and I go into my 4th month of not drinking I realise it’s the 4th of February and I have not planned to have the first drink yet.   If you have read previous blogs you will know that I have been thinking about trying moderation.  I still am.  I was committing to 3 months off the booze initially, then dry Jan.  I realised it’s the 4th of Feb so there is no need to not drink anymore yet I am not.

It made me think why? I then started to think about habits and the new ones that I have formed without realising.  One habit I am keen to keep is my mornings. I am so productive in the mornings now.  Every podcast you listen to related to the habits of highly successful people talks about how having a morning routine is vital.  As far as I can tell they are right!  Nailing that morning routine really sets you up for the day.  Last night I went to bed extra early so I could get up at 5am, make a coffee, do some study, 10 minutes of yoga and then get to work for 8am.  There is something really nice about it being dark when you get up and to complete silence before anyone else is up.  By the time I arrive to work I feel like its mid-day and I have achieved so much.  I wouldn’t be doing that on a Monday morning if I was drinking over the weekend.  I’d be tired and my mood would be low, I wouldn’t be motivated.

I heard this recently in an audiobook, Get up and get shit done!  I love that.  So to the point and not dancing around it like so many tend to do.

My mindset has changed too.

I am going to see Jack Whitehall this Friday night and I have no plans to drink. I just don’t want to.  I don’t want to have to queue up at the 5 deep bar only to buy 3 single glass bottles of gross wine but be charged through the roof for it, spend the concert trying to balance them and make sure I don’t knock them over and spill them.  Then have to keep going to the toilet because I drank so much and actually miss the show.  If I don’t drink I will have none of that hassle, I will genuinely laugh at the show knowing I am laughing because its actually funny and not because I’m drunk and best of all I will remember it.  I will save heaps of money and get to drive home.  4 months ago I would never have thought like this no way!

Its true when people who have quit drinking or successfully gone from heavy to moderate drinker say, you need to do at least 3 months to really see the benefits and have that attitude change.  I also think you need to be ready to do it, if I had to stop drinking for let’s say a health reason when I was 30 I wouldn’t have done it whole heartedly as I loved to drink then, I wouldn’t have been ready, you can’t be forced to do it as you are more reluctant to change that way.  It’s not even about age, I have friends older than me who probably drink more than I did yet they don’t want to stop, they are just not at the point I was, everyone has a different point, a different motivation or reason, they may never get to it.  I am truly grateful that I did, it really has been life changing. 

Emma xx

Myth busting

You can’t have a good time without a drink! You are boring without alcohol. Drinking makes you cool. Alcohol is not a drug because it legal.

All the above I believed. Why wouldn’t I? It is ingrained in us from an early age that when we get older we should drink alcohol, it’s what makes us an adult. It’s only this last 4 months of my 38 years of life that I have realised we do this and it’s the most ridiculous thing isn’t it?

We grow up asking dad for a sip of his beer, we see mum drinking wine to relax her and can’t wait to be old enough to feel those grown up feelings. It’s normal to drink, or so society, or at least the society i have been part of made it normal. Up until recently I was bringing my daughter up exactly the same way.

Most humans including myself are stupid. We have a tendency to believe everything we read and not question it. Advertising and marketing are the absolute worst, glorifying alcohol. Pimms o’clock. Lambrini girls have more fun. The Budweiser advert!

This post has come from a little reflection. I went camping this weekend. I was a little nervous about it, camping to us is about cracking open that beer at 10.30am putting the tent up and just leisurely drinking throughout the day into the night. Before you know it you have had 4 beers and 2 bottles of bubbles cranking the music up and chatting shit. Then you sleep horrendous, get up at 6am the next day as you have no choice because the tent has turned into a sauna and you do the whole day again but not as well as the day before. Then morning 2 you wake up wanting to die rather than pack away all your tent feeling queezy as hell hoping your husband offers drive home so you don’t have to admit you probably shouldn’t as you are still drunk from the night before.

It’s funny as writing it down is making me wonder why I would miss that but I was worried I would. I had an absolute blast without the booze. I had so much energy although still had the shit sleep but I think that’s just camping isn’t it! I was playing tennis with the kids, playing laser tag, swimming, morning walks fresh as a daisy. I was anything but boring. I went to bed the same time as everyone else who were drinking. I didn’t feel left out at any point. I had zero arguments with my husband. An overall success! It made me want to drink even less.

I have to give credit to AF beer though, it really does help.

I am reading more about the harsh facts about alcohol lately that not many of us make reference to because they are classed as scaremongering but I think we should have a bit more scaremongering to counteract the glorifying that alcohol gets!

Scaremongering coming up. Alcohol is a drug and we need to remember that. Every time it goes into our body we are poisoning it. Some are more sensitive to it and I think I was one of them with the severity of my hangovers. There is sufficient evidence that ethanol – the chemical present in all alcoholic beverages – is a carcinogen!!!! It’s causes cancer! If you have breast cancer in your family and drink a lot of alcohol you are increasing your risk of getting by 35%, this is big and frigggin scary as hell. Alcohol per year kills more people than global terrorism and alcohol kills more people than any other drug! Yet the government still let the media glamorise it because they want the money but think of all the money they could be saving the health service of no one drank.

Ok as I write this I see I have gone off on a tangent, I’m not preaching. If you have read my previous posts I’m not planning to be a non drinker forever but I am glad I know all the bad stuff because if I do drink again I can do it knowing what I am doing to my body as that would be my choice. I’m hoping this information will help me moderate especially now I know I’m not boring and I don’t need the alcohol to get through any event.

Happy Aussie day weekend to Aussie family xxx

A side of guilt!

This is one emotion I struggle to control.  I feel guilt for everything.

Guilt for say no to playing a board game with my daughter because I have 10 other things to do, guilt for eating the cake, guilt for taking a day off work sick, guilt for not getting up on time to do my yoga, guilt for not writing my blog as often, guilt for skipping the gym, guilt for thinking of drinking alcohol again. 

The last one is consuming me at the moment.  Then I think why, why am I striving for perfection all the time?  Why is it bothering me so much, I’ve not failed, I’ve done the 90 days and then some.  Why?!!!

I googled it.

We experience 5 hours a week of guilty feelings – WOW that’s a big chunk of time.
Guilt makes us reluctant to enjoy life – this makes me sad
Guilt trips make you feel guilty but also resentful – I can understand this

If you googled the meaning of guilt and this is what it said.

Guilt is a feeling people typically have after doing something wrong, intentionally or accidentally. A person’s sense of guilt usually relates to their moral code. Guilt isn’t necessarily bad. Sometimes it’s even productive.

Ok so how can I make my guilty feelings productive?  I google also.

Move beyond comparing and competing – I have said before and do try to remember that comparison is the thief of joy it’s very difficult not to compare.  Example – when you see someone making not drinking alcohol look so easy, it’s hard not to wonder why you are struggling. 

Own your choices – yes!  I mean what’s the worst that can happen.  So I took a day off work, my daughter was sick, I chose to take the day off so I could be with her, I shouldn’t feel guilty for that.

Think about what you would say if a friend told you they feel guilty for the same reason – this one is the best.  So true, for every reason above I would say don’t be silly, give yourself a break, don’t be so hard on yourself.  No-one expects you to be perfect.

Practice mindfulness – this one keeps popping up.  I put it off all the time. Then I feel guilty about it LOL!

There are more but these are my favorites and the ones I will really think about specifically with the drinking guilt.   Not comparing with everyone, everyone’s journey is different.  If I do drink again, I will own that decision and if it doesn’t work I will go back to not drinking.  It’s not the end of the world!

To drink or not to drink?

I’ve been a little quiet for the last few weeks, mainly because my parents have been here in Australia visiting so its been busy but also because I am battling with myself about if my future and if it has me drinking alcohol or not.

When I started this journey it was for 3 months. Then I got so involved in it and loved all the things that I was getting from it that I thought I can do this much longer. Then I committed to dry Jan. For the last couple of weeks I’ve been feeling guilty for wanting to drink again. I haven’t and I wont drink in January. I’m thinking more long term, like will I drink again ever?

I was chatting to my new friend and fellow blogger Claire (hi Claire) over email about it. That I feel guilty for even thinking about drinking again. All the other bloggers I follow all seem to be committing to a life alcohol free, I’m not sure if that’s what I wanted. Did I? Do I? I did at one point, am I changing my mind?

Then strangely a podcast recommendation came up about people who stop drinking for a length of time, say 90 days and then reintroduce themselves to drinking with the intention of having a healthier relationship with it. Well this is bloody fate, I listened. I think this is what I wanted all along, a much healthier relationship with alcohol.

Questions its made me think about.

Why did I start drinking in the first place?
To fit in, because it was the normal thing to do. To get hammered on the park when I was 14 because everyone else was. To down some white lightning them vomit everywhere LOL. Social acceptance.

Why do I drink now?
I don’t care if I fit in anymore, I really don’t and having this break has made me realise that. I have also realised that I don’t want to get drunk anymore. That wasted feeling is horrible and it comes with the hangover, I don’t want that. I don’t need to drink, I love that I know that now. However I do feel the need to drink when I am in an uncomfortable social situation.

What do I like about drinking?
I actually love the taste of wine. A cold crisp glass of wine with nice meal or a cold beer around the pool on a hot day.

In the podcasts it talks about putting boundaries in place if you decide to drink again and finding your sweet spot. Looking at the answers above I know what my boundaries need to be.

No emotional drinking – so not turning to wine after a crap day
Do not plan to drink at free drink events
To begin with only drink when its planned
Do not keep wine in the house unless it for planned entertaining
Absolutely no drinking bubbles – nothing good will come from this
Stick to sweet spot drinking

My sweet spot
If I think about drinking wine I think I am happiest of no more that half a bottle which is 375 mls of wine, that is just over 2 glasses of wine and no more than once per week. This would mean I still get that little happy buzz, I get to enjoy the wine but would still avoid hangover. Am I just convincing myself that is OK?

Another behavior change I need to make is saying that I have an addictive personality! Why do we convince ourselves of this? I’m going to start saying I can change the way I feel or act with alcohol.

There was a great analogy in the podcast. It was that you plan the climb up Everest but you don’t plan the decent and the decent can be even harder. I love that and its true. So many people will do dry Jan then on the 1st of Feb get totally wasted in celebration that they didn’t drink for a month. If you think about it it makes no sense!

I’m still thinking about this but the more I do the more I wonder if I can move into that slow lane. I would love to be one of those people at the dinner table when the waiter goes to fill your glass up but you so O no thank you I’ve had enough, ha ha! Only time will tell and I if I do decide to drink again I’m sure it will be another learning curve. What I do know is that if I do drink again I want to be in charge of it not the other way around.

Emma xx

Dry Jan

Quote of the year for me – You have to know where you are to know where you want to be.

I heard this when I was thinking of stopping drinking. I loved it. It made me realize that I was drinking too much. As I am someone always trying to be healthier I knew drinking was holding me back.

Another is if you want to change you have to change something. Simple, direct and so true. Another favorite.

I’m 99 days into no drinking with no real goal at the moment. Once I did my 90 days I just thought I would continue but I feel I need to commit to a length of time. To have something to work towards. I will do dry January for the first time in my life.

I never used to understand dry Jan, if someone said to me they were doing it I would be all confused and ask why? Why would someone choose to not drink for no reason? Lol what an idiot I am! Its because I was jealous, I didn’t think so at the time but its because I didn’t think I could do it so I would try to bring others down, makes me feel ashamed. Now look at me, 99 days in, I haven’t drank at the hardest time of the year and not dry Jan seems like a breeze. Not because I’m not so amazing at not drinking, far from it. Its because everyone else will be doing it. I want to experience a world where I dont have to explain why i am not drinking, I can just say I’m doing dry Jan and its accepted, no questions asked.

For anyone doing it, I have tips to help you get through it.

  1. I’m not going to go through every benefit as there are too many (see previous posts) but I do want to say that before I quit I was a healthy person, no medical conditions, a healthy weight, physically fit and no mental health problems. I have still seen so many benefits so imagine how great someone would feel if they are not healthy.
  2. Know what you are going to drink – Heineken zero for me has been my savior. I drank non-alcoholic prosecco on Christmas day. I make a really nice mocktail. Make an effort with your drinks to ensure you are still drinking what you enjoy and not just water.
  3. Become a morning person if you aren’t already – fill your days and take advantage of the fresh mornings, you will learn to love them. Sometimes being up an hour before everyone else is great, even if you just sit and have a brew in peace.
  4. Find a project to do throughout the month – by this I mean something you want to achieve that’s not about your health such as weight loss and gym gains. So something you’ve been meaning to do for ages like decorate that spare room, start painting or writing again, sign up and attend a cooking class, get the gist? I’m not going to say what mine is as its so lame!
  5. Make realistic health goals too! If you want to lower your blood pressure, go get it tested at the beginning and at the end to see what difference you have made to your health.
  6. Get creative with your social calendar – don’t plan in any boozy nights, just don’t unless you have too. You’ll struggle to enjoy yourself and then you’ll feel down about it and it may make you drink. I started indoor rock climbing and early morning walks. Team up with your mates and arrange sober activities to do.
  7. Sugar – when you quit alcohol you are taking out a lot of sugar form your diet and you may get sugar cravings. Be prepared. Try to find something that will satisfy your sweet tooth but wont pile on the weight. Otherwise if you are one of those annoying people that can eat anything and get away with it then eat what you want!
  8. If its your thing join a forum. The one year no bear Facebook forum is really inspiring and can help keep you on track and there are lots of free blogs on the internet.
  9. Revel in the benefits and you might go longer than a month.

Hope this helps xx

Having a wobble at Christmas time

I’ve felt a little off in my mood the last few days and I’ve thought about having a drink a couple of times. I then feel disappointed for wanting to drink. I can’t put my finger on what’s wrong with me.

My parents are here visiting Australia for the first time from the UK. We have been looking forward to this for months. Im so happy to have them here I should be over the moon.

I also shared my blog with my Facebook friends and got some amazing comments and messages which was so motivated I felt like I will never drink again.

I’m wondering if I feel flat after a week of highs?

I’m also off work for 3 weeks and out of my routine, I’m not ashamed to say I love routine. I feel all out of whack. My exercise, my food, my sleep! Everyone keeps saying sit down, relax. I’m like what? I don’t know how? I’m also thinking of the next thing I should be doing. My mind races.

I got up super early this morning as I wanted some time by myself and went for a big walk. I also wanted to benefit from the no hangover after Christmas Day to keep me on track of not drinking. Walking/running is probably the only time I get to really think about stuff, if I go for a walk I always get home with loads of ideas and bore my husband to death with them. Today I listened to a podcast about mindfulness. Lots of us have a perception about mindfulness, yoga loving yippies meditating for hours. It’s actually just being present in any situation. It made me realise I am never present in anything. Even when I do my yoga in the mornings I am thinking that I need to get through it to make sure I get ready on time for work. When my daughter was opening her presents on Christmas Day I was thinking when she’s done this I’ll put the coffee on and breakfast, I’ll have to clean this mess up, where is all this new stuff going to go? When i read with my daughter I’m thinking Urgh I need to make dinner. I am never just there enjoying the moment and being present.

The reason this is relevant is because in all the things I read about quitting drinking being present is something that most mention as a benefit. I’m wondering if that they mean just being there and remembering what happened? Maybe these people are naturals at mindfulness?
I’m going to work on this more, 10 minutes a day.

The podcast helped me have some direction again. It’s made me realise that I have relied on podcasts, books and blogs during this process more that I thought to keep me on track and because I’ve not been in my usual routine I’ve not been reading and listening. I will make sure I make time for it over the next couple of weeks.

On a really positive note, I found decent sparking wine that me and my mum had a Christmas Day. It was called Edenvale from Coles for any Aussie’s out there, sweet but did the job!

I think the quote I keep remembering during this very usually boozy time is that no one regrets not drinking the day after!
Merry Christmas everyone.

The results!

12 weeks done (well 12 and a half but who’s counting).  This was my initial goal and I couldn’t be more proud with what I have achieved and the differences I have seen in that time.

I feel I need to quickly explain why I did this in case you don’t know me or have just started reading this blog.  In a very small nutshell I felt that the amount of alcohol I was drinking was affecting my everyday life in many ways.  There are many more factors which I do go on to explain.

I’m going to start with the stats from the app I have been using.  When I downloaded this app it’s asked me how much you drink, how much it costs for your drink of choice etc. then works out the follow.

  • 214 glasses of 150ml of white wine not consumed
  • 378 units of alcohol not consumed (women are supposed to have 14 per week and I was averaging double that)
  • $640 saved – although this figure is based on me buying wine in the house and doesn’t account for buying drinks out so this figure is much higher
  • 25,833 calories saved

That last one, calories saved!  I have to break this down.  You’ll see from my goals of what I wanted to achieve that fat loss was not one of them.  I didn’t want this to be about that I wanted it to be around overall health however if I did lose a bit then bonus!

There is 7700 calories in 1kg of fat.  So to lose 1kg of fat then you will need to consume 7700 calories less that your body burns per week.  Same thing applies to gaining fat but you’ll need to eat 7700 more than you burn per week to gain 1kg.   So according to my figures I should have lost 3.35kg of fat.  I didn’t.  However I did lose 2kg, yey!  So where did the other 1.35kg go (10,395 calories)? I ate them!  Yes that’s right.  You stop drinking and you get all these extra calories to eat and you still lose a little bit of fat.  On the flip side if I drank all those 25,833 calories I could have gained 3.35kg!

Looking at the other figures just makes me think WOW how many hangovers did I save myself from.  The thought of a hangover still makes me feel queasy! 

From my very first post I listed the pros of quitting drinking and what I wanted to gain for this.  I am going to cherry pick the ones I think are worth mentioning otherwise this could go forever.

  1. Did I mention no more hangovers? 
    I don’t know if I suffer worse than others with this but I’ve had hangovers so bad that I would rather endure labour again.  Hangovers are not just one day when you are over 30, they last 3 days and they don’t mix well with kids.  Happy to never have one again!
  2. Save money
    I think I have saved a grand easy if you take in consideration taxis, the cost of drinks a night out, food on the way home.
  3. Overall optimal health
    100% this has been achieved.  This is because I am making better food choices (no more Sunday carb hangover binges and Monday bloat) better motivation therefore being more active, I have more time to organise my life therefore my anxiety is so much better, my relationships are better, I mean I could go on and on.
  4. A better role model for my daughter
    This is a big one for me and I’m going to tell you quite a humiliating story.  I once went out for a bottomless brunch.  I go so hammered.  My husband and daughter came to meet me to take me home.  I was walking down the street in a zigzag paralytic state and my then 6 year old daughter said mummy why you acting and walking like that I don’t like it.  She got really upset seeing her mummy in such a state.  I was in complete denial about how drunk I was but it struck a chord in me, even that drunk I remember her little face.  I’d like to say it’s the last time that happened but it wasn’t, maybe a few more after that.   This story will get judgment from people, I know it will but I can’t take it back.  I asked my daughter this morning on the way to school if she likes mummy not drinking, she said yes.  I asked her why and she said because you are happier (cute) She’s 8 and my biggest fan, she idolises me and I want that to continue.
  5. Stronger immune system
    No illness, no feeling ill.  Before this I had 3 colds 1 month. I had an operation about 4 weeks in and I went under general anaesthetic.  I recovered from that op so quickly I was back in the gym after 10 days.  I’m not saying it’s because I wasn’t drinking but being healthier over I reckon helped.
  6. Strength gains
    I love my strength training and before this 12 weeks I was plateauing for ages with no real gains.  As I had the op at 4 weeks then I had 2 weeks off the gym I would say my gym progress has been in the last 6 weeks.  Here is my progress.
    Deadlift – lifting 15kg heavier
    Squat – 10kg heavier
    I can now do 3 pull ups (not easily though ha)
    Barbell hip thrust – 40kg heavier
    I run 1-2 per week and I have knocked 37 seconds per km off my time
    I had a Dexa scan before and after.  I lost 3% body fat.
    I genuinely feel stronger, fitter than I have ever been
  7. No more dependency
    I thought how the hell am I going to get through a Sunday without my bottle of wine?  What will I do when I’ve had a shit day at work?  What is going to calm me down?  It make me feel better.  Turns out that all of this was relatively easy after about week 6.  Habits break, it’s different for everyone but I think they say after about 7 weeks.  At the 12 weeks stage I can honestly say that I don’t even think about turning to the wine.
  8. Anxiety
    I’m lucky, I get it but not as bad as some.  What I do know is that drinking makes this worse.  I am so chilled at the moment and it’s such a busy time in my life I’d usually be pulling my hair out.  Yet we drink because we think it makes us less anxious.   I have had a huge knot in my shoulder that my husband has pointed out to me many times, I thought it was from doing weights.  It’s completely gone!
  9. My skin
    So many people have commented on my skin looking brighter, fresher and clearer.  I don’t see it so much because I have to see it with no makeup on in the morning LOL but I’ll take it!
  10. Productivity
    How many of us feel close to burn out?  I’m not singling out mum’s (ok I am) but we are super busy.  This is me.  5.30am up  and do Yoga, get ready for work, get Hanna ready for school making sure she has everything she needs, walk to school, get bus and train to work, study on the way to work, 8am-5pm work with the gym at lunch time, travel home and study again, get home at 6.30pm, cook dinner, play, read sort Hanna out, put Hanna to bed, do lunches for next day, watch Netflix for 45 minutes, hide the friggin elf on the shelf, 9pm bed.  It’s full on.  On top of that you have to arrange your social life, book things, plan things.  This is most certainly no different to any other parent out there.  Sometimes you want to throw in towel, run away and never come back.   Well somehow I have more time since I quit drinking, I am getting through the things I need to do easier, my concentration is slightly better and life isn’t really such a chore.  I am doing the best I have ever done at work, I’m actually retaining some information from my studies and I’m organised as hell.

 Okay enough boasting from me.  It does sound like that doesn’t it but these are the changes that have genuinely happened.  I feel like I have been let in to the world’s best kept secret.

So one more list, things that I have learnt.

  1. That I am still dizzy as hell with or without the booze, a true blond!
    On my original list I put no more brain fog.  LOL I still get this on the reg, maybe not in a Monday morning after a big weekend kind of way but in a I’m just a bit stupid kind of way, my husband will vouch for this.
  2. My sleep is average
    One thing that many sober people say is that you get amazing sleeps.  This one has skipped me completely.  I sleep ok, I wake a lot and can be quite restless.  I don’t have them horrible drunk sleeps anymore obviously and I feel well rested so that’s a positive. 
  3. That Abstinence is the way for me
    I can’t moderate so it’s one or the other at this stage.  If I went back to drinking today I would down a whole bottle of wine and then again tomorrow.  Unless I can somehow train my brain to think about it differently then for now abstinence is for me.
  4. That stopping drinking doesn’t solve all your problems
    Shit still happens, I still have down days where I can’t be arsed, I still get spots each month, people still irritate me and piss me off, I have days at work where I just can’t be bothered.  I had unrealistic expectations that it would all be perfect all the time.
  5. I’m a morning person
    Before I had Hanna I would have said I was a night owl but as a new mum you kind of get thrown into having to be  morning person.  For the past 8 years I have got used to it and now it’s when I am at my best.  My husband hates it because there is no stop button, he’s drinking his morning brew trying to wake up and I’m sweeping up around him at 6am, this happened just last week.  I get up now and do 10 minutes of Yoga on my balcony every day, I’m planning my day my brain is super active.  Even at the weekends I’m up at 5.30am.
  6. Comparison is the thief of joy (eye roll on the cheesy statement but it’s true)
    I try really hard to not compare myself to anyone anymore.  It makes me unhappy and there is no point. 
  7. I’m a better driver
    Weird one but I have been known to be a bad driver.  I’ve had a few crashes in my time but not since being here in Australia.  Since being here I have developed a fear of driving and avoided it where I could.  Here is the reason.  Have you ever drank so much the night before that you drive in the morning and everything is in slow motion and you know you shouldn’t be doing it but you do because you have to get somewhere?  I once went to a festival (If you read this Donna you will remember) stopped drinking at 3am then got up at 8am to drive home.  I was so tired and drunk that we had to stop for a MacDonald’s and a nap in the car park before I could carry on.  It was the worst.  I was a lot younger, maybe 28 but still old enough to know better.  Anyway I now don’t have that day after feeling ever and feel so much more confident driving.
  8. I’m just really happy
    This has to be the biggest take away and it’s what we all strive to be.  One of my work friends said the other day, Emma’s usually singing and happy but since she stopped drinking she is even more so.  I am sure that I am annoying but I can’t help it.  This is how I feel now, I know that life can change very quickly so I am rolling with it. 
  9. How amazing my husband, friends and family are
    I wrote a whole blog on this so I won’t go on but the support my husband has shown me has made me love and respect him even more.  If he had decided to not support me this would have been so much more difficult for me.  Truly grateful.

Writing this post and seeing all the positive and zero negatives has cemented my decision to continue.  I don’t want to put a time frame on it, I was going to commit to a year but it’s just too much pressure.  I will keep going for as long as I am happy.

Emma x