Sleep

It’s a real buzz work in the nutrition world at the moment and I do get why. Lots more on that later.

When I stopped drinking one of the things I wanted to see an improvement in is my sleep quality. Now don’t get me wrong I don’t have insomnia, I don’t struggle to fall asleep, I don’t wake up in the night for long periods (not often anyway). The problem with me is I am a light sleeper. I go to bed at 9.30pm most nights for a 5.40am get up to ensure I am getting between the recommended 7-8 hours a night. As I am a light sleeper (and blame this on becoming a mum 8 years ago and I was a great sleeper before then) the slightest thing wakes me in the night, then when I wake up I wee. Sometimes I can wee 3 times in 1 night not including the wee before bed and the one you have when you get up. I can get woken up by my husband turning over, a bird at 4am literally I don’t know half the time what wakes me up. So I don’t often go into a deep sleep phase or REM for long enough periods of time therefore don’t wake up in the morning feeling that jump out of bed feeling (I mean is that even real?)

When I read the unexpected joy of being sober, Catherine the author talks of how after 2 weeks with no alcohol she started having these amazing deep and rested sleeps. Well that was enough to make me quit too 😆

I’m in my 7th week and I’m still waiting!
I wear one of those fit bit thingy’s. I know they are not completely accurate but since I quit drinking I’ve had only 2 good scores for sleep. I was blaming alcohol for my bad sleeps. However, I may not be getting amazing deep rested sleeps but at least I am not having those alcohol induced gross sleeps anymore. I do feel fresher in the mornings and have bags more energy so that’s a plus. I think if I look way back on my fit bit history my quality of sleep will be better overall it’s just not as much as I expected.

Sleep is really something I am keen to nail! I have routine, I have this lovely big bed with the best mattress, the temp in the room is ok at the mo, I turn off the blue light on my devices, I write lists for the next day so my mind is clear, I avoid caffeine after 12pm, I have a healthy diet, I try not to drink fluids after 8pm due to bladder night issues! The only thing I can’t quite give up is my Netflix hour before bed but surely my broken sleeps are not down to my queen of the south obsession! Hormones is another possibility! Stress? Who knows?

What I do know about sleep from the many podcasts and books I have read is it really is one of the most important factors for optimal health. For many reasons. Getting a good kip is great for your mental health, helps control your appetite throughout the day (tired? Carb load please)!, your mood is lifted, helps reduce stress and lowers blood pressure, help with better memory and of course are makes us not look like shit! See why I want to get better quality sleep? Let the search continue 😀

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.

Just have one drink now and again!

When you tell people you are not drinking alcohol anymore they either say Oh you don’t drink that much do you or why don’t you just cut down?!!

I wish I could just cut down!

Can you imagine going to a free drinks party and only have one or two. Or a house party, taking 2 bottles of wine with you and only have a glass? There are people out there who do this, how? I really have no idea but they do, they exist. Unfortunately I am not one of them.

Its the same with high sugar/high fat and high processed foods. A bag a sweets in front of me then that bag will be empty within minutes, a bar of chocolate will be gone even quicker. I know someone who eats half a bar of chocolate and then saves the rest of later only to forget its there. That blows my mind.

So for me moderation or cutting back was never going to work. Even after the 3 months I have committed to initially I think I have to decide to quit for good or just go bad to my old ways. If I go back to drinking its will start off well and I will think I am in control then within a few weeks/months them old habits will creep back in.

I think most people say they are all of nothing. Its mind over matter really but we convince ourselves we are one or the other, usually as a reason or an excuse to do something we know we shouldn’t. Well this time I’m using it for good, I have an all or nothing personality so I will not drink any alcohol.

Dealing with life without turning to the bottle

I’ve been quiet this week and not posting so much. The last few weeks have been all about not drinking and trying to be healthier. This week Some life stuff happened out of the ordinary.

I had an incident with my daughter that I had to deal with, it’s the biggest parenting thing I have had to do and it was difficult. I’m usually really open about things but this is private to her. I also found out that a dear friend died. A friend that I haven’t seen for a few years as I now live in Australia but one that shaped my life to who I am today and will be so very missed.

The relevance to these things happening this week and this blog is that I didn’t drink. I would usually grab the bottle and use it as an excuse to drink more, it would usually be the first thing I would think of to do. Grab a drink, de-stress, make everything better until the next day! I didn’t even think about it!! I haven’t even wanted one.

This is a revelation to me and I now think I have really turned that corner, I’ve had a mind shift from all the things I’ve been reading, the blogs I’ve listened to and the people I have spoken with and my mind has shifted away from dependancy on alcohol when shit gets real. At least, I think! Still early days but I have going with it!

Sense of Purpose

I’m now sober a day short of 3 weeks and I’m feeling great mentally. My mood is so much better and even though my sleep is still not as good as I would like it to be I am far less irritable than I can ever remember being.

I started thinking about the reasons for this. I’ve always had a sense of purpose. I am a do-er (I don’t think that’s even a word) not one to sit around and if I am sitting around I am usually thinking about what I could be doing. It drives my husband nuts as he is the opposite. We both work full time and we have an 8 year old daughter but anything after that my husband is sitting on the couch with the TV remote in his hand watching whatever sport is on, that’s OK, that’s him. His sense of purpose, sport! He loves it. Cricket, football, rugby or golf. If he isn’t watching it he is reading about it.

I have many things outside of work and being a parent that I love to do. I am studying to become a nutritionist, I love the cinema and musicals and try to go a couple of times a month, this blog, my strength training, cooking healthy meals for the fam but also baking treats too. Even before I quit drinking alcohol I always had a sense of purpose.

For some reason as time goes on and 3 weeks in all the things I have listed above including my work and parenting I am enjoying 10 fold. I am feeling motivated, excited, energized and happy about all of it. I am usually tired, low and feeling like everything is an effort. This has to be down to not boozing doesn’t it! My sense of purpose now seems to have more purpose.

What to drink?

Something I have struggled with is a drink replacement. I’m lucky that I love water but it’s not really that appealing is it?! Aside from wine though I’ve always drank water as I’m not keen on sugar drinks like coke or lemonade, I just don’t like the taste including the diet versions. Also being the health seeker I am I wanted to find an alternative that has some nutritional value.

My friend came to my house and slept over last week. We usually guzzle down a couple of bottles of wine while she is over. I decided to make an effort with what I drink rather than just drink water. I pulled out an old smoothie and juice book I have, Dusted off the NutriBullet and I found a recipe for a watermelon and strawberry frozen mocktail. I made it and it was so delicious and refreshing, I put it in a cocktail glass with fruit on the side. They went down well with all the family and my daughter could even get involved. I’ve also been drinking coconut water with lots of ice in a wine glass 😆.

I have a Halloween party coming up. I think I will try the no alcohol beer, bubbles or wine. Does anyone have experience with them, do they taste the same? My expectations are low!

So at least I’ve been super hydrated and getting my fruit in 🤪.

Anxiety

Anxiety is one of the main reasons I wanted to stop drinking. I didn’t like that I relied on a glass of wine to help with it but then that glass of wine or 2 or 3 would be the cause of my anxiety. A vicious circle I think you would agree and a trap so many of us are in!

Anxiety is rife in my family. My dad is a chronic anxiety sufferer, he’s also a big drinker. He thinks it calms him, don’t we all think this? It’s the norm to grab a glass of wine after a hard day, unwind, help you chill. I even noticed that I say it to my 7 year old daughter that mummy needs her medicine, my wine after a tough day (proud mummy moment)!! How bad is that? I’m basically preparing my daughter for dealing with life by drinking alcohol.

I’m two weeks in off the booze and I am genuinely noticing a difference in my stress levels. I seem a little more relaxed about things, I used to even get anxious about fun things that we would be doing that day. I would also get stressed about being back at the house in time for wine o clock, or stressed about the planning of an event to make sure we had enough alcohol ect. That stress has been completely removed! Maybe that’s it, that’s why I feel more relaxed 🤷‍♀️

Fully loving sober life so far. I feel like I am a better mum already, I’m not sure why, could be because I am not telling her drinking is the solution to anything anymore 🙈 in a bid to convince myself that that’s why I drink, to relax! I’m finding that actually alcohol was causing the stress for me.

Rock and roll!

I was invited to a birthday dinner tonight. I said yes initially but then at the beginning of this week I thought better of it. The girls I would be going with would be ordering the bubbles, I’m usually at the front of the queue and to be honest I can’t be bothered with questions about why I’m not drinking.

I’ve noticed that when people ask me I get a little defensive about it which makes me think I’m not confident in explaining myself and my reasons behind it. It’s because I don’t think people understand, i think that they think that I’m being dramatic, I need to not care. I’m working on it! Anyway instead I am meeting my lovely friend and going to watch the new Downton abbey movie and I couldn’t be more excited haha! Rock and roll indeed!

Sex and the city – Day 9

I watched the sex and the city movie on Netflix last night, it really got me thinking about me weekend I just had.

I love this programme and these films. The more I think about it the more I notice how cool drinking booze is made to be. At the birthday thing in the park at weekend, people were asking me why I am not drinking. I said its just not working for me anymore and I think I would do better without it. There were a few raised eyebrows because they didn’t understand it, that’s because they are not where I am! They don’t know how much I drink. One friend said, you don’t drink much though do you? When I explained how much I do drink she said aw that’s not bad its normal. Normal! I said I drank average 4 bottles of wine a week and she thought that was normal. That’s 40 units of alcohol a week and as a women I am not supposed to have more than 14. I am not blaming sex and the city, like I said its one of my all time faves but its films, programmes and advertising like this that makes us think its normal to drink a lot. We have lost sight of what normal is.

Take the new Gin craze. People are going crazy for it, why? They are putting it in pretty bottles, making unusual attractive flavors, opening special gin bars and giving it glamorous advertising. At the weekend there was a gin festival in our local park, you should have seen how busy it was. People who didn’t like gin are now big gin fans. All because its been made cool. People also follow people right?

It gets me thinking that what if the SATC girls didn’t drink cosmopolitans and drank virgin mocktails, what if the media took a shift and started to make alcohol sound really uncool. No more pretty girls in bikinis running down a beach with a bottle of corona in there hand, instead an overweight unhealthy looking alcoholic sat in a chair watching TV drinking a bottle of corona, not as appealing I don’t think.

When I read (twice) the unexpected joy of being sober by Catherine Gray ( https://twitter.com/cathgraywrites?lang=en ) she mentions some good blogs and podcasts to follow. After looking into some of them there seems to be a growing movement happening that is making sober cool. What is even better is that people in there 20’s are doing it, the amount of celebrities that are doing it, I hear in Australia even teenagers are turning there nose up at it. Its encouraging and exciting to think if I succeed in my mission to completely stop drinking then I may not be the only one.

Here are just two of the recommendations that Catherine makes that I have been reading to far. https://www.hipsobriety.com/ and https://www.lauramckowen.com/

On another note – my day 8. Its Monday again and I don’t feel as fresh as I had hoped and still have some brain fog, my sleep is still off and motivation at work is low. I am trying to stay positive and not disappointed that I don’t feel better from not drinking for a week but I know its still early days. In good news though I downloaded this app called I’m done drinking (again this is from the book that Catherine recommends) and from right now I not drank for 8 days, I’ve not consumed 20 150 ml glass of wine, I’ve saved $63 and saved 2540 calories. Pretty good going!!

The first booze free weekend

Day 4 and 5 I had a horrible headache, it was like a dull ache in the front of my eyes, I even left work early on Friday because of it. I was also exhausted. I’m not one to get headaches really, like very rare. I did wonder if it was related to not drinking, like a withdraw effect. Then I would think, na, that ridiculous I’m not an alcoholic! However if I think about it for the last two weeks previous to starting no alcohol I had drank 12 days out of 14. Enough drink everyday to feel the effects the next day, so maybe it was withdrawals? Who knows?!

The important thing is that day 6&7 I am fine! On Saturday we were invited to a birthday party in a local park. We have done this often, take a picnic, play games, listen to music, drink 2 bottles of Prosecco! I had fear, fear that I would hate it with out the booze, fear that I would be boring and everyone would notice, fear that I would want to leave after an hour.

Before we went to the park we went to the shops to buy the food, my husband was picking up a 6 pack, my daughter a bottle of sugar free lemonade and I had no clue, I just knew I didn’t want water. I saw some coconut water on offer and though I’d give it a whirl. I loved it and helped me so much to feel like I was still enjoying the drink I was having. So I think I have found my new sober drink! Yey!!

In fact I had such a great day, I got involved with the games which I wouldn’t usually as I would just want to drink, I ate yummy food, chatting with friends. Then I realised that this isn’t usually fun because I usually have a drink in my hand, it’s fun because it’s fun! I didn’t even notice other people were drinking. We left after 5 hours, I was ready to go by then. When I got home I felt so pleased with myself. I was tucked up in bed for 9.30pm on a Saturday night and I couldn’t have been happier.

Sunday, day 7, my daughter wakes me at 6am and we get up and go for a 5km trek! Fresh as a daisy and motivated.

I’m still not sleeping great, not sure why. I think I had in my head that I don’t sleep well because of the alcohol, I hope this changes in the next week or so, does anyone else know about this? It’s not That i don’t sleep, I usually get about 7-8 hours but is just very interrupted, not very deep. I certainly don’t wake up feeling fresh. Anyway it’s still early days.

Something else I struggle with is brain fog, this could be due to the sleep again but we’ll see how this week goes and if it improves.

Super proud of myself for doing a week and finding this weekend easier than I thought.