2 years alcohol-free

After having a day off alcohol on January 31 2018 and feeling so good about it, I haven’t found any reason to drink alcohol since.

Here are a few highlights from practicing self-awareness and moderation since then.

Trained for and ran a 50km run.

Saved over $4,000. ($40 per week formerly spent on alcohol .)

Been using Duolingo daily for over 16 months to study Greek and French.

Drawing daily since October 2018.

Maintaining my 35kg weight loss from 2015-16.

Continuing to log my daily food intake on My Fitness Pal nearly 5 years.

Continuing to be at a parkrun every Saturday.

Exhibiting and selling my Art.

Writing zenmode.org blog.

Implemented home energy-saving and reduced my cost of living.

No-Spend November.

3 months Slow Fashion Season Challenge (bought no new clothes).

Made investments.

Travelled to visit parkruns further afield.

Saved for and travelled from Australia to Europe and met up with friends.

I see no temptations in alcohol any more.

I’m always happy to be free of its ups and downs and its guilt.

drinking alcohol in moderation

In which I decide to lose weight again

Weight update. I’ll let the stats speak:

My heaviest weight: 98.9 kg
Total weight lost: 35 kg
Time it took to lose: 12 months
How long in maintenance: Since April 2016 – but gained 10 kg since March 2020 due to recovery from massive traumas combined with COVID-19. :'(
Maintenance weight range: 65-75 kg (not sure what’s the right answer but currently just trying to lose 0.2 kg a week.)
Current weight: 76 kg

comfort eating, stress, diet, weight loss, binge eating, my fitness pal, calorie counting,

The fog clearing from trauma and comfort-eating

Average weight recorded from 2015 (12 months): 85 kg
Average weight recorded from 2016 (12 months): 64 kg
Average weight recorded from 2017 (12 months): 64 kg
Average weight recorded from 2018 (12 months): 65 kg
Average weight recorded from 2019 (12 months): 65 kg

Average weight recorded from December 2019: 65 kg
Average weight recorded from January 2020: 65 kg
Average weight recorded from February 2020: 65 kg
Average weight recorded from March 2020: 65 kg
Average weight recorded from April 2020: 69 kg
Average weight recorded from May 2020: 74 kg
Average weight recorded from June 2020: 75 kg
Average weight recorded from July 2020: 75 kg

Average weight week of:
July 27 – August 2 ……. 76 kg

Success of last week: Can’t remember. The tooth extraction blurred out everything.
Struggle of last week: Getting through a tooth extraction.

I think the past few months I was still overeating but where I’ve maintained I was overeating but going through so much stress that I was burning it that way as well.

In other words, my My Fitness Pal diary calorie count was always over, but my weight stayed roughly the same since May.

This new week so far I’ve done well at maintaining my intake at a caloric deficit. I’ve eaten in a less extreme manner. I’ve balanced out my eating over the day, instead of eating very little during the day and most of my calories in the evening. Now I’m not starving at dinner.

I’m still not drinking alcohol (2 years 6 months 5 days without it).

I’ve been vegan since around November, which was how my eating changed to being spread out over the day. I felt I needed to graze all day. But that also meant I wasn’t having proper meals, plus the trauma meant I craved sweet and snack foods.  While I had COVID-19, and a while after, I craved lollies and chips/crisps.

I’ve enjoyed learning how to cook healthy and tasty vegan meals, and how to “translate” a non-vegan meal into a vegan one.

This week I’ve also felt less tired and have managed a tiny run yesterday and a good number of steps today without being overly tired or anxious.

I hope to remember to keep updating on this. I’m afraid I’m a fair-weather friend in this blog, due to the aforementioned trauma, and only liking to post positive things.

I’ve set myself a 0.2 kg a week weight loss goal. I don’t need any more big extremes. I don’t want to put big pressure on myself and panic about my weight.

I lost the weight by feeling good about things. I feel good about taking it slowly and carefully.

Why I’m over 50 and don’t drive

In 1986, I first heard about greenhouse gases, the hole in the ozone layer, the loss of native habitat and species, etc.

My father and I were sitting at the kitchen table and ABC Radio was on. I was home for the holidays from university and doing some drawing.

David Suzuki was talking about the tonnes of glass and plastic bottles going into landfill.

My father sat there, elbows on the table, with his hands over his eyes and face.

I’d never seen him do anything like that. It brings tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat every time I remember that day in 1986.

We first started recycling (which was newspaper) in 1988 in Melbourne. Our first kerbside recycling bins appeared in 1989.

I have never gone for my drivers licence since hearing David Suzuki.

I’ve been using public transport and walking when I need to go somewhere on my own.

I was pushed to try to learn to drive when living on the farm again for a short while, and reluctantly attempted it. Driving is hard. I managed to crush the passenger side door by not gauging the width of a farm gate correctly. Accidents happen so easily. Cars are dangerous. Would you crowd-fund a car if it were invented now?

A car is a luxury enclosed racing wheelchair for rich people – Mr Money Mustache.


Dad died in 1997.

He never lived to see the big changes.

Change began in small increments.  But change is exponential.

It’s taken so long to transition to what we’re doing to try to stop burning the planet now.

Extinction Rebellion made people talk, think, and act.

As Greta Thunberg said in New York, “Once we start to act, hope is everywhere”.

Travelling by public transport has been difficult when living in a country town trying to get to cities.  

We need more services, more often.  People literally suffer due to the lack of them.

Within our small town, I live near the CBD and get exercise and health benefits from walking.

When I decided not to get my licence at 18 I was living in Melbourne which has trams, trains, and buses and I found it fairly straightforward to use them.

That experience served me well.

In the past 12 months I’ve been contacting all the organisations that are meant to be in charge of public transport in Victoria, Australia.

I’ve been told by one that a review hasn’t been done in 50 years, and should be happening in 2020.  Another said no reviews are planned.

I lost count at 13 organisations I contacted.  I won’t name and shame.

I’m sure everyone is just as frustrated by the patchwork of changes that have been attempted over the years as I am.

Now COVID-19 has tossed everything including this up in the air.

changes, transformation, change, transitioning, health, fitness, self, true self, identity, logic, philosophy, science, psychology, neuroscience, soul

What’s the solution to the next pandemic?

I’ve been saying we need to work on people’s health all over the world.

Sounds simplistic? I’m already contradicting myself purposely.

Malnutrition is now higher in the obese than the underweight.

I think, hopefully like you, dear reader, that expecting to find one solution to fix everything is simplistic and a stubbornness to change.

Blaming one politician or one problem is simplistic.

Looking for one solution is simplistic.

E.g. Racism.

New Orleans has 70-80% blacks.

70-80% are obese.

Their COVID-19 death rate was 80%.

(As I recall Mayor Cantrell saying a couple of months ago. Sincere apologies if I’m wrong. It may have been 80% higher than the rest of the USA’s.)

Black and Asian populations are highly disadvantaged by:

  • Discrimination
  • Poverty
  • The cycle of poverty
  • Lack of social support
  • Lack of education funding
  • Targeted racism
  • Targeted incarceration
  • Substance abuse due to all of the above (rats in a cage vs rats in a park almost never get addictions to the drug lever).
  • Cities and transport are designed or managed in ways that are not healthy and lead to segregation.

Those are some of the causes of one aspect of the world’s problems (racism, equality) that can affect all of us.

The World Economic Forum is saying this. Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Mark Zuckerberg, Angela Merkel, China, The EU, the UN – are all saying this on ongoing individual/peak level media releases.

The UN’s Global Goals say these 17 goals will help the planet and us be healthy in 2030.


The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2030

I follow all this ****. Hell, even much-attacked Australian PM Scott Morrison is almost saying this.

The doom that’s coming is our individual doom, our deaths, but the world is getting better, even as we slowly each die. It has done so for us since before Lucy.

I repeat. The world is getting better.

Bill Gates endorsed that idea even after he predicted the pandemic.


Leave your thoughts below.

george floyd protests, martin luther king, barack obama, blacklivesmatter, icantbreathe,

Protests are “meeting physical force with soul force”

In front of a crowd of 250,000 people on August 28, 1963, one of the many profound things Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said was:

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I have a dream speech. (Google Docs link opens in new window.)

I am with those of are in fear of violence and persecution.

I listened to numerous speeches today as part of Spotify’s featured recent George Floyd death protests playlists.

… this nation is more than the sum of its parts – that out of many, we are truly one.

Barack ObamaRace Speech, March 18, 2008, The National Consitution Center. (Link opens in new window.)

Why do I dare comment, you might ask? People laughed at me for optimism yesterday.  Being online is scary. Putting one’s ideas and beliefs online to be scrutinised or ignored.

People act mean and/or irrationally when they are in fear, and don’t realise they do it to others.

Like hungry wolfdogs, we get defensive and might attack, verbally or defensively.  This is magnified terribly in physical spaces.

In my optimistic opinion, the protests will die down as the fears lessen due to people removing themselves from the streets due to physical daily necessities. Food, supplies, sleep, administrative duties.

Lawmakers and other caring people will make decisions that make changes.  The struggle moves on, metamorphosing.

Changes are inflationary – they’re snowballing, thanks to our increasingly connected world. Individual skirmishes are shamed globally.

When will the shameful laws of preventing free immigration of people due to nationality, race, or culture end?

We all want to show we care. We care.

Comments are open below.

7 books which teach Logic, Debunking, and Critical Thinking

I believe in the scientific method (Wikipedia link opens in new tab) as a way to determine how to discover good information.

I believe that a knowledge of logical fallacies (Wikipedia link opens in new tab) and cognitive biases (Wikipedia link opens in new tab) helps determine what is a bad statement.

I also believe in being kind.

📖Carl Sagan, “The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark”, 1995.

📕Simon Singh & Edzard Ernst, “Trick or Treatment: Alternative Medicine on Trial”, 2008.

📒Julian Baggini, “The Duck that Won the Lottery (and 99 other bad arguments)”, 2008.

📗Debbie Nathan, “Sybil Exposed”, 2011.

📙James Randi, “Flim-Flam! Psychics, ESP, Unicorns, and Other Delusions”, 1980.

📘Martin Gardner, “Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science”, 1957 (1976).

And yes, I’ll include one on Art:

📚John Berger, “Ways of Seeing”, 1972.

Running helped ease my anxiety and boosted my confidence

Once I was regularly running and losing weight (zenmode link) I realised this “getting healthy” thing isn’t meant to be a punishment.

I wanted to look after myself instead of hating myself for not looking after myself.

Running and losing weight had given me more confidence in tackling the things I needed to overcome.

Being a little more confident led to wanting to run races/fun runs (zenmode link) and meet up with running friends I’d met online, though that was scary to me.

I used to get pains in my chest and shivering due to anxiety. My doctors weren’t worried about that, but rather the fact that I was taking valium a few times a week to manage the symptoms in the week prior to an event (never the day before an event).

I was given a doctor’s referral to see a neuropsychologist 10 times in a year, free with Centrelink/Medicare Australia, should I need them.

The first appointment was really, really scary to turn up for, no matter who says “stop the stigma” (I think that makes stigma seem more real).

But I was very relieved after I’d been to the appointment. It was such a relief – much more so than a valium used to be (I didn’t quit those straight away. The mind isn’t oftgen that flexible, neither is the body).

From the psychologist I learnt about the nervous system, and the two types of nervous systems – the parasympathetic and the sympathetic. It’s the sympathetic that is most in play when anxious.  The “fight and flight” response.

Since then, I’ve used that knowledge in multiple situations, knowing I (or someone) is acting the way they are because of the need to move and burn energy to escape their fear (zenmode link). I still get scared, but I do tackle difficult issues with a desire to understand them.

It’s quite odd that we live in an age where people are afraid to run.

Having said that, I’m seeing more and more people outdoors exercising than there were 5 years ago, even with COVID-19 restricting much activity.

Running is a virus?

Leave a comment below.

Drawing is Seeing

“Drawing Is Seeing”

"Drawing Is Seeing" - Life Drawing by Carol Pryle Media: Fudebrush Ink Pen on Paper Life Drawing 2019 Framed, 59 cm by 77 cm (23 inches by 30.5 inches) $475.00 including postage (only within Australia).


Saving the world saves you money

How do you prioritise your spending? I’ve been discovering the FIRE community – Financial Independence / Retire Early. It’s a cool thing that also ties in with Finance, Environmentalism, Self-Care, Minimalism, even Frugality, and the best bit is overall personal and global health.

I posted on a frugality blog today and thought I’d use some of that to make a post of my own about things I’ve been doing because I wanted to, not as some sort of punishment or penitence.

This stuff is the stuff that gives and keeps on giving.

I gave up makeup, haircuts, and hair dye about 20 years ago when my son was young.
My “man-bun” is now finally the done thing. I’ve always just kept it long/longish so I can chop the ends off and tie it up.

I gave up shampoo and conditioner in bottles, and switching brands all the time. Now my hair doesn’t get dandruff (I worked out that changing brands is what made it itchy/flaky/scabby etc). I also worked out that the thing in them that keeps your hair soft and unfrizzy is the nut/plant oils, so I use macadamia oil when I need to.
I’ve been using a shampoo soap bar (paper packaging) by Ethique NZ, and only need to wash when I get really sweaty after a long run, about every week. The shampoo soap bar lasted months, still got months left, and cost about AUD$30.
I don’t bother ironing, or rather, many years ago, I stopped buying clothes that need ironing.

I gave up alcohol by starting the Feb Fast challenge two years ago. Oh, the benefits!! Don’t get me started on how great it’s been. A REAL treat for myself, unlike the contradictory justifications for drinking. The money I saved let me pay off our mortgage early so now we can redraw if we want a low-interest loan.

I never started driving, ie never got a drivers’ licence. So I’ve never needed to buy a car.

I did go through a sedentary job/depressed/drinking phase where I used a lot more taxis and did barely any walking, but that’s over. I didn’t want to cheat myself out of exercising.

Some of these things might sound tiring, but I was tired because I was worried I wasn’t doing them.

The urges took over to want to start walking more and more, then running and making friends at parkrun, and becoming happier and more confident, and balancing out my spending and overconsumption. I met friends who taught me about local sustainability initiatives and groups.

I’m now in my mid-fifties, and am a huge advocate of Public Transport, since it’s got me so far without ever getting a licence.

I brought my lunch to work for the past 4 and a half years. That helped me lose 35 kg in weight AND save a lot of money. I put that money away each week to save up for running shoes and events.

I meal-prep once a week. That makes it far less likely to do an overspend after work when “hangry“.

I did No-Spend November in 2018.

I thought it would be really difficult, but it made me want to try and be even more prudent.

Instead of a gut-reaction to buy, buy, buy, my brain wanted to think, and think some more about if/why/when I needed things.

Of course, the massive cultural delusion of Christmas then stepped in, then the New Year penury. Gradually, though, I’ve been saving more and spending less.

I did the 3-month Slow Fashion Challenge from June-August 2019 where I stopped buying clothes and started thinking.

For several years now, I’d almost given up buying flowering plants for the garden. I let the garden die off till only the tough things survived. Now I’m putting in food plants and planning a greywater watering system for a vegetable garden.

I joined an Unpackaged bulk-food group for locals, where we order in bulk online once a month, and split bulk orders of different and interesting food items. That’s saved money, and removed a lot of temptations and decisions at the supermarket, and helped with meal planning, because of having interesting, new, and nutritious things to try that more thought has been put into.

These things feed each other with self-moderation or regulation, and a sense of having enough.

I still feel the fast-paced frenzy of wanting to purchase things online, although now it’s mostly signing up to newsletters or alerts about software, financial apps, and courses to study to learn All The Things. 🙂

It’s still a battle to keep those email subscriptions and payment subscriptions under control.

I’m learning to unsubscribe when I feel annoyed or pressured. I’m getting better at knowing to sign up for more info when I see things on offer, and so I’m reminded to think it through some more. When I get an email I can then either schedule it in, pay for it at a big discount, or decide what I want my memory and/or reminder technology to do with it.

Now I’m looking for either a new job and/or increasing my (passive) income, so frugality has become even more important for minimising worry.

How do you prioritise your spending?