drinking alcohol in moderation

Can’t moderate? Blame alcohol, not yourself.

601 days alcohol-free.
$3,435 saved ($40 a week).
Last drank on January 31 2018.

(Stats from my Nomo app data.)

I don’t miss it. Alcohol doesn’t seem comforting or pleasurable to me like some people think it is for them (or the advertisements make us want to believe).

I don’t just look at the buzz and high of the first hour or two.

I see all the guilt, regret, anxiety, expense, conflicting thoughts, desperation, sickness, insomnia.

Douglas Adams wrote a book entitled, “The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul”. To me, that phrase can describe when the sun is nearly over the yardarm and you want to start drinking to stop the worry and stop feeling crappy about everything – to get a quick buzz like a rat in a science experiment in the 1940s.

That’s alcohol. That’s the result of chemical effects the day after you drank (again).

It’s not your fault you can’t moderate. Totally not your fault.

Alcohol is to blame.

It’s lovely to NOT drink. Not to desperately reach for a fake high that messes up your already borked chemistry.

It’s lovely to look forward to feeling tired in the evening and ready for rest and relaxation.

zenmode running self-care anxiety sober quit alcohol marathon training work volunteering administration health medication

Self-care victory

Had two terrible nights sleep earlier in the week and was struggling a lot at work. Felt like people were demanding every minute of my time and I had too many responsibilities outside of work.

 

At 5:30 am I went for an angry, 80-minute run and thought of logical kick-arse ways to reduce a lot of time spent on administration, and implemented them when I got back.

 

This helped not just me but also others to have a limit set now on what we feel we can do.

 

I made it through the day without needing any sort of medication or self-medication, and only realised this when it was all over and it hadn’t even occurred to me to use any. Nearly 400 days alcohol-free. Not even any caffeine for over 4 months.

 

Instead of freaking out with anxiety I’d been proactive.

 

Proud of myself for not pulling out of any volunteer responsibilities completely, since I’m proud of what I’m involved in.

 

Thursday 28 February I realised I’d rather use the money I’ve saved for flights and accommodation (to do a marathon in April) on a faster computer for myself.

 

This will improve my quality of life immensely and reduce a lot of frustrations.

 

I also decided to build a stronger 30 km run base rather than max out my resources for 2 months yet again on a marathon that would mean my glute/piriformis pain would worsen just when it’s been a lot better.

 

This will mean regular, consistent running to look forward to and enjoy.

 

Feeling like I’ve actually won a marathon now!

Noosa National Park running walking trail view palm tree beach

Euphoric scenic run in Noosa Queensland on day 377 alcohol-free

Set out for my run at 5:10 am and it was 24C / 75F in the pre-dawn half-light. I was running gently to take in the scenery and so I didn’t trash myself in the “Feels like 31C” (89F) heat and 88% humidity which had made me quite unwell running 13 km quite hard 4 days earlier.

Four years ago when we were in Noosa, I was 35 kg overweight and barely walking a few thousand steps a day. But that was also when I was slowly trying to increase my activity.

A year ago I had aimed to run 4 km to Noosa then explore the National Park headland trail. But both times I ran there, only I got about 1 km into the park before having The Fear that if I didn’t start running back I’d need a toilet before I had found one.

This run was a victory venturing into the unknown (where there were loads of other people)!

I’d found a map showing toilets a few hundred metres past where I’d got before. I also brought my Camelbak containing chilled water, and was much more Zenned-out and calm, and able to enjoy every moment.

When I stopped drinking about a year ago, I started to lose my anxiety. That, and no fear of a toilet emergency were some of the reasons I enjoyed this.

On top of all this, the scenery was incredible, and I started to feel quite euphoric!

I paused a lot to take photos, and I’m happy with these ones.

Sunrise Noosa Parade bridge Weyba Creek running Queensland AustraliaNoosa Queensland Australia tropical plantsSunrise Noosa Parade bridge Sofitel Hastings Street running Queensland AustraliaNoosa Heads beach Queensland Australia running surfingBoardwalk Noosa National Park running walking trail view Queensland Australia trees beach oceanBoiling Pot Noosa National Park running walking trail view Queensland Australia trees beach oceanNoosa National Park running walking trail view Queensland Australia trees beach ocean tropical plantsNoosa National Park running walking trail view palm tree beachBeautiful Trail Noosa National Park running walking trail view Queensland Australia trees beach ocean sunriseNoosa National Park running walking trail view Queensland Australia trees beach oceanNoosa National Park running walking trail view Queensland Australia trees beach oceanDolphin Point Sunrise Noosa National Park running walking trail view Queensland Australia trees beach oceanNoosa National Park walking trail view running

I’d made a connection in the morning that each fairly typical glass of wine I used to drink had the same number of calories as two slices of bread.

Three glasses of wine a day (or a beer and two wines) plus the usual meals and snacks and no purposeful exercise for 5 years meant the weight steadily crept up and up, till I discovered how to count calories easily for free and started to move more.

Last year’s holiday began during my first month without drinking and I had been so proud to stick to not drinking during it, and happily surprised I found it so enjoyable.

This year, the distances walked and run seemed much shorter and I felt very light-hearted.

goals, happiness, running, marathon, ultramarathon, learning, work. self-care, handstands, drawing, splits, yoga

Not my New Year Resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions are for people who aren’t already awesome.

In 2018 I made goals that continued my “relentless forward progress” which started when I was 48 in early 2015.

 

My 2018 fitness goal: To run a 50 km run. Any other running achievements will be cherries on top.

 

Done! Ran 50 km on June 10, 2018!

 

 
My 2018 learning goal: To complete iPhone Photo Academy, a photography course I’ve started recently. This will help me with my recent achievement of being accepted to sell my photography at a local gallery.

 

Done! Sold photos, digital drawings, and cards.  Plus I did 5 other courses (below).

 
My 2018 personal goal: To stay as happy as I am.

 

Done, and happier – I seem to have quit alcohol and gone 11 months alcohol-free. So much more productive and creative!

 

Do more cartwheels. 

 

Lots done! And lots of handstands, which I’d wanted to improve since I was a teenager!

 

 

In addition to these goals I also did the following things in 2018 that made me happy:

 

  • Helped found our town’s Running Club.
  • 5 minutes handstands/stretching/balance/core daily since June.
  • 5 minutes learning Greek every day. 103 days so far.
  • Drawing every day since late September.
  • Created a blog and have published 26 posts about health, running, decluttering, quitting addictions, weight loss, and transformation.
  • Continued to love my job.

 

In 2018 I did the following FutureLearn courses:

 

  • The Science of Endurance Training and Performance (University of Kent) 6 week course.
  • The Science of Nutrition (The Open University) 4 week course.
  • Brain and Behaviour: Regulating Body Weight (Purdue University) 3 week course.
  • The Musculoskeletal System: The Science of Staying Active into Old Age (University of Sheffield) 3 week course.
  • Digital Skills: Social Media (Accenture) 2 hours.

 

2018 Running Events:

 

  • 10/06/2018 50.1 km 6:04:21 (Ran this on my own at home, but it was my feature run for 2018.)
  • 26/08/2018 35.0 km run The Bloody Long Walk 3:59:41
  • 16/09/2018 21.2 km Connor’s Run and a Bit 2:22:28
  • 14/10/2018 43.2 km Melbourne Marathon 5:28:36
  • 04/11/2018 21.1 km Portland 3 Bays Half Marathon (HM) 2:09:45
  • 11/11/2018 21.1 km Hamilton Fun Run HM 2:12:06
  • 25/11/2018 21.1 km Run with the Wind HM 2:35:38
  • 02/12/2018 21.1 km Carman’s Women’s HM 2:08:08

 

I ran 2,118.7 km in 2018.

I did 7,041,449 steps – a total of 6,237 km – averaging 19,291.6 steps a day.

 

 In 2019, after 4 years of relentless forward progress, I want to consolidate and maintain what’s made me thrive in 2018, and enjoy the Zen.

 

Things that will make me happy in 2019:

 

  • A marathon in a major city interstate.
  • 48 km on my 48th month running anniversary in September.
  • Run 2019 km in 2019.
  • Average 18,000 steps daily, unless I keep swimming more regularly as I did in December.
  • 12 months alcohol free – Feb 1 2019 anniversary.
  • Keep maintaining my goal weight range for another year (It will be 3 years in April 2019.)
  • 5 minutes handstands/stretching/balance/core daily.
  • 5 minutes learning Greek on Duolingo every day.
  • Draw every day.
  • 2 blog posts every month.
  • Paint the kitchen.
  • Invite someone new to parkrun & walk/run with them.

 

These will mean I get outdoors, travel, keep running, keep strong, be creative, and keep my flexibility, strength, and balance, and stay happy.

walking, decluttering, cleaning, minimalism, work, changes, fibonacci, transformation, weight loss, health, happiness, sustainability

An Adaptive Spiral

Turning small efforts into daily habits results in beautiful things.

 

NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) is the term for activity other than purposeful exercise. E.g. Walking, cleaning, trips to the fridge, playing with your kids, etc.

 

NEAT accounts for a higher percentage of your daily energy expenditure than intentional exercise even if you work out 5-6 hours a week.

 

Increasing your NEAT can make a huge difference to your health and environment.

 

  • Wear comfortable shoes: You’re not in pain or grumpy; better relationships; better posture; you can walk around without hindrance; more NEAT.
  • Bring your lunch to work: Saves money eating out, and you can spend the rest of your lunch hour walking / doing errands.
  • Wear a backpack rather than carry a shoulder bag: You’re more inclined to go for a walk; you walk more easily and quickly; you don’t hunch one shoulder to keep a bag on it (my physiotherapist pointed this out and now I see people with lopsided shoulders everywhere).
  • Bringing lunch and drinks to work means more trips to the office kitchen: Saves money; more NEAT.
  • Put dishes away one at a time: NEAT; and it also doesn’t increase power bills.
  • Put laundry away one item at a time: NEAT!
  • Walk your office mail to admin on another floor instead of putting it in your floor’s mail-out tray: Saves admin staff having to carry it or forget it, and I get more floors climbed.
  • Walk to the shops when you need something (rather than waiting till you have a long list then drive).

 

One of my realisations was to just stop whining to others to do tasks and just get off my butt and do them myself. No arguments; better relationships!

 

More NEAT meant decluttering, and more space!

 

All this NEAT led to feeling better, doing more purposeful exercise, eating according to my calorie limit, losing weight, running, feeling better, round and round…

 

An adaptive spiral.

 

Today I was thinking that NEAT is sort of like doing the “right” thing:

 

 

  • You walk to the bin instead of leaving rubbish on the table – more calories burned; tidy house.
  • I just walked two sides of a triangle along the path instead of taking the short cut across a carpark – safer; more calories burned.
  • I walk the long way to & from work – less carbon emissions; save money; more calories burned.

 

 

Doing the “right” thing has so many benefits!

Losing 80 lb / 35 kg using My Fitness Pal (easy calorie-counting app), running, and participating in community discussions led me to not having drunk alcohol since January 31 2018.

Not drinking meant not needing as much time in bed trying to sleep. Now I sleep more soundly and don’t wake as often, which means I have more time to do nice things.

On Thursday after my run, study, and drawing, I still had lots of time to spare before my last day of work for the year:

  • I put away some things I’d left in the hall after doing some rearranging around the house.
  • I walked to the hardware shop and bought some picture hooks and hung prints of my son’s artwork properly in my yoga room (his room when he comes home).
  • I tidied my room and wiped down all the surfaces free of dust.

And when I came home, it all looked lovely and I was facing 12 days holiday!

 

As each day passes, we can make appropriate and sustainable growth, change, and habits that beautify the overall picture. 

 

An adaptive spiral.

 

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drinking alcohol in moderation

Less alcohol

I drank 2-3 large drinks a day pretty much every day for many years.  At the start of 2018, I had 3 of my running friends do alcohol-free months which made me start to think I should really take on a new challenge.

Then another friend wrote about “Being kind to Tomorrow You”. He made me realise that not drinking is a lovely, sympathetic gesture towards the person we are now, and whom we will wake up as.

I don’t look at a day without alcohol as a punishment for drinking too much.  A night off is a treat for Tomorrow You. You’ll wake up without guilt about last night’s drinking, and without a headache or hangover.  A night off will be an achievement you can be proud of all day.

On February 1 I decided I’d take it one day at a time and see how I went.  One day led to the next, and soon it was my birthday.  Instead of celebrating with a drink, I felt it would be a more significant occasion if I didn’t drink on my birthday for the first time in 30 years.

I also celebrated other milestones (decluttering my room; running my first 50 km run) without drinking.  I found I was enjoying my “streak” and my natural highs much more than a couple of hours “buzz” then many hours feeling crap.

I’ve now passed the 9 months alcohol-free mark.

I always felt “fine” as a daily drinker, but I didn’t know how much better I could actually feel!

  1. No guilt, fear, or foreboding about what the drinking is doing to me.
  2. Sleeping soundly.
  3. Better memory.
  4. Huge boost in creativity.
  5. No mood swings.
  6. Better relationships.
  7. More money!

 

I have an app set up, “Nomo”, which tells me I’ve already saved over $1,600 by not spending the $40 per week I used to spend on alcohol.

I read this yesterday, by an alcohol-free woman who has made and is making big changes.

She writes:

 

“From school, to uni, and at work, at sports and weddings, funerals or even community events – it’s always been a prolific and revered part of any social connections.”

“Somehow, I made it. The odds were overwhelmingly against me – as I kept reading and being told. Some fanatics declared ‘once an alcoholic always an alcoholic’ and I realised that was why so many people cannot beat the stigmas and are overwhelmed before they even start.” Hello Sunday Morning

Sure, it can be helpful discussing not drinking with like-minded others. I wouldn’t have got this far without discussing how to think differently about alcohol with others online.

But many people find the idea of attending AA meetings too confronting, though they do help many others.

To me, thinking you’ll always be fighting a permanent part of your being (“I’m an alcoholic”) seems very unhelpful and defeatist.

I choose to think that alcohol is a form of chemistry that can be fun… for a while, but it has side-effects that snowball with consumption, and increased consumption is one of those side-effects.

Don’t blame it on yourself. Blame the alcohol chemistry.

Once you’re free of the alcohol, you’re free to be whatever you want to be.

I found it easier to quit rather than to moderate, or have regular days off, with a disclaimer.  The way I “quit” was by thinking I’m not quitting forever. I can drink whenever I want. I choose not to for now.  I felt that the occasional drink is how I became a daily drinker. It’s too hard to drink then quit, repeatedly, considering how hard I found it to quit for one day for all those years.

Thanks for reading.

Edited 20 March 2019 to include something about my participation in discussions online. That was a huge part of what helped, along with reading articles such as those in the Hello Sunday Morning newsletter.