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.

 

How to quit smoking and get your shit together

Set aside a weekend for it. Prepare yourself for a really crappy Saturday. Get yourself some sleeping tablets for Saturday night.

Gear up for a couple of weeks beforehand, smoking normally. Have your last cigarette on a Friday night.

On Saturday, instead of getting up for a cigarette every half an hour, get up and do some tidying each time you have a craving.

Tidying, not thinking

Instead of sitting around thinking and letting your brain’s repetitive cigarette cravings torment you, keep your body busy so your brain has other activities to occupy it.

  • Wash stinky, smoke-smelling clothes.
  • Wipe down or mop ashy surfaces.
  • Hide ashtrays and lighters.
  • Go shopping to buy nice new drinks if you associate habitual drinks with cigarettes.
  • Clean pet areas.
  • Go for a walk to buy cleaning supplies and enjoy your breathing on the way.

 

I did this 4.5 years ago, and that weekend, I did and put away 7 loads of washing and did so much spring cleaning! A sparkling house and a new me!!

Relief

Saturday will have been easier in comparison than what you were dreading. You’ve probably got through plenty of bad days. If you know a really tough one is coming, you’re prepared.

Just do it and get that one crappy day over with. It’s hard, but it’s always going to be hard, and never going to get easier, so just fucking do it, then it’s done.

Come Sunday, the worst is over, you’ll feel proud of yourself, your future will be brighter and the day will be easier.

 

Within 6 hours

Your heart rate slows and your blood pressure becomes more stable.

Within a day
  • Almost all of the nicotine is out of your bloodstream.
  • The level of carbon monoxide in your blood has dropped and oxygen can more easily reach your heart and muscles.
  • Your fingertips become warmer and your hands steadier.

Quit Australia

 

Keep tidying. You may feel tired, but be happy, this is your crappy but transformative weekend that puts health money in your future bank.

You’ll sleep better Sunday night, and by Monday, you’ll know you’ve won the battle.  Any urges to smoke that pop up are just brain farts.  Challenge those thoughts. Don’t believe everything you think.

 

My First 50 km Run

My First 50 km Run – Sunday 10 June 2018 – Recap

I’d been planning it for 6 months. I have a spreadsheet I’d made with a Strava Premium McMillan marathon training plan in it, and the 50 km Ultramarathon training plan from the book, “Relentless Forward Progress”, and I basically managed to follow the distance of the long runs each week, while running 4-5 times a week as directed by what my body could cope with. Every day I would enter what I’d done, and tweak what I would plan to do.

I’d first thought I’d do the Canberra Marathon Festival 50 km event in April, but travel and accommodation were going to be too expensive, plus, events are stressful, so I decided I’d keep it simple: If I want to do 50 km, do 50 km. I don’t need to pay to run – just do it around home.

I chose this weekend, the long weekend in June, since I’d have more days to choose from if the weather was terrible, plus I could have time for recovery. Sunday was perfect. 5-15 Celsius (41-59F).

Started at 6:24 am

1-10 km (1-6 miles)

My usual morning run in the dark route on footpaths along the highway. I saw W and N who both knew what I was up to, and wished me luck. DK tooted her horn at me.

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I made sure throughout the run to only run at a pace that let me breathe easy. Early on, I had to keep slowing down, because I knew I’d need that energy later.

10-25 km (6-15.5 miles)

Uphill to the next town on a fine gravel path, then back down again. Saw G, which was nice. The fog was beautiful in the dawn sunlight.

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25-40 km (15.5 – 25 miles)

More hills. C pulled up next to me at 30 km, and I was happy to report I was feeling alright.

I did start getting slower gradually from there. Around 38 km my left lower back was starting to hurt and I could tell I was tensing up. It helped if I stretched my arms up and out.

Fuel: I ate yoghurt and a big muesli bar before I set out, and on the run I had 2 other bars, a donut, and 2 energy gels with caffeine.

Too much information: Loo stops were at 9, 18, 25, and 39 km. Didn’t “need” them all, but I’d planned the route to go near the loos in case I did need them, and then I used them so I was comfortable the whole time.

40-50 km (25-31 miles)

Mostly flat, on paths around the lake and along the creek. My body was running alright, if slowly, but it was starting to complain in places. It was also getting warmer in the sun. Had arranged for F to run with me for the last section. We chatted, and it helped distract me from the sore back. It was nice to have someone with me when I passed the 42.2 km marathon mark, and enter into the “uncharted waters of Ultra territory”, as F put it. Then it was a painfully slow countdown jog to the finish. I’d called my husband to meet me, and little did I know, my dear friend DB had arranged to be there too, with BB, AB, and G, and bunches of balloons. My own personal finish line and cheer squad!

Too long; didn’t read? Ran 50 km! Achieved my 2018 goal! Ran all the way, which was the cherry on top! Did it in 6 hours as I’d hoped! I have awesome friends.

Fun Stats:

My 40th run of 20 km or over.

12 month streak of running a Half Marathon or more per month.

(Started learning to run on Sept 22, 2015 when suddenly my usual walk wasn’t fast enough.)