On the Healthy Mummy Private Support Group on Facebook in recent months, we have had many mums posting or commenting about alcohol.
Posts such as taking a month off, giving up completely, trying to stop drinking every day, limiting it to weekends, wondering whether it’s stopping them from hitting their weight loss goals on the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge.
These posts attracted thousands of comments, hundreds of likes and many shares so we knew this was a topic that resonated with many of you.
Today we speak to the Healthy Mummy’s own food editor, Lee Price, who has given up alcohol completely for the past 12 months.
PLEASE NOTE: This article is not professional medical advice. Rather, it is a personal account and documentation of the Healthy Mummy’s very own Food Editor and her life since giving up alcohol. If you have questions and/or concerns about alcohol and your health – we advise you chat with your GP.
‘I thought I was a ‘Healthy Mummy’, eating well, working everyday writing blogs about the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge, exercising, doing what I thought was best to try to lose weight after having two kids.
I was drinking alcohol perhaps once or twice a week but there was something niggling at me, something that hinted that it might be time to do away with it for a while, to see if it would make me feel healthier and happier.
On May 13th 2017, I decided to take 3 months off from drinking any alcohol
This then turned into 6 months off, which soon evolved into taking 12 months off.
To be honest I don’t think I will ever go back to drinking now. What I know now can’t be un-known and the benefits I have experienced in every area of my life can’t be understated.
My relationships are stronger, my output at work has improved, my fitness and health is much better, my bank balance is happier, I’m sleeping more soundly, and all round I just feel as though there has been no downside to giving up alcohol.
The 5kg that I had been working so hard to get rid of disappeared too
I wasn’t an everyday drinker, I was more of a binge drinker. I suppose it was carried over from my younger days. It wasn’t uncommon in the recent past to go out for Thai and easily drink a bottle of wine to myself.
But the amounts don’t matter to be honest, it was clear to me that if I wanted to be the best version of me (as I so longed to be), the booze had to go.
It is entrenched into every part of life. Society and the advertising industry paint a picture of mothers ‘needing’ alcohol to cope with the stresses of parenthood.
It’s joked about, and fridge magnets ask us if it’s wine o’clock yet? – but have we all been conned into believing that a substance that is classed as a level one carcinogen is an essential part of life?
Alcohol made me continue to make bad decisions around food, even though I knew better
Either because I was too tired to make the best choice possible, or because my mind was so focused on ‘reward’ that I thought I needed the second helping of dinner or the ice cream afterwards.
For a long time, alcohol stopped me from truly connecting with people, though I didn’t know it at the time. I would be chatting and socialising at a party or when out to dinner, yet my mind was focused on the wine. Did I have enough in my glass? Should I pour some more? Are we going to need another bottle?
For me, something as simple as a few drinks on a Friday afternoon would lead to a rushing of bedtimes, an unsettled feeling of being cranky and impatient, then usually falling asleep on the sofa, missing out on the nice evening that had been planned in my head earlier.
And the next morning?
Headaches, nausea and regret about having fallen into the same old pattern again. Not to mention a craving for less than healthy foods to make me feel better.
In order to begin my three months off alcohol, I read many books, but Annie Grace’s This Naked Mind and Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Control Alcohol were game changers for me.
These books (and many online blogs, such as Hip Sobriety – worth checking out) helped to speak to my unconscious mind.
Now I no longer believe that alcohol helps me relax. It doesn’t help me have fun, celebrate, commiserate or dance. I can do all of those things without alcohol.
I don’t feel like I’m missing out when everyone else is drinking
Now when I see people having a drink in the late afternoon sun I know I don’t want one as it would make me so tired and unproductive later.
When I celebrate a friend’s wedding with a lime and soda, I don’t feel jealous of people who are slurring, repeating themselves, or those who won’t remember what we talked about the next morning.
Now I think to myself, ‘is drinking really a way to have fun? Is that what life is about?’ It’s also hard not to think ‘that used to be me.’
Reflecting on 12 months alcohol free
I am so happy that my eyes have been opened to see that everything that I wanted is on the other side.
Now instead of hitting ‘snooze’ I like to get up early and walk the dog, or head to yoga (turns out it’s not just for ‘other’ people as I had previously thought).
I can be a role model to my kids, showing them that being an adult doesn’t mean numbing out with alcohol.
Now I can be a friend that is trustworthy, someone that remembers conversations and anniversaries, someone that shows up when they say they will.
And driving home from a great night out, with a clear head, full of potential for what the next day holds, well that never gets old.
What does this mean for you?
If you are thinking about having a break from alcohol, you don’t need to Google ‘do I have a drinking problem’ or compare your weekly number of drinks to anyone else.
Forget about asking yourself if your drinking is ‘that bad’ and ask the real question – do you really want (or even need) it?
It could be the key that helps you finally reach your goals, whatever they may be.
If alcohol is causing you stress, headaches, or worry; if it’s taking up too much space in your mind; if it’s leaving you with a feeling of wanting more from life; if it’s stopping you from doing the things that you would like to be doing; if it’s leading you to make poor choices around food and exercise – maybe – like me – detoxing from it for a while may be just the thing you need.
This story is just from my own perspective, and abstaining completely may not be what you are hoping to achieve, and that is fine.
But why not try cutting back on the amount that you drink for a while and just see how you feel?
3 months is a good start, to give you enough time to really feel the benefits. Keep us updated in the Healthy Mummy Facebook Support Group, we would love to hear your story.’
Did you know the Healthy Mummy has just released a new book called ‘The Busy Mum’s Guide to Weight Loss’?
This book is a collection of the best of the best Healthy Mummy recipes and exercises and has been written to help busy mums lose weight in a sustainable and affordable manner.
You can learn more about this book (and purchase it) here otherwise check it out at your local Big W, Kmart, Target and local bookstore.