‘We quit alcohol and it changed everything’
WE live in a society where it's 'the norm' to pop a bottle to celebrate. To welcome in the weekend with post-work Friday drinks, to meet the girls for cocktails and dancing on a Saturday night, to throw back a shot or two to take the edge off a hard week, to enjoy some 'cold ones' with the boys on Sunday afternoon and to dive into a bottle or two when dining out.
All of these things are fun and important and keep us connected to our social groups, so why would we ever take them away from our lifestyle?
If you had told me a few years ago that my husband and I would completely cut alcohol out of our life, I would've laughed you off sarcastically as we raised our wine glasses for yet another clink and sip and then mocked that ridiculous comment. I mean, come on, who doesn't drink in today's society? Apart from certain religious groups, pregnant women or recovering alcoholics.
Well …. it's been over two years since my husband last had a sip and 18 months for me.
And what if I told you, it's the best thing we've ever done?
Was I an alcoholic or did I have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol prior to this? No, I didn't. I am a hardworking, sensible, dedicated Mother to young children and a taxpaying, passionate contributor to society. After all isn't it normal to take the edge off of life's pressures with a few drinks on the weekend or to annihilate a bottle of wine with friends? And, what even is an unhealthy relationship with alcohol? I wasn't drinking every night or even every week for that matter.
But the more I looked into 'health' and 'balance', I realised there is a very fine line between what is standard and healthy and what isn't. And guess what? Most of us are tightrope walking along that line. Because; feeling sluggish and slow on a Sunday morning is normal. Umbering home after a massive night out is to be expected, especially this time of year. Pouring a glass or two over Wednesday night dinner is OK - it has been a hard few days at work after all, and drinking low-calorie beer is so much better for you than full-strength! But come on, let's get honest here. Do we really have 'healthy relationships' with alcohol or like me, are you kidding yourself?
I HAD TO TRY IT
One Sunday morning, as we queasily woke after a massive (and very fun) night drinking with friends, my husband announced that come Monday, he was not going to drink any alcohol for 100 whole days and was going to finetune his diet in an attempt to lose some weight, get fit again and try to break some newly made bad habits.
To be honest, I rolled my eyes and didn't take him too seriously. I'd heard it before. Haven't we all promised ourselves that we'll start a diet 'tomorrow'.? But he stuck to his words. And 100 days later, he was a completely different man. Yes, he was 15kg lighter with clear glowing skin, crystal clear eyes and higher energy levels, but more importantly, he was calm and connected with his thinking, he was more present, patient and available as a husband and father, his stress levels were significantly lower and his sleep quality was enviable. He decided to keep on that journey for a bit longer, as he knew old habits would return quickly if given the chance.
A few months on, watching my husband transform (for the better) before my eyes, I declared that I too was going to take on the 100-day challenge of no alcohol. I'd been out that previous evening at a Blogger's Event on the Gold Coast. Like all fashion-based events, there was free-flowing champagne and delicious trays of canapés on offer. I woke that next morning feeling a little achy in the head, dry in the mouth and unmotivated to get up and face the day.
I didn't want to feel like this. I wanted what my husband was feeling. I wanted to rise early and have energy and zest to tackle the day with gusto. Over the next 100 days I stuck to my goal and enjoyed Mineral Water instead of wine and I also started to build a love affair with running. The 100 days turned into 200 and then 300 and then before we knew it, we were living and loving life alcohol-free. We both made the statement that we may never have another sip again.
Why? Between the two of us, we'd lost 32kg and felt fast and light on our feet. We gained more hours within each day, as we no longer needed as much sleep. We had the time and energy to spend our weekends bushwalking with the kids, teaching them how to ride their bikes or catch a wave. We had the stamina to motorbike, run, ride, race, climb, create, teach and meditate with our children.
Life became easier and less stressful, which is ironic, because during that first year of life without alcohol we were dealt several big blows - financially and career-wise and personally; through deaths within our family and some unsettling changes to our family dynamics. However, we no longer needed to drink to take the edge off these situations, we were able to deal with them calmly, carefully, soberly and without regret. My husband completed his first full marathon in an epically fast time and I raced in a series of half-marathon events. Our contentment and accomplishments were proof that our new vibrant outlook were definitely bringing success, happiness and good health into our lives.
Not drinking comes with its cons though. Some people accuse us of being un-Australian or weird. Some friendships have sizzled away since we no longer had that one thing in common, and we're now more interested in spending time with each other and our families than wild night outs with strangers and crowds. However, we're OK with all of this. We have no stigma or problems with being around alcohol and to be honest, I never feel like I'm going without. I can still have a great time on the dance floor or over a meal or around a BBQ without a drink in hand. I'm facing life with clear eyes and arms wide open.
We've never been happier or felt so alive. And that alone is why we will continue to live an alcohol-free life. And to anyone who wants to improve their physical, social and mental health; go on, give it a try. Start with 100 days and see where it leads you. Cheers to that!
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