I was in denial about the one thing that was holding back my health for a long time. For me it was alcohol, for you, it may be something different. I hope sharing my process of shifting my relationship and ultimately cutting it out is helpful. My intention is to help you build awareness around things that could be sabotaging your health.
For a long time, I was aware that alcohol wasn’t serving me but that doesn’t mean I stopped drinking it.
Here I was exercising 5 or 6 days a week, nourishing my body with yummy nutritious meals, meditating, journaling and even studying health. But I was struggling to wake up consistently and achieve things in the morning. I was bloated and anxious. I didn’t feel good even though I was doing all the right things. Well, there was one thing I was doing that was holding my health back. I was getting those antioxidants from wine. I was also getting all the detrimental effects of alcohol, sometimes daily.
For a long time, I was aware that alcohol wasn’t serving me but that doesn’t mean I stopped drinking it. I occasionally tried cutting back, though inevitably it would creep back in. I really enjoyed having a glass of wine with my husband in the evening, trying a nice wine at a nice restaurant, opening a bottle of wine with friends or having a drink after a concert.
I felt like I was spending time with people but I was not myself anymore, people were meeting me intoxicated. Were they getting to know the real me?
I became conscious of the fact that somehow I couldn’t get through social situations without alcohol. I was relying on it to carry me through my discomfort in meeting new people (hello to my fellow introverts) or to bring me down after a stressful day. I felt like I was spending time with people but I was not myself anymore, people were meeting me intoxicated. Were they getting to know the real me? There was also that next day shame from things said while uninhibited from that lovely 2nd or 3rd glass of wine I would inevitably end up drinking.
The decision not to drink for a few weeks came naturally, after an evening with some new friends and a spiked drink that left me unable to look at alcohol without feeling sick. Well, two weeks passed, then three. Until one morning I woke up feeling amazing! I remember being in the kitchen, my brain felt clear and I thought to myself “wow I actually feel really great”. I couldn’t remember the last time I had felt so good just like that.
At this point, I had also decided to explore the book Quit like a woman – the radical choice to not drink in a culture obsessed with alcohol by Holly Whitaker. (yes the one from the sex and the city reboot, no I didn’t watch beyond episode 4). I had heard from a few women it was a good book to re-assess your relationship with alcohol and boy did it deliver. In the section of the book about the effect of alcohol on the brain’s chemistry came my “AHA” moment. I felt both relief and stupidity at the same time.
My sleep was better, I was less bloated, and my brain felt clearer. I saved time and money, as well as a dramatic improvement in my anxiety.
I had been doing all these things to offset anxiety, going to therapy (still worth it), eating well, exercising, you name it, I was doing it! But I was regularly consuming a substance that alters my brain’s chemistry and causes anxiety. My doctor told me years ago, that there is no safe amount of alcohol. Did I want to hear it? Of course not! Sometimes we don’t want to hear exactly what we need.
I never made an extreme decision to completely cut out alcohol, it kind of just happened naturally as I reaped the benefits in my day-to-day life. My sleep was better, I was less bloated, and my brain felt clearer. I saved time and money, as well as a dramatic improvement in my anxiety.
It’s now been about 7 months since I made this shift and I can count the number of drinks I have had on one hand. For me, making a decision to completely restrict something usually leads to wanting it more. I made a conscious decision not to impose a blanket “I don’t drink” restriction on myself. Rather, I decided to tune into the fact that I feel 100% better when I don’t consume alcohol.
There’s something so empowering about being fulling present and authentic when meeting new people.
Do you have something that you are conscious is holding back your health? What is stopping you from changing that behaviour? For me with alcohol, it was definitely social anxiety – feeling scared to stand up for what feels better for me. Now I simply say I don’t feel like it, or explain I feel better without it. Every time I come home from an event where I didn’t drink I realise, yes it’s initially awkward but if you push through it’s fine. There’s something so empowering about being fulling present and authentic when meeting new people.
If you have a behaviour or habit you know deep down is holding back your health I encourage you to ask yourself these questions
I encourage you to focus on the benefits of shifting away from the behaviour. It is so worth it if you stay conscious and tuned into your needs. If you want to take a deep dive into your behaviour surrounding the habit impacting your health, let’s chat.