This past week marked my one-year anniversary of not drinking.
And I have never felt so good in my life.
I want to talk to you about why I decided to quit, what it’s done for me since I did, and why you may want to consider taking a break from it yourself.
Before I start, I want to make it clear that this isn’t an article about alcoholism or me shaming moms who like to have a drink at the end of the day (which I certainly can relate to).
This is just me sharing what I’ve experienced during this past year without drinking being a part of my daily life.
Why I Decided to Quit
First, let me tell you the reasons why I decided to quit.
The first reasons have to do with my day-to-day existence, the second reasons have to do with my health, and the third reason (the most important one) has to do with me as a human being.
Let’s start from the beginning.
I’ve been drinking since I was 13, which means that – if I do the disturbing math – I’ve been drinking for 38 years.
Based on that, I’ve probably maxed out my lifetime supply of drinks. (And besides, the only “fun” drink is the first one. Anything after that is just a waste of money, time, and calories.)
But while I was going through my divorce two years ago, I was drinking too much for sure, and I felt like crap.
I was depressed, I had two children to help through the trauma, and I had all the same chores and duties as usual. Plus starting my new business.
It felt like a relief to end the day with a few glasses of wine amidst all this, but I knew deep down that it was not only interfering with being able to cope with the situation – it was probably making it even harder.
The last thing I needed was another stressor to add to the stressed-out situation I was in. And for an all-or-nothing person like me, it was easier to just eliminate it altogether.
So that’s what I did.
What Happened to My Daily Life After I Quit
When I was having a glass of wine or two at the end of the day, I wasn’t getting as much done as I needed to.
Every day, I started off with a massive to-do list (like I’m sure you do). And I wasn’t checking off nearly enough of the boxes.
I don’t mean here that I didn’t check off the optional overachiever boxes of doing more for my business, even though that’s true. I wasn’t even getting the basic stuff done because I was so exhausted.
And not getting the smaller things done created more stress for not having done them. So I found myself in a vicious cycle.
I had a few glasses of wine at the end of a long, hard day, which meant I didn’t sleep well. Which meant I was tired the next day and didn’t have much energy, which meant it was harder to do everything I needed to do. Knowing that I’d have even more on my plate the next day meant I was facing another long, hard day – which made it easier to check out and have a few glasses of wine at the end of that long, hard day. Which probably wouldn’t have been nearly as hard if I hadn’t had a few glasses the night before.
To add to all that, I was super irritated with my kids, which made me feel terrible. I knew they needed my full attention and emotional support, and I felt guilty that I wasn’t giving it to them.
I realized that the common denominator was drinking, so I decided to take a break.
And I felt the benefits almost immediately.
I started sleeping like a baby. This meant I was rested, full of energy, and ready to take on my day.
I was more focused, so I was able to get more done in less time. This meant I was able to not only check off my to-do list in its entirety, but also create more in my business.
I was so much more patient with my kids. It was honestly like being a whole new mom. Everything got easier with being a regular day-to-day mom and, more importantly, being an emotional support to them.
Because of all that, I didn’t have to deal with the guilt that I was letting them down. We also started having more fun together.
Weirdly enough, I started being less sarcastic and laughing more often out of joy. And I felt more peaceful.
What Happened to My Health After I Quit
I felt the health benefits immediately, too.
The fact that I was sleeping better helped level out my emotions, which made me less likely to binge eat or grab a handful of Oreos on my way from the kitchen to my desk.
The lack of a sugar crash also gave me more energy, which made it even easier to make healthier choices like eating more greens and not skipping workouts.
These decisions helped me lose a few pounds, not to mention the absence of about 500 daily calories previously devoted to wine. (I’m no fan of counting calories, as you know, but it’s worth noting.)
I started replacing the wine with sparkling water, so I was also more hydrated.
Here’s one of the best ones: my skin cleared up. I swear to you, I looked like I just got ten facials. And after all the stress women are made to feel about our looks as we age, the last thing I wanted was to look older than I actually am.
Finally, a peripheral but ultra-important benefit was that I didn’t have to worry about driving home from dinner with my girlfriends and being pulled over. A mom with a DUI? And more guilt and shame? No thanks.
What Happened to Me After I Quit
The number one best thing that’s happened to me since eliminating alcohol from my life is that I feel like I’m devoting the newfound energy I have to reaching my fullest potential.
If this sounds dramatic, look at it this way: Even if I wasn’t actively working toward my potential, I’m certain I was sabotaging it entirely by being tired, irritable, and unproductive all the time.
We all have an innate need to evolve as people, and I think this is one of the reasons we drink too much, fill ourselves up with food, or even gossip or shop online – to (temporarily) feel better.
We subconsciously know on some level that we’re not getting even close to what we’re capable of. It’s in our DNA to evolve, and when we don’t, we hear the silent inner question: “Is this all there is?”
Rather than face the answer, we shove the question down entirely. And we tell ourselves the lie that we don’t have what it takes to do great things – only others do.
But before you say to yourself that you’re not X, Y, or Z enough to do something awe-inspiring or that achieving a big goal is for “other people,” know this: you’re capable of anything.
You have tremendous potential – and I want to see you reach it by setting a bigger goal than trying to lose ten pounds (and doing it year after year).
Will I Ever Drink Again?
Now that drinking isn’t part of my life, I can easily look back and see that all it ever did was put a temporary halt to my growth as a human being.
It was hard at first, but ironically not drinking made it easier to keep “quitting” on a daily basis.
My decision to quit has been met with some confusion on the part of my family and friends, and there are also the never-ending questions about whether I think I have a drinking problem.
All I know is that the benefits of not drinking far outweigh those of continuing.
So, will I ever have another drink?
Will I leave space in my life for a glass of champagne in front of the Eiffel Tower? Will I have a margarita at the swim-up bar at a beautiful beach resort? Will I sip on a glass of good red wine at a fabulous dinner in Napa?
I don’t know.
But I guess the real question is: Will the future me find those things so appealing?
By doing things that are worthy of my true potential, will I find that all the pinnacles of a drinking life pale in comparison – or worse, interfere with reaching that potential?
I’m not making pronouncements or preaching to any choir. I’m just doing what’s right for me, right now in my life.
And I want you to choose what’s right for you, right now, in yours.
There’s a powerful idea that author Charles Duhigg writes about in his book The Power of Habit. It’s the concept of the keystone habit.
Keystone habits are those that spawn other habits. And rather than killing yourself to change all those peripheral habits, the easiest thing to do is change the keystone habit.
Drinking for me was the origin point of most of the stressors in my life. Once I quit, those stressors magically disappeared almost overnight.
And once those stressors were gone, the negative behaviors eliminated themselves, and it was easier to add positive behaviors to my life.
If this article makes you consider whether drinking is the common denominator for unnecessary stress in your life, that’s great. And if it makes you consider temporarily eliminating it for health reasons, that’s great, too.
At the very least, know that you’re not here on this planet to waste your life trying to lose weight.
The most important takeaway I want you to get is that you have so much more potential than you think you do.
And you owe it to yourself to try and reach it.
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