Me at Sixty (Days Alcohol-Free)

Today has felt like a normal day. A bit better than average, perhaps, what with my Peloton PR this morning, beautiful weather, and kids who ate their veggies without starting World War III. 

And then I remember that today is Day 60. I have not had a sip of alcohol in sixty days. I absorb that. I do a silly little mental dance that is a celebration of both the milestone and the normalcy. 

I am not at the end of a marathon. I am at the beginning of a new era in my life. An era of self-kindness, self-love, self-care. An era of energy, creativity, curiosity, gratitude. An era of joy and contentment. A time when not every moment will be happy, and no moment will be perfect, but every moment will be beautiful in its clarity.

More concretely though – because back in my drinking days I never could have imagined what it would feel like to go for 60 days without booze: 

How do I feel, having gone for 60 days without booze?

I feel lighter, both physically and mentally. I am still about the same weight that I have been, plus or minus 5lbs, for the past year. But I am less puffy and bloated. Mentally, I feel like a weight has been lifted as my willpower has not been drained on a daily basis with the to-drink-or-not-to-drink quandary. 

I feel stronger, both physically and mentally. Physically, I am stronger because I have been very dedicated to my spinning and kickboxing workouts. It’s a lot easier to exercise when I’m not feeling like crap! Go figure. But I am also mentally stronger. I have been building brainpower, breaking down my former beliefs about booze, and forging new neural pathways. I have been educating myself, and reinforcing this new knowledge by writing and applying these new tools in my everyday life.  

I feel more energized – and beyond that, I have more endurance – both physically and mentally. I marvel at how I am able to get through the day with a constant stream of energy. I no longer feel broken by the time I’m putting my kids to bed. I honestly didn’t know life could be like this! Mentally, I have regained the creative energy that I thought I’d lost due to #momlife (spoiler alert: it was actually due to #winelife). My brain is hungry, y’all. Hungry to learn and do and try and be.

I feel less anxious. That’s not to say I don’t still feel anxious sometimes, but my formerly crippling anxiety is now minimal and manageable.

I feel healthier on every level of my being. From my non-existent seasonal allergies and my clear skin to my clear head and my clear conscience. With all of that comes a new level of kindness and grace that I now give myself on a daily basis. The positive self-talk is actually happening now. I’m even buying more organic foods and health and beauty products. Which may seem like a silly thing, except it means that I now see myself as a worthwhile investment.

I now see myself as a worthwhile investment. 

I needed to type that again. Because it’s true. And it’s wonderful.

Alcohol’s role in my life has diminished from a controlling, willpower-draining force to a wisp of its former self, a mere passing thought that is (usually, though not always) easily dismissed. 

And oh, have I filled this void. There have been times where I’ve filled it with sugar and salt and carbs. But mostly I’ve filled it with good-for-me-goodness: positive self-talk; healthy foods; exercise; an authentic conversation with a friend or family member; reading and writing; play and snuggles with my kids. 

Needless to say, I don’t miss drinking much.

Am I going to stay alcohol-free? No. I am going to have a pomegranate margarita when I go out to lunch for Mother’s Day with my mom this weekend. Do I hope it’s not as good as I remember? Yes. Either way, will it derail me? No.

Because I have come too far to tumble back down to where I was. I am still on a journey. I am not committing to “forever.” I am committing to my non-negotiables, hoping that these lines in the sand will continue to guide me to my best life. I am committing to more reading and writing and learning. I am committing to loving myself and loving my life every day as much as I do today – if not more. And that is enough, for now.

Who’s the Boss

UGH. I have been in a sugar-and-salt spiral all week. I haven’t posted for awhile because I kept expecting myself to emerge from it so I could post something victorious: “I was in a spiral but I got myself out and now I feel amazing!”

But that is not my reality. In reality, I just ate two bowls of cereal.

This week, I have latched on to every excuse I can think of and raided my pantry with an embarrassing level of determination to dig and find any remaining chocolate from Christmas. The only tortilla chips I didn’t eat are in the bag that I bought my husband for Valentine’s Day (and covered in sticker hearts, so romantic) because I ate the other bag that I bought him when he was sick. My self-control has gone completely out the window and I feel disgusting.

But let’s focus on the positive. I completed my goal of four workouts. And after today’s 6am spin (live from Pyeongchang! Did anyone else do that Peloton ride? So fun!!) I completed a 10-min abs workout WITHOUT STOPPING. This is a big NSV for me because I have been attempting this same workout for months and this is the first time I have done it all the way through without taking a break.

My other NSV is that I have had no wine or other alcohol at home all week. My eating is out of control right now, but my drinking is completely in control. Completely. In. Control. As embarrassed as I am about my eating, I need to give myself permission to feel proud. Because just six weeks ago I never thought I would be in control of my drinking. I never thought I could make it through a witching hour without either white knuckles or a drink in my hand. I’ll admit that I have been more tempted this week than in previous weeks, and I’m sure that’s related to the fact that I have consumed epic amounts of crap. Vicious cycle and whatnot. But I AM breaking from that vicious cycle. I am no longer a wino, no longer a lush. My kids no longer see me clinging to my “mommy juice” every evening like my life depends on it.

I wish I had it all under control. If I had eaten clean this week as planned, I would be feeling amazing right now. On top of the world. But I’m not. I don’t have it all under control. I am not stronger than my food cravings right now, and that is incredibly frustrating.

But I own you, alcohol cravings. I am in charge. I’m the boss of you. And you are getting weaker and weaker. You tried to take advantage of me when I was spiraling this week, but I didn’t let you. Because I’m getting stronger and stronger.

So today I vow to forgive myself for my pantry trespasses. I vow to learn from my behavior this week, to remember how crappy I feel, to understand why I binged the way I did. And the next time the pressures of life make me want to stuff my face, I will do better.

Steering Clear of the Excuse Buffet

My husband is sick. We had electricians in the house today. We had a contractor stop by this morning. It’s raining. It’s Saturday. It’s cold. I have both kids and both dogs to deal with on my own. I have to cook. I have to clean. I’m hungry. I’m tired…

All true. All potential excuses. The list goes on and on. Or at least it would have if I were still stuck in my wine-dependent existence.

But I am not. And so I was able to accept the more-challenging-than-usual parameters of my Saturday and #SaturSLAY anyway.

I took the dogs on a long walk to wear them out. I squeezed in a 45-minute Peloton ride with the mellow dog upstairs and both kids and the puppy down in the basement with me. (And I even broke 300 for my output which I hadn’t done all week!) I didn’t have time to shower but got my son to karate class and the place smelled like sweat anyway! Took my daughter to basketball and then even though it was only 4:30 the kids and I decided we all wanted dinner so we got some groceries and had a lovely early bird special while watching the Olympics.

All of this, and I’ve got enough points leftover for an entire pint of Enlightened ice cream and it is GOING DOWN once everyone is in bed.

I still think about wine. A lot. I still have a moment of longing to pour myself a glass every night.

But it’s getting easier. My nightly urges are a lot weaker than they used to be.

There is still a void where there was once a bottomless glass. But the void is shrinking. I have my flavored seltzer and my tea. I am wearing a pair of size 4 jeans. I have the energy reserves to not only survive a hectic day like today but to slay it.

If I were still drinking like I used to, today would have been an excuse buffet. And I would have had all I could eat.

But I’ll take my pint of Enlightened and call it a night, thanks!

Dry January Day 27

I am staking my claim. Planting my flag into the dirt of this beautiful day. Posting early so that I can spend the rest of the day being totally present and productive with my family and focusing on clean eating.

Today I shall #SaturSLAY. It’s on, y’all.

Workout done: another awesome #ww_warrior Peloton ride, onto which I tacked 15 minutes of abs and 10 glorious minutes of stretching.

Today I will score a blue dot which eluded me yesterday as I dug deep into that damn bag of small batch artisanal restaurant-style tortilla chips. (Why can’t I quit you???)

And no booze of course!

The sun is shining, the deep freeze has lifted, it’s Day 27 of Dry January, and I’ve left yesterday in the dust.

It’s a good day to slay. How will you slay today?

Photo credit: my 6-year-old daughter (who can’t read yet – ha!)

 

Dry January Day 23

Still tired (i.e. Fred is me). But a solid sober day. And that in itself is an accomplishment.

I was able to carve out some reading time this morning and made it through more of This Naked Mind – coincidentally, the “Liminal Point” chapter on drinking to relieve stress and anxiety. It just hit me this week that my usual anxiety has been MIA for the past several weeks. I feel cautiously liberated from this ever-present mental burden that ebbs and flows between minor irritant and consuming captor.

I thought alcohol eased stress. I drank “to take the edge off.” But I was wrong. Totally wrong. Duped. And I know now I’m neither alone nor at fault.

As Annie Grace puts it, “Why do we believe alcohol helps stress and anxiety? Because it can make you oblivious to your stressors even when it’s worsening them… it inebriates you, which covers the pain for a short amount of time. As soon as it wears off, your stress returns and, over time, multiplies.”

Yup.

So. Day 23 in the bag. 6am Peloton spin class completed, blue dot earned. Aiming for more sleep tonight to start feeling more on my game tomorrow!

 

Dry January Day 16

Day 16. What was notable about this day? The fact that it felt just fine, thank you. Normal. Steady. And even though my dog woke me up at 5am and I did a 6am Peloton spin class, I have not crashed all day.

I felt noticeably more patient with my kids, too. Before Dry January, I would need to have wine to get through the witching hour and then by story time I would be irritable and impatient, overwhelmed by how much I still had to do. Tonight, after we finished their stories, I sat with my kids and we just chatted. We snuggled, we took stock of the day. Together. No rush. And I still got them to bed on time and came downstairs to cook a delish dinner.

So tonight, I delight in normalcy. No, in NEW normalcy. A happier, more patient and energized, less anxious normal. And even though it feels normal it also feels miraculous.

Dry January Day 13

 

“All you have to do is make the choice to let go of everything you’re so attached to that’s not serving you and manifest the reality that you want. Life is an illusion created by your perception, and it ca be changed the moment you choose to change it.” – Jen Sincero, You are a Badass

Easier said than done of course.

But I bossed up and let go of two biggies today, and now I’m taking a moment to kick self-judgement to the curb and fully absorb feeling proud of myself.

What were the two gnarly buggers I quashed?

“I can’t workout in the afternoon because I’m too tired.”

Buh-bye! Thanks to the Peloton ride with the #ww_warrior crew, I proved to myself that I can not only survive a 3:30pm workout, I can set a new PR (personal record) doing it! Being back on track (both with diet and exercise) really makes a difference and I experienced that first-hand today.

“I can’t be alcohol-free around my mom without white-knuckling it.”

See ya, white knuckles! Admittedly, last night (the first night of her visit) was tough. I felt tense and insecure. But I got through it, and made sure to prioritize my workout and having a blue dot day today. Achieving those things made me feel so damn good that there was not an ounce of FOMO as I poured my Fresca Zero tonight.

I am still a work in progress. We all are. And I can easily overwhelm myself with all the things I want to change. But right now I’m just so completely grateful to be able to celebrate these wee triumphs with a clear head, tired legs, and a full heart.