Jacinta decided to embark on a year without alcohol and she’s taking This Naked Mind along for support!
After several attempts to abstain from alcohol for a few weeks, and always falling back into old habits afterwards, I decided to embark on a year without alcohol. I would often have a wine after a stressful day or when something got to me and I was feeling overwhelmed. Not to mention most weekends, just because it was the weekend – whether I had a social occasion on or not. I realize even more now, that the wine was a coping mechanism for me.
Even though I didn’t believe I had a real problem, I struggled not to have it – so I wasn’t completely in control.
I was forever in this horrible place battling with myself. Not wanting to have it, but wanting to at the same time. It was a mental struggle occupying too much of my head space that I was constantly dealing with.
A Year Without Alcohol
The notion of a year without alcohol was suggested to me by my close friend. Aware of the effects and knowing how much my habit was working against my goals to be healthier, fitter, in my ideal shape and improve my mindset, he presented the challenge. Even though my nutrition and training habits in general were extremely good, I was letting myself down in this one area. I would continually be down on myself and in a state of guilt. I felt physically and mentally terrible about the bloating I experienced from my drinking and the snacking on cheese, biscuits and dip that always accompanied it. This made me feel awful about the way I looked.
I was forever in a revolving, negative cycle of guilt, shame, disappointment and unhappiness. I knew it was also affecting my attitude towards my workouts, my nutrition in general, and my overall mindset.
There was absolutely no way I thought I could do this. After the thought was initially planted, I stewed over it for a few days. It became clear to me that it was something I just had to do to free myself from this mess I was constantly in. I am the General Manager and Nutrition Coach at a gym, also just starting out with an online coaching business with a business partner. Here I was telling others how to improve their nutrition, training and mindset, and I was sabotaging mine with my habits of drinking wine and snacking much too often.
Just short of three months in, I sometimes still pinch myself that I am doing this, because never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined myself succeeding in giving up wine. I know that I have a fear of failure – something I am trying to confront and deal with. I often don’t believe in myself, something that through this journey I am now discovering is growing. Now I actually do believe that I can make it a year without alcohol, where I will then feel I am in an appropriate place to make a decision about whether I ever want to drink again. My instinct, though, is telling me that I won’t – because I just feel I can’t.
What is an acceptable amount? Or more importantly, what is the level where I would be completely in control of my drinking habits? What determines “remaining in control”? Is it a number? Or is it only drinking on weekends or at social occasions? How many occasions is too many or too often? How do you even define an “occasion”? Or is it when I may want a drink for another reason?
There are too many ifs and buts and no clear boundaries, and way too high a risk of falling back into old undesirable habits.
I read Allen Carr’s book – The Easy Way to Stop Drinking, a year or two ago. The thought of reducing drinking has been something I’ve toyed with and attempted over a period of time. I read Annie’s “This Naked Mind” early March this year. It was easy and enjoyable to read. The book cemented my confidence to continue my journey and taught me what I really needed to do to succeed. That was to change my unconscious mind and the way I perceived drinking. I needed to change it from something I felt I was missing out on, to something I didn’t want to do. I do feel that I am free of the constant battle in my head of both not wanting but wanting a wine.
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Learning To Go Without
I still believe this, although I do have my testing moments where I find it difficult. Either at social occasions, enjoying a glass of red with my husband over dinner, or recently our wedding anniversary that just wasn’t quite the same. At every one of our 17 anniversaries and for the six years we were together beforehand, we would have always enjoyed a few wines in celebration. One of my fears was failing to connect with my husband in situations such as this where we would always have enjoyed nice food and wine together and connected in this way.
I’ve also struggled with my sister’s attitude towards my year without alcohol, as we are very close. I struggle with the negative comments she makes about me not drinking in front of others. She herself drinks very heavily and I’m sure she acts in this way to make herself feel better and justify her own drinking habits. It’s disappointing that she feels the need to do this. I don’t expect her to support me, but it would be nice if she didn’t downgrade me either. If this continues to happen, I’m going to talk to her about it.
How To Cope
In the past month or so I have had some up and down times. Sometimes I find it difficult at events or even just the odd occasions that arise at home. A couple of weeks ago I had a full-on week with a family funeral, cousins staying, and I was a bit stressed out and overwhelmed with my two jobs. I found myself desperately wanting a wine. This was clearly my coping mechanism rearing its head. At the time, I couldn’t work this out and found myself quite shocked at the strong desire I had in wanting a wine. I hadn’t felt an urge this strong since I had given up and I didn’t expect it to happen two and a half months in.
Is It Worth It?
I’ve had a few moments where I have questioned myself and what I’m doing. Is it all really worth it? What actually are the benefits of doing this? Is it worth all the hard times and battles I am yet to face and how will it all end up? What if I end up failing anyway? I might as well fail now. I have struggled with my increased snacking since giving up. That is another form of coping – a mechanism to replace the wine.
This has been a big reason for me questioning myself. I thought that giving up wine would solve all my problems, including my nutrition and body image issues. I wasn’t expecting this to happen.
A few times I have thought that I haven’t lost any weight, my body fat percentage is still the same, and I still have a bloated fat tummy, so what is the point of doing all this? I may as well just drink the wine!! I have to remind myself of all the amazing benefits I am experiencing. Better sleep, clearer mind, waking up feeling refreshed, more positive attitude, the health benefits, the role model I am to my kids, the influence I may have on others, my improved training, my self belief (which will flow through to other areas of my life I’m sure), and more.
I also thought that it would continue to become easier the further I got into my journey. There have been a few situations, particularly over the last month, where I have wanted a wine. I don’t know whether I need reminding through resources, such as re-reading “This Naked Mind”, to re-instill that I don’t want to drink, as I am feeling that sometimes I do still want a drink. Perhaps my unconscious mind still needs more work, as I am aware that if I don’t want to drink, I won’t get this feeling. I won’t need to use willpower or other means to stop myself. It will take a lot now to actually give in and have a drink. I have come this far and I do not want to throw it all in.
What I do know, is that if I maintain my daily meditation or mindfulness, this keeps me feeling positive and in a strong mindset to focus on what I am doing. If I let this slip, my snacking increases and negativity creeps in. I may miss a training session and I feel myself slipping back into a negative cycle. This is where I could potentially open up unwanted opportunities for temptation. Sleep is also important. When I am tired, I am not as strong mentally – the chance of mindless snacking increases. The last month I have gradually improved my snacking habits. I am making sleep and meditation a priority. Slowly, I am making inroads. I definitely still have my not-so-good days, but overall I am slowly getting there.
I do need to remind myself, too, of how far I have come with my journey along with what I have achieved so far. It’s easy to forget that 3 months ago I did not believe for one moment that I could do this.
It’s also reassuring knowing that I have amazing resources, such as the “This Naked Mind” book, this site, “This Naked Mind” Facebook group, “One Year no Beer” Facebook page and “The Easy Way” app that I can refer to in times of doubt or when I need reminding that I am doing the right thing.
Help From A Friend
I can’t thank my friend enough for opening up the opportunity for me to do this. I am fortunate that I have been given this wonderful opportunity. He had the belief in me that I didn’t; he has helped me realize that I do have the capabilities and self belief to do this. This helps me work toward overcoming my fear of failure.
He encouraged me to do a daily reflection video as a journal of my journey. I started off doing this daily. Now I just do it every now and then when I feel like it or when I feel like I have a revelation, have realized a breakthrough; when I’m struggling, or just when I feel I want to share something. I’m not sure at this stage whether I will use these for anything. They are potential tools that I may share down the track to help others struggling who may be considering a year without alcohol, or who are on their own journey.
My friend has been so supportive. He is always available to chat when I need it, being there for me in difficult times and always having this way of looking at things from a different perspective with greater clarity – helping me to work through whatever situation is getting me down. He has been through his own journey of completely ridding sugar from his diet, so he understands a lot of what I am dealing with. He’s someone I can talk to about all this. I don’t have anyone else that I could seriously and easily discuss this type of thing with. He has just been amazing and I know I would not be doing this and could not do this without him.
At the beginning, I did a video of what I called my “Point B”. This detailed everything about where I wanted to be after a year without alcohol. How I wanted to feel, what I wanted to achieve, the benefits I wanted to be experiencing and the person I would be. There have been some other positives I didn’t factor in. My husband is drinking significantly less, because I am not opening bottles of wine around the house. Even though I would say he drank less than me normally, he is mainly now only drinking at social occasions. I have had a positive influence on others. This I underestimated also, and now I’d love to be able to help more people because of what I am doing.
Share Your Story
I am looking forward to reading a lot more on this site about others’ journeys and experiences and offering support. You are all amazing for even making the various decisions that you have, in relation to either abstaining for a period or giving it up altogether. All the best to each and every one of you on your own individual journeys. Please share your story of a year without alcohol and help others!