It’s the 100th episode!!! To celebrate this milestone, Annie Grace and Scott Pinyard create an impromptu ‘top 100’ list of advice, learnings, and insights they have gained on their journey. This casual, lighthearted episode boasts a wealth of knowledge from two individuals who have found freedom and discovered happiness in being alcohol free!
We’re going to improv and just try to if we can challenge ourselves to come up with 100 things that are either advice, learnings, insights. 100 things that in our entire journeys have come up. Really just ways life improves after quitting drinking. We’re just going to go back and forth and I’m putting you on the spot Scott, you’ll start and I’ll track.
100 Ways Life Improves After Quitting Drinking
I’m a news junkie, I’m a politics junkie and I can follow that stuff. I listen to a lot of podcasts and the podcasts I listen to are people that talk really fast on them. I can follow those and keep up with those so much better and remember what was on them. It’s not just about listening to them while I’ve been drinking. Also on those days when I was recovering so that was my number one, podcasts.
Okay so, I’m gonna tag onto that one. I am so surprised when I go back and watch reruns of things that I had watched. I’m like, “Wait, that character did what? Or that’s happening,” and this is Netflix binges and I’d always watch these binges on the airplane with lots and lots of wine and so I know one of the benefits is I’m getting to watch these TV shows completely again for the second time and have no memory of watching them the first time.
I had the same thing with Westworld. I watched the first episode and I was like, “This is boring.” Then fast forward, my wife and I just binged the whole thing. It’s fantastic, yeah I know exactly what you mean. The second one I wanted to talk about, you took movies that was next on my list. The second one I wanted to talk about was food. I enjoy food so much more and I was absolutely one of those people that thought that pairing wines and I wasn’t super fancy about it but I thought it really enhanced it, it absolutely does not. That’s one thing I like way better now than I did before, which I guess is a plus and minus.
So I’m going to tag over into that one too and say, science fact for you number three is that alcohol numbs your taste buds so you do enjoy food more. That’s just the fact, that’s a reality, that’s a science. Actually you enjoy it more. It also numbs the rest of your senses so we can talk about each of those individually but very specifically it numbs your ability to feel physical pleasure, so food, sex, other pleasures, numbed.
The next one again, from my sort of trying to be unusual list was personal development. For a long time I was trying to improve, and I’d read different books and I’d try out new things and nothing ever really seemed to take, I’d make some progress but not a ton. What I’d found after I quit drinking and I was able to track what I was doing, I was able to journal and compare myself to myself the day before and it was accurate and I’ve just seen that sky rocket since I quit drinking.
Yes, my entire desire for self improvement has spawned completely from quitting drinking. I don’t think I ever read a book that was not really either a business book or a novel before then and I can’t believe how much wisdom is in these books. People have done this stuff before, people have had the hard thoughts before, people have struggled with depression before. So just that entire world has been opened up to me.
Working out. You know Annie I’ve told you I’m real into rucking, so it’s basically putting 30 pounds on your back and going for really long hikes and not only did I get into that, I’d try to do it before, rucking and lifting, both of them I tried while I was drinking and lifting with a hangover is one of the worst things possible and especially I had to workout early in the morning. That’s one way life improves after quitting drinking and it got better to the point that I was actually able to participate in a Go Ruck event, which was something … Prior to me quitting drinking, there’s no way, I think I would have dreamed of it but I never would have been able to pull it off.
I did not start doing TaeKwonDo until I stopped drinking and I was looking for something that would be exercise but also fun and it’s amazing. I mean not only have I made a lot of friends, built a lot of community, got really strong, able to break boards. Yes I can and it’s awesome but that is something that I probably just never would have thought about doing before stopping drinking.
Next for me I was thinking about recovering from stress. I am or was, I’m much less so now, but a very anxious person, always a worrier and stressful situations would really stress me out, like I would feel it and I would hold onto it for a long time. But now I find being able to relax without alcohol and actually relax, not just numb what was going on but actually take a deep breath and relax, I’m so much more resilient after a stressful event.
So I’m just gonna say breathing, because I don’t even think I thought about breathing and breathing, if you think about eating, if you think about drinking, you’re nourishing stuff, breath is the ultimate nourishment. I mean we can’t even survive a minute, two minutes without breath and it is nourishing and giving oxygen to every one of our cells, and I never gave a single conscious thought to breathing and now I think about breathing multiple times a day. Taking a deep breath here, stopping and enjoying the moment there and just breathing is huge. My eyes have been opened to this gift really of just experiencing how to breathe.
Along those lines of breathing and relaxation for me is sleep. I know we cover this quite a bit in the book and in the intensives but holy cow, not only is the quality of my sleep better but I actually don’t need as much as I thought I did, I’m able to operate on way less than I was trying to get before because I’m actually sleeping and it’s not sleeping and starting the recovery process so that was a big one for me. I can definitely say life improves after quitting drinking because sleep improves.
As a mom who’s waking up with her kids in the middle of the night, I literally thought those first few years when they weren’t sleeping or the first few months when they weren’t sleeping was like death. I could not function, I was miserable during the day, I had my first kid at 30, I had a second or my third kid recently and she mostly sleeps through the night but the nights she doesn’t, it doesn’t even bother me. Even the newborn phase didn’t even bother me. It was incredible. People would be like, “How are you looking so well rested when you have a newborn at home?” And I was like, “The amount of sleep I need at 40 is a 10th it feels like of what I needed at 30.” And it’s just because now I know scientifically you actually get restful REM sleep and alcohol disrupts that ability. So it’s not even that we need less sleep, it’s that alcohol disrupted our ability to get the most restful sleep.
On the other side of that for me is getting out of bed, like actually getting up in the morning. I never thought I was really a morning person but then life sort of got me into a situation where I had kids that were around and if I wanted time to myself the best way to get it was in the morning. So I had to start getting up early and that’s actually when I started doing my rucking and I’d be out by little bit after four in the morning, but actually being able to get up, get myself dressed and get out the door is so much easier now. And I actually really enjoy it. I’ve grown to really enjoy that quiet time and that solitude.
Our room kind of faces somewhere towards the sunrise and just the amount of sunrises I’ve seen in general since I’ve stopped drinking, sunrise is just this beautiful, peaceful, hopeful time of day and the only time I saw a sunrise is if I was so drunk that I was still up from the night before.
I was also thinking, playing with kids. Actually engaging with my kids, I mean I always played with them but playing with them and following along with super imaginative games and just having the stamina and sort of the mental I don’t know, with-it-ness to be able to keep doing that, that’s been a huge boost and I’ve seen it add a big boost in the relationship with both my kids.
I had this belief that alcohol helped to make me a more present parent and I thought, “Well I can just enjoy them or if I just have a glass of wine.” Now I’ve really seen that actually that opposite thought was really what was controlling me was that I didn’t enjoy my kids without a glass of wine. I’ve taken that out, the amount that I enjoy being around my kids I am no longer trying to find the best daycare or who’s going to babysit so I can go out, or come on fall asleep quicker so that I can start drinking. In fact, often I will have the luxury of just reading and falling asleep in bed with them. I’m not trying to be impatient for my drinking to start, so my enjoyment of my kids has just sky rocketed. Not only did I find that my life improves after quitting drinking but so did theirs.
I love that. Staying positive has been a big one for me. I guess it’s along the lines of personal development but actually being able to maintain a positive outlook all the time, even in difficult situations. For a long time I was beginning to think I was turning into a real pessimist but what I recognize now is it’s just kind of the lingering effects of alcohol and that lingering sort of anxiety and depression that can really happen, that was really causing some real shifts to my mood, so now I can interact and go through any sort of event and continue to be really positive.
The greatest way my life improves after quitting drinking was that I was able to get off wellbutrin, get off escitalopram, get off xanax and get off the ambien. I was using these things to sleep, function and get through my days. Within a year or so of going through the hard stuff, the adjustments and letting my body and brain heal, and doing the work that it takes to make your brain and your mind a more positive place my need for these medications really stopped. If I wasn’t on them to begin with, I probably wouldn’t have been able to stop drinking either. They certainly have their place and I’m very thankful for them. Getting off all four of those medications was massive for me. To now be able to live medication free, I really count that to alcohol not being in my life.
I look at the kind of absolute value of my emotions to be nerdy about it, whether it’s happy or angry, or upset and the range is still there but it’s much more within my control now. I feel that I can handle it. Whereas before I would get overwhelmed. I would get overwhelmed in a good way and overwhelmed in a bad way. Combine that with becoming a pessimist and it was not a good equation for me. I was overwhelmed in a bad way pretty often.
I had never had the experience before I stopped drinking of observing my own emotions. I was letting them run me. Attaching to whatever I was feeling that if I start to feel bad, there was nothing I could do besides just think bad thoughts. Not even aware enough to step back. Now if I start to feel bad, I can step back and I can say, “Huh, that’s what feeling bad feels like.” And guess what? As soon as you observe it, it takes its power away. It’s like shining a light and it’s not so scary because it’s not all shadowy and dark.
Speaking of scary, meeting people for me. I’m an outgoing guy and I would go out and I’d be drinking. I’d meet people and we’re buying rounds and having a good time. I really thought that what drove that in me was the alcohol. I do get social anxiety. When I walk into a room full of people I don’t know, I get apprehensive. The way that I used to deal with that was booze. I thought for sure after I quit drinking that this is gonna go away, my ability to engage. My ability to get to know people and have a good time was gonna die and the opposite happened. When I go and I meet people I am more confident and I am more engaging. I listen more, I converse more.
100th episode, 100 things. I think we’ll hit a million downloads probably early 2019, so anyway listeners, thank you. Thank you for being here, thank you for indulging our 100 things. If you haven’t sampled the book yet – you can do that now.
Listen to the complete podcast to hear the entire list of how life improves after quitting drinking. Let us know what yours are as well!
Special music thank you to the Kevin MacLeod Funkorama (incompetech.com)
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