If you would have told me in 2019 that I was going to drastically change my life and go alcohol free, I would have told you you were insane. Completely and utterly insane.
After all, alcohol was my buddy, and we grew up together. Just like all my friends and everyone in my circle, there really wasn't an occasion that went by where we didn't fold alcohol into the mix. I remember when I was pregnant, and becoming more keenly aware of how many things my friends and I did that centered around alcohol. But outside of being pregnant, there was likely never an occasion I passed up imbibing along with everyone else. Even pregnant, my Dr allowed me sparse wine in my 3rd trimester, so it was probably 14-16 weeks that I gave a big pause during pregnancy. Other than that, there had been a handful of Whole 30s, Dry Januarys and weeks here and there, but by and large I took part in the alcohol craze, along with the rest of the world.
So when I found myself turning 40, and generally feeling "less than" about life, I starting looking around. Why was I so frazzled all the time? Why was my anxiety worse than it had ever been before? Why did I feel like I was on auto-pilot and going through the motions in a fog? Why couldn't I sleep?
Fast forward to me returning home from a weekend in Las Vegas with family and friends (learn more in my About Me section), and I took a plunge to the other side. You can also hear more about my early days of alcohol-free in my Reflections After 6-Months Booze Free blog post.
There were definitely a lot of unknowns when I started this thing. I had no real knowns other than I knew I was doing 90-days, period. I had fits and starts with dabbling in alcohol free prior but was never fully committed. I would jump into a 30-day "challenge" and would start out strong, only to waiver and then allow myself to have a couple drinks for the special occasion that popped up. What I didn't know then, was all the physiological and neurological components that go along with drinking, it's no wonder those half-assed breaks didn't lead to long-term perspective changes on drinking. I'll do an entire post on the brain and body stuff I allude to above because there's just too much for this post. That's where being AF gets super interesting.
Anyway, back to my 90-day no BS commitment. In my mind, I knew I could do anything for 90 days. and I had stumbled across Annie Grace's This Naked Mind, so I did a massive mind shift. Instead of going into the 90-days with fear, I decided to go into it with excitement. I turned my anxiety into anticipation, and my reservations into curiosity. Annie promised in her book that if I went into it with curiosity, I'd learn something either way. I had nothing to lose. And after I had been reading so many people's mind-blowing testimonials from just short breaks from the booze, I knew I had so much to gain.
After the 90-days, I chose to push my commitment to 6 months, and then took on the big 365. It got to be an exciting quest and every time I had a new social occasion pop up, it presented a new challenge to go into it with curiosity and walk out of it convicted in my decision to go at it AF. Once I went an entire year, I thought I would celebrate with wine. I remember telling my husband that after I had gone an entire year, experiencing everything completely raw, that I would celebrate. Funny how my brain quickly grasped back to the notion that you need alcohol to truly celebrate. I can't tell you how amazingly liberating it was that when I finally got to that place, the place to celebrate that I had gone an entire year, 12 months and tons of occasions, holidays, birthdays (yada yada yada) without alcohol, I didn't even consider having a drink. It was that moment I realized, I was truly set free. It no longer served me, no longer held any space in my heart, my mind or my plans. IT WAS AWESOME. It was no longer "challenging" to choose this way of living or to extend my time being alcohol-free. I knew then this was my new way of living.
That new way of living is the best decision I ever made for my overall health. Once you learn all the facts about how alcohol affects your brain, body, mind, spirit and soul, you can't unlearn it. BUT, not everyone decides to remove alcohol completely, it is 100% an individual decision. Everyone is different, everyone has different goals, different past experiences, different plans for the future. The one thing I know for certain, taking even small breaks from alcohol helps people get clearer. Helps free up their mental space and lift the alcohol fog so they can feel emotions again. Even that is a true gift more people need to experience. And that is the very reason I went into coaching. I'll tell you all about that journey next.