I seem to have settled into a place which I like to call semi sober. You may think, how can you be semi sober? Well I will explain.
When I say semi sober I mean I still drink but I no longer drink to excess and no longer drink that often any more. I will go long periods of time without having a drink then I may have a few, then slip back into sobriety for another undefined period of time.I find this works well for me, as I have a massive love of cider and I wouldn’t want to deprive myself of having one or two ciders on a nice day just to be able to say that I don’t drink.
Also occasionally I may be out somewhere where having a drink or two is nice in a social setting so I set a hard stop limit and stick to it. I may say tonight I will have three drinks and after the third I will stop drinking and enjoy my night.
The great thing about being semi sober is that you don’t always have to refuse to drink, but you can choose to. I have talked before about what I like to call mindless drinking and this is the areas where I find it a lot easier to say no. Situations such as watching football with friends or with a meal.
For me, changing my mindset about alcohol has allowed me to make a lot of changes about the way I deal with it. I used to be a drink to get drunk person and the only goal would be getting totally smashed. I no longer desire this, I prefer to drink for taste or at best a mild buzz. I find that my desire for alcohol is fading which can only be a good thing.
As much as I used to believe that it was, getting blackout drunk is not fun. For some reason I used to convince myself that drinking until I literally cannot remember anything was what defined a good night.
We all go out for different reasons but no matter what you motivation for going out and having a few drinks is, getting black out drunk does not help any of them.
To meet members of the opposite sex – Good luck with that one. Do you honestly think any man or woman wants to meet some zoned out zombie who’s not really present and impossible to have a conversation with? Think about it logically, how can you get to know somebody who isn’t fully there. On top of that your judgement is so impaired in this state you might not even like the person you are attempting to talk to.
To have a good time with friends – More of the same here really. You may be having a good time before you get to the black out state but once you get there, you are more likely to be a liability than to be a good person for your friends to be around.
To look good – You buy your new outfit and spend a fortune on products etc and you are looking good when you step out the door. Well when you hit the blackout stage your sloppiness will undo all of this. No matter how good the clothes you are wearing are, and how good you smell, you will look pretty damn bad when you are red-eyed and slurring your words.
Moderation is the way forward, I now realise drinking to get blackout drunk was so stupid. Have a few and getting a “buzz” is so much better. At least then you have the confidence alcohol brings without stumbling around and slurring your words.
I have been thinking back about my drinking habits over the last 10 years and so and have come to realise how much of my drinking has been just mindless drinking.
When I say I mindless drinking I mean drinking for no real reason or out of boredom. Examples of mindless drinking for me includes watching the football in a pub, I would sink 3-4 pints just to watch a football game, what was the point in that?
Christmas was another prime example of mindless drinking. I would literally drink for no other reason than it was Christmas. So I would spend a few days drinking and for what? To end up in bed with a hangover. I have lost count of the amount of Christmas day’s I have had to face with a pounding hangover. When did it become cool to go out on Christmas day? Doesn’t that defeat the whole message of Christmas?During the day on holidays we would start drinking at around midday and literally drink until we passed out which was normally somewhere near 3-4am. So on top of the alcohol we would normally consume during the night we would add-on probably around 10-15 pints during the day. For what? It’s mindless drinking like this that made me feel like crap constantly for a week or two. It also made me think ‘I need a holiday’ as soon as I would get back.
I don’t know why I felt the need to drink at every opportunity, I guess it’s because its ingrained into us that, that is what you are supposed to do on these occasions.
I think the message that I am trying to get across is that drinking for the sake of drinking is a bit stupid. You shouldn’t feel obligated to drink just because. Feel free to say no! Just because you are going to a friends for dinner does not mean that you need to drink a bottle of wine, water is perfectly fine. In the UK it seems to be ingrained that alcohol is essential to have a good time, other countries round the world doesn’t seem to have this problem to this extent. I wonder why this is?
Ever since I started drinking as a fresh faced 16 year old (which here in the UK is a late start) I have always been drinking to get drunk. I have never thought of this as an issue because this is how a lot of young people here in the UK drink so I just fit right in.
Now I am 30 years old I look at it and I can’t help but say to myself, what is the point in it? I have never in my life drank for the enjoyment of the drink. In fact thinking back I can’t help but think how disgusting I thought beer was when I first started drinking it. I think I still don’t really like the taste of beer but I have just become accustomed to drinking it. In fact the only drink that I actually can honestly say I really like the taste of is cider.
In my mind I believed that the only way to have a good time would to be blackout drunk, which when you think about it logically makes no sense. Let me rephrase that. The only way to have a good time is to drink so much that I have no idea what I am doing and cannot remember big chunks of the night. Logic? Not even once.Now that I have gone on my break I can see the only way alcohol is actually worth it, is in moderation. One or two drinks that you actually enjoy the taste of beats 20 that you do not. Drinking this way also means you wont be crawling out of bed with a disgusting hangover the next day hating yourself and the world.
One thing I know, drinking half a litre of vodka a night (the thought actually sickens me right now) is not going to happen again.
Right now I don’t know if I will drink again or not, as I said, I like cider so if I fancy a cider on a warm summers day should that be an issue? I don’t think so.
I think the biggest thing that can come out of quitting alcohol, is to change my relationship with drink. I need to remember what it’s like when your body and brain is not fighting the effect of alcohol for prolonged periods. I needed to remind myself how much easier it is to find the motivation to do things when I am not on a downer from a heavy night of drinking. Probably most importantly, my body needs a break from this punishment. The human body is an amazing thing. You can treat it with no respect but if you change your ways it will do it’s best ot undo the damage.
What are my passions? What do I really like doing? What could I do? Alcohol doesn’t help me with any of these, in fact it actually negatively affects me answering them.
I like to think I live a reasonably healthy life. I try to eat right, I mainly drink water or green tea (unless I needed a mixer of course). On top of this I also do regular exercise and I try to fit in at least 5 exercise sessions a week. Despite all this I wasn’t in as great shape as I feel I should have been. I lost so much weight when I quit drinking! I am 6ft & weighed 199 lbs. By the time I decided to start drinking again I was 178 lbs, a weight that I have pretty much maintained ever since.
What did I change in the time I stopped drinking? Nothing, all the changes were things that were directly related to drinking alcohol. Changes that included that I stopped the post club food stops and the hangover junk food. The weight literally fell of in about 2-3 months and I was making the progress that I should have been making years ago. I looked great, I felt great and all I did was stop drinking!
Alcohol is a downer, after the initial high it made me feel slow, tired and lethargic. This made getting up to exercise hard work and some gym sessions I might as well have stayed in bed as they were so half arsed.
A few weeks after I quit drinking my energy levels were through the roof, going to the gym or for a cycle at 6am wasn’t something phased me at all. When I was drinking I used to find getting up to go to the gym at 6am a real challenge, after I stopped drinking I could easily get up, have a cup of green tea and head to the gym for a workout that set me up for the day.
I went from a 34 in waist to a 30 in one, which meant that I had an excuse to by some new clothes. Who doesn’t like new clothes?
Alcohol is pointless calories that just helps you get fat, I would much rather put the calories I was drinking towards a cheat meal.
This is something that I feel needs to be promoted more. You see the bottom of alcohol adverts in tiny text they have a responsible drinking website, however from the way they behave, in my opinion the alcohol industry says drink responsibly but they don’t mean it.
Let look at an average night out. First of all people will pre drink, this drink will normally come from a supermarket that is jam-packed with offers. On these displays do you ever see any responsible drinking messages? Nope.
The UK government have been trying to get messages promoting responsible drinking and showing the effects of alcohol on cans and bottles for years now. Do you know who always opposes this? Alcohol companies. Think about it logically, their job is to sell you alcohol. Why would they want you to drink less of it?
Ok so you have your cheap supermarket alcohol and you start your night out. The first stop is normally the cheap bars again serving you more cheap drink. The responsible drinking message is absent once again.
This same process is again repeated in the clubs before you finally head home.
Think of all the times you have been totally drunk and gone to get another drink, have you ever been refused? I for one cannot recall I time I was ever refused drink. These clubs and bars want your money no matter what state you are in. Sometimes the club or bar may stop you coming in but somewhere will let you in that’s for sure.
Also think back to a time you have been totally drunk in a club or bar what do they do? They throw you out on the street. This is unbelievable really, they will serve you the alcohol to get you into that state but as soon as it affects you negatively they want nothing more to do with you! Alcohol companies actively align themselves to things that interest young people. They are actively sponsoring music events and festivals, fashion events, travel. Look at a lot of the alcohol commercials these days. They are full of young sexy people having a great time drinking alcohol partying. This is an image that is going into the heads of the youth of this country. If you want to have a good time that you should have alcohol.
I know that drinkers need to take responsibility, but they are making it seem cool to drink. They are also pushing the advertising for drinking everywhere that a young person will be looking.
Drink responsibly people, your health depends on it.
So now that I am just over a month into stepping back from abusing alcohol one thing I have noticed is people’s reactions when I say I don’t drink or I’m not drinking tonight. I find that there are 3 distinct reactions which I will explain here.
The Good for you group – This is the supportive group. They will speak to you about it, say well done and possible even ask for tips as they may look to do something similar themselves. I tend to find that the people in this group tend to have no real issues with alcohol. They can easily have a few drinks in moderation and don’t really tend to get ‘blackout drunk’. Obviously this is a generalization but on the whole I think it’s true.
The don’t be so ridiculous group – This is the most common response I get. It’s actually crazy that you say you are going to stop drinking this drug and people tell you to stop being so ridiculous. Could you image if you said you was going to stop doing cocaine, do you think the reaction would be the same? Not a chance in hell. I find quite a few members of this group try to get you to drink at every turn.
The defensive group – These are the people who seem to take personal offense if you do not drink. I find that quite a lot of them launch into a tirade about their drinking even though I do not even mention them giving up alcohol. I feel these people know deep down they have issues with alcohol and they get mad that you are doing what they know that they should be doing. I find members of this group will try their best to shame or embarrass you at every opportunity.
At the end of the day you are doing this for yourself so what other people think doesn’t even matter. The late Bernie Mac sums it up in this video below.
I had a drink, well I had a beer and two vodka lemonades if im being honest. I don’t see this as failing however, in fact I am ok with it.
The reason I am ok with it, is the following.
I knew I had to get in control of my binge drinking, I took 41 days of and changed my mindset. This was the most important part for me, I know I can go longer, I went four months before so I didn’t feel I needed a certain amount of months or even a year of not drinking.
I actually managed to set a limit and stick to it. I decided that after the second vodka lemonade I would not have anymore and I stuck to this. This is new for me, before I would drink and just keep drinking until I couldn’t drink anymore.
I managed to wake up feeling pretty fresh.
I refrained from the “day drinking” in the pub and the “pre drinking” before going out. This helped me stick to my limit.
After 3 drinks I was “loosened up”. This is what really shocked me if I am being honest. I hit the dance floor with my friends and was having a great time. Why I felt I needed tonnes and tonnes of alcohol actually blows my mind now. I don’t need to drink half a bottle of vodka as a pre drink.
When a disagreement came between my group and the bouncers later in the night I was able to face it with a relatively clear head and do my best to defuse the situation. This was just further proof that a lot of bouncers are idiots but I digress.
However don’t get me wrong. I am not cured and will not be going out every night. The old saying goes old habits die hard and I believe this is true. While I have changed my mindset I haven’t had time to ingrain this behaviour into me. This is something that I will focus on over the next few months.
Furthermore I won’t be drinking every time I go out. Some nights it’s uncalled for, a night out doesn’t have to include alcohol. I will pick and choose when I drink a lot more wisely. I still want to cut out what I like to call mindless drinking. This is drinking for no real reason, for instance in the pub watching football.
So it’s an ongoing process while I don’t think being tee total is for me, I would like to have periods of sobriety in my life. For instance I don’t have any plans to drink in the near future and when I do choose to have another drink, I plan for it to be moderated with a hard stop limit set.
Even before I decided to give up drinking, I had been drinking and seeing the benefits of green smoothies for months. However since I decided to give up drinking alcohol the effects are magnified. This may have something to do with my body not having to spend most of its time getting rid of the poison I have been putting into it.
Green smoothies are a blended drink of green vegetables, fruit and optionally seeds, nuts and spices. I like to make mine with a handful of spinach, some avocado, then a hand full of berries and one other fruit depending on how my mood is this may be mango, banana, pineapple etc.
One of the main differences between juicing and green smoothies is that the smoothies are blended. This means that none of the fruit or veg is wasted and you get all the fibre from the fruit and veg in your drink. Fibre has many benefits including helping your digestion so why anybody would want to throw away this essential requirement I have no idea.
Since I have started drinking one of these every morning for breakfast, I have found that my skin has been vastly improved, in fact it is glowing. This happened when I was still binge drinking every weekend so now that I have quit I can only imagine how great it will look.
I also feel healthier since I have started drinking green smoothies. It’s hard to explain, my energy levels are defiantly improved.
I would suggest that everyone starts with a base of water (or coconut water) avocado and spinach then add some fruits to taste. I don’t go overboard with the fruit due to the amount of sugar that could be added but just use low GI fruit such as berries. I also find that Banana and avocado help make the shake more creamy.
Give them a try, you won’t be disappointed. If you have tried them leave me a comment and let me know how green smoothies went for you.
So during 2014 I realised that my drinking was getting out of control and I needed to do something about it. I decided that I needed to give up drinking for a while to sort it out, so I gave up drinking for four months then relapsed.
During the four months everything was excellent benefits included the following.
My skin was absolutely glowing, it had never been so clear.
I lost 20lbs by doing nothing more than keeping up my exercise routing and cutting out the drink.
I woke up every weekend with a clear head, this ment no more wasted days in bed eating crap.
I hardly ever missed a work out, getting the motivation to get out of bed at 6am midweek was a lot easier when not coming of the back of a bender.
I saved a fortune, it’s amazing how much you actually spend on alcohol over the course of a few months.
My diet was a lot easier to stick too, which of course does wonders for your fitness levels.
Then I decided that this was the time to make my grand return to drinking. However there was one huge issue, I didn’t change a single thing! I decided that I was cured and went right back to my old ways. I pre drank, I got black out drunk, I woke up with the same hangover I had before I decided I need to have a break. The reason for this was that I never changed my mindset. I had no intention of learning to drink in moderation I just drank the same way my friends did and of course after four months out the game that went really badly.
About 10 months later here I am taking another break from drinking. There is one difference, something that never even crossed my mind then. I can’t go back to drinking the way that I was before. Drinking copious amounts of spirits, shots and beer a night is NEVER going to end well and is most likely ruining my health.
I am not sure what I will do, but one thing I do know is that I will not be going back to drinking the way I was before!