Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Six familar aspects of going alcohol-free

I have now been alcohol free for more than two weeks - with the exception of the little splash of red wine I added to some Quorn mince, which quite frankly needed all the help it could get to taste of something.  I have given up booze many times and often reached this point but this time it does feel quite different in certain respects - although reassuringly familiar in others.

The familiar aspects are:

The chocolate cravings - Due to alcohol being converted to sugar in the body, when you quit drinking your body craves sugar. Last week I seemed powerless to resist the call of M&S chocolate & orange mini bites and giant chocolate buttons.  Damn you M&S and your yummy chocolate!  Research suggests that sugar has a similar effect on the brain’s levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter controlling the brain’s reward and pleasure areas, as alcohol. So this week my focus is on breaking the chocolate cravings before I replace one dependency with another.  So far.... not so good though!
Move away from the chocolate!

The deep deep sleep - After the first week of disrupted sleep and disturbing dreams, I am now sleeping ridiculously deeply.  I cannot over emphasize how blissful it is to wake up every morning feeling properly rested and raring to grab hold of the day ahead.  There is extensive research to support the fact that 'alcohol affects sleep, daytime alertness, and certain physiological processes that occur during sleep' - so it's no wonder that my sleep has improved so dramatically.

The increased energy levels - Without alcohol in my life and probably thanks to being well rested, my energy levels are off the scale.  Last week I hiked 60km, walked up 588 floors and stretched my way through three yoga classes - which can only be a good thing bearing in mind the vats of chocolate I have consumed!
Hiking, hiking and more hiking...

The weight loss - After I got back to Hong Kong after Christmas, I gingerly stood on the scales and nervously looked down to see the damage caused by a month being back on the booze again. I was horrified to see that I had gained 3.5kgs.  However, two weeks down the line and I've already lost all of that weight.  With booze being loaded with calories, it is not surprising research shows that the men and women consuming the greatest quantity of alcohol tend to have the highest BMIs.  As such, I'm hoping the scales will continue to follow a downward trend from now on.

The positive mindset - Right now I am nestled in a lovely warm, cosy, aura of contentment and positivity, although I am conscious that this may be what ex-drinkers call the 'pink fluffy clouds' - an intense feeling of happiness that moves in to replace the lows of drinking. Long may this feeling last! There are loads of resources on the DrinkAware website explaining the impact of alcohol on our mental health and I am relishing the lifting of my dark rain clouds without booze in my life.

The doubters - Those pesky little doubters and sober saboteours are still out there in force and the more drunk they get, the more persistent they become. On Saturday night I went to a pub quiz and at the start of the night I received nothing but praise and admiration for choosing to stop drinking.  However as the night progressed, the banter escalated.. 'You don't know what you're missing' 'Mmm, are you jealous?' How long is this going to last? 'I give you until April' 'What addiction are you going to replace the booze with?' etc. and it was revealed there is a sweep stake on how long it will be before I relent and drown myself in red wine.  All I can say is the more you doubt me, the stronger my resolve becomes!

So, what is different this time around? Read tomorrow's blog to find out.....

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