Tuesday, 27 March 2018

How going alcohol-free can improve your body image

I've almost made it through to Easter alcohol-free...that's 85 glorious hangover free days, or two months and three weeks of mental clarity and positive thought patterns. For now the anger appears to have passed and I'm feeling a lot calmer and remarkably content.  There is one small issue though... my chocolate consumption!

When I decided to give up drinking, I had visions of the weight falling off me and by Easter, a sober, slim and toned butterfly emerging from her chrysalis, replacing the pudgy booze-swilling caterpillar.  Unfortunately, the pudgy booze-swilling caterpillar has been superseded by a chocolate-troughing one.  There is absolutely no sign of a butterfly yet!

In two days time, I leave for a diving holiday in the Philippines where I had envisaged doing the great reveal of the new slim-line me.  Sadly, it is not to be.  However, despite not having the bikini body of a Victoria's Secret model to parade around the beach, my new sober lifestyle has liberated me from a great deal of self-hatred.  In the past I would have berated myself for not having slimmed down and felt ashamed of my inability to be self-disciplined enough to attain an 'acceptable' bikini body.  I would have spent the holiday comparing myself to my friends with their skinny legs and thigh gaps. I would have tried hiding my wobbly, cellulite-y thighs under a sarong as much as possible.  Now though, with my new head on, I can accept that I am an overweight Labrador who loves her food - especially chocolate. I know I have to stop comparing myself to my Whippet, Chihuahua and Afghan Hound friends because we are simply not built the same.  I'm sure I could get slim if I stopped eating but I'd still have disproportionately big thighs and this Labrador's life would be utterly miserable deprived of food.  So, on this trip to the Philippines I intend to embrace my fat, my stretch marks and my cellulite and wear my bikinis with pride - no covering up of the wobbliest, most stretched and dimpled bits. Besides, I do have some really gorgeous bikinis that need showcasing!  I have spent so much of my life hating and feeling ashamed of my body, which is actually pretty strong and surprisingly fit, that it's about time I started to accept it for what it is and show it some love... and reward it with chocolate! 

Now the beer's gone, it's time to cast aside the sarong!

One of the most unexpected outcomes of being alcohol-free is how much healthier and rational my thoughts are. Rather than consistently honing in on the negatives, I am now better equipped to pinpoint a more positive perspective.   The impact has been a shift from a damaging internal dialogue filled with shame and hatred, to one that is kinder, more accepting and more forgiving, resulting in me liking myself a lot more - chocolate addiction, flaws and all.    I found this poem today, which nicely sums up how it feels to have muted my toxic internal monologue at last.


The monsters were never
under my bed.
Because the monsters
were inside my head.

I fear no monsters,
for no monsters I see.
Because all this time
the monster has been me.

Nikita Gill 

Follow Nikita Gill on Instagram @nikita_gill - her poems are AMAZING.

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