Sunday, 29 April 2018

Six reasons to stick to an alcohol-free lifestyle

Patience is a virtue, a virtue that I've lacked for most of my life.  I am ridiculously impatient.  When I leave a voicemail or send an email or Whatsapp, I expect an immediate response.  When I see something I like, I have to buy it straight away.  When I'm on a diet, I want instant results.  When I'm standing in a queue, I'll start getting anxious if another queue moves faster than mine.  Basically, I'm terrible at waiting and my appetite for instant gratification is insatiable.

When I've stopped drinking in the past, I've tended to make it through dry January or sober October by counting the days until I can finally be reunited with the bottle again.  I will have noticed an uplift in my mood but the positives never kicked in quickly enough to compensate for the sacrifice of 'fun' and 'inclusion' and I would pick up a glass or six again.  On the few occasions I've quit the booze for a couple of months, in addition to the uplift in my mood, I will have noticed my skin start to glow and my weight dip, but nothing ever happened fast enough to stop my drinking in it's tracks.  This year though, I have flicked the switch in my head to 'non-drinker' mode and by default I have acquired some patience.  The changes I have experienced have been both surprising and astounding and they continue to creep up on me all the time.

Happy head
The first major change was to my mental health.  Within a couple of weeks I felt less anxious and calmer.  I went through an irrationally angry stage for a while, but thankfully, that passed.  By around day 100, I realised the vicious negative chatter in my head had been quelled and that has had the biggest impact on me to date.  I feel as though I am radiating happiness and positivity.  Without my gloomy internal running commentary I am far more accepting of me, realising I am enough, I am worthy and I am fine just as I am.

The physical changes have taken longer to manifest but week by week I am seeing the differences in me without alcohol.
Changing for the better...

Puff and it's gone
After around six weeks I started to see that my face was noticeably slimmer.  Four months down the line and I can see that my thighs and stomach are much less chubby and puffy. While the scales have actually gone up slightly recently, I am without doubt slimmer - people comment on it all the time now.  Alcohol is proven to cause bloating as it is an inflammatory substance which can result in the body swelling.  In addition alcohol dehydrates and the body's reaction to dehydration is to retain water.  Without booze, I've simply deflated!

Vanishing cellulite 
I am one of the many unfortunate women who is afflicted by cellulite and the cellulite on my bum and legs has been the bane of my life for as long as I can remember.  Now, I wish I could say that after four months of sobriety all my cellulite has vanished into thin air, but I can't.  However, in the past couple of weeks it has notably reduced.  While alcohol doesn't cause cellulite, it does make it worse by constricting the blood vessels in the skin.  I certainly feel more confident around the pool and in communal changing rooms with my slightly less dimpled thighs and bum!

Glowing skin
Drinking deprives the skin of vital vitamins and nutrients and after about a month of being alcohol-free I started to look at my reflection and see a younger, glowing face looking back at me.  From around the six week mark, friends started to comment on how well I was looking and this has continued.  People who haven't seen me for a few months are quite taken aback with how different and healthy I look.  Without stripping my skin of the things it needs, it is flourishing.

Hair today
My hair has never been happy in Hong Kong.  In the humidity, it has always become hideously frizzy and two years ago, it became horribly brittle, snapping off and becoming worryingly thin.  In fact, the reason why I cut my hair short was because it looked so straggly and unhealthy long.  In the last three weeks, I have realised that despite the humidity it is no longer frizzing like it used to.  In fact, it's looking shinier, thicker and healthier than it's looked in years.  Alcohol is a diuretic and a lack of body fluid causes dry and brittle hair making it prone to breakage.  In addition alcohol can deplete the body of zinc and iron, which are two key minerals for healthy hair.  I could have saved myself an absolute fortune by simply giving up drinking sooner, rather than spending money on hair treatments and blow drys!

One of the most surprising physical changes has been my skin's ability to tan.  I went on holiday to the Philippines over Easter and despite spending very little time working on a tan, I came home looking really brown (for me).  Since returning to Hong Kong, I have managed to maintain the tan well.  During my time living in Asia I have found it quite hard to tan, typically turning an unattractive reddish brown.  This year, I'm a really nice golden brown.  I looked this up to see if this had anything to do with being sober and remarkably, research has shown that the body metabolises alcohol into a compound called acetaldehyde which can cause the skin to be more sensitive to the sun's UV rays.  Who knew that boozing was partly responsible for my pale English skin?

Giving up drinking has unquestionably been the best thing I've ever done for me.  In retrospect, I wish I had had the patience to push on through past a month or two in the past to experience all these benefits.  Chatting to sober people on the Facebook Club Soda groups, who are far further into their alcohol-free lives than me, they attest to the fact that the positive changes just keep on coming if you have the patience to stick to your resolve.  So as far as no drinking goes, I will remain patient so I can carry on this illuminating journey.


  1. That was an incredibly informative blog and I will use this as inspiration to continue with my sobriety. I'm approx 6 weeks in,so far and I'm hoping for the continued improvement, physically, which you describe!! Why would we choose to drink copious amounts of alcohol when it does this to our appearance, for one thing! Life is hard as a 53 year old, who struggles with body image and confidence anyway. I really look forward to reaping the Rewards of my lifestyle change thank you for explaining it so well and actually making it something to look forward to x

    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to post. 6 weeks is great and I think once you get on a roll and start establishing new habits, it gets easier. It is so worth being patient and waiting for the rewards. They will come! Keep going, you’re doing brilliantly. 😊


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