How To Have A Sober Christmas To Remember!

How To Have A Sober Christmas To Remember!

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Firstly I would like to say a huge THANKYOU to all of you who congratulated me on hitting two years sober last week!! You really made an already special day, extra special and I was certainly feeling the sober love!

I have had quite a few messages and requests for hints and tips on how to stay sober over the Christmas period. So with December almost upon us I thought it wa a good time to get this post out there and it can hopefully help any of you feeling anxious about dealing with the ‘MERRY’ part of Christmas!

Two years ago when I decided to stop drinking, surviving Christmas was definitely at the forefront of my mind.  But as you know I love a challenge and part of me thought – look if I can get through Christmas not drinking then I can get through anything!  This will be my third sober festive season and I can honestly say they are the best!  You feel like you get so much more out of it, so many more things to do and so many more memories to make.

I have always loved Christmas and especially with having children, but I did used to see Christmas as a drinking free for all.  I mean there are so many reasons to be opening the mulled wine or prosecco at any time of day,  its Christmas –WHY NOT!

So anxiety And stress when you think about a sober Christmas are totally understandable.  I am someone who could polish off three bottles of wine plus more over Christmas day, and still cook Christmas dinner for all my family, so believe me I get it!  I wasn’t the ‘ooh I will just have a glass of Bailey’s’ sort of Christmas drinker, no it was a free for all for me from the start to the finish of the holidays!

Lets be honest, Christmas is a stressful time and with alcohol being offered to you at every opportunity,  it’s a dangerous situation to be in if you’re in the early days of stopping drinking, so its important that you plan ahead.  Think how you can make Christmas easier and less stressful on yourself? Cut yourself some slack this year! Most of these points look at how you can do just that.

So here are my hints and tips for a sober Christmas and New Year that you get to truly enjoy AND most importantly get to REMEMBER every single second of!

 

  • PRIORITISE – Realise that you can’t be everything to everyone.  Prioritise what really is important to you this Christmas.  Just because you have had the neighbours around every year for a booze up doesn’t mean that you have to do it this year?  If certain traditions and events are always focused on drinking you can always suggest something different.  You’re working on a New You, it’s ok to break some traditions and do things differently this year!

 

  • SELF-CARE ISN’T SELFISH – Make sure “time for yourself” is on your Christmas to do list!  Ok so you’re not drinking, why not use that spare money to book  a massage, get your nails done, treat yourself to something new to wear or new trainers or a sober book to keep you focused!  One thing that won’t cost you an anything is time, give yourself time to spend on YOU everyday over the holidays – take a walk on your own, have a bath, watch your favourite DVD, go to bed with a book and a hot chocolate, find your sober support group on Instagram or a blog you follow and reach out for help or jut a chat.  And something that’s going on my bucket list next year – go to the cinema on your own!  These are all things that just let you take a little time out of the chaos.  Giving you time to relax, recharge and refocus on staying sober and how amazing it is that you are doing this for yourself. YOU DESERVE IT!

 

  • IF IT REQUIRES FAKE SMILING IM NOT GOING! – This is one of my favourite quotes and since I have stopped drinking it is sooooooo true!  Now this is easier said than done at Christmas because there are some events and get togethers that you just have to go to and people who you just have to see!  Keep these meetings and events short and sweet, stay for as long as you have to then politely leave.  To be honest once people have had a few drinks they won’t really notice people coming and going anyway!  Just remember that nobody can make you reach for that drink no matter how stressful it gets! Your sobriety means more to you right now than how they make you feel.  Be selective with which events you go to, you don’t have to say yes to all of your invites, people accept it’s a busy time.  Even if that means your busy staying in for a DVD night with the kids, that is  important to YOU and that  is where you want to be.  REMEMBER YOU CANT BE EVERYTHING TO EVERYBODY!

 

  • PLAN AHEAD FOR PARTIES –  Always make sure you’ve got your own alcohol free drinks just incase there aren’t any available, and always make sure you keep a glass in your hand!  This is the number one trick as it stops people asking if you want a drink and you can avoid the (sometimes awkward)  ‘not drinking’ conversation. There are always people who fancy a brew at a party no matter where you go – and I’ve found this through my own experience!!  After a couple of hours drinking, there is always someone (normally a few people) who will say “oooh yes please” when you ask if anyone wants a tea or coffee!  Who knew that these people existed ha ha!!  Try it next time and you will be surprised.  And if all else fails and you need to get out of there ASAP, then YOU CAN – you drove, it’s a  win win situation !

 

  • PLAY FAST FORWARD – Accept that alcohol is going to be everywhere and don’t get caught up in all of the advertisements that glamorise alcohol.  Yes you may fancy a Baileys on ice, sat by a roaring fire – but just stop there and press fast forward.  The reality is your working your way through the bottle, torturing yourself with ideas of moderation and ‘just one more’, next thing your moving onto the wine and its a full on session, leading to a hangover from hell tomorrow with most of the day wasted, feeling crap!!  One of my first and strongest cravings was after I put the Christmas tree up that first year in 2016, normally I would be opening the mulled wine the second we switched the fairy lights on!  But nope that wasn’t  happening that year and boom the craving hit me so hard, I was angry, annoyed, why couldn’t I just have a drink??  So instead I walked down to our local cafe in the village and had a coffee and a big fat piece of cake with my girls and my Mum. We walked home, in the dark all snuggled up looking at all the Christmas lights in people’s houses. By the time we got home the craving had well and truly gone, I had forgotten about that mulled wine and I was feeling pretty pleased with myself!  I had done it! I hadn’t given in! So be prepared and ready to do something to take your mind away from the craving – IT WILL PASS ands next time it happens you will be stronger for any others that rear their ugly heads in the future! – read more at Don’t Let Triggers Kill Your Progress!

 

  • BE REALISTIC! – Don’t expect too much and set yourself up for an emotional melt down!  Just because you are in the process of changing doesn’t mean that everyone else is.  People will still get drunk, kids will argue and get over tired, the dog will try to eat the tree , or turkey or both!! (It’s our first year with the pup and this could happen- hes a labrador afterall!)  Accept that things aren’t perfect, perfect is boring, tell yourself you are perfectly imperfect and you can deal with anything this Christmas throws at you because you are  CHOOSING to spend it STRONG AND SOBER!

 

  • KEEP ACTIVE & GET OUTSIDE – no one expects you to start training for a marathon over the holidays but try to plan to do SOMETHING outside every day!!   This can be anything from a 30 minute walk or run or if your lucky enough to have snow, an energetic snowball fight with the kids!  If you have got children make the most of getting outside with them, especially if they’ve got new bikes or outdoor toys to play with!  Be the fun relative that actually gets OFF the settee instead of sitting in a carb coma with a bottle of wine by your side!  My first sober Christmas was spent at my sister’s house because we take turns each year.  Normally I would do exactly that and veg on the settee, carrying on drinking (Christmas day drinking started 11 ish until bedtime, no question, EVERY year!) So instead I got us all wrapped up and took myself, my hubbie and all the kids on a walk to the park, including the dogs.  You can imagine we had the whole park to ourselves and the kids loved it!  It was different, it was FUN!

 

  • MAKE THE MOST OF IT –  If you have got a few days off work around Christmas – just make the most of it!  This is a time when drinking used to be the main activity, once you take that away the options are endless.  Focus on the New Year and starting 2019 feeling fresh and recharged, with new goals and plans to continue on your journey of being the best you can be, alcohol free!

 

 

There are a lot of ideas and suggestions here and I know they won’t all work for everyone, but these are what worked for me!.  I’m coming up to my third sober Christmas and honestly, alcohol or the absence of it doesn’t really cross my mind now.  I know I can have a fantastic Christmas if not the best Christmas without drinking.  If like me you have young children who are growing up soooo fast, just treasure the sober memories that you make with them this year.  My youngest is nine and I know that this will be her last year of believing, I am just so grateful that I get to remember all of it with no alcohol involved – I get to feel the natural, pure excitement that she feels and you seriously can not beat that!

Give yourself the gift of a sober Christmas this year, you will not regret it!

I hope these tips help someone in some way, if anyone has any other ideas or advice for a successful sober Christmas, please comment and share your ideas.

And if your off on your holidays over Christmas my next blog will cover sober holiday tips too!

Happy Christmas Chaos Guys, LETS DO THIS!

Angie xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Change Involves A Challenge!

Change Involves A Challenge!

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When I started my blog I had no intention of setting up the Lifting Weights Not wine exercise challenges, they just sort of happened!  Initially they helped give me content for my Instagram page @liftingweightsnotwine and now I’ve ended up having a few messages asking to start another one!  So on Monday 12th November I will start a new 40 day challenge that will run up to the 21st December, which is perfect timing for Christmas.

I don’t know about you guys but I am certainly someone who likes to journal or chart any sort of progress I am making.

For years I was obsessed with writing down my weight and aiming for a certain (normally unrealistic) goal in a specific time frame (unhealthy obsession I know!)

Then when I became aware that my drinking was getting worse and I wanted to cut down/stop, I downloaded the Drinkaware App.  Now this App is brilliant BUT you have to be honest with what you put into it, and that was my problem! You would find me fiddling my units on a sunday night in an attempt to make my weekend alcohol intake look better!

Then once I had stopped drinking, I (like every other soberista out there) started tracking my days and weeks of sobriety.  This stopped when I got to one year and now I track it monthly along with the exercise challenges to keep me motivated!

OK, so I know it looks like I’m a bit of a crazy woman writing down and tracking all of these things but it all refers back to one thing………………………….

MOVING FORWARD AND WANTING TO CHANGE!!

Here’s the thing, if you want to make your life better, you’re going to have to challenge yourself!

It’s so easy to stay the same, especially when it comes to our lifestyles.  We are in our own comfort zone and although we may be unhappy with how we look and feel,  that feeling is “easier” than taking on the challenge to change.  How we are is the norm, it’s what we are used to and it’s how our friends and family are used to seeing us.  Its comfy. Its normal. Its easy!

Personally I feel that we live in a society where drinking is considered normal.  I know I have had a lot of raised eyebrows when ive told people I don’t drink anymore, which is crazy when you think if I told people I don’t do crack cocaine anymore they would give me a pat on the back and think I was amazing! (Anyway I could blog about that all night long but I will save it for another post!)   We are so embedded into the drinking culture that surrounds us that its hard to escape,  its hard to make the change as we get pressure from around us to remain the same and stick with the “norm”!

Some changes are inevitable and we just have to accept them, like growing old, ill-health, financial situations, relationships etc some changes  WILL occur and there is nothing you can do but accept them and adapt.

The real challenge is when you decide to make a change yourself .

Stopping drinking was one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make, it was a huge challenge, it wasn’t easy but I just knew that I couldn’t stay the same.  I had to move from the place I was in, I was unhappy and unhealthy and I didn’t want to continue feeling the way that I did.  But by doing it I have proved to myself that I am capable of so many other things, I can push myself outside of my comfort zone and achieve so many other things with my life.  So now it’s opened up the door to lots of other challenges for me such as; focusing on a new career, pushing myself physically, wanting to learn and do new things and having an outlook that life really is one big adventure!

You have got to keep challenging yourself to change, yes its hard, yes you feel stressed and  uncomfortable at the thought of it but at the end of the day its the only way you will get there.  And in no time at all the ‘old you’ will be what makes you feel uncomfortable and the new you and how you live your life will become the norm for yourself and everyone around you.

So start right now – set the challenge – write it down – and make the change! And if you need some accountability or support then join me on Monday for my 40 day exercise challenge, tie it in with no alcohol and you will be feeling AMAZING by Christmas! And who knows you may want to spend this christmas sober! (Sober Christmas blog post coming soon)

YOU CAN DO THIS!

Any advice, tips or questions then please comment below or just to let me know how things are going for you on your sober journey?

Angie xx

 

 

 

Hangover Free Half-Term!

Hangover Free Half-Term!

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So half-term is almost over, and it has been an action packed one for me and my family!

A while ago I shared a post titled A Sliding Doors Weekend…..which basically was about life being so different for me after kicking the booze.  And this half term has certainly been a “sliding doors” kind of week!

We started the half term at the beautiful Whinfell Center Parcs in the Lake District.  I think holidays are a time when I definitely see a big difference in myself now that I am sober.  We try to visit Center Parcs every year since we’ve had children, it’s just somewhere that we all love.  Now the only time that I haven’t drunk on a Center Parcs holiday was when I was pregnant with my second daughter.

So for me normally it’s  typical “holiday” mode drinking!  Starting as soon as I get there to “start” the holiday off with wine at lunch, then a few beers in the pool, followed by wine whilst getting ready at the lodge and into the evening whether we are going in or out for tea.  Needless to say I have had some horrendous hangovers whist I have been there, and normally would be counting down to a decent hour that I could have a drink to feel better.

The last two times I have been I have been sober and  I have definitely noticed the difference.  Take away the alcohol and you really get a feel for what Center Parcs is all about!  I have had a weekend of feeling full of energy, we did so much more and seemed to pack our days full.  I woke up every morning feeling raring to go, compared to how I used to sit trying to stomach breakfast, watching people run past on an early morning run and just not getting how people did that???? And now, that WAS me, early morning runs and feeling fresh after a fab nights sleep after falling into bed physically, exhausted.  And when we came home I felt recharged, still tired after a full on weekend, but a weekend full of life not full of wine!

For the rest of the week we have been on bike rides, baking, pumpkin carving (obviously!), had dvd nights with home-made popcorn, been to Liverpool for a shopping trip, plus I had a girls night out on Friday.

Before I stopped drinking I still loved the time spent with my girls but drinking would slowly creep in, taking my focus away from them.  For example I would want to get them to bed so I could ‘chillout’ and have a bottle of wine, I wouldn’t have the patience to sit through a dvd or make popcorn.   I would make the most of not having to get up for the school run and drink every night, leaving me feeling totally rubbish the next day.  We still did things together and went to places but my hangover anxiety would creep in and we wouldn’t venture very far!

On top of the drinking I would eat rubbish ALL week and just forget any ideas of exercise.  Now this week yes I have had some lovely treat food (Café rouge thankyou for the best donuts with dark chocolate dipping sauce EVER!) and I have purposely had some rest days to give my body a chance to recharge, but I have also been active on walks, bike rides etc to balance it out.

People think that by stopping drinking that you are giving something up and missing out.  Personally I feel (and I hope I am showing) that this isn’t the case at all!  My life and especially holidays and times together with the family, have become even richer and fulfilled.  I am getting more out of our time together (and with my eldest being a tween I am not sure how many more holidays she will want to spend with me!).

The thought of sober holidays can make you feel anxious and worried.  Holidays are a time when we just know we will be drinking more, after all we ‘deserve’ it don’t we???  On average we drink three times more than normal when we are on holiday!  That’s the norm, its just what we do isn’t it?

But ask yourself – was your last holiday a time that you recharged your batteries, looked after yourself, tried something new?  Or was it just like all the other holidays, eating and drinking to excess, coming home in need of a holiday?

It’s also about what happens after the time off, when life returns back to normal and school and work resume.  For me that used to be the worst!  The horrendous anxiety and fear that I was going  back to some sort of structure and early mornings again.  Feeling drained but trying to plan to exercise and lose the weight I had gained over the week, attempting to detox my body.  On top of that I am not one of these parents who look forward to the kids going back to school, (there is nothing at all wrong with being like that) it’s just that as I work from home it all goes very quiet when they go back and I miss having them around.  So true to form I would be drinking wine as a last chance to make myself feel better!

So yes,  I may feel a little sad that normality resumes tomorrow, but I am also feeling positive and refreshed ready to face the week ahead.  We have had a fab week and made some amazing memories for my little family, and I am now ready for the hectic countdown to Christmas!

Have you got a holiday coming up? Or have you just had your first sober half term if you’re doing sober October, how did it go? Any sober survival tactics that you can share?

Wishing you all a fabulous hangover free week ahead!

Angie xx

Find Your Tribe…..

Find Your Tribe…..

 

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There are a lot of online support groups out there to help you stop drinking.  And the most important word in that sentence is GROUP!

If you’re a regular reader of my blog you will know that it took me about 12-18 months to finally quit drinking successfully.  And during that time I knew deep down that I didn’t have a healthy relationship with alcohol and it was taking up a lot more of my mind than it should have been.  Any free time I had would be spent googling about cutting down, quitting all together, how much is too much?  And my favourite – quitting alcohol success stories and transformation pictures (which I still love to read!)  I can honestly remember being sat at my girls tennis lessons on a Monday evening, after feeling rubbish all day with a weekend hangover, googling over and over again, feeling so desperate to change the pattern of self destruct that I was repeating weekend after weekend.

I’ve got to be honest, I did feel very alone, I didn’t discuss my drinking with anyone. My main reason for stopping drinking was how bad it was making me feel physically and the guilt I felt because I couldn’t stop or cut down,  it wasn’t really something I wanted to admit to friends and family.  I  didn’t have the courage to join any online groups because I didn’t feel like one of those people, I didn’t believe I could ever stop drinking.  I felt like I was the only person who felt this way.  The first online blog I started reading was Clare Pooley – Mummy Was A Secret Drinker.  I could certainly relate to her story and it felt amazing to know there are other people out there who aren’t necessarily alcoholics but know that they have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol.

After a particularly boozy weekend, I emailed  Clare on second day of not drinking and she replied within an hour.  I still think if she hadn’t had replied I wouldn’t be where I am today,  nearly 21 months sober.  I started to read her blog from day one and read the comments and even commented on some posts myself and I suddenly felt part of a group, a support system, a safe place where I could be honest about my drinking and people understood because they felt the same.

I would advise anyone trying to stop drinking to look online and find a group they feel comfortable with, and you know what you shouldn’t have to pay anything to join.  There are lots of free, helpful groups out there.

Other ones I have joined are Living Sober and a Facebook group called The Unexpected Joy Of Being Sober (after the book by Catherine Gray).  I have also found so many new friends on the same sober journey, through my Instagram page and blog.  Its been amazing how many people have contacted me for help and advice, and sometimes you just need someone to listen who isn’t  going to judge, and I think online support provides that because we are all going through the same thing.  The people who follow me, motivate and inspire me just like I hopefully do for them.  It’s a two-way thing and there is no negativity, no nasty comments, unlike in the real world where I have had quite a few.

In real life yes you do have your family and friends who support you. But let me just put things into perspective, I only actually physically know two actual people who have stopped drinking.  One is a neighbour who is also a customer of mine and I recently discovered a school mum from my eldest daughters class has also been sober since Janury.  So you can see its much easier to find the sober support you’re looking for online!

Being anonymous (if you choose to be) online also gives you more confidence when it comes to talking about your drinking habits, as a lot of people keep their drinking habits a secret if they know they are developing a problem.  Being anonymous was a huge thing for me in the early days, it allowed me to open up about my relationship with alcohol to those who were feeling exactly the same.  I’ve gradually introduced my blog and Instagram page to close family and friends, but I am waiting for my 2 year soberversary before I shout it out to the big wide world of Facebook!  I am hopefully looking at starting up a closed Facebook Lifting Weights Not Wine Group in the not too distant future so I will keep you posted.

In the meantime if you haven’t already,  then please take a look at the support groups and blogs I have mentioned.  If you’re at the stage that I was at, hovering on google because I was too scared and had zero confidence in myself to stop drinking, don’t wait any longer just reach out for help and that one reply may be all you need to kick-start your sober journey!

Have any of you joined any other good online support groups or blogs that you could recommend for others?   I will be starting another 100 day of exercise challenge at the beginning of September so I will keep you all updated in that too!

Angie xx

 

 

Support Or Sabotage?….

Support Or Sabotage?….

How does your partner impact your sobriety? Are they positive and supportive or are they negative and destructive?

I do believe that how someone deals with their partners sobriety says a lot about their own drinking habits and relationship with alcohol. But their support or lack of it can definitely affect your success rate when kicking the booze.

Luckily my other half isn’t a big drinker.  He has always been able to drink in moderation, unlike me who didn’t know when to stop.  Now I’m not saying he hasn’t had blow outs and hangovers from hell but they are very few and far between.  So when I decided to give up he was very supportive, and since then he has been drinking a lot less himself.  It’s clear that I was the main drinker, the one who encouraged him to drink  alcohol more often so that I wasn’t drinking on my own.

So when I decided to stop, it was easy for him to cut down.  So say if we were staying in all weekend, he could easily just not drink, which in the early days was a huge support for me because it just removed alcohol from the situation and out-of-the-way of temptation.

Now if it was the other way round and he had decided to stop drinking and not me, I just know my drinking habits wouldn’t have changed. I would probably have ended up drinking more because I would be annoyed that he had stopped, if you know what I mean? And I am not sure how that would have worked in our relationship? So luckily for us it’s me that decided to be teetotal and not him!!

Since I set up my blog I have had several emails that mention lack of support from their partner being an issue.  And it must make it so difficult.  I mean when you’re having a moment of weakness you need someone to say ” don’t have a drink, you have come so far” you don’t need to hear “come on, who are you trying to kid, you will never do it, let me get you a drink!” Or words to that effect.

I’ve also had messages saying that alcohol was such a big part in their relationship that once it’s removed it leaves a gaping hole, a void, leaving people thinking ‘what can we do now?’

And it is true, if a lot of your time was spent socializing in the pub or having long, leisurely meals over a couple of bottles of wine, then yes you may need to get your thinking caps on and come up with some alternative date nights! Try things you’ve never done before, go to different places, just enjoy the time together, just the two of you (and if you’ve got kids most importantly the kid free time!!)

We don’t have date nights very often, possibly once a month.  The pictures above were taken last Friday night, our date night. We were planning on going to the cinema, however the film options were not very good so we decided on a walk at a beautiful seaside town close by.  It was a gorgeous night (the UK has had an amazing summer so far!) and we managed a 6k walk, then found a restaurant that served the best apple crumble and sat and had it with a coffee before we walked another 6k back to the car. As nights out go it wasn’t my wildest, but it was a really lovely night and we chatted a lot and reconnected with whats going on in our busy lives.   I would say a perfect date night, but I’ve got to keep it real and be honest – we argued and I sulked for the first ten minutes because my husband hates me taking all the pictures!! He’s not a selfie lover!! Ha ha!! Apart from that it was a fab night, and I would NEVER had done that if I was drinking, EVER!

Being sober for me just opens up so many other options for a date night, going to different places, cinema nights, walks and shopping! And it’s so much better than going to the same old pubs, getting drunk and talking the same dribble or arguing over nothing and waking up to remember none of it the next day!

So what’s your experience with your partner on your sober journey?  Are they supportive or are they sabotaging your sober attempts?  If they are ask them why? Could they have a problem with their own drinking, maybe encourage them to do it with you? Discuss what you can do with all the money that you will save!  It may be that they are just afraid of you changing, are you going to be a different person? Will you end up doing different things?! Well probably YES,  but that can be a good thing not a bad thing!

I know that being sober has made our relationship stronger in severaly ways:-

  • We argue a lot less.  When I was in that sort of mood,  after a drink I would argue about anything and just not let it go.
  • We get to do different things together on nights out and as a family as a whole.
  • I have saved us a fortune, we all know alcohol isn’t cheap!
  • And probably the best thing for my husband is that he has his very own personal taxi driver,  free of charge!!!

So if your struggling, sit and talk together.  Believe me,  stopping drinking will only benefit you and your realtionship.

I hope it’s a healthy week for you all!

PS ( to those who read my last post, and to the people who messaged and commented, to wish me luck,  I am so pleased to say I got the all clear yesterday and there’s nothing to worry about! Woo hoo!)

Angie x