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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Own Your Story And Write A New Chapter……

Own Your Story And Write A New Chapter……

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This week I have had my first ever interview with the lovely Gayle from the sober website and Instagram page SOBER BLISS!  Gayle offers a professional and personal service for people looking to stop drinking and discover the world of Sober Bliss!  You can find her at www.Sober-Bliss.com

So Gayle contacted me to see if I would share my sober story so far, for her to share on her you tube channel and website.  I am not going to lie, at first I was really nervous and hesitant as I still haven’t shared my Lifting Weights Not Wine Blog to ALL of my friends and family.   But I thought hey why not, I need to practice what I preach and step outside of my comfort zone with this!

So we set a time, and I was surprised at how easy it went.  It really was like just chatting with a friend over a coffee! If you would like to watch the full interview please follow the link below (and you may need to make a cup of tea, its a full 30 minutes, believe me I can talk!)  I feel like I have shared a little more of my story and revealed a little more of myself and the reasons why I have stopped drinking.   Listening back to it I did feel emotional, some parts are hard to hear and they take me back to not a very good place, but I wanted it come from the heart and it did.

I am so glad that I did it because I believe it is so important to share the positive message of sobriety.  There is a stigma attached to sobriety that it’s boring, dull, grey and that your life is over if you stop drinking alcohol!  Believe me this is certainly NOT the case!  I know that stopping drinking has given me a new lease of life, a lust for life a yearning to constantly try new things and push myself outside of my comfort zone.  I am doing things that I had only dreamt of doing before with a new found confidence.  I believe in myself!   That doesn’t sound very grey and boring to me, especially when you compare it to sitting on the settee with a bottle of wine most weekends or nursing a hangover!

If my story can inspire just one person to change their drinking habits and start on a journey to be the best version of themselves, without the booze, then I will feel proud to have shared it.

We all have a story, and if we are unhappy with how it is turning out it’s important to realise that you have the power inside of you to change it.

When we deny the story, it defines us.  When we own the story, we can write a brave new ending.”

(BRENE BROWN)

 

So I have made this a short post as I would love you to head over to You Tube by clicking on the link When Sober Bliss Meets Lifting Weights Not Wine

Please let me know what you think and if you like it then please share away, the more positive sober success stories out there the better!

Have a lovely weekend and enjoy those heavenly hangover free mornings!

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