What Finally Made Me Stop Drinking (When Nothing Else Could)
How many mornings have you woken up to a day packed with plans and adventures only to feel so hung over that you have absolutely no motivation to do any of them?
How many awful mornings have lingered into wasted days of you moping around, chugging Gatorade, and overdosing on Advil do you need until it's enough?
College drinking is far different from your mid-20s drinking. I feel like I need to make that statement clear because we all seem to think we are just as indestructible as when we were doing keg stands for 20 seconds, taking shots, or playing in beer pong tournaments.
Over the past year, it stopped being fun.
I found my body truly being angry with me every morning, even after a few drinks.
Awful headaches, stomach pains, nausea, inability to do anything that required movement, and grumpiness all were symptoms of a night out for me.
After trying a new remedy for a hangover each week, I was hopeless. The only cure inevitably seemed to be a whole day having to pass completely unproductively and then a solid eight hours of sleep.
A day of kayaking turns into a day of Netflix and burgers.
Since all this went down, I've started trying to be more in tune with my body and responding to what it actually needs for nourishment. It had been screaming at me for months, but I was quick to ignore it when an invitation for drinks would come up.
My body made it clear that it was no longer happy with my alcohol consumption. So, I decided that my New Year's resolution would be to quit drinking. But I didn't want to stop there. I also quit eating processed sugars. Let me begin by saying this is not easy. But it is possible, and actually, incredibly doable. You just have to want it. I want to be the best and healthiest version of myself. And, to me, that means not consuming things that make my body sluggish, exhausted, or miserable.
Instead of using my money to harm my body, I am using it to treat myself like a queen.
When first telling my friends about my plan, they looked me in the face and laughed. I got responses like, "Let's see how long that lasts" or "Yeah, right." Instead of letting these comments discourage my resolution, I used them as fuel.
Here's what to expect when you quit drinking or eating sugar:
1. You will question your decision over and over and over again.
I kept asking myself when I was out, "Is this truly what I want? What harm could one beer or one glass of wine do?"
The next morning is always my answer. When I wake up well-rested, eager for the day, and completely capable and excited for my morning yoga practice, I know the harm that glass of wine could have done. I've experienced it.
Trust me—there have been plenty of opportunities for me to eat dessert or drink alcohol, when declining feels impossible, but it does become easier with time.
My self-control strengthens with each "no." After a few hours, the craving starts to fade.
I realized the depth of my self-control recently, when I was offered a chocolate-sprinkle doughnut (my all-time favorite sugary delight) and I said no. The whole day, I questioned myself, daydreaming about the sprinkles touching my tongue. I am no superhero. I am a girl who loves her sweets. But I also know how awful I feel after eating them. And, honestly, I could never stop at one. I would have eaten the entire dozen in one breath and instantly regretted the decision.
One day at a time, we are all transforming.
2. Your friend circle will change.
For some reason, when people hear you don't want to partake in drinking, they seem to assume that you no longer want to be included in bar or club outings. I found my invitations to go out decreasing drastically. The thing is, I was never opposed to going out. I am outgoing and pretty rambunctious when completely sober.
You start to find out who your true friends are: the ones who respect your goals and still want to stick around, the friends who decide they would love to meet up for smoothies to hang out or participate in outdoor activities, the friends who don't care that you don't drink. Your true tribe of friends begins to materialize.
3. Your free time will be completely maximized.
All my time outside work is now filled with activities that excite me.
I have more time for self-care—for things that make my body feel incredible, like meditation, yoga, journaling, and preparing healthier meal options for myself. I also found that without the fogginess of a hangover and headaches from drinking, my mind became clearer. My body didn't ache on a Saturday morning anymore.
4. You'll become unbelievably creative.
Sometimes we don't realize how much of a haze sugar and alcohol put our bodies and minds into. Once I quit both, and after a few awful days of withdrawal headaches, I found myself wanting to create more. My creativity took a whole new form without the gloom of the morning after.
My brain seemed to have more space for creative ideas to flow. My drive to create was relit by my new resolutions. The floodgate of activities I wanted to plan, places I want to see, books I need to read, yoga poses I need to achieve, and painting ideas all kept emerging from my head.
Without the fog of a hangover or sugar high, I could start doing all the things my brain had been waiting to tell me I could do.
Quitting also forced me to start to become creative at planning adventures to go on with friends. Bars get a bit old if there isn't live music, billiard games, or a game on to watch. So, you start to come up with different date ideas with your friends.
5. You'll save so much money!
We don't realize how much it adds up until we actually stop. I didn't realize how much I was spending on alcohol until now. I was always buying either happy hour drink deals or limiting myself to one or two drinks, but after some time, it starts piling up. A few beers a week after work starts to get pricey.
All the money I have been saving on not drinking I have been putting toward treating myself. Buying myself massages once a month, treating myself to the juice bar, or just getting a manicure are all better ways for me to spend my money.
Instead of using that money to harm my body, I am using it to treat myself like a queen.
6. You'll learn a lot about yourself.
Since I quit drinking and eating sugar, I have learned I used those two as my "getaway drugs"—I used them to escape. Without alcohol to numb my pain, or sugar to overindulge in, I am forced to face my problems head-on. There's no trick to pausing them or shutting them out. This can be terrifying, but, oh boy, can it be transformational. One day at a time, we are all transforming.
We don't realize how some of our vices can be more damaging than enjoyable until we take the time to listen to our body. This isn't an article intended to guilt trip everyone to stop drinking entirely or eating sugar. It's just a personal story about how quitting both truly transformed my body and soul. Listen to your body: If it calls for a dry month, then do it. Just see how you feel.
Ready to learn how to fight inflammation and address autoimmune disease through the power of food? Join our 5-Day Inflammation Video Summit with mindbodygreen’s top doctors.