How’s your January going? If you read my healthy plan for 2018, you’ll know that I’m determined to be more healthy this month (and hopefully carrying on for the entire year), to foster a healthier respect for alcohol, break the habit of my after dinner glass or two of wine and eat a much healthier diet, with a lot less meat and sweet treats. How am I getting on? Well, it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster, but I think I’m on the right track. Read on for my thoughts so far on my Drinkaware month – an update on my mission to break bad habits and foster new, healthy ones.
Breaking the habits
I’m really proud of this – I feel like I’ve totally broken my habit of drinking nearly every day. I think that one of the biggest turning points has been that I’m not actually wanting a glass of wine then seeking out an alternative (although I wrote about a few great alternatives here). We’ll often just sit down after dinner and just have a glass or water, or maybe one of us will make tea. I think we’ve more or less got used to not drinking during the week now – which brings a new challenge of trying not to binge at the weekends. Ooh, one thing we did get, though, which has been amazing, is a Sodastream Fizzi which is absolutely brilliant for making fizzy water out of normal tap water. It feels so much nicer to have a nice glass of sparkling water on the go, and we’ve used it non stop so far (plus obviously it’s much better for the environment that buying loads of bottles of sparkling water).
For the first few days I didn’t drink at all (I’d just lost my dad and I didn’t think alcohol and grief were sensible partners), and then we went out for dinner with some friends. I offered to drive, but when we got to the restaurant, I let our friends talk me into leaving the car (I didn’t take much persuading) so I could have a drink. I had three glasses of red wine in the restaurant and had a bit of a shock when I added them to the Drinkaware app only to discover that they added up to 7.2 units (and 420 wasted calories). Lesson learned: next time, I’ll offer to drive and be strong enough not to allow anyone to talk me into drinking.
Drinking to cope
Coincidentally, last week, Drinkaware/YouGov released new research which revealed that almost 58% of people who drink alcohol are doing so because it helps them ‘cope with the pressures of day to day life’. In the survey, which looks at adult drinking patterns in the UK, 38% of men and women who said they had drunk alcohol in the last year had done so to ‘forget their problems’, and 47% said they had done so to cheer themselves up when in a bad mood.
It’s an interesting one – if you’re having a bad day or feeling a bit rubbish, sometimes reaching for a drink seems to be the answer, (in fact, 41% said that they had drunk alcohol because it helps when they feel depressed or nervous). On a personal level, after not drinking all week, drinking a couple of glasses of wine actually made me feel much more emotional, bringing all my feelings of loss and heartache rushing to the surface and I definitely regretted it, feeling that I’d lost control in some way. I’ve also decided not to drink at the wake after the funeral. I just feel that I’ll be better off tackling what’s going to be a stressful day with a clear head.
A positive relationship
One of the emotions I feel a lot when I think of alcohol is a weird sense of disappointment in myself. I want to foster a healthy relationship with alcohol (I mean, I adore wine and can’t ever see myself completely giving it up) but waking up in the morning and regretting opening the second bottle certainly isn’t a healthy way to exist. So what’s the answer? We’ve talked about it in depth and we could definitely see ourselves giving up drinking at home, then maybe going out for dinner and drinks every so often, and treating it more as an indulgence.
One of our biggest issues with wine (does anyone else have this?) is that Jim drinks faster than I do, so if we’re sharing a bottle, he’ll end up having three glasses to my two, and then I feel all left out and we end up opening a second bottle – not sure what the answer is there – it seems a bit petty to split it into halves before we start!
And talking of positives…
Before I get caught up worrying about units and opening second bottles (see? alcohol makes me worry!), I must say that I’m proud to be back on the couch to 5k running – I’ve been running three times a week for about half an hour and although I’m not fast, it feels great to be exercising and burning calories, plus it has amazing mind-clearing properties too. I’m also making sure I’m taking a decent quality vitamin (I like Oxford Vitality – they package their vitamins in flat, paper bags rather than plastic bottles). I take a skin hair and nails supplement containing grape seed extract which is rich in anti-oxidants; vitamin C, which contributes to collagen synthesis; vitamin E, A and selenium – all great for skin health, and then because I don’t want to get old and creaky, I take a joint supplement containing glucosamine, chondroitin MSM which support joints and helps with repair and lubrication, plus vitamin C to promote collagen synthesis for joint cartilage.
A healthy diet
Health-wise, we’ve done quite well. I’ve tried a few new recipes, and I’ve tried to make some healthier choices, swapping our usual basmati for brown rice, choosing porridge in the morning over piles of toast with marmite, and the Christmas chocolate is finally finished too, which helped.
So how’s your January going? Are you finding it tough going (especially if you’re doing dry January)? Or do you have any fab tips for healthier drinking habits?