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Lifestyle 1 month ago

my journey in giving up alcohol

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Hands down the most common question I get via DM’s right now is “can you share more about your decision to give up alcohol?” To be honest, I haven’t really shared a ton about it on IG just because…I don’t want people to think i’m judging them for drinking, or that I think alcohol is “wrong”. I definitely don’t! Michael still drinks regularly, as do all of my friends and family. And I don’t have an issue with that at all! I just realized about a year and a half ago now that alcohol really wasn’t serving me well. So, for the past year and a half, I’ve been on a journey in exploring what role I want alcohol to play (or not play) in my life. I’ve gone through seasons of totally giving it up, trying to moderate, and everything in between. At the moment, it’s been exactly 4 months since I’ve had a drink at all. But, in the past year and a half I’ve probably only had a handful of drinks. (Again bc i’ve gone through long stints of giving it up and then trying to ‘moderate’ over the last 18 months).

So, for everyone who has asked…today I want to share WHY I decided to give it up, and what that process has looked like for me personally, and what my life without alcohol currently looks like!

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why i decided to take a break

first i’ll tell y’all kind of ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back’, and then i’ll give you more backstory. so on my 30th birthday Michael and I went to an amazing restaurant for my birthday dinner – complete with wine tastings and cocktails! it was DELISH! But, I ended up waking up in the middle of the night throwing up and then feeling hung over and terrible the entire next day. and i asked myself like…why is this fun? why was that how I wanted to spend my 30th birthday and then the day after?

the backstory

leading up to my birthday I’d already kind of been questioning my relationship with alcohol. like a lot of people, i started drinking almost every single night during quarantine. i’d typically just have 1-2 glasses of wine, or 1-2 cocktails so it was typically never anything excessive. (except if michael and i had like a date night or if we had friends over, i’d drink more than that maybe 1 night a week).

i started to pick up on the fact that i SO looked forward to that 6pm glass of wine – while I was winding down work for the day and transitioning into cooking dinner / being with the fam. i needed that glass of wine to help me feel okay with ‘not working’ or ‘not being productive’. it chilled me out, helped me relax. and i was very dependent on it.

 

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i also noticed this dependency when we would go to dinner at my parent’s house, for example. they aren’t really big drinkers so typically if we went to dinner over there, they wouldn’t have wine. and i would be kinda grumpy / annoyed by that. i mean, if i went one night without a glass of wine, it bugged me. i noticed that it didn’t seem to really bother michael if he went a night (or a few nights) without wine so i started to wonder…is this a problem?

i also noticed how much of a distraction alcohol was for me. when michael and i would go on a date night, i was SO focused on what I was going to drink – were we going to split a bottle? what if michael didn’t want to split a bottle and i could only have one glass? lame. or if we were doing something social i’d wonder ‘i wonder if i could get a second drink. is anyone else getting a second drink?’ it was just taking a lot of brain space for me. it was distracting me from the people i was with.

 

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on top of all of that…when i DID drink (which was most nights), whether it was one glass of wine or two margaritas…i slept so bad. i would fall asleep right away and then wake up around 3am every night with my heart racing feeling super anxious. then the next day i would be so tired – again, even if i only had one glass of wine.

the LAST thing I’ll share that made me question alcohol in my life was the fact that alcohol seemed to be the star of every show for me. trip to mexico? how many margaritas can i have in one day?! when are the tequila shots?! when i went on a girls trip with my mom and jill to cabo, i would be annoyed if they didn’t want champagne in the room while we were getting ready for dinner. and i definitely DID want it. date night? i wonder if we’ll get a cocktail and wine, or if michael will even want to drink tonight. social gatherings? what are we drinking? i hated how much attention i gave to alcohol and how for me, it took the focus off of the trip or the people i was with.

back to my 30th birthday

around the time of my 30th birthday, i was also meeting with a registered dietician who specializes in women’s hormone health + fertility. i did something called DUTCH testing with her which basically gives her a snapshot of where all my hormones are at & then she helped me make improvements. she noticed my stress + cortisol were pretty high and asked how much i drank. she recommended while we are trying to conceive dialing it back to just 2-3 nights per week. this is when i first thought ‘okay i think i have a problem’ haha. i tried to just drink 2-3 nights a week and it was SO HARD. i was SO grouchy on nights when i couldn’t (or shouldn’t) drink. this opened my eyes even more to the dependency i had on alcohol to help me unwind and relax (or, so I thought it did).

so the day after my 30th birthday, michael and i were at dinner, both not drinking because we were both hungover still haha. and i told him ‘i think i need to stop drinking. like completely. maybe not forever, but i think i need to take a break. i’ve been trying to moderate and it’s not really working for me.’ so i decided then (march 17 2020) to just take a 30 day break.

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my first ‘break’ from alcohol

I decided to take a 30 day break from alcohol and really just explore my relationship with alcohol. WHY i drank. why i didn’t want to drink. the benefits of drinking, the benefits of not drinking. and whether or not it was ACTUALLY helping me to unwind and relax. i read two books during this time that were both really eye opening for me: This Naked Mind by Annie Grace and Quit Like a Woman by Holly Whitaker. I highly recommend both of these books to ANYONE, but especially if you’re someone wanting to explore your relationship with alcohol.

I had taken other breaks from alcohol prior to this – I did whole30 or would just take a 2 week break just because. But those times were miserable haha i was like “omg i want a drink so badly, why am i doing this”, and during THIS break I really asked myself “do i really need wine right now? or do i need to find a way to ACTUALLY get to the root of my stress?” I found other tools to help me unwind at the end of the day – going for a walk with my family, or doing a ‘brain dump’ of any to-do list items I didn’t get to that day.

I noticed I started sleeping better, I started practicing other habits that actually helped me unwind + de-stress that didn’t involve alcohol. I felt more clear-headed, more present with my people. I had a girls trip to California planned right around my 30 day mark that I was FREAKING out about. I couldn’t imagine taking a girls trip without alcohol! but i reminded myself ‘i’m trying to see if i can have fun without alcohol. it’s just an experiment. let’s try it’. So I went on this trip (it was only 3 nights) and didn’t drink and honestly…IT FELT SO DANG GOOD. I felt way more present with my girlfriends, not distracted by alcohol. I also slept better, didn’t have to deal with hangovers or bloating or headaches or the other issues alcohol usually caused me. My girlfriends drank on that trip and it didn’t bother me at all! I just knew that I was trying to see…can I have fun on this trip without alcohol? And the answer was yes i 100% enjoyed myself even MORE without alcohol. This girls trip without alcohol was definitely a pivotal point in my journey with giving up alcohol.

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after the ‘first break’ from alcohol

I think that 30 day break from alcohol ended up being around 70 days. I felt so good without alcohol in my life that I just wanted to keep going! I knew i COULD have a drink if i wanted one, but i genuinely didn’t want one! it was honestly wild haha

michael and i were in montana summer 2021 at my favorite taco place there. out of no where, a margarita just sounded SO good to me. and i started to question why i wasn’t drinking. ‘why does it matter if i have one margarita? there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a drink on vacation’, so…i got one! i only had one margarita that night and it was fine. tasted good. nothing life changing. i wanted to order a second but i didn’t.

and then the following night we went to a nice dinner and i wanted to get a drink again – but i knew i didn’t just want one. i wanted a cocktail before dinner and then wine with dinner. and before i knew it – i was back into my old patterns with alcohol: wanting it every night, and never just wanting ONE drink, and also letting alcohol distract me from the people i was with + the moment i was in.

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over the next several months, i drove myself (and michael) crazy with the “should i or shouldn’t i” game. once my ‘streak’ was over, i thought ‘okay i’ll just moderate. i’ll only drink on the weekends or special occasions etc etc’, but then i found myself wondering ‘does this count as a special occasion?’ or ‘does thursday count as the weekend?’ and alcohol yet again was taking up WAY too much brain space for me.

i know there are SO many people out there who can and do drink moderately and i think that’s incredible! for me, personally…i couldn’t do it. and if i could, i was wasting WAY too much energy trying to decide whether or not to drink. and then when I DID drink, i typically slept terrible and felt a lot of anxiety that night / the next day.

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why i decided to just stop

like I mentioned at the beginning of this very long post lol, it’s now been 4 months since i’ve had a drink at all. in the middle of april, we had a weekend with a really fun cocktail party planned and then a gala event – both events i knew would have a lot of alcohol. and i legit drove myself CRAZY before these events wondering ‘should i or shouldn’t i drink?! if i do drink, how much? maybe i shouldn’t (bc i never just want one drink). but maybe it’ll be lame without it’ etc etc. i ended up drinking a little bit at both events and for me, it wasn’t worth it. i was distracted from the people i was with, i slept poorly both nights, had a headache the next day…and like i mentioned wasted WAY too much mental energy on deciding whether or not to drink.

so on april 24 i decided i was tired of wasting the energy on moderating. i’d proven to myself over and over again i just feel so much better without alcohol in my life, so what’s the point in wasting this energy on ‘moderating’ when that means, for me, it’s still taking up way too much brain space? so i just decided to stop moderating and give it up because i knew (and know!) that alcohol really does not serve me well.

now, i don’t say that i’m ‘sober’ or that i’ll never drink again. i think i might at some point. i just know that in THIS season of life, alcohol isn’t doing me any favors so i’m choosing not to drink it. i might think differently down the road – who knows! i just know that for now, i sleep better, i am more present, my skin looks better, my exercise performance has improved, i’m not bloated, anxiety has decreased + SO many other incredible things have shifted in my life since giving up alcohol. so for now, i’m gonna keep on keeping on.

follow along @laurenkaysims

i definitely still have moments at a really nice dinner where i think ‘oh a glass of wine sounds so nice rn’ and then i remember…it’s never just a glass of wine. it always turns into something more which for me leads to anxiety and regret. so anytime i start thinking ‘maybe i SHOULD get a drink tonight’ i make myself answer the question ‘how would alcohol make this moment any better?’ pause and wait for my answer and then ask myself: ‘is that true?’ and typically the answer is no. alcohol actually wouldn’t make this moment any better.

so, it’s been a year and a half long process of learning and growing and i STILL am learning + growing in this area every day! i am DEFINITELY not an expert by any means, but i just wanted to share my journey with you guys in case you’ve also been curious about what it’s like to give up alcohol or why i did it or what resources were helpful.

please let me know if y’all have any questions in the comments below! would love to hear your thoughts on this! thanks for reading! thanks for reading this insanely long novel of a post!

xo Lauren

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