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I Quit Drinking for 8 Months and Here’s what Happened

Ok, before I allow you to think that I made a heroic decision for my health to quit drinking and I quit cold turkey for eight months, I need to be honest about one thing. Have I mentioned I’m pregnant?

Ya…about eight months pregnant! So, the choice to eliminate alcohol from my diet was more or less forced upon me (for good reason!). So maybe the situation isn’t as bold as the title led you to believe. However, pregnant or not, I have learned some major lessons during my time being sober and I figure, why not pass them on!

In fact, I’ve enjoyed how I’ve felt so much that I’m in no rush to drink again post baby.  So, what are some of these game changing results?

Reduced Anxiety

We’ve all heard this truth before: alcohol is a depressant. And for me personally, it was a major source of anxiety. Not in the moment. I’m talking about the morning after. The post-drinking anxiety would manifest in many ways, whether it be anxiety about all the errands I need to get done, anxiety about work the next day, anxiety about not getting a restful night sleep, even social anxiety. Regardless of the focus of my anxiety, I always noticed I was a bit more anxious the day after having a few drinks. And the more drinks I had, the worse my anxiety was.

Since not drinking, my anxiety has fallen to practically zero. As I discuss in more detail below, taking alcohol out of the mix has made my life a lot more…consistent. This alone has eliminated some of the anxiety. And I’m happy to report that the senseless, heart-racing, palm-sweating, alcohol induced anxiety that I used to experience after a few drinks is gone, and my life is infinitely better for it!

Reduced Bloating

Ok, this has been a major win! Even while 30 weeks pregnant I swear I am less bloated than I was before getting pregnant and I owe that 100% to the lack of alcohol. When I found out I pregnant I braced myself for 40 weeks of massive bloating. Face, arms, you name it. While not pregnant I suffer from bloating so why wouldn’t it be 100x worse while pregnant?

Come to find out, all that bloating I experienced pre-pregnancy was alcohol induced! Believe me, I have the photos from my college days to prove it. Since not drinking, my face is less prone to puffiness and my overall shape and weight has fluctuated a lot less. Don’t get me wrong! I have gained a healthy dose of weight over these last 30 weeks, but the water retention caused by drinking is completely gone. A very welcome benefit as my stomach continues to quadruple in size.

Increased Consistency

This has been the biggest life lesson of them all. When I think about my life without alcohol I can’t help but notice it is much more…..consistent…..than it was when I was drinking. Here’s what I mean…

Consistency of Sleep

While there are some obvious challenges when it comes to sleeping while pregnant, overall my sleep schedule is much more consistent without alcohol. First of all, drinking often leads to staying out late which in turn leads to sleeping in. Take alcohol out of the equation and you will notice your bedtime doesn’t fluctuate as much, and therefore, neither does the time that you wake up. A consistent sleep schedule is an important factor in hormone health as it supports our adrenal functions. It’s also a major contributor to brain health. Plus, have you ever noticed that regardless of how much sleep you got after a night out drinking, you still wake up feeling tired? That’s because your body is working overtime to process the alcohol while you sleep. Therefore, the sleep you do get is not as restful. Cut the alcohol. Improve your sleep schedule. Improve the quality of your sleep. This has been a major win-win in my book.

Consistent Diet

As someone with a health and wellness blog, you could say that I kinda, sorta pride myself on eating a healthy diet. You have to practice what you preach! But when I’m a little hungover, all bets are off. Inflammatory processed foods (queue boxed Mac n Cheese) inevitably find their way onto my plate, exacerbating the inflammatory effects of the alcohol.

What I have found the last few months is that by removing alcohol from my diet, my diet is far more consistent. Previously I ate a really healthy diet Monday through Friday and indulged a bit more on the weekends. Now I feel less inclined to indulge, and the same healthy foods that sound good during the week are just as appealing on the weekends. Now, my body operates more consistently because I’m consistently fueling it with healthy choices. Hallelujah!  

Consistency of Routine

I already mentioned that by cutting out alcohol, my sleep and diet are more consistent throughout the week. But this goes for other things in my life as well. I’m more likely to stick to my workout routine when I wake up feeling bright eyed and bushy tailed. I’m also far more consistent with the other parts of my morning routine that I enjoy such as writing in a journal or meditating. My energy levels are more consistent. My mood is more consistent. My life is more consistent.

These last few months I’ve realized just how much alcohol disrupts my usual routine. The routine that sustains my health, fuels my body, protects my mental health and contributes to success at work and in relationships. The list goes on. By simply eliminating alcohol, the highs and lows that come with drinking are gone and I am consistently happier and healthier. And it’s this consistent happiness that makes picking up a glass of wine post pregnancy sound a lot less appetizing.

Parting Words

If you’ve ever considered cutting out alcohol from your diet, I’m here to say, it’s a lot easier than you would think! Once you make the decision, consider it non-negotiable and stick to it for a pre-defined length of time. You owe it to your physical and mental health to see how you feel without it. If you’re anything like me, you won’t even miss it.

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