28 Days

Goddamn, I’m looking forward to a big old drink, but I’m going to wait. I still have a few days to go.

A week or two is the longest I’ve been without alcohol. It’s easy in hindsight to realise that’s not such a good thing. In the past, when friends committed to periods of abstinence, I haven’t had the same insight. I just thought they were a bit mad. So why now?

After a poor health turn, the Lovely Deputy suggested a health reset. I jumped at the chance.

Number 1 on the health reset was no booze. This Girl doesn’t do half-measures, so it also included conscious eating. What’s conscious eating?

For me it involved two things.

Portion control – As you get older your portion size should reduce. The train was leaving the station and it was time to get on.

Healthier eating – I love my food, looking at it, growing it, cooking it, eating it. We eat well but as we considered a health reset we both noted there were things we would be better off without. In practical terms, that’s meant eating out less, slashing back on snacks, less fat, more whole foods, more raw foods and conscious calorie consumption.

Here are some of the things I’ve learnt:

1. You can change habits

Food and booze consumption is a pattern. You do it, it feels good, repeat. Humans, give us an inch and we take a mile. In the first week, the AA adage, one day at a time helped me. I’ve been blessed that the Lovely Deputy has come with me on this adventure. Making changes together helped because there has been mutual support.

There’s nothing like getting off the booze to highlight the Australian drinking culture and how much of our social life revolves around the turps. Finding alternative behaviours helped. We’re running more, drinking mocktails and relaxing in the spa most nights. We’ve continued to eat delicious food and I haven’t given up dessert a couple of nights a week. It’s just been a matter of pulling the reigns in.

2. It’s okay to be hungry

I hated being hungry. It felt like the end of the world. It was probably because the grumbling of my stomach sounds like the four horsemen of the apocalypse. Conscious eating has also meant not putting things into my gob because I felt hungry. I wasn’t going to die waiting for my next meal. We’ve both realised how much more thankful we are when we eat. I’m learning to register my hunger and enjoy my food with equanimity.

3. New spending money

This food blogger hasn’t eaten out as much as usual this month – it literally doubles or triples your calorie count per meal – and alcohol is expensive. I’ve put aside all the money I would normally spend eating out and drinking. It’s great reinforcement of the change.

4. Massive sense of achievement

I’ve now got a wad of cash burning a hole in my wallet and I’m kilos lighter. Apart from these practical rewards, the discipline of making a significant change brings with it a tremendous sense of achievement. I can do anything!

5. It’s the beginning

We deliberately created a narrative around our health reset. We’ve counted up not down. Each day we bump fists and today it was ‘28 days strong!’ It’s like the Stephen Covey’s abundance mindset. I’m now using it while I run – it’s not ‘Thank God it’s only one kilometre to go.’ I’m like, ‘I’ve run 4 kilometres and I’m going to run another one!’

We’re going out to dinner on the first of the new month and I’ll enjoy a nice meal and a big old drink or a few. The bonus is that I’ll enjoy it with a different approach, with new and healthier habits I intend to bed down for the long-term.

Here’s a Zen approach to changing and forming habits that you might be interested in – Zen Habits.

Everyone experiences habits differently. The other side of a habit is addiction and that can be difficult to change. If you’re interested in creating new habits or addressing an addiction, consider getting in touch with your local alcohol and drug service or your GP.

You can read more about Abundance here.

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