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8 Things I Gained when I Gave Up Drinking

Updated: Apr 6

The case for ditching alcohol in midlife.

Long before I would actually admit to myself that I should probably stop drinking as I was rounding fifty, wine had stopped being a tannic treat. One drink wasn't quite enough and more than two meant I would be worthless the next day. Plus everthing became a reason to crack a bottle, and that didn't feel so great either. Work stress? Bad day? Get the wine. Something to celebrate? Woohoo, wine! Insomnia? Wine. Grief? Wine. A fight, avoidance, fear, get it.

Regardless of how much or little I drank, the hangovers were inevitable and the quality of life wasn't cutting it. I couldn't drop the extra weight and my sleep and energy levels were tanking. Hooch

was not my fun bestie anymore, there was nothing good coming from it.

Here's some of what I gained after I gave up alcohol:

1. More Money

It's pretty easy to drop $200 per month on alcohol. This is money better spent on clothes, good shoes, great skincare or some Cool Sculpting to lose a turkey neck.

Currently my credit score is the highest it's ever been and I was able to take online education classes for something I really wanted to learn. Win win win.

2. Sleep

There is a widely believed myth that alcohol will help you sleep. It can make you sleepy as it depresses your nervous system, but it inhibits getting deep, rejuvenating, body-healing REM sleep.

Your body can't ever get into the regenerative sleep cycles it needs to do its night work - the repair for the normal day to day stuff. And if it can't do that, it certainly can't even touch the alcohol damage repair.

Once you stop drinking, it takes about two weeks to get into a beautiful rest rhythm. It will happen and it is absolutely glorious. And there's no more waking up at 3 a.m. with hangxiety. (If you know, you know.)

Use supplements like Magnesium Glycinate to help you fall asleep until your body can do it on it's own.

3. More Time

Alcohol shortens your life span. The top three mortality stealers are smoking, drinking and diet. The health risks are exponential, contrary to what Big Alcohol would like you to believe. In elementary lingo, it strips your body of the good stuff and causes the bad stuff.

Plus, if you don't feel like crap you have more time to do the things you want to do.

4. Clear Thoughts

I blamed peri-menopause for my brain fog, but this was just another excuse I told myself so that drinking wasn't the bad guy.

Booze shrinks your brain. Literally. Alcohol damages complex structures of this beautiful organ. It blocks chemical signals between brain cells (called neurons), which is what causes the initial symptoms of intoxication, including impulsive behavior, slurred speech, poor memory, and emotional roller coasters.

For a long time, I just wanted to numb out and put everything on pause. I have a lot of trouble with all the hardness in the world. I'm a Sensitive-ite and it's much easier for us to escape from things than to deal with them. But you can't numb out selectively. If you aren't feeling the bad stuff, you also aren't experiencing the good stuff.

5. Clear Skin

A few weeks after you stop drinking, your eye bags will shrink, the face redness will disappear

and you won’t need to cake on foundation anymore. I love not hiding my self-diagnosed "rosacea" under liquid makeup. People will ask you what you are doing differently or do a side eye when you aren't looking to try to figure it out.

6. Desire to Exercise

It might sound much more appealing to unwind with a glass of wine rather than going for a walk or picking up weights, but if you do this repeatedly, self-care gets replaced this habit. I would write "Gym" in the 6pm slot in my planner, but at 5pm, the Wine Witch would burst through the door loudly beckoning me to come drink with her and I willingly obliged.

Exercise, in literally whatever form you choose to do it, is the remedy for so many things that are dragging you down. It will make you feel good about yourself, keep your muscles working for you, increase your oxygen and blood levels, and even help you find the sleep unicorn.

If science could bottle the feelings and health benefits that exercise gives us, the creators would be rich beyond imagination. This is impossible, so quit dreaming and get moving.

The good news: you don't need to spend an hour in the gym. You don't have to run. Anything goes. Moving is power.

Try these things if it's been awhile for you: Gentle or Chair Yoga. Biking on a flat trail. Good old fashioned walking to a podcast or audio book. Walking in the pool (great for arthritis), swimming or water aerobics. Pickleball!!

7. Weight Loss & Health

Avoiding the toxin is the win, here, but shedding excess pounds is a byproduct of reclaiming your health, fueling your body with real food, and committing to moving daily.

Alcohol stops all fat buring. It goes to the top of the list of what your body works to get rid of. All systems go into alert to try to get rid of the toxin. When I decided it was no longer for me, I had a pregnant belly and was well over 200 pounds at 50 years old. Now I'm 45 pounds lighter. That extra weight was tearing me down, it was visible damage.

You will also reduce your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and some cancers.

7. Hobbies & Passions

Having more time and energy means beiing able to more things you enjoy.

When you have something that you look forward to doing and it makes you feel great or propels you to a new goal you're after-boom. Check out this article for help finding hobbies.

8. Friendships

I actually wanted to do more stuff when I gave up

alcohol. I wanted to meet people and be

more active. I was interested in being a better friend. I have met more ride or die friends in the fast three years than in all the 50 before it. Check this article for ways to increase your tribe in midlife.


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