Four surprising ways quitting drinking can help you lose weight

This week we have a guest blog from a member of our social media community, Vickie King. She talks about the ‘quadruple strike’ of the four ways drinking alcohol leads to weight gain – and a surprising way she turned it all around to lose weight and quit drinking! 

I haven’t consumed a drop of alcohol since 23 September 2017. Sounds like a long time doesn’t it?  It is and it isn’t. But what hasn’t changed in all that time, is how much better I feel for it.

You don’t have to have a drinking problem, for drinking to be a problem

I wasn’t an alcoholic. I didn’t drink every night. I didn’t binge drink on weekends. I didn’t consume vast quantities or have blackouts. But what I did do was have 2–3 glasses of wine on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. To relax, with a cheese platter, bar snacks, or dinner – all very civilised.

But the problem was I had started to rely on it to relax and unwind from a stressful job. However, I wasn’t happy about how it made me feel, or how it made me look. Inside and outside the booze wasn’t doing me any favours.

I was unmotivated, unfit, overweight, bloated, puffy-faced, and feeling pretty crappy about myself.

Four strikes a charm?

You see booze sets you up for what I call the ‘Quadruple Strike’

  1. You’re enjoying yourself, but you’re drinking a bunch of calories that have ZERO nutritional value – strike 1
  2. You’re drinking so you get snacky and end up ordering fatty fries or consuming a whole creamy brie with crackers – strike 2
  3. You’re riding the cocktail (or beer, or wine) highway till late. The next day you’re dusty … so you skip the gym – strike 3
  4. Being a little under the weather the next day, you need a big plate of greasy, salty  calorific goodness – You’re out!

Swap the bad, for the good.

I decided to draw a line in the sand. I stopped drinking and started going to CrossFit. CrossFit is good for the couch-potato boozer as it has a strong focus on injury prevention, competing only against yourself, and it’s ALL about community. So not only did I get exercise, but I also got to socialise and meet new people without alcohol.

For me, joining a normal gym where you go to anonymous classes or work out alone, wasn’t going to work. If I wasn’t going to the bar, I needed somewhere new to joke around with friends. CrossFit fitted the bill perfectly, so I went twice a week.

Becoming fitter and starting to take care of myself made it a whole lot easier to clean up the food too, because it’s hard to hate a body that you’re looking after. So it was easier to get the motivation to eat well and exercise because my body was responding and giving me encouragement. You start to build a wonderful momentum that carries over into other parts of your life (but that’s another blog post altogether!).

Results that speak to me

Over a period of eight months I did lose weight – 14 kg to be precise! It just fell off me. I dropped 3 dress sizes and had to buy a whole new wardrobe (sorry not sorry). I felt better. Looked better. Thought better. And I had made a bunch of new healthy friends and found a place to socialise that didn’t require alcohol. It literally changed my life.

If I can do it, you can too. And trust me, it’s so worth it.

Vickie King

 

 

 

The long road worth travelling

It doesn’t feel like long ago that I struggled to go just one week without alcohol. So it’s hard to believe that it’s now been two years without a drink. My original goal was to stop drinking for a year. However, after seeing how much my life changed in that year, I decided to stick with the sober life. I haven’t decided that I will never drink again but the longer I stay sober, the more reasons I find to want to stay sober.

Giving up a twenty-year binge-drinking habit has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. The new lifestyle still presents challenges, although it has proven that sometimes the hardest things to do are often the most rewarding.

Last year was tough. I consciously didn’t date anyone all year. I knew it was going to take at least twelve months to adjust to an alcohol-free life and to feel comfortable enough within my new sober skin to go on a first date. I also avoided as many social events as possible. Just the thought of going to a pub or bar, sober, made me feel uncomfortable. A few months into the year I came to the realisation that I not only had social anxiety but most likely always did have, and had been self-medicating with alcohol.

A few months into the sober life I got invited to a party. I knew I had to go because it was for a good friend and I couldn’t avoid parties for the rest of my life. I was dreading the thought of going. I constantly pictured myself at the party being socially awkward. I would keep coming up with excuses in my head of how I could get out of going. However, I knew that to move forward I would have to get over these hurdles. As it turns out, the party wasn’t as bad as I was expecting, nor were the next few parties after that. It’s like anything I guess, the more you do something the easier it becomes. Which is what happened after the first sober date; once I’d jumped that first dreaded hurdle it became easier and easier.

Slowly, I would start to see the benefits of being the sober one. Sure, maybe I wasn’t as loud, or cracking as many jokes, as the people drinking but at least at the end of the night I was coming home with money in my wallet and a clear head. It was a nice change to be able to remember everything that happened on a night out. The biggest benefit was saying goodbye to hangovers. Waking up fresh on the weekends has opened up a whole new world of opportunities. This simple pleasure was something that I’d not really experienced many times before. In my first (and last) blog ‘My twenty-year love-hate relationship with alcohol’, I calculated that I’d roughly wasted three and a half years of my life laying on a couch watching TV, hungover. With hangovers now out of my life, I’ve gained at least one night a week (from not drinking) and one full day (from no hangovers). I now find I have time to do things that I’ve wanted to do for years but never thought I had the time or money.

Another huge benefit of saying goodbye to booze is the amount of money you save. Also, the amount of energy you find you really have. Last year I discovered that with all the extra time, money and energy I had, I could finally start living the life that alcohol was holding me back from living. My thirst for alcohol became a thirst for knowledge. I took a short course in photography, which was something I’d always been interested in. I enjoyed it so much that I ended up doing two more similar courses. I also started up at a guitar-building school and built a bass guitar as well as rebuilding an old bass guitar that I had. I started studying Spanish. Learning another language was always on my bucket list. When alcohol was in my life, the thought of studying anything after work was just not an option. I couldn’t think of anything worse back then. Probably because I spent most of the week tired and recovering from the weekend. When I was drinking I would come home from work exhausted and quite often fall asleep on the couch before dinner. These days, most evenings I feel like doing something productive.

Realising how much more time I had on my hands got me thinking how I could get more hours out of a week to do things I wanted to do. So I slowly cut back on TV, to a point where I don’t really watch any now. I was watching probably three hours a night and maybe ten hours a day on a weekend, if I was really hungover. That’s up to thirty-five hours a week I’m getting back. So now I feel like I’m making up for some of that time I wasted with all those hangovers. I cut back on social media as well. Cutting out roughly an hour a day gives me another seven hours per week.

I love to travel. A big dream of mine was to do a big trip around the world. So now with a clear head, I put together a plan to make it happen. Obviously giving up partying was a huge saving but it also got me thinking of other ways to save money. As the year went on I could almost feel the brain cells grow back and actually started to feel smarter. Well, I was at least thinking a hell of a lot clearer anyway. Even the fact that I’m now writing blogs. The old me would have laughed at the idea of writing. The old me couldn’t have been bothered. My memory has never been great but I think that has improved a bit as well.

So by the end of 2017, after a year of planning and saving hard, I was off on my dream holiday. I travelled to twenty countries over six and a half months and ticked off a bunch of things from the bucket list. Peru and the Inca Trail were at the top of my bucket list. I got to spend seven weeks in Peru and did the Inca Trail. It was as amazing as I hoped it would be. I swam with sharks on the Belize Barrier Reef and snorkeled with a manatee. I went caving in some beautiful caves in Cuba, Belize, and Vietnam. I went to a few NBA games in Canada and the US and went to an NHL game. I went on the biggest zip line in the southern hemisphere, in Costa Rica, Superman style. In Nicaragua I saw flowing lava in a volcano, I climbed volcanos and even boarded down one. I met hundreds of people and made new friends all over the globe.

Living that dream was the best thing I’ve ever done. There is no doubt that it was better than a bunch of nights out at my local pub. That was another one of my reasons for wanting to stop drinking. I figured that I had been drunk so many times and had so many nights out but there were so many countries out there waiting to be explored. So why would I want to live the repetitious life of getting drunk every weekend when that money could be getting spent on something much more rewarding.

I think one appeal of alcohol is that it’s a quick solution to make you feel good. At least, that’s what we think. Is it really making you feel good though? If you are a heavy drinker like I was, there was only really a window of maybe a few hours that you felt good and happy before things started to get blurry and memory loss kicked in. For that few hours of feeling good, I would have to pay. Not just financially but for the next few days whilst I recovered. They say the older you get the worse the hangovers get. I partially agree with that. In my case, the hangovers were not necessarily getting worse but just lasting a lot longer. I don’t believe that it was just because I was getting older though. I think it was because the older I got the more alcohol I could handle and the longer I could drink for. As an adolescent, I maybe drank for two to six hours before vomiting or passing out. As I got older, I practically trained myself to be able to drink all through the day and night. So if your drinking sessions are three to four times longer than when you started out drinking, it makes sense that the hangovers are going to last three to four times longer.

So I eventually realised the hangovers that lasted for days were just not worth the one night (a few hours) of fun. In fact, the nights were no longer even really fun anymore. Rollercoasters are great fun but I imagine if you sat on one for twenty years, the novelty would probably wear off. Not only was drinking no longer as fun as it used to be but it was slowly becoming depressing. I felt like I was walking through a really long tunnel, slowly walking away from the light (the fun times) and into the darkness.

I think a lot of people are under the misconception that a night out with friends was fun because they were drunk. Maybe the night out was fun because you enjoy the company of your friends and they make you laugh. I don’t miss the taste of alcohol or the action of drinking. I do miss hanging out and having a laugh with friends though. It’s just unfortunate that having nights out in our culture, and most Western cultures, usually involves alcohol.

When I went back to work after travelling for the first half of the year, there was a new guy at work. He’s one of the most stereotypical Australians I’ve ever met. A tradie who’s life revolves around football, cricket, gambling, and beer. When he found out I didn’t drink, it was as if I’d just told him I was an alien or something. ‘What’s wrong with ya!?’ he said, in absolute shock. That reaction really annoyed me. I don’t think it was necessarily him I was annoyed at though. I was more annoyed because I felt that statement summed up the mentality of so many Australians. Because the vast majority of Aussies drink, they seem to think there must be something wrong with anyone that doesn’t. Coming home and having to deal with that attitude again was kind of unwelcoming.

People get stuck in loops. If you have a big night every weekend you usually feel pretty run down for a few days. Later in the week, you might feel like you need to get drunk to pick you up again. I think that in itself is a misconception though. Does it really make us feel that good? We might tell ourselves that it makes us feel good because we’ve had so many fun nights with alcohol. But really, there’s nothing fun about drinking alone and it doesn’t really make you feel good either. In fact, if you’re drinking alone, it’s probably making you feel more alone. Some people say they like a drink because it helps them relax. Is it the alcohol making you relaxed though, or the fact that you’re no longer at work and now sitting at home with your feet up. Ask yourself: Why do I drink? Question your relationship with alcohol. Is it really making you happier? I would actually love to hear all your answers.

Other negative loops can be eating too much and having weight issues. I’ve never really been overweight but I can relate to overweight people. Eating fatty or sugary foods is a way to momentarily feel good but then you may have the remorse when you start to put on weight. You might start to get down because of how you look, so you eat something that tastes good to make you feel better again. It’s a snowball effect. Drinking is the same. I enjoyed getting drunk (in the early days anyway) but then would have regrets about wasting money and only having myself to blame for feeling like rubbish for days after. It starts to really beat you down after so many years.

In my last year of drinking, that metaphorical tunnel was getting dark. To my surprise, it continued to get darker after I stopped drinking. Eventually, I stopped, I turned around. Now I’m heading back towards the light end and into a much happier and brighter future. I’m slowly becoming stronger, healthier and wealthier. I now feel like I’m stuck in a positive loop. The healthier I become physically, the healthier I become mentally, so I want to become stronger and healthier physically etc. At thirty-eight years old the thought of turning forty was really getting me down. Not now though; now I’m genuinely excited to see what my future holds and no longer worried about being in my forties.

It’s probably no real big surprise that one of the biggest benefits of getting rid of binge drinking from your life, is the health benefit. I had suffered from headaches and poor digestion as long as I can remember. Now for the first time in my life, my body is functioning the way it should be and coincidentally, no more headaches! For decades I had tried to work out what was causing the headaches. I now believe they were caused by digestive issues which were most likely linked to dehydration from binge drinking. The last few years I was drinking, I also noticed my legs would ache a lot. Sometimes to the point that I couldn’t sleep because my legs were so restless and aching so much. I had read that this could be caused by being dehydrated.

Which made sense, considering I was almost always in a state of dehydration. When I was drinking, I would constantly need water at hand, even all through the week. I was always thirsty. About six months after giving up alcohol, I started to notice that I could survive without having a water bottle constantly attached to my hand. About six to twelve months later, I started to notice my legs weren’t aching as much. There were a couple of times in the years leading up to me giving up alcohol that I had a month off drinking. When my legs still ached after a month sober, I decided that it must have been just from work and because I was getting old. Even though I didn’t think it was quite right to feel like that before I’d even turned forty. As it turns out, it takes longer than one month for your body to fully recover from twenty years of abuse. So, my advice to anyone looking to give up drinking is, don’t give up after a month because you haven’t noticed enough changes. It’s now been two years for me and I’m still discovering new benefits. I’ve never been diagnosed with anxiety but I definitely am an overthinker and occasionally get anxious about things. For example, I would overthink everything I posted on social media. I probably deleted fifty percent of things I posted because I would sit there overthinking what I had posted and wondering what people would think. In the last year, I think I’ve only deleted maybe one or two posts. So obviously my mental health is in a much better place as well.

They say ‘you are what you eat’. I now know what they mean by that. Although, I think the saying should be, ‘you are what you consume’. It’s amazing how much your mental and physical health changes when you stop fueling your body with rubbish and start filling it with decent fuel.

A quick recap of the last two years:

  • Made peace with who I really am.
  • Randomly got offered (and accepted) a great job.
  • Travelled the world for six and a half months.
  • Swam with sharks.
  • Hiked the Inca Trail.
  • Climbed a volcano.
  • Lowered my anxiety levels.
  • Became healthier and stronger both physically and mentally.
  • For the first time in thirteen years, got involved in a serious relationship.

Far too many amazing life-changing events to just be a coincidence that they happened when I stopped drinking. Having said that, I did go through some tough times as I adjusted to a life without alcohol. My tip for anyone considering going down the long and rough road to a sober life (I learned this on my travelling. It’s a bit of a cliche but it’s true): Sometimes the longest and bumpiest roads, lead to the best places.

Anonymous

Tips for moving to a new place as a non-drinker

Written by Zane Pocock

If you’ve decided to forgo alcohol, maintaining a healthy social life is one of the most difficult aspects that many of us are familiar with. This is a complex enough challenge when we stay in the same place; maintaining friendships that have been partially built on drinking, getting through the Christmas season and getting to know yourself again are just the start of the hurdles we face.

But removing yourself completely only makes this change even harder, even if it might initially seem easier to start over. Whether by choice or for work, family or any other reason, sometimes we find ourselves leaving our old lives behind not only behaviourally, but geographically as well. It’s no small undertaking and it can be even more difficult when we’ve already removed a crutch we previously relied on.

I have now moved to an entirely different country twice since I decided to stop drinking. The first time was so difficult that I reflect on those three years with a feeling that I partially wasted a chunk of my mid-20s.

The main realisation is obvious in hindsight but difficult to confront when life is already busy: not all enjoyment, socialising and purpose can come from work and family. No matter where we find ourselves, it’s imperative to build a community. In my case, the easiest way to do this in a new environment would have been to hit the piss and connect with others over painting the town red. Hell, I’m comfortable admitting that I did that the first time I moved and I still have lifelong friends from that time.

But habits change and now I don’t drink. I’m still comfortable and happy about this decision, but it has made life difficult when moving around the world. So what do you do?

Here are some tips I’ve discovered for moving to a new place as a non-drinker. They can probably be applied to all situations, but moving geographically is a particularly difficult challenge to navigate. The key is to follow through on these intentions.

 

Build your comfort zone

This post is all about getting into social environments and building your sense of community without the help of alcohol. Although it might seem counterintuitive, one of the best things I’ve done is put a lot of effort into making myself feel at home.

For the three years that we were living in Sydney, my wife and I never set up our own place. We moved into a fully furnished apartment because we liked the harbour view, and that was that. But it never once felt like home – it always felt like we were living in someone else’s life, in transit to whatever our ‘permanent’ home was going to be.

This was a mistake. No matter how important it is to get outside and meet people in your new community, it’s equally important to have a home that you feel comfortable in; somewhere that offers respite from a loud, busy world and can function as a home base for all the battles and challenges you’re going to face.

So, what makes a place feel like home for you? For us it meant we needed to buy our own furniture, invest in some resilient house plants, and front up for the wall-repair costs to install some art that we actually wanted to live with. I had forgotten the feeling of walking in the door and feeling the stress drop off as my nest was revealed before me. It’s helped me acclimatise and jump into unknown situations with the knowledge that there’s a comfortable respite waiting to greet me later in the evening.

 

Join a Meetup group

What are you passionate about? A great hack I’ve found for easing into social situations without the help of a drink, has been to connect with others that are interested in similar things to me. It means the conversation flows relatively seamlessly – in many cases, so effectively that I found it easier than with alcohol.

Meetup is a powerful online tool for this, with in-person gatherings organised by crowds of like-minded people in various group sizes and locations. I was astonished by how many groups I could join when I signed up for the service and I’ve made healthy use of it. I try to get to something every week and my community thus far has essentially grown from this central hub.

There are other options, most of which are facilitated through other virtual or online communities – it all depends on what social channel your people tend to concentrate on. Local Facebook groups will often be very specific and bond over a sense of where you’ve come from. In my case, for example, a group of New Zealanders in New York has been a supportive, thriving community. Or an app like Shapr facilitates one-on-one meetings. This has been great for professional and personal connections alike, in a context that allows for deeper personal relationships to be built.

 

Join a sports club

This is similar to interest-aligned socialising such as joining Meetups or book clubs, except sport is a particularly helpful exercise (sorry) thanks to the endorphins – locking those good feelings into a connection with the people you’re with and forming incredibly deep, meaningful social bonds. The key thing to realise here is that you don’t have to be any good.

It’s also a great way to get to know a different culture. For me, baseball was a foreign concept, but through engaging with a local club I now feel like a piece of the American puzzle has been filled in for me – while also being a lot of fun.

 

Show up

When I’m at home before an event, the sun has set and I’m a little tired from the day, I’ve always found it the obvious choice to just stay home. Social environments exhaust me; even more so now that I don’t have a prop to launch me into everyone else’s superhuman social level.

But from my recent experience, Woody Allen seems to be right when he says, “Showing up is 80% of life.” When I moved earlier this year, it didn’t take long to fall into the familiar trap of signing up for things then using every available excuse not to go. I was tired, it was too hot, the commute too long, I had very important work to do … You know them all.

But in the past couple of months I adopted a policy that I had to go to everything I signed up for. This had some great benefits. It forced me to filter the signal from the noise on all the great groups I’d signed up to, through Meetup and the like. For most of us, we’re never going to go out for something every single evening. That is objectively exhausting and it requires being picky about what you sign up for. It means I’ve actually gone to things and now that I’ve met people, not only do they expect to see me again, but I also feel familiar with the environment and more comfortable heading out. It’s a self-reinforcing social cycle.

 

Keep in touch back home

Life gets busy, and if there’s one thing I know painfully well it’s that international social connections take a lot of effort to maintain, even with the global communications infrastructure we now have at our fingertips. Heck, sometimes it feels difficult enough if people are just in another neighbourhood.

Thing is, when you’re not seeing your friends, family and colleagues as often as you used to, it’s easy for this to escalate into full-blown social isolation – even if you’re doing everything else to establish a new community, perfectly. Home is where the heart is, and no matter how well you set yourself up, you’re likely going to miss everyone you’ve left behind.

Some people I know are really good at managing this, but if you’re not one of them then the solution, unfortunately, is good scheduling. Particularly if you’re managing different time zones, it’s helpful to have a regular recurring catch-up with the people you miss the most – it reduces the cognitive load for everyone involved and the game theory means everyone will give a second thought to cancelling at the last minute – what if you’ve arisen early or passed up another opportunity? Take your pick of medium for this – there are so many services from Skype to Facetime that there’s no point listing any preferred ones.

 

Challenge yourself to start conversations

In case you can’t tell by now, I’m a ‘textbook’ introvert. Socialising doesn’t come naturally to me and it takes a lot of energy to feel confident without liquid courage.

Are you curious about the place you find yourself in? That curiosity alone is probably enough to fuel an avalanche of questions for any locals you meet. That’s been the case for me. We all know this can be easy if you go down to the local bar, but if that’s difficult to manage then you can try some other tricks. One of my favourites is to skip the supermarket and instead go to the local butcher, baker, farmers’ market and the like. These environments are socially similar to bars as they often become local community hubs and you’ll find the people behind the counter will have sunk deep roots into the local goings-on and way of life.

I also try to make a habit of striking up conversations with taxi- and Uber drivers, people I’m stuck in a queue with, and in any other situation that seems ripe for a chat – with varying success. Pro tip: New Yorkers don’t like talking on the Subway.

 

Practice self-care

No matter how many times people stress the importance of looking after yourself, it’s always worth being reminded of it and I’m sure many of us have yoga, meditation and exercise goals on our New Year’s resolution lists.

But the amount of noise generated in the name of self-care doesn’t undermine its value. A good diet, for example, is going to substantially change how your mood evolves in the course of a day and have a material impact on how you interact with others while you’re building your community.

Proper self-care brings the disparate pieces of the puzzle together. It means you have routines to get in to the day and unwind at the end of it. Exercise helps you think straight, and consistent sleep cycles help you reinforce things you’ve learned and build good mental models for your new environment. Look after yourself and the rest will follow.

 

Consider getting a pet

This one might be a bit difficult to manage so it’s certainly an optional suggestion. With that caveat aside, getting a dog is one of the best things I’ve ever done for my sense of community.

Within a few months of our most recent move, my wife and I had adopted a puppy. It’s a blessing in disguise because we’re constantly being forced outside for her toilet breaks, only to meet half the residents in our neighbourhood. Even ‘back home’ I have never felt so connected to a community as I do right now. After all, dogs will be dogs, and when they get together to do their doggy things the only option owners are left with is to get to know each other.

If a pet isn’t appropriate for your situation, just talk to your neighbours! I feel like I’m tapped into this thriving hyper-local network which isn’t exclusive to dog owners – it just helps to have the excuse. Now, when we have 20 police officers gathering in the apartment building hallway (true story) there are enough of us connected to systematically work out what’s happening, despite their tight-lipped approach. It’s deeply rewarding – and even a good safety precaution – to know the people you live amongst.

 

This list is not exhaustive, but it accurately presents the steps I’ve taken to build a community in a new environment as a non-drinker. What was a daunting task when I first moved, is now an opportunity to slowly construct exactly the life I want to live and the community I want to be surrounded by. If you find yourself in a similar situation, see it for the promise it holds and invest heavily in building your new social life. It makes life fun again. What have you found that works for building your community?

 

My first AA meeting – the value of sharing

 

I sat in on an open AA meeting one Wednesday afternoon.

I work in health promotion and wanted to experience for myself what an AA meeting is really like. I wanted to question my assumptions from popular culture and stigma.

It was one of those beautiful blue days where you cannot spot a cloud in the sky. A day where the last place you want to be is in the middle of a big city. The air was filled with humidity and my clothes were sticking to me, almost in an irritating way.

The sliding doors to the community meeting room were open. The fans were on, gently blowing the posters scattered about the walls. Posters for the 12 Steps, yoga and meditation retreats, domestic violence support services and homeless shelters. These were pinned up like offerings of hope to those who previously saw themselves as hopeless. A large notice board in the middle of the sliding doors offered privacy from the street.

There were about twenty people at the meeting. Everyone seated facing the front where the person who ran the meeting and a few sponsors sat. What struck me at first was the diversity of the group. A young woman with her toddler sat opposite me. The child spluttered throughout the meeting with a chesty cough and wriggled around on her big plastic chair.

An elderly lady sat next to me and smiled warmly when we caught a glance. There was a mix of male and female, young and old. Some had been coming to AA meetings for years, others just a few months. The people in the room where just like you and I. Some with great families and careers, others with no family left and a life that has not been so kind to them.

AA meetings are not just about remaining anonymous

They are also about being present for those in the group and the community around you.

aa meeting

The first man to share was sitting across from me. He was wearing a colourful Hawaiian shirt. But the expression on his face did not suggest that his life had been a holiday. The man opened his reflections by introducing himself. “Hi, my name is Dave* and I am an alcoholic”. The first step of the 12 Steps at an AA meeting involves admitting to yourself that you have no power over your ‘disease’. You hand over your vulnerability to a higher power and admit defeat.

The meeting was on a chapter in the book that everyone was to discuss, around the theme of not being too hard on yourself. Dave began by explaining his daily struggle with crippling anxiety. He shared with us how he hates himself for getting into this state of mind. How he panics when he cannot see a solution or an out to how he is feeling. This destructive cycle means Dave cannot hold down a stable job and ends up screwing up every job interview he has had, as he talks himself down and focuses on everything that is wrong with him and the company and the people holding the job interview.


“A community that cares”

Rachel

Austin, Texas

“I suffered from feelings of guilt and loneliness as a result of my alcoholism. Drinking was causing a serious problem when my children came home to find me unconscious. I joined this community to learn how to control my drinking and restore balance to my life.

Diego

Sydney, Australia

“I was stuck in a vicious cycle of binge drinking, blacking out, and losing my memory. One of my biggest fears was that I would fail, but it’s not a test. It’s just about getting you to think about drinking. Meeting other members and getting support has been invaluable.



Sharing is caring

When Dave started to choke up while telling his story with tears running down his cheeks. I looked around the room. The compassion on the face of each and every person in that room was obvious. It was as if invisible hands was reaching out to hold onto Dave. To squeeze his hand and tell him that that they are there for him. When others began to share their reflections on the reading listeners would often nod their head to themselves or clap in a gesture of agreement and understanding. The speaker could take as long as they wanted and there was no judgment from anywhere in this space. This unfortunately is a special treat for many people going through recovery from an alcohol or drug dependency.

Every person who shared their triumphs and their rock bottoms on that day were open and vulnerable. But I didn’t leave the meeting feeling hopeless for the members. Everyone finished their ‘sharing’ on a positive thought. Such as:

 
“But I know I’ll be okay, because I didn’t reach for the bottle this time.”
Or, “I’m slowly seeing that I need to deal with this struggle with meditation and these meetings and staying away from those who are making this hard for me.”
 

You are probably wondering what I shared at my first AA meeting

When it came time for my turn to speak I simply said that I wouldn’t be sharing today and that was more than okay. There was no pressure to tell your story. There was no discrimination from the group because you weren’t comfortable opening up. For this I felt truly honored to be able to listen to these incredible stories of strength.

It’s so easy to brush off a comment about how people who are alcohol dependant should just “stop” drinking or using drugs, and their lives will turn around. The men and women in this meeting drank as a therapy and an escape from other underlying issues. Many stories were complex and emotionally scarring that we can only begin to comprehend. They turned to alcohol because for some reason they were not able to get the help they needed early enough. That is what saddened me the most as I stepped out of the room that afternoon.

Support is imperative for recovery, and support comes from community. Unfortunately with the stigma present in our society and our current healthcare system around people who abuse these substances, we do not provide the people who need it most with a community that they deserve.


This 1 minute video shows how our community helps heavy drinkers cut back on alcohol »


What other support is available for people?

For those who feel that something like an AA meeting is too confronting to share their deepest fears and darkest experiences with complete strangers, or people who live in remote areas, or have kids and responsibilities that keep them from finding the time to attending these meetings as often as they need, a physical meeting may not be suitable.

Daybreak is an alcohol support group app created from years of experience by the Hello Sunday Morning team. It is a great alternative that provides an anonymous space, with a supportive community of people going through different stages of their own journey to recovery.

Our community says…

effects of alcohol

“I’m on day 78

I only drank once after 5 days of joining and haven’t drunk since. I absolutely know I couldn’t have done that without this forum.”

“The best thing that’s happened to me

This app and my public commitment to stop drinking stopped me from opening the fridge door. It’s Sunday morning. I’m camped by a a lake. I’m snuggled up in bed with a clear head. And there is a thank you coursing through my heart.”

“Overwhelmed at the support

Drinking has such a stigma attached to it, that it’s hard to know who to talk to. There’s a lot of judgement out there. So it is wonderful to hear other people’s stories.”

* Stories are provided with permission of members and are anonymous to protect privacy.


Our community is an alternative to AA meetings. Free download from the app stores »


Stop Your Hangovers in 2 Weeks. Guaranteed.

Surprise yourself with these benefits of the program »


effects of alcohol

Free download from the app stores »



Meet our alcohol coaches

Health Coach Briony

Briony Leo has been working in alcohol health since 2009 and has been registered as a psychologist since 2011. Her work currently involves helping people to understand and change their relationship with alcohol, and to meet their health and wellbeing goals. Her special areas of interest are counseling and using technology to support mental health and wellbeing, as well as improving overall health and functioning. She has completed further training in Neurofeedback, Schema Therapy and EMDR.


Health Coach Briony

Dr. Jess Moore has also been working in alcohol health since 2009. She has worked with clients presenting with a range of concerns and has worked in various settings including schools, universities, prisons, hospitals and non-government organisations. Part of her current work involves helping people to understand their relationship with alcohol and how to go about making changes to help them reach their goals. Jess earned her PhD in clinical psychology from The University of New South Wales. She worked on the development and evaluation of a telemental health Behavioural Parent Training intervention. She has since managed a randomised controlled trial on the feasibility and outcomes of Internet delivery of transdiagnostic Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy for adolescent anxiety and depression, at Macquarie University, and manages a number of other trials of internet-based treatments.


Daybreak is appropriate for most people who are wanting to change their relationship with alcohol. If a person is in significant distress, such as experiencing thoughts of suicide or self harm, we encourage them to seek more intensive and face to face support. Although the community is supportive, evidence shows that if people are in significant distress, supportive communities are not effective. More structured and targeted support is necessary.

Learning how to savour

taste-good.gif How often have you sculled a delicious beverage? Or scoffed down a tasty meal without even thinking about how the food was prepared or how the flavours complement each other? What we are forgetting to do when we follow this behaviour is savour. Even moving away from the experience of food, sometimes we’re so preoccupied thinking about what to do after a beach walk that we forget to watch the waves, listen to the sea gulls and really feel the sand between our toes. While savouring involves pleasure, it is in fact more than that. It involves mindfulness and conscious attention to the experience of pleasure. When we are more aware, we notice and acknowledge pleasure., whether that be through feelings and emotions or through a stimulation of our senses. What this allows us to do is filter out distractions, and become awed by being in the world.  

The savouring experience 

giphy.gif Ever experienced a moment that you will never forget? This is savouring! When we reflect back on a treasured moment, often we can remember exactly what we were wearing, the smell in the air and the temperature outside because our minds took a mental photograph and we savoured a memory.

Practicing savouring is practicing mindfulness

giphy.gif Often we don’t find satisfaction from mindlessly doing. We can appreciate something more when we take the time to savour the thing and therefore experience a deeper level of gratitude. Thich Nhat Hanh, one of the greatest mindfulness zen masters of our time, teaches us that “Each minute we spend worrying about the future and regretting the past is a minute we miss in our appointment with life – a missed opportunity to engage life and to see that each moment gives us the chance to change for the better, to experience peace and joy.” And like most things, it’s a practice

The health benefits of savouring

And if you weren’t already convinced, savouring is actually good for your health! For example, positive psychologists have found that savouring is protective against depression, while dieticians have found savouring food is both better for digestion and an excellent way to keep that bikini bod in shape.

So what can I learn to savour?

Often when we think of savouring, we think: wine. Sommeliers and amateur wine tasters are good examples of people who practice savouring. But as we’ve already mentioned, almost everything can be savoured. Bread can be savoured. The moment can be savoured. Even places can be savoured. So now we’ll consider how you can learn to savour what is lauded as the best drink of the day: tea. giphy.gif Next to water, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world. Although we often refer to the long history of alcohol in human society, tea is another substance that can compare in terms of cultural significance. We have a few ideas to get you on your way to becoming a tea connoisseur by practicing the art of savouring:

How to savour tea

  • Perform a tea ritual, where the process is not about actually drinking the tea but all about preparing and serving.

The best thing about savouring?

giphy.gif You can do it whenever, wherever. And if you happen to be around Sydney in October and want to put your new skills to the test, sink your teeth into Sydney’s Good Food Month and savour the flavours.  

How to develop a fitness habit and actually stick to it

Finished in time to still be #hellosundaymorning!

Posted by Hello Sunday Morning on Saturday, September 17, 2016



Last Sunday one of our amazing Hello Sunday Morning members, Ruby, totally smashed the Blackmore’s Sydney Marathon. But I know many of us are thinking, “Gym? Who’s Jim?”  And boy, do I know that sentiment. When it’s been so long since you’ve exercised, all fitness related terms begin to sound like a foreign language. But you’ve tried to hop back onto the exercise bandwagon. We’ve all tried. The thing is, the routine just doesn’t stick. Or at least it hasn’t, yet.

So how do you start and maintain an exercise routine? We have some ideas.

How to start and maintain an exercise routine

Prepare

giphy.gif

Although it can be tempting to write this off as no big deal, starting a fitness routine can be a genuinely tough task. In fact, it doesn’t hurt to talk to your Doctor about your plan to start exercising, especially if you haven’t exercised in a while and/or have other health concerns. If that’s not for you, jump ahead and start making yourself a fitness plan.

One of the biggest mistakes that we make is not setting appropriate goals when we plan our exercise routines. Have you heard of the SMART criteria for how to create good goals? What this means in terms of exercise goals is that they need to be targeted, show measurable progress, and be realistic.

The key word here is realistic. Many of us jump the gun when creating these sorts of goals. Expecting yourself to run five kilometres every day, right off the bat, is a great ambition –– but not a realistic goal. So take it easy and ditch the all-or-nothing frame of mind. Your body and mind will thank you for it.

Everyone’s realistic goal will look different. Maybe when you’re a week in, the plan is to go for a run three times a week. At this stage, your indicator of success may simply be: did you get out the door? You might’ve walked the whole way, but as long as you got out of the house when you intended to, you checked off the box.

Further down the track, when you’re more comfortable with your three-day-a-week walk/run, you might set the intention to run for 30 minutes on each occasion without taking a break. Maybe you could start adding other activities to your routine, like resistance training. Perhaps throw in a longer run on the occasional Sunday. Soon enough it will be like brushing your teeth – a healthy habit.

Mix it up and see what works

giphy (1).gif

Try different activities

Usually, when we think of the word ‘exercise’, we imagine either toned people cheerfully running in the sunshine, or Schwarzenegger’s figure pumping iron at the gym.

But you’ll be happy to hear that there are so many other activities that count as exercise. Rock climbing, Zumba, yoga, team sport, parkour, dancing – the list goes on (and on, and on …).

You could even try one of those workout plans that everyone’s always raving about at the water cooler. Typically these provide you with an interesting and specific exercise routine, access to a community of fellow exercise-ees, and sometimes even a nutrition plan. Kayla Itsines, we’re looking at you.

Try exercising at different times of the day

Morning workouts

Some people try exercising in the morning and it becomes their everything. And it’s true: this is a great way to start the day, giving you the energy and headspace you need to kickstart your morning.

Here are a few tips if you’re planning on giving the morning workout a go:

  • Lay out your workout clothes the night before;
  • Plan the workout you’ll be doing. If you’re going to a class in the morning, book it in. If you’re doing your own thing, maybe consider roping a friend along to hold you accountable;
  • Set an alarm: don’t snooze. As soon as the alarm goes off, that’s it. No second guessing. You’re up. Dressed. Out the door.

P.S. a secondary tip here: keep your alarm away from your bed so you actually have to get up to turn it off.

  • If you’re anything like me, with a tendency to remain half-asleep for at least an hour after rousing, consider writing yourself a morning to-do list. Brush teeth, water plants, drink coffee. check, check, check.

Evening workouts

For those of you who groan at just the thought of waking up to see the sun rise, there is always the trusty old evening workout. This is actually an excellent way to de-stress at the end of the day. Plus, there is the obvious benefit of getting to snooze a little longer in the morning. Pack your exercise gear with you when you leave in the morning for work. The key thing to remember here is that if you go home before exercising, you’ll probably just end up eating a snack on the couch. (It’s okay, we’ve all been there!) Again, classes are a great idea in the evenings.

It all just depends on how you roll.

You’ll figure out what exercise time is best for you.

Try exercising both alone and with others

Solo work-outs mean you get time and space for yourself. It means that you can work at the level that best suits you and really absorb yourself in the exercise task.

On the other hand, exercising with others also has its benefits. Primarily, you’re held accountable for turning up. If you’ve promised your mates you’ll turn up on Sunday morning for a doubles tennis match––unless you want to be “that guy”––you know you’re going to go.

Eliminate excuses

giphy (2).gif

If you’re serious about this, eliminating excuses should become your priority.

At least at first. Once exercise is a part of your routine, you can begin to work your life around your fitness schedule.

But the biggest excuse we tend to pull out of our back pockets is time. The thing to remember is,no one has time to exercise. Not even those people who do exercise regularly. You have to make time to exercise.

Plus, there is evidence to suggest that if you exercise in the right way, you might not even need to invest much time at all.

Other excuses might include:

“I don’t have access to a gym,” to which we say, there are plenty of workouts you can do outside of a gym.

“I don’t have a babysitter,” in which case we suggest ways to get fit with kids in tow.

Even, “I actually just hate exercise” simply means talk therapy might help.

The list of exercise excuses is neverending. But if you look hard enough there’s a reasonable counterpoint to each one of them. Eliminate excuses and you’re halfway there.

You don’t need to become an Exercise Person

giphy (3).gif

You definitely know who I am talking about when I describe Exercise People. These people are persistently posting health food and fitness photos on Instagram, and invariably touting activewear at all times, even when they’re not actually exercising.

But, really, you don’t need to become an Exercise Person (i.e. change everything about yourself) when you begin to exercise regularly. Just because you brush your teeth every day doesn’t mean you’re “super into dental hygiene,” although that’s probably a good thing if you happen to be. Think of exercise in this way: it’s just another part of your average day.

Get to it

giphy (4).gif

Our final piece of advice? Frankly, now’s the time to just stop thinking and start exercising. So hop–step into your sneakers and grab some H20 on your way out the door, because it is time to get physical! Don’t forget to applaud yourself for every workout. And voilà! You’re on your way to starting and maintaining an exercise routine.

How to master a skill

#hellosundaymorning Gemma O'Brien 🙂

Posted by Hello Sunday Morning on Saturday, August 20, 2016

Gemma O’Brien recently talked to us about her ambition to pursue mastery in her work. Something she touched on was the fact that mastering a skill is not, as it might initially seem, about achievement. Rather, it boils down to the experience of mastery itself. 

What is mastery?

What does it mean to have mastered something? Does it mean to be proficient? To be skillful? And is mastery the same as success?

In a popular TED talk, Sarah Lewis suggests that mastery is, in fact, different to success. She explains that success is a time-bound event, something the world tells us we have achieved. Whereas mastery is something that comes from within, it is a constant pursuit. Mastery is in the reaching and not in the arriving. It is in “constantly wanting to close the gap between where you are and where you want to be,” says Sarah.

Why is mastery important?

Psychologists have been talking about mastery for a number of years now. In fact, mastery is considered one of the six components that make up ‘psychological well being’. So really, experiencing mastery is an important part of living a comfortable, happy and healthy life. This is evident in the fact that the concept of mastery turns up everywhere in the study of human behaviour.

Self efficacy

We’ve mentioned Self efficacy previously on this blog, but essentially, it refers to your belief in your ability to do a task. And experiencing mastery, as it turns out, is one of the ways that we can develop our self-efficacy beliefs. So experience mastery and you’ll improve your belief in your own capabilities, which in turn, will objectively improve your performance in a task.

Flow

Ah, this is a personal favourite. First of all, what is flow? Flow is a term coined by happiness psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, and refers to a state of complete immersion in an activity. It has been suggested that flow is actually the true nature of happiness. We typically experience flow when we are in the pursuit of, you guessed it, mastery.

What is cool about flow is that it suggests that doing the tasks we do, as in the process of doing it specifically, is intrinsically rewarding. Think of a time when you’ve been so absorbed in a task- reading a book, playing a game of chess, being ‘in the zone’ during a tough game of tennis, this is all flow. Csikszentmihalyi suggests that while it is great to finish the book/chess game/tennis match, true satisfaction will come from the process itself.

And the best flow experiences? These occur when the task you’re tackling is at the optimal level of difficulty, when you’re striving to improve and learn and grow, when you’re in pursuit of mastery.

Learning

Research into mastery is changing the way we go about learning and teaching in all domains of our lives. What we have found is that learning is not about competence, but rather about aspiring to master something. Students focused on learning and improvement, whose goals are to master a task, rather than those whose goals are to perform well at a task in comparison to others, have far better long term outcomes.

What can be mastered?

Mastery can be experienced in almost any area. For example, American chef Julia Child, who has been credited as a culinary virtuoso, experienced mastery in the world of baking, broiling and simmering.

Gemma O’Brien, artist, typographer and generally all-round cool cat, similarly experiences mastery though her work. In an interview we had with her recently, she describes how, after discovering her passion for design, she found herself in pursuit of creating things she feels personally satisfied with. “Knowing deep down that what I am creating is somehow pushing myself further,” as opposed to feedback from other people, is what Gemma believes gives her the most purpose in her work.

Now. How do you go about experiencing mastery? We reckon you can do it in four steps.

Experience mastery in four steps:

1. Do lots of things

Get out there. Have you always wanted to surf? Write? Sing? Go do it. Or otherwise, consider something you’re already doing. Do you make enough time for these activities? It’s not just hobbies, it could be work. It could be becoming a better listener. Anything that doesn’t really have a ceiling. But do it.

2.  Find the thing you love

If you do enough things, and really give them your all, you will find the thing(s) you love. They mightn’t be the things you are best at. This is not about talent. But you’ll feel your brain fire as you work at this task. Something keeps drawing you back. Makes you feel curious and interested, energised and excited. Maybe this thing will help define your life purpose, something we discussed in a previous blog post, or maybe it will simply be something that is right for you in this moment.

3. Practice

The most crucial part of experiencing mastery is practice. As we mentioned above, mastery is not about success. It is not about doing well in something, and moving on from it. It is about the persistent and unrelenting drive to learn and grow from our experiences.

It can be difficult to frame things in this way, we are generally taught from a young age to work at something until we can check off that we have done it, and then move on. But consider again your motivations for doing the task. If you are intrinsically driven, you will find it easier to (even difficult not to) practice, practice and practice.

4. Enjoy the process

Take it back to what we mentioned above about Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow theory. This is about the process, not about the outcome. As much as we are taught to focus on grades and likes and pats on the back, these things do not lead to long term satisfaction. So focus on the fun and on the challenge. In this way, mastery is the secret to happiness. Do it for the process. #Doitfortheprocess.

Alcohol and meeting the parents

Meet the family

Need some inspiration to say #hellosundaymorning today?Step back and "do it for them," with thanks to our wonderful partners nib foundation.

Hello Sunday Morning 发布于 2016年7月16日
Meeting the family of your significant other is an important part of being in a relationship. That said, it is almost universally agreed that the experience can be nerve-racking. In this week’s animation we explore the experience and the roles that alcohol may play in it. But while moderating the night before seems like an easy win on paper, it takes a lot more to make your desired first impression. We’ve put together a checklist of things to consider before you meet the parents – or any other stressful social engagement.

How to conquer meeting the parents:

Attitude

You got this!
Let’s be honest: appearances do count.
Go in with a positive and open attitude. As memorable former leader of the United Kingdom, Winston Churchill, once stated, “attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” Contemporary research into positive attitudes suggests that almost everything is best approached in this way, not barring meeting your partner’s parents. So even though it may be tempting, try not to dwell on things that could go wrong. Think instead of all the things that could go right! With this frame in mind, you are more likely to be relaxed and be yourself.

Appearance

No matter how superficial it seems, we’ve got to be honest with ourselves that appearances and first impressions do count. From what you wear to how you hold conversation, all of these things are open to scrutiny. What’s more, these impressions take only seconds to form. But luckily, getting in a good first impression isn’t too onerous:
  • Usually, you should dress simple and conservative for the occasion, but it may be worth asking your partner about the level of formality their family usually dines in. At the end of the day, do make sure you feel comfortable as this ease will shine.
  • Remember to bring a gift. You needn’t go overboard but it is a nice gesture, and chocolate is always appreciated.  
  • Mind your manners. While dinner table etiquette is generally not as archaic as it used to be, it doesn’t hurt to be polite. Please and thank you!
  • Stay off your phone. Clearly this is also basic dinner table etiquette, but given the difficulty of this task we thought it could do with its own bullet point.

Intention

Think about what you will drink before and during the big meeting
Plan your drinking ahead of time.
Why are you meeting your partner’s family? Of course, you want them to like you, but perhaps consider it in terms of trying to actually get to know them. Your other half has spent most their life around these folks; what are they like? You are spending time with someone you care about and their family, so while it is natural to be nervous, it could ultimately end up being an enjoyable experience. So do what you would normally do during a dinner or social gathering with people you care about; offer to help out; feed the conversation; and enjoy the food. Simply put, plan to be a good house guest.

Perspective

Finally, put things into perspective. Just like the point above, think about why you are there in the first place. In fact, try framing it as though you are finally getting the chance to meet the family. Relax. Don’t overthink it. Do it for them!

Drinking

Will you be drinking? You may be feeling tempted to use the booze to help with nerves. But did you know that alcohol can actually aggravate symptoms of anxiety? Ultimately, you are the expert on your own drinking. Whether you are having a couple of drinks or none, pick your limit and stick to it. Discuss your plan with your partner so that you are both in the know. Considered all of the above? Yes? Then go forth, greet with confidence and do it for them!

Going to a wedding sober

The sober wedding

Have you ever considered going sober to a wedding? Say #hellosundaymorning and see how it's done.

Posted by Hello Sunday Morning on Saturday, July 2, 2016

The prospect of going sober to a wedding is daunting. Weddings and booze go hand in hand so often that they should be the ones walking down the aisle.  

Despite this (or, more likely, because of this) the achievement is not only possible, but can be life-changing. Data from our app suggests that attending a wedding sober is the single most powerful way to change your relationship with alcohol in the long term.

Going sober to a wedding is no small feat, so here we have considered the burning questions you’re probably asking in anticipation of the big day.

How to go to a wedding sober

What will people say?  

Words of encouragement were as rare as a good wedding DJ
… rare as a good wedding DJ

One of the most difficult challenges when going sober to a social event is dealing with other people. Weddings are among the trickiest – you may only know a handful of people, and chances are they themselves will be imbibing. When people ask why you are not drinking, remember that it typically comes from someone who themselves associates alcohol with having fun. Most likely they’re just concerned that you’re not enjoying yourself.

Plus, you’re actually in a great place to meet new people; just like Lionel Richie’s hit from the 80s, it all starts with

hello.

So let your hair down, make a new friend and keep that sense of humour.

What should I drink?

This my dear friends, is a coco twist mocktail
This is an opportunity to get creative with your drinks.

Something we hear a lot from Hello Sunday Morning members is a fear of being caught without a glass in hand during these occasions. The age old question ‘What am I supposed to hold in my hands?’ arises. The answer can be as complicated as a glass of barrel aged cherry soda. Or as simple as soda water, maybe in a wine glass if you’re feeling ritzy. There are even people trying to replicate the taste of alcohol in non-alcoholic beverages – the options these days are endless. So get creative! And remember that at the end of the day you are the only person who cares about what is in your glass.

What if I slip up?

It was time for my big day
Planning for your big day is vital.

The most important thing to do is plan. By reading this post you’re already well on your way.

What will the day look like for you? What about the day after the wedding? If you’re at one of those ever-popular weekend weddings, take the chance to explore your surroundings. Close to home? Volunteer for breakfast duty. Either way, think up something fun to do the next morning. You might also want to nominate yourself as designated driver, giving you another reason to say no to a brew. There is power in planning.

But, hey, if you do decide to have a drink, try setting a speed limit of one drink an hour and see how you feel.

Weddings are fun!

First wedding worm without a bloody nose!
Dance up a storm!

Most important of all, you are at a celebration! Without alcohol, weddings are still enjoyable places to be. You are surrounded by amazing food, wonderful people and have free rein to dance up a storm.

So shine your shoes, grab some confetti and get ready to take on this challenge!

 

The sober wedding

Have you ever considered going sober to a wedding? Say #hellosundaymorning and see how it's done.

Posted by Hello Sunday Morning on Saturday, July 2, 2016

The prospect of going sober to a wedding is daunting. Weddings and booze go hand in hand so often that they should be the ones walking down the aisle.  

Despite this (or, more likely, because of this) the achievement is not only possible, but can be life-changing. Data from our app suggests that attending a wedding sober is the single most powerful way to change your relationship with alcohol in the long term.

Going sober to a wedding is no small feat, so here we have considered the burning questions you’re probably asking in anticipation of the big day.

How to go to a wedding sober

What will people say?  

Words of encouragement were as rare as a good wedding DJ
… rare as a good wedding DJ

One of the most difficult challenges when going sober to a social event is dealing with other people. Weddings are among the trickiest – you may only know a handful of people, and chances are they themselves will be imbibing. When people ask why you are not drinking, remember that it typically comes from someone who themselves associates alcohol with having fun. Most likely they’re just concerned that you’re not enjoying yourself. Plus, you’re actually in a great place to meet new people; just like Lionel Richie’s hit from the 80s, it all starts with hello.

So let your hair down, make a new friend and keep that sense of humour.

What should I drink?

This my dear friends, is a coco twist mocktail
This is an opportunity to get creative with your drinks.

Something we hear a lot from Hello Sunday Morning members is a fear of being caught without a glass in hand during these occasions. The age old question ‘What am I supposed to hold in my hands?’ arises. The answer can be as complicated as a glass of barrel aged cherry soda. Or as simple as soda water, maybe in a wine glass if you’re feeling ritzy. There are even people trying to replicate the taste of alcohol in non-alcoholic beverages – the options these days are endless. So get creative! And remember that at the end of the day you are the only person who cares about what is in your glass.

What if I slip up?

It was time for my big day
Planning for your big day is vital.

The most important thing to do is plan. By reading this post you’re already well on your way.

What will the day look like for you? What about the day after the wedding? If you’re at one of those ever-popular weekend weddings, take the chance to explore your surroundings. Close to home? Volunteer for breakfast duty. Either way, think up something fun to do the next morning. You might also want to nominate yourself as designated driver, giving you another reason to say no to a brew. There is power in planning.

But, hey, if you do decide to have a drink, try setting a speed limit of one drink an hour and see how you feel.

Weddings are fun!

First wedding worm without a bloody nose!
Dance up a storm!

Most important of all, you are at a celebration! Without alcohol, weddings are still enjoyable places to be. You are surrounded by amazing food, wonderful people and have free rein to dance up a storm.

So shine your shoes, grab some confetti and get ready to take on this challenge!

 

How to conquer Dry July

Hello Sunday Morning men playing basketball for Dry July. Change your relationship with alcohol.

This week, Australians from all walks of life will embark on a month without alcohol in support of Dry July, an initiative to raise money for cancer alongside remarkably similar campaigns such as FebFast and Ocsober.

But it’s not all beer and skittles: there is an active debate about the long-term effectiveness of these programs. A number of limitations from a public health perspective include a lack of long term support for the behaviour change process, and confusing people with an “all or nothing” message about alcohol. The option of buying a “golden ticket,” for example, allows the purchaser to take a night off from the challenge and is considered by critics to encourage binge drinking. In terms of cultural change, seeing a brief period of abstinence as an inherently monstrous task probably serves to reinforce the importance of alcohol in our lives and proves ultimately ineffective, if not destructive.  

But don’t get us wrong: it’s great to hear the volume increasing when we talk about alcohol consumption. We’re here to help you use movements like Dry July as steps towards a more conscious drinking culture, and change your own relationship with alcohol.

How to use Dry July to change your relationship with alcohol

Feel good about it

Some of us feel fine about our relationship with alcohol. However, it is only when we take a break and realise how our bodies and minds feel without it that we begin to second guess ourselves. This realisation can be the first stepping stone to delve a little deeper and become a more conscious drinker.

Find support during the challenge

Let’s not kid ourselves: entirely avoiding alcohol for a month is an arduous task, and support goes a long way. Whether you have some mates doing the challenge with you, or turn to the Hello Sunday Morning community, knowing that others are with you can make all the difference. Many members of the Hello Sunday Morning community have done similar challenges and felt empowered by their achievement.

Never thought I'd get though a Febfast unbroken, its quite amazing. Interesting seeing peoples reactions to me not drinking, some supportive, some curious, some slightly disgruntled that I'm sticking to it. The last are the most interesting and they made me even more determined to see this through. This is the longest time in 5 years that I have gone without a drink. Feels strange, somewhat comforting yet sort of annoying that I can't or wont have a drink. Will take it one day at a time, want to stay off the grog, whilst at the same time, wish to have a glass of something. Know I cant have 'just one drink', because if I do it will lead to more and I will be back at square one.
Challenges like Dry July have been great for Hello Sunday Morning members.

New Perspectives

When members of the Hello Sunday Morning community have taken a break from alcohol in the past, their understanding of how we use alcohol in our social lives has evolved. According to our app data, attending a wedding sober and celebrating without alcohol, are most likely to lead to a change in your relationship with alcohol. Dry July similarly encourages participants to realise that alcohol is not a necessary component of socialising. No doubt over the month, those partaking in the challenge will be attending social events, entirely alcohol-free. For some people this may well be a first.

Approach

Most importantly, you should approach a challenge like Dry July mindfully. What does not drinking for a month mean for you? For your identity, for how you understand your relationship with alcohol? This also means allowing yourself to feel empowered rather than restricted during the challenge. By consciously reflecting on the process, you can reframe any ‘missteps’ as part of your journey, rather than as failures.

Dry July is a great opportunity to start changing your relationship with alcohol and say “Hello” to more Sunday mornings. We’re here to help.

 

Why brunch is the best way to connect with people

Brunch it

Do you love to brunch? A look at the phenomenon sweeping the world and disrupting pubs everywhere, helping people say #hellosundaymorning.

Posted by Hello Sunday Morning on Saturday, June 18, 2016

Maintaining friendships is difficult when you change your relationship with alcohol. But while socialising feels like it’s built around alcohol, it doesn’t need to be.

Brunch is a rising epidemic. From the humble weekly hangout through to birthdays and weddings, brunch is the answer to all and everything. But when your pals are faithful pub patrons, how do you convince them to switch from Saturday night drinks to Sunday morning brunch?

How to catch up with friends without alcohol

Remind them of the power of food as a uniting force.

Humans have been socialising over meals for most of our history. Believe it or not, brunch itself has been around for at least 100 years. However, its form today is nothing short of celestial as food has matured into much more than simple sustenance.

Brunch and catching up with friends without alcohol with Hello Sunday Morning
Are your mates at brunch, too?

Variety

Brunch is eggs, brunch is burritos and brunch is cake. No other meal compares in variety. Plus, because you are squeezing two meals into one, you can eat all of this without the guilt. Would you like ice cream with your pancakes, bacon and eggs? We say, why not?

Oh, excuse me! Can I get some vegan maple syrup?
… with my deconstructed bacon dust?

Brunch pleases everyone

This is the one meal where the vegetarian options might outdo the carnivorous ones. Mums can bring their babies (both human and canine welcome) and while we don’t condemn infants in inns, the practice is typically frowned upon. Don’t like dressing up? Active wear is on trend. Single and looking? Cafés are the ideal sanctuary to survey other humans over your steaming latte. Brunch is for the people!

Connection

Succeeded only by therapy in terms of value for your emotional well-being, brunch time is an essential component of a healthy life (and healthy Instagram feed).

Lifelong friendships have long been carved in between swathes of smashed avo and vibrant free range yolks. The conversation you have with a mate at the pub, bellowing and gesticulating over noise in that crowded echo chamber, just doesn’t compare. For social connection, brunch is the clear winner. Succeeded only by therapy in terms of value for your emotional well-being, brunch time is an essential component of a healthy life (and healthy Instagram feed).

Hello Sunday Morning and meaningful friendships without alcohol over brunch
To me, it’s the most meaningful time of the week

The brunch boom

Where the pub reigned for most of Australian history, brunch venues are taking up residence. They allow us to meet like-minded people in open settings, and provide a place for cultivation of identity and examination of meaning.

You don’t need to give up your social life when you change your relationship with alcohol. Invite your friends to say Hello Sunday Morning over brunch.

PART MAN/PART RUM & COKE CAN

Identity crisis     “You are not your job, you are not the money in your bank, the car you drive, or the contents of your wallet, you are not your __ khakis.” (Fight Club) I spent Friday afternoon having this incredible conversation with Ben Johnston (@windybenny) about young people and alcohol. The conversation kept harping back to the issue of young Australians and this concept of ‘identity’. Benny said something quite poignant the topic which I remember well – young people are wandering around today looking for an identity and alcohol companies seem to swoop into their psychology and give them one. (more…)

DID A CAVEMAN KNOW WHAT HE LOOKED LIKE?

narcissusI have chosen to bare my soul a little and write about some of the conditioning I have had in my past that has led me personally to drink to excess.  Before I get into this post, I just want to say that writing these next three blogs has been one of the hardest, soul bearing things I have ever had to do. Especially because I know so many people are going to read it. This really puts the spotlight on my psychological dysfunctionality (both past and present) but it is something that I need to get out. I’m doing this as a commitment to the process of this year and also as a commitment to myself. I have set the intention to not have any psychological conditioning holding me back by the end of this year, so I guess now is as good a time as any to purge that which is holding me back. (more…)

Flippin’ the Confidence Coin

Mt Glorious, last Sunday Morning. (Courtesy of @MarkLobo)          
Mt Glorious, last Sunday Morning. (Courtesy of @MarkLobo)
We’ve just got our mammoth ‘Why do we drink?’ qualitative survey results back (thank you to all those who persevered through it!). Out of it all, there was one word that really stuck out consistently through a large number of the responses – confidence.

(more…)

Sex Change Campaign

A couple of the girls that work with us – Gaby, Julia and Twist (+ a couple of others from outside FRESH) came up with this great concept for campaign to build awareness for what happens when you binge drink. Basically – when people get pissed, girls end up acting like guys with their complete lack of self-respect, nonchalance with their appearance and giving out the lovin’ to people they usually wouldn’t. Whereas guys end up becoming girls with their emotional outbursts and need for hugs.  There is definite potential for a TVC where a guy turns into a girl and vice-versa. They end up with each-other at the end of the night. This can be supported by an experiential campaign with lipstick on the mensroom mirror and a picture of a lady-boy standing up in the ladies. haha. Check out this article..   concerns

Gym Sauna Revelations

By 8am this Sunday morning I have planed my day put on my phone already. Gym, work, visit grandpa, help grandma, even watching the tennis is written in my calendar. Who the f does that?! haha (more…)

Dancefloor introspection

I went with Adam to the GPO to watch Benny DJ last night. To be honest, I was a bit tired and stressed and my skin decided to break out pretty bad this week, which makes me feel pretty shit about myself. So yeah…good times are sure to be had… (more…)

Well I didn’t think this would happen…

My girlfriend just dumped me, an hour ago.

There would be nothing more I would like to do right now than go straight to the Downunder Bar and write myself off on tequila shots with someone that can hardly speak any English. But I can’t, so I type.

(more…)