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’
- You’re enjoying yourself, but you’re drinking a bunch of calories that have ZERO nutritional value – strike 1
- You’re drinking so you get snacky and end up ordering fatty fries or consuming a whole creamy brie with crackers – strike 2
- 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
- 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.
How alcohol influenced my life and my people: Kerry’s story for National Sorry Day
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this article may contain images of people who have passed away.
This week we have a guest blog from Kerry. Kerry is a proud Wiradjuri woman from Condobolin, New South Wales. She’s a personal friend of our Health Promotion Manager, Sabrina, who reached out to her to ask if she’d be willing to share her story about her life and her relationship with alcohol, in light of National Sorry Day, on Sunday May 26.
On 26 October 1972, just 5 years after Aboriginal people were counted as part of the census and no longer seen as part of the flora and fauna in Australia, I was born to an alcoholic mother who lived on a mission in remote NSW. I was removed from her care before I was released from hospital; thank God for my beautiful grandmother who loved and cared for me. She loved and cared for me in a home that my two violent alcoholic uncles lived in; it was the only life I’d ever known. When invasion happened, pubs were set up within weeks. Aboriginal people were forced off their land and forced to help build what is now known as Australia. They weren’t seen as citizens back then so they were never given a salary; they were paid with alcohol and tobacco and so began my people’s problems with alcohol.
Statistics say, contrary to public perception, fewer Aboriginal people drink alcohol compared to non-Aboriginal people. The media reinforce stereotypes and ignore Aboriginal people’s efforts to keep communities dry. However, the trauma suffered by my people and the effects, continue to be felt today and Aboriginal people drink at more risky levels, putting them at high risk of experiencing alcohol-related harm.
I remember, growing up, I often thought that when I had kids, I would never drink and never have them around alcohol. At 17 I fell pregnant to the local hero footballer (also Aboriginal) who was an alcoholic. I asked him not to come home when he was drinking, (at least he listened to me) and so begins my life as basically a single mum. I have another 2 kids to him, and after 20 years the unthinkable happens, while he was out on one of his weekend binges, a woman falls pregnant to him. My world (even though it wasn’t perfect) comes crashing down. I find the strength to leave him – my youngest was 9 years old. Now a single mum with this new-found strength (but still very angry), I started to ask my grandmother about her childhood and why she never shares her stories. I began to hear how she had to live her life hiding her light-skin kids at the mission she brought them up on, because she had witnessed her two older brother’s kids forcibly removed from their family homes. I was told about how they worked (mainly as domestic servants) and how the government ‘took care’ of their money, taking out their rent and giving them food vouchers that they had to pick up from the police station, then the remainder was put into ‘savings’ that they were never to see. Again, and contrary to public perception, Aboriginal people were never given anything free. It wasn’t until now I understood why she hid me under the bed when the ‘welfare man’ come around and why my upbringing was so different to my white friends.
Hearing these stories, and along with the anger I still had from my ex-husband and the death of my beloved grandmother, when I was 38 years old I have my first drink of alcohol. Although I didn’t drink through the week, on the weekends I began to binge drink; it felt great, and all these memories were so distant, but soon I’d start having blackouts and not remember what I was doing, and it started to affect everyone that was important to me and my health.
Thankfully I had some strong people around me who I could talk to. My doctor wanted to put me on anti-depressants, but I was always anti medication (maybe it was my subconscious telling me this is what I was trying to do with alcohol too) so I decided to take control, I joined the gym, started eating healthy. I did give up alcohol completely for 3 years after this. I moved to the city, worked my way into a senior public servant position and completed a degree at Sydney University. My youngest child, my son, was contracted to the NRL and is now happily completing a carpentry apprenticeship. I have two beautiful grandkids who have parents that do not drink and none of our lives revolves around alcohol. As a proud Aboriginal woman this is one of my greatest achievements and I now work with an Aboriginal organisation advocating for the rights of Aboriginal children, families and communities.
The moment that made me decide to stop drinking: a mother’s story
I decided to stop drinking and have my last drink on 28th December 2018. Although I was not an everyday drinker, I was what some may call a ‘problem drinker’ – I would binge drink.
I am a 55-year-old single mum of an 18 year-old. When I broke up with my partner in March 2003, I decided that I would make sure my daughter was brought up in a loving and secure home; I was present for her ALWAYS!
Growing up I didn’t realise until I had my own child, how neglected I was from the love of my mother who is an alcoholic and now has been diagnosed with dementia. I didn’t want this for my daughter; I wanted to be a strong role model for her.
I didn’t drink all the time but in recent years I would have a couple of wines three or four times a week, and this became more and more over time. I would isolate myself at home, prefer to drink alone and watch Netflix rather than go out and socialise. If I did socialise I would leave early so I could go home and have a drink. I was always worried about how I would get home or who would be there to look out for me if I had too much to drink, so I would prefer to be behind closed doors; that way I felt safe.
One terrible incident that came into my mind was getting home from a work’s Christmas party a few years ago. I cannot remember getting home and I was so sick for 3–4 days afterwards, I never wanted to touch a drink again. But I did!
I was beginning not to enjoy my drinking as much as I used to; I would feel ashamed, self-loathing and just hate myself for sitting at home drinking alone. I would wake up and go to work feeling heady, foggy and so tired and grumpy. I would be so disappointed in myself for even having the two glasses of wine the previous night! I would torment myself each day, saying ‘I won’t drink after work, blah blah’, but would always end up having a couple of glasses, sometimes the whole bottle. This cycle went on for months.
The light-bulb moment when I realised that I needed to make a change with my drinking, was the day after Boxing Day 2018. I was sitting at home with my bottle of wine, relaxing after a busy Christmas. I hadn’t really had much to drink over the Chrissy period as I was mainly the designated driver, so that night I remember drinking the whole bottle of wine. My daughter was out with her friends. They were at a club and I knew she would probably have a few drinks herself, so before I went to bed, I put a bottle of water, some Panadol and her eye mask by her bed.
The next day when she got up, she said ‘I love you so much Mum, you are so cute leaving the water etc. by my bed’ – I couldn’t remember doing it. I felt so ashamed and disgusted with myself because I couldn’t remember putting the water etc. by her bed. This was the moment I knew I had to stop drinking; it wasn’t making me happy; it wasn’t making my life better; it was holding me back and making me feel isolated. I didn’t want to sit at home anymore; I didn’t want the alcohol to rule my life; I didn’t want to end up like my mother. I was sick of the torment in my head about my drinking; I was sick of wasting so much of my time on alcohol.
I felt desperate; I didn’t want to live like that anymore, drinking to get confidence before I went out, drinking alone and at times having blackouts. I remember a few years ago I stopped drinking for a few months with the help of ‘Hello Sunday Morning’, so I got straight back onto the site and saw an app called ‘DayBreak’. This is what has helped me get through the past three months. The community is so supportive, very positive and doesn’t have a negative thing to say even if you have a down day; they pick you up and understand where you are coming from. There are so many people out there that want to stop drinking, and this app is amazing.
I’m still not drinking and what I have noticed is that I am more alert, focussed, happy and, believe it or not, much more confident. I am happy to be out and about; I have put my heart and soul into my health and fitness, and I feel amazing. I still take each day as it comes but have worked out that alcohol is not for me right now.
I don’t know if I will ever drink again, but at this stage I really need to keep on HSM and the Daybreak app to help me keep going. I know I am a better person within myself, without alcohol.