A Quick Update

Sorry, blog: you’ve been a bit abandoned of late.  You see, I have been very busy with things such as studying, running and helping the needy*.

(*Roughly translated as playing Candy Crush, arsing about on Facebook and watching episodes of How I met Your Mother, which is amazing, btw).

But I’m back now.  So I thought I’d do a little update on where I’ve been up to with various things, such as:

1. Teetotalling

(Read more about my teetotal journey here)

Apart from an enjoyably decadent three weeks over the Christmas period, I have been teetotal since 3rd December 2011.  As a Brit living in a country totally saturated by alcohol, I often get asked why I would do this to myself.

So I thought I’d say a little bit about why I have started this journey.

First things first: I am not an alcoholic, but I am aware that some who visit this blog are, and I know I am very lucky in this respect.

In fact my drinking history is, I suppose, quite average.  As a teenager and a student, I regularly indulged in a skinful, experiencing hangovers, embarrassing behaviour and occasional vomiting, as well as the fist-biting shame from wondering what I might have said/done the night before.  Then, I hit twenty, studied harder, did some voluntary work in Africa, thought about my career and generally grew up.  My relationship with alcohol calmed down into quite a sedate one.   A weekend pint, a gin and tonic after a stressful day, the usual thing; in fact, by the age of 25, I hardly drank at all.

I then read about a charity ‘no beer for a year’ challenge on the internet.  It inspired me to do something big for charity.  So I did: I drank nothing for twelve months and raised over £1,000 for Mind, the mental healthy charity (read more about this adventure here).  I was proud, but ready to start drinking again.

So, on the 4th December 2012 at precisely midnight, I opened a mini bottle of cava, and carried on drinking for the next three weeks.  A lot of friends and family knew about my return to drinking, and very kindly presented me with numerous bottles of beer, wine, you name it.  It was fun, don’t get me wrong.  But I missed the teetotal lifestyle almost immediately.  There was a sense of freedom in knowing that the choice was gone: that drinking wasn’t an option.  It freed me up to focus on socialising with friends, or relaxing with my partner, and so on.

So I decided to do it all over again: this time for two years, raising money for Alcohol Concern (if you’d like to sponsor me, please see my page here).  However, this time it’s evolved into something more than a fundraising event.  It’s become a voyage of discovery, an attempt at self improvement, call it what you will.  It’s opened up a teetotal horizon.  Could I really go forever without another drink? Now the idea doesn’t seem so bad – in fact it seems tempting.  Not a sacrifice, but a gift.

2. Running

I’ve joined a running club! This terrifying development came about when I met a fellow runner through a training course at work.  We both decided to be brave, bit the bullet and went along to Hyde Park Harriers.  It’s early days but so far, so good.

I’ve also set myself a bit of a challenge: 5k every day for a week.  I started today with a gentle introductory time of 31 minutes.  It’s intended to reignite my love of running and reintroduce momentum.  I’ll let you know how I get on.

3. Weight loss

Absolutely and totally no comment, except to say life is too short to be thin.  Ahem.

So there you have it, in a nutshell.  I promise to blog more often.  Maybe.

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50 Reasons to go Teetotal (Part 2)

Free alcohol...
Photo credit: Nils van der Burg

’50 reasons to go teetotal: part 1′

Right, 25 more reasons to go teetotal! Here we go…

26. Enjoy food more (thanks to ciaracantdance for this)

27. Keep control of your diet (avoid drunken kebab trips, for example!)

28. Save money on taxis

29. Reduce your risk of depression

30. Live life on life’s terms

A few insights about drinking

31. Get your sundays back

32. Set a good example for your kids

33. Reduce your chances of liver disease

34. Have better relationships

35. Demonstrate to others that it is possible to have fun without alcohol

36. Learn to relax without alcohol

37. Reduce your risk of dementia

38. Keep your wits about you on nights out and avoid dangerous situations

39. Find it easier to stick to goals such as quitting smoking or healthy eating

40. Retain control

January Teetotalism – what’s the verdict?

41. Reduce your chances of getting cancer of the mouth, neck or throat

42. Improve your self esteem

43. Learn to face problems head on

44. Remember fun social occasions

45. Get rid of dark circles and rosy noses

46. Maintain the checkpoints between your brain and your mouth

47. Develop the confidence to resist peer pressure

48. Reduce your risk of getting high blood pressure

49. Improve the health of your heart

50. Spend the money you save on something amazing!

Do we really want alcohol, or just a treat?

Feel free to comment if you can think of any other great reasons to go teetotal!

Totally shameless plug: If you liked this post, please hit one of the lovely, inviting, shiny ‘share’ buttons below and tell all your friends (or your enemies, if you hated it) 🙂

50 Reasons to go Teetotal (Part 1)

Teetotal Street
photo credit: Andrew M. Butler

First 25 reasons to go teetotal.  Here goes:

1. Save money

2. Lose weight

3. Get clearer skin

4. Never have a hangover.

5. Remember nights out

6. Retain your dignity

7. Give your liver a break

8. Learn to socialise without a crutch

9. Sleep better

10. Stay in control

10 ways to relax without alcohol

11. Learn to like soft drinks

12. Reduce your risk of breast cancer

13. Never have to fight a will-power battle with yourself

14. Spend time doing things you really enjoy

15. Find out what those things really are

16. Feel like a bit of a rebel

17. Separate your real friends from your drinking buddies

18. Wake up full of energy

19. Have better exercise

20. Don’t get yourself into regretable situations – eg. going home with someone whose name you don’t remember

7 social things to do without alcohol

21. Keep your brain cells

22. Enjoy having complete certainty that you will never become an alcoholic

23. Avoid saying things you’ll regret

24. Guys, avoid brewer’s droop… erm, yeah

25. Never have that feeling of post night-out guilt again.

Let me know if you can think of any more…

See here for ’50 reasons to go teetotal: part 2′

Teetotal babes

Just wanted to give a quickie shout-out to this amazing (US based) mocktail company I’ve come across during my rounds on Google – Teetotal Babes provide solely non-alcoholic cocktails in cool glasses with umbrellas, olives, the works.  I find one of the depressing thins about being teetotal is drinking boring drinks out of rubbish glasses.  If you’re at a party you want to feel like you’re at one, dammit.  Check out this company if you live over there and you’re interested in hiring them: http://www.teetotalbabes.com/

‘Ahhh, that’s better’ – 10 ways to relax without alcohol

Relax!

When I tell people about my teetotal stint, I am often met with disbelief (not in a good way).  They say things like: ‘But what about Christmas? New Year? Weddings? Nights out?’ etc etc.

But when I press them further, it’s clear that teetotalism doesn’t really baffle them because of Christmas, or weddings.  What they really need is that glass of wine to relax after a long day at work.

I have to say I totally get this.  It’s not often I crave a drink, but when I do it is at random times: a Tuesday evening when I come in from work, or a Sunday afternoon after working on an assignment.  When I’m stressed.  When I just want to relax.

I think what we really crave from alcohol is not a social lubricant, or the ability to dance, but the ‘ahhh, that’s better!’ moment we get from the very first sip. 

But there are other ways to obtain this.  Here are some of my favourite ways to relax without alcohol.

Relax without alcohol #1. Have a bath.

....val la pena di vivere!

You know, the amazing kind: posh M&S bubble bath, lots of candles, a good book, the works. Just try not to, um, set fire to any parts of yourself.

 Relax without alcohol #2. Get lost in your favourite book.

Lunchtime Reader

Even better, combine 1 and 2!

Relax without alcohol #3. Catch up with a good friend over some grub.

frosty chat

Nuff said.

(For more social things to do without alcohol see here)

Relax without alcohol #4. Go for a jog.

Wintersport

Yes, I know, to some this seems as relaxing as pushing drawing pins into your feet. But if you give it a chance, you might find it’s your favourite way to relax after that tough day in the office (preferably not in weather like this).

Relax without alcohol #5. Have a cup of tea.

cafe "Jiboanjiyan" Yanaka, Tokyo

For many, drinking alcohol can become a habit. Getting home = opening a cold one. But conventional wisdom says it takes 30 days to form a new habit. Like Pavlov’s dogs, if you link tea-drinking with relaxation often enough, you will begin to associate the two. (Of course, you might want to replace ‘drinking tea’ with ‘eating chocolate hobnobs’ – whatever your thing is).

Relax without alcohol #6. Get a hobby.

The Artist

What floats your boat? Do you enjoy being creative? Are you good with words? Are you a snooker genius or a darts pro? Getting lost in doing something you enjoy it far more relaxing than alcohol could ever be.

Relax without alcohol #7. Go for a walk

Walk

Nothing quite like pounding away those stresses on the pavement and pondering the meaning of life (or what you will have for tea).

Relax without alcohol #8. Sit and breathe

Buddha meditating on a flower, blessed statue wearing a khatag, reaching liberation through meditation, overcoming cognitive obscurations - the Bodhisattva vehicle, Garden for the Buddha, Seattle, Washington, USA

I hesitate to use the word ‘meditate’ – for some this conjures up images of sitting for hours in the lotus position and saying ‘om om om’. I must admit, I struggle with meditation: I have tried it a few times, but my mind is like an unruly puppy and refuses to stay focused on one thing. Nonetheless, meditation is worth a try – just try sitting, calm and still, and keeping your mind focused on your breathing. If done properly, not only is it truly relaxing but it will improve virtually every area of your life. Just try not to put your hip out from crossing your legs for too long.

Relax without alcohol #9. Go out for dinner with your significant other.

Romantic Dinner at The Cliff Bay

Take the person you love out for some good food and meaningful conversation/hilarious banter. Good luck finding a location like the one above, however.

Relax without alcohol #10. Do what couples do once they get home from the romantic dinner. Yeah, you get the idea.

New Picture (30)

So these are just a few ideas. What do you like to do to relax? Feel free to comment below.

(Photo credits from top to bottom: krasi; pinkiwinkitinki; mikecogh; Freelens; onnola; photoantenna; pointin jimmie; Asela; Wonderlane; Porto Bay Trade)

If you liked this you might be interested in 7 Amazing Things You Can Do When You Stop Drinking

7 social things to do without alcohol

Free alcohol...
Photo credit: Nils van der Burg

A strange thing happens when you become an adult.  After 18 years of socialising just fine without a drink in your hand, it suddenly becomes a near impossibility.  As a child, adventure playgrounds, bowling alleys, swimming pools, indoor play areas, magicians, go-carting or simply a few toys provided endless pleasure.

After 18 years of training, you would think socialising would be easy.  And yet virtually no adult activity is completely devoid of alcohol; even most cinemas have a bar, and pitchers of beer are delivered straight to your lane at bowling alleys.  We need it, supposedly: to loosen our tongues, to dance, to simply chat with people we may have known our entire lives.

Why is socialising so difficult without alcohol?

Some might argue that it’s not difficult without alcohol, it’s just better with it.  But is this really so?

Some of the happiest, least inhibited and purely ‘high’ experiences of my life were as a child, running round, ecstatic on life, enjoying myself.  On nothing stronger than juice (and maybe a few high-sugar treats).

I think as adults we can regain this natural high.  If we leave the bar and embrace other social activities, there is a world of fun we might never discover if our only idea of pleasure is a glass of wine or six.

Here are a few ideas for dry social activities:

1. Go to a theme park. 

No need for alcohol when you’re already screaming with laughter (or terror).   Plus beer is not a good idea when there’s a good chance of seeing it again, this time on the way up.

Roller Coaster!
This is fun, honestly. (Photo credit: AJU Photography)

7 great things you can do once you stop drinking

2. Go to a spa.

There is nothing quite as decadent as spending time with your friends (or by yourself) in beautiful surroundings while a professional gives you a massage and brings you cups of coffee. There really is no need for any kind of drug once they’re done with you.

Spas - Hydrotherapy Area
Photo credit: Grand Velas Riviera Maya’s photostream

10 ways to relax without alcohol

3. Go and see a comedian.

I’ve said it before here, and I’ll say it again.  Drinking is just an attempt to inject the same pleasurable chemicals into our brains that we can get from, say, laughing.  The difference between laughing and drinking is that laughing doesn’t make you feel like Black Sabbath are performing to a Wembley crowd in your skull .  (Try and find a comedian that makes you laugh, th0ugh, as opposed to making you laugh at how bad they are).

COMEDY CENTRAL UK
photo credit: StevenJohnSeller

4. Go-carting.

‘Nuff said.  Do it n0w.

Go cart 1
photo credit: shahero

5. Play football/netball/tiddlywinks/whatever floats your boat.

Playing sport is a great way to get people together, and also gets those endorphins flowing (see a natural high? for more).

Football
photo credit: phalinn

6. Throw a dry dinner party.

Play great music, serve great food, and keep the glasses topped up with Schloer. I guarantee everyone will have a great time.

Dinner Party
photo credit: Lachlan

7. Go walking in the countryside.

Good friends, open air, beautiful countrside, ideally a bit of sunshine. Perfect, right? A good steak pie afterwards doesn’t hurt, either.

Irish countryside near Ballyconnell
photo credit: jimmyharris

So there are just a few ideas to get you started. Please comment below if you have any others.