Challenges, finance, Health, Living, sober, travel

50 Days of Challenges

Right before New Year’s Eve my husband and I went to a beautiful hotel in a town on the coast of Vancouver Island. It was about an hour and a half away but felt super decadent because we hadn’t left our little area due to Covid restrictions. It had a glorious old clawfoot tub that I spent most of the three days in, a big four-poster bed, and…an open bar. As mentioned in my previous posts I am now sober, but it is a new, fragile sobriety that feels strong one minute and like it could shatter the next. If it had been any other time I would have cracked everything open and downed it all – my husband isn’t a huge drinker and doesn’t really care if he imbibes or not, it was always me that was the drunk one. For example, in October we went away to a little cabin for the weekend, and I went through four bottles of Prosecco; he’d had one glass and decided he didn’t like it. That was normal to me, and at the time it felt fantastic, like I’d won something because I got to drink the whole bottle myself.

However, that later December night I was staring at the open bar next to the lobby and felt rooted to the ground. I knew I didn’t want any, and had in fact had a long conversation with my husband a week before about how I thought I was an alcoholic and that I needed to make changes. Would I once again break my promises under the misguided notion that I was actually okay, that I didn’t have a. problem? Thankfully my husband ushered us up to our room, and we found a back staircase that would bypass the bar. Crisis averted, but it was damn close.

Done and done.

Since that little trip, where I was also reading about healthy eating in Sacred Cow by Robb Wolf and Diana Rodgers (highly recommend for a good think), I had made a challenge to myself. I challenged myself to become sober (forever) and I challenged myself to cut out junk food for 30 days. To add fuel to the mix, I’d promised some friends we would do a 30-day yoga challenge for the month of January. Nothing like piling it all on at once. Thankfully I can become highly motivated about things like this, and I even had a beautiful new notebook through which I could track my progress for each challenge. Since this happened in December, I have now tracked 50 days of these challenges. How did they go?

They went great! They all seem to line up beautifully with one another; the lack of alcohol helps with the healthy eating, the stretching makes me feel more limber, and my mind is clear and focused like never before. My body is showing me what it can do when it is given the right tools. For example, I had been plateauing at my deadlift at around 200 pounds for a little while (keep in mind, I was usually working out hungover, with the idea that the heavy lifting would shift the pain in my head). Well, last week I cleanly lifted 225 pounds for the first time, and actually felt like I could have gone even heavier. My skin is glowing and I haven’t had a hearty zit in weeks. Most importantly, I just feel good. I feel strong, both mentally and physically.

These challenges have also had an unintended but decidedly awesome side effect: my savings rate has exploded. I never realized how much money I was putting into booze and restaurants; I always thought they were part of life and I didn’t want to take away from myself (eye roll). It turns out that by taking away the alcohol and the take away food I saved nearly $500 in January. Fuck. Like actually fuck. I have been drinking and eating away huge chunks of money without even realizing it, and in fact thinking I was doing really well by only doing it a couple of times a week at most. Now that I’m armed with this information I’m way more hesitant to go back to the usual restaurant routines. I’m perfectly happy with what I’ve been making at home for the past several weeks (very much not gourmet, in fact last night I had ground beef meatballs, a sweet potato and a salad – tasty, easy, and cheap).

Because I did all these things at once it’s a bit difficult to pinpoint why I felt the way I did in the first few days. I remember being very grumpy, feeling like there was this empty pit in my stomach, and having a slight headache. It was certainly withdrawal, but whether from alcohol or sugar, or a combination of both, I can’t be sure. Regardless, I felt better after about five days, and was able to build some habits that are still going strong right now. I’m not naive enough to think that it’s all sunshine and roses from here on out, but I’ve built myself an incredibly good foundation on which to expand. I want to keep waking up feeling refreshed and happy with myself. I want to keep smashing personal PRs in the gym. I want to keep saving like a mad thing so that I don’t need to work for the rest of my life. And I want to give myself every opportunity to be happy with just me, without using alcohol or food as a comfort.

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