Restaurant owner Erica Rains shares her journey to sober for better well-being in 2020
“Let’s just have one more.” This could have been my most popular phrase in the past few years. Let’s just have one more. One more glass of good wine. One more ice-cold vodka martini. One more crisp flute of champagne. After a while, those ‘one mores’ didn’t seem as much of a fun treat. It felt like the norm, and when I looked around at my hospitality industry peers as well as girlfriends old and new, I realized many of us were stuck in the same unconscious pattern. We were all drinking too much. At least I was. Now, in my first public (and scary) self-study, I want to share my journey as I give up booze completely. Full stop.
I’ve been alcohol-free before, often for up to six months at a time. But it always sneaks back in; the bubbles, the giggles, the freedom from being an adult. As a business owner stress is often prevalent in my life. The need to relieve that stress is real, but my relief methods are not serving me. This new challenge is necessary for me, as it is time to take back my health. My goals include weight loss, increased mental capacity, creating a more structured routine and adding in sustainable habits for a lifestyle change.
Most of us have more plates spinning than a vintage circus clown, and I truly need all of my faculties and as many synapses firing as possible to manage those on in my life.
I’ll be honest: this is going to be hard. I ‘m lucky to have many people believing in me, so it’s time to turn that lens around and have faith in myself. By taking the steps to change my life, I am hopeful that it will also inspire others. I’m looking forward to sharing the struggles and trials and plan to share them on my personal social networking platforms to stay accountable.
The plan today is to navigate the waters in a real way, and successfully focus on a life without alcohol. Or at least most of the time.
If I have a glass of red wine at Christmas, or a tropical cocktail this summer when my husband and I renew our vows at the beach, I won’t beat myself up. But if I can look back at 2020 and say, I can count on one hand the number of times I had alcohol, I suspect my quality of life and health will improve greatly. This is where my ‘one-or-none’ rule will apply.
I am giving myself (and anyone reading who’s in the same boat) permission to not be perfect on this journey. Sometimes by making a broken habit rule so final can backfire. If I say I will never drink again and slip along the way, am I setting myself up for failure? I am such an ‘all in’ person that I could easily become my own saboteur. I believe that most people feel the same.
Perfectionist Paralysis is my term for sabotaging a goal that could have been realized but never was because it wasn’t well-planned. How many blogs have I not published but should have because they had a decent message? More than I’d like to admit. How many projects have we all scrapped with this same of self-sabotage? Maybe we can try throwing off this perfectionist shroud together. It sounds just hopeful enough that it actually might work.
EXPERT ADVICE and EXPECTED RESULTS
As if I needed more convincing that ‘sober me’ was going to be better off, I chatted with my friend, Integrative Medicine specialist, Dani Williamson MSN, FNP, to get a bit more information to fuel my drive to succeed. “As soon as you stop or drastically decrease your alcohol consumption, you’ll see the numbers on the scale going down,” Dani says. Since one of my goals is weight loss, this is great news. I’ve had times in my life where I rarely drank, alcohol and my weight was definitely more stable.
Williamson explains that alcohol breaks down into sugar, which also creates inflammation in the body. Puffiness and bloating decrease immediately when a person stops drinking. “Alcohol also dehydrates your body, and that typically makes you look older.” So, if we remove alcohol, we will look more vibrant and younger? Sign me up.
BETTER SLEEP and MOOD
Sleep is another important factor affected by alcohol. “People think if they drink wine it will help them rest. It actually works in reverse,” she says. The inflammation that causes the bloated look happens in the brain as well. It’s often referred to as “brain fog”. “Brain inflammation can cause anxiety and also depresses the mood in many people,” Williamson says. Ironic. It’s a depressant, and here I am using it make me feel less anxious and stressed/depressed. No wonder it doesn’t work.
BETTER HEALTH for the FUTURE
Williamson also reminds me that serious liver issues can arise from consumption – from fatty liver (reversible if caught early, thank goodness!) to cirrhosis of the liver (not reversible at all). “Once cirrhosis sets in, you’re on a transplant list,” she tells me. Diabetes runs in my family and Williamson says that alcohol consumption can push anyone who is insulin resistant or pre-diabetic straight into full-on diabetes. It will also raise your blood pressure. This is evident in my own, proven by high blood pressure results at my last doctor visit. Wake-up call? Absolutely!
HAVING A PLAN
Everyone is different, but the benefits of making this change are undeniable for someone like me. I have to adapt in a way that fits my work and lifestyle and am doing this by making it fun. At my restaurant, The Chef and I, we’ve just rolled out a new line of craft ‘mocktails’. I will be the first person ordering these throughout the holiday season. I’m changing my habits, but not my inner self. Instead of having drinks, I will try out the latest salt room, sound bath or yoga class. Instead of joining friends for happy hour, we are having a blast meeting up to watch silly movies, checking out a theatrical production or trying out a cool coffee shop. Avoiding my temptation points including old stomping grounds at local bars and restaurants is also key. Instead, I hit an art gallery or something else to lift the spirits. And if I mess up, I’ll forgive myself. Guess what, I’m not perfect (news at 11). Stepping forward by being kind is the only way through.