It’s a funny story, actually...
I’d been signing copies of my latest book, and was walking out of Politics and Prose when a book on their $2 shelf caught my eye. A bright orange and blue cover with the words “The Easy Way for Women To Stop Drinking” screamed out from the rack, and I had to have it. My dearest friend and parenting partner in crime would get a kick out of it over our next bottle of Merlot.
She did think the book was funny. And so did I, inspiring me to flip through it one night as it sat on my kitchen island, destined for the donation shop.
It never made it there. I read the book cover to cover, and didn’t touch another drop of wine, or alcohol of any kind again. That was three months ago.
Allen Carr’s first book was about smoking, and he started a revolution in helping people to give up cigarettes easily… and permanently. He then applied the same principles to drinking (as well as overeating and worrying) with equally fantastic results.
Rather than encourage the use of logic, reason, and willpower he removes the desire to smoke, drink, and worry. Do that, remove desire from the desire ―determination equation, and the problem – any problem – collapses.
And that’s what happened. I read the book and lost all interest in drinking wine, something I’d enjoyed for years.
And I didn’t stop there. Two weeks later, I gave up coffee which– as anyone who knows me knows – is truly remarkable. I was a casual wine drinker, but have been a dedicated 3-4 cup of coffee a day gal for over two decades. Seeing the positive impact that giving up wine had on my health and well being, however, I decided to apply the same principles in Carr’s book to coffee and quit. Cold turkey.
But why? Why did I do all of this?
Three years ago, my husband and I had our first child. And like most new parents who start having kids later in life– and even those who start early!– we were exhausted. Even once the sleep issues abated (if you can call a daily 5:45 a.m. wake up call ‘abated’), the time to ourselves we’d enjoyed into our late 30s never returned in full. Which meant that we had to learn how to maximize our time and streamline our lifestyle so that we could accomplish the things that mattered to us, personally, creatively, professionally, as a couple, and of course, to be the best parents we could be.
That included taking a look at the things we were doing – and consuming – that were sapping precious energy that we needed to dedicate to our increasingly full lives.
We started by tackling the obvious: less television, more exercise, and healthier eating. Next, came daily stretching and meditation, no technology in bed, and creating calendars that scheduled in the little as well as big things that matter to us. All of this made a difference, for sure.
But nothing helped as much as giving up alcohol and caffeine… two things that I would have sworn were helping me to cope with stress and fatigue.
Since then, I’ve become more aware of just how profound of an impact alcohol and caffeine had on me.
I’ve never felt more awake and stress-free – even when I get six or less hours of sleep. This is hysterical, considering I was consuming coffee and wine for years thinking they were waking me up and calming me down.
My health, sleep, and energy levels have all improved. My focus, my mood, and even my skin have gotten better. It’s as if my body and mind have become more efficient and effective, 24 hours a day.
I never considered myself to be an anxious person, but from this side of the fence, I realize how much coffee had been riling me up. I now feel truly calm. Grounded. Centered. And very much at peace, even when life throws a curveball or is anything less than peaceful.
I’m more creative. I used to love having coffee when singing, writing and coaching… it was a warm companion and cherished muse of sorts. I’m amazed now at how all three activities are more powerful, invigorating, inspiring, and inspired. And that I am more present in them.
Lastly, my hearing has improved. Which, having sung all of my life, is truly fascinating. And it makes me wonder… what else were caffeine and alcohol doing?
To be clear…
I don’t feel judgmental, or ‘right’, or righteous. I’m not telling you to give up coffee. Or alcohol. Or anything. Everyone is different, and we’re all affected differently by different things.
What I’m offering is my story in the hopes that it encourages you – and all of us – to take a look at the things we do and consume in our lives – and to make sure we recognize their impact. Whether it’s the food and beverages we take in, the media we ingest, or our hobbies and habits, it’s important to make sure that everything is a conscious choice… and that we choose wisely. After all, advertisers bombard us with messages that are less about what’s good for us and more about their bottom line.
Therefore, take a minute to take stock! If you’re unclear about what’s best, consider stepping away from even your most cherished habits for a while, to make sure that they are indeed serving you – rather than slowing and bringing you down.
Here’s to your health, and to the good life!