… and then we take on the world

From my inbox:

Committed (day 6): “Still feel foggy headed but I have had terrible cold which started before I gave up drinking.  Bit disappointed that normally I would over these five days have drunk 5 bottles of wine and 5 very large glasses of Baileys but I have not lost any weight!  I think my skin definitely looking better :-).  Turned down a weekend away which I would love to go to but this early in my journey the drinking temptation would be there and I don’t want to risk it.”

me: dear you, you’re going to hate me saying this but you will not (likely) lose any weight in the first 90 days sober.  Sober first, everything else second 🙂 it just all takes more time. but it does come 🙂 I also didn’t socialize much outside my home in the first 6 weeks – smart girl you are to take care of yourself.

Committed: “Thanks Belle, I don’t understand the weight loss as I must be at least 6000 calories deficit in 5 days – I know I have been eating more sweet stuff but not that much lol xx. If I had carried on drinking and put myself on a healthy diet food wise in 90 days I could lose nearly 2 stone?  The weight loss was a big thing for me :(”

me: true 🙂 I’m not a dietician. I can only report what I’ve experienced myself and what others in the challenge report. Weight loss will happen, but more slowly that you are imagining.  As boozers we are very impatient. Part of getting sober is to realize that yes, it all happens, it just takes time.  quitting drinking specifically to lose weight will be disappointing in the short term, but successful in the longer term.  I guess probably it’s not just about calories in/out. cuz we eat differently when we’re drinking too, and it all has to shift around … our metabolisms have to adjust … quitting drinking ‘to be sober’ is great because it means that losing weight (later) is possible … as are other big changes you want to make in your life.  sober first. everything else second (she says again, in an irritating way).

Committed: “Thanks Belle – hope you don’t think I am the argumentative one lol – just like to understand stuff.  If I think about it, most nights I never ate supper as I filled myself up with wine – now I am eating supper and sweets!  Also doing no exercise and having been off work for a month not even moving around generally so none of that helps … I hear what you say and will put my sobriety first and foremost.”

me:  🙂 I’ve seen a lot of people quit being sober because they load on too many goals at the same time (especially “give up” goals…). Getting sober is hard and takes a certain amount of singular focus. and then it’s easier, and then we take on the world 🙂  That I promise.

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sobriety is the cherry on top …
sober art thanks to mr.belle
Cherry Cupcakes
25×25 cm (10″x10″)
acrylic on wrapped canvas
edges are painted black so it does not need to be framed. you can hang it on the wall, as-is.
LINK

link

 

Belle

I want to put this online, to hold myself accountable. I want to document the noise in my head. I'm tired of thinking about drinking. date of last drink: june 30, 2012

  • I’m on day 234 and it that time I have gained 10 kilos. Actually about day 100. I have never struggled with my weight and here in my 50’s I’ve had to for the first time go on a diet. I was always underweight.

    I was very strict for 7 weeks on my diet even joining a well known group online and weighing everything and lost not even worth writing about. Since i have put it back on it 1 week. Drink for me never made me hungry in fact I could go days and not feel hungry which is not healthy and not normal but so it drinking all the time not healthy and not normal to some. When people used to say after a heavy night they could do with a good fry up I’d feel 🤢 at the thought of it. However now I crave sugary food. Sweets ice-creams everything. I’m always hungry I wake up wanting food. I’d rather though even though it annoys me that my clothes are tight, I wouldn’t swap it to feel hungover with a pickled liver and older looking skin and always tired with no energy.

  • Weight loss is not important. It’s understandable to feel like it is in a society that tries to convince us we have to be a certain size to have worth. But that’s simply not true. Health is achievable at all sizes (and for many of us a certain level of health is not achievable in the first place due to chronic pain or illness). Focus on things you CAN do that will actually make you feel better, like not drinking, eating balanced (not restrictive) meals, being kind to yourself and getting enough sleep. Seriously, letting go of weight the expectations of society for me to be a certain weight was the best ‘weight’ I ever lost. I’m almost 18 months sober now and letting go of this dieting stuff is one of the best things I’ve ever done for my mental health.

  • Hi, I’m on day 24 and have gained 5 pounds. The sugar cravings are just now starting to subside, and i found that my thyroid is out of wack, so between cravings and thyroid, i try not to beat myself up for weight gain. Why? Because my main goal is my health and sobriety and i am in amazement that i am on day 24, it’s unbelievable and exciting! I’ll deal with the Sugar Wolf later.

  • Loosing weight isn’t one of my reasons for giving up alcohol. I’m on day 23 today but did 180 continuous days last year and I was also surprised I didn’t loose weight but; I got my calories from food not drink so that must be more beneficial to my body and I enjoyed making more nutritious varied food at home as I had more time to do it; my skin definitely glowed (less redness); my hair shone and my body weight shifted (less bloat/swollen looking particularly around the tummy and face). Stick with being sober and I’m sure when you look in the mirror at 90 days or more you will see a positive change in yourself, weight loss or none. I like to think more dramatic weight loss may come further down the line but focussing on being sober has so many benefits I can cope with a few extra pounds for now.

  • I really thought I would lose weight and am so disappointed
    I am on day 20 and it’s getting harder to not drink, but I’m working on changing my thought processes around booze. Was going for 30 days but heck why not 90?,180? 365? I’m getting there. Thanks for the information. It helps.

  • Like you and many others it took about three months until I was dropping some weight. I didn´t watch my food intake very much, but I was beginning to eat (a little bit) better and (just a very little bit) less, as I was able to hear what my body really needed and wanted in a long time.
    Without watching what I was eating I lost easily 13 kilos.

    But while sober, it really doesn´t matter as much as it used to. As a woman I always thought I had to look good, be thin etc. to be happy. Turns out, that´s not true at all. I´m very much happy myself, just had to give up the booze. I´m more comfortable in my body since ever. And no, I´m not as thin as I used to be.

  • In the past when I’d “give up drinking” I’d lose a few pounds right away and think that would be an incentive. It wasn’t. This time around (I’m on day 140) I hoped for the same but a wise person who’d been down this road (with Belle actually) advised me not to worry about the weight at first–just like the blog says. I have not lost weight YET (but not put any on) but what’s different this time is I’m more focused on healthy sobriety than weight loss. And I am slowly getting back to exercise and healthier eating, so I know that will come.

  • I see posts about this constantly in the FB NA groups I’m in. I was someone who let the lack of weightloss affect my sobriety.

    Then I realized it was going to take time for my body to heal and readjust. I drank 2 bottles of wine every single night for… over 5 years.

    I gave up on weightloss and focused on recovery. For the first few sober nights, I’d eat a marshmallow anytime I wanted to drink. The first night I ate 1/2 a bag and had a horrible stomach ache. But I didn’t drink.

    I got sick of marshmallows pretty quick. I found some fun things to do in the evening (like drawing terrible caricatures of the former president of the US). It made me laugh, and laughing is how I cope.

    When I see the posts from women (it’s never men) upset about not losing weight the first week, I just want to reach out and hug them and tell them that being thin isn’t the most important thing.

    Then I want to tell them about how the diet industry lies to us, and that they are not trying to help us, they’re trying to make money

    Body Positivity is so important. It’s amazing how much you can accomplish when you’re not constantly upset that you’re not a size zero.

    Intuitive eating is another life saver. I cannot recommend this more. I won’t go on about it, because there are books and FB groups.

    The bottom line is, women are under so much pressure to look a certain way. The best thing we can do is tell society to F off. We need to be able to live in this world in any size body without shame.

    Women are so hard on themselves. I always say, “treat yourself with kindness. Treat yourself like you treat a friend.”

    Sorry for the rant. This is obviously something important to me, so thank you for your post!!!!!

  • I wonder if my experience if alittle different because I also have eating issues.
    When I first stopped drinking I also lost my appetite and found it really hard to eat. I did tend to eat a lot of sweet stuff especially in the evening and I think I did lose weight even though I wasn’t trying to.
    I guess there are all sorts of reasons for weight loss and how our bodies repair from alcohol use. And it seems as if it’s more complicated than calories in and calories used….
    But I do think one can tackle things like diet once there is enough of a balance in sober living… it certainly wasn’t possible for me to look at my diet early on as it was far too hard to focus on more than just not drinking.
    I guess these things take time….

  • I actually always put on weight when i quit alcohol. When i drink white wine its substitutes meals and makes me sick to the stomach the next day so often cant eat. So i may look thinner but i look like shit. Long term tho (i have done 9 months sober following belle) it works because u are mindful and present. It can take years to quit smoking or drinking weight loss can be tackled another time

  • Sober day 23 here. I haven’t lost any weight and actually gained a couple of pounds. Grrrrr! Seeing that number increase on the scale just bummed me out, so I’ve decided to quit weighing myself for now and just focus on the reason I’m here. To live each new day sober and not worry about what my weight is doing for now.

  • I am back on day 18. In my last sober phase I didn’t loose any weight in the first months. But I actually didn’t care because I substituted with lots of chocolate and cake, focus on just staying sober, that’s the only thing that matters. After maybe 3-4 months, my sugar consumption decreased as the mental cravings decreased. I then lost some pounds 🙂

    I want to quit smoking, but not now. I will give it a try maybe in 3-4 months, when it’s getting winter and when I’ll be stable enough to try. Right now, sobriety is my only goal and I want to focus on staying sober. No additional load, it’s hard enough!

  • So… I did the sober challenge before and actually made it to 180 days and then relapsed so I’m back. I actually did lose weight -16 lbs. But…it was mainly after 90 days. Who knows why. Maybe I was over having sweets instead of wine, maybe I was eating healthier, maybe, maybe…
    So it does happen but as Belle and others point out, the focus right now is losing alcohol.

  • I completely agree with the metabolism comment. My body was so used to having a liquid diet in and out so fast, it learned to be lazy with digestion with no solid food, it didn’t know what to do and had a rebellious few months. I did crave sugar in the beginning, but I ate food not because I was hungry or craving anything- it was the hand to mouth motion habit I was missing (I had come to this conclusion a few months ago) after 6 months or so, my sugar cravings disappeared and my eating was normal; I began to lose the weight I had gained in the first few months of sobriety. I did mind at first (I was actually quite horrified) but I then realised I’d rather gain weight and lose it later than keep drinking and lose my life forever.

  • Day 5 – The last time I quit drinking it took 4 mos before I lost any weight but that was 10 years ago. Now I’m almost 50 trying it again and I don’t think it will happen as easily as it did then. The longer you wait the harder it is. It’s harder to change your routines, habits, lose weight, quit drinking…everything is harder the older you get. If you have quit drinking stay quit. It won’t be easier next time.

  • I’m going through this issue now and find myself very frustrated by it. One of my major reasons for quitting drinking was to lose weight. I haven’t increased my other calories or my sugar intake. Just going to continue to move forward. Day 22. No weight loss but AF.

  • Hey, everyone. I’m on day 80 and although no weight loss yet, I have much more energy and am feeling stronger and more capable in my life overall. I’m getting good exercise regularly and enjoying how much better I feel. I trust Belle because all of her advice and predictions to date have been spot on! So I’m resisting the urge to make weight loss a specific goal for the moment. I truly believe all the good stuff is built on a strong sober foundation.

  • you were right: I hated hearing you say this over and over again … but weight loss didn’t happen in the first week, neither in the first month, neither in the first year. I’m not even sure if it’s really happening now (I’m 555 days sober), because I threw my scales away years ago. but I can tell that my jeans are a bit loose and that’s only been possible after also being bulimia-free for over 200 days (starting after the first 200 sober days) AND not really care about the weight thing. I know, I know, I would also hate someone saying shit like that … sorry! 😉

  • Hi, I’m on day 57 and have not lost any weight yet. I have a tendancy to overload on sweets when I don’t drink, which I’m sure makes up for any calorie deficit from cutting out the alcohol. Wine is a form of sugar to me – so no wine = replace with sugar. I decided to put off the reducing sugar goal until I feel comfortable with the no wine goal. Even though I’m not losing weight at least I feel 100% better than when I overload on wine.

  • Hi Belle, thanks for all you do and for sharing this. I’m on day 22 and feeling good, but not skinny 😉 That’s ok.

  • 305 days (!) and not a single ounce has left my body AND I’m a very active person – gym, swimming, walking daily because I like it. Guess what ? I LOVE being sober- it has nothing to weight. Just as I get mad at all the tv shows, adverts, etc. promoting alcohol … I also get mad at those who promote sobriety for weight loss… just don’t get into the argument… leave it alone. Focus on your mental health.

  • Ugh….. weight.
    Well I was sort of hoping for weight maintenance as part of my (other) problem is a long history of an eating disorder.
    So unfortunately being sober has just highlighted my struggles in that area.
    So yes I think I did lose weight after about 6 months sober; but that also came with a struggle to eat enough .
    Maybe I’m not the right person to comment on this topic.
    I think what I can say is it’s helped me realise my need to fuel my body regularly so I don’t run out of energy ( which I find a challenge) and it’s at least made me appreciate that my body needs nutrients. I guess that approach helps rather than “calories “…. so I would say to anyone struggling with weight…to focus on good nutrition; in regular small amounts.
    In the early days though the cravings for sugar was huge and I did have puddings in the evening instead of drinking….that helped to curb the cravings.
    I guess the aim is for a healthy body AND a healthy mind……( but I’m not a good example of that!)

    I did read somewhere about our bodies metabolism changes after stopping alcohol….I know I used to drink instead of eat…and I suppose the empty calories just got used somewhere.
    So my aim now is to eat as healthily as I can manage and to try not to focus on weight.
    Someone once said to me that I’m not my body…the “me” inside is the real me…. that helped somewhat 🙂

  • The weight issue is becoming a huge issue for me. Would love to hear from others who passed through this when they were well into their sobriety. At least over 90/120 days I believe. Thankyou. 54 days sober. And yes, this site IS a godsend. x

    • Julie,

      I am on day 265, and the weight is coming off. But it didn’t start right away, and I was rather bummed about that. But I think the internal systems, especially the liver, need time to fully rebound before they can best serve us.
      In early sobriety I was eating a lot of homemade chocolate pudding as my sober treat. Oh it was so good, warm and luscious, a comfort food from my childhood. And back in the early days you couldn’t have given me a mango as a treat. I surely rolled my eyes at that notion.

      As time moved on my need for a sweet fix dimished – maybe around month 7. I still wanted them, but not so much. By month 9 I had no sugar cravings. My chemist neighbor tells me I fixed my gut balance . I don’t know much about that.

      Now I have my sweet treat on the weekend to appease Wolfie, so I don’t feel deprived. Now I enjoy some luscious fruit as a treat, or an avocado, or herbal tea, or a BeKind bar, or a yoga class, or flowers, or a movie.

      Early on I read both of Jason Vale’s books – one on stopping drinking, the other on stopping sugar. They both helped. I didn’t know if or when I would give up sugar. I’m happy that my body let it go rather than having to do so by will power.

      I’m down 20 pounds with minimal effort.

      Give it time, focus more on health choices, and remember as Belle says – sobriety first, the rest will come.

      Kitkatpaddywack

  • I am on day 20 and crave sweet things all the time,I never used to when i drank , it has started to lessen in the past few days so hopefully weight loss will follow. Today has been a bit anxious but i am drinking my cups of tea and looking forward to day 21, this site is a godsend

  • I’m down a few lbs. (Day35) but I have awoken my ice cream addiction so I’m sure that will change. I feel so much better and my face is not a puffy mess. The energy and clear headedness are worth it. I was beginning to think I had a memory problem. That was all I needed a wine AND memory problem !! So, one down, one to go…hee… hee…

  • Hooray for all the 50-100-200 daysers!
    Here another surprised woman who did’nt lose much weight while before taking in a bottle of wine/some beers a day and eating a lot of unhealty food like crips with it. But now I am eating more coockies etc. and finally (30 something days) I really begin to look so much better: face less puffy, beer/wine belly a bit flatter, eyes clearer etc. Not only weight is important, also how you feel/look. And not drinking I do more yoga, nordic walking etc. so suppose (and feel) some fat must have changed to muscle and that’s a very good thing to happen. When you start to exercise more it will happen, I’m sure. Just keep up the good spirit, 6/7 days is early days 😉
    Love, N.Maya

  • Congratulations to all you 50, 100 and 200 dayers out there! WOOT WOOT
    And on the weight loss front. I too thought that I would lose weight at the start considering you consume so many calories eating crappy food to go along with the bottles of wine. But, alas. Maybe we were peeing out the calories faster than we thought?? LOL (just kidding) SOBER FIRST 🙂

    • Congratulations to everyone who reached a milestone! I’ve gained weight since I quit drinking 32 days ago. Like Committed I was drinking at least a bottle of wine per day and thought for sure I’d drop some weight. Hasn’t happened. My skin looks fabulous now that I’m not dehydrated from the alcohol so I’ll be happy with that. My backside is widening and I am sober. I loved it when Belle said in the sober jumpstart, “Sobriety First. Everything else second”. I will lose the weight but for now I am focusing only on my sobriety.

  • Did you write this for me? This post speaks to me big time. I’m in the early days of trying to tackle 2 huge issues (quit drinking AND smoking). My past attempts at taking on these 2 at once have resulted in epic “F*ck It” moments…I’m trying to be superlady in doing it all at once…I’m scared I’m taking on too much and am setting myself up for another major crash & burn…currently questioning things, perhaps I should only focus on my sobriety first and then…I can take on the world. Thanks for this Belle.

  • I agree with your final comment about taking on too many things. Having become more clear headed with more energy I want to tackle a million things. Was considering more volunteer opportunities. Then reason took over and my small voice said, you gotta do this sober thing first or all the other things are going to fall by the wayside. Thanks again for all you do.