Why I Stopped Drinking

Emily Farren Wieczorek of the lifestyle blog Two Peas in a Prada talked about how she stopped drinking and how it helped her productivity.

The things I find least interesting about myself – people tend to find THE MOST interesting.  I often drink my La Croix, at night, out of what most would consider a wine glass. Despite the fact that I’m actually trying to talk about what I’m making for dinner, or what happened during my day, or what struggle is going on with the kids… 9 times out of 10… people will hone in on the La Croix in my wine glass.

“Are you pregnant?”

“Are you sick?”

“Did you decide to do dry January too?”

Despite all the questions, I never felt the need to mention that I pretty much quit drinking back in November. But when someone asked about my productivity last week on stories, I felt it was important to say that quitting drinking played a huge part in my increased productivity – as of late.

As one would imagine, when I quit drinking on a whim,  my productivity skyrocketed. FYI – I also mentioned a bunch of other different techniques that I find helpful for productivity but all anyone wanted to know about was my decision to stop drinking. Well here’s the real truth. And if we’re being honest, this is probably why I haven’t talked about it up until now.

When I quit drinking in mid November, I failed miserably. 

No one likes to talk about the things they’re bad at. No one likes to tell the world that they sucked at something. And no one likes to admit total and utter failure. Why? Because it’s embarrassing. It’s uncomfortable. It’s vulnerable as hell. That being said, I’m learning to embrace these moments of failure. SO here we go. My decision to give drinking a rest.

As many of you will remember, Ashley and I went to Rachel Hollis’ RISE conference in early November. We listened to billionaires, motivational speakers, and people who had overcome incredible obstacles in life talk about their daily habits. All of them were wildly successful. The more we listened, the more we started to notice that their similarities extended to many facets of their lives.  They were all SUPER regimented. They scheduled working out, time with family, work hours, and self care. They made all of these things priorities. We also noticed another major theme. These incredibly successful people just didn’t drink. Most of them had made it a priority to completely swear off alcohol. It was totally eye opening.

So I thought to myself… “I’ll quit drinking too.”

I’ll use the term “quit” pretty loosely because I never made a MASSIVE or conscious decision to “quit.” I really just wanted to see what would happen if I drank less.

Almost immediately after that trip, some really rough times hit our little family. We got horrible news that one of Joe’s closest friends was diagnosed with a super aggressive and rare form of cancer. Joe’s Grandma passed away unexpectedly. We lost Henry, our dear Golden Retriever. November was – what I would call – an absolute nightmare. Meanwhile, Ashley and I were navigating the biggest and busiest month in our blogging careers. We were traveling, working crazy hours, taking on a massive amount of demanding projects, and I was still trying to be a good mom, friend, and wife. As much as I tried to hide it…. I was not holding it together. The night that Henry passed away… I drank a bottle of wine to myself in a hotel bar.

Why I Stopped Drinking: 

To clarify, I definitely I don’t have what anyone would call an alcohol problem. I don’t abuse alcohol. I don’t get drunk regularly. Heck, I hardly ever drink in excess. You see, my alcohol intake was always totally limited to social events. I hardly EVER drink on weeknights. To me, that meant that my drinking was totally in check. Only, when I looked at it objectively, I could very clearly see that it wasn’t. When I actually looked at my drinking habits… I wasn’t happy with myself.

I wasn’t happy with myself because I started to realize that:

  • 1.) I don’t actually LOVE the taste of alcohol like some people do. But you better believe I ordered a drink at every meal with my girlfriends – because that’s what girlfriends do. Right? Almost every time I would meet my friends for dinner, I would order a glass of wine and hardly touch it.
  • 2.) The relaxing effect that alcohol has on nearly everyone I know… well… it doesn’t feel that way for me. More times than not it would make me more anxious.
  • 3.) Whenever I would drink, I’d feel my productivity immediately slipping away.  Ashley and I are in the building phase of this business and our brand. We have a TON of major projects, commitments and changes ahead this year. I am ALL IN on all of these things, and it’s going to take massive dedication. Drinking at night, or at brunch steals entire days of productivity from me. I hate that.
  • 4.) When I looked at it objectively, I realized that when the going got tough….  I turned to alcohol to cope. I know that it doesn’t seem like a big deal to most people. SO what if I had a shitty month and one night I drank too much?

No biggie. But for me… it was a biggie. For me, who needed to be present for my three young kids, it was absolutely a biggie. For me, who wanted to be a source of strength for my husband during this awful time, it was a biggie. For me, who has to give as much as I can to this community, it was definitely a biggie. So I decided to make a change.

For me, it was a very simple mindset change. I know for some people it may be SO much harder. I could very clearly see that alcohol wasn’t the problem. The problem was that I was choosing alcohol when I really didn’t need to, or want to. The problem was my learned behavior. The problem, was me.

I realized I could be turning to 1 million other bigger and better things. I could pour into my family. I could pour into this community. I could pour into my writing. I could pour into serving others. I could pour into myself and start exercising. I could do so many other HEALTHY things rather than pouring myself a glass of wine.

This is obviously a hugely personal decision. I know it is not for everyone, and please understand I’m not trying to say it should be. I’m just sharing my experience. Also, I feel that I need to say this. I don’t judge anyone who does decide to drink. Heck… I’m not even saying that I’m totally swearing off drinking completely. I’m just saying that drinking regularly is not for me right now. I’m making a lifestyle change right now.  And if you want to join me… I would love that.

My Personal Guidelines For When I Stopped Drinking: 

Here is what I decided. I decided I would give myself some grace, but I also needed to draw a hard line for myself. For me to say “I’ll never have another drink again in my life”  that’s not something I’m ready to say. But I did set some stringent guidelines.

  • I will not drink with the exception of scheduled and planned events. For example, I am going on a work trip to wine country next week (sans kids) with a bunch of influencer friends. I will be tasting some wine – as long as all my work is done for the next week. If it’s not done, no drinks will be had. Another example: a planned dinner with girlfriends, mid-week, when I know I have to take my kids to school the next morning, and work on deadlines for the next week… absolutely no drinking. I’ll be ordering a club soda with lime.
  • I will not drink at home by myself.
  • I will not drink unless all my work is done.
  • I will not drink as a reaction to stress.
  • I will not drink more than once a month.
  • I will not drink with the intention to get drunk.

Things I’ve Noticed Since I Stopped Drinking: 

  • I have more energy.
  • I actually want to work out.
  • I haven’t been sick.
  • I have more patience with my kids.
  • I am more creative at work.
  • I have more time for the things I love.
  • Joe and I communicate better.
  • I love being the DD. Taking care of people makes me happy, and I like making sure everyone is safe.
  • I give myself so much more time to be productive – especially in the early AM and late at night.

Tips For Anyone Trying To Stop Drinking: 

  • Pour yourself a drink. It can be club soda, it can be water, it can be Diet Coke. I have found that having a non alcoholic beverage in social situations helps to take the pressure off. No one knows there’s no alcohol in your drink.
  • Find a buddy. My girlfriend, Kristin, quit drinking last month, and Ashley’s not drinking either because she’s pregnant. It helps me to be in solidarity with both of them. Joe also has decided to drink less. It is SO amazing to have a partner that is on board. in all areas of life… so if your buddy is your significant other… even better.
  • Remember that you don’t need to drink to hang out with your friends. If they are really your friends, they will be proud of your life decisions. Any friend that can’t support you in wanting to be a better version of yourself – that’s not a friend. Brooke, from Somewhere Lately, texted me the minute she read about my decision not to drink and said, “You look amazing, I am sure you feel amazing too… that is awesome!” So kind, and SO supportive.
  • Remember that people’s reactions to your decision not to drink says more about them than it does about you. If your decision is met with eye rolls, hostility, and negativity… take a moment, breathe, and realize it has nothing to do with you.
  • Realize that you may actually have more fun if you don’t drink.
  • Look at all the money you’re saving! Alcohol is a total money sucker – I go over this >>> here.
  • Remind yourself of all the amazing things you can accomplish if you’re not feeling sluggish and nursing a hangover.
  • If you fail – try again the next day. It’s ok. Give yourself some grace here. The point is that you’re TRYING.

To me – giving up drinking at this point in my life seemed like the MOST obvious choice. However, what I have realized, is that for many people it is the least obvious choice. I realized that for many people (myself included for many years) drinking had become this very automatic and socially acceptable response to stress. Which is actually bizarre when you think about it. It had also become this very normal excuse to get together with my friends. It was also glorified everywhere I looked. Hollywood, social media, in our friend groups… “Momma needs a glass of wine!” And hey…  I get it.

But I am here to tell you that you don’t need to drink to be more relaxed. I find the same relaxation from getting outside and taking a walk, or from being truly present with my kids. I am here to tell you that you don’t need to drink to connect with your friends. You can, in fact,  have a meaningful conversation over a green salad. I am here to tell you that you don’t need alcohol to lead a fulfilled  life. In fact, you might find that you feel so much more fullfilled when you eliminate it.

I realized that for all those moments when I felt like the alcohol was bringing me fulfillment and stress relief… it wasn’t. What was bringing me stress relief and fulfillment was human connection. I know not everyone may be with me on this. And that’s ok. Maybe alcohol does indeed make you a better parent, friend, business partner, or spouse. But it didn’t do those things for me. In fact, it did quite the opposite. Alcohol made me pretty shitty at all parts of my life. I find that eliminating alcohol has been beneficial for my productivity, for my parenting, for my business, for my marriage, and for my life.

What I have come to realize is that at this point in my life,  there are a couple of other things that bring me way more joy than alcohol.

Things I Enjoy More Than Drinking:

  • Being in good health – I haven’t been sick since I stopped drinking
  • Having a clear mind when I wake up
  • Being patient and present with my kids
  • Spending true quality time with Joe
  • Having meaningful connection with my girlfriends
  • Having the capability to be wildly productive at any point in my day – whether it is first thing in the morning or late at night

So here’s the deal. I know this post may be triggering for some people. It isn’t meant to be. I am not trying to make anyone feel badly about themselves or their habits. If you can drink regularly and achieve the life you want, I commend you. I am here for you. And I support you. At this point in my life, I am just not one of those people. And that is ok.

But if you’re like me. And you’re want to get real about your business, your productivity, your parenting, your life… and you feel like you can’t, I think it is very healthy to look at what is holding you back. For some, it may be an unhealthy relationship. For some, it may be negative self talk. For some, it may be alcohol. Whatever it is for you, I hope you quit it.

If you’re like me, and you think you might want to take a break or make a massive life change – I commend you. Whatever your choice, I am here for you, and I support you.

If you are having serious problems with alcohol, please seek help. Seek out a family member, a friend, a therapist, or you can call: 1-800-662-HELP.

Emily Farren Wieczorek of the lifestyle blog Two Peas in a Prada talked about how she stopped drinking and how it helped her productivity.

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One thought on “Why I Stopped Drinking

  1. Good for you, Ashley, to realize this about your situation and, even more so, to do something about it. That takes guts–as does being open about it with everyone. You’re a brave woman, and I hope that 2020 is a wonderful year for you. Sorry about your recent losses.

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