Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Reasons to Quit Drinking #1: Weight Loss

I'm aware that it sounds a little shallow, kicking off my 'Reasons to Quit' series with weight loss.

Perhaps I should have started with something a bit more weighty (excuse the pun), like health issues, or mental wellbeing.

But the truth is we know drinking is bad for us, and we know we have to stop, but it's not easy, and we deserve a bit of a perk, don't we?

And I can't be alone in being a teensy bit interested in the idea of getting skinny, as more people find my blog via Google by typing in 'stop drinking and lose weight' than any other search term.

Weight isn't just a vanity thing for us women - it affects all areas our lives. Our self esteem, our relationships, our health, and the way other people view, and judge, us.

Throughout my childhood, teenage years and my twenties I was effortlessly slim, but from my late twenties onwards (about the time I started drinking heavily) I steadily gained weight.

By the time I quit drinking, last March, I was a UK size 14 (US size 10) and weighed 11 stone 10 pounds (164 pounds).

Not only did this give me a BMI in the 'overweight category', but it made me feel bleurgh. I'd lost my mojo. I felt unattractive and old. I knew that that confident, skinny person was still in there somewhere, but muffled by a layer of blubber and pickled in booze.

I particularly hated the 'wine belly.' (See my post on The Wine Belly). I was asked several times by young children whether I had a 'baby in my tummy.' Mortifying. People would offer me their seats on buses!

It's not surprising that alcohol makes us gain weight. After all, a bottle of wine contains around 600 calories. I was drinking around ten bottles a week! That's 6,000 calories - more than two whole days worth of calories!

Plus, as soon as I'd had a few glasses of vino, all thoughts of moderation in anything flew out the window. Pudding? Why the hell not? Chocolates with coffee? It'd be rude not to!

Then you wake up with a hangover for which there's only one cure: a carbs/fat combo, like a bacon sarnie, or a large blueberry muffin (one of your five a day!).

Over the years I tried endless diets: The F Plan (endless fibre), the Beverly Hills diet (lots of fruit), Scarsdale Medical diet (detailed meal plans), Hay diet (complicated rules about protein and carbs), Cabbage soup diet (just what it sounds like), The Cambridge diet (milkshakes), Atkins (no carbs), Dukan diet (no carbs), Low GI diet (low carbs) and the 5:2 diet (2 days fasting a week).

(Just writing that list makes me feel hungry).

All of them would work for a while. I'd lose up to around ten pounds in a month. But they were impossible to stick to long term, and as soon as I started eating normally again, the weight would pile back on, plus a bit extra for good measure.

I did the exercise thing too. Jane Fonda's workout. Rosemary Conley's hip and thigh workout. Stepping. Spinning. Running. Large rubber band things. Blow up balls. Callanetics. Weights. Body Pump. Body Attack and that funny machine that you stand on while it vibrates.

(Just writing that list makes me feel exhausted).

I did get fitter, but not much thinner.

Since I quit drinking I haven't followed any particular diet. I've not been to the gym much, although I've been pretty active as I've had so much energy. I've not been hungry at all.

Yet I've lost nearly twenty pounds.

I'm now a small UK size twelve, maybe even a ten (US size 6). I've gained cheekbones. I've lost a chin. And the muffin top that I thought was obligatory for all mothers in their forties? Completely gone!

I may not be a MILF, but I am in pretty good nick for my age.

And the great news about this diet is that it is very simple. All you need to do is not drink alcohol.

But there are some caveats:

1. It is slow.

You will probably only lose about half a pound a week. It's not like those 'miracle' diets where you lose half a stone in week one. It's slow and steady. But any nutritionist will tell you that's the best kind of diet, and the only way that's sustainable.

2. It isn't immediate.

Most people don't lose weight initially, many even gain weight at the beginning. It took me until about day 100 to start seeing results.

Firstly, it takes your body a while to adjust - it's had a huge shock. Secondly, you'll crave sugar when you first quit, and cake and hot chocolate are invaluable quitting tools. Let yourself indulge initially - one thing at a time. When you're ready, try to use exercise as a way of managing cravings instead of sugar.

3. You have to stay sober.

Otherwise it'll all pile back on.

So, if you're in the early days of going sober, and starting to waver, stick a 'fat' photo of yourself on the fridge next to a picture of Kate Moss and keep going!

Check out the SoberMummy Facebook page HERE for inspiration, information and a few great laughs, every week day at wine o'clock. 'Like' the page to stay updated!

Love and skinny hugs to you all,

SM x


  1. Crikey I'd forgotten about Callanetics! That's a blast from the past! Day 79 here and I've just started going for healthy (ish) eating as a New Year thing. I have a particular dress I would love to be able to fit into again by the Summer. Although I must admit to nibbling the dark chocolate orange left over from Christmas at odd moments. But definitely no vino! Thanks for post of skinny hope! Love SPB xxx

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  2. I was going to mention Callanetics too. The leotards and big hair! Thank you SM, the memory of my flatmates and me doing "no more than a quarter inch" movements in the living room of our student flat thinking it would give us amazing figures, but being in our early 20s not realising we were already skinny and gorgeous. Happy new year to you xx

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  3. Right Well I am back and you should give me a swift kick up the ar*e as I went on holiday over Christmas (French Alps - gorgeous) and succumbed to holiday wine. Started well and moderate but same old story - you are right (again) about moderation- its def, not for me. Still onward with resolve and have been dry during January no problem. Probably good as it proved to me that I need to be alcohol free and stop messing about. Was just not going to post again but I figured it would do me good to fess up.

    You are right about the weight - I have also tried all those diets and exercise. I remember on the Cambridge diet being so hungry that I was drooling while dishing up the cat's food. Shame!

    1. Have a great Dry-uary Sharon and thanks for sharing - I had to thank you for the biggest laugh I've had in ages for the "so hungry I was drooling while dishing up the cat's food" line.

    2. Lol! Here's a virtual kick up arse! But if it's served as a lesson that moderation isn't feasible then it was worth it! Happy New Year and big hugs xx

    3. Happy dry new year SM glad your radiotherapy is over by the way. Thought it was important to post in case anyone else had fallen by the wayside over xmas and was a bit shame faced to fess up.

  4. Love it! I am looking at recent photos of me and I look so bloated and awful! Day 4 for me and I already feel a little lighter! Jacket zipped up better and I am not so red! Thanks for the hope of no muffin top in the future

  5. Great timing with this comment, as usual! I rarely comment but read you religiously and love everything you write. You are a huge inspiration. I have about the same amount of weight to lose as you did. And I gained it all through alcohol, poor eating because of alcohol, and little exercise because of alcohol. I have tried quitting alcohol and dieting at the same time many, many times in the past 3 years. It did not work and I just kept piling on the pounds until I didn't recognize myself anymore. This time, I am just working on alcohol. I'm on day 17 which is the longest I have made it in at least 3 years (usually get to 3 or 4). I have been eating whatever I want so far, and am kind of hoping that will slow down on its own. If not, I've told myself I will start to rein it in after day 30. You are not the only one who has said the weight doesn't start to shift until day 100, and it really helps to know that. I'm going for slow and steady this time and I really believe it will work. Another blog I follow is called Off dry and is written by Kristi Coulter. I don't know how to attach stuff but if you google it you'll find it. She has written a post that is related to this called "You don't have to be good". It's brilliant. Her whole blog is brilliant. I highly recommend her to you and your readers. thanks SM for blogging so regularly. I don't know where I'd be without you! Well, I do know - but I don't want to be there!

    1. Hi Jean Louise! Huge congrats on 17 days - awesome! You've done the hardest bit already! Don't worry about the weight for a bit. It'll happen. Thanks for the blog reco. I'll check it out now xxx

    2. Miss Jean Louise, thank you for the Kristi Coulter tip, read a few excerpts, like it already!

  6. Day 6 for me! I so appreicate your theme for this month. I'm holding on and your blog is a life line! Thank you.

  7. Day 6, and I'm now off to take a picture of my muffin top (Yikes!) so I can compare it on Day 100! I can see how the increase in energy is already making me move more.. Red xx

    1. Red.. A word of caution.. If you use windows 8 or above, make sure it doesn't attach it's self to your desktop and appear at random intervals on your photo tile show reel.. I'm speaking from personal experience that this can be highly embarrassing if you use a laptop/phone/tablet in a public place or for a work presentation!! (No shame, no gain doesn't cut it for me!!)

  8. Great post SM. I am waiting for the weight loss to happen. Last time I got to day 102 then started drinking. I have to keep going this time and hopefully the weight will start to fall off. I still don't understand why it takes so long. Not drinking 600+ calories a night should make a difference straight away I reckon!! A x

  9. Great Post!! I so have the wine belly :(

  10. SM, day 5 for me and I am soooo excited about the weight loss thing!! Take glasses and glasses of wine and pair that with menopause and you very quickly will start to look like the Big Fig Newton!! Only someone at least 40 years old and maybe from the US can relate to that character. Anyway, my dilemma has been what to drink if not wine when out and about. My typical order of unsweetened iced tea isn't always available and if too late in the day, I don't want the caffeine. But, I am learning to just ask! I even had the concession lady at the Chicago Bulls game this week willing to make me a half and half water/lemonade concoction from the fountain. And yes, I did tip her...thank you ma'am, you just helped me get over the Bud Light and Ketel One concession stands!

    1. I am a huge fan (as you probably know) of AF beer - Becks Blue, specifically. More and more pubs here stock it. Or I go for a virgin mojhito or Virgin Mary, or - if not available a lime and soda. What you really want is something that feels 'adult', not a sticky orange juice or a Cola. Most intrigued by Big Fig Newton ;-) xxx

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Trying again to post the Big Fig Newton - let's see if it works.

    4. SM, The Big Fig Newton, was a character advertising for the cookie of the same name....he was a very plump fig, who did a little dance! Thanks for the AF tips.

    5. Hi- day 6 for me. I had a funeral to attend today and everyone was drinking wine and bloody Mary's at the wake. I walked up to the bar and ordered a Cranberry soda with a lime. I looked like everyone else, had an extremely tasty beverage and enjoyed it completely. I was dreading going to the wake, but I also opted to sit w the sober table. Great afternoon!

  11. Angie, I agree.. It seems unfair that the 600 calorie deficit takes so long to show doesn't it?!? I can only guess that our bodies in some way acclimatise, or perhaps all those middle of night sweats/heart palpitations and last minute dashes to places cos we were hungover and forgot/overslept play a role somehow... I would love to drop a chin and dress size, but on a cold Jan night I am accepting that chocolate is the lessor evil to alcohol and forgiving myself for ordering takeaway if cooking dinner will lead to an off licence visit. Let's all have a New Years resolution to be kind to ourselves! :-)

  12. Yay I have also lost more than a stone and a half since stopping 8 months ago (about 25lb and 12 kilos). Was slow at first but then just started coming off. Has now slowed down but still coming off! My psoriasis has also cleared up (with help of light treatment)!!!!!!!

    1. EH that's awesome!!! I remember you complaining a few months ago that you weren't losing weight. Have you been getting lots of compliments? I do hope so!

    2. Yes lots! Skin looks great and it's lovely fitting into all my small clothes!! 3lb more over Christmas!!!! And all I have to do is not drink!!!

  13. Day 9 here and despite a rule of not stepping on the scales I ignored intuition this morning and found I had gained 2 kgs. I have been feeling really bloated so no big surprise but have been eating fairly healthily plus daily 10km walk so is a bit of a downer. Reading this post reinforces that this can happen and to hang in there however. Id like to drop around 7 kgs and am committed to sticking this out for 100 days and ultimately realising that wine has no positive role to play in my life. Just tough with temptation everywhere and everyone has an opinion eg just moderate and drink fri/sat etc.if only it were that easy for me! Anyway I'm really enjoying reading all your reasons for kicking the booze SM and I'll try to keep commenting and stay motivated by reading your awesome blog that never fails to resonate with me. Hugs JB xo

    1. Hi juniorburger! It's not fair, is it!? It's perfectly normal though. You were probably horribly dehydrated before, and now you're not. I bet you look better though - less puffy. It will happen but it takes a while. Keep going! Xxx

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  24. Hi I stopped drinking 4.5 months ago and steadily lost some weight. But in the last 2 weeks it has started to fall off. I have lost 29 lbs in total without dieting or cutting food groups out and 7 lbs has come off in the last 2 weeks. At the moment the scales are going down every day.
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