Saturday, 27 June 2015

Stop Drinking, Lose Weight?

Day 118.

One topic I get more questions about than (almost) any other is weight.

We assume, for obvious reasons, that whilst quitting drinking is going to be hard, a major bonus will be skinniness! After all, one bottle of wine contains around 600 calories. One week's worth of wine (assuming a bottle a day) is 4,200 calories - two whole day's worth!

I googled alcohol and weight loss, and found endless fitness sites that state, categorically, that the quickest, simplest way to lose weight is to cut out alcohol.

Sadly, it doesn't seem to be that simple for us.

I'm sure that, for the moderate drinker, the equation really is straightforward, but I know from all the e-mails I get and blogs I read that for we more 'enthusiastic' imbibers is often doesn't work like that.

As far as I can tell there are two main reasons:

The first is that, after years of pouring in liquid calories that have to be metabolised by the liver before anything we eat, we have rather messed up our metabolisms. Our bodies are not 'finely tuned engines' but are totally over lubricated. If you think about how long it takes to deal with our messed up brains, then imagine how long it takes your body to even itself out too.

The second reasons is that so many of us turn to sugar to help with cravings (see Cross Addictions). Sugar gives us the quick dopamine hit that we've been missing, plus it's comforting. Hell, we deserve a bit of a treat given all this bl***y denial.

But it becomes really easy for sugar to become our new 'sodit'. We used to think 'I've had a hard day, so - sod it - I'll have a glass of wine.' Now we think 'I'm pissed off and knackered. Sod it, I'll have a bar of chocolate.'

I really don't think that we can beat ourselves up about any of this. We need to be kind to ourselves, and to reward ourselves from time to time. BUT, weight loss can be a huge motivation, so if it's at all possible to develop a habit of using exercise (running, yoga, whatever) as a way of dealing with cravings rather than food, then obviously that makes more sense.

Needless to say, I have yet to practise what I preach in this respect....

These 'little treats', the sodits, can quickly add up. One slice of chocolate cake, a hot chocolate and two Becks Blues is easily the equivalent, in calorie terms, of that bottle of wine. So you can see how easy it becomes to actually gain weight, rather than lose it when you quit.

When I quit, nearly 4 months ago, I did lose around a pound a week for the first 6 weeks. BUT then I stopped losing weight and started gaining! I was horrified. I didn't mention it here because I didn't want to de-motivate anyone.

So, the reason I'm mentioning it now is that....drum roll......finally the weight seems to be FALLING OFF! 2 pounds a week.

Since day 1 I have lost a total of 10 pounds. 2.5 inches off the waist and wine belly, and 3.5 inches off the butt. I weight less now than I have for FIVE YEARS!

The difference is, I think, partly a matter of time, and of the metabolism evening out, and partly down to getting used to listening to what your body is telling you.

We have spent years, decades even, drowning out our body's natural responses. It says "Yikes! That's a poison! What are you doing to me?" We say "shut up and have a Nurofen!" It says "I'm not hungry, I've just been drugged and dehydrated." We say "shut up and have a greasy fry up."

I feel terrible about what I've put my body through for so long, and feel it's now time to show it some respect. So I'm listening. If I end up eating all the leftovers after the children's supper (which I often do), then I don't just eat again, automatically, with the husband. I check if I'm feeling hungry and if I'm not I don't eat.

God that sounds like toddler level nutrition. I do apologise. But, spookily, it's totally new to me.

I used to eat for all sorts of reasons - cross, bored, hungover, drunk. Now I eat when I'm hungry and stop when I'm not. And it's working, despite the fact that I'm still having my treats - the hot chocolates, cake and AF beers.


Please let me, and everyone else, know how you're doing on the journey to beach-body-ready, and any tips you have in the comments below....

Have a great weekend!

SM x

P.S. For an update on my progress then see this post from January 2016 (click here)

To buy the book, telling the story of my first year sober, with lots of help, advice and few laughs along the way, click here.

Related posts: The Wine Belly, From Muffin-Topped, Puffy Faced Alcohol Addict to Goddess! and Wine Bellies Can Kill!


  1. Brilliant post as ever. I'm on day 83. I have not had 50 bottles of wine and so have saved approx 30,000 calories, but not a pound lost. I have felt so tired since going AF that I have been very sedentary. This has felt right but I am looking forward to feeling slightly more energetic and my metabolism sorting itself out. Weight loss is a major motivation and it's really helpful to hear how you and others are sticking with it despite weight not falling off over night. Thanks

    1. Thanks for sharing this awesome weight loss tip with us, RCW!

      Speaking of losing weight, it can be done with zero exercise minutes per day. Weight loss comes down to energy balance, as long as you’re eating fewer calories than you are burning (you burn calories every second, regardless of what you’re doing), you will lose weight. Exercise is one way to manipulate this energy balance and increase the amount of calories burned.

      So yes, it is certainly possible to exercise for 1 minute and lose weight.

      1 minute of specific weight loss routines, is equivalent to 45 minutes of moderate exercise at the gym

      To be honest, I don't know too much more about it other than it working great for me and hubby, click here to take their 1 minute quiz: 1 Minute Weight Loss

      I highly suggest your readers check it out if they're looking to lose your weight easily once and for all.

      Good luck!

      Lost 17 pounds in 3 Months w/ little to no exercise

  2. Great information and of great help thank you Xx

  3. Weight loss was one of my reasons for stopping drinking. My clothes definitely feels looser but I can't bear to weigh myself yet in case I've not lost any weight as that would demotivate me and I might just think 'stuff it let's drink!'. I'm going to just persevere and maybe if I reach day 100 I'll have a weigh in just to see. Same as rcw I've not been up for doing much as very tired and also look after my toddler and study part time. However after summer she starts nursery so I plan to get moving!

    1. Never weigh yourself! Go by how you feel & how your clothes fit.. if your clothes are getting baggy you are losing weight. The numbers on that scale do not matter since their different from day to day & we hold water & tend to fluctuate.

    2. Never weigh yourself! Go by how you feel & how your clothes fit.. if your clothes are getting baggy you are losing weight. The numbers on that scale do not matter since their different from day to day & we hold water & tend to fluctuate.

  4. Right now I could care less about my weight. I am eating a lot more than I was when I was drinking and while I am trying to eat healthily I am also eating a lot more sugar now and I know why but I keep thinking that it's better than drinking. Time is coming though when I need to cut way back on the chocolate bullets and the biscuits with my tea. It's great that you are shedding the kgs now! I have loads more energy so am doing a lot more, and moving a lot more so that has to be a good thing.

  5. Although I haven't dropped a significant amount of weight, I am trying to do some exercise and eat healthily, but I am not obsessing about it. I have lost the puffy, sweaty look (not appealing), and my complexion is way clearer, so I am really happy about that.

    1. Ditto on the puffy look. So at least we look skinnier from the neck up, and this is good (insist only on headshots until the gut follows.)

  6. Hi sm great post I too have lost (finally ) about 7lb but it's only been in the last 6 weeks but almost immediately I noticed a bloated look had vanished it's definitely a gradual return to normality but one I am thankful for everyday the biggest bonus for me has been my skin :-)

  7. I haven't lost weight but I sm eating loads mire than I used to. I am less bloated and puffy and have less fat around my belly. As you mention I think it is a very long term process to get our bodies back to health.

  8. I don't weigh myself anymore. The scale is tied to my self worth. Sadly. So it's best to just let it be.
    I really think the first year of sobriety is not the time to diet. It is the time to be kind and gentle with ourselves. But also that is personal and each of us finds our own way to make things work.
    I have lost and gained over the almost 19 months I have been sober. I am pretty fit, but less hard than I was when I was drinking, extreme dieting and excessively exercising.
    I do yoga daily. Because I love it with my whole soul.

  9. I think there may an overflow effect when you stop or control drinking: now that I have to remind myself "Nope, can't have that." when I want wine, it's a bit easier to say the same thing when delicious fried foods appear. Back slowly away from the ice sudden movements..

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  12. wow, really wonderful article!!! you did great job. I hope this will help to weight loss secrets

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  14. I have yet to practise what I preach in this respect.... Lose Weight Diet

  15. My mom recently had a year where she gained tons of weight. We tried this one program and one of the rules was that she could not drink. She loves her beer and wine so this was annoying to her. But she now notices that when she drinks she starts to gain weight much faster than when she does not.

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  18. Thank you for your blog. I found your information helpful and encouraging. Beginning 5/11/16, I am going to go AF. 5 months ago I was 190lbs (I'm 5'10", so even at 190 I was overweight). After moving out of state, and not going back to work, I gained 45 lbs!!!! I can't even stand to look at my reflection. I intend to eliminate alcohol, exercise, and eat a much better diet. I'll check back in two months to report how it went...

  19. I have gained over 40 something lbs. during the past 6 years of a bottle a night! eek! So, anyway one week later and I've already lost 3 of those lbs. I found that moderate activity, and doing the 30 day water challenge along with the alcohol abstinence is working! (water challenge is 8 glasses of water a day for 30 days.) Good luck everyone! I feel it coming right off.

  20. I stopped 8 days ago but prior to that, say 17 days or more, i started walking 2 miles e morning, then tapered off the sauce until 8 days ago AF. joined a gym cuz of feeling so good----tonite is my 4th nite of weight training. I researched natural ways to get seratonin naturally....did u know for women the top 3 foods for seratonin boost are (in this order) chickpeas, sweet potatoes, n blueberries, and exercise is another way. So i have a simple smoothie of 1/2 c frozen blueberries n 1 c almond milk. For the chickpeas n sweet taters, google Moroccan Chick-pea/sweet potato soup. Its delicious and must b doing something right because Im craving NOTHING, not sugar at all not booze, not food, so I'm rolling with this. Lost 10 lbs since may 23. Unreal.

  21. Needless to say that alcohol contains many empty calories just like desserts, which is why by stopping drinking, you might actually lose your weight. If, of course, you don`t replace drinks with desserts. is a good article for you to read. Clearly, that drinking comforts just like smoking or overeating but it is not a panacea.


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  27. It's been a week and lost about 4 pounds so far. Been trying to eat mostly paleo and not go crazy on the carbs or sugar. (Though I do have some potatoes & gluten free bread sometimes.) I don't really feel extra sugar cravings but I think the raw fermented sauerkraut (with active cultures) that I've recently been eating daily is really helping reduce sugar cravings greatly. I've been on antibiotics several times over the past few years and I think that messed up my gut. The fermented sauerkraut is helping fix it. Yoghurt helps but wasn't enough on its own.

    1. (To clarify: Been a week without wine or any alcohol.)

  28. Ginger also has an anti-diabetic affect and cholesterol lowering properties, as well as many other health benefits. It also helps crave hunger. the 2 week diet plan

  29. Hi SM, was reading back over some of your earlier posts and found this one especially helpful. Now I'm feeling more confident about keeping the wine witch at bay, I've started to rethink what I'm eating and looking at losing a bit of weight. Found a blog post (linked below hopefully) which reiterated a lot of what you say here, and looks at how alcohol hinders weight loss, hope someone else finds it interesting/useful too. xxx

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  31. Im nearly 2 months sober and have past through the euphoria stage and now feel quite depressed, kind of connecting to the reasons why I drank !! hoped the weight would drop off and it hasn't yet...glad to hear it may take some time but will happen ...thank you all xxx

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  33. About 3.5 years ago, my Dad died from diabetes and heart disease. I was a heavy drinker then. 2 months after he died, I found the Paleo diet which cuts out sugar... I figured I could try it for a week. Knowing the last time I quit drinking I replaced it with bowls of ice cream. I decided sugar was army drug. Chances are it’s both. What I learned is water and fruit got me thru. My mocktail is seltzer lime and pomegranate juice. My frig will always have cut up melon. And protein gave me energy... my dogs attitude and shear joy at having leashes out is my inspiration. Heck a piece of chocolate or a spoon full of ice cream will always be around in an emergency kit. Find what works for and your body.

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