Sometimes the simplest things are the best.
I find that walking is an invaluable sober tool. For a whole host of reasons. Here are five of them:
1. It has no booze associations
However much of a hardened drinker you are/were it is unlikely that you used to go for a walk with a glass of Chardonnay in hand.
(In my case, walking was one of the few occasions when I wouldn't have a glass of wine nearby).
That's why it's a perfect activity around wine o'clock, when you really, really want a drink. Just go. Walk out the door. (I'm channelling my inner Gloria Gaynor here).
Get away from the fridge, the wine rack, the irritations of home and walk. Walk until you feel better.
(N.B. Remember to plan a route that does not go past your favourite pub or bottle shop).
2. It's a natural drug.
We enthusiastic imbibers rather like our drugs, our highs. And walking is a natural high. It releases serotonin which boosts your mood.
Numerous studies have shown that walking helps reduce depression, anxiety and can even ward off Alzheimer's.
3. It can be social
I avoided parties for a while. But I'm a sociable person. I wouldn't want an alcohol free life that turned me into a hermit.
So, even in the days when I avoided going out too much in the evenings, I would arrange to meet friends during the day for a dog walk.
I'd spend an hour of the day drinking coffee, catching up with an old friend and getting myself, and the dog, fit. That's multitasking ;-)
4. It blitzes the belly
One of the best consolation prizes for ditching the booze is losing weight, especially the dreaded wine belly (see my post: Wine Bellies Can Kill).
Walking not only burns calories and builds muscle, but it can improve your body's response to insulin which leads to reduced belly fat.
5. It reduces your risk of chronic disease
Again, there are a huge number of studies showing that walking can be a wonder drug.
It lowers your blood sugar and, therefore, your risk of diabetes, it lowers blood pressure and your risk of heart disease and stroke, and it reduces your risk of cancer - especially breast and colon cancer.
When I first had the cancer diagnosis (eight months after I quit drinking. To read my story, click here), and I knew that easiest and quickest way to blot it all out, to silence all the thoughts of death and motherless children, would be to pour a large glass of wine (and then drink the whole bottle), walking saved me.
I would take the dog out to the nearest park and then howl. Literally.
(I once bumped into a school gate Mum while doing this. It was what the children would describe as #awks).
Walking calmed my thoughts. It made me feel happier - or at least less desperate. And, crucially, it got me away from the vino.
But tonight I may just be overdoing it on the walking front.
#1 and I are doing the Moonwalk (she's only just old enough, so will be one of the youngest there).
It's a twenty six mile walk through the centre of London with thousands of other women (and some men) all decked out in decorated bras (even the men), in aid of breast cancer charities.
We've raised nearly £2,500 between us, so we've got to make it through to the end!
We set off at 10pm, and should finish at around 7am. I haven't been up all night for a very long time, and certainly not because I was walking. Wish us luck!
I'm not going to post my Moonwalk fundraising page because I'm still a little twitchy about my own anonymity, and a lot twitchy about my daughter's
However if you would like to support us, and help other women dealing with breast cancer, then please please visit my Justgiving page in support of the Haven Breast Cancer Support Centre.
Here's the link: www.justgiving.com/sober-mummy
Love SM x