Thursday 7 December 2017

What I've Learned After 1000 Days Alcohol Free

It's been more than one thousand days since I had a glass of wine.


I didn't have a dramatic rock bottom moment one thousand days ago. I didn't wake up in a gutter, or in someone else's bed, or crash the car when drunk. Thank goodness.

It was more like the painfully slow break up of a serious relationship. Like having to face up to the fact that the man I'd turned to whenever I was in trouble, whenever I wanted to have fun, whenever I wanted to just chill, was no good for me any more.

I had to leave him. Throw him out. Pour him down the sink.

By this point, I was drinking a bottle of wine a day, more at weekends. As a result, I was overweight, miserable and stuck in a rut.

Again, it wasn't dramatic drinking. I rarely appeared drunk, or got into trouble. Rather worryingly, a bottle of wine disappeared rather easily....

This was not my first attempt at dealing with my alcohol problem, obviously. I'd spent weeks, months, years even, looking for an alternative, trying endless ways of cutting down, of 'moderating.'

But it was all exhausting. And every attempt (much like trying to crash diet) ended, eventually, in failure. Back to where I started, if not more so.

So, finally I realised that there was no alternative but to pack it in altogether.

That prospect was, frankly, terrifying. But I resigned myself to the fact that my party days were over and that from now on I had to be a good girl. I knew I would feel proud of myself, but - obviously - I wasn't going to have any fun any more. Life, as I'd known it, was over.

But here's what I've discovered one thousand days later:

Life, as I knew it, was over. But the new life I've discovered is WAY BETTER, better in a myriad of different ways.

First off, there was all the physical stuff.

Stopping drinking changed the way I look. Some changes came immediately - like losing the puffy face and the bloodshot eyes, some took longer, like losing all the excess weight.

Within the first year without booze I'd lost two stone (28 pounds), and I've remained consistently at my ideal weight ever since, without any effort.

Also, I may be one thousand days older, but I actually look younger. I have better skin, clearer eyes, bouncier hair and oodles more energy.

Next time you're at a party, check out the most fresh-faced person in the room, not the one with the fake, waxy, botoxed face, but the one with the natural looking glow. I bet they're not drinking booze.

When you drink, you lose your ability to listen to your body. You can't tell when you're genuinely hungry and need to eat, or when you're just craving carbs because you're hungover. When your body is dehydrated and is trying to tell you you're thirsty, you drink alcohol - a diuretic.

Now, I eat when I'm hungry, and rehydrate when I'm thirsty. Simples.

And one of the biggest physical changes is being able to sleep. 

I was a terrible insomniac for years. I blamed stress. I used to fall asleep, no problem, but I'd wake up at about 3am, tossing and turning, and be totally unable to get back to sleep until just before the alarm went off.

Lack of sleep affects everything. It makes it difficult to function at your best short term, and, longer term, has a huge impact on your mental and physical health.

Now, I sleep like a baby. And I'm a morning person! Who knew? I bounce out of bed like the Duracell bunny, all ready to take on the day.

But quitting alcohol hasn't just changed me physically.

When I was drinking, my moods were all over the place. I'd veer from euphoric to depressed, then back again, regularly.

Now I'm zen. Ok, perhaps not completely zen - I can still be a nutter from time to time, but everything is relative.

I used to feel anxious much of the time. I thought that alcohol helped, that it dampened down the anxiety. It was only once I quit that I realised it was the alcohol that was causing the anxiety in the first place. My medicine was actually my poison.

But the biggest change of all, the one that rolls out gradually over the months and years after you quit, is what's happened to my life.

You see, I drank to take the edges off life, to blur all the hard bits. What I hadn't realised is that I was blurring all the good bits too.

When I stopped drinking, I had to learn to deal with everything life threw at me raw. Initially it was a terrible shock. It was hard. 

But, once I got used to it, once I showed myself what I could do and how naturally brave I am, I felt like a SUPERHERO. I realised that I could conquer anything.

Not only did I find my superpower, but I rediscovered all the energy and enthusiasm for life that I had when I was much younger, before all the self-medication numbed it all.

And, without the booze anaethetising my brain constantly, my synapses started firing and I re-discovered creative abilities that I'd thought I'd just grown out of.

My horizons have broadened and my life has just expanded. It feels like a brand new start.

My not drinking has changed my relationships with other people too. I'm a much better mother, a better wife and a better friend.

Admittedly, some of my friends have taken it rather hard, mainly the ones that drink the most themselves. I'm still often asked when I'm going to 'fall off the waggon' and join in again.

But the truth is, I don't need to. Because I've discovered that parties can be just as much fun without the booze - more so, because you can remember them. 

A bad party is still a bad party, drunk or sober, and spending hours at a party which is only about drinking when you don't drink is a little boring. But the result of that is that I've become way more inventive about the ways in which I socialise.

I meet friends for long, rambling walks with dogs. I go to the theatre and concerts. I've bought back party games to dinner and lunch parties, and involve the children as well. I do galleries and exhibitions, trips and outings.

I've discovered that socialising is about shared experiences, varied experiences, not just getting pissed together, and that's deepened and strengthened my relationships as well as making life much richer and more interesting.

Plus, I've got more money to spend on all that stuff, now I'm not spending it all on expensive vino.

So if you're thinking about quitting booze, or you've recently quit and you're still scared that it's going to completely change your life... will. It will change everything. But for the better.

If you'd like to find out more, you can read my book - The Sober Diaries. Click here to go to my Amazon Page if you are in the UK, here if you're in the USA, here if you're in Australia. You can read the first three chapters for free by using the 'look inside' feature!

Love to you all,

SM x


  1. I always feel better and more optimistic after reading your blog. Almost day 100 for me. No weight loss yet but that doesn’t bother me much (am a little disappointed though). I feel really good most of the time. Sometimes it’s hard because I have to learn to deal with dissapointments and other stuff that live throws at me sober. But I can do it.

    1. Yay Stokkie! Let us know when you get to 100 so we can celebrate with you!!! Don’t worry about the weight - it often doesn’t happen until after 100 days or so - certainly that was the case for me. You CAN do it - you’ve done the hard bit already, you only have the good bits to come! Xxx

    2. Saw your comment too late. Day 102 today ðŸĪŠ. Thanks for your kinds words though!!

  2. I read your post and realized I'd stopped counting alcohol-free days! I have experienced all of the benefits you described -- even started horseback riding again at age 49. And for the record, I counted, and I'm at 540 days. I am infinitely happier without the wine, and encourage everyone reading your blog to stick with it.

    1. Awesome! That’s for posting and huge congrats on 540 days! Xxx

  3. Congratulations on reaching 1,000 days wine free, an awesome achievement. I just counted and I’m at 698 days and feeling infinitely better in all the ways you describe so well. Thanks for putting into words, once again, what I can't. x

    1. Hello lovely DJ! Huge congrats on 698!!! Hugs to you ❤️

  4. Wow 1000 days! That’s amazing!!! Total inspiration xxxxxx

  5. I could have written that exact post about myself. But not as eloquently! Feel exactly the same after my 20 months sober. Great post as always

  6. 1000 Congratulations!! 15 months here and as you so rightly say ... It just gets better and better :-)

    1. 15 months is such a huge achievement, at it will KEEP getting better ❤️

  7. A 1000 days!! Fantastic! The obstacles all firmly squished and the field of bunnies and wild flowers truly alive and flourishing! Fabulous! Well done SM 🐇 🌷 xx

    1. The bunnies are a little cold and soggy here in London, but happy nonetheless! Xxx

  8. Inspiring, just inspiring!! Have enjoyed your journey, which has helped mine, thank you.

  9. Many congrats on 1000 days!

  10. Huge congrats SM. We'll have so much to chat about when I finally get back to "Ol Blighty...xoxo

    1. Certainly will! When are you coming??? Can’t wait xxx

  11. Fantastic post. Can’t wait for your book!

  12. Love reading your posts, truly inspiring. I’m just 53 days; previously 3 years, 2 Dry Januarys, 2 Lents ( and a partridge in a pear tree), but this time, thanks to showing me a reflection of myself, dry for for good.

  13. I just finished reading your book! I loved it. Yesterday was day 0 and today is day 1. I am very hopeful. My only regret is that I finished your book :( So I decided to reread it every day corresponding to your first day. Thank you so much xoxox

  14. Love your blog! I checked it out after reading the feature in Woman and Home magazine, and the coincidental thing is: I have stopped drinking too. I too have not hit any major rock bottom, but I was just finding the weekend habit totally unsatisfying. It would usually lead to me and my husband fighting, or me getting grumpy with my son. Not good. Also, it interferes with sleep. So I am trying without any booze. And so far, I feel fantastic.

  15. I am 11 weeks AF tomorrow 😁 After many many failed attempts in the past, I just know now that this time it’s different. I put much of this down to Clare and her ‘The Sober Diaries’ having listened to it on audible, and thinking ‘how ever will I survive without my daily dose when it ends’ The solution being ‘ I’ll listen to it all over again! And again and again! (Which I am doing and will continue to do until I feel able to stand on my own two feet!) Although a great deal older and with grandchildren now of my own, I am able to relate to so much of Clare’s story. Each day I will have a chuckle and a good laugh at her sense of humour beautifully written and so well narrated by Karen Cass. Thank you so much Clare you will forever be my inspiration and life saver! xxx

  16. Today is day 80 for me, and I thank Clare from the bottom of my heart for her hilarious inspiration! I read your book on days 2 and 3, and now I refer back to your blog whenever I need additional inspiration. Because of Clare I didn't worry when I indulged myself with sugary treats during the first month AF. That craving has subsided as well, and life continues to improve. I find myself belly laughing out loud more than I EVER remember! Thank you for being open and honest with those of us who decided to go AF . . . there will be a special room in heaven for you (although I hope you won't need it for a VERY long time!).

  17. Dear Clare, only day four for me but I feel armed and ready for 'the obsticle course' thanks to your book. I read and re-read it, I love the joy and humor you transport through it and, yes, the hope. Thank you, Clare.