It was a hot and humid summer.
Under normal circumstances, my days would be spent joyfully teaching a few fitness classes a day. My afternoons would then be filled with solo outings that circled around drinking a few pints of beer and smoking a joint or two to “celebrate” the end of my workday. But after 30 years of service in the fitness industry, I was dismissed from my last job and was forced to change gears in nearly every area of my life. I didn’t have any other choice.
How in the world could I possibly think that my behavior was normal and acceptable in any way? How could I be a beacon of light and a positive influence for others in health and wellness and then engage in activities that go against everything that I was trying to promote? I talked the talk, but I certainly wasn’t walking the walk. I carried on this way for years and didn’t even think twice about the repercussions. And believe me, I paid a hefty price for all the years of damage I had caused to myself and others. The bottom line was, I had to change. I can’t believe what a hypocrite I used to be.
Even though I was visibly healthy on the outside, I wasn’t aware of the mayhem I was consistently creating on the inside. My drinking was something that I actually looked forward to and scheduled into my weekly routines. It sickens me that I could look at alcohol as a reward, and I convinced myself that it wasn’t creating cumulative damage inside my body. I would actually get angry if my routine was diverted in any way—and it took a long time to accept that I had a real problem.
I’ve been clean and sober since April 17, 2023. The day before, I was out taking a walk and I had every intention of smoking a joint that was already rolled in my purse. What I didn’t realize was that a friend of mine was following me and walking about 100 yards behind me in an attempt to see what I was doing. My cover was blown, and while I didn’t like being followed initially, I was convinced that it was meant to be, and it was supposed to happen this way. I can’t help wondering if I would’ve made the decision to stop my usage altogether if I hadn’t been followed.
It was in that moment that I discovered that I no longer wanted to use drugs or indulge in another drink to numb my feelings. It was time to begin the journey of honoring the real me.
I always knew that the authentic me loves to move my body every single day in some way, I truly thrive when I’m independent, I express myself diplomatically when necessary, I write on this platform so I can express myself and clear my head, and I love to meditate, stretch, and walk for miles. I also feel empowered when I perform resistance training exercises on a regular basis.
Spiritually speaking, I constantly felt like I needed more than just some words of wisdom to inspire me. I needed to reconnect with the people, places, and things that gave me a sense of self-worth without turning to a vice to get me through my tough moments.
Here are the seven things that changed for the better after only seven months of being alcohol-free:
1. I found fun in sobriety. Many people that I’ve met in the last few months have had a positive impact on me. I seem to be more at ease, especially since I no longer engage in destructive behaviors. I like being the real me, flaws and all. I don’t people please as much as I used to, so now I’m selective with whom I allow into my circle. I’ve come to realize that not everyone will like me, and that’s okay. I still enjoy myself and have a good time, wherever I am. Life is way too short to be anything but grateful.
2. I regained mental, physical, and emotional clarity. It’s refreshing to be able to take on life with a clear conscience. The improvements I’ve seen in my own behavior and well-being have been nothing short of amazing. I’m no longer reactive when stress hits me, and I’m definitely more patient and less agitated. It’s not perfect every day, but at least I’m noticing improvements in my outlook one day at a time.
3. My appetite returned to normal, and my body reaped the benefits of proper nutrition and adequate rest. For a long time, alcohol and drugs destroyed my appetite. Sometimes, I wouldn’t even feel any hunger signals. My face was gaunt, and I became lean without trying. My sleep patterns also suffered. Slowly but surely, everything returned to a steady state after giving up my vices. I feel so much healthier as a result.
4. My relationships improved. Before I gave up my old habits, I found it challenging to be kind to others. I was extremely defiant. But like everything else that took a turn for the better, so did most of my relationships with others. It’s heartwarming that others have noticed the subtle changes that have taken shape in my life. Obviously, things are working well, so I’m going to keep moving in a positive direction.
5. Self-esteem and feelings of worth have been on a steady upswing. I never felt like I truly belonged anywhere for such a long time; alcohol and drugs were never my solution. It was how I viewed myself in all of my life experiences that was the real issue. My self-esteem certainly took a hit when I was at my lowest point, and it took some time to rebuild. Positive self-talk and a good support network are always key in improving my outlook on life.
Each month that goes by, I feel more and more empowered, and I know I am on the right path. Nothing feels quite like sobriety; I have an ongoing recovery program, a reliable support system, and a renewed sense of self. There are days that I still feel some stress, as it wasn’t that long ago that I was engaging in destructive behaviors. But I am feeling stronger every day, in every way, and that’s all I can hope for.
6. I gave myself permission to have bad days. Anger was such a major issue in my life for so long when I was drinking. When I gave up all of my vices, I noticed a major shift in the way I handled stressful situations. I allowed myself to feel my emotions and practiced patience with myself when I was going through a rough patch. It certainly helps to have someone to talk to, and I found it therapeutic to open up to those I trust.
7. I feel alert and alive again. If the eyes are the windows to the soul, today you would see my vulnerability shine through. I was so afraid to be the real me seven months ago. For me, there is no better feeling than looking at myself in the mirror and seeing a reflection that I admire and respect.
I make a point of prioritizing myself first, and maintaining good health and a healthy attitude are imperative to a life well-lived.
Honestly, I feel like the obsession to drink has been lifted; I no longer see myself as the girl who can’t handle herself in times of heavy stress. What a breakthrough I’ve made. I firmly believe that my life will continue to thrive, and I will naturally evolve by leaps and bounds.
Sobriety feels incredible to me. I would never do anything to jeopardize what I have worked so hard to change. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t easy getting here. But I believe everything happens for a reason, and I’m proud of myself for coming this far in such a short time.