Folk Artist Gone T-Total... so how exactly does that work?

On Monday the 20th June 2016 myself and husbandface (Rob) made a life changing decision... We went T-Total. As I write this today, it has been 212 days 20 hours, 1 minute and 42 seconds... and yes, we're still counting ;)

What made us decide to go T-Total?

Having decided to throw ourselves in to the music full time we had been touring for most of 2015 and by 2016 and were getting very used to life on the road. Combined with all the admin, album and release work, Rob's web design business and the joys of parenting and home life things had completely run away with us. Before we knew it we found ourselves having a very awkward conversation where we had to admit some home truths.

Rob and I gained a combined total of 4 and a half stone, my complexion was awful, and my IBS a constant struggle. We were not sleeping well and really struggling with mornings, both constantly shattered and stressed, unproductive and counting the hours down until beer o'clock. We were spending a huge amount of money we didn't have and not thinking twice about getting though a few bottles of wine, a few beers and a few glasses gin and tonic in an evening. Even on a 'good evening' we'd have a bottle of wine and a few beers... or just a few beers and half a dozen G&T's...

Eventually it dawned on us that we couldn't remember the last 'dry night' that we'd had.

What if? What if I couldn't stop? We had repeatedly talked about cutting down so much over that year; we obviously both knew we were in desperate need of change... but it never happened...

We'd say "we'll only drink on weekends" - but found we worked most weekends so would drink at weekends and then when the week days came, we'd say "well, we didn't get a weekend, so this is our weekend" and that plan would evaporate.

We tried "no drink in the house" - only to realize we were out so much, we didn't need it in the house and we just went to the pub on nights that we were at home which tripled the cost!

We did the "special occasions, celebrations, anniversary's and with friends" - well, If you're creative enough... this is easily an every day occurrence! We are constantly in the company of friends or celebrating a good gig or raising a toast to an award, a specific radio play, a family members promotion...

I came to the conclusion the only way was to cut it out completely. People found this very amusing... apparently I like my drink!!!

It's funny how different we all are. I simply can't do moderation, but if you remove the option all together then I can do that. There have been hard times. Big celebrations, evenings where I'm desperately tired and can't switch off, difficult days where the kids have wound me up and left me wanting to escape, sleep deprivation (at first) where I just could not wind down. And gigs were really hard! That post gig come down where you are wired and racing... peer pressure to celebrate or join in and then the big 'C' word.... Christmas! The first few weddings were awkward too.

How did we do it?

One day at a time. Once we had made the decision, we both promised each other we would be strong. I have had to catch Rob and he has had to catch me. Every now and then we have had to catch ourselves as we start trying to convince the other that we can do moderation now and after wavering, admit to the wobble, remind ourselves why we are doing this and carry on.

I went one step further as I wanted to set myself up for success, I had hypnotherapy which I am convinced has made a huge difference. We did not throw away our alcohol. We realized that if it was to be a life decision that we would have to get used to being around it. We still have a bottle of gin on the shelve. Untouched. We still go to boozy places. We did tell all our family and friends, some more supportive than others at first but after a few months, once they saw we meant business, they all saw the good in us for it and not one has tried to deter us.

Yes, it is socially weird, but you'd be amazed how many others come out of the woodwork if you are open about it. One of the magic moments for me was realizing that no one actually notices what is in your glass, only you! Gin and water look the same... and even if they didn't, who's looking? We have found lots of alternatives and I still drink lots of tonic water, just with elderflower instead.

So, has it worked?

The results have been fantastic in so many ways. We have lost almost all that we had gained in weight, we are both sleeping far batter than before and have far more energy, IBS is almost unheard of now and my complexion is so much better. There has been a huge increase in productivity and we no longer feel annoyed when one of us has to do the driving! We have spent more time with the kids and we have saved a fortune.

Was it worth it and can we keep it up?

Absolutely. I don't want to go back now. I catch myself trying to talk myself into drinking at times... "It's been long enough, I could just have one now or only drink tonight".... but I soon realize that this is the start of a pattern and not something I want. The benefits of no drinking far outweigh the need to drink! "Sobriety is it's own reward".

That said, I've not smoked for 8 years yet there are days I have to fight hard not to smoke. I don't expect this to be easy, I guess we just have to keep reminding ourselves how much we want this.

Are we going to turn preachy and try to convert you all?

No! We've done it because it is right for us. If our example ignites something in you then great... but we are all different. Most people can do moderation, it seems that I can't. I would just say: if you want to change your drinking habits, if you want to do this but don't think you can... then you can.

If I can... anyone can! Between you and me, I'm not really sure Rob needed the extreme measure in the way that I did. I think he's better with moderation but I'm eternally grateful to him for doing this with me. If you have someone who can join you then I would highly recommend journeying it together.

Posted by Ange Hardy on January 19th 2017

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