“The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.” –Oprah Winfrey
I was 61 years old and had been over drinking for about ten years at that point. (Truth be told there were definitely warning signs much earlier in my life, but the true overdrinking started at about the age of 50.)
I had also been relatively fit all my life (dance, hiking, backpacking), but with kids and jobs and just plain old life stuff, the last ten years had also left the door open for, ahem, shall we say, a bit of lethargy.
I started running about the same time I finally decided to do something about my drinking. It had not escaped my notice that both overdrinking and under exercising crept in concurrently.
Right off the bat I noticed similarities between my newfound running routine and my newfound attempt to gain some control over my drinking.
I had made several attempts in the recent past to start running and stop drinking, but was not terribly successful at either. My first runs were slow, I couldn’t run very far before I had to walk, I got bored, and, ultimately I quit because, surprise, I couldn’t run five miles. In this same vein, I also would cut back pretty well on my drinking for a few days, then overdrink one night and say, “Forget it. See? I can’t do this.” Yeah, I know.
For whatever reason I came to the “Aha Moment,” that I was going to change my thinking about running. Maybe it was my age, and that this was kind of a turning point in my life. I honestly don’t know to this day how my brain made the logical switch. Somehow, someway, I finally cottoned on to the fundamental action I had to take to make this my new norm, and that is I had to fully and honestly celebrate my attempt and intent. I had to focus on the fact of me donning my running clothes and shoes and stepping out the door. Everything after that was gravy. If I only walked to the end of the block and back, then I would celebrate the fact that I got my butt out the door that day. If I ran one minute and walked five, I would celebrate that.
In fact, the true difference was noticing, observing and honoring my intent. And you know what? The change in my thinking was truly liberating! My thoughts were not the heavy, dreary, dark ones of why I wouldn’t be able to run a marathon. Instead, they were light, confident, cheerful thoughts of how cool it was for me to be outside taking steps. And when my thoughts were lighter, I could run farther. Pretty cool, huh?
Needless to say, this change in thinking about running has formed my change in thinking about drinking.
It’s a lot easier to focus on and honor a single day of abstinence than to mentally haul around guilt, shame, fear and loathing of all the times I didn’t abstain. When my thoughts are lighter, I am less apt to turn to alcohol to help me carry the burdens of guilt and dread.
Honestly, the switch in mindset has been the key to success in both areas of my life: running and gaining control over alcohol.
Okay, so all’s well and good. I’ve got the old brain change thing going on, I’m tying on those cute little running shoes, getting my behind out the door, some runs are better than others, and then… and then… Something Happens.
I wreck my knee and need to take a couple of days off; I have to work 12 hour days all week and no time to run; my evening run is derailed to help my son with his homework Which he has known about for three weeks and is due tomorrow and he’s just starting it; I need one single full day in front of the laptop to get these projects done and a run just isn’t in the cards that day. Then after a few of these events get strung together, I start to slide ever so gently towards Ugh I’m Not Really a Runner and It’s Been Five Days So What’s One More. That way of thinking leads inevitably to, you guessed it, The Land of Guilt and Dread.
Same goes for abstaining. I have every intention to abstain and then…Something Happens. My friend brings me a glass of champagne from the bar at the wedding reception; my work day is so, so, so hectic and frustrating that my willpower to resist a cold gin tonic is reduced to nil; I come home to a delicious homemade lasagna that just begs for a glass of good red wine. Even if I cave to just one of these events, I can slide oh-so-quickly towards Well, I Blew It Today So Might As Well Keep Drinking. And again, you know where that path leads: The Land of Guilt and Dread.
So, how to affect a course correction before ending up the TLOGAD? Just in case it’s not obvious, refer again to Step One. Put on your running shoes, open the door, step outside and celebrate the heck out of that one step. Put down the glass, take a breath, step away from it, and give yourself a big high five. Just take that one step and then celebrate. Yahoo! This is your celebration!
Post Submitted By: HorseLover, MM Member