Dry January – how was it? | Simply Marcia


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Dry January – how was it?

So Dry January is over. I did it! A big tick and gold star to me! I can officially have a swig sip of my favourite gin!

Why the Dry January challenge?

Well … it’s a well known fact amongst my family and friends that I enjoy a drop or two of Mother’s Ruin. I’m not a daily boozer though – usually just a weekend gin indulger – I can’t bear or function with a weekday groggy head. However, December just gone, I certainly kicked back and indulged (almost every day). But by day 29, even I was at the point of ‘NO MORE!’ and made the decision to partake in Dry January (however, I did actually go on to see December’s ginathon through, right up until the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Eve, obviously).

Health
I was starting to worry that my poor liver was taking such a battering, and imagined it shrinking and recoiling back every time a gin was poured – it needed a little holiday from being permanently pickled. But also, a really good friend had just found out that she had breast cancer. Horrible. Breast Cancer Now is one of the charities being supported by Dry January this year so it felt like another super-important reason.

Finances
When my partner and I worked out how much money we spent on a) bottles of gin for a tipple or five, at home on the sofa, plus evenings at our local, it was a bit pretty shocking. Eek. Time to reign it in. The money we’ve not spent on boozing has gone towards our holidays pot (cue smug face).

Willpower
Not one of my strengths. The thing is, open-ended resolutions such as ‘I’m going to get fitter and be healthier in 2018’ just don’t work for me. I’m a deadlines kind of person. So giving myself a finite amount of time to quit, give up or try something seemed much more achievable. And actually, I really wanted to prove to (mainly) myself and others that I could do it.

How was Dry January?
Actually, it wasn’t as bad as I thought – really. I mean, it wasn’t always easy, but telling EVERYBODY I knew helped massively. I had so much support. Helped no end by the fact that my partner joined me in my Dry January efforts.

I knew that Friday evenings would be the toughest for me. They’d come to mark the end of the working week and the start of the weekend – woohoo! Usually the time for me to let my hair down, head to the pub and sink a couple … So the first Friday was quite hard. In fact, we avoided the pub all that weekend. Instead, we treated ourselves to box set binging (we managed to binge-watch all 4 series of Peaky Blinders in 2 weeks – quite an achievement ha!) and homemade sparkling juice drinks and smoothies.

Once we got through that first weekend, I really felt a sense of achievement. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that it was probably my first weekend of zero alcohol for maybe 10 years (hangs head in shame), so to wake up on the Monday morning (hangover free) having smashed it felt really, really good (it’s the little things init?).

Dry January Motivation
The high from having completed one week alcohol free really gave me the motivation to stick to it and see the challenge through for the whole month. We did venture to the pub on a few occasions after that to a) prove that we could go to the pub and not drink and b) because we still wanted to socialise and not hibernate for a month! We stuck to good ol’ soda water and lime or the occasional bottle of Becks Blue (which actually, tastes alright – I mean I felt a bit like a student all over again, swigging from the bottle and all that – but I totally recommend).

Benefits of Dry January
Ok, I won’t lie to you, I kind of expected to feel fantastic within a week. I was expecting to look bright eyed and bushy-tailed. Instead, for most of the month actually, I still felt pretty groggy with a heavy head and was really, really tired – so I kind of felt the same as usual to be honest! Springing out of bed I was not. However, I stuck with it as the thought of all the positive health benefits for my liver kept me motivated.

Initially I really wasn’t sleeping any better than usual – in fact I had real trouble trying to fall asleep. In the last week though, I’ve definitely experienced an improvement in my sleep. I can drop off quite easily, am sleeping through until the alarm goes off and don’t feel the need for a mid-afternoon power nap.

I think I might have lost a couple of pounds too! We don’t have scales in our house so I can’t be sure but I definitely feel less bloated and waistbands are looser (hurrah). Maybe, due to the fact that I haven’t been consuming any empty alcoholic calories but also because, going hand-in-hand with boozing it up, was my late night calorie-laden, case of the monstrous munchies. And that’s just not been happening either.

My skin has always been mostly ok’ish with just the odd flare-up, however, one massive benefit of Dry January has been that my skin has been noticeably so much clearer and my eyes and face much less puffy and ‘angry’ on a Monday morning. Which has made me very happy!

What I’ve learnt from my Dry January experience
Whilst it’s not been massively life changing or transformative, Dry January for me has been a really positive experience. Not only do I feel (and hopefully look) better, but my liver is probably very, very grateful and I’ve learnt I can socialise and not drink at all.

I think the bigger challenge for me going forward will be moderation. I’ve proved I can abstain (and equally I can go all out!) but controlled, non-excessive drinking will be a new learning curve for me; to take my time properly enjoying and sipping a favourite gin (rather than necking it back).

Would I do Dry January again?
I could be persuaded to take a month off the booze again but actually, I have plans instead for mini breaks from the booze. To take it easy on a regular basis. But never say never!

Final thought: I’ve discovered I do have willpower. And I feel that maybe as well as addressing my alcohol consumption, I’ve also addressed and reset my mindset when it comes to challenges. So, I’ve set myself a further 11 monthly challenges for this year. Sugar Free February is next – wish me luck!


My 2017 round up – some of what I’ve learnt!

As 2017 draws to a close, I find myself making final Christmassy plans, catching up with family and friends, and pondering a little on what this last year as brought me. So I thought a little round up to remind myself of some of the positive things that have made 2017, for me:

Moving to Cornwall

The biggest decision made this year. My partner and I have five children between us: he has two older boys, I have three younger ones who live with us. Uprooting my three and moving us all 2 1/2 hours drive from Bath to south-east Cornwall might have seemed a little crazy but you know, sometimes, when the opportunity strikes, you have to grab it and just do it. There was a lot of soul-searching, head-scratching, umm-ing and ahh-ing of course – the biggest worry I had was how this move would affect my children. But kids are resilient; there have been tough times of course, but, they’ve started new schools and made new friends. They still see and stay with their dad once a fortnight in Bath so those ties are still strong – and thanks to social media, they now have the best of both worlds with friends both here in Cornwall and back in Bath.

What I’ve learnt: The move has highlighted the fact that I’m a hoarder- I had too much ‘stuff’. Thankfully, the move meant scaling back and giving back to charities. I’ve also learnt that I really, really like to be away from the crazy rat-race. And that this part of Cornwall is not that far from Bath (hooray!). The novelty of doing up a new (but very old) house wears off once the Cornish sun shines and the beach calls – it’s a tough call – beach or DIY? That kids are hard work no matter where you live. And that I really, really, really love living in Cornwall – but equally, being so close to Dartmoor (my spiritual home I think).

Freelancing

I wasn’t sure how the big move would affect my freelance marketing. All my strong, client links and networks were back in Bath and Bristol. This is where most of my freelance work came from until our move. Thankfully, proving true that location is (mostly!) irrelevant when it comes to working as a freelancer I’ve a) managed to keep hold of projects and clients I was working on back in Bath and b) I’ve built up some lovely, new contacts here in Cornwall and have new clients and exciting projects taking me in to 2018.

What I’ve learnt: Communication is key. Whether that’s keeping conversations running with existing clients or networking and meeting new potential ones. And that you can’t rush or force these things – I’m all for natural chemistry! Oh, and sometimes heading to the beach to clear the cobwebs away and work stuff out! Keeping my LinkedIn profile updated and fresh has helped too.

Health

I’m very lucky; I’m not someone who thankfully suffers from illness very often. However, this move has made me recognise that as I get older, I want to become stronger and do what I can to live a happy and healthy life for as long as possible – it must be the sea air! This year I’ve upped my exercise game. Not quite a runner, I would class myself as someone on the cusp of super-fast walking/jogging – is that a thing? Point is, come rain or shine, uphill and down dell, I’ve been out there – my heart rate has been seriously pumping and working hard this year, and as a result I’m more toned and without a shadow of a doubt, so much fitter. I’m also a fan of kayaking – it’s perfect for all the family, it brings you so much closer to nature, it’s great for your core muscles and it’s easy! It’s also been a year of ‘in with the veg’ and ‘out with the meat’. I’m not quite ready to go full vegetarian (pescatarian is more likely!) but we’ve certainly had far more meat-free days than carnivorous ones. If you fancy joining me, Meat Free Mondays have some brilliant advice and recipes.

What I’ve learnt:
I’m really, really not a naturally sporty kind of person and didn’t think I could move as fast as I can – but with support and encouragement (and gentle nagging from other half when all I really want to do is slouch on the sofa with a bar of galaxy and a good box set, rather than head out in the torrential rain and fast walk up that bloody hill again) – I’ve made massive progress . I’ve also discovered a genuine love of lentils and legumes – my meat free substitutes.

Environment

Coming from a family of small holders and grow-your-own’ers, nature and the environment is a massive part of my life. Living in this part of the world, close to both the glorious beaches and breathtaking moors has brought us even closer to nature. Being able to spend so much time this summer literally touring the Cornish coastline, swimming, rock pooling and kayaking has been wonderful. And which is why, watching the recent Blue Planet 2 series has had a massive impact on me. We’re a family of re-users and recycle’ers but had no idea the scale of the plastics pollution of our oceans. It’s such a huge and dreadful problem but there are loads of brilliant initiatives we can all be a part of such as Surfers Against Sewage and One Less Bottle. Also this year we acquired a new allotment which a) I love, b) don’t quite know where to start with, but c) am determined to fill with edible plants for us, a wildlife haven for insects and small creatures and a penned off space for our lovely rescue hens!

What I’ve learnt
Ok, this is blindingly obvious I know, but we really do only have one planet. One environment. If a species becomes extinct, that’s it – game over for that species. It’s surely our duty to look after all creatures and all environments on this amazing planet. More than anything, it’s left me feeling passionate about doing my bit. That means buying locally, massively reducing our plastic consumption in this family, joining petitions and lobby’s, joining in with local beach cleans. That also means looking after and nurturing our small patch of land to help preserve it and the insects and creatures that visit it for future generations.

Food (and more importantly, gin!)

I’ve always loved ‘growing my own’ and having grown up in the era of ‘The Good Life’ and with parents who ran a small holding, it can come as no surprise to learn that food is a genuine source of joy for me. From keeping bees and hens to growing window sill herbs or hours spent on my allotment, I’m still a massive fan of the GYO movement. Life though, has been pretty hectic since our move to Cornwall – so we’ve kid of cheated and our GYO produce has come in the guise of Tamar Valley Grow Local whose philosophy is ‘Grow, Share, Cook’- if you can’t grow your own then buy and support local businesses who do! We like think we’re also doing our bit for local gin distilleries here in Cornwall too! It’s my tipple of choice and thankfully we’re lucky that there are some brilliant independent distilleries here which we’re gradually working our way around …

What I’ve learnt
Beside the fact that gin is my thing (nothing new!), supporting local farmers, small holders and independent producers via local schemes such as Tamar Grow Local is the next best thing to growing your own. It’s also great for the local economy and the environment. My intention next year is to combine a bit of home growing with local produce purchasing … first things first though – I need to get my house (allotment!) in order …


September Gurls

Back in the early 70’s (a long, long time ago), the rock band Big Star summed up this time of the year in their ‘September Gurls’ single with the line ‘September Girls do so much’. And it’s so true. September is the craziest time of year with lots of new starts; in fact, for me, the whole back-to-school shenanigans kicks off in me (every year without fail) a proper feeling of nostalgia: think new pencil case, new pencils and pens, new school bag, new coat, new timetable to get stuck in to (I was a complete ‘keener’) and couldn’t wait to get back to school after the six-week break – true!

What I love about September is the feeling of change in the air. It’s not just about being back to school, back to work, back to the early alarm bell ringing (wtf!), back to crazy logistics and back to tearing hair out and screaming like a banshee at 7.44 am as youngest two fight on the back seat of the car EVERY morning en route to school … Nope, it’s the change of seasons – yay!

To some, that means new Autumn/Winter collections hit the shops and whilst I might browsette some of the fashion mags telling me what colours are in or out and what length skirt I should be wearing, the reality is that this time of year, all my fave colours are On Trend anyway (think sludgy, burnt, off-colour colours) which means I’m in luck as my fave (and frankly only affordable option right now) shop, H&M, will most definitely deliver the goods – hooray!

Once I’ve snuck a few olivey, khaki, browny, grey, woolly and cosy items in to the back of my wardrobe, I turn my attention to the other thing I love about September: reinvention. For me, more than the obligatory January resolutions, September always feels like a good time to start new things (it’s to do with the back to school thing). Maybe healthy eating, more exercise, sorting out finances … I’ve already started in fact. Think:

– finding out about local yoga classes (I WILL be taut, and firm and be able to wear leggings on the school run)
– working out when I WILL go blackberry picking and make enough crumbles to last all winter
– sterilising bottles and bulk gin-buying in the pursuit of the perfect sloe gin (hand-picked by moi of course in all that spare time I’ve got)
– declaring all five of us WILL eat dinner together every night and we WILL all eat the same meal (there will be no more fussy eaters in this house…)
– deluding myself that there will be no homework-related argument’s ever again – I’ve made a deal with the kids so surely nothing can go wrong – they’ve all agreed to come in straight from school and crack on with homework at the kitchen table whilst I lovingly create supper from scratch … Sounds idyllic.

In reality, what will happen is that all possible yoga classes will clash with my work/kid’s school/club commitments (shame); blackberry picking will be put on hold/forgotten and once remembered will be of the super-slim-pickings variety; most of the gin will be consumed before the sloes are added; the one-meal-for-all dinner plan will quickly be replaced by the much-used line (in our house) “who wants what?” and well, homework … where’s that gin?

However, it’s the thought that counts? I still love September. It’s the promise of an Indian summer, harvest foods, warming casseroles, log fires, long walks, cosying up and (usually) great TV! Bling on the Strictly 🙂

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The end of the ‘working’ week – hooray – you’ve made it …

… now all mummy needs is (any one of the following):

A large (home-poured) g&t

a 1L bottle of Gordon’s (love Gordon!) is currently on offer at the good ol’ Co-Op for £19.00
or
a 1L bottle of Bombay Dry London is £17 – track it down at your local Sainsbury’s 🙂
or
whip along to Waitrose to grab a 1L bottle of Bombay Sapphire (love!) for only £17.70!!

A glass (or more – probably!) of bubbly, fizzy stuff

Sainsbury’s have an offer on their Edizione 789 Di Mondelli Prosecco 75cl (it’s super-yum) – it’s £6.75 (normally £10) – sounds like a deal-breaker to me!
or
hot-foot it to Mr Tesco and grab a chilled bottle of Plaza Centro Prosecco 75cl for £6.50 a bottle.
or
amble (as in rush!) over to your nearest Asda and stock up on their Extra Special Prosecco – it’s another £6.50 bottle!

Decisions … (basically, which supermarket is closest …).

Happy Friday 🙂 x