January can provide the perfect excuse to reintroduce healthy choices back into our daily life after months of holiday indulging. For some, this may include cutting out alcohol.
For others, the decision to stop drinking entirely spans well beyond the Dry January initiative.
Reasons for quitting alcohol can include reaching fitness and weight loss goals to simply being a way to improve overall health. Whatever the reason, each person’s journey in cutting out alcohol is unique.
We spoke with Shona Vertue about her reasons for moderating how much she drinks as well as her tips for those who want to either cut back or go alcohol-free.
Shona’s story is also part of a larger collaboration between Healthline and the American Liver Foundation. For more information and stories about America’s relationship with alcohol, click here.
Health and wellness touch each of us differently. This is one person’s story.
Why does being conscious and mindful of the amount of alcohol you consume important to you?
I believe we should be mindful of everything that we “consume,” as it all affects the way in which our bodies and minds will respond and perform.
Alcohol, in particular, is a poison, and although it can be enjoyed in moderation, many people aren’t aware of what moderation is.
When it comes to drugs especially, the lines are often blurred about how much is too much. It’s for this reason that I strongly believe in the importance of extra attention and awareness when it comes to alcohol or anything that can be severely detrimental to your mental and physical health.
Have you ever felt pressure to drink in social settings, regardless of whether or not you’ve had a problem with alcohol?
I would have to say that a big portion of my adolescence was navigating the pressures of “teen” drinking. As an adult, even though there isn’t as much peer pressure, it’s definitely a cultural norm and, therefore, I have definitely been in situations where I either drank or felt the need to explain in detail why I wasn’t drinking.
I’m lucky enough to work in an industry where the majority of people don’t drink alcohol, so it’s easier to avoid it. As I get older, I feel less and less pressure to drink, and I feel more confident in my ability to say no to alcohol — even in situations where I might have felt pressured to drink before.
I’ve made it a part of my identity in the hope that I can also help others to feel as though they too can go out without drinking.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to either reduce their alcohol intake or quit drinking altogether?
Firstly, well done! You’ll be amazed at just how well your body can function without a constant strain on your liver.
The best advice I can give to help keep you on track is that you should aim to accompany your sobriety with another more healthy — and possibly active — hobby. This could be joining a hiking group or taking up dance classes. Whatever it is, you’ll want something that keeps your brain and body occupied during the initial stage [of reducing or quitting].
Giving up alcohol provides its own gratifying benefits. Once you get through the first three months, you’ll likely feel amazing, and that will be motivating enough to continue.
What are your tips for being at a social activity where alcohol (or the pressure to drink) is prevalent?
There are a number of tips that can help you through social situations where alcohol is present:
- Be ready for awkward moments where you have to work a little harder at conversation. Alcohol very quickly masks subtle social insecurities we may have, and it’s important to be aware that they may rise to the surface mid-conversation. Stay on track and embrace the awkwardness.
- Have a bubbling drink in your hand with lime in it. No one will know the difference, especially if they’re drunk.
- Schedule a workout with a friend the very next morning. This will serve two purposes:
- It will be a great motivator to keep you sober, because workouts are horrendous with a hangover.
- It will provide you with a quick response — and valid excuse — to anyone that hassles you about your sobriety. My go-to line is, “I’m up at 6 a.m. for a run, I can’t.”
Shona Vertue is an Australian personal trainer and yoga teacher with over 300K followers on Instagram and the third most popular yoga channel in the U.K. on YouTube. Vertue’s method, developed during her decade of teaching, combines weighted resistance training and cardio with her lifelong passion of yoga, placing just as much importance on rest and recovery as hours in the gym in the pursuit of fitness. Vertue is also the author of “The Vertue Method,” published by Yellow Kite in 2017, which includes a 28-day reset plan grounded in Vertue’s three key pillars: lift, lengthen, and nourish. The book educates people on how to become stronger, how to stretch, improve posture, increase mobility, and sculpt a beautiful and athletic body. You can find Vertue on Twitter and Instagram.