If wine were a donut …

If wine were a donut …

I don’t know about you but donuts are not something I buy myself. I don’t crave them. I don’t look at them in a shop and think ‘oooo, I’d love a donut’ or eat my dinner and then think ‘a donut would finish that off nicely’.

In fact, the only time I ever ate donuts or bought donuts, was for birthdays in the large organisations I worked at. Donuts were the ‘go to’ cake because they were cheap and plentiful but they also have an awful reputation; donuts are fattening and donuts are the devil.

Most slimming clubs I’ve attended (and there’s been quite a few) have continued the ‘donuts are bad’ theme. I’ve often heard the consultants say ‘think of it like a donut’ and the trembling dieter, ashamed and a pound heavier, would immediately resort to bingeing lettuce.

When you first start a diet, enthusiasm is high. There you are, measuring out muesli and counting cashews; the ‘dash’ of milk in your tea being considered like your life depended on it. ‘Would you like a biscuit with that Mavis?’ .. ‘oh I couldn’t possibly, Vera, I’ve got weigh in in 5 days time but thank you’.

Until Friday night comes and it’s time for a treat. It’s time to let loose. It’s time to reward yourself for all that counting and measuring. It’s time to splash the syns/points/donuts like you’ve never splashed before.

And so you pop to the shop and you buy yourself a nice bottle of wine, which is the equivalent of approximately 3 donuts.

Let’s pause here for a minute and transform wine into a donut.

So on week 1 of your diet, after measuring anything that goes near your mouth for several days, you pop to the shop and you buy yourself 3 donuts. Imagine.

And if we’re being really honest, you probably not just pick up 3 donuts, it’s probably more like 6. That’s right. You stop and pick up a 6 pack of donuts.

Then, armed with your ‘treat’, you return home and after eating a carefully calculated dinner, you crack open the wine (donuts) and binge with gay abandon, after all you deserve it right?

And let’s be really really honest. The wine (donut) habit is highly unlikely to occur just one time in a week; it’s probably a few times a week. Which means 2 or 3 BAGS of donuts a week. Every week.

And we wonder why we get fat, stay fat, get fatter and become disillusioned with trying to lose weight.

I never ‘counted’ wine. Never. My view was that it was liquid and couldn’t possibly ‘stick’, unlike a donut which would attach itself straight to my already lardy arse. Wine was a treat. Wine was deserved. If I lost weight, I drank a bottle. If I put on weight, I drank 2. ‘There you go stupid body, that’ll learn ya’.

I never saw the correlation that it was possibly the wine (and the hangover food) that was making me fat. I never saw wine as a donut.

Isn’t it strange that while slimming clubs happily destroy the reputation of a donut, they strangely promote drinking alcohol like it’s a necessity to staying alive? You rarely hear ‘save your points/syns for a donut’. Hell no. But save your points/syns for beverage? Of course!

My dream is that slimming clubs stop promoting alcohol as something acceptable on a calorie controlled diet but that’s as likely to happen as me winning the lottery.

And I don’t play the lottery.

Written by Sober Fish




Going back to my roots

Going back to my roots

When I came up to London yesterday, I knew I had a couple of hours to kill between going to the hairdresser & taking my 97 year old grandad to a prearranged hospital appointment. I also needed to fit my walking in but had no idea where I was going to go.

Lightbulb moment ‘I know, I’ll practice using my gut’.

I had about 3 hours before the hospital appointment on the other side of London so thought I’d head that way so not to be late. As I was driving, I saw a sign for where I was born & brought up in North London so decided to go back to my roots and take a wander round.

I arrived at my old town that we left when I was 16 & recognised nothing. It felt weird, looking for something, anything to jog my memory. Suddenly, I saw a road name I recognised & drove down it. Still nothing. Until I got to the end and it was like my memories just unfolded before me. There was the church and the bus stop and the bend in the road leading up to where I used to live. Ironically, I also remembered that I’d actually had a dream about the exact same spot just a couple of days before. Coincidence?

I followed the road up towards my old house, memories flooding back of friends I’m no longer in touch with & boys who broke my heart & school & snow & my first job & Christmas & a happy time before alcohol came along.

It was quite emotional but I’m not really sure why. Nostalgia I guess. I was very conscious that my memory had distorted things beyond recognition when actually lots of things like hills & houses & shops & stations hadn’t really changed.

As I left my old town and drove towards my grandads, I saw even more places I recognised .. schools & a memorial & a hotel & the photography shop where we’d had our professional baby photos taken in the late 70’s! Obviously a successful business! I drove past the hospital I was born and then into the countryside where the tears started to flow.

Like I say, I’m not really sure what I was crying about. A build up of stuff I guess but it came out and that was ok.

When I got to my grandads care home, it was obvious he had deteriorated massively since I last saw him. He was frail, weak, mumbling gibberish & in my opinion, in no fit state for a trip to the hospital. But he has a pace maker which needed to be checked so off we went.

My heart was breaking in the car. He’s deaf, has dementia, has no idea what’s going on and can’t communicate. It was getting dark and he was probably frightened. The traffic was heavy and I knew we had a mission ahead when we got to the enormous hospital in Hertfordshire. Parking was always a nightmare but again, I was using the power of my mind, willing for there to be a space near where I needed to be.

As I turned into the car park, there was a space. I was overjoyed. This made my life a whole lot easier and I quickly parked. But, as I did, I heard the most awful noise next to me and turned to see my grandad had been sick literally everywhere.

I panicked. What the hell was I supposed to do? Luckily, I guess, he didn’t have a clue. I leaped out of the car to his side and grabbed some wipes I handily kept in the glove box and started the clean up operation.

In the midst of the nightmare, something just took over me to get the job done. It was cold, he was freezing, it was dark, we had to get into the hospital and the car was in a state. I bundled him into a wheelchair, wrapped him in my shawl and got inside. There, I just lost it. It was so upsetting and I found myself starting to think about having a cigarette. Just something to take away the awfulness of the whole situation. The planning in my head started. ‘After I drop him off, I’ll just go to Tesco’s to get some cleaning products and buy a packet of 10. I’ll only have one. No one will know.’

But similarly to alcohol, I know I won’t have one. And I know no one will know. But I will know. And that is enough.

Eventually, I got my grandad safely back to the home and knew that was probably the last time I will see him. I got back into my foul smelling car and drove away sobbing. Life really is so bloody cruel sometimes.

I drove to Tesco’s, still battling inside. I was aware the battle was more about cigarettes rather than a large glass of Sauvignon but to be honest, either would’ve done. Instead, I bought a massive packet of Mini Eggs & did the lot. Boom. The craving was gone.

Emotionally drained and exhausted, I finally arrived at my friends last night, my happy hair photo a distant memory. So do redheads have more fun? The jury is definitely out but they definitely have more drama for sure.


Clearing Up The Crap

Clearing Up The Crap

Imagine you are a computer. 

Then imagine all of the things you have in your life are open pages on your computer screen, for example work, family, relationships, thoughts, emotions, habits, etc. 

Then think of what happens to your computer when too many screens are open at the same time. It is slow, sluggish and doesn’t work to its full capacity. See where I’m going with this?

Is it any wonder that in the modern world we get overloaded and come unstuck, using drugs and alcohol to escape into a world where none of that matters anymore??

Behind the Soberfish scenes, I’ve been attending sessions with Becki Houlston, a life coach based in sunny Bournemouth. Becki uses a system which involves identifying what exactly is slowing us down, ‘clearing’ those open screens running in the background and uses how the nervous system responds to gauge when the screens are cleared. 

You could be forgiven for thinking ‘oh she’s definitely lost it now’ and ‘not more mumbo jumbo’ but I believe this shizzle really works. 

Our sessions began with a fairly informal chat about my life in general. I found Becki really easy to talk to and explained about the past year, about past relationships, about where my life is at right now and where I plan to be in the future. I had also completed some forms before the first session so Becki had an idea of what I was looking to achieve. 

Several things became obvious quite quickly. 

One, I tend to feel uncomfortable and get defensive if I don’t feel ‘safe’. We discussed my forthcoming trip to Thailand and I was explaining how I was getting freaked out about whether to take a rucksack or a suitcase or which hotel to stay in or where to go. Becki made me see that I need to find the middle ground that made me feel safe/comfortable about my decisions rather than obsessing about the minor details and that I should be getting excited about my trip rather than working myself into a frenzy!

Two, that despite being fairly goal orientated, I wasn’t working towards any particular life goals. I explained that I had worked towards my Soberversary during 2017 and not really focused on anything beyond that. Becki suggested it was now time to make some goals to encourage what I wanted to come into my life rather than focusing on what I didn’t want. 

And three, my speciality, overthinking. I’ve always been the same, analysing a situation beyond recognition and coming to my own, (often wrong) conclusions about what other people are going to think, say or do. Overthinking is an exhausting trait and clouds everything in its path. It was time to shut it down.

Becki asked me to stand in front of her, arms straight by my side but relaxed, and with my eyes shut, repeat ‘I am weakened by overthinking’. The ever cynical me expected to feel nothing but instead I felt my body gently sway backwards. The movement was very subtle but it was there. I then repeated the sentence, feeling the sway again. For me, the sway backwards indicated ‘weak’ and the idea is to keep repeating ‘I am weakened by overthinking’ until the sway switched direction to forward and therefore ‘cleared the screen’.

As the procedure is being completed, Becki is watching how the nervous system responds to the commands as the movements can be very slight. They can also be very exaggerated depending on the size of the issue and some people have been known to fall over! The larger the issue, the harder it is to clear. Overthinking dominated most of my first session and probably needs shutting down on a fairly regular basis! 

So how do I feel now? Well, I must say I do feel more focused on what is important and I do feel lighter after a session. As an impatient person, I expect immediate results but understand this isn’t always possible. Perhaps impatience needs to be my next ‘screen’ to be cleared?!

I will be returning to Becki for more ‘clearing’ in the New Year and highly recommend her services. Becki can offer one to one sessions either in person, on the phone or via Skype, so distance is not a problem. This technique can be used on many different issues .. if other techniques haven’t worked for you, why not give this a go? 




The Sober Fish Top Tips for A Dry January

The absolute key to success is meticulous planning. Personally, I avoided situations where there was going to be copious amounts of alcohol. If you were on a diet, you wouldn’t hang out in McDonald’s would you?

Download podcasts .. I particularly enjoyed the Recovery Elevator (I’m interviewed on episode 125) or The Alcohol & Addiction podcast. It really helped me to listen to other people’s stories.

Buy treats. We just lurve rewarding ourselves! Giving up one thing will mean replacing it with something else. That’s the way we are made. My vices have swung between Elderflower cordial to Curly Wurlies to Magnums. Yes, I know they’re full of sugar but I gave up drinking & smoking at the same time & I’m still losing weight so WHATEVS.

Join online groups such as Club Soda Together or Alcohol Explained. These groups have been my lifelines. Lots of people just like YOU with a common goal in mind. Brilliant!

Buy your favourite alcohol free tipple. Drink it in a wine glass if it makes you feel better. If you have to drink alcohol free wine & beer, do that. If that triggers you, don’t do that. Do what is good for YOU! Get some books. There’s hundreds out there to help you. Flood your mind with sober thoughts.

Recognise your trigger times and arrange to do something. If your trigger time is Friday night, go to the cinema & eat popcorn. If it’s Sunday evening, go out for a walk. You have to fill trigger time with something else or the nagging thought will win.

You cannot do the same things & expect different results. If you expect sit in front of the tv night after night & not crave a drink, you will be disappointed. Soberdom is not just about not drinking. It is about changing your lifestyle, breaking a habit, doing something different. Try writing down how you feel, or calling a friend and talking about it or join online discussions. You have to change YOU if you want to succeed.

Wishing you all the luck in the world!


RE 125: Focus on the Action and Not the Results

One of the most powerful episodes I listened to http://www.needyhelper.com/the-alcohol-addiction-podcast-episode-52-kim-sandhu-on-his-addiction-mental-illness-and-recovery




Why change a habit of a lifetime?

Why change a habit of a lifetime?

Sometimes, I feel like Sobriety is a bit of a cult, a bit like a religion, a bit like a secret club that until you truly embrace it, you can’t quite understand it. 

Sobriety has literally given me my life back. Recently, several people have asked me whether now that I’ve reached a year off the sauce, I could just ‘have the one’ or whether I’ve considered moderation? The categoric answer is no.

If I had been in an abusive relationship and escaped, would you ask me if I was ready to return? 

If I was a smoker and had given up, would you ask me if I felt ready to have ‘just the one’?

If I was a heroin addict, would you ask me if it was time to shoot up?

I have never claimed to be addicted to alcohol however I see my relationship with it as very unhealthy & with symptoms not dissimilar to bulimia. I rarely had ‘just the one’ unless it was a bottle. I was often sick the following day. All day. Alcohol made me emotional, self loathing, anxious, do stupid things, make stupid decisions, sleep less, eat more. You know the score. I have no desire whatsoever to go back to that. 

Last Christmas was tough because Christmas is mostly about repetition. Most years, Christmas follows the same blueprint as does the alcohol consumed. At no other time of the year would I drink Bucks Fizz or Port or Baileys but for one day of the year, in it all went. 

This year, because I already had a sober Christmas in the bag, it was much easier because my Christmas blueprint has already started to change from years gone by. With a years sobriety behind me, I can honestly say I didn’t think about alcohol at all. I don’t miss Bucks Fizz or wine or after dinner drinks .. or the hangover.

It is hard changing a habit of a lifetime. But it’s not impossible. When you were 5, you weren’t getting hammered on Christmas Day so you need to go back to that! Children are the ones who get the most joy out of Christmas and they’re sober .. we all need to go back to our roots. 

If you are questioning your drinking habits or saying the immortal words ‘I’m never drinking again’, why not try and make that true? I can honestly say it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. Take control. Get your life back. Be brave. Get sober.