Using apps, building habits
London, 05th October 2022
Writing this at around 9.20am today, checked my counter I have not been drinking for 37 days, 9 hours, 19 minutes and 14 seconds. Drinking. Tired thinking, putting on weight, missing the morning, maybe the day. I didn’t want that, so instead I chose to get up at 6am, and go to the gym. Feel the cool air. I wrote a plan, things change but it’s necessary to have a direction, written down. I wanted to go this way, create a better habit, be better. It helped being in hospital, gave me pause. So here it was. I would stop. Friends called, shall we meet for a drink? Let’s meet, I’d reply but I’m not drinking, some joined me, others drank and I stayed on the water. It was fine. It was better. The mornings are here.
Get up at 6am, get down to the gym and work out (following a plan, have a reason for it, why am I doing this?), back to the flat, meditate, shower (I’ve been trying cold showers, I don’t mind being under it for 3-5 minutes), make coffee and read the news, stretch and then get to the desk for emails and work. It’s working. I’m getting stronger, the numbers show it, I write down each rep I do, mainly working with my bodyweight, if I don’t perform a repetition slowly and steadily and cleanly with good form and a full range of motion then I don’t count it, no half reps, no cheating. No ego. I work for time and use the rest to hang on the bar and get stronger for next time.
In the gym one morning, I saw two women working out, they had good bodies and excellent form when performing reps, they both wore earphones and worked out. Most of the men did the same but a couple made their way near to them, one was young and wearing a hoody, the other was older with a ponytail. Near the women they performed exercises wildly with over exaggerated movements, partial reps and grunting. You’ll injure yourself, I thought, before getting back to my work. I wasn’t here for this, I was here to get better. The women ignored them. It reminded me of the book Chimpanzee Politics by Frans de Waal (recommend this book), in which many years of observations produced a story of domination, gesturing, young becoming old becoming taken over by the young. I did my work and left.
We’re in October, where some challenge themselves to be sober for the month, then there’s Dry January, both either side of Christmas where there’s a lot of drinking. If you’re wanting to try being sober, you don’t need to have started on the 1st of this month or wait until January. I used an app called Days Since which is very simple and lets you add additional counters such as, for me, stop eating cheese—I have successfully stopped eating blocks of cheese. Getting up at 6am and meditating were also goals, once they’re embedded I don’t need the counters but they’re good to refer to to see how far you’ve been doing a thing.
I met a friend at the British Museum where she showed me another app, Try Dry, from the charity Alcohol Change UK, it’s a more modern looking app than Days Since and on telling it you haven’t drank that day it throws digital confetti at you. I’m now on both apps. Try an app, start today, build a strong habit. Don’t wait for January. In the evenings now I’m usually with friends and being clear. Or the cinema. The weekends? I’m looking forward to running again, long slow runs around 90 minutes to two hours. Sharing my progress widely with friends, several sent back they’d been doing it to, one has done 3 months, the other a week. I met two friends recently, one former military, the other a war journalist, and both had given up drinking, they looked slimmer and vital. Join us.
It’s been 37 days. I want to hit 40 days, then 50, 100, a year.
In other news, I’m feeling much better, the drugs are working, I’ve been getting back out with my camera from being on boats where I saw migrants on the water to capturing dogs running after a lure. More photos and stories coming soon.
Have a good day wherever you are, and please share this post with friends.
Try Dry, here — https://alcoholchange.org.uk/help-and-support/managing-your-drinking/dry-january/get-involved/the-dry-january-app
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