Welcome to The (Not) Drinking Diary Series, today I’m chatting to Annie Grace! I chat to people on alcohol and on life; about their sobriety, mindful drinking and/or alcohol free period.
Annie Grace is based in Colorado, & wrote one of the most important books I’ve read on my not drinking journey so far – This Naked Mind (I recommended her book in my book roundup, 4 books about sobriety to motivate you).
Annie Grace grew up in a one-room log cabin without running water or electricity outside of Aspen, Colorado. She discovered a passion for marketing and after graduating with a Masters of Science (Marketing) she dove into corporate life. At the age of 26, Annie was the youngest vice president in a multinational company, and her drinking career began in earnest.
At 35, in a global C-level marketing role, she was responsible for marketing in 28 countries and drinking almost two bottles of wine a night. Knowing she needed a change but unwilling to submit to a life of deprivation and stigma, Annie set out to find a painless way to regain control. Annie no longer drinks and has never been happier. She left her executive role to write This Naked Mind and share it with the world. In her free time, Annie loves to ski, travel (26 countries and counting), and enjoy her beautiful family. Annie lives with her husband and three children in the Colorado mountains.
Read on for her not drinking diary …
Name: Annie Grace
1.Tell me a little bit about yourself …
I am a 38 yr old mother of 2 boys and a new baby girl living in Colorado with my husband.
2.Tell me a little bit of your drinking story …
My drinking revolved around work and my career. I was actually told by a former boss that the deals were done and careers were made in the bar rather than the office. He stressed the importance of being social over happy hour with colleagues – saying that we never had time to pitch our best ideas in the office and it was really at the bar where you had face time with senior executives. I found this to be true and set out to develop enough of a tolerance to keep up with my colleagues.
Fast forward a decade, I was in the C-Suite in my company and was drinking almost 2 bottles of wine a night. I knew I needed a change but was unwilling to submit to a life of ‘missing out’ or feeling deprived. I began to research how the mind works – specifically our unconscious influences on our drinking behaviour – and was able to overcome a decade of daily drinking once I understood – and was able to change – my deeply ingrained unconscious believes around alcohol.
3. What led you to think differently about drinking?
I realised I had an internal fight in my mind. Drinking was no longer all that much fun – I wasn’t even feeling tipsy after many glasses of wine my tolerance was so high – and I felt bad in the mornings after nights out drinking.
I had a conscious desire to drink less but I had far more powerful feelings and beliefs that I needed alcohol to relax, socialise, network, have a good time even have sex. I didn’t understand why I believed all these things so deeply when I knew they didn’t used to be true. I barely drank in college and it was one of the most enjoyable times of my life.
I began to really question my beliefs – where did they come from? Why did I believe them anyway? And most importantly – were they true?
4.How would you describe your relationship with alcohol now?
Alcohol is small and irrelevant in my life. I don’t miss it or pine for it. I don’t feel like I am missing out by not drinking it – in fact I feel quite the opposite.
I am thankful that I never have to drink again! I never have to be hung over, or say something stupid or be filled with regret. I don’t feel like I need alcohol to relax, network or have a good time. I
f you could sum up my relationship with alcohol in a single word that word would be freedom. I don’t drink it – but am not sad about that fact. It is very liberating and empowering to know that you are strong enough to get through anything without alcohol as a crutch. We all are by the way – its just sometimes we lose sight of that fact.
5.What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced since your approach to alcohol shifted?
Quieting my mind. Drinking slows down your ability to think – and sometimes that can really feel (in the moment) like relaxation.
Learning to quiet my mind without alcohol was very challenging – but one of the most valuable things I have ever done. It is amazing to be able to find peace and happiness without an external substance. It takes some doing – but it is a very worthwhile journey.
6.What lessons have you learnt about life (and yourself) since your relationship with alcohol has changed?
That I am strong and powerful inside myself and I don’t need any substance as a crutch to help me through life. That realization is so empowering and amazing. It is one of the best parts about giving up alcohol – because the belief that you need something outside of yourself to cope is very disempowering and overcoming that belief is amazing.
7. What benefits of cutting down on alcohol or stopping drinking have you experienced?
A bazillion (is that a number?). Better sleep, better sex, I look better – especially my skin and hair – weight loss.
The amazing feeling of being able to give my kids a sip of my drink no matter what it is!
The fact that I no longer experience an internal struggle about my drinking.
Better sleep, more enjoyable mornings. The amazing journey of self-discovery that I’ve been launched onto by questioning my drinking. I really could go on and on!
8.Are there any resources that have helped you to cut down or stop drinking? (Skip if a no)
To change my drinking I did a lot of research on neuroscience, habit change, mindfulness and more. One book that really opened my eyes to the connection between pain and our unconscious mind is “Healing Back Pain” by Dr. John Sarno.
In learning about the unconscious mind and how it controls our wants and desires, I figured that my unconscious must also be controlling my desire to drink even though I knew drinking was no longer doing me any favors!
So I wrote a book called “This Naked Mind: Control Alcohol, Find Freedom, Discover Happiness & Change Your Life.” The theory is that you have a conscious desire to quit but because of years of conditioning, your unconscious mind hasn’t gotten the memo – so you still crave alcohol and that creates pain. The solution? You need to fix the unconscious.
The This Naked Mind method works by changing your unconscious mind. This approach worked for me when nothing else did, and has now worked for thousands of readers.
Today I have zero desire to drink. It still feels like a miracle. I want to share the feeling of freedom, joy and excitement that I wake up with every day with everyone.
9.How do you start your day? Do you have a morning routine?
My mornings are dictated by my kiddos. They bound into bed – often demanding food – and we are off and running for the day.
If I have a few moments to myself I think about things I am grateful for and by doing so start the day on a positive note. If I am overwhelmed by children first thing I think about how grateful I am to be overwhelmed with children and again start the day with gratitude.
10. Do you have any rituals you always make time for?
I have rituals that I make time for as often as possible. I practice Taekwondo multiple times a week. I look for moments of presence throughout the day where I just stop and reflect on the reality of that moment. Where I am, what I am doing, how I feel.
These moments are incredibly powerful in slowing down my thinking train and giving me some moments of peace and gratitude throughout the day.
11. What’s your favourite thing to do (hangover free & not drinking) at the weekend?
Spend time with my family – pretty much my favourite thing to do anytime! I do love that I am no longer hung-over when I spend time with my children. I never smell like wine – and that is a wonderful thing.
12. When it comes to your own personal development, what is one thing that you’re working on or learning right now?
That life happens daily. It’s much more about living the day and being present in your current reality than it is about striving each day for the ‘someday’ when everything will be a certain way.
It seems we’ve been programmed to look for the next thing and believe that we will be happy when we finally achieve a certain milestone or get a certain thing. My biggest thing is to realise that this is the thing. Now is the thing I’ve been looking for. To stop and enjoy now rather than spend my time and energy in the future.
13. What is the one thing you’re obsessed with at the moment that’s making your life better?
Young Adult Fiction.
I really enjoy losing myself in the easy adventures of novels. I love reading and read so much for personal development or research that I have been truly enjoying reading simply for pleasure. I love the young adult genre because you don’t stumble upon horrific scenes and the reading is simply relaxing and enjoyable. Currently I am reading the series ‘The Rangers Apprentice’ but I’ve also recently read the Ender series by Orson Scott Card and the Eragon series.
14.Any go-to people we should follow for inspiration? (Health, Fitness, Life, travel you name it!)
I know he is really popular but I have recently been enjoying some of Tony Robbins’ early work.
My favourite people in this arena are: Byron Katie, Eckhart Tolle & Dr. Kelly McGonigal.
15. And finally, thinking differently about your relationship with alcohol can be challenging and isolating, is there any advice you turned to or do you have any words of wisdom for people reading this?
You are not alone! That is the most important thing I can say. When you start to question your drinking you feel alone in it because as a society we’ve made it a taboo subject which is incredibly unfortunate. In fact over 90% of regular drinkers want to drink less – at least on occasion. It is such a massive struggle (90%!!!) yet we suffer individually.
I love this blog because Laurie is taking down the barriers to the very important conversation about alcohol. The conversation that changes your health, happiness, self-respect, family life – everything!
I created a free online community – This Naked Mind Community – to provide a place for people questioning their drinking to find support. We now have more than 6,000 members sharing their stories and giving advice – I couldn’t be more proud of it and I encourage everyone who needs social support to join!