3 Months with No Alcohol and an Exciting New Personal Record!

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Can you believe it’s already March?!
Holy crap time is flying.
I am officially moved out of my house and currently sleeping on my brother’s floor for my last couple of days here in California before heading to Europe for the next 4 months.
Oh, and it has officially been 3 months since I had any alcohol! So here’s my monthly update, followed by some food for thought ?

Let’s start with the physical stuff.

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you may have seen my post last night about my new personal record on the timed mile. If you missed it, here’s a recap:
Back in October, my brother and I did a “Fowler Faceoff” fitness challenge. We measured our body fat percentage and timed our one-mile run as the measurements. Then we had 6 weeks to see who could make the most overall improvement on both. The winner got a new fitness watch.
I am now the proud owner of a Fitbit Charge 2 ?
One month after winning the “Fowler Faceoff” challenge, I started the “No Alcohol Challenge.”
A few days ago, I was out on a jog and got curious about how giving up alcohol impacted my mile time. So I asked my brother if he was interested in doing a re-test of our timed one-mile runs before I took off for Europe, and he agreed.
There was no wager this time, we both just wanted to compete with our own times from four months ago. We hadn’t been actively training for it though, we’ve just been living healthier lifestyles since then.
When we raced four months ago, I got an 8:26 mile. Nothing earth-shattering, I know – but I’ve never been a runner and it was the fastest time I had ever gotten.
Given my improved endurance from not drinking, I got a little cocky and wanted to shave another 27 seconds off my time – putting me below the 8-minute mark.
I knew it was a long shot, but last night, I went for it.
I could feel a major difference in my body this time around during the race – I felt lighter on my feet, was able to maintain a faster pace without gasping for air, and my legs felt much stronger and more flexible (with far less pain).
It wasn’t until the end of 3rd lap that I thought “Holy crap, I might actually pull this off.”
The final lap was pretty brutal, but I maintained my pace and hustled my ass off in the final 100m dash.

I got a 7:39!!

A whopping 47 seconds faster than my previous personal record!
As I crossed the finish line, I knew without a doubt I had beat my previous time, but I was shocked (and super impressed) by just how much I improved over the past 4 months! Especially considering I never particularly trained for it.

Living a healthy lifestyle isn’t always easy, but it’s moments like this – when I feel so incredibly proud of myself and how far I’ve come – that make it all worth it.

Afterward my brother treated me to a Super Duper (veggie) burger to celebrate my victory! Not super healthy, I know, but since I couldn’t celebrate with a drink I had to pick a different treat ?
No Alcohol Challenge Month 3

Ok, moving on.

I don’t notice as many physical changes in my appearance this time as I did last month, I still have a lot of work to do on my abs and back. But I’m getting there.
One other major change I noticed this month though is my flexibility. This may not be directly related to giving up alcohol, but the increased motivation and energy to stay consistent with my mobility work is definitely related.
I have always had super tight muscles and joints, with very limited flexibility – especially in my legs and hips. When doing a forward fold 2 months ago, I could barely get my hands to my shins. Now, I can touch my toes no problem!
Honestly, both of these things – my mile time and my flexibility, are things I thought were simply out of my body’s capabilities. But I realize now that my body is capable of so much more than I ever thought possible. And I can’t wait to see what else I’ll be capable of in the future as I continue to push myself towards improvement.
Making adjustments to my form and taking the time focus on particular areas of improvement have worked wonders for my body and growth.
I still have a lot of work to do without a doubt, but I’m so in love with the way my body feels right now!
Oh AND, the cherry on top – I did my first full chin-up this week! Actually, I did three, but who’s counting ?

The Emotional/Mental Stuff

Alright, now let’s dive into feelings and mindset changes and experiences.
First off, I have to admit…with all the stress of packing up my life and moving again, the past week is the first time that I actually really craved a drink.
Two nights ago, my stress levels were really through the roof, and I got dangerously close to caving and chugging a bottle of wine to take the edge off.
Instead, I decided to shut off my brain, turn my phone on “Do Not Disturb” mode so that I could shut out the rest of the world, and just watch a movie in solitude.
I’ve been so focused on work, writing, and travel planning lately that my brain has been on hyperdrive for the past few months and I hadn’t really given myself any downtime since I stopped drinking.
It was only a couple of hours, but I felt much better after the movie and went to bed right afterward without checking my phone.
I was able to deal with everything much more efficiently the next day after I gave myself time to destress.

I’ve used the term “let yourself off the hook” many times on this blog. And it’s something that I frequently remind myself and apply to my own life.

It can be applied to almost any situation.
It prevents me from feeling guilty when I occasionally overindulge on the sweets, or skip a workout day, or don’t get enough done when I feel overwhelmed.
The truth is, no one puts more pressure on me to perform better, work harder, and be more successful than I do. And sometimes my own pressure gets to be too much.
So I have to give myself a reality check. Remind myself that I’m only human, and I’ll be much more productive if I cut myself some slack and get out of my own head for a bit.
Personally, I’m not a big fan of watching TV (or Netflix or whatever) to unwind. It tends to give me more anxiety because I feel like it’s a waste of time, so I usually unwind at night by reading, journaling, or listening to podcasts.
Occasionally though, like two nights ago when my brain was on overload, just having to deal with one more thing (even responding to a text) felt like it was going to push me over the edge. So letting myself off the hook and shutting my brain down was just what I needed.
I also apply the “let yourself off the hook” thing to bring myself back to the present moment and not dwell on the past. 
And I’m not just referring to the long-term past, but the immediate past. Yesterday, for example, is now in the past. Whatever happened this morning, is now in the past. There’s nothing I can do to change it, all I can do is figure out what I can do right now to move in the right direction.
Things go wrong all the time and turn out differently than we expect. It’s easy to get stuck on those things, and ask “what if” and “what went wrong” and “wish that things went differently.”
It’s important to push these thoughts out of your mind as quickly as possible and focus on what you can do differently now and from this point forward. 
The other night, when I was really stressed and anxious, I knew the problem wasn’t going to be solved that night.
I had a choice: I could chug that wine to drown out my problems or I could find a different solution.
If I drank the wine, I’d be setting myself up for even more problems from that point forward. I would feel guilty and have to deal with my problems the next day with a headache and hangover, making matters even worse.
Alternatively, I could unplug, not allow any new information into my brain, give it time to declutter on its own and approach the problem the next day with a clear and calm mind.
I made the better choice, tackled the problem the next day, and am now relieved and back in productivity mode.

Moving Forward

As many of you know, I am heading to Europe in a few days to continue my travels, spread the word about The Positive Change Co., and connect with other digital nomads around the world.
For the first two weeks, I’ll be traveling with friends around Iceland, London, and Paris before venturing off on my own to Croatia and Spain.

This will be my first big social challenge (and travels) since I started the No Alcohol Challenge, so my next update in a month should be an interesting one, to say the least!

I’m both nervous and excited to see how things go during the next month as I go out to the bars with my friends in new countries, celebrate birthdays, and meet new people abroad as a solo traveler – all without the liquid courage and effects of alcohol to keep me engaged and energized.
It will be a big change from my last grand adventure abroad.

Also, a lot of people who followed my travel blog previously (which feels like a lifetime ago!) have been asking whether I’ll be blogging about my travels this time.

The answer is…not really.
I will be keeping with my “New Blog Post Friday” schedule while traveling, but I won’t be writing about daily adventures like I did in the past. Instead, I’ll be sharing my experience and tips about staying healthy and fit in the countries I visit.
Having said that, I will be sharing daily pictures of my travels on my personal/travel Instagram account @hellooo_itsbre, as well as regularly on Facebook…so you can follow along on my travels there.
Alrighty, that’s a wrap on my Month 3 Update! So stay tuned for my month 4 update which will be published the first weekend of April – from Croatia!

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Bre Fowler

Hi, I’m Bre – the founder of The Positive Change Co!
In early 2015, I left my familiar life in Seattle, WA behind to travel the world and become a digital nomad. Traveling as a LIFESTYLE completely transformed me. It was during my first big trip abroad in SE Asia and Australia that I found my passion for healthy living, addiction for personal growth, and a profound sense of purpose in the world. The Positive Change Co. is about more than just eating healthy and taking care of your body, it’s about becoming the best possible version of yourself so that you can offer your best self to others and live a more meaningful life.

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