I don’t eat salad when I’m hungover

My ears did a double take when a woman shouted these words over her shoulder to her friend as she dashed to get in the lunch line. (It wasn’t the salad line.)

I thought it funny and remembered one of my old “rules”: I didn’t eat salad when drinking. Something about the lettuce and the alcohol reminded me of milk and orange juice, and how they just aren’t meant to be mixed.

I thought it a shame, though, too. That this woman would have to miss out on a scrumptious salad for a potentially unhealthier option because of a choice she’d made the night before. How many more salads would she have to miss?

When I was drinking, my diet was all over the place, as were my attempts at exercising at least somewhat regularly. I would be “good” for a week or two, then a night of beer and pizza would knock me down and I’d let a full month pass before trying again. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been around this hamster wheel, and how rarely I felt good about myself.

Adopting—and maintaining—healthy eating habits and an active lifestyle got a lot easier when I stopped drinking. Getting good sleep (really good sleep) and having a clear head go a long way.

I wake up earlier—no more excuses about not having enough time to exercise, go grocery shopping, or cook healthy meals at home.

I have more energy—no more excuses about being too tired to do these things, things that will only benefit me.

I have the desire to get outside—what a world I’ve been missing! I’m running again, hiking too. It’s easier now and, because it’s easy, more enjoyable than ever.

I care about what I put into my body—no more “Fuck it, it doesn’t matter” attitude because it does matter, I matter. (You do too.) And after all that I’ve put it through, I owe it to my body to be kind to it, and to take care of it because it’s taken such good care of me.

And, I’m not restricted by when I can and can’t have a salad—or anything else. I eat what I want, when I want. Freedom of choice feels good.

Sober feels good.

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