There’s no denying that the events of 2020 have led to most of us enjoying a few more drinks than usual, especially when pubs and restaurants were forced to close. But Macmillan’s Sober October has been the perfect opportunity to give our livers a bit of a breather.
One woman who decided to take on the challenge was Maxine Jones – who just so happens to be Lorraine Kelly’s personal trainer.
Of course, Maxine is a fan of keeping fit – but just like the rest of us, she found herself pouring an extra glass of wine in the evenings due to being stuck indoors.
Speaking exclusively to Uspire, she spoke about how she’s found going sober this October and why she believes exercise is the key to living life to the fullest.
Speaking about why she decided to do Sober October, she admitted that she had started consuming more alcohol during lockdown.
“Typically, at the weekends my drinking would start mid-afternoon on Friday, into Friday night, then Saturday night, lunch time Sunday and into Sunday night. I have always previously kept Monday to Wednesday alcohol free,” she said.
“However, during lockdown all of the venues where I run my exercise classes were closed down so my classes were cancelled and my usual routine went out of the window.
“I began rewarding myself with a glass of red every night for putting up with COVID. That glass soon became half a bottle and in the day, if it was sunny, I would have several beers in the sunshine too.
“Towards the end of the summer I realised that I had put on a stone in weight. I had booked a last minute holiday and knew I wanted to do something to get myself back on track and lose the weight I had put on. Alcohol was the first thing to go so I actually started my sober stint in September.”
Maxine continued: “After that went so well, I decided to keep up the momentum and sign up for Sober October so that this change would benefit not only my mental and physical health, but also raise money for people living with cancer.”
Since the launch of Sober October in 2014, Soberheroes have raised over £25million for Macmillan Cancer support – which has made a huge difference to the lives of people with cancer.
Commenting on the benefits of the challenge, Maxine said: “One thing I love about Sober October is that others are doing it at the same time. There’s a sort of camaraderie and as it’s become more well known, I feel like it’s more socially acceptable to be alcohol free in October.
“Since giving up alcohol I have noticed so many benefits – I’m really proud of myself for rising to the challenge. For me it has been great to take a break from alcohol and really assess my relationship with it.
“The clear headedness and the clarity is wonderful, something you don’t realise you’re missing. It’s a great confidence booster too, because you are so much surer of yourself. There are no feelings of dread or remorse the next day, because you’re worried about what you might have said or who you may have upset after drinking alcohol.”
She continued: “I would encourage anybody to try it. It’s just one month, and there’s so much to gain. This year has been a tough one and I think lots of people have been like me – rewarding themselves with a drink for putting up with Covid.
“Overall I’ve found Sober October easier than I thought I would. I think that’s largely because I had an end goal in sight. For me that’s paramount, because without that, I feel like I would have floundered. For me the goal was to lose that stone in weight that I had put on during lockdown. I know that alcohol contains ‘empty calories’ so it was the first thing to go, and a really big part of me achieving my goal.”
Of course, it’s not always easy to say ‘no’ to that glass of wine or a Friday night beer, but there’s plenty of non-alcoholic beverages that can be enjoyed too – such as Punchy Drinks, who make delicious adult soft drinks and mixers.
Maxine also believes that exercise is the key to enjoying it all: “I like my food and I like my drink, it’s no secret. Fitness allows us to enjoy life and do the things we want to do, it’s as simple as that. Of course there are things we know we shouldn’t eat and that there are healthier options, but if you workout regularly, you can enjoy the things you love in life.
“We are here to live life to the fullest, if you look after your body you’re giving yourself the best chance of living life to the fullest. It is my mission in life to show people how much fun you can have in the name of exercise.
“Dance fitness releases hormones such as endorphins and dopamine into the brain – creating a natural high. This is why I believe it’s addictive and anyone can do it.
“If you put into your diary ‘Gym’, how does that make you feel? If you put into your diary ‘Night out with the girls’, what are your feelings then? It’s about a shift in mindset and finding something that you really enjoy.”
We couldn’t agree more, Maxine!
For more information, visit gosober.org.uk/