Mastering Mindfulness: Ali Roff Farrar | OYNB 092

One Year No Beer Podcast Episode 092 – Mastering Mindfulness with Ali Roff Farrar

Ali Roff Farrar is author of The Wellfulness Project and the Wellness Director at Psychologies magazine. She is also a regular contributor to the OYNB Blog! She is passionate about combining western sciences of psychology, neuroscience, and coaching with the Eastern philosophies of meditation, mindfulness, and yoga, to cultivate true holistic wellness in body and mind. In addition to the degree she holds in Psychology, Ali is a qualified ‘200 hr Yoga Alliance Certified’ teacher and will shortly qualify as a Mindfulness teacher and expert for both stress and chronic pain.

Ali joins the podcast today to talk about how, amid all of the noise and information out there, we often rely on others to make us happy or heal us and consult our phones for advice before consulting our inner compass. She is interested in empowering people to start to look inwards and discover the wisdom they have inside themselves instead of seeking answers outside. She believes that mental health is often pushed aside as we get caught up in the chatter of the mind and that by practicing directed mindful attention using ‘Wellfulness’, we can become more balanced in how we listen to our bodies, minds, and heart, and find greater holistic alignment in our lives, using this to create an authentic and sustainable healthy lifestyle that’s unique to our needs.

“If we can start to find a different way to deal with, react to, and respond to really those negative emotions, we can start to get a different relationship with them”

In today’s episode, Ali talks about how she used this practice to help navigate life away from alcohol, and how that has improved her life. Listen in to hear what Ali has to say about how she changed careers, stopped drinking, wrote a book, and changed her life


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Episode Transcript

Jen: Hi, guys. This is Jen Fairbairns and welcome to the One Year No Beer Podcast. Our guest today is Ali Roff Farrar and she is the wellness director of Psychologies magazine and a regular contributor to OYNB blog. She has also written a book The Wellfulness Project which is published now in March 2020.

Ali is passionate about combining western sciences of psychology, neuroscience and coaching with Eastern philosophies of meditation, mindfulness, yoga, to cultivate true holistic wellness in body and mind.

After writing an article for OYNB on Attending a Wedding Sober, Ali has also given up alcohol for over a year. In this episode Ali tells how ditching alcohol opened up a world of curiosity and self-discovery. We talked about the true meaning of mindfulness, the importance of kindness, and how to deal with judgment. Grab a seat and get ready to feel Zen. Please welcome Ali Roff Farrar.

Welcome, Ali Roff Farrar. Gorgeous girl. It feels a little bit like you're one of us. You've been with us for us some time, haven't you?

Ali: I feel like I'm home. I went to a festival in London a couple of weeks ago. I think it was […] London, and I didn't realize that you have a stand there, and I honestly lost. You were there and then I ran over and I was like oh, my God. It was my people.

It was so lovely. I just spent ages talking to the girls there. It was just amazing to see because obviously so much of what you do is online and obviously what I contribute is all online and it was just so lovely to meet people, and to see obviously meet people that work for One Year No Beer but also see people coming up and interacting face to face. It's just nice. I just always love that with psychologies as well, who I also write for.

I just love meeting readers and it's really special when you meet people face to face and you see who is actually impacting. I know that One Year No Beer has so many people, just going on the Facebook group. I love readers. It's just so inspiring. It's one of the most inspiring communities online.

Jen: That was so nice to hear. That's so lovely to hear. Thank you. We love what we do and we're very proud and protective of our tribe. We know it's all good energy. We've been very protective of that, because that's what it's all about. That's very much what you are about the mindfulness, the positivity, and stuff.

Just to let our listeners know, a lot of you who have been reading our stuff throughout the years will have read a lot of Ali stuff. She is an incredible writer. I think it was when you were writing about going sober on a wedding. Tell us, start there. What happened after that?

Ali: Right at the beginning, I was completely new to not drinking. I just finished my yoga teacher training and that has given me an insight as to thinking very deeply about how my lifestyle reflected my values, and that's where all of this really began. Literally a couple of weeks after I got home, you know how things just happened like they were invited into your life and you're like where did this come from? I don't even know if that song got in touch with me.

I was just like oh, my god, this is fascinating. I think I write one or two things just about the science of our […] or whatever. I was like look, I'm going to have to really give this a proper go. Also, to know what I'm talking about. Because that's how I write, I really have to live it. I thought I've got a wedding coming up. I'm going to go alcohol free. I'll just do that and I'll just see how it goes. I have barely drunk a drop of alcohol since.

I never decided that I was going to stop drinking. It was just this daily thing and I loved that it became that because I never said I'm going to stop drinking alcohol forever, or even for an amount of time. The way I did it was every day and sometimes every moment, that decision. Do I want to have a drink right now or do I want to have a drink today? The answer was always no, and the longer I didn't drink for, the more I felt that way.

I was like why on earth would I want to drink? I've experienced all of these amazing benefits from not drinking. The journey that I went on, and the lessons I learned just from not drinking, honestly changed my life and changed who I am, honestly. I started writing for One Year No Beer.

Jen: I love this so much. It's incredible, but also having that discovery, you've been writing for quite some time before that. You write for Psychologies magazine, which is incredible. You have a degree in psychology and you have all that experience. You never know what's going to happen, this is awesome.

I do believe that. We like to have goals in life lately but over the past few years really I've let life just take me on its own journey. Many people listening to this would have found One Year No Beer one way or another maybe through a friend, maybe through reading something online, maybe through searching for something if you're looking to do it, but you find it. Then there would have been a time now, we've never thought that giving alcohol up would be something that we would want to do or could do, and that's one thing that I've really found talking to other people about this.

They go oh, I could never do that. Every time, I say don't underestimate yourself. Yes, it's a big thing to do, but it's amazing and you can improve so much to yourself just by not drinking and prove who you are and what you are capable of. All these things come up in life and take you off on a tangent that you never thought you'd go down.

Jen: On top of being a journalist and an incredible writer, you are a certified yoga teacher on a high level. You are becoming a mindfulness teacher for stress and chronic pain. Has this all come after you decided to have a break from alcohol or was this something that was in the beginning before? Tell me a little bit about your story. It's great to hear all about One Year No Beer but tell me a bit more about you. How you've ended up where you are now and where it all began.

Ali: I guess in psychology at uni that was really fascinating. I've always been really interested in human psychology, the brain, how neuroscience sounds really boring but actually is fascinating to think about how habits are formed in neural pathways and stuff like that, so really connected to psychology but also mindfulness. That's how those two things come together, but it started with a psychology degree. I graduated about 2009, which is obviously when we had a big recession, and I fell out of university and straight into a job in finance. It was a really good job. It paid really well and everyone around me couldn't get work. I just thought yep, go for it, brilliant.

I expected that thing of success, and we have to be achieving as soon as we finish uni, but I hated it. It had nothing to do with psychology. I was terrible. I'm not terrible at Math, but economics I've never done anything to it, studied anything to do with economics. I just found myself feeling really low, lost, really unhealthy in body and mind. Even I go to the gym and be really healthy but it was all for the wrong reasons.

To be skinny, in your early 20s you really care about stuff like that. I remember I did this thing called the Dukan diet, which is all about eating protein and meat. I'm a vegan now […]. Going out drinking in finance is something that has a really big drinking culture. I remember going out for lunch and everyone staying out all day after lunch and just everyone getting drunk and misbehaving to the point where my boss is acting really inappropriately towards me. That created an awful atmosphere of work. I just felt I just wasn't living in alignment with who I was, what I believed in, what I enjoyed, and what my interests were.

I decided I don't care how much money I could make in the future. Nothing is worth feeling like this. I decided to quit my job. I saved up for another year stuck at it, saved a couple of years, quit my job and interned, going back to square one. I felt I was really old when I was only 25. At the time I felt ancient next to all of these 18-year-olds.

It was good because it put me through, I didn't get paid for a year interning, but I got through to the end of that year. I found myself with a job at Psychologies magazine, which aligned perfectly with my degree, obviously, and ever since then, I just feel like I've just been on this journey. Just doing things, finding things I enjoy.

Initially, I was interning at fashion magazines and stuff and all that's really interesting because it's creativity, art, and everything. I just felt there was more so then I started writing about things to do with psychology, lifestyle, and a lot of the things that I wrote about for. One Year No Beer, these really interesting ways to live your life better.

From there, I started interviewing people like Deepak Chopra, Gabrielle Bernstein, and Jon Kabat-Zinn who is the Western leader of mindfulness. They just inspired me so much and I decided that I wanted to learn this stuff and share it with others as well. I decided to go and do my yoga teacher training. I decided to go into my mindfulness teacher training. The mindfulness has taken a long time and I'm finished. It just takes me to do my final sign off with it really. I can't do it at the moment because we're on lockdown, but that's fine.

I picked up these skills along the way. I guess at the peak of all of this led me to now, and for now anyway is my book.

Jen: I was so excited. Let me show you. Let me show off as we have it here on Audible, everyone. For those who are not big readers like myself, I love to listen. It's 4 hours and 17 minutes. We can all do that, we all have that time now. If you think you don't have time to read books, you can listen. You could learn more about gardening, whatever it is, whilst listening to this. This is brilliant. All of this, and you also have time to write a book. This is incredible.

Ali: It was tough. I actually loved recording the Audible version because I got a chance to actually read it all in one go. It's so funny. You said it's four hours, it took me two days to read. I think the audible books and older versions are nice because there are lots of meditations in there, so I think it's nice to listen to meditation. I go through all of that. I brought it together and that's what's in my book.

Jen: Congratulations. I'm super excited. It came out quite recently?

Ali: Yeah, just last month in March. Just before lockdown.

Jen: That might have been a really good time, because more people are home reading this, extra orders going out of Amazon right now. Hopefully your book will be flying off the shelves eventually when people can go to the actual bookstores. How exciting. Tell us a little bit about the books. What's in the book? Will you help people take them through meditations in there as well as like in the Audible? We talked about you know that but we talk a lot about mindfulness, the importance of connecting, yoga, and all that stuff through our One Year No Beer challenge just in general. We believe in living your life better, and having implemented all these healthy ways of living and mindfulness is part of them. 

A lot of people especially in the beginning of their alcohol free journey, they get a little bit like oh, this mindfulness is so fluffy. It's too much. They just think oh, it's fluffy. I don't know. I don't really understand. You are so deeply into it. What is the easiest way to get through to people who are not really sure about mindfulness? What really is it?

Ali: I love this question. This is why I wanted to become a mindfulness teacher because I've read more than anyone probably on mindfulness. In the media, it's presented as being in the moment. That's so limited, like being in the moment. It's great because it stops us from worrying about the future, which we all do.

We're constantly oh, what's going to happen next week, what's going to happen on lockdown? We're just stuck in that drama and suffering it causes us. We can also be stuck in the past. Oh, if only I've done this differently. If only I did it like that, […] and have said this.

Being in the moment allows us to escape the suffering that we find in the present, in the future, in the past, and enjoy the now and that's really important. It is really important, but it's limited because that's all it gives us. To me, the truth of mindfulness is being in the now is a practice. It's a practice to allow ourselves to start being in the now and noticing. Magic of mindfulness is noticing with curiosity and without judgment or kindness. Noticing what's happening.

If any of us have tried mindfulness, we’ll often start doing that outside of ourselves because it's much easier to notice what's going on outside of ourselves than inside, because often inside there's a lot of turbulence and fluctuations of the mind, chatter in the mind going on. We practice being outside because it's easier to do that. Once we've mastered that, then we can begin to look inside, and that is where everything starts to change. It's so exciting.

You start to see and feel how different things are for you, you stop responding rather than reacting. You start to be able to take a breath, and not get caught up in the drama. You can just start to observe and go that's interesting. My mind started thinking about this. Actually, that makes me feel awful. I'm just going to stay here for a moment. That goes on to allow us to start to be kinder to ourselves and to others.

That allows us to accept and to me what mindfulness is. Imagine if we could accept the things that are happening to us, because we can't control them, and what's going on at the moment is really proving to us that we cannot control everything that's going on in life. We like to try but it's very, very difficult to. We're not going to be able to, so if we live our lives trying to control everything, we're going to suffer.

If we can start to live our lives and try to start accepting what's happened to us, life becomes so much more peaceful. It stops doing this. We just stop doing this. One lovely analogy that I love is we're often writing the stormy seas of life in a tiny little dinging fin every smashing wave, every single thing that happens affects us greatly. We might fall out of the dinghy, get bruised, or whatever.

Mindfulness allows us to step off of the dinghy and get onto a beautiful, large catamaran that's just cruising across the waves. Yes, the waves are still there and yes, we might feel the odd one or two, but we just can cruise through life a little bit more peacefully, with a bit more serenity, and it just allows us. It gives us these gifts of kindness and acceptance.

Curiosities, there's some keys to get there. Noticing curiosity, kindness, when you compare that to just being in the moment.

Jen: I think that is a much better explanation to it than just an odd moment. It's like, “Okay, why am I feeling odd?” Rather than you end up still fighting everything that you're carrying with you. I think what you said there hit the nail on the head with what we always say is that be kind to yourself and look upon whatever is going on with you and go okay. It's okay to feel this way and be curious with it.

At the end of the day like you say, you can't control anything. You have to almost accept what's going on, make a decision around it. The more you fight, the more turbulence you live in, basically.

Ali: When it comes to negative emotions, no matter what's going on in life doesn't matter what the situation is. If you've got negative emotions, our natural reaction is to try and push that away. We don't like negative emotions, they're not comfortable. They push you away, but pushing them away often just makes them scream louder.

If we can start to find a different way to deal with, react to, and respond to really those negative emotions, we can start to get a different relationship with them. Often by turning to them with kindness and saying exactly what you just said then, Jen, allowing ourselves to feel that way. We often don't do that and that's so unkind for ourselves, that the emotion is there and if we allow ourselves not to wallow in it, not to hold on to it, and grasp on to a negative emotion, but just allowing it to be there, and maybe putting an arm around it, saying it's okay.

Often it stops being so loud and we can pass through it a lot quicker, and that for me with what was going on at the moment, that's definitely been something I've had to remind myself of. It's been very anxiety provoking and things are happening all the time. It's okay to feel scared and it's okay to feel like that and grieve what we're losing whether that's a job or a person. It's okay to feel how we feel and turn to that feeling with kindness, and then often they will move through them with a lot more ease.

Jen: You said there also the whole thing about not wanting to be negative or feel negative. I think that's something that could also be a little bit deeply ingrained in the way that we've been raised or the way we've lived our life is being told don't be negative. Oh, you're so negative. Almost like shaming. You end up feeling shame, so then when you feel these negative emotions, you might go like oh no, no, no, it's not right. We're not supposed to feel negative. We're always supposed to have this facade of our happiness and all that.

You carry that slowly, you put these little unhappy stones on a little pile. That pile grows before you know it and implodes. This comes down to also with it alcohol always being told like this is how we celebrate. This is how we camaraderie. This is how we greet. That's just the way we do it. You're not drinking, you are weird, because this is not the way. This is the way.

A lot of that comes with everything that we live our lives, that we are living our everyday lives, as we've been taught and as we've been told on an autopilot. The mindfulness is just allowing yourself to slow down and go no, actually, how am I feeling about this and make assessments in that way. Mindfulness, once you really give it a chance and get into it is a beautiful thing, but it's not necessarily what people say it is.

When people go oh, just be in the now, or people get really annoyed with it. I would do it because sometimes when you're really upset about something. You don't want to be in the now. What you really should be doing is understanding what is going on instead.

Ali: That's what I really tried to do in the book. I tried to apply mindfulness, so that is mindful, awareness, and attention to do exactly what you just said there, which is how do I feel about this?

I've worked through five different areas of life. Food, movement, exercise, and how we feel in our body. Space, ritual, and routine, so the habits and the way that we go to bed and stuff, and then the mindset the way that we think, and alcohol fell into quite a few of these categories, somebody really, but all of them really, because obviously, it is something that we ingest. 

We've got the nutrition side of it. You've got how it affects your body and how it makes you feel. How it affects you exercising and stuff. You've got space and that includes all of the people around you and the social pressures of it. You've got the ritual side of it is massive. I think that's actually where I put it in the book, and then mind so all of that mental chatter about what's going on. I want the alcohol, all of that stuff. My book is without saying be in the now, help us move through these different areas whether it's alcohol, junk food, or exercise, whatever it is, just a space that we're working in.

I think we're all working from home at the moment, […] is a tip for example. I've got my clothes all over my bed. I can't really quite concentrate. There are lots going on in our life so we can say how does that make me feel? How does eating a massive slice of chocolate cake just before bed make me feel? Yes, my mom might want it but it will probably make me feel guilty afterwards, and it makes me feel sluggish in my body. That's not what I believe in. I don't believe in eating junk food right before bed. I love my body and I care about myself.

It's mindfully looking at how we feel on a holistic level. That's body, mind, and heart in anything that we do. Alcohol obviously for me especially while I was writing this book was a really big one for me. I call that Wellfulness, that idea of looking at how something might […] in body, hearts, and minds. I applied Wellfulness to alcohol in such a deep, deep way, really deeply questioning with curiosity. How does this make me feel in a deep way? Not just surface level. It makes me feel relaxed.

There's always something else. What else is such a great question to ask if you're just starting on mindfulness or even without calling and asking why do I want to give up alcohol? Be a sustainable question and then say what else is there? Often, so many interesting answers are bubbled up from your subconscious. I think coming back to what you said about kindness and this negative thing especially with alcohol, we often judge a lot. We judge ourselves. We think that others are judging us. I'd love to talk about that with you, judgment in giving up alcohol. It’s such a big thing for me.

One thing that I was really worried about and I really used Wellfulness to inquire into this. What is going on here? I'm really worried. I didn't really drink a lot during the week but I would go to weddings and I'd quite enjoy getting drunk. It's not like I was pouring water on my cornflakes or anything, but when I gave up alcohol, I really worried that people would think that I was an alcoholic which I think is just really fascinating. I don't know. It's very interesting.

I think when you go through something as life changing as giving up alcohol, you've got your own stuff going on and then you can also have others reflect their stuff that's going on with them. They might have a reaction to what you're doing and reflect that back on to you. You got to deal with that as well. I think when stuff like that is going on it's really good to have mindfulness as a tool there to help you. Just take a breath and be like okay, right. Is that my stuff? What out of this situation is my stuff? What's their stuff? How is that stuff making me feel? What am I going to do with that? Can I apply some kindness? Can I apply some compassion to them and understand that we've got some stuff going on there that has nothing to do with me?

Mindfulness just has so many which tools within it. Coming back to being in the moment, you have to be in the moment to ask yourself how you feel. That's where it all begins really. I think it's been misrepresented in the media to be honest as to what mindfulness is.

Jen: It's a lot deeper. That's why we're here and that's why it's so lovely because we bang on about it so much. A lot of people have this. What does it mean? It's great that we're going through this but I'm going to pick up on what you said there about the judgment. Yes, let's talk about judgment because there is a lot of judgment but there is also a lot of judging by process. Sometimes we put that on other people. If you can look upon this, there is always going to be some tool who is like oh, you're no fun. They got a lot going on.

You're probably making them uncomfortable because they know they might be drinking a bit too much. You're making them uncomfortable because you're doing something that probably they know they should do. If we can look upon, love on these people, and go instead of feeling attacked, embarrassed, or something, if we can just take that opportunity and quickly go into yourself because all the mindfulness that you've been practicing at this point will all come to play and go there's something going on in that person's life. That is why they are acting this way. That's okay. I know my truth. I know why I'm here.

In the beginning, you were a bit worried. You're like how are people going to see me? Do you think that would come? Often when people say I don't drink. They go, why do you stop drinking? Did you have a problem? People don't understand that often you don't have to have a problem with alcohol for it to be causing problems in your life and your health.

Ali: I love that phrase. I've never had any like that. You don't have to have a problem with alcohol to be causing problems. I think that's so true. I think people feel there are a few things going on when you give up alcohol, junk food, sugar, whatever it is, or start doing something that's difficult like running. People might feel judged themselves because what they're doing is something that they might think I could never do or I think I've thought about doing that but I don't think I could. You often can experience judgment from other people but you can also put your own judgments onto other people.

I think I definitely need to walk away. I've always assumed that someone's going to judge me or that they are judging me and try to downplay it. I just don't really want a drink tonight or whatever rather than just owning it. Definitely in the beginning, I didn't tell anyone because I don't really want to invite anyone else's opinions on it. I want it to be great to be mine. I think in that sense, it was a healthy thing because I wanted to just experience it by myself and prove to myself that I could do it without going around telling everyone. I didn't feel the need for that. But ultimately, if you give that long enough people are going to start to notice and then I started to find a bit more confidence with it. I thought that I could tell people and not be moved by what they said.

I had a couple of situations especially writing for one where I would share it because I was really passionate about what I was discovering and finding. I couldn't believe it. I was almost like what are we doing? We should all be doing this, this is amazing. You don't have a hangover. You can go for a run. It feels great. I can’t wait to share it with everyone. I remember someone I'm writing on a Facebook post. You can't tell people not to drink alcohol, that's just really irresponsible. Some people don't have a problem with it, you just like […] 

I was really shocked because it was right at the beginning of it. I list my personal experience. I'm very careful to do this. I never write about anything saying, you should do this. I know how it's done. I'm not the guru, we can train in these things. I've changed in my yoga teaching. I will never be the best, none of us will. Anyone who tells you that they are the best person in the yoga world, or that they're the best yoga teacher.

Jen: Stay away. Run the other way.

Ali: When it comes to mindfulness, yoga, giving up alcohol, and stuff, these are personal journeys. You can share what you've learned along the way but you're not the person to tell people how they should do things. You can just share your experience and be the light. I've been very careful since writing for Psychologies to do that. I've just been writing about my past experience and what I discovered but for this person, it obviously triggered something deep within them. I was initially a bit upset that she made this so public. Why would you write that for everyone to see? Mindfulness, you can have that reaction internally, you look at that, and you go well, that reaction was weird. I could see how you got an ego reaction. How dare she? Respond to it.

I think the only thing you can do when you experience that judgment is respond with compassion. If you get caught up within that ego reaction, you're just going to cause yourself suffering. You just lay on it and put layers on top of it. It's like when anyone's mean to us, it's not really about us. It's about them and what they're going through. I feel really sad that she's had the reaction to this post because that's not what I intended. If you feel strongly enough about that to write it out in public, there's obviously something deep going on. I was a bit worried about that. Just sent her some energetic love or whatever, compassion basically. She let go of it and moved forward.

I think that […] with my journey has been ups and downs. There’s been times where I'm like wow, this is amazing. I'm never going to have […]. Other times where I felt oh, God. I'm so bored, just little moments of that.

Jen: We go through moments. That's one thing for all the listeners to really take in, it's okay to feel that way. Just because you quit, you start living healthy. Your organs are thanking you. Everything is going great. You're still going to have rubbish days where you have all the emotions, it's okay. Just remember your end goal and what you're really doing. Embrace these days. You're like you know what? It's one of these days. I'm feeling boring. It's okay to say it out loud but be conscious about it.

Mindfulness, I like that. It's cool. I'm living this out because if you don't, you're going to start doubting everything. It comes in. Interesting what you said about that person that’s commenting. There are very few things or subjects that trigger people like the subject of alcohol and not drinking alcohol. It's amazing. It's almost like poking a bear, isn't it? It's amazing how out of nowhere, people can come at you. Obviously, insecurities and stuff but it's amazing. Have you ever come across anything? We try to live mindful. Have you found any other subject that agitates people quite as much as alcohol?

Ali: Being vegan.

Jen: There's another one, right.

Ali: I don't know if anyone else is experiencing this, but there's one thing that we control when the world is crumbling around us. If you have climate change and that happens, we won't be able to control this. If we get a major dungeon or our partner leaves, whatever happens, the thing that we can control is food. It's something that we're doing every single day. It's widely available. We can have a lot of choice when it comes to what we eat and drink. I think a lot of people when they're going through tough times in their lives might either stop eating.

My husband, he won't mind me saying this, but he had a really bad skin condition a few years ago. He started to cut out dairy, gluten, and all of these things to try and fix his skin. It was awful. His whole face was in a rash for months on end. He got caught up in trying to control the situation through food. I think we have quite an emotional attachment to food when we're controlling stuff. When we perceive that someone is saying that we shouldn't be eating or drinking something that we find enjoyment from, we can get very territorial almost. You get people saying you can't tell me what to eat. You can't tell me what to drink.

Jen: That's true, that's a good way of seeing it. I've never really put them two together. This is a very good point. I'm not a vegan but I'm a vegetarian, mostly vegan. I just have a thing I can't give up, cheese. It's one of those things, cheese and egg, because I trained so much. I need my protein. I occasionally fish but otherwise I'm a vegetarian. Even that rubs people the wrong way. They're like, oh, vegetarian. But then they follow and comment oh, you're not going to become a vegan, are you? I'm like I don't think I'm too disciplined for that because I like honey, you don't like honey, and all that stuff.

I'm not doing it to prove a point. I'm not eating meat for my health purposes. I feel better without it and stuff, but you always find that you have to defend it. I can tell they relate to what you're saying but I never really made the connection. You're right. Vegetarians get a tough time from people with alcohol or related to that people control. I've never seen that, Ali. You blow my mind now. I love you in podcasts because I learn so much and that connection I have never made. Thank you for that.

Ali: You're right. The discipline is the thing as well because it's taking away control and freedom. Asking people to put discipline on themselves is difficult. It's really hard. Why should I give up something that I enjoy? It's really difficult to keep up if you don't want to do it. If they think you're trying to take that away from them, then you're going to get what we can get of it. 

Jen: Much like me, I drink on special occasions which is very rare. Again, we’re not telling people to quit drinking for life. A lot of our members choose to go that path once they’re still good and then they feel I don't trust myself to go back. Why would I want to go back? That's pretty much where I have to go. I did One Year No Beer myself because I was like well, I've had two kids. I didn't drink during that time. I've had these breaks but after each kid I was like can't wait to drink. I ended up actually doing c.

I remember reading all the amazing testimonials and hearing what people were thriving. I was like maybe there's something in there for me as well. That's how I started my path. Next thing I found sports. I've gone on a completely different path, so I'm genuinely not interested anymore. I never feel like oh, it's Friday. None of that is gone and it's the nicest feeling.

At a wedding, I might toast with a glass of bubbly or at someone's birthday, but it's not something that consumes me. I used to focus completely around that whole party and it was exhausting. We're telling people to try it. You have a little break. That's pretty much where you are. You had your break and then you feel now you're on this happy, wellfulness, mindful path where you are just in full control and rocking life basically.

Ali: For me there's three in life basically which is why I wrote the book about this. I want to live my life holistically. I believe that if we can live a holistic life, we live in an authentic one to our physical needs, emotional needs, and our heart needs. That would be our values. For me, our code does not take any of those boxes. It doesn't support me or serve me in my body, my mind, or my heart. Obviously, the body is an easy one. It makes us feel like crap the next day.

I've learned so much about alcohol since writing for One Year No Beer but one of the things I wrote about the other day was how women metabolize alcohol. The body has to form a poisonous substance in order to get the alcohol out, like I said, 30 milligrams of alcohol per hour or something. That's the only amount you can get rid out of your body per hour because we literally can't do any more. That amount of poisonous substance would overwhelm our bodies. Just getting rid of the alcohol from our system creates poison in our body. That isn't good. I don't care in what way but you can't leave it. That's no good. We can feel that. It feels horrible.

I was getting awful hangovers. The older I was getting, the worse they were getting. I knew it didn't support me in my body. In my mind, I would wake up and have the most anxious feelings being there and not being there. No amount of fun the night before was making up for that the next day, that happiest day. It makes me feel so anxious the next day. It rides off the next day. I wasn't happy the next day. You got the anxiety. It could ruin the next day. That didn't work for me in terms of mental health or enjoying life.

The biggest thing for me has been value in terms of parts. You got body and mind. The final piece of the wheel is the heart. For me, that's all about what makes you happy. You could argue getting drunk makes you feel really happy, I'll give you that. That's one use, it just doesn't align with who I want to be. I don't want to be that person making a taste of myself at a party which I know I was doing. We will do it. Now, I'm probably noticing this because we're all doing it, but I'm sober at parties. I was like oh, God. Was that me? It's just not who I am. It's not who I want to be. I want to put kindness out there. I want to do good things. I want to put positivity out there, teach, learn, and share. Why not?

Kindness to me is the thing that I uphold on the greatest level. I don't think we put kindness as a priority when we're drunk. I definitely didn't. There's one thing at this first wedding that happened and it's one of the things that stuck with me forever. One of my friends had the highest pair of stilettos than mine. It's really funny. She trod on another girl's foot with her stilettos and it almost made a hole in her foot. It was bleeding everywhere, the bruising came up straight away. She screamed and everyone was like oh, no. I ran off and got some ice, whatever. Within 30 seconds, she was left, because everyone's getting on with their night. Everyone puts on their own joy and fun in that moment in the party and she was just left there. I just saw it almost like this isn't fun.

Jen: Literally lie there, dying on the ground. People will dance around you.

Ali: They're my friends and I love them, but I know that they wouldn't have acted like that. It was horrible honestly but I know there's a lot more care and attention if they weren't drunk. That really stuck with me. For me, it's asking how does this make me feel in my body? How does this make me feel in my mind? How does it make me feel in my heart? If it doesn't serve me and support me, then why am I doing it? That's what goes out. You could apply it to so many things that we do.

I applied it to running. I hate running. It doesn't make me feel good. It makes my knees hurt. I'm bored in my mind. I want to give up. I don't find it fun in my heart. So why am I doing it? It's nothing to me. It's as easy as that. Let it go. Go and do something that you love that makes you great and works for you. Yoga makes me feel good. It changed my body. I enjoy it. I'm interested in it.

Jen: Find what makes you tick, basically.

Ali: With alcohol, it does […] for me, but it doesn't in any way on a historic level. After I discovered that, it's been a no brainer. I love to have it with you.  I'm moving house in a couple of weeks. I've been waiting for a year and a half to find it, living with my parents. I'm at the age of 33 with my husband, it's not been the ideal, though I will miss it very much. I realized it in the past couple of days. When we begin, I share a glass or bottle of Lanson in the fridge. I'm going to share a small glass of Champagne. What would be lovely is it's marking the occasion but it's not for them getting drunk. For me, that's good.

Jen: It's a ritual of it, the most beautiful way to see it. It does the whole thing awake. It doesn't control you. It doesn't mean anything other than celebrating in the moment and the way that you've known before, but it starts and ends there. It doesn't mean anything else and that's the beauty. That is what we wish for all of our members. Most of our members get to that point and what else we wish for anyone who's going to take up our challenge. We want them to know that. It can be so hard in the beginning. It felt quite obtainable at the end of the day. My English is terrible. It felt so far-fetched that you're actually going to get there but you will. It's just about applying all of these tools that we guide you guys towards. You will come to this very beautiful place where it doesn't mean anything other than that.

Thank you so much to you beautiful lady for sharing this. I feel so zen right now. I feel like I want to go do yoga. You're inspiring me. Thank you so much. I would love to revisit with the podcast in a couple of months, maybe to see how you got on with your book, how you got on with your mindfulness teacher, and all that jazz. That would be great. Thank you so much. 

On behalf of OYNB, thank you for all the writing that you do for us and for being a lovely addition to the One Year No Beer family. Thank you. All of you listeners, thanks for listening in. This is Ali Roff Farrar. Look up on her book, The Wellfulness Project on Amazon right now. Ali, thank you so much for coming on. I really appreciate it. Take care.

Ali: Bye.

Jen: Bye.

If you’d like to know more about Ali, you can go to her website, You can find her on Instagram under @aliroff. She's also got a brilliant podcast called The Wellfulness Podcast. As well as her book of course, The Wellfulness Book which can be found on Amazon and other book retailers.

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