Sometimes, all it takes is changing one thing about your diet and lifestyle to change your life forever. Karen Moloney learned this when she went alcohol-free 2 years ago. This decision not only helped her lose weight, improve her diet, and sleep better, but it also helped her make some big decisions in life and business and improve her overall quality of life.
I was lucky enough to score an interview with Karen about her story. But before we get into her health journey, let me give you an idea of what a badass she really is.
Karen Moloney left her corporate job in 2007 to start her first business and work for herself. Her first business won 11 industry awards for excellence in Aus and overseas, and she started her second business in 2019. Can you believe that she turned over nearly a million dollars from her third bedroom, while being a first-time mom? No excuses, right?
Okay, as promised, here is my interview with Karen:
How Soon After Going Alcohol-Free Did You Start to Notice Benefits?
Within the first couple of weeks.
What Benefits Did You Experience in Terms of Your Health and Life After Going Alcohol-Free?
The two most noticeable benefits were that my sleep improved dramatically and my anxiety levels decreased significantly. I have a lot more mental clarity and feel more even-tempered than I did previously. Those things, in turn, have improved my relationships and enabled me to make better choices about everything.
2a. Were There Any Unexpected Benefits?
I had suffered from numerous food-related allergies and intolerances for many years and followed a low FODMAP diet. A few months after removing alcohol from my life, I started to notice that I could tolerate things like ice cream and certain fruits and vegetables much more regularly with no side effects.
I also lost about 5 kg in weight and have managed to keep it off. While alcohol contains a lot of sugar, the night-time snacks that accompanied the wine didn’t help! I think the fact that I am getting more sleep is also helping my digestive system work better.
What Advice Would You Give Someone Who Wants to Stop a Bad Habit Like Consuming Too Much Alcohol?
Be patient with yourself. Habits are formed over time and take time to change. Awareness is the first step in that process, so the fact that you are even thinking about changing your habits around alcohol is a huge thing – it means your mind and body are ready for change. You just need to persevere if it’s what you really want to achieve.
Support is important. When I decided I wanted to change my relationship with alcohol, I had no idea it would be a long-term thing. I joined a 28-day challenge online and at the end, I felt so good I just kept going and it’s now been over 2 years since I last drank alcohol. The support I have had from my friends and family has been great – they weren’t sure if it was a joke at first but now they can see the positive changes in me. It’s made a few of them consider their own habits. The 28-day challenge came with an online community which is the most supportive group I have ever been part of. 22,000 everyday people, not judging and just helping each other out with things they find out on their own journeys. People I now consider to be my “tribe.”
What Did Your Typical Diet Look Like Before You Gave up Alcohol and What Does it Look Like Now?
I consumed far more carbs before and was following a low FODMAP diet due to a number of food intolerances. Now I can eat pretty much anything I like and don’t have the sugar cravings that I used to. My main meals were always “good” but I think I spoiled that with the snacking while drinking and giving into sugar cravings because my body was lacking in Vitamin B. Now I practice intermittent fasting and am enjoying eating less, but better.
What Motivates You Now?
The same things as before – my family, my business – but now I feel like I have this amazing AF superpower that is helping me actually achieve my goals rather than just dreaming about them.
What Are Your Goals Moving Forward?
- To integrate yoga and meditation into my life as a daily practice
- To grow my business team so that I can work a 3-day week and still earn a decent wage
- To spend more time travelling (as much as we can in the current climate) and trying new things with my family
What Are You the Most Proud of?
Not giving in. Some days and in certain situations, the temptation is there to just have a glass of delicious pinot noir. But I know that it won’t make me feel good and now I’m more inclined to stick up for a good night’s sleep instead of giving into the wine witch! Earlier this year, I lost my dad to COVID. He died just 3 weeks after contracting the disease and as he lived in the UK, I didn’t get to see him or go to his funeral and I still haven’t seen my family. But through all of that, I haven’t once felt the need to have a drink – the opposite in fact. My body was craving green veggies and water the whole time – and I gave it lots of both! Now I feel like being AF is my superpower because if I can get through that situation without needing alcohol, I can get through anything.
How Has Going Alcohol-Free Helped You in Your Career?
Better sleep and mental clarity gave me the confidence to make some big career decisions early in my AF journey. I realised that the business I had been running for 10 years was the one everyone else expected me to run, not the one I wanted to run. I was servicing big corporate clients and managing projects that burnt me out and left little time for myself or my family. I left full-time employment and started my own business for more flexibility and family time and I was getting neither. I closed that business down and started a new one working with small businesses, doing what I love and haven’t looked back. Running any business is hard, but when you’re not doing what you love every day, it’s so much harder.
What Do You Do Now to Help You Manage Stress?
I don’t get as stressed now as I used to. Improved sleep and the mental clarity that comes with it helps me to see situations differently and not react so quickly. My stress often comes from trying to do too many things at once, so I use mind-mapping as a way to empty the thoughts in my head and then I use the map to create an action plan or write things in my task lists. Once things are written down somewhere, I find this quietens the noise and I know what I need to do.
I also use meditation as a way to quiet the noise and stress of daily life. People often think meditation is about thinking of nothing or being in silence, when it’s really about learning how to let everything go on around you without having any attachment to it. Understanding what is in your control and out of your control is an important part of managing stress.
What Does Being Kind to Your Body Mean to You?
Listening to what my body is telling me and acting on it. If I’m tired, I get more sleep. If I ache, I do yoga. If I feel stressed, I meditate. I put myself first, which sounds odd to some people, especially moms, as we are always running around after other people. But I know that if I am not looking after myself 100%, then I won’t be able to give as well to others. Like they say on planes – in case of emergency, fit your own oxygen mask first before helping other passengers.
JH: How inspiring is Karen’s story? She is proof that you can do whatever you set your mind to and that sometimes, one challenge can change your life in more ways than you could have ever imagined.
If you need some help with marketing, you can check out Karen’s website by following this link: https://www.bluebeanmedia.com.au/