A celebrated Australian fitness model and mother of two, whose extreme addiction to alcohol almost killed her, showed how she learned how to socialize in her life without alcohol.
Justine Whitchurch, 47, of the Gold Coast, has embraced a healthy lifestyle for the past seven years after quitting alcohol when she saw what it meant for both her own life and that of her children.
Now recovery is at the heart of Justine's life, and she said she needs to find a social circle that "suits my recovery."
NOW: A fitness model and mother of two whose extreme addiction to alcohol almost killed her have shown how she learned to socialize without alcohol (Justine Whitchurch now pictured).
BEFORE: Justine Whitchurch, 47, has been living a healthy lifestyle for seven years after quitting alcohol when she saw what it did to her life and children (pictured before).
"For most of the population, the thought of entering the social arena alcohol-free is not a concept they would ever consider," Justine told FEMAIL.
“Australia is a drinking nation, after all, and we are the world's largest population (per capita) of social drinkers. It has become an integral part of our culture and a very acceptable one. & # 39;
Justine said it can be difficult to tell people that you "don't drink today" or even "never drink again," but once you do, you will never regret it.
"Alcohol is the only drug you have to justify NOT taking," she said.
NOW: Since Justine stopped using alcohol, she (now in the picture) has taken up fitness, has become a fitness trainer and has taken part in various competitions
BEFORE: Justine (previously pictured) said in the worst case scenario, she consumed at least three bottles of wine a day as well as some "vodka shots if she wanted to go undetected".
Justine quit alcohol when she was 40, having been on alcohol around the clock for most of her teenage years, twenties and thirties.
BEFORE: Doctors told the mother of two (see picture before) that she would only have months to live if she continued the same way
Worst-case, in the six months prior to quitting, the 47-year-old consumed at least three bottles of wine a day while drinking, with occasional vodka shots thrown in if she wanted to go "undetected".
"The only turning point was my nine-year-old daughter, who looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, 'Mom, I'm afraid that you won't be better," said Justine.
“I lost 14 kg in six months, my liver value was 2500 (it should have been 42), my triglycerides were so high that I was a great risk of heart attack, my platelet count was so low that I was bruised from head to toe Hair fell out.
"It got to the point where my father saw me for the first time in months and he said that if he hadn't known it was me, he wouldn't have recognized his own daughter."
Doctors also told Justine that if she continued on her path, she would only have months to live.
NOW: Ever since Justine stopped drinking, she has learned to connect with others by mostly going out for breakfast, coffee or long walks
BEFORE AND AFTER: While she said the first few months of sobriety are "the toughest", it gets easier when you avoid situations like the pub or bar entirely
Justine stated that when she first stopped, the first few months were the "hardest".
"There is a lot about self-protection in the early stages of recovery," she said.
"You cannot expect to be exposed to social situations with no effect."
If you want to give up, the 47 year old recommends that you try to distract yourself as often as possible.
"Try to do things that are good for your health, like exercise, eating well and sleeping, and reconnecting with the things you used to love," she said.
NOW: "Try doing things that are good for your health like exercise, eating well and sleeping, and reconnecting with the things you used to love," Justine offered as advice
After getting through the first stage, the mom of two explained that you still need to be careful what you do and choose your social occasions wisely:
"When you start socializing again, choose a time of day that you know will be the least enticing," she said.
“For me it was always breakfast or brunch. At this time of day, you are less likely to have an opportunity to have a drink. And remember, you don't have to explain a lot. & # 39;
When you start socializing again, choose a time of day that you know will be the least enticing
The 47-year-old also vowed to attend social events that blend in with health and fitness, such as a long walk through a national park, beach, or botanical garden.
"Encourage and influence your friends by showing the way," Justine said.
Of course, there are certain occasions when you feel like you need to go to a bar or pub, be it a birthday party, engagement or party.
"If you're socializing and you're still uncomfortable without something in hand, take a wine glass and fill it with soda and lime," Justine said.
“Better still, when the influx of questions about why you aren't drinking gets too bearable, add some apple juice to your soda to make it look like you're chugging around on a chardonnay. Nobody will tell the difference. & # 39;
NOW: Part of what makes Justine's story so incredible is that not only has she scratched herself back from the brink of malaise, but that her health overhaul has turned her into a fitness model
Finally, Justine said that one of the best ways to give up on alcohol while having a social life at the same time is to be honest with those who are closest to you:
& # 39; When I am asked "Why don't you drink anything?" or my favorite, "Can't you just have one?" I'm confident enough now to say, "Actually no. I can't just have one. Because one becomes two for me, one becomes three and ultimately everything becomes consuming and ruined my life completely. Is that reason enough for you? "
"Your reasons are your reasons," said Justine. "Have it."
NOW: Her commitment meant that not only would she enter her first bikini modeling contest at 41, but she would also compete three times
What are Justine Whitchurch's health secrets?
1. Eat lots of greens.
2. Get at least seven or eight hours of sleep each night.
3. Drink several liters of water.
4. Moisturize your entire body twice a day.
5. Make an effort with your makeup – it's worth it.
6. Highlight your cheekbones.
7. Make an effort with both your eyebrows and eyelashes. Women can look a lot older if they don't take care of these two areas.
8. Eat and eat regularly, but stock your plate with healthy proteins and vegetables.
9. Create a support network and take into account the daily movement of your regime.
10. Use good anti aging products.
Part of what makes Justine's story so incredible is that not only has she scraped herself back from the brink of desperate malaise, but that her health overhaul has turned her into a fitness model.
At 40 and freshly sober, she showed that she had made it her business to lose 17 kg of unwanted weight.
While she said exercising was something she resisted at first because she felt so bad about her gym skills, a session with a personal trainer helped change everything.
& # 39; He was very encouraging but also extremely black and white (in his thinking). He told me about it and, if anything, taught me how to use the "just fight" mentality, "she said.
“I trained with him at least three times a week for about two years. To this day, I affirm that most of my recovery was that he passed his passion for training on to me. & # 39;
Her commitment meant that not only would she enter her first bikini modeling contest at age 41, but she would also compete three times.
And today Justine teaches others through her work as a fitness trainer that the impossible is always possible.
"I'm healthy, fit, happy, and present and you can't find that kind of shit in a bottle," she wrote on her Instagram page.
Justine is the author of the upcoming book, Sobriety Delivered Everything Alcohol Promised, which will be published later in the year.
You can find more information about Justine Whitchurch on her website Here.
For support with alcohol-related problems and addiction problems, please contact one of the many services available, talk to your family doctor, the local health service or call a hotline. Trained telephone counselors are available in every Australian state and territory.
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