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About Me

About Me

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Hi, I’m Elaina and I want to help you live life on your terms, find a career you love, and travel as often as you want. 

 

I’ve lived, worked, and traveled to more than 60 countries, including some pretty off-the-beaten path destinations like Mongolia, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Paraguay. I’ve also lived out of a suitcase as a full-time nomad for the past 4.5 years, ever since leaving my management consulting gig in New York back in 2013 when I landed an international role at a media company that sent me all over the world to work. You can read my full story here

 

What makes my story unique is that I’ve traveled AND built a professional career, working for companies like IBM and Uber over the years. I’ve also spent long stretches of time freelancing and traveling adventurously through South America, Asia, and Africa. I’m currently freelance writing, coaching professionals through career transitions, and working on a few small business ideas while splitting my time between Berlin, the US, and India. 

 

I write about self-development, digital nomadism, charting unconventional life paths, finding REAL jobs overseas, pursuing long-term travel, and living more purposefully in a fast-paced, confusing world. There’s simply no one-size-fits-all model for creating a life you love. I’m not a full-time digital nomad and I’m not a full-time corporate professional: I’ve done things a bit differently and I think it’s feasible for more people to live “off the beaten path” this way. I hope my blog lets you see that it’s both possible and practical.  

 

I started this blog because I want to help you find an exciting career, travel the world, break the norms, and develop yourself both personally and professionally. Read on or get in touch to set up a 1:1 session with me: elaina@lifebefore30.com.

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Two Years Later: Why Changing My Relationship to Alcohol is the Best Thing I Ever Did for Myself

Posted on April 4th, 2017

The last time I got drunk was in May 2015, when I was (ironically enough) living in Qatar. It’s a big thing for Doha expats to do boozy brunches on the weekend and that was officially the last time I went out with the intention to get intoxicated. 

 

rship to alcohol

 

It’s been two years now, and I’d never go back to how I lived and partied before. 

 

At the time, I didn’t expect to give up drinking permanently. Ramadan was approaching and that was simply the last boozy brunch we’d be able to do for awhile as the country moved into a religious period of fasting, sobriety, and reflection. Coincidentally, I also lost all of my friends in Qatar — they quit their jobs, got fired, moved to a different country, you name it — within a period of just a few weeks. 

 

To combat the boredom and loneliness, and perhaps mirroring the mindful austerity of Ramadan, I dove into a period of self-reflection and self-education, which was when I stumbled into a wealth of information about diet, fitness, and well-being. I had always eaten whatever I wanted and never exercised, but I suddenly became curious about ways to improve my health. I also was in a bit of a work slump, not feeling energized or excited, so I hypothesized that perhaps investing in my physical and spiritual well-being could jump-start my uninspiring professional life (I turned out to be right).

 

It was at this time that I came across information I’d never seen before about the long-term affects of alcohol and possible links to cancer and other serious illnesses. I’m also a long-term sufferer of GERD, which is seriously aggravated by alcohol and frequently causes me to lose my voice after especially debaucherous weekends, so I started looking into ways to alleviate this problem.  

 

Since I had no friends to drag me out and alcohol would be unavailable for purchase anywhere in the country during the next month of Ramadan, I decided to conduct an experiment: I would give up alcohol for 60 days for the first time since I started drinking at 17. I just wanted to see what would happen. (The first article I wrote about this 60-day experiment provides a lot of interesting information on alcohol consumption and health: I Went 60 Days Without Alcohol and This is What I Learned.)

 

For the first 30 days, I absolutely craved it. I wanted wine with dinner, I was lonely on Friday nights with no plans, I salivated slightly when I saw beers in the movies. And after the forced detox due to Ramadan ended, I still had 30 days to go with alcohol back on the store shelves and flowing out of taps in all the hotel bars. 

 

I made the transition easier by complementing the reduction of alcohol with eating healthier and exercising — also something I was trying for the first time in my life. I found that when I started eating primarily fruits and vegetables, juicing every day, and eating less meat and sugar that I also stopped craving alcohol. It’s like my body knew it was suddenly getting the good treatment and wanted to support the positive feedback loop that was occurring. I became excited to work out in the morning, so the idea of staying out until 3am and waking up with a hangover was less and less appealing. I had more time to read and write and found sipping tea in the colorful local market was even more stimulating than standing around a bar and drinking with friends.

 

I stopped purchasing alcohol in the grocery store, so there was no temptation at home, a practice I still follow (and now I do the same with meat). I discovered that as I went along, I was no longer saying no to alcohol, but yes to a lifestyle that gave me more intellectual and creative stimulation, kept my mind clear and articulate, and improved my work and my writing. I slowly won over new friends who valued good conversation over pounding beers until the early morn. My sleep schedule regulated itself, my energy levels were higher than they’d ever been, and I sure as hell didn’t miss the hangovers, which were getting more painful every year. My GERD was also gone and I didn’t miss having laryngitis and acid reflux either. 

 

Shortly after leaving Qatar, I went on an 18 month backpacking trip through Europe and Asia that presented itself with plenty of temptation. Yet I was so energized by my new body that my alcohol fast naturally perpetuated itself. I would go out with the backpackers and drink water (sometimes pretending I had ordered a gin and tonic just to keep the peace) until midnight and then head back to get a good sleep so I could enjoy the next day of exploration and adventure. To me, backpacking was no longer about wild nights out in Budapest or Goa, but about staying centered, working on my freelance business, and traveling slowly and purposefully. I even attended the notoriously wild Full Moon Party in Thailand and stayed completely sober. Suspending my early bedtime routine for the special occasion, I was still dancing at 10am the next day, everyone else passed out, strung out, or vomiting by that point. I had officially learned how to have fun without drinking. 

 

After almost a year of accidental sobriety, I attended a 10-day Vipassana course that brought meditation into my daily routine for the first time, and any serious practitioner of yoga and meditation will know that alcohol and drugs are incompatible with the practice and downright undesirable once you’ve begun to develop a natural balance in the body and mind. I felt clear as glass, yet just as fragile. It was a precarious state that I felt could be easily upset by any intoxication. The benefits of maintaining that balance and working on my journey to solidify that state of centeredness and clarity was well worth the effort it sometimes required to stay sober. 

 

After a year in Asia, I reached Europe and started to reintroduce alcohol back into my life in ways I felt comfortable and empowered by. I would enjoy wine with dinner in Paris. I would have a craft beer with a friend in Germany. But most of the time I continued to go out without drinking and I still haven’t resumed the practice of drinking as any kind of activity. I'll go to happy hour and order a virgin cocktail. I find I don't miss out on anything and no one notices the difference. (I've entirely lost the desire to "feel a buzz." Actually, after so thoroughly cleaning out my system, 1-2 drinks makes me feel sleepy and slightly nauseous.) It's amazing how unimportant whether you drink or not really is in most situations. To me, it seems like a lazy social trigger: "Oh everyone else is having a beer, I should do the same." Or a visual trigger: "I see a beer, so I think I want one." (Sometimes not seeing it for awhile is the only way through that period, by the way.)

 

In general, I don’t “go out” or “party” anymore in the traditional sense. My house in Bondi Beach, where I currently live in Australia, throws notorious parties, 200 people pouring into our cliff-side backyard until the cops show up. I love it, but sometimes I have to admit that it’s just not as fun when everyone else is messed up and I see everything with a clear and, as the night goes on, sleepy head. I don’t want to ignore the drawbacks of my current life choices, so of course things aren’t as fun when you’re not drunk, and I often find myself doing an Irish goodbye and heading home early when I start to cringe at everyone’s stinky boozy breath and incoherent jokes.

 

As my precarious mental and spiritual balance has begun to solidify, I’m no longer opposed to getting tipsy on occasion — but on a special occasion, not just because I’m bored and it’s Friday night and it’s what everyone else is doing and this is the pattern my youth and society have driven me into. I’m purposeful about how I consume alcohol now, which I find to be a bit different from most other people. A vast majority of (especially young) people consume alcohol without much thought as to how to affects their bodies and minds or what alternatives exist and how those alternatives might make them feel.

 

I’ll never preach that you should stop drinking or do what I’ve done or live how I live. I simply want to share my experience because it’s been the best thing I’ve ever done for myself and I think there might be benefit in other people conducting similar experiments. Because I think more people should be purposeful about what they consume, whether it’s alcohol or coffee or marijuana or meat, and I believe there’s tremendous gains to be made by knowing one’s body and mind better. (Studies also show that simply by abstaining from alcohol for even one month, you can reduce your overall consumption by 70%+ for the next 6 months, a huge benefit in and of itself.).

 

I also think there’s value in questioning how a $400 billion dollar industry has permeated our society so deeply that the vast majority of the population doesn’t stop to evaluate or readjust their consumption of such a heavily promoted substance. Start to take note of how many alcohol advertisements you see, how often you see alcohol in TV and movies, how often it's correlated with socializing, dancing, laughing, being in a good mood, having sex, or having fun with friends. Are these true correlations or just stratgeic marketing? 

 

All in all, I’m immensely grateful to those friends who left me alone in Qatar in 2015. That unexpected period of solace and reflection gave me time to derive lifelong habits and insights that I wouldn’t have had the time or courage to develop otherwise. 

 

Now it’s my hope that by sharing my experience, I can help motivate others to take a step back, evaluate their relationship to alcohol, and modify it in a way that isn’t about arbitrarily saying no to drinking, but about saying yes to a myriad of other opportunities. I assure you I’ve never felt better, had better relationships, produced more vibrant creative work, expressed myself as articulately, slept better, saved more money, or lived more intensely and purposefully as I do now. 

 

Interested to read more? To see how it all started, read my in-depth reasoning as to why I started giving up alcohol in the first place and my practical suggestions on how to do so: I Went 60 Days Without Alcohol and This is What I Learned.

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About Me

About Me

IMG_5937

Hi, I’m Elaina and I want to help you live life on your terms, find a career you love, and travel as often as you want. 

 

I’ve lived, worked, and traveled to more than 60 countries, including some pretty off-the-beaten path destinations like Mongolia, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Paraguay. I’ve also lived out of a suitcase as a full-time nomad for the past 4.5 years, ever since leaving my management consulting gig in New York back in 2013 when I landed an international role at a media company that sent me all over the world to work. You can read my full story here

 

What makes my story unique is that I’ve traveled AND built a professional career, working for companies like IBM and Uber over the years. I’ve also spent long stretches of time freelancing and traveling adventurously through South America, Asia, and Africa. I’m currently freelance writing, coaching professionals through career transitions, and working on a few small business ideas while splitting my time between Berlin, the US, and India. 

 

I write about self-development, digital nomadism, charting unconventional life paths, finding REAL jobs overseas, pursuing long-term travel, and living more purposefully in a fast-paced, confusing world. There’s simply no one-size-fits-all model for creating a life you love. I’m not a full-time digital nomad and I’m not a full-time corporate professional: I’ve done things a bit differently and I think it’s feasible for more people to live “off the beaten path” this way. I hope my blog lets you see that it’s both possible and practical.  

 

I started this blog because I want to help you find an exciting career, travel the world, break the norms, and develop yourself both personally and professionally. Read on or get in touch to set up a 1:1 session with me: elaina@lifebefore30.com.

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Five years ago, I changed my whole life in 30 days. I scored the job of my dreams, quit my job in New York, sold everything I owned, moved to West Africa, and never looked back. Read about it here.

 

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Currently in: Malawi

 

 

Previously in: Berlin

 

img_6015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s Hot

Recent Posts

Coaching

Coaching

Step into my office!

 

Five years ago, I changed my whole life in 30 days. I scored the job of my dreams, quit my job in New York, sold everything I owned, moved to West Africa, and never looked back. Read about it here.

 

Now I use Office Hours to help my clients do the same.

 

Do you want to travel but are scared to quit your job?

Do you want to find a job overseas but don’t know where to start?

Do you wake up in the morning dreading what’s ahead?

Read more

Like Me on Facebook

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Follow me on twitter

Follow me on twitter

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Elaina on Instagram