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Building Your Recovery Capital with Ally Morton



In this episode I sit down with Ally Morton, who is a recovery coach based in the UK! Fun fact: Ally completed her 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training with the Mindful Life Practice and her 30 Hour Sober Curious Yoga Teacher Training as well!

Ally is a certified recovery coach and life coach based in London, UK. She specialises in alcohol, substance abuse, and eating disorder recovery. Ally is passionate about helping individuals release addictive behaviours so that they can step forward into an authentic and meaningful life.


In this episode, Ally and I chat about her sober story, what building your "Recovery Capital" means, the importance of nutrition in sobriety, and the work Ally does now as a coach!


Listen here!


If you enjoyed this episode please don’t forget to subscribe, rate and share the podcast so it can reach more people that it will serve and benefit.


To learn more about Ally's work, check out her website: https://www.allymortoncoaching.com. Follow me on Instagram @alexmcrobs and check out my offerings in yoga, meditation and coaching at http://themindfullifepractice.com/.


Transcript


Alex: Hi friend this is Alex McRobbs founder of the Mindful Life Practice and you're listening to the Sober Yoga Girl podcast. I'm a Canadian who moved across the world to the Middle East at age 23 and I never went back. I got sober in 2019 and I now live full-time in Bali, Indonesia. I've made it my mission to help other women around the world stop drinking, start yoga and change their lives through my online sober girls yoga Community. You're not alone and a sober life can be fun and fulfilling, let me show you how.


[Music]


Alex: All right, hello hello everyone. Welcome back to another episode of Sober Yoga Girl. I am so excited to be sitting down with Ally Morton today and I've known Ally for a really long time. She joined the Mindful Life Practice Community about a year ago. Did her Yoga Teacher Training with me, did her 30 Hours Sober Curious Yoga Teacher Training and we have sort of not chatted for a long time actually so I'm really excited to have her on the show to hear more about her sober journey and just to learn more from her story. So, welcome Ally, how are you?


Ally: Uh, thanks so much Alex. It's so lovely to see you after, yes we have had a bit of a gap but I still feel connected to you so yeah it's lovely to see you and uh yeah I'm thrilled to be talking to you about sober things it's wonderful.


Alex: So nice to have you and Ali is in the UK so I'm in Bali right now so it's about seven hour time difference which is pretty cool so I think it's the morning for you right?


Ally: Yeah, I'm in I'm in London and it is now yeah morning 11:20 a.m so yeah.


Alex: Awesome and


Ally: I'm, I'm very familiar with the time zone dance because now I'm coaching. I work with people in all different time zones so like you I'm constantly like doing mental maths about like time zones and trying not to mess it up.


Alex: Get pretty good at it over time.


Ally: Yes, Certain Time Zones I'm like oh yeah that's Australia is um yeah I know that some have done pretty well West Coast East Coast.


Alex: Yeah.


Ally: But it's still


Alex: Yeah.


Ally: A lot of mental maths.


Alex: Yeah. so I was wondering if we could start out by you sharing a little bit about your story with alcohol so your drinking story and what kind of led up to to your sober Journey?


Ally: Yeah so, I I grew up in the UK. I'm from London, I still live in London now although I have moved around. I've come back here and in the UK there is really quite a strong drinking culture that I grew up with so it was very common to start drinking in your teen, even though the legal age is actually 18. When I was a teenager it was very common to be drinking and to be going to pubs underage. You could still do that back then. I think now it's a bit trickier but when I was a teenager it was a little bit more lacks. So yeah drinking was part of the culture, it was the big thing that you did socially so I would describe myself as a social drinker in my teens. I didn't really sort of notice any sort of issues around drinking in my 20s at all. I was, I was very intermittent and I was very into my fitness so I drank when I was out and I never had alcohol in the house. So that was, that was sort of my 20s and then I, I did drink when I was out there so when I in my late 20s I had a long-term relationship with somebody who was a very heavy drinker and became a very problematic Drinker and that I'm not blaming this person but when you live with somebody and alcohol takes on this kind of I guess it took on a more of a pivotal role of more than just social, it was, we were drinking at home regularly. We were drinking when we went out, half our state was, was in a pub. All our, all our social activities of all drugs, alcohol so I think over the course of that relationship and then over time um alcohol started to play a bigger role in my life more and more that relationship actually ended and that person ended up with, with um a very low bottom in terms of alcohol addiction. So, I've kind of experienced um the world of alcohol use disorder from a couple of sides. So I like, a lot of people, I never thought that kind of thing would happen to me, though. I thought I was somehow special or different that I carried on with my own drinking over the course of the rest of my 20s into my 30s and over time when I started to compare that 10-year span between my mid-20s to my mid-30s. It, from going to, from going from somebody who very rarely had alcohol in the fridge at all and would be quite surprised um when someone came over with wine to my house in my twenties versus in my 30s you would be surprised if you didn't find alcohol in my fridge and it would be a surprise if I didn't drink with you every night you came over or when I was on my own. I started drinking so I think that big shift and that big that transition when you compare over 10 years was quite dramatic but over time it's quite a slow drift of change. So, I think I was just in this kind of very gradual but downward slope with alcohol and another thing that was happening with me is I come from an eating disorder background. So, I was on my kind of recovery Journey from eating disorder and binge eating and bulimia with my sort of um Disorder. So, in my attempts to heal from that, I did notice and I see this with clients now as well that because I wasn't fully healing that area that binging was coming out in the form of alcohol binging. So I was starting to cross over from one to the other. So because I wasn't here you know, I hadn't found the correct tools and supports to heal my eating disorder fully so it ended up seeping over into into problematic behaviors around alcohol. So that's what started happening with me and I was because I was in recovery without really realizing but because I was trying to solve my eating disorder, I was growing an awareness around my alcohol consumption at the same time there's two things happening at the same time and I started having to get really honest with myself about what was happening in my life and the way I was living versus the way I wanted to live and in that kind of process of really reading researching doing a lot of self-reflection a lot of journaling a lot of sitting with myself and really thinking about things it was in that process I that the question kept coming up to me as is alcohol serving me? Always holding me back? And I think I danced around that for quite some time. That kind of decision making process and now that I have come out the other side and I've done training and I'm a recovery coach. I can see now that that was called my pre-contemplation phase my contemplation phase where I was really sitting with myself and thinking a lot before I took the action and that, that phase was a good, a good couple of years if not longer of considering thinking about leaving alcohol behind trying things not, not doing it not making the the final decision. So, I would try moderating and I'm sure you've, you've had this kind of conversation many times and I'm sure many of us did this which was I would ration out my alcohol and I would plan around when I was going to drink when I wasn't going to drink and I had this whole sort of dance in my head constantly that was playing over and over and it took up a lot of mental energy you know. Planning out, thinking about when I would drink, how much I would drink and then a kind of constantly feeling disappointed in myself when I didn't stick to that plan and when I intend to drink a couple of drinks and end up drinking four or five drinks and feel that kind of inability to control my drinking once I started and that started to really scare me. My inability to, to exercise control over my drinking. So it was that combined with all the work I was doing around eating and my eating disorder recovery that made me finally made that final decision to quit and that has been the most brilliant decision and the most positive change in my life and it led me, it sort of led to My World opening up and a whole new life sort of unfolding in front of me, which um has led me back to London. I was living in the Netherlands at the time when I decided to quit it. Led me to retraining as a, as a coach and moving into a much more sort of heartfelt authentic career and life so I've really changed so much about myself and a big part of that was my, the work I did on myself and then the decision to quit alcohol. Yeah, just opened up my life and allowed me to, to look away I really wanted to and there was no longer feeling held back and kept small by alcohol and other things but alcohol was a big part of that decision so that's a bit about my um story. Is there anything that stands out to you?


Alex: That's amazing and thank you so much for sharing all the different parts of your journey and how you got to where you are today and what was really resonating with me when you were sharing was we just had a conversation about um food and how food can heal you right before we started the podcast and then you sharing about your addiction transference of you having this eating disorder and then it transferring to binging with alcohol and I think there's so many people or listeners out there that could probably relate to this I had one guest on the podcast who called it addiction whack-a-mole right do you know the game?


Ally: Yeah that's a great, addiction whack-a-mole, yeah that is absolutely perfect analogy because yes if we, if you don't yeah, if you don't smooth the surface it's going to pop up in another area of your life that those because really um an eating disorder or alcohol use disorder, substance use disorder is is generally like it's symptomatic of something else that's going on in your life you're trying to cope with and you're using, I guess you would call it a maladaptive Behavior to cope with something that um you need to find new new ways to cope with. So really I needed to figure out some things about myself and figure out new ways to cope that we're not with food or alcohol and in doing that um yeah we are releasing alcohol release and healing my relationship with food was the key to my um success of my recovery Journey.


Alex:Yeah wow, um so tell me about, so how many years ago was that that you chose sobriety?



Ally: Um so, I was with several years that I was dancing with it and then I cut completely um coming on for two years.


Alex: Okay, amazing.


Ally: Yeah.


Alex: Congratulations.


Ally: Thanks.


Alex: So when you first quit drinking what tools did you draw on for support?


Ally: Um I guess, I didn't have a completely traditional route in the I I really did draw a lot on my own resources and my own self-reflection. Using things like journaling, um reading, listening to um like, listening to a lot of audio books. I did a lot of self-reflection and and and reading and then I mean, I guess the fact that I then chose to go into coaching was a big part of my own personal recovery. In that through all the learnings and the, the way I learned how to better communicate with others and better understand myself, that has been a part of my own healing. In that all the skills I learned and um the tools I learned through coaching had supported my own recovery. So it's kind of like a upward spiral um and finding a new community in terms of what I joined your community that was lovely. The yoga community and just finding new friends that had more shared interests. So actually lots through yoga here in London. Um, finding people that yeah, finding people that um that are more in line with where I am now. So, I've made friends with, with coaches that I work with um both in the UK and internationally and yeah the power of Zoom like how we're talking today that has opened up. You know, I was on, I was on a workshop last night for example with some amazing people and people I count as friends and colleagues now and some of them we never met. Like you and I have never met but we consider each other friends and we feel really connected and that um that the Zoom and Instagram and you know those, these platforms is really provided this opportunity to connect with others and um and find like-minded people when you're not in the same city or the same country. So I think that's how I um have approached staying sober um and my recovery pass. I mean in um my coaching we, we discuss building your recovery Capital which means the tools and supports that you build that, that are personal to you that help you maintain a and sustain your own recovery and for me that's a lot of kind of um there is quite a lot of solo things. Um, because I, I need quite a lot of time to retreat on my own. So I, so I do need to kind of walks in nature, um meditation, yoga kind of quiet solo practices, um podcasts certain things. So in some ways that's not hugely traditional because a lot of people find why they need um community. So I need a bit of both. I, I find that reaching out and finding like-minded people is really helpful but also for me I need time alone and time with myself to reflect and and keep me steady and calm. Um so, that's that's my kind of recovery capital. Yeah, and if I and I find that if I let some of them slide for too many days, I start to feel it. I start to feel out of balance and I'm like huh what if I let slide um oh journaling is a big one like. I journal every morning and if I go a few days oh that's fine I don't have time to do it then I feel it I start to feel a bit more anxious or a bit more um in my head or negative about things and I realize oh I I didn't journal and I didn't um there's a few I've let my own recovery Capital slide a bit so it's something that means maintenance for sure.


Alex: I love that I've never heard that before recovery Capital that's great.


Ally: Oh yeah yeah it's a good way to think about actually like building your inner resources and your recovery capital.


Alex: I love it and you mentioned that you like um you liked reading Quizlet and sober books what have been some of your favorites?


Ally: Well a pivotal one I meant to look this up but do you do you remember when Annie Grace is this naked mind came out?


Alex: yes.


Ally: I can't remember the year because it was when I read that, that I really started to take it seriously. So that the My Relationship with Alcohol Needed to Change when I read that book I read it I think three times in a row and then I listened to the audiobook and I would just listen to it and just kept having these kind of aha moments I found that really powerful really powerful book for me and um yeah that's that's been that's been a really helpful one um Quite Like a Woman is really great.


Alex: Yes, I love Quite Like a Woman.


Ally: Um I think that's excellent out all the William Porter everything with that William Porter does is excellent. Um that's alcohol explained and that really breaks down the science behind um what alcohol is actually doing to your system and how it affects you and why we feel like we might be helping anxiety for example through drinking when, when actually you're, you're compounding your anxiety and really important goes into a lot of explanation as to um why that's the case like, why, what we believe about alcohol versus what's really happening. I think that's a really good book because I I love to sort of understand what's happening and I think that's that sort of in the moment you can really uh when you have a craving or or an urge you can really sort of hold on to the science behind what's happening in your system and and it for me that really that really helps me understand and therefore mitigate craving because that makes sense?


Alex: Yeah, absolutely.


Ally: Yeah.


Alex: Those science, exactly so I was going to say those scientific books have been harder for me to engage with like, I'm more of a stories type of person but maybe I could circle back to them. I listen to This Naked Mind as an audiobook. I don't think I could have ever read it like I think it would have just been too much science for me but I remember listening to it as an audiobook on the drive all the way down for my yoga teacher training with Ralf Gates it's like a 14-hour drive and I just felt like sobriety was like sinking into me by osmosis, you know what I mean?


Ally: Um well, I think that's that's a really good example of what works for one person doesn't work for the next person and that's why we all need to take responsibility for creating our own recovery capital and what works for us um I listened a lot to the podcast and um audio files by Bell Robertson called tired of thinking about drinking. Do you know her?


Alex: I have not heard of that one yet.


Ally: No? Okay, she's really cool she's Canadian as well actually. Um and she has a podcast, Unity some of it she releases free from if it is paid. She has a really unique way of expressing things and I love her voice. I love her literal voice but also her the way she explains, an interprets things that I find to be really original and she's got a really original mind. She's a brilliant writer and she started off with a blog about um she's I think she started off with one of the challenges you know and she, she started off writing a blog about her experiences at a time when blogs are still really really massive. Not they're not, but when they were like the biggest um social media before Instagram and things um and she, she has this great podcast. So yeah, she has big big um email, email subscription list as well and just the way she explains it is very um yeah human and very original and quite punchy. Like she doesn't let you get away with it, you know? She's she's quite um yeah she, she, she's pretty punchy. So I like her for that uh she she doesn't. She doesn't um dance around the issues she's she really sort of will tell kind of like tell you off a bit which I kind of like Bell Robertson tired of thinking about drinking um.


Alex: I’ll have to check that out.


Ally: Yeah that one's great and that was a good resource um oh the Unexpected Joy Of Being Sober Catherine gray.


Alex: That is my favorite oh.


Ally: Yeah


Alex: So good.


Ally: and I think I really relate to her because she's a British journalist and that's um and I I lived in that world for a bit myself and I started out I worked in magazines. So, I kind of um really related to her story a lot about press trips and all the booze and all the, all the parties and I used to get invited to loads of things. Like that with them loads of alcohol and then I worked in events um creating events fueled by alcohol. So I was around alcohol a lot. So I really related to her story and how you know that association with glamor and alcohol I think is really um really interesting and you know she was a very glamorous journalist with a very big issue so um I think I really related strongly to that story that um yeah the alcohol is kind of presented in this glamorous way and it has very unglamorous consequences so.


Alex: Yeah, I loved her her sense of humor and her stories and


Ally: Yeah.


Alex: Um, just it's so cool when you come across these stories or these authors that you can really connect to and um and you just hear like your story and their stories.


Ally: Yeah exactly.


Alex: Not being alone.


Ally: Yeah, I think there's definitely something in there that's, that's the power of sharing and the power of vulnerability. Sharing my stories and um exactly like you said, it really makes you feel seen when you can see yourself and someone else um and and it removes the shame, the guilt and the shame that lives in the dark. So when you step into the light with your story and you can share your your truth with somebody else, it makes them feel empowered to do the same because if you can do it I can do it and I don't need to live in the skill and shame on my own um yeah that's the the power of sharing the power of the power of disabled Community I guess as well.


Alex: So what else is in your Sobriety Capital that's what it's called right sobriety capital and your reservation?


Ally: Yeah, Recovery Capital


Alex: Recovery Capital.


Ally: The Sobriety Capital works too. Um, what else? I mean for me um keeping like a, a regular eating pattern. I know we said but this is a subject that can be tricky for people but I think that if you, there's a tendency and I've seen this now working with clients to misdiagnose hunger and and just jitteriness as anxiety when sometimes it's um just regular eating patterns and trigger. Triggers can come up when you're feeling anxious and often if you kind of are running through the day running on sugar and caffeine um feeling that sort of adrenaline High that's when you're more likely to encounter a trigger. So a way to counteract that is to keep a regular eating pattern whatever your chosen food is. If it's regular you, you mitigate some of that triggering um dysregulation. Does that make sense? Can I explain it?