Mar 19 2021
On this week’s episode that'll surely shift your mindset towards sobriety is Hayley Noelle. I’m super excited to come full circle with her podcast journey and have her on the podcast this week!
Hayley was the first person to ever invite me for an interview on her podcast, Philosophy of Fitness. Hayley a NASM-Certified Personal Trainer, indoor cycling instructor, podcast host and mindset mentor. Her main focus is bridging the gap between fitness and spirituality, and having alcohol out of the equation has been a huge part of that process.
Here's the episode.
For more information about Sober Girls Yoga, and Alex’s coaching, meditations and yoga classes, join her on www.themindfullifepractice.com.
Intro: Welcome to the “Sober Yoga Girl Podcast” with Alex McRobs, international yoga teacher and sober coach. I broke up with booze for good in 2019 and now I'm here to help others do the same. You're not alone and a sober life can be fun and fulfilling. Let me show you how.
Alex: All right. So, hello everyone and welcome back to another episode of Sober Yoga Girl. I am so excited to have Hayley Noel with me on today's episode. And now, Hayley actually did my first podcast interview, like about seven months ago on her podcast which is called "Philosophy of Fitness". So, it feels like things are kind of coming full circle. Hayley is a NASM certified personal trainer, she's an indoor cycling instructor, she's a podcast host, she's also a mindset mentor. And her main focus is bridging the gap between fitness and spirituality, and having alcohol out of the equation of her life has been a huge part of that process.
Hayley: Thank you so much for having me on, that was quite an introduction. I'm so excited to be here and it definitely seems like a full circle kind of thing. I think it's amazing that you started this podcast now, and seven months down the line, here we are. And I'm so excited to be here, so thank you.
Alex: Yeah. It's super cool. And I was just saying before to Haley, I'm pretty excited about this because the first time the two of us met, it was mostly me talking about my story and my journey, and I feel like I didn't get to know her very well. So, I'm excited for this episode because the tables will turn and I'll learn more about you.
Hayley: Yeah, absolutely. I think something else too is when I interviewed you, that was earlier on in my journey when you were the first person that I had on the podcast that I was really outspoken about. I think I had just announced maybe a couple weeks before that, that I was alcohol-free. It was something I kept to myself for a while so, you were like the first person that really helped me gain the confidence to sort of speak out about it now, and and keep going down this path, you know, I never expected it to turn into something I'd be so outspoken about, but it's changed my life as I'm sure it has for you, so.
Alex: That's amazing. Oh, I'm getting shivers.
Alex: Sounds so nice. So, why don't we start off. You could just tell me a bit of background about you, like who you are, where you're from, kind of all that jazz.
Hayley: Yeah. So, I'm from the States. I grew up in Connecticut, but I live on long island now which is about an hour outside of New York and, you know, I've lived in the States my entire life. I went to college in New Hampshire, and obviously, you know, drinking is a huge part, I think, of Western culture, especially in college, at least it was in my experience. And I'm sure some people listening to this can relate where it's kind of just so ingrained in what you do in college. Right? Every weekend you go out, but I guess a little bit more about just my journey of what led me to where I am now it's kind of convoluted, you know, I sometimes think we have a path set for ourselves, but we really can't predict where we're going to wind up, so I originally went to school for Communications and English, and I had a job in Corporate Advertising, you know, I was going down that nine to five rat race as I like to call it, and I just found it to be so unfulfilling. Like, I found it to be the most soul-sucking kind of thing because I was working 70 hours a week about something I wasn't even passionate about, and I really just had this epiphany that I needed to listen to, you know, my inner voice it's telling me, Go down this fitness path, you know, just trust it see what will happen. So, back in the beginning of 2019, I quit my corporate job. I left it entirely behind. I got my personal training certification, and I was a fitness coach for a long time, and I'm an indoor cycling instructor now, and currently getting my nutrition certification. So, it's been really incredible going down this path of just really understanding the mind-body connection. I've got a podcast now where we totally dive into that. It's what it's all about. And I really feel like every bump, every hurdle, right? Has has led me to where I am now. So, it all kind of started with things falling apart, if that makes sense.
Alex: Oh, yeah. Totally. I've been thinking a lot about that now, how like, painful endings are often actually new beginnings, and we just don't see it at the time.
Hayley: Yeah. For sure. I think like even the most important life lessons we learned too are from the most painful of experiences like, I'm so grateful, honestly, more so for the things in my life that have fallen apart that haven't panned out because they've just pushed me more into alignment. So, yeah, everything kind of just leads us to where we are and I'm still trying to figure things out now, you know, but I'm so much happier pursuing this path.
Alex: It's amazing. And I can relate to that a lot, it sounds a lot like my journey with, you know, being in a career in teaching which is like not necessarily fulfilling me and, you know, you just have this inner voice calling you to find a better way or a different way.
Hayley: Yeah, absolutely. I think that's something that, you know, I try to speak out a lot about is listening to that inner voice. And I think sometimes it's scary to do that because there's so much comfort and security that comes from the set way of the trajectory of what we think we should be doing or, you know, something I struggled with was I went to school for English and Communication and I was like, Well, I'm too far along now to try to switch my path, and I've put all this time into this. But at the end of the day, you got to ask yourself, you know, What is it that sets your soul on fire? Whatever it is, it's calling you. Whatever it is that's really speaking to you, that's probably something you should listen to and pursue.
Alex: Yeah, absolutely. All right. So, you mentioned kind of about your drinking and sort of college days. I'm curious if you can tell me a bit more about that, like when did you start drinking? And what influenced your drinking habits?
Hayley: Yeah. So, I, like many other people listening to this, I'm sure, started drinking when I went to college, and it was just very much so a part of every social situation. And I've spoken about this many times before, even on my podcast but it's like every activity felt like drinking was the center of it. You know, going out with your friends on the weekend, going to a brunch, going to the movies, going to the beach. Literally, even just like sitting, you know, on the quad or whatever, anything that we were doing socially involved drinking. And I feel like that's something that's really big in Western culture because I had studied abroad in Italy for five months, and something that I realized when I was over there is that drinking is not so much heavily emphasized as like a party thing. People there, I think, are more so just used to it. I don't know if it's because they have a lower drinking age, but it just, it seems like people there don't drink to get drunk. You know? They don't drink to be like, crazy, whereas here that always seemed like that's what it was. It was like a means towards an end goal of getting drunk. It was never just for the sake of enjoying a drink, if that makes sense.
Alex: Yeah. And I totally relate to that as like, that's a Canadian thing like, as well, I've been thinking a lot about how in university for us, every event included like a pre-drink and the goal of the pre-drink was to like, I mean, in theory, I think it was to save money at the clubs and bars, but it ended up just being like to get drunk before you go out. And did you guys have pre-drinks in the States?
Hayley: Oh, of course. Yeah. It's so funny, I think about it. It's like, well, you go to the pre, you have a pregame in your apartment, then you go to the other pregame, then you go to the bar, then you come back again. It's like, it's ridiculous.
Alex: Yeah. And that's like not a thing, really, in Abu Dhabi.
Hayley: Yeah. Oh my gosh. It wasn't a thing in Italy either or any of the other places that I visited.
Hayley: Seems like a Western culture thing, predominantly, from what I've experienced. And it sounds like for you too.
Alex: Yeah, absolutely. I totally know what you're talking about. So, that's kind of one element of like what influenced your drinking habits, like the Western culture. What else do you think was an influence for you?
Hayley: Oh, so many things. Right? I think there's so many layers to it. For me, I think the biggest part of it was just health, and I don't mean that just in the physical sense, in a mental and an emotional sense. When I was drinking the heaviest, I was also the heaviest weight. I also just felt really sluggish. I didn't really feel comfortable in my body and not to mention, you know, apart from the physical health, I would be going to the gym, you know, busting my ass, trying to do workouts, and then I'd be drinking crazy, you know, Thursday, Friday, Saturday night, and then I'd be right back at square one. So, for the first part of it, it was a matter of standing in my own way in terms of a physical sense of health. But I think, even going off of that, there's so many layers to not drinking and why I don't drink anymore, that go beyond that, and a big part of that has been the mental health aspect too. Something that I dealt with a lot was I call it "Hangxiety", I'm not sure if you've heard the term, but hangover anxiety is very real. And I don't miss the feeling of being hungover either. I mean, I think of how much time I wasted just feeling hungover and what I could have done with that time, with those days, that I was just stuck in bed feeling terrible. And that was another part of it, but I think one of the biggest catalysts that really pushed me to say, Okay, Haley. Like, This is enough. Was when I had my spiritual awakening. So, back at the end of 2019, I was going through a lot of pain and pressure in my personal life and it kind of just led me to this point of, you know, what's the meaning of this all? It was really a low point where I was just questioning everything, questioning why I'm here, what the purpose is. And I sort of just had this intuitive sense that alcohol wasn't aligned with what I'm supposed to do, and I didn't really fully understand it at the time, so I cut back drinking. I think this is something else to note too is that for me it wasn't so much of a cold Turkey thing as it was a slow transition. So, I had a few months at the end of 2019, I think I can count on one hand maybe the number of times that I drank between like October to December. But the real point that stands out in my mind is my anniversary date, so on December 30th of 2019, I went to a concert with my friends in the city. We were drinking champagne, you know, everybody was having a fun time, and I remember standing there with the champagne glass in my hand, and just thinking to myself, Why am I doing this? Like, this doesn't feel right anymore. And I put it down and I didn't have any more to drink that night, and it was in that moment that I consciously decided, You know what? I'm done. I'm done drinking, and I've had enough. And that next day, New Year's Eve was my first day of no alcohol. And then, it just sort of snowballed from there. But it's kind of crazy because I didn't think that it would stay as long as it did, right? Like, I thought maybe I'd do a dry January, maybe I'd just, you know, fizzle out, but the more that I didn't have it in the picture, the more that I felt like I was coming into myself even more.
Alex: Wow. I got shivers just hearing that. It's like, I don't know if you've heard the term like, Sushumna in yoga? It's like this moment of epiphany when like, there's clarity or insight and it sounds like that's exactly what you had.
Hayley: Yeah, it was almost like a spiritual download, too. I mean, sometimes, people think of it, it's just this inner knowing and I didn't even know where it came from. I just knew intuitively and it's led me to where I am now. I'm over a year now. Haven't had a single sip, and I wouldn't trade it for the world.
Alex: Wow. Congratulations.
Alex: That's huge. That's amazing.
Hayley: Thank you.
Alex: Okay. So, what are the main benefits that you've experienced since you've gone alcohol-free?
Hayley: So many, I don't even know where to start. I guess the first one, physical. Physical benefits have been the biggest part. When I stopped drinking is when I've been able to challenge myself physically the most that I ever have in my entire life, like I've been able to do things now physically that I never would have even dreams that I could do like running for long distances, seven eight miles at a time, and if you told me that a few years ago, I'd think you were crazy, I could barely run like two miles. Lifting heavier, just having more endurance, my resting heart rate's gone down. I always love looking at my stats and kind of just seeing trends but my resting heart rate has completely dropped down, my sleep has improved tremendously, the mental clarity, right? I think that's such a huge part of it too is knowing yourself more, and I think a big part of my journey, at least in my story, is kind of deconstructing the beliefs that I had around alcohol. The things that I had led myself to believe. And for me, it was predominantly a social thing. I was a social drinker. I wasn't somebody that would come home and like have a glass of wine every night, but I was someone who, when I went out, I would really drink and go out, you know, for those nights because I had led myself to believe that, Oh, you know, we need alcohol to have fun. We needed to to be socially accepted, to seem like we're fun, and loose or whatever. And it's taken me a while by not having it in the picture to realize that, that was a big part of why I was drinking because, for anyone listening to this too, I think if you're someone that's thinking about stopping, maybe ask yourself why are you drinking in the first place. Like, if no one else is in the picture, would you still want to do it? Like, what's the main reason for needing to have it in your life? And I think a big part of not having it has just been understanding myself more and understanding my tendencies. I almost think of it as like a breakup, right? If you break up with someone, you take the time to think about yourself, and it's like, Okay. What are my patterns? Why did I think that I needed to do this or that? And it's it's facing your shadow, really, at the end of the day. And that's probably been one of the most transformative things for me not having it anymore.
Alex: Yeah. What do you mean by that? Like facing your shadow.
Hayley: Yeah. So, I like to think of, you know, facing your shadow as kind of the parts of yourself that you maybe don't want to address, the parts of yourself that you've kind of like buried down deep. So, for me it was a lot of, you know, like a sense of worthiness, right? Of validation, of needing to feel like I was accepted, like I seemed fun or enjoyable, and I needed alcohol to somehow step into that identity that I somehow wasn't enough without it. So, it's really just kind of understanding the parts of yourself and really diving inward and saying, Okay. What was my relationship with alcohol? Why did I feel like I needed it in the first place? And then, you start to kind of become aware of those beliefs that you've led yourself to have. It's really not even a matter of anyone else putting them on you, it's kind of just what you've told yourself. And for me, it was a story that I told myself that I needed that in order to have fun, and deconstructing that now to the point where I've realized like I'm enough as I am without it. I am fun without it, you know, has been huge.
Alex: Yeah. What would you say are the most hard things or the most difficult things about being alcohol-free?
Hayley: I think the social pressure is definitely huge. I'm not gonna sit here and tell you that it's easy every day, because it's not, you know, there's times that I've thought about wanting to have a drink again and you got to just find a way to work through it. I think part of what's helped me, honestly, has been speaking out about it. Because it's almost a way for me to not only hold myself accountable but also connect with so many other people out there like you. I mean, I connected with you when I started, you know, speaking out about it and there's so many people online that are so supportive of this journey, and I think it's important too, for those listening, to understand that there's a whole spectrum of people in this community too. Right? Like, my story is different from yours, is different from somebody else's, but we all sort of share the same sentiment that our lives are so much better, and so much more fulfilled without it in the picture. And I think that connecting with people, and at least for me, being authentic and being open and honest about it has helped me so much more than if I were to just keep this to myself.
Alex: Yeah. 100%. And I found the exact same thing like when I hit around 90 days, that was the point when I started being open and sharing with people, and it was that point in which I just found the social pressure was just like released, because people knew going into every situation that I was sober, and my friends started prefacing things like, you know, let's go for dinner, I know you don't drink now, that's awesome. And it just kind of released everything. So, I would totally agree with you even though it's like scary to become like, open about it. It was the turning point for me.
Hayley: Yeah, I totally relate to that. It was so scary. I remember thinking to myself, it's so funny how we get in our own heads, right? Because I remember thinking to myself, you know, my family had known for a while. This was in the pandemic too, so I stopped, you know, January the pandemic was the first time that I, you know, stopped drinking and I remember thinking, Oh, well. I should keep this to myself and thinking that people would judge me if I told them that I didn't drink. That they would think I was weird or boring, you know, stuff like that just getting in my own head, but I actually found the opposite to be true. Once I, I think it was the six month mark or the nine month mark that I started really talking about it was when people started messaging me like, people that I would have no idea were also kind of struggling or in the same position and I found so much more of a sense of support. Meanwhile, in my head, I was thinking, Oh my god, people are gonna, you know, think I'm a freak for doing this or, you know, not gonna want to invite me anywhere anymore, and that's totally been the opposite. And if you have a good support system around you and a good group of friends that understand, like all my friends know now that I don't drink. They make mocktails for me like, you know, you just gotta find people around you and if they don't support you, then maybe get some new friends because if they can't vibe with that, then maybe you shouldn't surround yourself with those people.
Alex: Absolutely. And I think you touched on a good thing there is like, I think because people are so quiet about their sobriety, that you actually don't realize that there's a lot of other people out there that are struggling and a lot of other people that are on an alcohol-free journey and like, you know, same as you. When I started publicly posting about it, that was when people started reaching out to me, and I started to feel way less alone. And so, I think, if people feel ready and confident to like publicly share about it, it's just gonna help, you know, bridge that gap between, I don't know, the silence around it.
Hayley: Absolutely. I think it's so powerful. I think anything, you know, when we speak out about anything, right? We kind of realize that there's more people that resonate with where we're at than we might know, and I would have had no idea that there was this huge online support system had I just kept it to myself. And like you said too, even connecting with other people that, even friends of mine that I went to high school with, to college with, that I haven't spoken to in years, have reached out to me messages saying that they're dealing with the same kind of thing and, you know, take your time though, you know, it's not something that I think everybody's going to be comfortable sharing right away. I know a lot of people that, you know, will make a separate Instagram account and they don't have their face connected to it or anything, but you still have that ability to connect with other people. And it's an individualized journey, I always think that, especially with sobriety and with being alcohol-free. It's not one size fits all. Right? It's very unique to you and it's very unique to however much time it is you need to to feel confident in your decision, and if you're not ready to speak out about it, then don't put that pressure on yourself. But know that there are so many people out there that are here to support you and be right there with you every step of the way.
Alex: Yeah, absolutely. All right, so that kind of leads us into the next question. What advice would you give to someone who wants to quit alcohol?
Hayley: Advice. So, I think we kind of just, you know, hit the nail on the head. Find that support, right? There's so many people out there. A Thousand Hours Dry is a huge place that I've found support through. I had the founder of them on my podcast, and they are amazing, they are incredible, you know, especially if you don't necessarily resonate with like a 12-step program or something like that, but you want to have some semblance of guidance and community. Definitely look into them, there's so many people online that you can reach out to. So, finding that support and finding also people around you in, like your real life, that are going to support you. Something that I learned, you know, when I stopped drinking was there were a lot of friendships that I had and nothing against these people but I'm like, every time we hung out it was always just to drink, and I'm like, Were we really even that close? Because we would just chit chat online at the bar to the bathroom or, you know, I'd only see them when I was really drunk and I'm like, Okay. Well, those people probably aren't gonna totally align or like respect my decision now, and sometimes it's hard, you know, if there's people or if there's a relationship in your life where that person is not respecting your choice, then maybe evaluate that a little bit more. But finding that sense of community, finding people that support you, speaking out about it when you're ready, I think is huge. And accountability, it's the same kind of thing with like if you have a weight loss goal, you have a fitness or nutrition goal. You find people to hold you accountable, right? So, I think something else is accountability in whatever way resonates with you, maybe it's somebody to coach you through it. Maybe it's just a friend, somebody, even like a pen pal, someone that you meet online, to hold you accountable. I think is huge.
Alex: Absolutely. It's so true. I remember in my first 90 days, finding someone I met online. Met her in a Facebook group, and she was also living in the UAE and was also, you know, had the same day one or two, and I would say that the two of us kind of carried us through the 90 days, and I haven't thought about her in a while, actually. She went back to drinking. And so, we kind of dropped it apart, because it just no longer, we no longer use each other for accountability, but I would credit her absolutely to like, my first 90 days getting me through it, so.
Hayley: Yeah. Accountability is huge. I think, you know, for anyone listening, find that accountability in whatever way you can because once I made the choice to speak out about this, it was super empowering. Meanwhile, in my head, I was so afraid to do it. It was probably one of the most empowering, you know, decisions I made, but I think what's really helped me stick through is seeing that there's so many other people out there that are doing the same thing, and that you're not alone, you're not ostracized for making a choice to honestly better your health. That should be something that is applauded and scream from the rooftops is an amazing choice, because you're literally taking the reins back on your life. I mean, think about it. It's a hugely impactful, amazing thing to do.
Alex: Yeah, absolutely. This has been such an amazing interview, like you're just such an inspiring person, and your energy is so uplifting.
Hayley: Oh, thank you.
Alex: So, if any of my listeners are interested in working with you or connecting with you like, where can they find you and what do you do?
Hayley: Yeah. So, I also host a podcast. So, like we said, I had Alex on. She was the first guest I had on, by the way, when I was speaking about my sobriety journey. So, that was super empowering in itself, but if you want to check it out it's called "Philosophy of Fitness", you can find it on Apple Podcast, Spotify, YouTube as well. I've recently returned the video version of my podcast, which I'm super excited about. I have this whole new set kind of ready to go. You can connect with me on Instagram @imhayleynoel, and I also have a 21-day mindset program, if you guys are interested. So, it's really centered around your mindset, specifically to your fitness goals. You can head over to my to my Instagram, shoot me a message. I'd be happy to guide you through that. But, yeah, on YouTube as well, youtube.com/haleynoel and yeah, send me a message. Say hello if you're looking to ditch alcohol, let's have a convo.
Alex: Awesome. Amazing. Well, thank you so much, Hayley, for taking the time to speak with me today, and looking forward to kind of keeping in touch and seeing where you go with everything on your journey.
Hayley: Yeah. Thank you so much, Alex. This was awesome.
Outro: Thank you so much for tuning into this episode of Sober Yoga Girl with Alex McRobs. I am so, so grateful for every one of you. Don't forget to subscribe so you don't miss the next one and leave a review before you go. See you soon. Bye.