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by Regan Simpson June 29, 2020
This is the first feature for our “My Grüvi Story” series- if you have a story you’d like to share please click here. For this first post, we learn more about one of our Grüvi ambassadors, Regan, and her alcohol-free journey so far.
Six months. Six months without a hangover. Six months without a single second spent drunk. Six months spent building myself up, not tearing myself down.
My decision to live an alcohol-free lifestyle came before I knew that non alcoholic craft beer existed. The moment I discovered Grüvi was like discovering I could have my cake and eat it, too. I could drink a great craft beer without the alcohol.
Before finding Grüvi, I mourned the loss of being able to enjoy something I loved while I watched my friends drink their craft IPAs and stouts. That is, until I began following a few sober lifestyle accounts on Instagram. That’s where I discovered Grüvi, and the possibility that non-alcoholic beer doesn’t have to taste like the one I tried in a hookah bar when I was 18.
Most of the people I grew up with started drinking early in high school. But I was an avid runner and a straight A student, and alcohol had no appeal to me. I didn’t start drinking until my final year of high school, but I made up for lost time. I often drank myself into blackouts, and that habit followed me into college.
Despite my partying, I managed to do well in college. I graduated a year early, and spent my entire college career as a Division 1 athlete for the Kansas State Women’s Rowing team. But I know for a fact that I did not perform anywhere near my highest potential, especially in rowing.
I spent all week training, sometimes up to 20 hours. Then I would trash my body over the weekend, and go into the next training week hungover.
My team had a mandatory “dry season.” No athlete drank alcohol during this time. This coincided with our racing season, and we all complied. My fitness and performances would drastically improve, but I spent the whole five months waiting until I could drink again.
Looking back, I put drinking in front of my opportunity to compete at the highest collegiate level. I was fine with partying my way through summer and fall training, because I believed it only mattered to stop drinking during our racing season. I was a decent athlete, but I’m sometimes haunted by the fact that I’ll never know how successful I could have been.
My final season of rowing, and my final dry season, ended during the same weekend that I graduated. This was also only three weeks before my 21st birthday. I’ll spare you the details, but I spent more nights drunk than I did sober that summer.
I stayed in my college town and found a job as an office manager for a chiropractic clinic. I worked as a bartender on the weekends. I started running again, which has been my greatest passion since I was 11 years old. But my drinking increased, and I was rolling into the office hungover most days of the week.
After over a year of not making any improvements in my life, I moved to Colorado. I was sick of doing nothing but drinking with my friends. I hoped a change of scenery would help, and I dreamed of being a mountain runner. It turned out to be the best decision of my life, and the opportunities that followed changed my life forever.
But, I was still drinking.
From the outside, my life was a grand adventure. I lived off the grid for a year, where I worked as a caretaker for a campground halfway up Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs. I ran and hiked for hours and hours every week. I climbed mountains, met the love of my life, and together we hiked an 800 mile section of the Pacific Crest Trail in California.
But something always felt a little off. While everyone told me how great my life seemed, I was struggling mentally. I lived in a constant state of anxiety, with a brain fog that never lifted. I had started drinking less at this point, but alcohol was hurting me more and more with each drink.
Drinking stopped being fun. Alcohol made me more anxious than I already was, and I started picking fights with my partner over nothing. I was getting hangovers after only a couple of beers, yet I spent so much of each day looking forward to my next drink.
My last drink happened to be an expensive champagne I drank during a wine tasting hosted by my seasonal job at the time. We sipped at least 40 different wines. While I was sipping on a splash of wine from a $300 bottle, feeling sophisticated and hammered, I realized that alcohol had been sapping my enjoyment from life. I had a hard time enjoying any activity unless I knew there was a drink waiting for me at the end of it.
This thought swallowed me up, so I drank more to block it out. Most of us, but especially me, ended the night completely trashed. The hangover that ensued was one for the books. That’s when a life-changing revelation hit me… I didn’t have to feel like that ever again if I didn’t want to.
So I stopped.
I knew alcohol was doing nothing but holding me back. If I wanted to live up to my highest potential and be the happiest and healthiest version of myself that I could be, I had to start with giving up alcohol.
Weeks later, I stumbled upon a post on Instagram talking about a non-alcoholic IPA. Luckily, that bright green can was in stock at the small liquor store in my tiny mountain town. I don’t mean to be dramatic, but I could have cried when I took my first sip of Grüvi. At that moment, I realized that I could still enjoy a craft beer without drinking alcohol.
My boyfriend had a similar reaction. He took one sip, and immediately said “Why is this so good?” I guess that up until that point, we hadn’t considered the fact that beer contains more ingredients than alcohol. He stopped drinking shortly after I did.
Even though I can’t reverse time and take back what I lost during my college years, I can make up for it now. I am an ultra runner who puts in hours of training in the mountains every week. I’m not drinking away my training any longer. I’m not running marathons with a hangover, or skipping training runs because I can’t get out of bed.
Believe it or not, craft beer plays a huge role in the community of outdoor sports. Go to any Colorado brewery in the summertime, and you’ll see a pack of hikers, climbers, runners, or rafters downing pint after pint after a long day in the mountains. Ski towns in the winter look pretty similar.
We celebrate our achievements by drinking a beer at the summit of a mountain or at the finish line of a trail race. We associate the taste of beer with the reward of a job well done. Even the first sip of beer after a long day at the office activates the reward system in our brains.
But drinking alcohol after putting our bodies through a strenuous activity only dehydrates us more. It makes it much harder to recover and be ready for our next big adventure.
This summer, I’ll be spending many days running 30 miles one day, and 20 miles the next. With Grüvi, I can reward myself at the end of a long run without hindering my recovery process. That way, I can be ready to go again the next day.
Thanks to Grüvi, I can drink a beer with my friends at the summit. I can sit around the campfire, crack open another beer, and not worry about a hangover. And I can share with my friends who don’t believe that an NA craft beer could taste so good.
Grüvi has played a vital role in my sober lifestyle. Grüvi means that I can enjoy a craft beer while also training to be the best athlete that I can be. It keeps me hangover-free so that I can continue to run for hours and hours each week.
It means I can enjoy a beer, yet still become the best version of myself without a substance holding me back. A substance that wanted nothing more but to keep me from reaching my goals.
Cracking open a Grüvi in place of a traditional beer feels like I’m giving myself permission to be my best self. It reminds me of how far I’ve come, and how far I can still go.