Talitha Cummins speaks candidly with editor Caitlin Reid about her battle, at the hands of alcohol, to become the person she always wanted to be.
As Talitha Cummins reads the news on Weekend Sunrise you can’t help but think she is the picture of health and fitness. But you might be surprised to realise this fresh-faced newsreader has had to work hard to achieve her healthy glow. See for years, Talitha battled with alcohol addiction.
Like most of us, Talitha had her first taste of alcohol when she was a teenager. She was 14. Just like her friends, she would binge drink on weekends. “I was shy when I was younger and alcohol made me feel confident. It made me the person I wanted to be,” reflects Talitha.
Identifying with alcohol, Talitha would drink when she was happy, sad, stressed or tired. Alcohol was her crutch. It was during her mid-to-late twenties that her alcohol intake reached its worse. “I was drinking 4-5 nights per week, blacking out regularly and waking the following morning depressed and lacking self-respect,” Talitha admits. “My health suffered and I ended up in hospital on occasions. I hurt my family and I lost friends. I did things that I’m not proud of,” she adds without excuse.
But choosing to go sober was no easy task. As Talitha speaks, it’s hard not to connect with her situation and extremely easy to comprehend how social drinking can become more – alcohol is so engrained in our culture. When alcohol is everywhere you turn, going sober is easier said than done.
It’s not that Talitha had never wanted to or tried to stop drinking – she had previously signed up for FebFast and Dry July – but after two days of abstaining she would be back drinking again. Each time though, the drinking would be worse. One sip led to more and more. More and more led to shame and self-hatred. It was a vicious cycle that was taking its toll.
While Talitha thought she was holding everything together, a work colleague noticed things weren’t fantastic and confronted her. This gesture of support couldn’t have come at a better time for Talitha who was mentally exhausted from the crippling cycle. “It was the right time. I couldn’t hold it together again.”
From here, Talitha started on a long and difficult road back from rock bottom. The journey tested every bit of her strength and willpower. She joined two organisations – AA and Hello Sunday Mornings (online platform for people trying to take a break from alcohol) – and got the support she needed to go sober.
For six months, Talitha focused on herself. She made sacrifices, changed her social calendar and removed herself from any situation that might tempt her. Bars were no-go zones, and evening catch-ups were replaced with breakfast and lunch dates. It was during this time that her life took a turn for the better. Her health improved, she met and married personal trainer and Flow Athletic co-founder Ben Lucas, got a gorgeous cocker spaniel called Wilbur and started a new job.
Since going sober, Talitha has made health her focus and is now a keen runner. “I’m of the firm belief that if you take something out of your life, you need to replace it with something else. So I replaced alcohol with running and set the goal of running a marathon.” This goal setting also enabled Talitha to breakdown the daunting task of going without alcohol to day-by-day steps. “Each day, I would say to myself that just for today I would try to not have alcohol.” This worked and Talitha has not had a drink since September 16th 2012.
Another tool Talitha swears by is a journal. “Write down ten bad experiences you’ve had with alcohol and keep it handy. Whenever you have the urge to drink, using the journal as a reference will give you solid reasons why you shouldn’t.” It’s a pretty amazing step she takes to keep on track. Facing our shortcomings is hard enough, but reliving them over and over again, when you wish for nothing more than to forget them, shows true courage and strength.
It’s this honesty that Talitha believes is the key to her success so far. “If you can’t be honest with yourself, you can’t move forward. Being able to see yourself for all your faults and strengths makes you more accepting of yourself.” But, it’s this self-acceptance that remains such an elusive thing for so many. “It definitely hasn’t been easy, but it has been worthwhile,” she adds.
So what does Talitha have planned for 2015? “The drinking added a lot of extra weight. Some I’ve lost but there is still 8kg I haven’t been able to budge. So this year my training program is focusing on shifting this weight.” With what Talitha has accomplished and continues to achieve each day, there is little doubt she will shed that extra baggage. It won’t be for anyone else but herself.
About the author
Caitlin Reid is a unique health professional with qualifications as an accredited nutritionist, accredited exercise physiologist and yoga teacher. Caitlin is passionate about all things health and wellness, and keeps up-to-date with the latest health research, which she uses when contributing expert advice to health, fitness, lifestyle and food companies. She is also the nutrition expert for the Women’s Fitness magazine, the dietitian for the South Sydney Rabbitohs and ambassador for Papaya Australia. Follow Caitlin on Instagram @caitlinareid or visit her website.