She gave herself a complete health overhaul after hitting the menopause last year, bravely taking part in BBC’s gruelling show Freeze The Fear and opening up her first self-care retreat. And former EastEnders actress Tamzin Outhwaite reveals she went one step further by giving up alcohol – and has had a new lease of life ever since.
Tamzin, 52, tells Closer, “I’ve been sober curious for quite a while, but last year was a turning point. I finished Freeze The Fear and suddenly realised I couldn’t drink wine while menopausal without feeling hammered. I thought, ‘Maybe it’s my hormones or HRT’, but it hit me that I just couldn’t drink like I used to. My resilience to it became a different kettle of fish. I became what my kids call a ‘lightweight’ and decided the best thing for me was to abstain. I took a break for six months last year when I didn’t touch a drop, I even went through my birthday without drinking. That’s the longest I’ve given up for and I felt amazing!”
Inspired by her six months of sobriety, the star, who is mum to Florence, 14, and Marnie, 10, with ex-husband Tom Ellis, and lives with her partner, Tom Childs, is predominantly alcohol-free and very occasionally succumbs to a drink. Though when she does, she’s reminded why she gave up in the first place.
“I’m not an addict so I thought I’d try ‘controlled drinking’ which means I’d drink on rare occasions but, after quitting, my system is so pure that I’d have a couple of drinks and have to go and sit in the corner, while everyone else would be fine! My body would be telling me, ‘No, this is poisonous’ and you feel like you’ve damaged yourself. I just don’t have the constitution and the resilience for it. I have two drinks, max, every once in a while, but I can see myself cutting it out completely again.”
She adds, “Tom and I are more mindful about it together, which means it’s very noticeable if one of us is drunk. Before, if it was playtime and we weren’t driving, we’d just have a good night, but now we’re more conscious about how it makes us feel. I used to have a wine fridge that was always full, but we don’t keep alcohol at home which means I’m not grabbing a bottle of wine at the end of the day, and if someone’s over, I have to make an effort to buy one. There are good alternatives, I’ve found gins and beers that don’t taste far off.”
And Tamzin admits she’s noticed the benefits inside and out. She says, “Let’s just say I put on a lot of weight when I hit the menopause – over a stone. I eat a lot of food and I’ve got a very high metabolism, but I could definitely tell I was heavier. Of course, your hormones change during menopause, but the calories and sugar in alcohol do have an effect. The day after drinking, your body craves sugar and carbs, so I was eating badly. I’ve never been one to diet but, when I stopped drinking, I lost the stone I’d put on and instead I craved goodness, like fresh salads and juices. People have said, ‘You look really well at the moment’ and that’s been lovely to hear.”
And there are mental benefits too. She reveals, “Menopause and brain fog make you feel like you’re going slightly crazy, so not having the ups and downs alcohol brings definitely helps, because you don’t need brain fog and a hangover! I’m much clearer and focused.”
Tamzin also says her sober movement and taking part in Freeze The Fear, where she immersed herself into freezing cold temperatures, has had a “domino effect” on her health, where cold showers and being in nature have become a mainstay. “By not drinking, I’m on the path of health and do the things my body craves. I get up early, practise yoga, breathwork and meditation, and I get addicted to the goodness.
“I have to be out in nature as much as possible because my world gets smaller if I’m on my screen too much. I’m obsessed with the hot and cold, I love getting into a sauna and then into a cold shower, it’s a buzz you can’t get anywhere else. The kids constantly have a go at me because I leave the shower on the cold setting. The resilience you get, and how you teach yourself to meditate to get through it, helps you in daily life with any form of stress. Most of all, it’s taught me that magical things happen when you leave your comfort zone!”