Lose ‘da Booze for December

I’m going strong in my sobriety (I will reach my four month milestone on December 10th) but looking forward to motivating others to try a month AF (alcohol free). So through groups on Facebook and SparkPeople – I launch challenges – to perhaps get someone started and experiment with what it feels like to cut out alcohol for just one month.

It’s daunting for some to think of doing this at a time of year that is filled with events, gatherings as we near the holiday season. But there will always be something going on! I am actually looking forward to each event being the most memorable ever as I’ll be ever present and 100% THERE! No more missed or forgotten moments!

When I drank and with age – I found that my memories became harder to recall and I even experienced blackouts at time. I don’t know about you but life is too short and I don’t want to miss a thing! I want to savor every moment I can and live in the here and now – being completely present!

Here’s to losing the booze in order to gain so much more! Stop thinking you’ll be missing out on anything … and start seeing the gift you can give yourself by going AF! Afraid of going it alone? Join us – contact me via my Facebook Page and I can add you to the secret Lose ‘da Booze 100 Day Success group (named fondly as it was created January 1st, 2017 when others joined ME in doing 100 Days AF). Want to know more about it? Check out this post: Lose ‘da Booze Secret Group

100 Days and FINALLY retired from drinking for good!

I haven’t been blogging here much because I’ve been so busy with my groups on Facebook and today I posted a LIVE video about my 100 Days and where I’m at.

My blogs date back to 2013 … that’s how long I’ve been trying to finally get to where I am today! FIVE years of trying to do long stretches… trying to moderate… only to find myself back in the vicious cycle of feeling regret, guilt and at times shame. This year marked 40 years of this drinking career and I was able to finally let it go by shifting the wording to something positive and instead of saying “I’ll never drink again”… I simply stated “I am retired from the drinking life” and it clicked! It made it something positive. It made room for better things to come into my life!

So while 100 days is not my longest stretch (the one to beat next is 174 days which I broke in February of this year)… but this 100th day will be my last as there will be no more day ONE’s for me. I’m in this for life and loving it! #LoseDaBooze all the way!!

If you’d like to know more about our group – here’s a link to a bit more about it! We’d love to have you join in perhaps for the NEW Year (or sooner) … as you try out maybe 30 days or 100 days or decide that perhaps you’re done for good too! Whatever goals you may have we will support it in a non-judgmental way. 100 Days Lose ‘Da Booze group

Month 2 – Going Strong in Sobriety

I really do feel like I have wings these days! The natural high that I’m experiencing more often is simply amazing! I don’t know if it’s different this time because of my many tries before finally retiring the habit for good … I think the freedom of never having to debate the issue of ‘to drink or not to drink’ again allows for so much peace and serenity to come into my headspace.

No more questioning or debating about moderation – it’s just no longer an option. So long as I keep going and never have that first drink I’m doing great!

I’m down 12lbs since starting back up in August. I’m consistently working out daily. I’m so productive and really pushing myself beyond the comfort zone and it feels amazing!

Just yesterday – I felt a bit ‘off’ and it was like that hangover feeling when you’re tired, headachy and feel like crap and can’t do anything. I didn’t drink but man – I never want to feel that again. I slept it off (likely a cold coming on and I think I nipped it in the butt with lots of rest and self-care). I like the clarity that sobriety brings me. I no longer crave this buzz or desire to numb out any part of my life.

I’m still experiencing great stress with my 17 year old but managing so much better without booze. There’s no solution in a bottle – only more pain and misery.

So here’s to this continued journey as I keep counting months… not days… leading up to my FIRST year anniversary! Until then enjoying each beautiful and sober day for the gift that it is! #LoseDaBooze and live life to the fullest!

Time to R’October Sober… Again!

We’re winding down #SoberSeptember and I love to keep new and fresh challenges going for people who may want to hop on what I call this most amazing Sober Train! I’m on this train for good now but want to really show you how good you can feel with just one month of cutting out alcohol in your life!

When you #LoseDaBooze – you open the door to so many great things. It’s like that saying, you must clear out clutter to make room for the new. That’s what alcohol was for me. I used it as a coping mechanism to mask or numb many of life’s challenges. I used it for every excuse – to celebrate, or because I was tired or because I deserved it… but do you know what I deserve more of? The peace, the clarity and the FREEDOM that comes with sobriety!

I danced with the idea of moderation over 5 years… I went for long stretches of alcohol free (AF) stints – 30 days, then 100 days a few times over, and my last longest 174 days (just shy of 6 months). Each time I re-introduced ‘da booze… I slipped back to old ways and patterns and I noticed just how unhappy I felt.

When I compare or list all the reasons why I drink and how it makes me feel versus when I don’t drink and how amazingly positive my life is – it’s like a no brainer… SERIOUSLY!

Gone are the cravings from my mind … this longing for a substance that was clouding my life in so many ways. The alcohol was preventing me from reaching my health goals, my dreams and it was stopping me from pursing my passions! I’m now able to freely say I’ve retired that habit that no longer serves me or my purpose in life. I have BIG dreams and I’m going for them with a renewed energy and focus!

Don’t you want a taste of how this feels? I encourage you to jump in… Join our Lose ‘da Booze 100 Day Secret Success Group… (you need to friend me on Facebook if you want me to add you). Secret means it’s beyond a closed group – so people can’t even find our group so it won’t show up on your news feeds in any way. While I’m more public about my journey now because I want to help others achieve this … I understand that it is something many still wish to keep private.

So what do you say?! Are you ready to join in for R’October Sober with us?! It’s time for YOU to #LoseDaBooze and discover the gifts of being AF!!

Strategies to ensure you don’t break your AF Streak

I went live in our Secret Lose ‘da Booze Group yesterday to share strategies to keep you on track with your commitment to Losing ‘da Booze in your life. Whether you are committing to 30 days, a few days a week, or like me – now in this for LIFE as I’ve retired my drinking career. These tips may help you stay the course.

Strategy 1 – Utilizing others

Surrounding yourself with a good support system is KEY to success! That’s why after my first 100 Days AF I created the group and now coming up on almost 2 years strong. There are also other ways to gather support through your own community and of course your family. Finding sober friends will help you stay the course. Spending time with them will reinforce your commitment. Finding allies and confidantes who support your AF lifestyle will help you stay strong and that’s what posting to our group has done for me. I’ve also joined other groups (This Naked Mind and The Alcohol Experiment) – the more you can arm yourself with a community of people who ‘get’ what you’re trying to do the greater your chances of success will be. Use them if you feel like you’re going to cave in to cravings and reach out by personally messaging or posting on the boards where you’ll be welcomed and supported through moments of weakness. Go to in person meetings if there are some available in your community. Don’t be afraid to share your goals to be AF with others. Be proud of it. Informing others will strengthen your commitment. If you’re going on holidays – re-clarify your goals and consider meeting up with sober communities or linking to sober activities during your travels. Help and educate others as it will reinforce what you already know from your own experiences. And most importantly – don’t isolate yourself. If you are down and alone – those are the times that are riskiest to breaking your AF streak – so REACH OUT!

Strategy 2 – Knowing and avoiding triggers

Reduce the amount of time spent with past boozing friends. Recognize the people who are unhealthy or triggering. This doesn’t mean they are bad people – it just means you are taking care of yourself. Identify high risk situations and people. These are the situations or people who may will make staying sober a struggle. Try to develop strategies to handle such influences without resolving to alcohol to cope. Be able to successfully anticipate high-risk situations and be ready with a plan to cope with them. Know and learn your triggers and avoid them or find ways to manage them. Give up hobbies that are associated with booze. This could include going to pubs, watching certain TV programs, etc. Visualize and mentally rehears what you can do to get out of tempting situations. It’s like muscle memory – it’s easier if you’ve developed the muscle first. Plan ahead of what you will do. Replace negative behaviours with positive ones. Rehearse answering awkward questions from relatives or friends – especially at parties or other social situations when alcohol is freely available. Have a standard response ready. Have an escape plan if you’re attending a party or event. Be sure to have your own vehicle or plan for public transportation to leave. Don’t feel obligated to stay if you are in a situation you don’t want to be in that could trigger a slip. Attend events with sober friends and family. Be the designated driver. If you are experiencing a strong urge to drink – distract yourself for at least 15 minutes and know that the craving will subside. Know you are more powerful than your craving – this is something you CAN beat! Know that a slip starts with thoughts that maybe you don’t have an issue or you miss drinking … be mindful of these thoughts and go back to WHY you decided to Lose ‘da Booze (make a list that you can refer to of all the negatives you experience when you drink). Stay away from old ‘haunts’ where you associate drinking with. Cravings are part of your overall journey – know what to do when you get them: places to go, what can calm you down, sources of distractions (like the files we have in our group), people to call, etc. Learn about Terence Gorski’s concepts: 1 – euhporic recall (where a person thinks positively about their alcohol use), 2 – negative abstinence (where a person associates negative feelings with sobriety) – by the way this is so NOT how I’m feeling now as I only see all the GOOD about being sober, 3 – exaggerated thinking (where a person believes all the bad things happening to them would go away if alcohol was reintroduced).

Strategy 3 – Develop coping mechanisms & psychological strength

Have a safety plan with at least five easy things you can do whenever your feelings are likely to overwhelm you and carry the safety plan with you because under stress, we don’t think very well. Plan for harm reduction if a slip does occur. Do not feel ashamed if you break your streak. Seek out support immediately through our group or whatever supports you have setup for yourself. Don’t allow a slip to turn into a full blown spiral backwards to boozing it up. Give yourself grace for setbacks. They don’t mean everything you’ve worked for is nothing. Above all if you slip don’t give up giving up!! Understand your prior progress wasn’t for nothing. Progress not perfection – it took me FIVE years of trying to moderate before I was able to accept that I just was done for good and now retired from a 40 year drinking career. Kill complacency. After a while you may assume you’re ok but being sober is a full time job. Don’t let your guard down. Keep a daily journal that’s only for you or do like me and create a blog if you’re ready for that. Allow yourself to ponder all that you’ve lost over the years – but don’t stay stuck in the past either. Build on the positives that sobriety brings to your life and create new and meaningful experiences. Don’t have the ‘first’ drink – one drink can undo so much!! Keep stress levels low – look at what may be causing you stress and make adjustments as needed. Regulate your physical and emotional needs – this is all about balance and minding your health – mind, body and spirit. You can always join my Healthy 4Life group for support in this area. Don’t feel guilty about having ME time!! Self-care is KEY to success … this could include reading a book or just resting in bed all day! Sometimes empty time is just what the doctor ordered. Work your assertiveness skills and learn to say NO (and no is a complete sentence). Don’t expect all your problems to magically go away – know that your efforts are a work in progress. Avoid being overconfident – always be mindful that your sobriety is something you must work at. Avoid self-pity – this is not a punishment but a reward … your life will be blessed with so many gifts in sobriety if you give it a real chance. Sobriety will not always equal happiness – it’s sometimes a roller coaster of emotions but enjoy the ride! Use DEADS: Each letter stands for an approach to avoid a slip. D-elay – this is based on the notion that cravings and urges disappear when you shift your attention elsewhere (do this for 10 to 15 minutes). E-scape – remove yourself from the urge provoking situation – this could be a pub or supermarket where alcohol is readily available. It’s KEY to focus your attention elsewhere. A-ccept – cravings and urges are a natural part of living sober. Accept these emotions for what they are without judging them negatively. Don’t punish yourself for having these urges/cravigns. D-ispute – Identify past addictive situations and develop tactics for disputing them when they occur again… in my case – there is no longer that mental battle going on as I’ve taken the option of drinking completely off the table and it feels so freeing! S-ubstitute – requires you to substitute urges with fun or productive activities. This could mean going for a run or a walk, or reading a book or listening to music. Make a list of activities you could go to when urges/cravings arise. Again check our distractions file in the Lose ‘da Booze group.

Strategy 4 – Goal setting

Make realistic goals. Success happens in baby steps – not leaps and bounds. Keep a list for what your grateful for – GRATITUDE should be part of your daily menu. Reward yourself for your progress – map out milestones and reward yourself for each of them with the money you save by NOT drinking! This is so important!! This is hard work and the first while (1 to 2 years for those who are choosing to quit for good) is how long it takes… but the end result is well worth it. You will feel more alive and better than you have in a long time!

Strategy 5 – Lifestyle

Know that a busy schedule full of work, activities, fitness, addiction work (education, researching and helping others) and relationships will mean you are less occupied and less likely to return to booze. Find healthy outlets for stress (meditation and journaling). Eat well – give your body exactly what it needs. Exercise -THIS is really the BEST medicine you can give yourself as it not only builds a stronger body but can help boost your mood and relieve stress, anxiety, etc. Get plenty of sleep (whatever amount of time is good for you) – this will help you have a clear mind for decision making. Engage in new adventures or activities – fun activities like hiking, sky diving, skiing, etc). Now that you are clean you’ll find lots of time to invest in a healthier hobby. Occupy your time wisely so you don’t get bored. Consider taking up a sport or perhaps sign up for a local night class. Allow yourself to practice or lean some form of expressive activity – drawing, writing, painting, singing, playing music, acting, etc. – that you can do regularly but especially when you are upset, scared or angry. Regularly practice some meditation activity – learn formal meditation, yoga, prayer or whatever works for you. Spend time in nature. Keep yourself busy by cleaning up your home, garden or garage. An uncluttered living and working space make for a healthy and clear mind where you can make rational and sound decisions. There’s nothing more satisfying than a job well done!

I posted a live video in our group about this – but want to blog it to reach more people. If you feel this is something that can help someone else, please share and if you wish to join our ‘secret’ group, follow the link above to find out how! #LoseDaBooze and Gain YOUR life back!! You can do this!!

 

Month 1 – Retired from a 40 year drinking career

Gone are the times of counting days or planning ahead for when I am done my ‘challenge’ or AF stretch. This time it’s for good! Since I started this blog back in 2013, I have been trying to change my habits with booze. Since the age of 12 – when I first tasted alcohol and through many variations and levels of drinking, after 40 years of allowing this habit into my life – I gifted myself with a retirement from my drinking career! Moderation simply did not work for me!

In the first month I have experienced the usual wonderful euphoria feeling that comes once the fog clears after your last drink (which can vary from 3 to 10 days depending on how heavily one drinks). Since it wasn’t my first time going without – this last time came relatively easy. And the benefits seemed better and brighter with the knowing that I was done for good this time!

Releasing the thoughts of drinking completely has been the most liberating feeling ever! When I was doing stretches – there was always this little voice in my mind whispering … and on occasions or moments when cravings would call I was being drawn back and tempted… Saying maybe is saying yes when it comes to booze.

When you completely take it off the table – it’s a no brainer. The option just is never there and so you find yourself reaching for other coping mechanisms – much healthier ones at that and as a result you of course feel so much better. Very quickly the self-confidence and self-esteem comes back.

You see – leading towards my last drink on August 12th, I was feeling very low and insecure in my work or my abilities. I was second guessing myself and doubting or wondering about my worth. That was the booze talking (even though I was sober at work). But how the booze robs you of your confidence and because of the guilt you feel for not sticking with your AF plan it erodes at your own belief in yourself.

Things are going so great at work!! Our communications/PR person told me yesterday that she nominated me for “Excellence” in service for all the work I’ve been doing to help make our workplace healthier for staff with the activities I organize for the Fit & Well Initiative. Whether or not I win is not the point – the fact that what I was doubting or feeling guilty about doing (as I do this as a ‘side’ from my regular job as an admin for a team that is all about healthy active living) – I am making a difference for others at work!

Booze robs us of time, confidence, capacity to do more and chase dreams that we used to spend our time ‘thinking about’ with drink in hand or watching life go by. I am LIVING life now! I am enrolled in a program to become a Certified Wellness Coach and hope to make my niche relative to helping others to Lose ‘da Booze in their lives!

Health wise – I’m finally back to my regular daily workouts (something I was skipping out on or too lazy to do when drinking). I’m eating much better (the cravings for junk food have gone – whereas with booze it was like they went hand in hand). I am down 7.5 lbs. I’ll take a photo to compare the face to face and update it here later…

My group Lose ‘da Booze 100 Day Success is going strong – it’s a secret group but you can join in if you message me/add me as a friend. It’s now over 225 members strong and has been going since January of 2016 when I asked others to join in my 2nd 100 Days AF. I also lead a group called Healthy4Life on Facebook. It focuses on support and accountability and I post inspirational or informational items there.

These are all #sobertools that get you on the path to freedom from booze. I can’t wait to see what this next month will bring! I’ll be posting month to month… so stay tuned!

Here’s a face to face comparison for Month 1!

Month One – Recognizing Triggers

I haven’t posted one of these Sober Time pics in a while because I’m no longer really counting days (but I still love their quotes). Today’s was perfect as it describes my journey to getting to a point where I can confidently say I’m DONE. I’m retiring from the booze habit. As you’ll see from this blog dating back to 2013 when I first joined the sober blogging world – my intentions were to complete a 100 day AF challenge … but I kept wavering on my commitment. I kept making excuses and I kept thinking I could manage to moderate or control my intake better as I had in the past… where I would only have a couple maybe once a week.

But as time went by – and even after some great successes, I found myself sliding back to old patterns and also regaining the weight that I had lost when I did manage to stay sober for longer periods.

What I have come to accept is that 40 years is ENOUGH and that I need to make room for healthier living.

Tonight I’m not feeling so great. It’s the first night since my last drink on August 12, 2018 that I feel crappy. I’m headachy and tired and sore. This feeling is what would often lead me to grabbing a drink to numb out this shitty feeling but not anymore. Now I’m recognizing it, journaling it and soon I’ll be going to bed to give my body the rest it’s telling me it needs.

There’s tons going on this month with my daughter and her appointments, it’s ramping up at work and I have my own personal development that I’m working on. What I can’t forget in all of this is maintaining a good balance.

So tonight for the first time in about 3 weeks I emotionally ate a bit to soothe some of these feelings. It’s not the go to behavior I want to revert to as I know it (like booze) won’t help anything. So I’m reflecting and thinking of how I can better handle it next time. It’s all about the H.A.L.T. analogy and awareness. I’ve been feeling it all day … and perhaps what I should have done is come home to take a nap to shake it off…

In no way was booze even a temptation for me though – because it’s off the table for me now. It’s now about finding NEW coping mechanisms… healthier ones and so that’s where I’m off to. To put on my meditation and call it a night.

I’ll be back to write a bit more once I hit the one month mark as I’ll be counting months – not days – to reaching my FIRST One Year AF Milestone!

 

Day 365 of 365 – End Experiment – Start of Sober Retirement Life

On August 12th at 9pm – my drinking career came to an end. On September 3rd 2017 I intended to do this one year ‘experiment’ – well actually I said I’d go a full year without booze but my mindset wasn’t quite there. In February – I broke my streak at day 174 and allowed myself a drink… and then it seemed to slip back into ‘allowing’ myself drinks again here and there – for 102 days total in that one year period. So while I finished the ‘year’ with 263 days AF (same as my entire year in 2017) – I was feeling like it wasn’t good enough.

As you can see from this blog – that dates back to 2013 – I have been trying to cut down on alcohol and moderate and what I have found is that it’s just not enough. What I have now decided is that after 40 years of having booze in my life – I’m ready to break up, give it up, retire it for good!

Thus my Sober Retirement Life begins! I am looking forward to what the months ahead will bring and excited that I can let go of this internal battle in my head about thinking ‘when can I drink again’…

I’m DONE! I used to say never say never – but in this case – I’m done and giving up – on booze that is lol!

Never quit quitting is another motto I guess. When it comes to booze – it’s one thing I can say that truly no longer serves any purpose in the life I want to live going forward. I have many great new aspirations that I want to pursue and there’s just no room for this in my life!

So Happy Birthday to me! Best gift I could give myself right here… and so thrilled that I am not doing it alone and that the Sober Movement is picking up momentum in our communities … with my group Lose ‘da Booze and Annie Grace’s groups (This Naked Mind and The Alcohol Experiment).

I can’t wait to see what life ahead will look like! Stay tuned!

Day 355 of 365 – Phoenix Rising

10 days away from the ‘end’ of this one year experiment and I’m sharing a blog to say that I am FINALLY at a place where I find myself rising above the ashes of the booze life that I lived… for 40 years!!

I was 12 when I first snuck booze from my mom’s bottle of rye (at the time she was drinking heavily – 40oz a day on some days). I would sneak it bit by bit into a cup and hide it under my bed. Then I’d take a can of pop and pour some in and would go out and be ‘the cool kid’ who had a drink with her and everyone wanted a taste. When I was younger – I had very low self-esteem and didn’t fit in. Up until puberty – I was very much the nerdy buck tooth glasses wearing girl that no one looked at twice. I longed to fit in and this was how I started with alcohol in my life.

I grew up with parents and family who drank pretty heavily. I witnessed a lot of messed up evenings with fights, arguments, threats with a gun… My drinking ramped up when I was legally of age and was able to go to bars at the age of 19. At that time I was in a relationship with a man who was abusive towards me (psychologically and physically) – so I guess I drank to cope or mask the pain and shame of it all.

I have a history of other instances where I was inappropriately touched by a priest when I was an alter girl and propositioned by a neighbor when I was super young (he was offering me candy in exchange for me to play with him) and there were more instances of abuse spanning into my adult year and at times when I drank too much and allowed things to happen …

When I met my now ex-husband – I was trying to get out of the physically abusive relationship and as my dad put it – I jumped from the frying pan into the fire. At the time my ex was drinking a lot too. I guess you could say I went with ‘if you can’t beat them – join them. After the birth of my 2nd daughter I experienced post-partum depression and began drinking more heavily. I went through a really dark phase. Then in 2002 my world fell apart when my ex left me and my mom died. There is so much more to the story … but fast forward to today and all I can say is the process of my transformation and conclusion to being who I am today is BECAUSE of all I’ve lived through.

I took my last drink on August 12th 2018 (was done by 9pm). I have 102 days where I have had drinks in this experiment and have now finally had my moment of ‘CLICK’ if you will… to say that I’m retiring this habit that no longer serves my life or life purpose! For 40 years it has brought in so much SHIT into my life! Sure I can romanticize and there were some good times in there (the ones I can remember lol)… but overall booze basically was associated with negative experiences for me.

Releasing it from my lifestyle has brought a new freedom! Like the Phoenix Rising – the transformation time is NOW! There’s no looking back and only great things to look forward to. I hope to be able to help others get to this point as I continue to lead/facilitate the amazing Lose ‘da Booze 100 Day Success Group… and can’t wait to see what the future holds for me!!

So as September nears… and so does my Birthday … I say YES of course to #SoberSeptember and hope others will jump in… for 30 days… or for 100 or for LIFE!! #LoseDabooze for good… Gain LIFE!!

Day 345 of 365 – 20 Days to END of One Year Experiment

As I near the end of my experiment – I wanted to post/share some observations…

  • having the window open to ‘allow’ for some drinks is harder than just taking the option off the table (I now have 102 days with drinks – matching my 2017 AF days total of 263 Days AF in my one year experiment)
  • breaking my streak at 174 days was a mistake – I’ve been struggling to remain AF ever since
  • acknowledging that after 40 years of drinking (as I started at the age of 12) is a long enough drinking career that I can put it to rest and retire that part of my life (turning 52 on Sept 3)
  • alcohol makes me FAT (I’ve regained 40lbs)
  • alcohol makes me lazy and robs me of my self-confidence and self-esteem
  • alcohol does NOT provide what I seek out…. SOBRIETY delivers all that alcohol promised (joy, peace of mind, clarity, health, happiness, less anxiety, etc)
  • alcohol robs me of my motivation to go after my dreams and keeps me stuck
  • it’s ok to say NO (and that is a complete answer) – no explanations are required if I choose to NOT drink

There are so many more positives to sobriety. My January desire was to live 2018 Sober and Clean… and I will have done so for 263 days… but my lesson learned is that I need to put distance between me and ‘da booze once and for all. My intentions going forward are to simply take out the wishy washy – “I’m going to try” and just simply and plainly DO IT!

Since 2013 – when I first started this blog, I have been trying to work the moderation or trying to negotiate with myself how to best do this. It’s been an exhausting 5 years. 2015 was when I first FINALLY succeeded in doing 100 consecutive days AF and that followed into January when I started our ‘secret’ Facebook Lose da Booze 100 Day Success Group. Since then I’ve had the honor of being a part of just over 200 members and their journey and best of all I’ve observed many members go BEYOND the 100 days to losing ‘da booze for good!

As the creator of the group… I think I’m there … retiring my alcohol habit of 40 years of drinking… heavy daily drinking for a period of time in there following really tough moments in my life… to where I am today. I think I’m finally ok to say I’m done and there’s just nothing left in that habit that will serve my future purpose and dreams! Here’s to celebrating my next ‘ONE’ … Year that is of sobriety which is the next milestone I’m going for!