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

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!

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 315 of 365 – Freedom of Sobriety

I think one of the greatest things about being sober is no longer having to plan my day around drinks. When I think of how drinking limited so many activities for me…. what a waste! My daughter was in the city and needed a ride home at some point. In my drinking days this would cause tension and even bitterness that I had to NOT drink so I could at some point pick her up. But now it’s like this weight has been lifted… I can do what I want with my day (sober activities) and happily make the drive in to pick her up without any issues.

When I think about how I limited myself with drinks and activities. How I turned down doing things either because I couldn’t drive because I had drinks or didn’t feel like it because I would rather just sit my lazy ass on the couch and binge watch TV.

Yesterday was spent doing some housework (another thing that I neglected so badly when drinking). I balanced it out with some ME time – enjoyed the pool and sunshine. I spent time reading and checking in with my groups. After I picked my daughter up – I came home to relax and went to bed at a decent hour, waking up early to get my morning routine done.

Freedom is a precious gift that Sobriety gives us! I’m grateful to continue my journey for #DryJuly and beyond!

Day 296 of 365 – Gearing up for #DryJuly

July 1st is just around the corner and boy am I ready to make some changes. Since March – I’ve been struggling… and a big part of that struggle is having fallen back into a pattern of allowing drinks back into my life.

I’m still of the mindset that I’m not ready to say NO forever (for today – although I am beginning to believe it would be the easiest solution to just say “I don’t drink booze anymore)… I do know I need to get back to where I was … like this photo at 3months AF (alcohol free)…

With major stressors – I’ve turned to drinks as a coping mechanism to let go, to forget, to numb myself out… but I KNOW it’s not the healthy way to do things. So I’m gearing up to get back on the Sober Train and one day at a time – hope to finish this year completely sober!

I’m not in control of certain things going on around me – but this is a choice I can make and something I DO have control over….

And so I’ve invited people via my Facebook page to join me  … and there’s our secret group there too as well as the team on SparkPeople (Cutting Down the Booze).

Not everyone has an issue with alcohol and some can take it or leave it – or stop at 1 drink or two… I unfortunately don’t fall into that category and it’s taken me a long time to just accept that. Since 2013 I strived to reach 100 Days AF and finally succeeded in doing to in 2016 and then I started a group to have others join in. It’s a secret/private group because this issue is not something everyone is open to sharing … here on SP the Cutting Down the Booze team nears 1000 members… With the non-judgmental support of the community – I have greatly improved my AF stats and working to continue doing so! My last longest stretch of consecutive AF days was 174 days!

The other factor that alcohol hinders is my advancement to reaching my health goals. I have regained most of the weight that I had lost and my lowered motivation, lowered self-esteem, anxiety, depression has come back into play.

I need to shake myself off and jump back on the wagon to greater health! The stressors in my life will be better handled when I am strong again – healthy and SOBER. I will be stronger because I’ll be eating healthier, and exercising more regularly again. Exercise REALLY is the BEST Medicine!!

So it starts with a #DryJuly …

And I hope it will close the second half of 2018 – Sober & Clean… AND Lean … Health4Life – this is not a ‘diet’ but a lifestyle!!

It’s time!! It’s not too late to make 2018 the BEST year of your life!! Join me!!

Day 272 of 365 – The Day After

I wanted to write about the ‘day after’… when you choose to get past the cravings versus ‘giving in’ to the cravings and the feelings associated with both.

When the cravings to drink come calling and we cave in – this is what happens in my head… I start telling myself it’s ok if I have some, I’ve been doing so well. I deserve it. I can stop again tomorrow. And then I start having drinks and just go through the motions of the habit I’ve been working so hard to stop. Later that evening – I start having thoughts about how I will feel tomorrow. If I drank enough, I may not remember details of how the evening ended. Even if I didn’t drink that much – there’s a guilt for not having followed through on my goal/plan. Then there’s the morning after… waking up feeling kind of groggy and headachy. Likely a rotten night’s sleep. I wake up feeling like I’m a failure and can’t meet my goals and then start thinking I may as well give up and keep going and maybe have another drink to make myself feel better…

Then there’s the night where the cravings come calling and I DON’T cave in. Waking up in the morning and feeling so PROUD that I didn’t cave in and that I’m still on track with my goals. There’s a positive determination to make the day another great day. There’s the scale that is down rather than up in weight. There’s a clear head and energy to get a great workout in early in the morning or get outside to take a nice walk and soak in some sunshine (rather than hide from it). There’s a feeling of strength and the more days I have like this the stronger I feel. It’s like building up my AF muscles. I have no shame and don’t feel like I have to hide. I want to eat healthy (versus wanting to eat junk to soak in the booze). I want to actually do activities (rather than stay in bed and hide from the world). I don’t cancel plans – instead I make more!

When I think of how great I feel when I push through those cravings I wish I could bottle that and open it up when that nasty booze voice comes calling again saying ‘it’s ok to have a drink’… because the way I feel NOW versus the way I would have felt had I caved in – well it’s priceless and worth hanging onto.

So here’s to day 203 AF out of my 272 days so far and consecutive day 6 of my new 100 Day Success stretch!! Here’s to another wonderful beautiful sober day in my life!

Day 269 of 365 – 200 AF Days Today!

It is now post-vacation time and I have re-started my AF consecutive days to finish off my one year experiment. I have 69 days that I’ve had drinks out of 269. I feel pretty great about that! While I did slip back to more drinking than intended – I am back to basics using the #SoberTools that I know work for me. I’ve restarted the Sober Time counter. I’m back to blogging and posting more. I’m back to my workouts and eating healthier. Surprisingly this time (so far) the cravings aren’t too bad and my cravings for sugar haven’t been as out of control (although I am only on day 3 of this re-start).

I’m still dealing with a lot of stress relative to my daughter and her mental health issues – but feel stronger and more renewed after taking that week off ‘vacation’. I’m also working on setting healthy boundaries so that I can stay balanced and maintain my own sanity as we continue to navigate this difficult stuff.

I’m winding down after a successful 3rd day and with the first weekend coming up – I’m confident I will stay on track as I am having gum surgery on Friday so I’ll be on mostly a liquid diet – but it WON’T include any booze! I’m here to get back to taking care of my body and letting go of this booze habit that has been robbing me of joy! I’m excited to have others in the group restarting with me (Secret Facebook Group – Losedabooze 100 Day Success Group – send me a message if you want to join in).

The new month is just ahead and I’m excited about a clean month ahead!! Today is day 150 into the year… and here’s the daily guidance from Doreen Virtue’s book…