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 314 out of 365 – 227 Days AF and Day 14 #DryJuly

Checking in mid-point into #DryJuly… and nearing the end of my ‘one year experiment’ leading up to my 52nd birthday on September 3rd.

This week has been great as I’ve been off work (only worked Monday) after somewhat of a break down last week as I was feeling burnt out and broken with all the stressors relative to my daughter’s mental health issues and the challenges they bring. But being AF has kept me strong and allowed me to focus on strategies and solutions including making my morning workouts non-negotiable again and doing daily personal development.

The guilt that comes with drinking for me just isn’t worth it anymore. The feeling of ‘I deserve it’ thinking of “I deserve a drink after this or that…” is gone and what I want MORE is to feel as I do today… Stronger, more energetic, having more clarity and purpose again. I’ve come across a few great resources this week including Rachel Hart’s podcast on this topic and the other one was a blog post that reminded me how I seriously DON’T want to go back to day 1 again (The Obstacle Course). I’m also listening to Brendon Burchard’s High Performance Habits which has a ton of great ideas and tools to help me get back on track in many ways.

The group that I created (Lose ‘da Booze 100 Day Success) is also doing well and we share resources from various places. I don’t put limitations on what #sobertools we can get our hands on. I hope to someday be the resource that someone refers others too as I continue with my mission to #LoseDaBooze in my life (and let go of the hold that alcohol had on me).

In our group I try to collect resources and share in files so we have a go to reference – things like distractions, sober tools links, quotes, photos of our face to face before and after…

Staying AF for me means staying busy and finding a purpose… and I feel like I’m back and today will be the day I create a NEW (updated) vision board which I’ll share a bit later once it’s completed.

The alone time at home doesn’t come often anymore so I’m going to savor it and get my day started… it’s amazing how much gets done when you don’t drink (and also a raw realization of how much time is wasted when we DO drink). We choose and today is a beautiful day to continue this awesome sober streak I’m on! Are you with me?

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…

Day 141 of 365 – How Accountability Works

I posted about this in our group this morning… you see I had created a list in the group to show all who had committed or intended to do the 100 Day challenge with us at the beginning of this year. And like many resolutions – some have fallen off the list or broken their resolutions (as is the statistics with most January resolutions). However – what I did share with the group is that this journey is very person to each individual. The accountability lies with YOU – period!!

And so I deleted the list because it’s up to each person to decide what they want from this journey to Lose ‘da Booze in their lives and I’m a perfect example of how these goals can shift. Dating back to 2013 when I struggled to try and do my own 100 days and barely could make 30 days without dying to have that drink again after day 30. It’s definitely a process and is it greatly influenced by whatever may be going on in your life.

I talked with a colleague this week who is going through a very difficult divorce and she shared how she caved in to wine to relieve herself of some of the stress. I re-assured her that this was very normal and that I too went through much of what she’s experiencing. You have to be gentle with yourself – which means that you can’t take on the world and change everything all at once! When going through some really difficult things – taking on this goal to be alcohol free may be too much – although I also know that it’s KEY to moving forward in so many ways but YOU have to be ready to take this step. No one can make you do it!

Another member in our group is influenced by his partner who chooses to continue drinking and at times even taunt him with it as he tries to stay AF and so far she has won… and he’s still struggling with freeing himself from the negative clutches of alcohol as he reports feeling like crap for giving in when comparing how good he felt when he managed to get so many days AF.

Right now alcohol is the furthest thing from my mind and my biggest issue has to do with food … and how I now need to deal with how I can cope without reverting to emotional eating (since I’m no longer emotionally drinking). These things are ALL related. And what it boils down to is finding better healthier ways to cope.

Things I’ve done to work towards improving this are the following:

  • start my day by reading positive affirmations
  • check in with my group – post to share / journal and support others in the group
  • exercise regularly
  • food prep and plan
  • meditate
  • read or listen to books, podcasts, blogs… whatever I feel the need to lift me up or help me through a moment
  • reach out to one on one support through counseling
  • get enough sleep (for me that is 6 hours)

It’s about finding what works for you and even with all this laid out – you may still have moments or relapses. Like yesterday for instance – I caved into eats… had chocolate and half a big bag of my favorite chips and then had dinner and felt so bloated and yuck. Kind of like I felt the day after drinking too much – the same feelings come about – guilt, shame, regret… and then I wake to a new day and all I can do is start fresh and do MY best again.

This is definitely a journey and for now the focus is not on alcohol (although I am still bouncing back and forth with the idea of sticking to my one year, doing the full year 2018 or for good)… that doesn’t matter now. All that matters is TODAY and for today I plan on making it a healthier day than yesterday!

Take this journey in small steps my friends. Learn from your slips and mistakes and DON’T beat yourself up! Instead – pick yourself up and keep moving forward! #LoseDaBooze www.befitspirited.ca

Day 84 of 365 – Living Life by Design

Waking up on weekends is no different than weekdays for me. I was up just after 4am – and continue my daily practice of reading affirmations and checking in with my Lose ‘da Booze group – which I’m so proud of!! The group has grown into this amazing community and ‘family’ or team of incredible people – all striving to live their lives sober!

I am feeling really strong on my journey and sure I’ll beat my 100 day record without issue! Last night was a social outing with neighbors for dinner and then back home for some card/board games. They drank and I did not – and don’t feel as though I’ve missed out in any way.

I actually look forward to getting my good night’s rest and having a productive ‘next’ day compared to waking with the groggy feeling or hangover that alcohol used to give me.

Today I am starting a 3 Day Refresh to kick start my nutrition piece and give myself a bit of a boost as I am getting ready for the next (and first) official holiday outing with our workplace Winter Gala (kind of like a wedding – dinner and dance social). I’ve done one sober before and I know I can do it again. My only issue is trying to stay up later – but I do believe I’ll be part of that crowd that I used to watch leave earlier as others stay and drink the night away (well ok – some dance it too).

As I look at these milestone badges (from the EasyQuit drinking app on android) – I’m feeling proud of where I am and recognize how alcohol really impedes our mental health. So many of us reach for alcohol in the hopes to quiet our minds or rid ourselves of anxiety and stress, when in fact it ends up creating or contributing to it. I can’t believe that I have saved over $1300 so far by not drinking!! As a result I feel NO GUILT when I spend on items such as a new workout outfit and some self-pampering (as I had my color and trim done yesterday). Today may be I’ll get he manicure done!

Living this life by design means reaching for things I used to just think or dream about. I’m posting here for accountability but my goal is to complete my Health and Wellness Coach Certification by December 1st. My passion and dream is to become a health coach and to help others live their healthiest lives. I could not do this when I allowed alcohol into my daily routine. I must walk the talk and lead by example. And so – today starts with a great workout (one designed by the program I signed up for through a weight loss grant I applied for) and I’m reaching for more goals!!

Sure the hell beats the old lifestyle of nursing a hangover and sitting my ass on the couch binge watching Netflix! Life is good when you Lose ‘da Booze!