‘Tis the season for resolutions! I love fresh starts and new beginnings. The potential of new adventures and opportunities is inspiring. I don’t usually make resolutions at New Year’s, however I do love fresh starts – sometimes it’s the beginning of a month, or a new school year, or even just a new morning. Dry January isn’t quite a ‘resolution’ for me, it’s more of a fresh start and a chance to try something that is good for my body and my mind.
If you came across this post because of the title, some of you reading this may be aware of your unhealthy attachment to wine (or any alcohol, for that matter). Others aren’t even thinking about giving their wine up, for a New Year or for any reason, for that matter! Others can take it or leave it.
When I found myself taking it, more than leaving it, I made a decision. Today, at the half-way point, I hope to share what I’ve learned in Dry January, so far.
On December 31st, I concluded (at the last minute) that I was going to participate in DRY January. I follow women on social media who no longer drink wine, or any alcohol, for that matter and I was intrigued. A good friend of mine did Dry January last year, and I couldn’t even fathom it at that time. Let that sink in. I couldn’t fathom giving up wine for a month. That really sparked something in me, this year.
A few months back, I was at work and came across a Canadian Institute of Health Information (CIHI) document about the harms of alcohol. I had also recently attended a Public Health webinar about women and alcohol. My initial plan was to write a blog post about the “pinking” of alcohol and how women are targeted and marketed to. You’ve likely seen the Mommy Needs a Time Out wine glasses, and to be honest, a lot of my own social media posts have involved wine! I just thought the posts were funny.
After reviewing some evidence-based articles and other information on this, it became crystal clear to me. Women are especially being targeted and marketed to in the alcohol industry, covertly and overtly. And worst of all, little did I know that I contributing to the problem! Women are more at risk for health problems that are related to alcohol, which is another problem in itself. That is another post for another day.
So, what changed for me over past few weeks, and even before that? Read on and I will share my honest and candid experiences. I say even before, because change happens incrementally … and sometimes we stay in a pre-contemplation phase for a LONG time.
This new information I had been reading certainly helped to sparked my interest in assessing my own habits (aka my love affair with wine).
I have usually been careful to follow Canada’s guidelines on safe drinking, including having two days off per week from having any alcohol. But, I know that it’s a slippery slope of having a glass of wine every night with dinner, to having one while making dinner, while having a few glasses on a routine basis.
Based on the information I reviewed and by assessing my own habits, I knew that I needed a reset with my love affair with red wine.
The first thing I did, after making my decision was to purchase a book called The Naked Mind by Annie Grace. I had signed up for her email list previously, and had downloaded her book on Audible. But … never listened to it! Until decision day, that is. I will say, this book is AMAZING. There are some things in it that didn’t jive for me (I think with my healthcare background), however, far more of it did align and has made a huge difference in my perspectives. At the time of this blog post, I’m about three quarters of the way through the book. It’s worth it already and I’m not even done yet. Note: I’ve just posted the affiliate links to the book and audio book.
January 1st — Day One: Day one was easy. We hosted friends for New Year’s Eve, the night before. It was a quiet night in and I hosted, making snacks and yummy cocktails for friends. I had prosecco and mixed up Moscow Mules for our guests throughout the evening. I was kept quite busy hosting so I didn’t actually drink too much. I didn’t feel awful the next day, yet also felt ready for my Dry month without wine.
January 2nd — Day Two: I was back to work and was busy with planning and preparations for the busy weeks ahead. I came home and made myself a virgin Moscow Mule. I will admit that I had a little hankering for wine while prepping dinner. “The Witching Hour” is what I told my friend it was. Typically, cravings only last for 6-15 minutes, so I moved on and sipped my Mule (alcohol free)!
January 3rd — Day Three: Once again, work was productive and the kids were still off school so I was busy at home and at the office. Working out during my usual wine time helped. Still not too bad!
January 4th — Day Four: Friday night and I was going strong! I was not sure how the weekend was going to go — reading my book and some articles about Dry January was helpful and motivating.
January 5th — Day Five: A friend’s birthday party! This is where the NOT drinking tends to get interesting and this is not just my experience. I read about this topic on other blogs and sites, and even in books. There seems to be some barriers to full acceptance of people NOT drinking in social situations! As I am reading in the Naked Mind by Annie Grace, we have been conditioned to believe this is the norm (to drink, I mean) … and I realize that it doesn’t have to be.
One of my friends thought I was joking about dry January and once she realized I was serious, she was 110% supportive. The fact of the matter is, this can be hard for some people (most people). Support is key! Keeping promises to yourself is also really important.
From all of the articles I’ve read about this, it’s a good idea to have an assertive statement ready if people question your decision. You’ll convince yourself AND remind your friends and family that this is just the way it is.
BOOM. If people aren’t supportive, remember that says a lot more about them, than it does you! Stay Strong!
January 6th — Day Six: Today I’m feeling super clear minded and happy about my accomplishments and sticking to alcohol free at yesterday’s party. I reflected on how fun it was to drive everyone around AND I actually had a great time with some of my favourite people. Wow, you don’t need wine to unwind or have fun. Who knew?! Okay, okay — I know deep down we know this, however I was proud I made it through the initial moments of wanting wine with my girlfriends.
January 7th — Day Seven: I downloaded an App on my iPhone called Dry January. It is based in the U.K, so tells you how much $ you’ll save in pounds, not dollars however it works brilliantly (yes, also borrowing this term as well as the app from my British friends). I love technology and find that the apps help me to keep myself on track AND help me to see my progress.
January 8th — Day Eight: Enlisting help from friends is a huge help. I was waiting for one of my FAVOURITE people (she knows who she is) to join the challenge. We have been supporting each other, sending each other articles and motivation. I actually started a Pinterest Board that we can both contribute to. Talking about the positive things you notice about being alcohol free (AF), is of course helpful, too. Strength in numbers!
January 9th — Day Nine: No booze seems to be pretty standard now. New habits are forming! If I feel stressed or feel like a glass of wine would be nice to “unwind”, I do something else. Taking a bath, going on the treadmill, meditating. Just changing the usual response to wanting to have a glass of wine will rewire your habits!! If I can do it, so can you.
January 10th — Day Ten: I am noticing changes in myself. I am more present. Even with parenting, and relationships. Instead of sitting down and having a glass of wine on Friday, I’m addressing things that need to be addressed. WOW. When anxiety about work or other things kicked in for me over the past week, I stopped and acknowledged how I was feeling. I dealt with it directly. There are REASONS for feeling anxious, happy or sad. We may think we need to have a glass of vino when feel a certain way, or we may even have a particular routine that is associated with alcohol. A key thing to remember is that there are reasons that humans, by nature, FEEL our emotions. Working through these feelings without a glass of wine is EMPOWERING. I can’t believe I just wrote that. Feeling super proud and motivated, today! Deep stuff, right here.
January 11th – Day Eleven: Friday nights are for wine. Errrr. Put the brakes on that. Weekends are probably the toughest, as that’s when I would usually socialize with friends over a beer or glass of wine. So, when a friend sent me info on a spin class with hip-hop (my fave), I was all in. I had a fleeting moment of envy when seeing a friend’s post about having a beer on Friday night and then realized I am in control and CAN make new habits, exercise and when I got home, I made one of my favourite mocktails. No booze required!
January 12th — Day Twelve: I had snagged movie tickets for a friend and I to see Rachel Hollis’ documentary – Made for More. It was SOLD out, and the theatre was packed with awesome women (and two awesome men). The film is a spin off of her book, Girl Wash Your Face, which I really enjoyed reading. If you don’t already follow Rach, it’s time to check her out on Instagram and Facebook. She’s positive, uplifting and REAL. Movie night was a fantastic alcohol free night with a dear friend, and I even treated myself to some popcorn and Pepsi, at the theatre. After all, how many calories has not drinking saved me this month?! Extra bonus!
January 13th – Day 13: I love Sundays. Keeping busy with the kids activities on the weekends is always so much fun. No hangover or feeling tired from a crappy sleep is another bonus of Dry January. I have read in the past few weeks that when you sleep after drinking, you don’t actually have as much REM sleep, which is important for memory and MOOD. Many people who stop consuming alcohol will notice more vivid dreams at first, because they are finally getting the REM sleep they need. WOW.
I actually use my new FitBit Tracker that I got for Christmas to track steps AND to track my sleep. I can attest that I have been getting MORE REM sleep, since starting Dry January, based on the bench-marking capabilities of the FitBit Versa!
So, here I am on Day 14. I have been watching my diet and without wine have actually lost some weight, already!! I am more efficient at home (amazing how wine zaps the motivation right out of you, doesn’t it?)
I will be honest — at first I didn’t want to write this post too soon because I was a little worried I’d have a glass of wine on a weekend, or I might change my mind. I am not a huge “drinker” anyway, so I thought maybe I will just do two weeks…. all the what ifs or other ways out. THAT said, I’m happy to say that the first 14 days have been awesome and I’ve gained an immense amount of perspective. I will keep you posted on the next leg of my challenge. This has certainly changed my relationship with wine, in a positive way and has promoted deeper communication and reflection in many areas of my life. Dealing with things head on, instead of blurring things with wine has been so empowering and I realize (well, I remember) that I am in control of my decisions, my actions, my habits and my future (whether that’s with or without alcohol). I love the presence that this journey is providing to me. Am I going to quit wine forever? Maybe, maybe not. The important things are the lessons I’m learning and the promises I’m keeping to myself.
What about you?
Did you participate in Dry January?
Or perhaps you’re gearing up for Dry February?
How’s it going for you?
What is your motivation? Share with our community!
As always, thanks for being here.
With sincere gratitude,