Monday, April 20, 2015

March & April - Months 3 & 4 (mostly) down! 8 months to go!

I have been slacking on posts, but I've been SO busy I'm totally okay with it.

With spring comes some of my favorite things: sitting on porches for happy hour, traveling, and weddings. These are also some of the hardest times to avoid drinking for me!

First: happy hour porch drinking. 


I love when the weather starts getting warmer, and sitting outside in the early evening (or sometimes early afternoon) and getting your buzz on is perfectly acceptable. I've realized since I started this challenge that I have a much easier time socializing when I am distracted from the act of drinking. When we're at a concert, out dancing, or doing some kind of outdoor activity I have no problems. But when we're sitting somewhere and there's nothing else to do besides sit and drink - it can be a little harder. Luckily my friends are usually pretty awesome at animated conversations.

Second: Traveling. 


This month I had my first experience with traveling without booze. I tend to use "I'm on vacation!" as an excuse to make a whole mess of bad decisions - from drinking before noon, to overeating, and spending more money than I need to. I went to NYC to visit my big sister, and it was actually much easier than I thought it would be.
Two happy sisters!

Amber did have a couple of drinks while I was there, but there was never the suggestion of "let's just stop in here for a drink for no reason at all" or anything like that. If we stopped, it was to take in the scenery, grab a bite to eat, or purchase some delicious Brooklyn-made taffy. My lovely sister was more than accommodating with alcoholic-drink-substitutes, like fizzy water with fruit juice (which was delicious).

I only thought about the fact that I wasn't drinking ONCE - when we were out at a bar that not only didn't carry non-alcoholic beer, but didn't even have mixers (they only served beer & wine). I felt left out at the moment, but quickly got over it when I realized I could purchase cranberry juice at the corner store and bring it in. It's amazing how quickly I can get distracted from the fact that I'm not drinking. 

Third: Weddings. 


So happy for these two!!
This month also marked my first wedding I've ever attended without booze. This was extra difficult because all the booze was FREE. UGH! Water water everywhere... you know?

The bartenders were more than happy to mix me up some mocktails (one guy said "just ask for the Beth, and I'll make you another!") which helped, but I found that the best way to stop thinking about the fact that I was surrounded by endless amounts of free alcohol was... you guessed it. DANCING.

We danced like crazy, I didn't get tired nearly as quickly as I would have with booze, and I didn't have a hangover the next day. Win win win. I think I'm getting the hang of this!

Some things I learned in March / April: 


  • Dancing is the best distraction EVER from drinking booze. Not only is it easier (sloshing a drink all over everyone is never fun), but my stamina has significantly increased. Since quitting the sauce, I've had some marathon dance sessions - 4 hours each! - both times in heels. And I probably could have kept going! 
  • I've definitely lost weight. I can't completely credit the lower calorie / sugar intake, as I have been working with my trainer and exercising more regularly in general. I also got rid of my scale, as I'm sick of it running my life - so I'm not sure how much weight I've actually lost. But my clothes are fitting better, and I have more energy. That's all that really matters to me!
  • I feel like I've been granted the gift of time. Really, it's just that I can stay out later (because alcohol isn't making me sleepy), while at the same time not have any recovery time in the morning. I may sleep in a little after a late night, but I'm not nursing a hangover. I can just get on with my day, and my life. RAD. 
  • It's getting easier. With developing any habit, the passing of time just helps this whole thing become less of a thought process, and more automatic. 
For money saved (I did add in a little extra for my vacation, as I always spend more on alcohol then), I estimated about $928.00. In other words, I've saved almost $1k in 4 months, JUST BY CUTTING OUT ALCOHOL.* That's pretty amazing. 

*I'd like to take a moment to point out (again), that I'm not estimating crazy amounts of money here, guys. I'm talking $5 here, $20 there, a few days a week. If you start tracking it, I bet you'd be surprised how much you spend too! 

This month, I give to wine. Oh, wine - how I miss washing a meal down with your sweet grapey nectar. But damn, I don't miss your hangover. Youch. 

As always, thanks to everyone for the love and support, and every time you've said "we can find you something fun to drink" when we're at a bar. You guys rock. 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Month 2 down - 10 more to go!

February was a much easier month to get through than January, just because not drinking is becoming a habit. I don't have to actually think about it nearly as much, I just don't drink. It's a more natural feeling - as though I've been doing it for a really long time. It's funny how quickly habits can form like that!

For the money I saved in February, it was about $201. So including the $233 I saved in January, I have not spent $434 on booze in 2015. That makes me so friggin' happy.

I kind of love that I found this poster. It says "NO!" in Russian.
Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/gaucho74/

Some things I learned in February: 

  • I realized that not drinking is helping me make better choices with dating - at least with resisting texting someone when I probably shouldn't. No more drunk texting!  Woohoo!
  • Sometimes a non-alcoholic beer is all I need to feel like I'm having a "treat". And all I need is one - since I'm not drinking to feel the buzz, I satisfy the craving with the taste, then stop. 
  • I want to get healthier in other ways. I joined a gym, and recruited a personal trainer. I want to get strong in my muscles, as well as my overall health. 
  • Sometimes it's hard dealing with stress or disappointment without alcohol. I can't ignore my feelings by getting drunk - I have to confront them and deal with them, whether I like it or not. That's the hardest part I've dealt with so far, to be honest. 
That last part was a doozy in February. It definitely helps having another outlet for those feelings (such as exercising, running, doing fun things with friends), but in some situations (like running), I'm still alone with my thoughts. I didn't realize how little I was actually working through stuff before. I would just dull my feelings, maybe think about them a little bit (when hungover), and eventually move on. I didn't really dive into how I was feeling, or why I was feeling that way. I mean, I kind of did, but not at this depth. It's scary and exciting all at the same time. 

I occasionally miss having a drink, especially if some whiskey is being handed around, or if someone orders a good Manhattan. But it quickly passes, and I forget all about it after a little while. 

So that's where I am right now! As always, thanks for all the love and support! 

Saturday, February 7, 2015

A Bar is No Place for Feelings

Last night I went to a Pre-Valentine's-Day-Singles-Mixer.

Yes, it was just as bad as you'd think it would be. 

We expected as much, honestly. We went in with the understanding we were there to just have fun, eat food, have some drinks, and socialize. But somehow I got to a breaking point, and I didn't see it coming.

Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jonathancohen/
Of course, it was pretty much all women. They were all gorgeous, and all around my age. Two guys showed up - one that was so desperate you could feel it in the way he leaned in (even when a back was facing him), and the other was our friend Matt (who was in cute-single-girl heaven).

We still had fun getting caught up, although it was a juggling act trying to avoid the desperate guy's conversation (he was hovering and ready to attack at any turn). He was a perfectly nice person, I just didn't feel the desire to force small-talk with him. Also, the first thing he said to me and my friends when we introduced ourselves was: "I'm terrible at names, I won't remember any of this."

Now, I know names are difficult to remember, but nothing rubs me the wrong way more than that phrase. I know it's usually just a joke people make when they are in an uncomfortable situation (such as meeting new people). But I don't think people think about what they're saying anymore. I mean, you're kind of saying: "I know I just met you, but I'm not even going to try and remember your name, because I don't give a shit about making any effort." I'd rather someone try to remember my name and guess it wrong rather than say something like that.

But I digress.

We had a fun time for a little while, but as the evening wore on I soberly realized how sad the whole thing was. I couldn't use a stiff drink to dull the fact that there were 30 young, single, beautiful women sitting around with the hope that "Mr Right" would walk in at any moment. I looked at all these women, and I looked at the I-won't-remember-your-name guy, and I just couldn't take it anymore. I had to leave. I had to get out of there NOW. 

Thankfully, a friend in my group saw my desperation to hightail it out of there and followed suit. We talked on the way back to the car about how awful that whole thing was, and laughed about the way I kind of freaked.

I knew not drinking in social situations would be difficult from time to time. But I actually thought to myself before the start of the night, "Hey, I'm doing great! I don't even feel like I NEED a drink anymore!" in a naive way. It wasn't so much that I needed a drink in that situation, but that I needed to figure out a different way to deal with it rather than ignoring it by drinking - and I haven't really nailed that down quite yet (illustrated perfectly by the fact that I practically knocked over the chair I was pulling my coat from while trying to make a frantic exit).

My point is: I have come a long way in a month, but I've still got a ways to go. I am realizing that although I didn't think of myself as a crazy drinker, or someone I'd think of as an addict - there are ways I depended on alcohol that I didn't think of before. It's something I used in celebration, but also in dulling my feelings. Having the stark realization that you're feeling strong emotions in a place where you wouldn't normally feel anything (ie. a bar), can be pretty scary.  

So I move on to my Saturday night without a false sense of confidence, but the feeling that it might be tough. That I'll need to trust that I'm strong enough to handle those scary emotion-thingies without booze. That I can still have fun, but instead of ignoring those feelings I can acknowledge them and move on.

Ugggghhh... being a grown-up is HARD.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Month One Realizations | Kicking the Crutch

Over the weekend I realized that I have started substituting things for alcohol that may not be the healthiest of choices.

Going into this whole no-booze-for-a-year plan, I already had the mentality that I didn’t want to substitute one bad habit for another. I was not going to switch from ordering alcohol at a bar or restaurant to ordering a soda. I also didn't want to start snacking more (in place of drinking), and I didn't want to substitute another form of entertainment (such as pot) to create a similar effect.

Toasting a non-alcoholic glass of goodness with friends!
Over the weekend I realized that I had been making some of those substitution choices - and in doing so, I realized I don’t want to have to need ANYTHING as a crutch. I don’t want to be a person that needs some kind of stimulating or dulling substance (such as caffeine, alcohol, pot, etc.) to get through my day, and my life. I want to be the type of person that can DEAL WITH IT. If things get shitty, I’ll go for a run. If I want to celebrate, I’ll make a delicious meal to share with my friends. If I need to sulk, I’ll cry it out and move on. I’ll figure it out – I’m a big girl.

I guess I just thought I WOULD need something. I wasn't sure if I was strong enough to just cut out booze and deal with life – all the good and the bad – completely clean. But I feel like understanding this is what will give me the opportunity to really do this right. To see what it’s like to live my adult life without any kind of unhealthy substances to “help” me along.

I have myself, and my friends and family for support. That’s all the strength I need!

1 month down, 11 to go!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Money NOT SPENT on Booze for January

Holy crap! I can't believe how much I saved this month just by not buying booze. This has been very eye-opening for me. It's also amazing how quickly it adds up ($5 here, $10 there) - even when I didn't think I "spent" very much.

A quick note on how I'm calculating my money-not-spent... 
I am adding items to my spreadsheet that meet the following requirements:
  • If I'm in a situation where I would normally order a drink (at a bar, or with a meal). I pretty much know when I'd want to order one. 
  • If people are having more than one drink, I'll include an extra one for myself as well. 
  • My estimated cost sometimes includes tip, and sometimes doesn't - just to allow for a little wiggle room. 
  • I like good booze, so I am not usually calculating for $2 beers - but $5-6 drinks (because that's what I normally have). For happy hours I'll try to guesstimate a little lower, for fancy-scmancy restaurants, I'll guesstimate a little higher. 
  • I'm only calculating liquor store trips for when I REALLY want to get a bottle of wine or something. Or if I'm going to an event where I would normally bring my own booze.
And one final note: This is not an exact science. It's just to give myself an idea of what I COULD HAVE spent on alcohol.

For the month of January I did NOT spend $233.00 on booze. 

Whoa.

Some things I learned about myself in January: 

  • Sleep is WAY better without alcohol. I sleep much more soundly, and sometimes for much longer. 
    This is how I pass the time when I'm watching Netflix
    (instead of drinking)
  • As alcohol has a tendency to do, it lowers my inhibitions. Having a clear head made me realize that I can make better decisions in my life!
  • I already feel like I'm developing better relationships with my friends. It's harder to connect with people when they're tipsy and I'm not - so I'm connecting more with people I may not have before, because they also either don't drink or don't drink very much. 
  • I still think it's hilarious watching my friends drink though. :) 
  • I love love LOVE not having to worry about how I am getting home at the end of the night. Knowing that I can always drive myself home is very comforting. 
One thing I'm still working on is dealing with that guilty feeling when I'm taking up a spot at the bar, and the bartender asks me what I'd like to drink, and my response is "soda water with lemon, please." 

I've realized that making a light-hearted acknowledgment helps ("don't worry, I'll still tip ya!"), or keeping them reassured that I understand they're there to make money by at least kicking them a few bucks for keeping my soda water full. I've been in the business before - I get it! 

In conclusion: so far, so good! 
Thanks to everyone for the constant love and support on this journey! 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Weekend (Sober) Thoughts

I never need booze to help me with karaoke.
Friday night was… interesting. 

It was the first night that I went out partying without booze this year, and man, it was very apparent how sober I was. A bunch of us went to karaoke night, which was SUPER fun. But everyone else around me was either tipsy or flat out drunk.

When I was on the dance floor I realized I wasn’t letting loose as much as I normally do. I was suddenly a little self-conscious, which was weird for me. I didn’t have anything to take the edge off, just sureness of myself, and suddenly I was unsure. It was a strange feeling, but it made me think: why do I need alcohol to be my ridiculously silly self? 

Later that night I was talking to a boy I've kinda been crushin’ on. He had been drinking, I had not. We had an awkward conversation about our mutual attraction (well, awkward for me without the booze), and he told me that with everything said he was not looking for a relationship with anybody right now.

I realized if I had been drunk, none of what he said would have mattered. I would have taken the part about our attraction and run with it - ignoring the part about not wanting anything more. I maybe would have tried to smooch him. I would have not thought it through, just gone with the moment. I may have been okay with my decision later (or I may have had some regrets), but at the same time wondered if I was being true to myself.
Being a friend's back-up dancer is always a good idea.

With a clear head, I realized - I don’t want that. I thought to myself: I don’t just want a fling, I want something more (whatever that may be). I want to meet someone and get to know them, and if something comes out of it awesome, if not, move on. I want to see if something great could actually happen, not just a one-night make out session. I realized that this was a really good guy, and that doing something in the moment now could mess up any potential of something maybe happening down the road. Shit, nothing could happen in the future for all I know, but I didn’t want to just be some girl that was a temporary distraction. I’m better than that. I’m not a distraction, I’m friggin’ rad. I realized that I not only respected him, but I respected myself too much to just jump into the unknown. Don’t get me wrong - I’m all about living in the moment. But through a haze of alcohol? That’s not always the best way to do it.

Yeah, I don’t think I would have thought of all that if I’d been drunk. 

Saturday morning I woke up feeling good about my decision, and about myself. It felt good being the person that safely drove my friends home. It also felt good waking up on a weekend morning without any regrets, and with a clear head.

I can’t believe it’s only been 11 days, and I’ve already felt like I’ve learned so much!

PS. Money not spent so far (after the weekend): $62 total. That’s kind of awesome. 

PPS. If you get a “mocktail” at a bar or restaurant, be sure you know the price of the damn thing before the server brings it to you. Somehow our server on Saturday night failed to tell me that my deliciously mixed glass of non-alcoholic juice and fizzy water was 6-friggin-dollars. Ugh. Lesson learned!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Not Boozing When Bummed

Yesterday I had a date planned that canceled.
I actually had another date lined up the same night (just in case one canceled), then they canceled too.
Just the week before I'd had a date cancel as well.

FRUSTRATING.

It's gotten WAY too easy for people to cancel last-minute on things. I have always had a love/hate relationship with technology, and I hate that the ease of communication has resulted in people flaking out more regularly, and having very little accountability. But I digress.

Last night was the first difficult one for me without the booze. I know it's only been 7 days (one stinkin' week!), but I was bummed out, and I wanted a glass of wine.

But I didn't have one. I met up with some friends for not-a-drink at Terminal Bar (I had soda water with lemon), then went home, watched some Peaky Blinders, knitted a bit, made a soda water with elderberry juice concentrate, and went to bed. And it was just fine!
Looking at this guy is a nice distraction from anything, really.

When I thought a little more about it I realized: there is a healthier way to deal with this stuff. Not everyone will flake, and it just seemed worse because it happened all at once. I was bummed, but there are still good people out there (shit, look at my friends for cryin' out loud), and I can totally deal.

I woke up this morning feeling better (although a little tired), and more positive. Tonight I'm planning to go for a run after work, for the first time in a while.

Goodbye to bummed, and hello to a healthier and happier me! 

PS. Due to a lack of drinking last night, I have already saved a total of $36 for the month of January. That's a nice dinner, or a pair of shoes right there! Woot! 

Monday, January 5, 2015

4 days down - lots more to go!

Last weekend was my first weekend in a verrrrrryyyyy long time without any booze.

It actually went pretty darn well! The hardest part was sitting at home when nothing was going on, and not drinking out of boredom. So what did I end up doing instead? Drinking tea and SNACKING.

Yah, I'm gonna need to find a healthier substitute. Tea and biscuits (although delicious), will not help with making it a healthy 2015.

I went out a couple of times over the weekend, and calculated that I've saved about $26.00 on booze so far. So that's a bonus!

I have a feeling my next big challenge will be hitting the social scene and dating, but I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.

As of right now, the New Year's No-Booze Challenge is going great. I feel good, I've slept like a rock the past few days, and I LOVE waking up without any fog in my brain.

Hope you all had a wonderful New Year! 

Monday, November 24, 2014

One Girl. One Year. No Booze.

Me with a dirty martini -
one of my favorite libations!
Hey gang!
I’m starting up this blog again to document a big change for 2015…
…I’m going booze-free for 1 year.


Some background:
I have never been very heavy drinker.  I have certainly had those binge-drinking nights in college and a few in the recent years, but nothing I would consider an addiction. In general, I’d say I consume somewhere between 6-8 alcoholic beverages per week on average. Not a ton, but not exactly moderate either.


In the past, I’ve said that I want to cut back on my alcohol consumption for a number of reasons. The biggest reason is for the sake of my health, but also for being lucid on Saturday mornings, not having to deal with hangovers, or just to simply save money. However as I found out with trying to cut back on chocolate, sometimes it’s easier to just cut it out. Completely.


I started taking classes in nutrition this year, and they have opened my eyes to how amazing the human body is.  It takes a lot of crap from us, and keeps on trucking.  To function optimally, it needs a lot of hydration and nutrition. Alcohol is one of those things that has no benefit whatsoever to our bodies. The water in it is counteracted by the diuretic qualities, it’s processed in our body as sugar, and it contains no vitamins or minerals. It’s really just a toxin – a poison for our bodies and our little cells.  Alcohol also puts a lot of stress on our livers and our kidneys.


I know what you’re thinking: everything in moderation! And yes, some studies have shown that a glass of red wine here and there can be beneficial. But with my Italian heritage, I don’t think I’ve ever been able to have ONE glass of red wine. Come ON.


Now don’t get me wrong – I LOVE alcohol. I love toasting a drink to friends, and I love the association with celebration. I love trying new beers, ciders, wines, and spirits. Living in Colorado has opened new doors to tastes and flavors I’ve never experienced, and the people who craft these libations amaze me with every new sip. I even enjoy the loopy little buzz I feel after a couple of drinks with friends. I appreciate the craft of making alcoholic drinks, and the friendly bartenders I’ve come to know over the years.
Oh, Colorado beers. How I love you.
But in 2015, I’m doing something drastic, and giving my body a break for the first time in 12 years. I’m cutting out the booze.


From January 1st, 2015 to December 31st, 2015 I will not consume one drop, sip, swig, shot, glass, or pint of alcohol. I intend to blog about my progress here (whether good or bad), and hopefully inspire some people along the way. 

I understand that thousands of people have already done this, and it’s certainly not a new concept. So many people have fought their battles with addictions and overcome them. There are people out there who don’t drink because of health, and others that don’t because of addiction. I applaud those people for making the change for themselves and their families.  People that have overcome their addiction and can still be constantly surrounded by such a socially accepted practice amaze me.


Although my situation is different, I still seek empowerment from my decision. I want to do this for myself, but also to hopefully raise awareness. I want people to think about the way they want to drink – not just because it’s social, but because of how they truly feel about it. If you don’t want to drink, you don’t have to. If you do, you can do so responsibly.


I also want to challenge myself and see what I’m capable of. I want to see the changes in my body, my bank account, and hopefully in other surprising ways as well.


I will be tracking my progress on this blog daily, and also tracking big changes every 3 months, on these pillars:
1)   How I feel (in general – energy levels, mood, mentality)
2)   Money (savings)
3)   Physical changes (wellness and health, weight, sleep)



I am going to start a fundraising campaign in the near future. I’m still determining the company, but I will have the information up soon with how to donate.  If you’d like to support me in this endeavor, “buy me a drink” on that fundraising site. Want to “buy me a drink” on my birthday in March? Donate $5 to that campaign instead. It’s my non-booze fund!


Yes, a year is a long time. But considering the 33 amazing years I’ve already spent on this planet, it’s still just a blip in my existence. It could be a fantastic change, and I’m sure it will be a great challenge. Whatever it will be, it will be an interesting journey.


Cheers to 2015!



Sunday, December 22, 2013

My NEW blog!

Hey everyone!

I just realized that I didn't get an update posted about my brand new blog!  It's called Cook With Love | Share With Love.  It's all about food and recipes, and I just LOVE IT!  Please visit me there for all of my updates and recipes.  I have a lot of delicious new creations to share with you!

Also, please visit my new Facebook fan page as well.  I would love it if you stopped by!

Thanks so much for being a follower, and for your continuous support.  I am so excited about this new endeavor, and I can't wait to hear all of your feedback in the future.

Much love,
Beth XO