DOIN’ IT WELL: Vashtie’s Sober October Challenge

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I’m going SOBER for the month of OCTOBER! Who wants to join me?!

It’s Easy! Just look at the 3 easy steps!

1. COMMIT TO NO ALCOHOL FROM OCTOBER 1st-31st
2. FIND A HOMIE TO JOIN FOR SUPPORT
3. BODY THIS CHALLENGE!

 

WHAT IS SOBER OCTOBER?

Well, I’m not entirely sure of it’s roots, but I first heard of it a few years ago during some October month. Friends and I were out for drinks and one friend declined a cocktail, stating “I’m doing Sober October”. I started this little trend myself in 2013 and although I’m not a super intense drinker, I do enjoy drinking. For some folks who don’t drink, I’d say this is a good time to cut something else out to test your will – maybe no Marijuana, or no Sugar, or no Meat? I think it’s a good time to do something out of the ordinary, to break habits and take time to re-center.

HOW TO DO SOBER OCTOBER?

1. WRITE IT DOWN, definitively. Here’s what you can use.

“I am not (ADD WHAT YOU HAVE DECIDED NOT TO DO) for the entire month of October, to demonstrate for myself that I am (ADD LIBERATING POSITIVE QUALITIES TO BE EXHIBITED) Instead, I am going to take this month to (POSITIVE ACTION).”

Just a random examples loaded up in the sample. Feel free to pick and choose. “I am not (DRINKING/EATING/SMOKING/etc) (ALCOHOL/MEAT/WEED/etc) for the entire month of October, to demonstrate for myself that I am (IN CONTROL OF MY CHOICES/THAT I DON’T NEED IT/etc). Instead, I am going to take this month to (SPEND MORE TIME WITH MY FAMILY/JOIN A GYM & WORKOUT/RE-CENTER AND SPEND TIME WITH MYSELF)”

2. DECLARE IT PUBLICLY. Research consistently shows that telling others what you are doing means you are more likely to stick to it. Pride can be a powerful motivator; it also means that other people are less likely to encourage you to drink.

FIND A FRIEND

With anything, having a friend on your side to cheer each other on is invigorating. Not to mention, having a support system for when you think you can’t take it and need a drink will prove to be super beneficial. This year my sister and DJ friend, Deemehlow, are doing it with me!

REMEMBER YOUR MOTIVATION

When you write it down definitely, it has a different impact than just committing to it in your head. And when you have your reason, you make that your motivation.

HOW TO BE SOCIAL AND NOT DRINK?

1. SOCIAL SETTINGS.

You’d be surprised how very acceptable it is to ask your server for “a mocktail”. A lot of people in the food and beverage industry have seen and heard a lot, so asking for a drink sans the booze will most likely not confuse or shock them. In fact, most of my bartender friends are sober for life. And also, some bartenders love a drink challenge – by asking them to whip up their best non-alcoholic drinks, they may get super excited and start making drinks (trust me, I’ve seen it)

2. DISPLACEMENT ACTIVITIES

Plan what to do at the end of the day to replace that cold glass of chardonnay.

HOW TO STAY MOTIVATED & OCCUPIED?

1. JOIN THE GYM

If you want to feel even more virtuous – and irritate those around you even more – you can combine sobriety with getting fit.

2. TREAT YOURSELF

For some, however, the gym is not the answer. Addiction specialist Shahroo Izadi says: “Trying to change too many things at once does not bode well for staying motivated. Creating an entire overhaul – signing up for boot camps and giving up sugar – is very common. This often works for a few days but removing too many comforts at once may leave you at risk of a lapse. Get a couple of weeks under your belt, then start making other changes.”

3. EATING

Alcohol is full of sugar and so many of us reach for a replacement. “In rehab they give you a lot of sugary foods,” says Marisa Peer, “but it’s not a good idea.” Peer suggests eating dates, celery, pears, bananas, eggs, turkey and dark chocolate. These foods help the body make serotonin which will keep your mood high and make you less likely to feel you need a drink. Small, regular amounts of protein will stabilize your blood sugar levels, which will diminish cravings for a sweet fix.

4. FIND A HOBBY OR RE-VISIT ONE

Maybe you always wanted to learn how to knit or how to make your moms famous roast. Whatever it is, start it or learn it. Interestingly enough, I just saw a research video that talks about learning and that it takes you 20 hours to learn anything new! I’m sure you got 20 hours in the month of October!

WHAT DO DO WHEN YOU WANT TO GIVE UP?

1. GIVE YOURSELF A GOOD TALKING TO:

“We tell ourselves, ‘I need to drink to relax, to unwind, I need it to socialize’, but it’s not true,” says Peer. “Instead, you have to change what you tell yourself. Every day constantly repeat things to yourself such as, ‘I love not drinking’, ‘I choose not to drink’, ‘I feel a huge sense of satisfaction’. When marines run up the mountain holding half their body weight on their backs, they sing – it tells their brain that they are enjoying the experience, even if they are not.” In other words, the brain is very suggestible. Give it a good talking to.

2. REWARD YOURSELF:

When you feel tempted, maybe envision November 1st when you’ll be drinking your favorite cocktail. Buy an expensive bottle of wine and save it for the end of your challenge or use the money you saved to buy a new outfit or book a night away. Have something to look forward to.

3. WRITE YOUR FEELINGS DOWN:

As the month goes on many of us will learn how often we use alcohol to numb our feelings. We do it and we don’t even realize…with alcohol, food, etc. Pinpointing the triggers are so important to finding the problems and solving them. Many experts recommend keeping a journal charting the times you find yourself wanting to reach for a drink – is it when you want to switch off? Is it a way of avoiding loneliness? Now think about the other ways you can address the problem.

WHY ITS WORTH IT?

The harder the idea of a month off is, the more you probably need to do it. While there is an argument that it would be healthier to drink moderately, many of us don’t stick to this. This month off helps us reset our moderation switch. Research has found that quitting for four weeks makes us drink less throughout the rest of the year.

According to research at Sussex University, nearly three-quarters of abstainers maintained lower levels of drinking during the six months after they gave up. Even people who did not last the full sober month drank less afterwards.

Kevin Moore, professor of hepatology at UCL, says:

“Dry months make people aware of how much they are drinking. Some people have never gone a few days without a drink, but people who do it realise the world does not fall out beneath them if they stop drinking, their friends do not stop associating with them. In fact, the result is the opposite, people realize, often for the first time, how good it’s possible to feel without drinking.”

THE BENEFITS: MORE YOUTHFUL, RESTED & HAPPIER

Last year a study of 102 people who gave up alcohol for just one month were found to have improved liver function, better blood pressure and cholesterol levels… and a lower risk of developing diabetes and liver disease.

These people were drinking 30-35 units of wine a week, which is the equivalent to three bottles of wine a week, or 15 pints of beer per week.

BETTER SLEEP:

We may think alcohol helps us nod off but actually it’s terrible for our sleep. Not only is it a diuretic, making us need to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, it also becomes a stimulant when it breaks down, releasing sugars which causes us to wake up. It also stops us from getting Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, which makes us feel more tired, irritable and forgetful the next day. On top of all this, alcohol makes us snore – so cutting it out will help you, and your partner, sleep like a baby. It might take up to a week for your sleep to adjust to being alcohol free.

WEIGHT LOSS:

The average bottle of red wine contains 644 calories. Share a bottle with your partner and you are, in effect, eating a Snickers bar each. Cut this out and the pounds drop off, especially around your middle, where fat cells are produced when you drink regularly.

LOOK YOUNGER:

Dermatologist Dr Nigma Talib, author of Reverse the Signs of Ageinghas the delightful phrase “wine face” for the way our face looks when we drink too much. She says, “The face becomes puffy and red, with pronounced lines between the nose and the mouth. Drinkers also have enlarged pores because the body is trying to get the toxins out, skin will be dehydrated. Alcohol causes glycation which is when the collagen in the skin stiffens, causing more wrinkles and lines.” Oh dear. “Cut out drinking for a month and it’s possible to look years younger. It’s amazing how quickly you’ll see the difference.”

MOOD & PRODUCTIVITY:

As you get older, the low mood caused by alcohol can linger for days. Author Kingsley Amis described it as: “That ineffable compound of depression, sadness (these two are not the same), anxiety, self-hatred, sense of failure and fear for the future begins to steal over you.”

SAVE MONEY:

It’s so common that we don’t realize how much we spend to drink the night away. Let’s say you drink only on Fridays and Saturdays as a Weekend Warrior and you spend 50$ a night (not to mention the late night drunk eating or money on taxi’s/ubers because your intoxicated)…that’s 100$ a week and 400$ a month. That’s only if you’re drinking on the weekends.

Anyways. Here it is. I am on my journey for Sober October and I ask that you join me…and know that I am your ally. Tweet me when you need support and I will be by your side like Sade!

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