Happy New Year!

Hi everyone!

I love New Year – somehow the idea of a “clean slate” and a whole clean shiny year ahead makes me happy.

I have always been a “goal setter” – it’s probably in my DNA after 30 years of corporate life! I still set goals but of course but now it’s all around the development of World Without Wine together with some personal goals.

Before I quit drinking I would always set a goal to “cut down” on alcohol – what a waste of time that was! Now that I have educated myself about alcohol I can see that it was rather a futile goal. Not only is alcohol chemically designed to be addictive but I am one of those people who don’t possess an “off” switch and will never be able to “drink responsibly”.

By using will power alone I would usually manage a dry (ish) January but inevitably come February I would be out of control again – and feeling miserable.

These days it gives me such a thrill to just jot down “maintain sobriety” and be fairly confident that it will happen. My life has changed so much since I stopped drinking on May 23rd 2015 that I agree 100% with sober celeb Matthew Perry who says:-

“The thing is if I don’t have my sobriety I don’t have anything”

 

Our Dry January Challenge is flying!  We have already raised R26,000 which is enough to provide yoga classes for more than 100 children in Khayelitsha and Lavender Hill schools.  I will be on the Eusebius McKaiser Show (Cape Talk/702) on Monday 8th January to talk more about Dry January so hopefully that will shake out a few more donations!

The Challenge is open until the end of January so you can even register on 31st January and do a “Dry February” – after all it is the shortest month 😉

All you need to do is to make a small donation to a good cause and we will send you an email every day full of tools, tips and motivation to get you through an alcohol free month.  If you have the slightest doubt that taking just one month off alcohol has significant health benefits then you need to read THIS.

If you are looking to make a permanent change and go for an Alcohol Free Life (spoiler alert:  it’s awesome) then this Challenge could give you just the start you need.  We are in touch with most of the people who have been through our workshops (that’s nearly 200 people) and I have come to an interesting conclusion recently.  A bit of an a-ha moment for me.

Of the people who want to quit completely most of them find:-

The first 30 days is the toughest time (so it makes sense to use the Dry January Challenge to get access some online support)

As people complete their first 100 days it gets easier as the brain gets “rewired”, the body begins to heal and not drinking becomes the new normal.  During this time people say that they get GLIMPSES of the benefits of alcohol free living – and they like what they see.

After 6 months people tend to be in a completely different place mentally and physically.  Anxiety levels have plummeted, energy is sky high, they have lost weight and no longer fear socialising without alcohol as they have learned the survival tricks.

The sad thing is that many people (and I was one) spend their lives getting on and off the wagon which means that they do those first few weeks over and over again – and of course those first few weeks are the hardest and you never get to experience any of the many benefits of sober living.  The result of wallowing in these dark days of trying and failing is that your subconscious mind picks up the idea that this is what sobriety is all about – and it sucks… – that could be why sobriety gets such a bad press and is labelled as boring and difficult.

So whether you want to use the Dry January Challenge to get you through those tough early days on the way to permanent sobriety, or whether you just fancy a 30 day “detox” please click HERE and register right now!

janet xxx

 

6 Reasons to do Dry January

1.To Reset

If you dropped a frog in a pan of boiling water he would use those strong legs to leap straight out again. Yet if you put that frog in a pan of cold water and gradually heated the water he would sit there until he was boiled alive.

Well it’s a bit like that with alcohol which can sneak up on you over the years.

What starts off as literally “a glass of wine” to unwind after a day at work can easily become several glasses or even a bottle.

Doing a Dry January gives your body (and more importantly your mind) a bit of space. Space to recover, space to think about your relationship with alcohol and to decide whether you want to make any permanent changes.

 

2. To Detox

 

If you have been drinking a glass (or two) of wine every evening for years then your body is permanently in a state of mild “withdrawal”, which feels a bit like mild anxiety.

This is because it can take between 7 – 10 days for all traces of the alcohol to leave your system.

This is why that first glass of wine in the evening tastes so good – it’s ending your state of withdrawal and feels like a massive “relief”

Doing a Dry January gives your body and mind a chance to heal, to feel less anxious as your system becomes alcohol free

 

3. To Reduce your Anxiety

If you are in the habit of drinking alcohol to make you less anxious then you should know that it has now been scientifically proved that alcohol actually increases your anxiety.

A batch of lab rats were injected with alcohol every day for a month. The control batch got to stay sober.

Then all the rats were put through a very stressful “obstacle race” and guess what – the control group way outperformed the rats with alcohol in their system.

Conclusion is that alcohol will actually reduce your ability to manage anxiety.

You can even test this for yourself:-

On Day One of your alcohol free month write a list of things in your life that are currently making you stressed or anxious.

On Day Thirty revisit that list and you may just find that you can deal with it!

 

4.  To Freshen up your Looks

This is Nicola who came to one of our workshops – before and after she stopped drinking for 100 days.

Even if you are not up for 100 days of sobriety you will notice some immediate changes – you will lose the puffy face and tired eyes within a few days.

Within a couple of weeks your skin will improve – no more dull and dry skin – and no more broken veins or red blotches.

We make bad food choices when we drink alcohol so the combination of no booze, healthy food and lots of water means you are bound to drop a couple of kilos!

Next time you are at a party check out the most fresh-faced person in the room – the one with a natural looking glow – she’s probably not drinking!

 

5.  To get some High Quality Sleep!

If you have been relying on a glass or two of wine to get you to sleep you should know this:-

Although you get a few hours of “deep sleep” you may find you are awake and feeling anxious in the early hours of the morning as the alcohol leaves your body. Alcohol also reduces your essential REM cycles from 5-7 to about 1 or 2.

Another interesting fact is that when a non-drinker starts getting ready for bed their brain will naturally start to “dampen things down” to get them feeling sleepy.

However if you are a regular drinker your body won’t do that because it will be used to depending on the artificial effect of alcohol to get you to sleep.

That’s why for the first few nights of your Dry January you might not sleep so well – your body is just not used to doing that natural “winding down” thing…

The good news is that after 4 or 5 nights your brain will re-adjust and the quality of your sleep will dramatically improve!

 

6. To help a Disadvantaged Child

For the third year WorldWithoutWine has teamed up with the fabulous Earthchild Project in a fundraising project to provide children in Khayelitsha and Lavender Hill with yoga and life-skills classes.

Over the past 12 years Earthchild have taught yoga to thousands of children in disadvantaged areas.

Yoga empowers vulnerable children to transform their lives and communities.

Just R250 provides a child with weekly yoga and life-skills classes for a year.

You can start your Dry January right now or anytime up to the end of January – just decide on your 30 day alcohol free window and we will send you a Daily Mail – full of tips, tools and motivation to get you through..

Click HERE to donate and help us to sponsor some more little yogis!

 

 

 

Coins in a Jar

I connected with another Soberista a couple of months ago via her blog which you can find on FaceBook @coinsinajar – do check it out.

I was so impressed with her approach and her commitment that I invited her along to a workshop to inspire the participants – and she did!

She was also kind enough to write about the workshop so if anyone is wondering exactly what happens at our workshops then here is Jo’s review:-

 

“I was lucky enough to attend World Without Wine’s workshop two weeks ago. It was held at Janet’s lovely home in Cape Town. What a relaxed and welcoming environment.

The morning started with a coffee as everyone started arriving. There were 8 of us in total (I think!) as well as Janet and Mandy obviously, who run the course.

What struck me straight away was how welcoming Janet and her team were. I was a bit apprehensive at first, but as I got chatting with the others, I began to feel more relaxed. After all, we were all there for one very clear common reason: Alcohol. And the negative effects it was having or had had on our lives.

We all sat around Janet’s couch where there was ample space for all of us to be comfortable. The first thing we did was share why we were there, our relationships and history with alcohol. Each story was different but equally as eye opening. I just felt so fantastic to be sitting with this group of amazing, like-minded women who understood me and me them. To tell others your story and you just see the click in their eyes- they get what you are saying as they too have had enough of alcohol running and ruining their lives. It’s that simple.

After the shares, we received some important facts about the dangers of alcohol. We all know how bad it is for our health but just how bad and to see it in black and white was a good lesson. I particularly enjoyed our “prac”, which was to pour into a wine, whiskey and beer glass, what we think were the safe limits of alcohol consumption per unit. Very interesting. I’ll just say that I was drinking a woman’s weekly limit EVERY night. Scary stuff.

After a lovely lunch and more coffee, we had a guy come and chat to us that had not drunk for a year, after attending the course. It was informative and inspiring. Listening to him was great as he seemed so happy and alive, without having drunk for so long- something we all want to aspire to. Obviously, as we all do, he has stresses and strains in his life, but has just chosen to not numb them with alcohol, focussing on his health and family instead. Janet also read us her goodbye letter to alcohol which was deeply moving and just resonated with me so much. Her words could have so easily been mine.

We then watched a video and got some really cool info in the form of a “Toolkit”, in other words, how to cope with going to parties etc and also on how to moderate for those who wanted to go that route.

Some tea followed and then each of us spoke of our action plans and what we were going to do going forward. Some chose to cut down or moderate and others decided it was time to say cheers to the booze forever.

At the end of the workshop we had some alcohol- free drinks in the form of “what to drink when you don’t drink drinks” and I was amazed at the variety. Non- drinkers really do have options. I particularly enjoyed the Duchess gin and the JC Le Roux champagne. There was also a nice beer but I forget the name.

Everybody was so supportive and encouraging and there was really nowhere else I would rather have been that day. I’ve already been in contact with some people from the course and being on the wattsapp group and private FB page is so comforting. Knowing that others are on the same journey as you are.

And by the sounds of it, it only gets easier and easier and more rewarding and it’s super awesome to be a non-drinker.

Well done Janet, you guys rock and the amount of people you help, inform and inspire is incredible. I would highly urge anyone who wants to change their relationship with alcohol to give this course a go. Nothing to lose. Just a better and healthier life to gain.”

 

Octsober – Vicky’s View!

It’s been a while since we asked Vicky to write something for us – it’s not easy to catch her in one place as she is such a globetrotter – Barbados, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Nicaragua – and that’s just the last few months!  She has written some beautiful pieces for us which you can catch up with HERE – and today you can read her views on Octsober:-

 

Why I didn’t do Octsober…

This may sound like heresy for a WWW audience, but bear with me!

Like many of us, I love a drink at the end of the day – and sometimes at lunchtime at the weekends. And yes, I do sometimes exceed the 14 units per week which is now the amount recommended by British doctors.

But I don’t feel the need to give up the booze for a whole month, and here’s why.

Everyone is different, so an addiction can be as little as the need to have one drink a day, or a whole bottle. Years ago a friend of mine, who drank no more than a glass every day, decided she was so reliant on it that she went into rehab.

My trick to maintaining my peace of mind is to have 2-3 alcohol free days per week. This is in fact the routine recommended by the Royal College of Physicians. Their reasoning is very simple: it takes the liver at least a day to recover from drinking alcohol so as long as you give it some free time you can keep it healthy. It is also reassuring to discover how easy it is to have alcohol-free days. My rule is that I never drink when I/we are home alone, but only when we go out. As this happens infrequently it is quite easy.

The benefits of giving up for a month (and for good) are extolled: better sleep, concentration, weight loss plus a reduction in cholesterol, glucose and fatty liver. Diabetes, linked to alcohol consumption, is an increasing danger as we get older, so reducing the amount we drink is important. I am not arguing against the benefits of not drinking at all…it’s just not for me!

Six and half years ago our daughter Louise died of an overdose of ketamine, and in 2013 I was diagnosed with a life-threatening soft tissue sarcoma, shortly after both parents had also died, and my husband had been operated on for prostate cancer. Luckily we are now in remission, whatever that means…but for me to punish myself by denying one of the remaining pleasures I have seems masochistic. This is not by way of excuse, just MY reasons why…

What is rarely mentioned is what happens when you start drinking again and go back to all those bad habits, where the norm is drinking every day. Soon all the benefits are completely wiped and you are putting your body under additional pressure after having cleansed it. As Professor Charles Bamforth of the University of California says, ‘Many people don’t realise that drinking in moderation has significant health benefits [you know that glass of red wine a day is good for the heart etc]. You are seriously mistaken if you think having a month without drinking will protect you from the effects of excessive drinking for the rest of the year. The best advice is to drink moderately throughout the year.’

For the record I did give up last January, because Janet asked me to! But I won’t do it again. Rather I will stick to my healthy regime of not drinking several days week. Because I know I can do it.

 

Guest blog – Tina’s story

My lovely workshop “graduates” are hitting their milestones and some of them are even sending me their stories – thanks guys – we love stories and I am always humbled by the way people open their hearts and “share” at the beginning of our workshops.

All our stories around alcohol are different but by sharing our angst about the booze we can all become stronger – there is a great benefit to being open and honest and that is how we will change our relationship with alcohol – as well as inspire other people.

A couple of weeks ago I posted “Nick’s Story”, today it is Tina’s turn and “Jamie’s story” is in the pipeline – so watch this space!

TINA’s STORY

Alcohol was my best friend, my go to strategy when feeling blessed, stressed or depressed.

I grew up with alcohol – from my first party at 14 to girls holidays in Ibiza – from countless afternoons in the wine bars of London with work colleagues to milestone birthdays in Vegas. It was fun, it made a good night out great and gave me unbridled confidence.

I always turned up for work – I worked hard and played hard – I never drank on Mondays and thought that meant my health wouldn’t be impacted because I often took breaks of 2-3 days, sometimes weeks at a time.

The years of partying continued into my late forties. But then thing started to change, I noticed it was taking longer and longer for me to reach that ‘buzz’ and even longer to recover from a ‘big night out’ or ‘legendary lunch’.

The hangovers were getting worse and the frequency of waking up not entirely sure what had gone on the night before were increasing (I now know these to be blackouts) I particularly didn’t enjoy the feeling of waking up and having to retrace my steps through bar and taxi receipts (let alone text messages).

My health was also suffering. I was bloated, had chronic indigestion, my skin was dehydrated and my diet was generally poor – the hangover days were fueled with carb and sugar frenzies.

I slowly started to resent how alcohol was dominating my social life. Days and nights out were built around alcohol – even going to the theatre had to involve pre, during and post show drinks.

Still I carried on consuming way over the recommended amount of 14 units (I mean who sticks to that, really?). It was normal to get plastered at the weekend- everyone drank as much as I did…. Right?

The problem was my conscience was nagging me. It wouldn’t let up. I had known for years that I drank way too much – I’d often thought about stopping but knew I needed help. I kept minimizing the adverse side effects and attempted to cut down on my own but that lead to drinking more and eventually my consumption began to negatively impact my relationships and so I decided enough was enough and last October I made the decision to quit.

It wasn’t an easy decision and it’s been a challenging journey but with the help of support groups I am looking forward to celebrating my one year soberversary.

A lot of people questioned why I would want to give up alcohol and now one year later I frequently get asked how I feel and have I experienced any benefits.

Truth is there are many benefits – I’ve listed a few below.

My anxiety has dramatically reduced

I can focus better

I stick to my commitments (like training for a half marathon)

My sight has improved and my skin is clearer

My face is not bloated or puffy

I don’t binge all day on pizza, crisps and coca cola

I listen to others instead of talking about myself all the time

I’ve not injured myself or anyone else

I’ve met some amazingly cool and fun sober people

I still party like its 1999 – I just remember everything and don’t lose the next day to a hangover.

If you’re thinking of quitting for 30 days, 100 days, a year, forever the best thing you can do is join a support group. I had stopped for a few weeks but was struggling, then I attended the World Without Wine Workshop in Cape Town. It helped me enormously.and now, 1 year later, I want to help others on their sober journey.

If I ever doubt my decision to quit I only have to ask myself this … is my life better or worse with alcohol…

Tina

Time to get rebellious!

A lot of this sobriety game is psychological

When you think of the billions spent by the liquor industry to brainwash us into believing that we need their product it’s little wonder some of us get hooked.

Not to mention the fact that alcohol is chemically designed to be addictive.

And then you have the fact that drinking alcohol has become so “normalised” that it makes it’s appearance at just about every event from a Christening to a Funeral.

It’s the lubricant that oils our social life, it’s the gasoline of fun!

Or is it?

How about we get a bit rebellious here and go against the grain, move out of our comfort zone and even defy social expectations a little.

I know I started to drink because I just wanted to “fit in”.

Yes it takes a fair amount of confidence and courage to socialise sober – and to dare to be different.

But it does get easier.

So maybe it’s time to rise above all that social conditioning.

After all we got wise about cigarettes – we now know they kill you and are not particularly cool or sexy.

Let’s get ahead of the game and see booze for what it really is – a poisonous trap.

janet xxx

getting the sparkle back…

This is my first blogpost for more than a year – not because I “fell off the wagon” but because I have been busy building my alcohol free life – and making it awesome.

I started blogging the day I stopped drinking and used it to track my first year of sobriety – first blogpost was May 2015 so if you want the whole story just click HERE

I hope this new post is reaching some of those kind people who encouraged me through those tough early months – would love to hear from you and anyone else who would like to leave a comment!

One of the best things about sobriety has been the opportunity to help other people via the worldwithoutwine workshops – we run them in Cape Town and Joburg and more than a hundred people have attended – about a third of those people have stopped drinking completely, another third of them have cut down and the rest did not reply to our survey so I have concluded that they are still “in contemplation”.

Contemplation is actually a vital part of the change process – my decade of trying (and failing) to moderate was definitely “contemplation” before I finally accepted that I would have to stop drinking completely.

My biggest learning as I begin my third year of sobriety is that putting down that last alcoholic drink is just the beginning. If you don’t make some serious changes in your life then you end up trying to live your normal life with a big hole in it – where the booze used to be. I certainly went through that phase, feeling depressed – and stuck because I couldn’t even chase away the blues with wine. I used say that I felt as if I had lost more than I had gained – but now I feel the opposite. Now I know that you need to fill that big hole with stuff that’s going to lift you up, connect you with others and broaden your horizons.

I have learned so much about addiction since I got sober so am planning to share some of those learnings, as well as some personal insights, via a weekly blogpost – please follow me if you’d like to get notification when I post.

Never forget that the opposite of addiction is connection.

I leave you with a quote from Mary Karr:-

“When I got sober, I thought giving up was saying goodbye to all the fun and all the sparkle, and it turned out to be just the opposite”

That’s when the sparkle started for me”.

janet x

 

 

DARE TO BE DIFFERENT!

10 Reasons to be Dry this December

It’s late November and the traffic is hectic, the shops are heaving, the party invites are flooding in and your relatives are already squabbling over whose turn it is to host the Christmas get-together.  Your head is spinning and your to-do list is getting longer by the day.

Same old, same old – every flippin’ year… but… why not make this year just a bit DIFFERENT?

No I’m not talking about cancelling Christmas but I am talking about a whole new way of coping.  Yes I’m talking about a DRY DECEMBER!

I know it’s crazy, I know it’s “off the wall” but sometimes it feels good to swim against the tide…

So here we go – 10 reasons to be dry this December…

  1. December is a madly busy time – chances are that whatever your profession you will be busy at work, busy socially – and of course busy creating that “perfect Christmas” for your family.  If you give up alcohol for December you can actually claw back a lot of time.  Time usually devoted to planning drinking sessions, drinking and then getting over the drinking.
  2. Everybody does “Dry January” but only the seriously cool people do “Dry December” and then start the new year feeling fantastic – rather than exhausted and poisoned with excess food and alcohol. Always remember that “sober is the new black”.
  3. There is never a perfect time to give up or cut down on alcohol – there will always be a party, a wedding or that “teambuilding” event coming up.  In fact December is just about the most crazy time to take a break from the booze – but maybe crazy is how you roll?
  4. You will reduce your stress as you “take control” – you will sleep better and steam through your “to-do” list and even begin to feel slightly superior to your pals as they struggle with their hangovers…if your friends give you a hard time just tell them you are doing 30 dry days to raise money for Earthchild – maybe they will even join you…
  5. You will have a wonderful excuse for avoiding the dreaded “office party” – “I’m taking a break from alcohol at the moment so think I will give it a miss this year” – let somebody else do the “walk of shame” through the open plan office the morning after the office Christmas party.  You can be sure you will hear about exactly who did what to whom before the day draws to a close.
  6. You won’t have that anxiety in your heart about the amount you are drinking and the nagging thought that you really must do something about it come January – you will be way ahead of the game this year…
  7. Action is the key – “Just Do It” – at least get through those first few days in December “alcohol free” – and if you can’t manage it then maybe you do need to seriously think about addressing your relationship with alcohol.
  8. You will lose weight!  We are surrounded by super-fattening foods during December and after a glass of wine or two we just get stuck in.  Staying sober means you can stay in control of what you are eating and drinking.  As an extra bonus you can opt out of the dieting misery train that we are all supposed to board come January 1st.
  9. A lot of people worry that they cannot enjoy themselves without alcohol – but think about it – what makes a good Christmas?  – being with your family and seeing the joy on the children’s faces as they open their presents – or knocking back the booze?
  10. At the very least a sober Christmas will be an interesting experiment – even if you hate it you will have tried – and who knows – you may even discover a whole new side of yourself…

To help you on your way WorldWithoutWine have launched their “Dry January Challenge” which in fact can also be “Dry December” if you dare – just make a small donation by clicking HERE

In return you will receive a daily motivational e-mail from WorldWithoutWine to keep you on track for 30 days.

We are raising money for the Earthchild Project – just as we did last year –  check out this 5 minute movie we made about how we spent the R30,000 we raised last year..

Thanks for reading!

Janet x

Top Six Benefits of Giving Up Alcohol

Now those Soberversary Celebrations are done have been taking some time to reflect on some of the benefits of giving up the booze…here are my top six:-

  • Finding my purpose – when wine plays such a big part in your life it is easy to drift through the days in a pleasant haze – giving up is a shock to the system – so much so that it creates a kind of “void” and demands a switch of pace.  It also kickstarts energy and creativity – I used mine to build a community via World Without Wine and it’s been hugely rewarding to know that our workshops have helped some people to quit drinking.  Have had to learn about websites, social media and marketing with the help of some pretty awesome people.  (Oli and Mari – thank you for your endless patience!)
  • Having a happy Husband – and I think Son & Girlfriend are pretty damn impressed as well 😉 Friends have been awesome and have supported me all the way – nobody’s dumped me (yet) for being “boring” – in fact some of them have even joined me in the quest for sobriety.  Have also acquired some new pals – my very own “sober buddy” plus those awesome WWW ladies.
  • Losing weight – without dieting!  Having grown up with Twiggy as role model have obviously been on an eternal “diet” – existed almost entirely on cigarettes and white wine throughout my teens and twenties – then switched to healthy eating and exercising a lot but of course knocking back plenty of alcohol on top.  Well would you believe it – dropped the booze and those stubborn kilo’s just melted away.
  • Emotional maturity – after a lifetime of using alcohol to enhance positive emotions and chase away the negative ones am finally managing to live “in the moment”.  Abusing alcohol is like hiding under a massive and comforting cape – remove that “numbing shield” and there is nowhere to hide – I have had to meet challenges head on, feeling raw and exposed but gradually I got my strength back and and am living my life full on.
  • Health has improved – better sleep, more energy.  As a breast cancer “survivor” I live with the possibility of a recurrence – but at least I don’t feel I am tempting fate by consuming vast amounts of wine.
  • Being in control of my life – no more waking up at 2am agonizing over what I may (or may not) have said the night before.  No more wasted mornings staggering around trying to function through the fog of a hangover. True I have sacrificed some highs but also lost the major lows – the depression that follows yet another failure “to moderate”.  Overall I feel calmer, more balanced – and happier..