How To Be Happy And Alcohol-Free

How To Be Happy And Alcohol-Free

Before I quit drinking, I was sure that life without wine would be boring, flat and a bit too much like hard work.

Having grown up on a diet of Bridget Jones and Sex And The City, I was convinced that cocktails and chardonnay were an essential part of living a fun and fulfilled life.

I feared that without booze, everything would feel a bit ‘less’ somehow, like something was missing.

I was reflecting on this during my recent trip to New York – a city I’ve always associated with living life to the max. So I filmed a quick video for you, with some tips for being happy and sober. 

 

 

The breakdown…

 

1. Remember that alcohol is just ethanol

Ethanol is a great antiseptic, a fabulous disinfectant and a good engine fuel for our cars. But we really, really don’t need to pump this stuff into our bodies too. That’s just not the key to happiness!

Don’t romanticise booze or pretend it’s something it’s not – alcohol doesn’t have special powers. It’s just a toxic poison. Choosing not to sit down with a glass of engine fuel in the evening is always going to be a good idea – one that will make you very happy in the long run!

 

2. Become aware of your confirmation bias

We all have a tendency to interpret events in a way that confirms our existing beliefs. So once we’ve decided that wine = party time, we unconsciously seek out information that supports this belief, and we ignore (or forget) evidence that contradicts it.

My stop drinking course is six weeks long, and during the class many students will experience their first night out, sober. When they report back the next day, they often mention how surprised they were to spot lots of other teetotallers, or people who were hardly drinking anything.

Honestly, I’ve heard that feedback soooo many times! And it makes complete sense to me. When you’re drinking, you look for other people who’re drinking a lot too, because it’s reassuring. You make assumptions and often don’t ‘see’ the people who’re quietly sober.

So – just know that if you’re a drinker, you WILL have some beliefs about booze that are false, but right now, they feel true to you. Be aware of that and be open to changing your beliefs.

 

3. Make a list of all the great stuff you could do if you weren’t drinking

Maybe it’s that Saturday yoga class you keep saying you’ll do but you never get round to. Or maybe you’d love some more quality, hangover-free time to spend with your family. What is alcohol stopping you from doing right now that could be really fun and enjoyable?

Start thinking about the life you might be able to have if booze wasn’t getting in the way and holding you back.

Alcohol-free living opens up SO many great opportunities. Most of all, it gives you chance to create a life that’s so good, you don’t need to numb out from it… and that’s true happiness. 

 

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89 Comments

  1. I love this, Kate. Really, really great tips. I know I’m a highly suggestible person. Seeing beautiful people drinking out of beautiful glasses is so intriguing to me. But, likewise, knowing that so many of these beautiful people have actually learned to live life without the consequences of what’s in those glasses is just as influential. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Exactly – when you stop and look, you see that there are lots of great role models out there, and plenty of cool people who don’t drink. I wrote about sober celebs a few weeks back – these people are great: https://thesoberschool.com/sober-celebrities/

      Reply
    • Thank you!!! I know it takes time to make these videos and posts and they are so meaningful, inspiring, and helpful. Thank you!

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    • Loved this!!!! I was sober for 3 and a half years and then have ben struggling again for the past two ( buts of short sobriety off and on) gonna try to get sober again!!!!

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    • What’s ironic about the ‘Sex and the City’ girls is that in real life Kristin Davis (who plays Charlotte) has been sober since her early 20s. Also Kim Cattrell (Samantha) doesn’t drink as she feels it is bad for the skin!

      I find the ‘image’ of alcohol does not equate with the reality!

      Reply
  2. Thank you Kate! I needed this today. I’m 70 days sober today and am sometimes tempted to go back and try the “drink in moderation” thing. Even though I know it’s stupid since I’ve tried it lots of times and it’s never worked for me. Anyways, I’m going to keep going. Thank you for all the inspiration 🙂

    Reply
    • Congratulations on your 70 days, keep going! You’re not missing out on anything by choosing to be sober. Just a lovely hangover 🙂

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      • As someone who was more than 300 days alcohol free, I slipped my guard the other night and thought a couple of drinks would ease my stress. Did it? Of course not. In fact, it added to it. Not only did I get far less done had I not fallen into that trap, I felt awful and the self-criticism is immense. If alcohol was a drug prescribed by my GP to ease stress I believe I would be banging on his door and complaining to the medical board. Believe me, alcohol is destructive, a con and life is far better sober.

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        • I love the GP comparison! Can you imagine being prescribed any drug that had side effects such as: might make you sick, will make you feel dizzy, increases the risk of depression, cancer… you’d be very reluctant to take something like that for sure.

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  3. It is so true that the image of alcohol has been manipulated and untruthful. Alcohol has been used to ‘extract’ things from themselves. To a large extent, I believe it extracts our very being, and leaves an empty shell, an unhealthy body whose essence has been taken by alcohol. I am so glad to be sober (14 months). Thank you Kate for confirming the same view that I have about alcohol. Other drugs have been vilified, yet alcohol still gets touted as a safe, fun drug alternative. It is a drug. Period. A dangerous, disease causing drug.

    Reply
    • Absolutely. I find it frustrating that we treat alcohol so differently from other dangerous drugs! It just doesn’t make sense.

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  4. Great Post! Who did you book your guided running tour with?

    Reply
    • Hi Riley, it was Fit Tours NYC. They were great 🙂

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  5. Excellent honest video by Kate. Really personally resonated with me. Thanks Kate.

    Reply
    • Thanks Una! 🙂

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  6. Woke up again with a hangover and have wasted a whole day sitting in bed trying to feel better. I hope I can quit this time..

    Reply
    • Hi Caroline, it sounds as if you could really do with some help and support to stop! I’d be happy to help you with this – my stop drinking course would be perfect for you. The next class starts in April – here are some more details: https://thesoberschool.com/course/

      Reply
  7. I went to a wedding this weekend-something that in the past I viewed as a socially validated opportunity to drink a lot. Now that I’m living alcohol free, I was shocked to see how little most people actually drink. No one at my table of 40 and 50-somethings even finished their champagne despite multiple toasts. And none of the 30-somethings appeared to be overly intoxicated either.

    Reply
    • Thanks for sharing this Amy – how interesting! Just goes to show what you notice when you’re not drinking yourself 🙂

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  8. Great video Kate and excellent thought provoking tips. It popped into my mailbox at just the right time. I am on day 15 sober. Early days yet for sure, but feels like a lifetime for me and a great feat. Im in a bit of a grieving stage right now and working hard to avoid the “oh what the heck, ill have one” to get my brain back to what I thought was normal. Relooking at the chardonnay as ethanol and plane fuel is a real turnoff for me and im going to use this.

    Reply
    • Congratulations on your 15 days Libby. Keep going, it will be SO worth it. Well done for raising your standards – because you deserve better than a glass of engine fuel, right?

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  9. Alcohol is poison! Keep an open mind. I can spend quality time with family.

    Reply
    • Keep going Kara, you can do it 🙂

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  10. Just seeing your fresh happy face in my hometown was very inspiring. I am so glad you had a great time. Running in Central Park is one of my all time favorite things to do (if I’m not hungover)

    Reply
    • Thanks Fran. I really enjoyed Central Park, it was such a nice place to run 🙂

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  11. This is great thank you! I’m at 149 days Alcohol free and I’m really noticing more in shows the drinking etc. I’m watching “Grace and Frankie” right now and a couple of things have really struck me. The first is how people in the show drink and then drive (not cool) and how Grace pounds martinis and still wakes up looking fresh as a daisy! This is such a farce and I’m really starting to see through it now. What is portrayed on television and in the movies is not reality!

    Reply
    • Yeah – it’s funny how they never look very hungover on TV! Well done on your 149 days Amy 🙂

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      • Thank you!! It gets easier all the time. Still find it a bit of a challenge socially at times but feeling more comfortable in my own skin with every social occasion I attend sober!

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  12. Good video for me. I go annually to New York City with the girls and needless to say drink copious amounts of beverages. When I return home it takes me a week to feel better. Was thinking about how was I going to manage this year. Sober since Jan 1

    Reply
    • Treat yourself to an alcohol-free weekend in NYC! If you haven’t tried it yet, you don’t know what you’re missing out on. There’s no need to take drugs in order to get through a fun weekend with great friends, is there? You’ll have a great time.

      Reply
  13. Hi Kate, I’m 70 days sober and going strong. I have realized how much I can accomplish when I’m sober. I just refinished 4 dining room chairs that had been sitting in my basement for almost 2 years. I would have never accomplished that if I had still been drinking. My cravings have really lessened. If I do get one, I play it forward. This tool seems to help me tremendously, and the craving passes quite quickly. The other tool I use, is to really think about what I would be doing to my body if I drank that poison. It is really interesting how the brain rewires itself, in a pretty short amount of time, using the info and tools you give through your course. You are the best, and I love your videos! Enjoy NYC!

    Reply
    • Thanks for the lovely feedback Karen, it’s good to hear from you – you sound super productive now! Huge congratulations on your 70 days! 🙂

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  14. Hi, Kate.
    Your video is Inspirational and provides a great way of looking at alcohol. My own code for alcohol in my journal was C2H5OH (I believe that’s ethyl alcohol). I love your blog. I’m a new recruit at 67 years old, and I am a male, so I hope this doesn’t disqualify me! I’m new to this and did perceive life without alcohol as just not being as much fun. I’m trying to change that view. I also wanted to accomplish an alcohol free lifestyle without a 12 step program. (I have a wonderful therapist, and now you!) Started playing guitar and bass at 64, but also developed an association between that and alcohol. I need to break that bond!
    I surely haven’t missed the hangovers and they get worse as you get older. It’s not east at first, but I need to do this for my wife, my son, and myself.
    Thanks again for your work and for being there for people like me. Just reading your blog and all of the comments really has helped me so far.

    Reply
    • Step programmes definitely aren’t for everyone. Good on you for knowing what you need. Keep going Steve – it’s never too late to take action and change 🙂

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  15. Great tips. You’re very inspiring. Thank you, Kate. Have a great time in New York!

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    • Thanks for the lovely feedback Elizabeth, I appreciate it 🙂

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  16. This was so great! The confirmation bias is something I really struggle with lately. You are so encouraging and make me believe that it is possible to be AF and still enjoy life. Thank you!

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    • Thanks Wendi. You can absolutely do this 🙂

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  17. Thank you for confirming my own thoughts and reasons for giving up alcohol. I’m using the same method I used for giving up smoking 15 years ago.
    Excercise .. I love to run , walk and using my Total gym . Moving is really good for my brain.
    I have tried a few times to give up alcohol but it’s just like you said , I find a good reason to take it up again after 6 months. I do moderate for a while then have a binge about every 6 weeks or an event comes up where I’m with a young group and I join in with all the fun . Then I suffer for days after.
    I gave up just before new year cause I didn’t want it to be a New Years resolution.. another one to laugh off .
    Now with your emails I think I might be able to do it for good.
    Thank you Kate

    Reply
    • Definitely stay away from moderation – there’s really nothing to miss by not drinking. Just the hangovers, of course 🙂
      Keep going!

      Reply
  18. Hey. I “suffer” from TIP number 2 …. and somehow it seems that my family n friends seem to in force my perception by telling me how boring i am now.
    A couple of years ago I also stopped for a few months but my then husband told me he wanted his old party wife back …. I think this is also party n parcel of my misconceptions . Thanx for awesome inspirational website

    Reply
    • Oh, the reaction of your friends and family says SO much about them! They should welcome the fact that you’re changing a behaviour that’s been holding you back and making you feel less than your best. We wouldn’t let people pressure us into taking other drugs – alcohol should be no different. I made a few more points about dealing with other people in this blog: https://thesoberschool.com/youre-not-drinking/

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  19. YOU are amazing! We all are! I am also a major S&C fan, I always referred to my nightly whiskey shot to an evening cocktail. And it’s just not real, thank you for sharing! 105 days sober strong!

    Reply
    • Excellent – congrats on your 105 days! Here’s to many more 🙂

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  20. Hi Kate..I feel the tip that resonates with me the most is the fact that alcohol is ethanol which is a poison. The fact that we have been hoodwinked into thinking it’s fine to ingest it is a crime in itself ! So I’m ready to stop.

    Reply
    • Totally agree – this poison is way too normalised. We don’t treat any other drug in this way!

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  21. I was 45 days and felt so good and strong and proud of my decision. I then binged for 6 days during the snow because I romanticised the wine and the snow. The self loathing and beating myself up since is so crap! I hate how wine makes me feel, it makes me fat and anxious and I appreciate life way too much for this. I have always had an addictive personality. I struggled so hard to stop smoking and I know I’m only one away so I won’t smoke cos life is too precious. I will never be able to drink moderately, I know this. I keep thinking about an up and coming summer trip to Sicily and I’m again romanticising the beautiful Italian Barolos I could have. It’s stupid because I won’t just have that one glass , I’ll want the bottle and the week will become of week of too much wine and not enough jumping in the ocean with my kids which is what I really want. I hate that I am weak and not like so many people that I know who can have 2 glasses!!! Thanks for letting me have a rant and enjoy NYC.

    Reply
    • Hi Val, if you’d like some help to take a proper break from booze – and really change your mindset in the process, so you’re not romanticising or feeling as if you’re missing out – I’d be happy to help you. My next stop drinking course starts next month. Here are some more details: https://thesoberschool.com/course/

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  22. Kate, this is JUST what I needed to see today. Both tip 1 and 3 really resonated with me, and I am going to definitely keep both of those things in mind moving forward. I am committing to taking a proper break from alcohol; at least 60 days, and want to work to eliminate alcohol from my diet. Thank you for blogging and for your inspiration!

    Reply
  23. Hi Kate,
    I love your video’s and thank you for posting from New York. You are inspirational! Through your videos and a few other things that I have been reading and looking in to, I have now had my first 8 alcohol free days in a row in almost ten years. Please keep your ideas and videos coming as I want to make 8 days 80 days in a row!
    Thanks so much from Australia!

    Reply
    • Thanks Donna and congratulations on your 8 days. There’s a limit as to what I can fit in a blog, so I tend to focus on sharing quick, actionable tips. If you’d like some more support – and you’re ready to step things up a gear and really change your relationship with alcohol – joining my online course would be the perfect next step for you. It’s six weeks long, which gives you a clue as to how much more there is to learn about this stuff! Here’s some more details: https://thesoberschool.com/course/

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  24. Great video. You are so inspiring. I am so grateful I came across your blog. I have no days under my belt yet but am I constantly reading your blog (patiently waiting for your new course to start)trying to get in the right mindset for this to be a success for me. (Side note this is so very out of my personality to post a comment on a public site admitting my weakness for people to see) I am thinking tips 1 and 2 are the best for me at this point as I have absolutely no energy to do anything at this point because of the poison. But also I have a great fear that I won’t ‘be’ any fun. Mind you I have never been the life of the party but I do try to be that “happy” person people want to b around. Thank you for what you do

    Reply
    • Thanks Janica – just reading about this topic and analysing your relationship with alcohol is a great start. As you build up to taking a break, I’d recommend keeping a drink diary where you record how much you’re drinking, why you’re drinking, how you feel in the moment and the morning after etc etc. Getting it down in black and white can be eye opening and provide useful information about what you think you’re getting from booze vs the reality of what happens. I look forward to having you on the April course!

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  25. I was looking forward to opening your e-mail today. I am very new at this and it is a challenge for me. I was thinking about how many times in a reading a book or watching a movie I have decided to have a drink because that was happening in the book or show. Now I will hopefully find more characters who are not drinking! Thank you so much for sharing your experience and wisdom with us!

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    • I agree, there’s so much drinking on TV and in movies… and no one ever seems to suffer much as a result, so it’s definitely not like real life! Keep going Christeen 🙂

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  26. Thank you Kate! I have my first 24 hours under my belt! Thank you for the insight!

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    • That’s great Dawn, keep going! Wishing you an amazing alcohol-free week 🙂

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    • 16 months ago I quit drinking . That first week I found your site and followed religiously . Over this time you have helped me greatly . Very good practical advise to real problems in daily life . My life gets better and better . I wouldn’t go back to the old for anything

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  27. Hi Kate, I am turning 50 this year in November and for the first time in many years I would like to experience this milestone birthday sober. I want to do some fun stuff in Sydney and wake up hangover free. I’m very scared and anxious over the whole idea of being sober as I do associate alcohol with fun etc… I hope with your support I can do this!

    Reply
    • You can do it Michelle. I stopped drinking six months before I turned 30 and it was a great gift to myself. An alcohol-free 50th birthday would be amazing, and if you start now you will have lots of sober time under your belt when the big day arrives. Exciting times ahead!

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  28. Thank you, Kate for the videos. I appreciated this one and the one with the sober celebrities as well. It’s refreshing to hear once again that not ‘everyone’ drinks. What’s scary for me is seeing women my mom’s age (76) and my own age (49) drink out of loneliness or boredom whether it’s because of being divorced or being widowed. Do you have advice for those kinds of people who don’t necessarily feel they need to go out and socialize with wine, but rather stay in and drink a bottle alone?

    Reply
    • Hi Rhonda, drinking because you’re lonely or bored is very common. This is a big subject and I’ve got tons to say about it – we’d need to help you find some new coping mechanisms and look at a few other lifestyle factors that might be leading to this situation. This is exactly the kind of thing we cover on my stop drinking course – you can find out more about that here: https://thesoberschool.com/course/

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  29. I’ve just agreed with my daughter that if I give up alcohol (wine) until Easter, she’ll give up lollies and sweets. So I’ve started day 1 today and I’m looking forward to the next three weeks to be alcohol free. You’re videos and emails will keep me ensprired to get through this period and who knows, maybe 3 weeks will turn into longer. Thank you for your tips. They are really helpful!!

    Reply
    • Go for it Karen! 🙂

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  30. So lovely to see your happy face and hear your inspirational voice once in a while! Almost two years ago I started your course, and never looked back. Very, very happily sober!

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    • Awww thanks Lisa – can’t believe it’s nearly been two years! That makes me very happy, well done! 🙂

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  31. This a great video. Alcohol is a poison and our body stops everything else it is doing to maintain our best state of health to combat this poison when it enters our body… a fact I discovered while studying nutrition. I have loved having a drink for most of my adult life (I’m nearly 50) and would have easily been able to polish of a bottle of wine in an evening. I made a conscious effort to find other ways to end the working day and have discovered how much better life is without alcohol. I believe now that alcohol has only every held me back from being my best self.

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    • You last sentence sums it all up – alcohol really does hold you back from living your best life. So pleased you discovered another way of doing things! Well done Donna 🙂

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  32. Hi Kate,

    Thanks so much for your inspirational videos!

    They are different than any other ones I have seen.

    They are real and some things you say,really connect and hit home.

    The toolbox was a good one and made sense,along with everything else and the way you deliver your message!

    Its day 72 now and getting so much easier!

    So many positives have come from this so far and it’s all thanks to your words and videos that just “clicked” at the right time when i was ready.

    Thankyou!

    Reply
    • Woo hoo, day 72! That’s fantastic stuff. Wishing you many more alcohol-free days ahead Linda!

      Reply
  33. Thanks Kate – really inspirational and so true about how drinking is portrayed… I’m a busy working mum of 2 who really wants to be alcohol free – I’ve had enough but keep slipping back… I did 2 weeks then drank on the weekend – mother’s day! Felt awful afterwards and disgusted with myself. I work in events and it is so readily available – hard to say I don’t drink as people think I am strange… Clients prefer me to drink as they drink so heavily themselves – I think it makes them feel uncomfortable if i don’t join in… I love your posts though – and will try to work harder..

    Reply
    • Hi Victoria, I don’t think it’s really about working ‘harder’ – that’s a lot of pressure to put on yourself and I’m sure you’re trying hard already. The problem is, the willpower approach will only get you so far. If you’re ready to take a proper break from booze – and really change your mindset and relationship with alcohol – my online coaching programme would be perfect for you. Stopping drinking doesn’t have to be hard. The next course starts in April: https://thesoberschool.com/course/

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    • 7UP in a wine glass or champagne flute looks the same as alcohol. No one knows or really cares.

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  34. Thank you Kate for putting so much energy into spreading the message – I loved your video and was impressed with the running tour. I have always loved running and thought as long as I can get up in the morning and run, alcohol is not really a problem. My husband gave up alcohol just over 3 years ago and I kind of panicked thinking he might expect the same of me. Well, it took me a while to realise my beautiful healthy body does NOT need alcohol. I am 17 days into the journey and love being part of this group 🙂

    Reply
    • Congratulations on your 17 days Anita – wishing you many more to come!

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  35. Hi Kate! I enjoyed your video and am so looking forward to your class! I’m really tired of drinking! I go without alcohol for a few weeks and feel so good! Then I go out and socialize and drink and feel so terrible the next day! I’m really ready to break this vicious cycle! I want to quit all together!!

    Reply
    • You’ll feel so good when you stop Sherri. I look forward to working with you in April 🙂

      Reply
  36. Hi Kate, Wonderful blog, thank you! And welcome to the US. I just finished your January 2018 course, and several of us are going back through it together. We are now officially the “Sober Badass Sisters” 🙂 The sharing and support has been inspirational. Went out to a book club meeting last night and didn’t think twice about pouring my sparkling water. The new habits are becoming just that, habits. I feel free and light and much, much happier. 72 days today and going strong. Thank you Kate, for all you do! (Elle is my nickname from the course) xo

    Reply
    • Ah, I love the name! Sober badass sisters is very appropriate 🙂
      Congratulations on your 72 days Elle, that is fantastic and I’m delighted for you!

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  37. Thank you Kate for a wonderful reminder of what one can do without alcohol in your life! I am in the process of making plans for things I never would have done while drinking, big and more importantly….small. Things like waking up to see the sunrise on Easter Sunday. I’ve always been good at the sunSET activities lol.
    Thanks for the continued inspiration! I am trying to keep these things top of mind. Much like exercising, I think you need to keep reinforcing that “muscle” in your mind that this is all worth it, but like anything worthwhile does take a little bit of work. 🙂

    Reply
    • The work you put into stopping drinking and making it stick is absolutely worth it. Keep going Madeline, you won’t regret it! 🙂

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  38. Hi kate
    Such true words.. I have definetly come to realise this …and rarely drink when I go out anymore or go away as I find it is time wasting and leaves me tired and unable to enjoy the experience..however trying to give up the evening wine at home…now thats proving a challenge for me
    Love your little tips and advice
    Liz

    Reply
    • No problem – I’m glad you find them helpful! There is a limit to what I can share here – if you’re ready to take a proper break from booze and stop drinking wine at home, my online course will help you do just that. Here’s some more info if you’re interested: https://thesoberschool.com/course/

      Reply
  39. I look forward to your insights every week now. I hit day 54 today & i completed my fastest walk time today on my 4km circuit. I feel great & will not be buying back in to any alcohol lies anytime soon! Thanks Kate!

    Reply
    • Fantastic, keep going Paula! 🙂

      Reply
  40. What a wonderful post, Kate. Thank you. Stripping alcohol of its appeal/charm/glamour must be done. It once used to be glamorous to smoke too. The Marlborough Man, movie stars, rock stars – they all made it look cool. Now it’s advertised as a death-dealing toxin and finally gives people the realistic look it should have had from the start. Let’s do the same with booze.

    Reply
  41. 24 hours sober, after 24 years of active drinking. Tired of pretending I can be a moderate drinker, because I usually can’t do it. Here’s hoping I can change for good this time, Although twelve steps aren’t the right fit, I must take this one day at a time, that much is true for me. I have successfully abstained from alcohol for several weeks at a time over the past few years, but always find my way back. So grateful that I came across your site Kate!

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  42. Hi Kate, I have been watching your posts for a while and I have decided today that I am going to stop drinking as it definitely does not relieve stress and it doesn’t make me feel good about myself either. It’s a viscous cycle of long hard week in the office so come home and unwind with a few drinks and then next day berate myself thinking why did I have a drink as I only feel tired and worse whereby an excercise class would have been much better!! Alcohol is a drug and it affects so many people in exactly the same way which makes me feel that I am not alone and and it’s good to see and share these experiences with each other, thank you for your posts. I am going to take one day at a time and not be so hard on myself anymore!!

    Reply
  43. Thanks Kate, im struggling at the moment. Managed over 70 days then hit a really bad couple of weeks. My aim is to quit forever. So back to day 1 again. Thanks for the tips I will continue to read more.

    Reply

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