EP #115

Making a Drink Plan vs Planning to Drink

alcoholic minimalist podcast

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In this episode, Molly introduces a 30-day program starting on March 18, featuring daily emails with recipes, a private Facebook group, and guidance from certified nutritionist Monica. Molly challenges the conventional notion of complete abstinence, advocating for a more nuanced approach that involves planning and addressing the underlying thoughts and habits associated with drinking. She discusses the importance of understanding one’s drinking patterns through a habit assessment and encourages a gradual, sustainable shift in behavior. She delves into the danger of associating alcohol with specific activities and events, urging listeners to challenge such beliefs.

Hey, it’s Molly from alcohol minimalist. What do you do in this October? I would love to have you join me in my more sober October challenge. What do I mean by more sober October, it simply means that we’re going to add in more alcohol free days than you currently been doing, whether that’s one or two or 31. It’s up to you, you get to set your own goal and that’s why it’s more sober October. You can check it out and learn more at get got sunnyside.co/molly It’s totally free. I’ve got grises I’m going to be going live every week to announce the prize winners. And it’s just going to be an awesome event. So I would love to have you join me. You can learn more at get.sunnyside.co/molly and you can get registered today. Welcome to the alcohol minimalist podcast. I’m your host Molly watts. If you want to change your drinking habits and create a peaceful relationship with alcohol, you’re in the right place. This podcast explores the strategies I use to overcome a lifetime of family alcohol abuse, more than 30 years of anxiety and worry about my own drinking and what felt like an unbreakable daily drinking habit. Becoming an alcohol minimalist means removing excess alcohol from your life. So it doesn’t remove you from life. It means being able to take alcohol or leave it without feeling deprived. It means to live peacefully, being able to enjoy a glass of wine without feeling guilty and without needing to finish the bottle. With Science on our side will shatter your past patterns and eliminate your excuses. Changing your relationship with alcohol is possible. I’m here to help you do it. Let’s start now. Well hello and welcome or welcome back to the alcohol minimalist podcast. With me your host Molly Watts coming to you from a very dark, rainy Oregon this morning. It is early on a Monday morning. I am recording this the day after daylight savings time started. And of course it’s still really dark out this early in the morning. And man is it coming down the rain is just really wow. Supposedly, I have learned that the forecast for the rest of the week is dry like tomorrow through the next six days, which would be amazing since that has not been the case around here for the last few weeks. Not supposed to be incredibly sunny or anything like that. But dry. I will take it because the Lord I gotta get through today because today does not looking good at all. It’s got like the icon for the rain is like the big raindrops, not just drizzly not just showers, it is full on rain. All right back to what we really need to talk about before we get into the show, I have an opportunity that I want to share with you. And if you’re someone who’s working on your relationship with alcohol, and you’re also interested in improving your overall diet and nutrition, starting on March 18. So if you’re listening to this on the day, it drops March 15. You still have time to join me in the 30 day nutrition upgrade. This is a program that I did back before in January 2022 with Monica Rai Nagel. You know, Monica, if you’ve listened to this show, she is the host of the nutrition diva podcast, which, by the way, was listed in the New York Times as one of the top shows on learning about the science of nutrition. Just recently, just last week was mentioned in one of those calmative lists of from the New York Times. So a great show. If you’ve never listened to nutrition diva, I highly recommend it. Monica also co hosts the change Academy podcast, and she’s a licensed certified nutritionist A has a master’s of science and nutrition. So she’s really a great authority. And I know that I need a refresher. The motivation of being a part of a live group was something that I wanted and when Monica let me know she was doing the group again. I asked if I could join in. She said of course. So it all starts on Saturday, March 18 at 12pm. Eastern with a live kickoff event that will be recorded if you can’t be there. I will be there and then you have three 30 days of daily emails with recipes, implementation ideas, plus a private Facebook group where people connect, you get access to Monica’s wisdom, as well as current and former up graders. That’s what we’re what she calls him the upgraders to ask questions, share ideas and get some support. Halfway through the program, there’s another live q&a event. And just like with other 30 Day Challenge type groups, it’s really a decision to focus your attention, and virtually lock arms with other people who want to build better habits. And that’s what’s really so valuable. It’s just $69 for a month worth of support, including a really awesome and intuitive smartphone app that you can use for free really for the rest of your life. And here’s the great news. It absolutely supports minimizing alcohol. And when you factor in your alcohol free days on the app, you get positive credit for your overall nutrition GPA. That’s just a teaser for the app that’s included in your registration. I’ve got a link in the show notes for anyone who wants to get registered. You can also learn more about it over at nutrition over easy.com. That’s Monica sight to all right on to this week’s show. This is actually the first show that I’m going to be doing in a three show series focused on plans goals and habit change, and how they relate to this whole peaceful relationship with alcohol that I talk about all the time. I want to break down some of these ideas and bring in ideas that I’ve heard recently that I think can apply to the work that we do here as alcohol minimalists. As a quick reminder, you can join the alcohol minimalists over in our private Facebook group, alcohol minimalist, change your drinking habits. You know, for more camaraderie motivation, it’s just a great place for anyone who wants to really work on changing their drinking. There’s always a link in the show notes, or you can just head on over to Facebook and search groups for alcohol minimalists. Now, here’s what I’ll be talking about during this series. This first show this one this week, I’m going to be talking about the doable drink plan and the difference between making a doable drink plan and planning to drink. I’ve mentioned this in numerous coaching calls both one on one and in group coaching that I was going to do a podcast on this, because it’s one of those big aha moments for folks when they are first doing this work. If you’re factoring in a lot of alcohol free days, and then just planning to drink on some other days, then this episode is for you and will possibly illuminate some of the work that you still need to do on your thinking around alcohol. Next week, I’ll be talking about the difference between drink plans and drinking goals. In the Facebook group I shared last week, my better than half 70% alcohol free goal that I started in March, you know, I probably could have figured it out back to January because I was alcohol free for all of January. But in keeping integrity with myself, I know that I wasn’t focused on this goal in February. And as I say, often this is a lifestyle, right? That is really for the rest of my life. So whether or not I started tracking on January 1 or March 1, it really doesn’t matter. There’s a year’s goal that I’m working on, and I’m excited to make it happen. And yes, it’s a goal with a plan to help me get there. We’ll be breaking down your goals and your plans next week. In the third week, we’re going to tie it all together with three things that you need to stop doing to achieve your goals and to change your drinking habit and a teaser. One of the biggest takeaways you’ll hear is that your life, your specific challenges and constraints, all of those things that make your life situation unique. They matter. We’ll talk about making this area of personal development more personal. All right. This week, let’s talk about the doable drink plan. When people first come into my work, they are typically not making any plans with regards to alcohol. I know that I certainly never had a plan ahead of time for drinking. I did typically track my drinks or paid attention to how many I was having. But that was in real time or sometimes. Especially when I was feeling the effects of overdrinking. I would try to count backwards right Write a recount exactly how much I had drank in an effort to quantify and avoid doing it again in the future, right feeling this bad thing again in the future. And side note, of course, that strategy of recounting what happened the night before to avoid a similar result in the future was never a successful strategy. I’m sure many of you can relate, you have a hangover, and you say never again, but somehow, either next week, next month, or maybe if it even worked a little longer, you know, but eventually you over drank. And then you would try the whole recount, again process a big part of my strategy, when I finally changed my drinking habit for good, was the doable drink plan. Now, I didn’t call it that back then. But I had been learning the difference between my logical future focused prefrontal cortex and my illogical in the moment, pleasure seeking pain avoiding limbic system, hodler brain. And the idea that my drinking habit was just something that I had trained myself to do with my lower brain, and that I could rewire the habit by using my higher brain seemed like a really reasonable idea wasn’t that alcohol was a different habit, because it was an addictive substance. And that’s kind of the storyline that I had believed for a long time, or because of my genetics. No, it was just like any other habit that didn’t serve me. So to build up some positive momentum, and create evidence for my brain, that change was possible. The first thing I needed to do was make a plan ahead of time for my drinking. Now, this idea flies completely in the face of recovery programs, and sobriety communities who insist that abstaining is the only way to change your drinking. Other programs actually encourage you to start with a 30 day alcohol free period. And of course, I’ve shared during dry weary, that there are absolutely benefits to taking an extended break from drinking. But the idea that you can get to sustainable change faster by taking a 30 day break. I don’t agree with that. I don’t believe that’s necessary, nor for everyone do, I believe it’s possible. It certainly stopped me from trying for a long time, because I literally did not believe that I could succeed in taking a 30 day break. So it’s prevented me from even starting to change my habit in the first place. I will be honest, I don’t think fast change is what any of us should be aiming for. In my experience, fast change rarely equals sustainable, lifelong change. It never worked for me in the past. And in fact, I think part of the problem many of us have with regard to goals, plans or habits is that we simply don’t keep going. Now, more on that next week. But back to this making a drinking plan versus planning to drink, making a plan ahead of time. For alcohol, I encourage you to make a plan 24 hours ahead of time, but you can also make it a week ahead in advance if you want to. Regardless, in the beginning, it’s going to feel awkward. If you’ve never tracked or counted your drinks before, that may be new for you. When I work with people in step one, the very first thing they do is a habit assessment to figure out how much they are drinking on a regular basis. And let me tell you, for some folks, that is very eye opening. A lot of people never measure, they never, they never really know how much wine they’re pouring in their glass. They don’t know how many ounces are in their shots. And that’s part of the process. We cannot change what we cannot see. And while it seems obvious, you might be surprised by how many of us don’t really know how much we are drinking. Once you know what the habit really looks like, what you’re drinking, how much you’re drinking when you’re drinking, we can make a plan based on what you’re currently doing. We are literally going to simply work on planning ahead for what you’ve typically been drinking and create a doable drink plan that you feel 80 to 90% Sure you can meet. Now I typically get pushback on this because when people decide to work with me they already feel motivated to change and they want to reduce their drinking right away. So they want to cut it down immediately. And lots of people will say to me, I think I just need to take a break or be completely alcohol free for a while. And I get it, I understand the desire to feel like you’re doing something different right away. But I will tell you that this type of thinking, and feeling is really just an extension of wanting to recount and adjust for the future. It’s focused on the action of drinking and does not address your thoughts, and how the habit is working in your brain. When we just want to jump in and drastically reduce or take an extended break, what we’re usually doing is testing our willpower and trying to figure out if we actually have a drinking problem, right? If I can take a break, I don’t really have a problem. I’m not addicted. Maybe things aren’t that bad. I’m not that bad. I don’t need a drink, and all the other old stories and ideas that you’ve had regarding your relationship with alcohol. That’s why I push back equally firmly with people and strongly encourage that we make a doable during plan. The process of planning ahead and meeting yourself where you are at does not mean that we’re going to be staying where you are for a long time. Another facet of the dual drink plan is doing 1% Better. Now, that isn’t a real mathematical percentage, it’s really the idea of kaizen. We’re looking for small improvements we can make each week as we are working towards reducing our overall intake. For me, that meant literally just reducing one drink on one day each week for quite a while. Then eventually I incorporated one alcohol free day, which was big for me. I didn’t typically have alcohol free days before I started doing this work unless I was sick. And he asked I didn’t consistently plan alcohol free days each week until I’ve been working on this habit for almost a year probably. I had occasional alcohol free days, I had definitely reduced my drinking considerably, but consistently having an alcohol free day, and then increasing those alcohol free days did not happen until I had been working on my habit for a while. I will tell you, that is one of the reasons that I wrote my book created my course, did this podcast is because that I think I could have made progress faster. And in retrospect, there were things I could have done to make it easier for myself that I now teach people so they can see results sooner. Sooner is still relative, right? If you’ve been like having a daily drinking habit for decades, like I did, it’s not going to be weeks. Alright. I’m not ever going to tell you that you’ll do this work for 30 days or six weeks and you’ll be fixed. No, in fact, we aren’t working towards some timeline achievement. We are creating a lifestyle. So there really is no finish line. Just a quick break to talk with you about Sunnyside. You hear me talk about it on the podcast and truthfully I have so many students and group members that share with me how Sunnyside is their preferred tool. It helps them build their healthier drinking habits and really create that peaceful relationship with alcohol. It’s a tool that I feel very confident in recommending. And the Sunnyside team has recently in September launched a new iOS app. And that iOS app is going to just enhance the existing text message experience. It makes it easier to build healthier drinking habits for anyone looking to cut back or simply drink more mindfully. The new Sunnyside community is also available only in the new iOS app and it gives you access to an engaged community of like minded people who are also on a journey to cut back on drinking and build healthier drinking habits. It’s a safe private space and you’ll get access to inspiration and advice from Sunnyside members as well as coaches. I encourage you to go check out Sunnyside go to www.sunnyside.co/molly to get started on a free 15 day trial. That’s www.sunnyside.co/molly One of the things I have seen people do when they do this work is that instead of making a plan ahead of time for what they will drink, they decide to add in multiple alcohol free days into their are weak, and then have a few days a week that will be drinking days. Here’s what I want to would say. The problem is with that strategy. Now granted multiple alcohol free days is great. And I never want to discourage you from adding in alcohol free days into your life. But I don’t believe that you can really have a peaceful relationship with alcohol, if you’re leaving your drinking days has just opened drinking days. Because at its core, what this says to me is that you still believe that alcohol is what you need to help you unwind, have fun, and escape the stress in your life. If you’ve listened to this show, for any length of time, you might have heard me mentioned that I plan one alcohol free weekend per month. Because I always want to remind myself and remain mindful that adding alcohol into my life is not reserved for the weekends. That reinforces the idea. When you reserve drinking for the weekends, right, it reinforces the idea that drinking is to relax, you got to drink to have fun, that alcohol somehow makes going out better. Or it’s just what I do when I go to a bar or a restaurant. And those are simply not the thoughts I want to have about alcohol. I trained my brain for years to believe that alcohol was synonymous with going out with eating at restaurants with parties vacations, you name it. It created a focus on alcohol in my life, as the key to having fun, relaxing and escaping stress, when we simply decide that I’m going to drink, but without a planned number of drinks, we are basically saying that we still believe alcohol is what we need to change how we are feeling. Now maybe you are okay with having five alcohol free days each week and two days where you aren’t counting. For me that wouldn’t be peaceful when we allow ourselves to over drink, which as a reminder, I would say that anything more than three standard drinks for women, or four standard drinks for men in any one occasion. That’s what is really the number there that three and four is what comes from wanting to avoid a binge drinking episode as defined by the CDC, which would be four or five, respectively for women and men. Now, I want to clarify to that on what any occasion right? Someone asked me recently about how long an occasion is. And according to the NIA A which is separate from the CDC, right? Binge episode happens within two hours and it elevates your blood alcohol content to over 0.08%. That’s how they defined that they use basically the same numbers four and five. But they say that’s what typically would raise the blood alcohol content to over point zero 8%. And if you do that within two hours, that’s what the NA that the NI a constitutes as a bench. So this number of drinks within the two hour range, and raising the blood alcohol can the blood alcohol content, I think it’s raising the blood alcohol content that’s particularly important. You’ve heard me say that every time we drink it’s like our own personal petri dish. When you start to feel altered, that’s a really good sign that you should stop drinking. Because that typically means that your blood alcohol content is rising above the 0.055% that we talked about as being therapeutic. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. When you become an alcohol minimalist. It does involve having a drink plan. It also involves changing your thoughts around alcohol so that you don’t want to keep drinking because you believe that that next drink will help you have more fun, relax more or escape stress. You know, it doesn’t work that way. It’s the thought work that really is the foundation of a peaceful relationship with alcohol. If you’re doing lots of alcohol free days each week, but on the days that you’re drinking, you find yourself being resistant to making a drink plan. Ask yourself why What do you believe that making a plan or not making a plan is doing for you? What are you making it mean to have a plan for your drinking One day. If you want to have a peaceful relationship with alcohol, and peaceful relationship with yourself, you might still have work to do on your thoughts around alcohol. And that’s totally okay. By the way. That’s the work we get to do when we choose to be alcohol minimalists. Next week, we’re going to dive into your goals for drinking. Had no, those are not the same drinking goals like you had when you were in college. Or at least I had when I was in college, you know, right. The goal of being able to shoot a beer with like a pen in a beer can and opening the door right? What remember anyone remember that? Or how about doing an upside down Margarita? Do you ever do that back in college, another drinking goal was being able to successfully navigate those fraternity parties and the the rooms that are in rooms. The times we’ll be talking about very different goals next week, I promise. If you would like to join me in the 30 day nutrition upgrade, I would love to have you come along. Click on the link in the show notes starts on March 18. So I will see you before if you do it with me. I’ll see you before next week. But until next time, choose peace my friends. Thank you for listening to the alcohol minimalist podcast. This podcast is dedicated to helping you change your drinking habits and to create a peaceful relationship with alcohol. Use something you learned in today’s episode and apply it to your life this week. Transformation is possible you have the power to change your relationship with alcohol now, for more information, please visit me at www dot Molly watts.com