EP #143

Being Mostly Alcohol-Free

alcoholic minimalist podcast

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In this episode, Molly Watts dives into her personal battle with family alcohol issues and how she found peace with alcohol by embracing a minimalist approach. She invites listeners to join her in the “More Sober October” challenge, urging them to have more alcohol-free days. Watts shares her journey to being 70% alcohol-free, emphasizing the link between overdrinking and anxiety, which prompted her to take a 12-day break. She recommends the Sunnyside app for mindful drinking and stresses the importance of enjoying alcohol without guilt. Reflecting on her progress, she highlights the shift from resisting alcohol-free days to embracing them. Watts offers tips on maintaining a balanced relationship with alcohol and extends an invitation for listeners to join her journey. Lastly, she introduces her online course and coaching program for those seeking sustainable change in their drinking habits.

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 habits. 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 Oh, it’s a very soggy Oregon. The rain is back. The rain is back. It’s this week is just me. Yeah. Started. I guess on Sunday. It’s been raining nonstop. Really yesterday was just a slog. But I have new windshield wipers thanks to my husband so that’s happy. I need them evidently here in Oregon. Yep, ball is official officially arrived. Hey, I am actually re recording this episode. I had a bit of a just didn’t like what I was putting out there. So I have re purposed redone reworked and my hope that what you hear today and what you hear out of this episode is something that really resonates with you. Before we get there, I want to remind you that we are just about ready for more sober October. More sober October is a free challenge that I am doing in partnership with Sunnyside you go to get not sunnyside.co/molly to get registered. That’s a free challenge. You’ll get a free month long subscription to Sunnyside if you’re not currently a member if you are a member, that’s okay, sign up anyway. Because we’ve got prizes. I’ve got $100 gift cards to Boysen, who is a non alcoholic retailer each week. So I’m giving $100 away each week for anyone that’s participating in more sober October. And what is that? Exactly? It means that we are prioritizing alcohol free days. For me, I am upping my normal alcohol free days from my typical 19 or 20 to 25 during more sober October. So whatever that looks like for you, if it’s one alcohol free day, or five alcohol free days, or 10, or 20, whatever. This is an opportunity to practice and include more alcohol free days into your life. So come join me get.sunnyside.co/molly and get signed up today. We kick off officially on Sunday, October 1. So in pulling together what I wanted to talk about this week, something that comes up a lot for me and the people I work with is that after doing the work of changing a drinking habit, whether it’s taking an extended break from alcohol, many of my clients do that. Or like me cutting back the number of drinks and increasing the number of alcohol free days each week. Doing that over time, which is how I changed my relationship with alcohol. You get to a point where you’re feeling really good on your alcohol free days. And a question becomes why drink at all? Why drink ever? If I really value being alcohol free? Wouldn’t it be better to be just completely alcohol free enjoying the sober only folks? And in fact I’ve had some of my clients tell me that their original intentions were to be able to have alcohol every now and then. But when they try to have a drink, now they feel guilty or feel like they’re making a bad choice. And that of course does not feel peaceful to them. And is the answer they wander to just stay completely abstinent even though that doesn’t feel totally peaceful either because they have a desire to be People have to be able to have a drink. Their brains argue that they should be allowed to have a drink. And it feels like a no win situation kind of damned if you do damned if you don’t. Which, of course doesn’t sound like anyone’s definition of peace does it off often tell people that the same thought work that goes into being completely abstinent from alcohol is the same thought work that goes into being an alcohol minimalist, and creating a peaceful relationship with alcohol. And I want to dive into that a little deeper today. And I hope that hopefully with some more clarity, being an alcohol minimalist to me means being mostly alcohol free. It means that most of the time, I’m not choosing to include alcohol as a part of any day as a way of making things more fun, or buffering away negative emotions. Or even just unconsciously pouring a drink after work because it’s what I’ve always done right? It means that I do most of my life, alcohol free. The thing that separates me from the sober only crowd is that I can and do include alcohol in my life in a minimal way. And I do that without any feelings of guilt, shame or regret. I realized recently what a big statement it is for me to make to say that I mostly alcohol free, and also how clear I am on that being what I want to be. Call it alcohol minimalist 2.0. But even for me, the shift in emphasis feels more tangible and more direct. Right now this year, I have upped my alcohol free days and I am on track to be 70% alcohol free. I’ve talked about that a fair number of times here on the podcast you can and I’ll link it in my show notes my my 70% alcohol free plan. And at first I didn’t think that it was going to be that noticeable of a difference because it didn’t seem like there was literally that much room for improvement quite honestly. As a refresher, I did the work of changing my decade’s long daily drinking habit back in 2019, with small incremental changes, meeting myself where I was changing my beliefs around alcohol, so that by 2020, I was successfully no longer a daily drinker. And I had reduced my drinking to lower amounts every week. I routinely included multiple alcohol free days each week. And I believed and I was at peace at that point with my relationship with alcohol, right? I understood how I had built the habit, I understood the science of alcohol and my brain neuroscience. And I had learned how my thoughts fueled my desire to drink and how to manage my mind to desire alcohol less. But in the end of 2020, which I’ve shared on the podcast before, over my birthday weekend in November 2020. I drank more probably like four ish standard drinks both Friday and Saturday nights, which was Off Plan which was overdrinking and was a lot more than I had been drinking for at least probably a year. And I woke up on that Sunday morning, not hungover. But with such intense high anxiety. It was the first time that I was completely conscious of how my overdrinking was directly responsible for the neuro chemistry imbalance and all the feelings of anxiety and irritability that I was having. I remember I was in tears and I decided right there and then that I was ready to take a mini break. And to that point, even in 2020, I had I had not had any extended period of time that I had not had, you know, no long alcohol free stint. I routinely included three to four alcohol free nights, you know, most weeks but I had not done a longer stint. And I did 12 days then. And it was really the beginning of me deciding that more alcohol free days is what I wanted to do. In January 2021 I did my first dry weary and at the time both of these big alcohol free stretches seemed like a really big deal to me. It was a big change from where I had been. And I definitely was navigating urges I was uncomfortable. And yet I was also dedicated to understanding how the urges and the feelings of discomfort. Were just a natural next step. up in my evolving peaceful relationship with alcohol, when I think that’s important, I have always been and still remain open and willing to explore options with my alcohol, minimalist lifestyle and being mostly alcohol free. A just a quick break to talk with you for a minute about Sunnyside. You’ll hear me talk about it on the show often. And it really is my number one recommendation for a mindful drinking app. People use this tool in my groups in my classes and they tell me all the time, how much they really appreciate the fact that Sunnyside is a very positive reinforcement. And what I mean by that is that when you track your drinks, and let’s just say you land for one drink and you ended up having to, if you’re honest and you track that second drink, you’re not going to get a message that shames you in any way or reprimands you, you’re actually going to get positive reinforcement for tracking a drink that you didn’t plan on and some ideas of some suggestions for going and grabbing a snack or getting some water. Sunnyside is like having a coach in your pocket. And I love that you can try it for a 15 day free trial go to www.sunnyside.co/molly that get started today. In 2021, I was launching the podcast I was getting ready to publish my book and I got certified as a coach and laughter I came out of dry you weary I decided I wanted to up my alcohol free practices to include alcohol free weekends, once per quarter. That was an improvement for me back in 2021. So I did that. And I also did my first more sober October back there and 2021 which at the time I planned for 24 alcohol free days, I just went back and looked in my Facebook group. So that was the end of 2021 and 2022. I upped my alcohol free days again, I moved from one alcohol free weekend per quarter to one alcohol free weekend per month in 2022. I also did dry your weary again. And I did more sober October, which again in 2022 was also 24 alcohol free days. Now in 2023, I have upped it again, I wanted to be able to say with certainty that I was truly an alcohol minimalist. And to do that I decided to be 70% alcohol free, and I came up with this plan based on doing dry you weary based on doing more sober October, I added in more dry July. And I have a plan on the other month that includes 19 alcohol free days on 30 day months and 20 alcohol free days on 31 day months. And basically at the end of this, what I’ve come to quantify and realize is that I mostly alcohol free. And I really liked the sound of that I am mostly alcohol free. It feels really good to say. And I’m also 100% Okay, that it’s not totally alcohol free, or 100% alcohol free. I genuinely enjoy the alcohol I include in my life, and I want to be able to do that. I want to be able to do that guilt free regret free, shame free with peace. Now, as I mentioned at the beginning of this recording, I hear from my students from my coaching clients sometimes who are struggling with this notion right of being able to enjoy alcohol when they do decide to drink. And I was recently coaching one of them who has been doing 100% alcohol free for at least the last few months. And generally speaking this has felt really good to her. And what was coming up for her in terms of her thoughts was a struggle not to moralize her decision to not drink. She didn’t want to look at her decision to not drink as the right choice and anything short of that as being the wrong choice. And this kind of thinking is fueled by the sober only communities and really the recovery industry to which it has been in the background in our subconscious where we’ve been hearing this story for years right this black and white right and wrong. There’s only one way to be sure and that is abstinence, right? It’s a slippery slope one drink will make you want another One and another and another. And before you know it, you’ll be addicted psychologically or physically, because alcohol is an addictive drug. So this is the story. And even when you’re simply talking in the background, right, and even when you’re simply talking about a drink, those old cultural narratives are playing in the background of your mind, unconsciously, and they fuel those feelings of morality. Now, we talked about why she might want to include alcohol in her life. And she said that she felt like she was missing an opportunity to connect with her spouse over a glass of wine. And she missed that. And this is so important. Now I know this client, and I know that she’s never going to want to over drink again. And I feel confident like that isn’t even a remote possibility for her. So I simply asked her to think about what was a different thought that she could choose about a glass of wine with her husband, that would make her feel peaceful, not good or bad, right or wrong. But a thought that would allow her to make that decision about including a glass of wine that could feel peaceful. See, the goal isn’t to be good. It isn’t to be righteous, it is to make decisions that align with your long term goals, and to feel at peace. And this is the beauty of it. Your brain is yours to direct. And we get to choose our thoughts. And we get to choose thoughts that we focus our attention on, that help us create a feeling of peace. It is that simple. It is that clear. You get to choose what you are making a glass of wine mean. Now this is a perfect example of what is possible for you when you’re willing to do the work. And to explore your thinking around your drinking, you can move from making sober only good and anything short of it bad. You can choose to be mostly alcohol free, and choose to make that a peaceful decision. Here are some things I’ve learned from being mostly alcohol free in 2023. Do you like the ring of that? Mostly alcohol free in 2023? I don’t know what it’s gonna sound like in 2024 doesn’t have quite the same ring, but I’m gonna be doing it still. I feel the benefits of being mostly alcohol free. And I desire those results more than I desire alcohol. And that is really a big difference in terms of my thinking even from I’d say a year ago, in 2022. I was definitely aware of the benefits of my alcohol free days. But I wasn’t as aware of the difference in my desire for those results versus my desire for alcohol. I knew that I no longer enjoyed overdrinking episodes, but I still felt some resistance on planned alcohol free weekends. And I still felt like my desire to drink on the weekends was there. But I was just will powering my way through the weekend. And then I would feel good after the fact. And I enjoyed that. Now I find myself ahead of time desiring the result of being mostly alcohol free more than I want to drink even on a weekend. And why is that important? Again, I think some of the most important things you can learn from my evolution is just that, that I’ve continued to evolve. And even though my drinking hasn’t changed that much in the last two years, like I think statistically, it’s probably gone from like 60% alcohol free to 70% alcohol free, which over the course of the year is like three more days alcohol free each month. Maybe it’s not a huge right huge monumental difference. But what has changed significantly is the desire for my alcohol free results and being able to peacefully and confidently say that I prefer those results on a daily basis. Being mostly alcohol free means that when I do include alcohol in my life, it’s planned and it’s enjoyed. Having a plan in place for when I’m going to include alcohol in my life is simply the way I create a mostly alcohol free life. It means that I can and will include alcohol in my life in a way that allows me to enjoy a glass of wine with a friend or a beer with my husband or a champagne toast on New Year’s Eve It’s not mindless, it’s mindful. And that is how I want to be with anything that I’m choosing to take into my body or any activity that I’m spending my time on. There is no decision fatigue. So this idea that the sober only folks like to cush is not is not a problem. This isn’t about will I or won’t I drink every night. This is choosing to be mostly alcohol free, and making a plan to achieve that. This is maybe the most important thing that I’ve learned from being mostly alcohol free. I’ve learned that it’s entirely possible. I can drink a couple of beers most Friday nights. And it does not ignite some vicious, unrelenting desire to drink every night. I pay attention to how much I drink every week. Absolutely. And that’s totally okay with me. I live a life that is mostly alcohol free. And I do that because I know the benefits far outweigh the results that I had in my life. When I was stuck in my daily over drinking habit. And I still enjoy the times that I do include alcohol in my life. That’s okay with me. That’s peaceful. For me. That’s a choice that I make with my own thoughts. It’s an option that’s available to anyone. And that’s the narrative that I hope you hear from me. I want you to keep going. I want you to keep doing the work. I want you to keep evolving, and set your sights on being mostly alcohol free with me. Do you want to get started next month in October? Join me in more sober October and add in more alcohol free days next month. It’s get.sunnyside.co/molly. That’s how you can join. Alright, we did it. Until next time, my friends choose peace. Thank you for listening to the alcohol minimalist podcast. Take something you learned from this episode and put it into action this week. Changing your drinking habits and creating a peaceful relationship with alcohol is 100% possible. You can stop worrying Stop feeling guilty about over drinking and become someone who desires alcohol less hum join me in making peace with alcohol. It’s my six month online course and group coaching program designed to help you build sustainable change. Give me six months and I’ll help you create peace. Check it out at www dot Molly watts.com/join That’s Molly with a why and watts with an s.com/join I’m joined me today