Dry January All Year Round?

Dry January: A Fun Challenge Becomes a New Beginning

Last Updated: January 30, 2024By Tags: , , ,

I could begin this by dramatically saying I’ve been sober for three years, but that sort of statement makes me cringe just a little bit. It probably makes you wonder what was going on with me before “sobriety,” and that’s embarrassing for me to think about you thinking about that… but also, it feels like giving myself too much credit and connotes a sort of noble, mindful process. I just stopped drinking, and I prefer the terms “sober curious” or “AF,” because “sober curious” describes me really well and “AF” is just fun to work into a sentence.

Not to mention… this topic’s Peloton-adjacent, with several of our favorite instructors doing Dry January this year. If you happen to live near Bloomington, MN, three of our Lululemon Ambassador friends will be leading a Mocktail Meetup on January 27– if you head out there, be sure to let me know how it is!

Mocktail Meetup in Minnesota

Mocktail Meetup in Minnesota- featuring Chelsea, Adrian, and Callie

Since Now I Know You’re Wondering

What WAS going on with me before I stopped drinking? Nothing you haven’t heard before. Mommy-needs-a-drink culture, craft beer culture, and margaritas-to-go-are-now-available Covid culture are all things that exist. I was in my mid 40s, a full-time working mom, and of course a drink seemed like a great evening reward for the effort I put into life.

But my fitness level wasn’t great. I’d acquired my Peloton bike in October 2020 and was really enjoying it, but I had to pull together a lot of energy to ride, even though I was working from home and had a good bit of time. I’d also noticed that my internal limitations weren’t what they used to be, and I was always justifying drinking more than I knew was a healthy amount.

But I wasn’t an alcoholic, and if you’re not an alcoholic you don’t need to quit drinking, right? Maybe just cut back and get in shape.

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January Reset

So- I decided on Dry January 2021. Reset, maybe pull together some momentum on my quest to become a Super Fit Happy Peloton Person. (Yes, I now recognize the irony of realizing I’d have to not drink to get some fitness momentum but not realizing that said something about alcohol and fitness for me.) I had a last drink on New Year’s Eve and honestly, I don’t even remember what it was. 

For whatever reason, I think something in me knew that was actually it, and not just it for January. But I told myself January. But then a few things happened in that January of not drinking:

  • It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.
  • My energy level went up. Like, way up. I was even awake and alert in the early mornings- what was that all about?
  • I suddenly had the energy to Peloton more and get into making big fancy salads as a hobby.
  • I dropped 9 lbs that month without doing anything else differently. (And no, it’s not about weight, but I was carrying some weight well outside a healthy range for me, so that was pretty exciting.)

And at some point in January my thoughts shifted from “Dry January” to “well, let’s see how long this feels right.” And at some point after that, my thoughts shifted to, “maybe I just won’t define this.” Finally, my thoughts landed on, “Why would I want to drink again? Being alert in early mornings is cool!” I’m still in that space, more than three years later. I have no reason to think I’ll ever want to drink again.

Dry February?

So, that’s what this is about- just letting you know that Dry January doesn’t have to be the end and the benefits keep going. It’s not as easy for everyone as it was for me, and the changes don’t always show as quickly, but if you talk to most people who have been AF for some time, they’ll agree that it’s worth it. Here are a few thoughts that helped me:

  • You don’t have to be an alcoholic to stop drinking.
  • You don’t have to decide or even think about whether you’re an alcoholic, gray area drinker, or none of the above. 
  • You don’t have to immediately decide “never again.” You can start with a month, extend for another month, and make up your mind later how long you’ll go.
  • You don’t need to join AA to stop. It’s the right answer for lots of people, but there are also so many people who find other ways. I was fortunate to be able to do it on my own, but there’s a lot of great books, podcasts, and support people out there.
  • Being AF is like a cheat code for life. Everything is just a little bit easier.
  • Suddenly I had a lot more time on my hands. (Though this particular benefit didn’t last- I filled it with working out and other hobbies, and now I’m used to that, and it never feels like I have enough hours in the day anymore!)
  • People didn’t judge me at all. It may be because of my age (mid 40s) and social circle, but when I say I don’t drink all I hear is, “oh, good for you!” (I get a much most astonished reaction when I say my regular coffee consumption is decaf, but that’s a different story for a different day.)

Replacement Beverages, Daily Edition

So, what sorts of things do I drink, besides the normal decaf coffee and water? (Disclaimer: I’m going to link to these on Amazon, and TCO gets a little tiny cut if you buy anything after clicking one of these links… but really, my main motivation for doing that is just to make them easier to find, and if we get a couple cents that’s just a bonus.)

Nixie Ginger Lime So I love a good LaCroix of just about any flavor… or really any sparkling water. But this one might be my absolute favorite- it tastes somewhere in the realm of mojito, or gin and tonic- a little bitter, a little bite, and super refreshing.

Remedy Kombucha And I also love kombucha of just about any type. I’m picking this one because it’s easiest to buy online. When I feel like I’ve eaten a lot of junk recently, kombucha resets me a bit- settles my stomach, feels like a treat, and it’s pretty healthy on its own. Note that some kombucha has a tiny percentage of alcohol, just like some NA beer and wine does. (Also have to shout out my very favorite kombucha flavor here- GT’s Sacred Life– which is absurdly blue but tastes amazing, super gingery and again, a bit of a bite.)

SodaStream Art I’ll admit it- while I’m a well-hydrated person, I do much better when my water is fizzy. I’ve owned a SodaStream for more than 10 years, and this is my third machine- and I could not live without it. Most of what I drink is just plain carbonated water, and I love it. (I’d also note that SodaStream’s customer service is amazing- each time I’ve had a machine die on me, and even though probably from old age, I call to see if it’s fixable, and each time they’ve given me credit toward a new one.)

Replacement Beverages, Special Edition

True Lime This stuff is great and cheap and easy to keep around- just drop a little packet in any beverage. It comes in other flavors, too- I keep meaning to try some!

Diet Coke And what do I drop my True Lime into? I’ve been an on/off Diet Coke drinker most of my adult life. I’m currently in a place where it’s just sometimes, as a treat. And most recently, I’ve gotten into TikTok’s #crispydietcoke trend, and there’s really no calorie-free pick-me-up like it. Here’s a nice compilation of TikTok’s latest and greatest DC tips.

If you hadn’t noticed from the above… I’m not a purist about natural foods and beverages, and it’s about to get worse. Sorry, people who love real ingredients- I do too, but I also love a little sugar-free treat.

Sigh…. energy drinks. Yeah, I know I said I don’t do regular coffee in the morning, only decaf. I’m not a purist about caffiene, though, either- I just cut way back and don’t consume daily since caffienated coffee was giving me stomach issues. I do, however, have an energy drink here and there as a treat and to hype up for a big workout, usually before Total Strength 60. (I know this isn’t consistent- what can I say, I’m a complex person!) Some favorites include Reign’s Reignbow Sherbert flavor, Ghost’s ridiculous candy flavors, C4’s Frozen Bombsicle (really, anything bomb pop flavored is pretty amazing), and any of these Celsius drinks.

Brewdog AF beers NA beer has come a LONG, long way from when I was pregnant and all that was out there was O’Doul’s. Brewdog has an amazing variety, and I also love Guinness 0 and Corona Cero, which was recently in the news! (Note- NA beer or wine isn’t for every NA person- as previously mentioned, some have trace amounts of alcohol, and if you’re on Antabuse, a medication frequently prescribed to help quit, there are definite risks to those trace amounts- not to mention some sober folks find drinks which imitate alcohol trigger cravings. So your mileage on this may definitely vary, but I love them.

If You Need To Talk

We’ve had a lot of fun today, kids… but I do want to add something a little more serious. If you feel like Dry January, or going AF for good, might be for you and you don’t know where to start, I’m here if you want to talk it through. I can be found on TCO’s Facebook Group, kicking around on the regular. I’m not a doctor, but I know how to find resources if you need one, or if you don’t need one, or if you just want to think it through and need someone to chat with. Being AF has been big in my life, and really helped improve both my physical and mental health, and if I can point anyone in that direction, or just be there while you point yourself, I’m glad to be. But if you don’t want to ask, here are a few resources ranging from serious to fun:

Find an online Alcoholics Anonymous meeting

A list of medical treatments you can pursue

This Naked Mind, by Annie Grace- a SUPER popular book in the sober curious circles, breaking down the science and sociology behind drinking

The Sober Celebrities instagram account- great inspiration, pick your very own sober celebrity role model!

All about sober curiosity

All about gray area drinking

Tune in to The Clip Out every Friday to hear Tom and Crystal’s take on this and other hot Pelotopics. We’re available on Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle PodcastsiHeartTuneIn. Be sure and follow us so you never miss an episode. You can also find the show online on Facebook.com/TheClipOut. While you’re there, like the page and join the group. Lastly, find us on our YouTube channel, YouTube.com/TheClipOut, where you can watch all of our shows.

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