5 Year Anniversary Questions Answered

You asked, and I answered!

It was almost exactly 5 years ago last week that I woke up one morning and declared that I was never getting drunk again (more on this below). I’ve learned A LOT over the past 5 years. I asked the folks in the September Reset Group and also my followers on Instagram what they would want to know about my journey.

Here are some of the answers to some of your questions!

How you achieve moderation...your personal intentions, etc. to keep yourself away from the line of too much, etc?

My intentions: never drink when I feel like I “need” one ie, sad, lonely, angry, stressed, overwhelmed, etc. If I'm any one of those things, I try to get to the source of what's going on and take care of the root, and find alternatives to alcohol that are more nurturing than the bandaid "solution."

My drink limit: I never go over tipsy. I know it’s a fine line. The feeling I used to chase, that feeling of slipping over into oblivion… I now stay firmly on this side of consciousness. I know for me, that’s usually the total amount of 2 drinks, sipped slowly. Sometimes, I start to feel the effects of alcohol much more quickly. Sometimes, I can drink 3 drinks over the course of an evening (with food and plenty of non-alcoholic drinks in-between).

What exactly does that look like?

Here in Mexico, it may mean one or maybe two weekend nights a week where I have between 1-2.5 drinks (max 3 and never 3 drinks two nights in a row), and no drinking in between. Something I go for weeks or longer without drinking, and occasionally have a week where I drink more than once or twice, but not often.

While I was in Canada during the summer, I drank with a bit more frequently, but much less quantity. So, I might have .5 glass of wine or half a cider that I shared with my mom, both mixed with sparkling water, several times a week, but only twice in a month did I drink two full servings of wine.

I’ll be clear - it’s taken me a number of years to get here. In the beginning stages of moderation, I drank much, much less. I would take a few sip wine, or have half a glass max. Now that I am confident in my ability to moderate, I don’t have to think about it as much and I also know that I can have two drinks and stop there. I have absolutely no fear of “going back” or losing control again. Everything I have gained is just too damn precious and I value my consciousness too much to give it away.

What part of calling "no mas" was related to the relationship you were in at the time (if you were in one)? What about your daughter?

My decision to finally change my relationship to alcohol came pre-motherhood. I was actually on a break from the relationship with my daughter’s father and was feeling really sad. I was partying hard again and often drinking to excess and to the point of blacking out. I felt lost and lonely, though I probably wouldn’t have used those words to describe the feeling at the time. I was more actively trying to avoid feeling anything ;)

While my ex had never specifically asked me to dial back on my drinking, I knew it was an issue for him. Part of the trigger which dug into a deep feeling of unworthiness was that on our break, he started dating someone new that, in his words, was a really “good” woman (I took that to mean in contrast to me). She had struggled in the past when she was younger but that was behind her. I remember these conversations leaving me feeling exposed, raw and shameful about my continued choices. This probably all contributed to finally making a change.

The final straw came after an “innocent” night out with friends. We went to a vegan raw restaurant and sipped on artisanal cocktails. Then we went to a bar where a friend was bartending, and things get fuzzy from there. I DO remember telling the friend I was sitting next to that I was going to launch a health coaching business to support women who struggled with alcohol. The irony is not lost on me that I was saying this while sipping on an 18 dollar cocktail and doing fancy shots and teetering on the brink of consciousness. The rest of the evening is choppy. There was definitely cocaine involved. I made out with a woman 12 years my junior at the club we went to after. I woke up at a friend’s house, on a blow-up mattress, feeling horrible. Not so much because of the physical symptoms, but because I was so clearly living two lives… and the one that I really wanted remained slightly out of grasp.

I announced to my friends that I was “never getting drunk again.” They laughed. They’d heard it before. I decided then and there to prove myself right.

All of this happened about 6 months before my daughter was conceived. I spent the first few months mostly abstaining, a couple of months practicing moderation, and then I was actually abstaining again when I got pregnant. During those times, I was already practicing the guidelines that I mentioned above.

Do you enjoy simple things more now that you aren't drinking? I read somewhere that addictive substances stimulate the pleasure center of your brain most directly. And that simple pleasures don't satisfy us as much when we have conditioned ourselves to be artificially stimulated by alcohol. That's where I am stuck right now. I can go without the wine (for like 10 days; see my reply to you above) but I don't like it. I'm not enjoying the self-care enough to replace the pleasure I get out of not having to tell myself "NO" to the wine. Now that you moderate, how often do you drink and how does it affect your enjoyment of simple pleasures?

My first reaction to this is that if you aren’t enjoying self-care, it’s time to find better “replacement activities.” Followed quickly by - nothing is ever going to be wine, so it’s time to get over that fact now. Rather than viewing this as deprivation from something you love, it’s super important to shift the internal conversation into “wow, look what I get to do and who I get to be now that I’m not so focused on wine or drinking wine instead of taking care of myself differently.”

My life is a lot of FUN. That helps. I have a really supportive community. That helps. I spend a lot of time in nature. That helps. I have delicious alternatives. That helps. I have creative outlets that I WANT to be on point for, that helps.

It’s also really important that the alternatives you see are in line with what you are seeking from the experience of drinking. What do I mean by that? Well, we drink for different reasons. If your biggie is to relax and turn off your brain, then it’s going to be really important for you to find alternatives that support this aim. If you drink for connection and intimacy, it’s going to be really important to explore how to have those needs met without alcohol involved. If you drink to absolve yourself of responsibility, how can you start giving yourself permission on your own terms? See what I’m getting at here? It is so important to get INSIDE your relationship alcohol.

Now, in terms of your actual brain chemistry. It is true that alcohol help release dopamine, which creates a slight “pleasure boost” in the brain. However, this effect is rather short-lived. It is more of a habit, or conditioned response, that you can come to rely on alcohol to give you that pleasure hit. It certainly isn’t permanent. Your thoughts are much more powerful in creating the reality you experience around cutting back on alcohol (of course, this is another story if you have a physical dependency on alcohol). If you keep repeating to yourself that you are being deprived and nothing will ever bring you as much pleasure as alcohol, you can pretty much bet that’s what you’re going keep believing.

Another helpful reframe could be, with every time you are saying NO to the wine, what are you saying YES to? We humans hate change and suffering, so what are the benefits? Focus on that.

Finally, I’ve sent this question to a colleague who is a Board certified addictions physician to get her take on the brain science behind your question. I haven’t heard back yet but will certainly send an updated answer then I hear back!

I am interested in your opinion of what works best to get to moderation? Is there a period of time you recommend not drinking? IF so, how long? OR just begin moderating from the beginning? What works for your clients?

My answer - it varies from person to person!!

That’s why Redefining Sobriety is so amazing. There is no one size fits all approach.

Some try abstinence first than ease into moderation, some come to me because they don't want to be told what to do (ie have to quit drinking) and then they realize that living alcohol free actually IS what they want, some rebel against feeling restricted or are healing from being too restrictive, so moderation and the "Middle way" is more therapeutic for them...it really depends.

That being said, I usually recommend a period of abstinence first. Why? Because it’s really important that you give yourself the opportunity to learn other tools and to rewire your brain. So often, we go back onto auto-pilot, especially if we’re feeling triggered.

This is why the deeper dives into this are so powerful because it is 100% client-focused and completely individualized... and that takes time. I recommend either the immersion program or some 1-1 support to really set you up for success around this!

Did you go through any struggle/regressions with alcohol in these past 5 years? Can you share?

There have been a few times where I have noticed myself wanting to drink more than usual, or that I’ve started drinking with a bit more frequency. I still haven’t been drunk, though there was one night not too long after I separated from my daughter’s father that I did drink more than I had in years and have since. Actually, let me correct that. I drank about the same amount (probably about 5 drinks over the course of the evening) at my birthday almost 2 years ago, but it was different. The birthday evening was intentional and celebratory. I was with my best friend and felt completely supported. She even asked me what my intentions were for the evening. To the contrary, the night out after my separation was not intentional. I was definitely not adhering to my guidelines. I was in pain and wanted to escape. I did so by drinking enough that my inhibitions took a back seat and then having sex with one of my friends. Up until now, I have only shared this with a few clients and close friends. I’m choosing to share this now because I also did a lot of work to not let the shame spiral continue or to “wrong myself” for doing this. It happened. I understand why. I choose not to consider is a regression or “relapse” because it didn’t continue and I’m very aware of the reasons why it did. I also don’t believe in relapses as a thing because I believe that is a really disempowering way to look at life and discounts all of the learning along the way.

I’m 8 months sober, what was your process to introduce it back into your life?

I realized that in order to moderate successfully, I had to be as stringent about the guidelines as I was when I was abstaining completely. In the beginning, moderation often requires even more planning and thinking than total abstinence does. This changes over time, however, for some of my clients, this is what leads them to decide to be completely alcohol-free.

If your vision for your ideal relationship to alcohol includes being able to drink in moderation than it’s very important to get INSIDE that vision. What does it look and feel like to be that version of you? Someone who can enjoy a drink or two in moderation? In what circumstances will you drink? In which will you choose to abstain? What is your “best yes” when it comes to alcohol? Know your alternatives and what will really work for you. You MUST do this work. You must also be very clear with yourself as to what your boundaries are.

Was one of those layers certain people? (In reference to a comment about shedding many layers in the past 5 years).

Yes, for sure. Once alcohol stopped being the focus, I didn’t have as much in common with certain people. I’ve also really found myself prioritizing different kinds of friendships in the past year.

Did you avoid going out for a while?

Yes and no. I became more intentional about where I chose to go out. Evenings that only revolved around drinking weren’t as exciting to me. However, I love dancing so I still did go out dancing often. I usually set very clear guidelines for myself and often just wouldn’t drink anything in the beginning when I went out.


How do you overcome roadblocks?

I didn’t go at this alone!! I have an amazing team! I’ve always worked with holistic coaches, I have an incredible therapist whom I see every 2 weeks, I have supportive friends that I can message (like I did last night) saying I was having a hard night and requesting virtual hugs. I’ve done a ton of self-development work over the past 5 years. I’ve committed to consistently showing up for myself while also being of service to others.

I had a good friend ask me a while ago, what kept me going through hard times. I thought about it for a long time. I realized that I have always been committed to a mission bigger than myself. That helps me keep going. There have been plenty of studies that show that altruism or service is healing. This is why it’s also a foundation for mutual support groups. I see it in my group programs as well.

Phew - that was fun! I loved this questions as an opportunity for me to reflect on my journey and where I'm at now.

As a gift to YOU for sticking it out till the end of this email, I’m including the week one worksheet from the Redefining Sobriety program. These tools are many of the tools I used for myself and also that I use with my private clients when I first start working with them.

I would also love to extend the invitation to you to join our next round of the Redefining Sobriety Online Immersion program. We start next week! It’s an incredible deep dive into all of the tools, strategies and thought-shifting that goes into changing your relationship to alcohol once and for all! The program runs 9 weeks and you WILL have a different outlook by the end of the year.

The incredibly valued investment is only $397 if you pay in full or we can split into 2 payments of $222. I’ve searched other online group “sobriety” programs and I know that the cheapest I’ve found is still twice as much as our program. Accessibility is really, really important to me and if you know you want to be involved and cost is a barrier, let me know.  Message me asap if you have any questions or check the page here.

Finally, I also have a limited number of spots available for private clients and would love to work with you if you know you are ready for a big change ASAP.

I don’t know of anyone else out there (trust me, I’ve searched) who approached changing our relationship to alcohol like I do. I’m incredibly proud of my journey and everything I’ve poured into Redefining Sobriety.

I can’t wait to hear from you!

Also - I loved answering these questions. If other questions came up as you read, please feel free to send them to me and I’ll get them answered in another round of Q&A.

With love,