I’ve kept you waiting with bated breath, I know!

I only just arrived home from NYC and then Mexico on Tuesday. It was a whirlwind adventure and an incredible experience – and now that I’m home I’m now able to process the whole experience.

I was very excited to share this update with you.

As you might recall, I asked for your support to help me be accountable while in NYC.

Since transparency is my gig, I might as well get the confession out to the way first.

I DID drink some alcohol, even though my intention was zero alcohol for the entire trip.

That being said, I am 100% proud of my actions and the decisions I made, and here’s why:

I faced many of my trigger situations, and in those situations – I did stick to my intentions.

I was at countless events where there were endless amounts of free booze, and I didn’t take a sip.

I was in high stakes/ high-pressure situations, and I didn’t rely on alcohol to ease my nerves or break the ice.

I felt lonely and isolated at times and didn’t use alcohol to open the door for permission for connection.

With so much practice with moderation over the past few years, I probably could have handled a drink at any one of these events, and not gone overboard.

However, I am grateful for my choice not to because it completely alleviated the mental chatter.

I was also very aware of the fact that combined with the adrenaline I was experiencing and my overall lower tolerance, that one glass may have affected me more than usual, bringing me closer to crossing the line to that point of no return.

So what worked for me?

Here are the strategies I used that will also be helpful to you in any similar situation.

  1. Radical self-care: You may be wondering what this has to do with drinking, and I say EVERYTHING. I took care of myself and my health more than I ever have on a business trip. I made sure that I was sticking to my morning routine and was getting enough sleep. I gave myself down-time and breaks to make sure that I had time to re-center myself and stay grounded. As such, I was waaaayy stronger and more able to be in touch with my inner guidance and intentions.

  2. I said “no” to opportunities: This wasn’t easy for me. I’m a “yes” woman. I want to do ALL the things, ALL of the time. Especially when I’m somewhere like NYC – I mean, c’mon! Yet I learned that if I was selective with my time and energy and who/what I said yes to, I was honouring my body and again, more able to stay connected to my intentions.

  3. I declared my intentions: I KNEW that NYC was Trigger City for me with a capital T. So I made a bold statement and declared it publicly. Of course I’m not saying that you need to declare your intentions as publicly as I did, but you do need to find an accountability system that works for you, preferably that externalizes accountability so that the entire responsibility isn’t solely on you.

  4. I made friends with bartenders: Might sound funny at first, but bartenders can be your best friends in your quest to Drink Less or not at all. It’s a lot more fun to turn down alcohol when you have a delicious alternative.  My favourite line “What can you make me with mineral water that’s exciting and doesn’t have alcohol?” I had some yummy fizzy lemonades and virgin mojitos made for me this way. Remember, even in an open bar situation, it’s really nice to tip a bartender generously for their efforts (I used to be a bartender, so I know it’s appreciated). You want to keep these people happily on your side. I even ended up selling my book to one bartender after we chatted about what I do!

  5. I made sure I was fed: I kept energy bars in my purse to keep my energy up. Drops in blood sugar and low energy can lead to alcohol cravings, and I wanted to set myself up for success.

  6. I used aromatherapy: Did you know that using essential oils can help with your mental state? I used rosemary for improve focus and alertness during my events. I used floral and sensual blends (cacao, rose,ylang ylang, orange, sandalwood) to get me feeling grounded and sexy before heading out in the evenings.  I used calming blends in the evenings when I needed to unwind.

  7. I came prepared: I brought my own teas (for both my morning and evening routines), carefully packed my essential oils, was prepared with snack and most importantly, did the mental and spiritual prep beforehand to make this as easy on myself as possible!

So you see, so much of this isn’t exactly simply about the strategies around how to Drink Less. It’s about creating new habits and lifestyle shifts to set yourself up for success. (And this is actually why I started calling myself a lifestyle coach and not simply a health coach, because so much of what I coach my clients on is lifestyle-related)

Now, you’re probably curious about the times I did drink, why, and how I feel about it.

The first bit of alcohol I had was at a late dinner after the first conference I attended. The reception had ended at around 8:30pm, and some of my colleagues from an online course I had taken were heading out for dinner.

Instead of going directly there with them, I went back to my friend’s house first to get changed and take a bit of a break. I was able to have a snack, decompress a bit, and recenter myself.

When they texted me the name of the restaurant, I was proud of myself for doing this (remember, this whole “take a break and take care of myself” thing is new to me)

They were at a wine bar, and a few bottles into their evening by the time I arrived. I ordered a water because I was actually quite thirsty and turned down the extra wine glass that was procured when I sat down. I kept pounding water and focused on ordering food – which took my own focus away from the wine menu and onto something else delicious.

With food in my belly and interesting conversation happening all around me, I wasn’t so distracted by all of the alcohol around me.

Then one of the members of our party started sampling dessert wines. He was apparently quite an aficionado and the French owner of the bar came over to “wow” him with his selection. He eventually procured a bottle of 1967 wine that, according to the sommelier, is something you would never be able to drink by the glass. He was willing to open the bottle though, and the small glass of dessert wine that was served cost a whopping $65.

He must have seen my eyes bulging and offered me a sip to try.

So yes, I tried it. I don’t think I’ve ever had the opportunity to try a wine such as this – and it was an incredible experience. The flavours keeps shifting around to different parts of my palate, and lingered long after I swallowed.

It was a moment like this one that confirmed the reasons why I had wanted to make moderation work for me instead of swearing off alcohol forever. That night, I had a sensory/culinary experience that was new for me, and that was that. It didn’t switch on a desire to immediately order my own glass of wine. I didn’t feel like I needed to order a drink at the club we danced at afterwards. I didn’t fall off track or have a harder time abstaining during the subsequent events with open bars during the rest of the week.

The second drink of alcohol I had was on my last night in NYC.

I had successfully navigated countless trigger situations during my 8 days and nights in the Big City.

I was proud of myself.

I had created new experiences for myself, had treated my body with the utmost care and had experiencedmaximum energy and focus the entire week.

I met up with a long-time friend who had seen me through some of the worst of relationship to alcohol and knew the extent of my journey and the focus of my work. He was what I would consider a very “safe” person. He also is someone who never gets drunk. We went to a great little bar in East Harlem and sat on that bar stool. I ordered some food and a glass of water. He ordered a beer. Awhile later we started a discussion with the bartender who infused different spirits with ingredients such as rosemary, sage, ginger and lavender. I decided to order a drink that was some interesting combination of mineral water, ginger syrup and sage-infused gin, something I would have never thought to try before. I enjoyed it, and felt relaxed knowing the decision to have another was simply a non-issue internally – I knew I wouldn’t.

I went home shortly after as I had an early start the next day to head to a conference, then a workshop, and then to the airport for my red-eye flight home to Mexico.

I didn’t feel buzzed or affected by the alcohol. I drank my sleepy time tea and did my regular bedtime routine, though it took me a little to unwind after the fullness of the week, and the Caribbean beats that were still pulsing from the bar we had been sitting at.

When I awoke in the morning –  I felt mildly hungover. There was a throbbing in my frontal lobe, and my brain felt slower to wake up. I was acutely aware of these sensations because it felt so different to every other morning I had woken up in New York during that week. I had had a similar amount of sleep the night before, and the other difference was the drink.

I realized how sensitive I am now to the sensations in my body. I felt like I NEEDED a coffee first thing, whereas on other mornings and sometimes entire days I hadn’t thought about caffeine. I still followed my morning routine – making myself a water and lemon, green tea, ate a banana, and then grabbed a cold pressed green juice before having a coffee, and with that combination I felt a lot better.

Again, I felt no desire to drink more. In fact, I can’t imagine having another cocktail in quite awhile. I’m enjoying how awesome my body feels way too much to want to mess with it anymore.

So that’s my story. It’s mine, yours might have been different if you were in the same situations as me. That’s the beauty and intricacy of this bio-individual approach to alcohol moderation.

I hope you find the tips helpful. I would love to hear which one you know will serve you if you start implementing it ASAP.