Sober September 2019

I am nearing the 2 week mark since my return to the AF way and keeping up with #SoberSeptember. Cravings have been minimal but thoughts have come up here and there. What I notice is that they appear when I’m tired or feel like I ‘deserve a break’. I know now that allowing ‘one’ drink opens the gate to more because one is never enough. Once I start I feel like what the hell – it’s no longer an AF day so may as well make it a good one and I’ll get back to AF tomorrow… which ends up turning into more days. The saying that if we want true and lasting change – we must be willing to do things differently for me means that I need to find alternate coping mechanisms when those thoughts/triggers come up.

This past week has definitely held a record number of challenges including 3 days of dealing with crises with my daughter (with doctor’s visits, crisis line calls and emergency department visits). This weekend is about helping her move to yet another place (this has been about her 6th or 7th move since January). She is now 18 and we have been dealing with her mental health issues since 2013 – which is when I embarked on this journey to Lose ‘da Booze. I knew I had to be strong and sober! I knew that drinking was not going to alleviate any of these issues – if anything they at times made them worse.

My new coping mechanisms include blogging (my version of journaling), posting in my groups and seeking external support via a parents’ lifeline and some of my own counseling to work through this difficult time. YES I’m a health and wellness coach and I know first hand just how important it is to get the support you need through difficult times. There’s no shame in asking for help.

Amidst all of this – I’m also accomplishing other positive things such as a successful interview (step 2 or 3) for a full time permanent position (as I was told my current position would be reduced to 2 days a week in January). I managed to workout every single morning and am back to my routine of daily positive affirmations. I listen to audio books to and from work (currently listening to Jack Canfield’s Maximum Confidence: 10 Steps to Extreme Self-Esteem). I am walking the 5km Race for Kids September 15th in support of children’s mental health. I’m eating better than I was – not perfect but much improved! I am doing some Intermittent Fasting and trying to stop eating at least a few hours before bed – but allowing one day a week for a bit of a break. Oh and I launched my Sobriety Swag website!

One of the designs available

So yes – it’s been a tough week – but because of my health practices, I feel a sense of balance. I also listen to my body. For the most part had been sleeping well – but when I’m tired – I go to bed rather than reach for food or booze. Today will likely involve a nap as I didn’t sleep great last night… thankfully it’s the weekend and I can! But first… a workout to start the day!

Hoping you are all doing well through this month. If you need any extra support, please contact me or visit my coaching website Healthy4Life with Helene or visit/like/follow my Facebook Page where I post daily for motivation and inspiration to help YOU live Healthy4Life!

First Week Back

I’m back to the AF way after allowing a total of 59 days with drinks and finishing off the year without any booze. That means this calendar year will result in 306 Days AF – in comparison to the 263 Days AF I had in 2017 and 2018.

Better is better – and my story is one of forward progress. I shared in my groups about how we must stop comparing ourselves to others. For some it’s about going cold turkey and for others like me, it means building up to what may eventually be a 100% Sober Life.

I embrace every lesson I’ve learned along the way and while some may consider my days with drinks as failure – I continue to move forward.

One of the most current lessons is how as I near my first week back on the AF train – just how much better I feel in comparison to how I felt after having several consecutive days with drinks.

The anxiety, depression, jitters, worry, fear, lack of self-confidence and lack of self-esteem is gone. As I face uncertainty with my job and definite changes ahead after a 9 year tenure in the same position, I am very happy to be where I am today feeling much more confident and self-assured. I trust that The Universe has great things in store for me and letting go of the fear and simply focusing on what I do best.

As I prepare to share a workshop on Changes and Challenges at work and in my online paid group, I heal myself through the process and am able to share from my own personal experience the benefit of rising above the negativity and leaving behind the things that no longer serve me.

My focus now is to keep building strength. Get back to my regular exercise routine. Focus on building my coaching business and putting more programs and blogs out there.

When one door closes, another one opens. Here’s to fresh new beginnings! If you want to know more about my coaching and the programs I offer, visit my website Healthy4Life with Helene

A One Year Experiment – RESULTS

Today marks the anniversary of my start of this “One Year Experiment”. I started it following 102 Days of allowing drinks into the previous year and feeling like I wanted to keep doing better.This year I ended with only 47 days with drinks – and an 87% AF score! Each year keeps improving (dating back to 2013 when I started this journey). From 17 % AF to THIS!!Here are some of the things that have happened in this one year experiment:

✅ I became a Certified Wellness Coach and Wellness 360 Leader with the International Association of Wellness Professionals (a lifetime dream of mine)

✅ I launched my new website for my coaching practice www.healthy4lifewithhelene.com (Check it out and download the FREE 10 Day Add In Challenge so you can be on my list for when my newsletter gets launched)

✅ I put on many lunch and learns related to wellness at my own workplace and in the community; I also attended a FIRST hospital wellness conference

✅ I signed up for dance fitness classes (something I love and had been neglecting in my life)

✅ I completed two 5 K walks to raise funds for my workplace – the RBC Race for kids (supporting mental health) and the CN Cycle Race (to support kids with cancer)

✅ I received TWO awards at work – one for the entire Research Institute (the Spirit of the RI) and one with my team (HALO Spirit Award) for the work I’ve been doing since October 2015 with the Fit & Well Group (former the Fit Club) to promote healthy active living and wellness at work

✅ I continue to lead many groups (which I’ve been doing since about 2015). Two for the mission to #LoseDaBooze – one is secret and this one for those aged 50+: Living AF 50+ Age Group and 1 for overall health and wellness Healthy 4Life Group.

✅ I also started a paid group for clients who wanted more individualized support.

These are some of the positives!! And this could not have happened with 17 % AF days. I did experience events that were high stress over this period and I recognize that when I allow myself to get off balance and neglect self-care is when I get tempted to cave in to the old habit of numbing out with booze. My mission now is to keep going AF! And my intention is to now launch a sober companion program for clients who need additional support beyond the free groups. A one on one approach with me as their coach/guide to work through the challenges that present themselves and provide a 360 approach to succeeding in the mission to #LoseDaBooze

My story is not yet one of 100% sobriety but my story is still one of success and this is what I want to help others with. So many beat themselves up for re-starts and re-counting ‘Day 1’s while I believe it’s all part of the process.

So long as you keep going – you are not failing! I say cheers to the next chapter and new beginnings!!

My One Year Experiment

There are 10 days to end this experiment which started on August 12, 2018. While I didn’t make the full year 100% AF – I did achieve a goal of over 300 days and in my books that’s a WIN!!

Today is my first day back on track following a week away at a cottage rental. I’ve been off work since June 17th due to surgery and I’m ready to get back to my health goals in every way.

Having allowed myself drinks again – I’m posting/sharing what that has also allowed back in … including unhealthy eats, weight gain, recurring headaches, heartburn/stomach issues, night sweats, anxiety, elevated stress and just a general unwell feeling.

I posted in my group today to ask about what positives one notices when they don’t drink and the list is opposite of everything above really! Here’s an example post from one of my members on the benefits of NOT drinking:

Feelings of being Content, Happy, Calm, Enthused, Clean, Fresh, Energized, Optimistic, Fit, Healthy, Joyful and the list/observations could go on.

I’m ready to get back to my HEALTHY self and with my 53rd birthday just ahead in September – I plan on continuing the journey to improve my relationship with booze – to a point where perhaps it will just be edged out of my life completely. For now I’m very happy to report an over 87% AF year through this experiment!

Follow me on Facebook for an upcoming Sober Companion program being launched September 1st – if you feel you need extra support to get to realize how life can change for you when you #LoseDaBooze.

300 Days AF out of 327

I did it!!

When I launched my own FIRST 100 Day challenge to have 100 consecutive days of being Alcohol Free (AF) back in 2016, I rolled into 2017 with the aim/goal of hitting 300 days out of 365 days AF. Well that didn’t happen back then… but my stats keep improving … from 2016 with 209 Days AF to the next two years (2017 and 2018) with 263 days AF.

This 300th day spans over 2018 and 2019 as I had intended on August 12, 2018 to quit for good… but veered off course. But I’m not letting this bring me down. By far… after reading this incredible article – Some Pitfalls of Early Sobriety: Avoiding the Fuckit Bucket and in particular this passage below…

I feel empowered that I keep pushing forward with the intention to improving my health as an overall goal. That’s why I love the community support that has been built into the groups that I lead… where we cheer each other on – whether someone has 1 day or 4 days or 2 years… we are all striving to change our relationship with alcohol.

The point is not always for someone to be done for good – although in many cases we find moderation simply doesn’t work and as this article spoke to – that negotiating play that comes to mind is all part of the process. I’ve printed the article to have it handy as part of my #SoberToolbox and will go back to it when my mind starts to play the ‘F&ck it’ mind game.

I’m learning… that I’m an empath and that I’m super sensitive and when I allow things to overwhelm me I crash. It’s in learning WHY we crash that we can avoid future slips. For now I’m committed to #DryJuly and ending my One Year Experiment on August 12th with this 300 Days in the bag… but still mindful of ending the full year in 2019 with at least the same 300 days to up the stats from the past 2 years at 263 Days.

While Annie Grace (author of This Naked Mind and The Alcohol Experiment) said that we shouldn’t always be counting down sober milestones or days, but rather counting other things such as milestones of when you started sleeping better, or when you had more energy, etc. I’m a numbers girl, so for me looking at the stats and seeing that I’m over 90% of the time AF is a huge WIN for me in comparison to one year where I only had about 18% AF days.

I also track my overall health improvements via my posts in our groups on Facebook and via my blogs here and on SparkPeople. I love Facebook most of all as it brings up memories and shows me just how far I’ve come but it also shows me the patterns that keep repeating and it arms me with the tools to change those too!

The journey to LoseDaBooze will look different for EVERYONE because we are all unique on so many levels. But the community that brings us together in strength is knowing we are not alone in the battle to overcome the addictive pull that booze had on our lives! If you’d like to join in one of my groups – check out my Facebook page and friend me or message me and I’ll send you more info.

It’s never too late to be what you might have been!

Day 296 AF out of 323 Days

Every day is an opportunity to start FRESH!

A lot has happened since my last blog. After my initial slip off the AF wagon after 277 consecutive days I allowed drinks back into my life. Then re-started with a sober stretch through the end of May and through the month of June had more days with drinks than not.

July 1st marks the mid-point mark to 2019 and it’s an opportune time to do a review of what I’ve achieved and the goals I have yet to reach. It’s an opportunity to shift the scales back in the right direction to make this year a healthier one than last year! Always keeping in mind the principle that “BetterĀ isĀ Better

One thing I’ve learned is that putting too much pressure on myself to be 100% all the time on mark with my goals causes me to crash and that’s what I’ve experienced. Following my surgery – I spent the past 2 weeks laying low and offline as I needed time away from everything to regroup myself. Today is the first day getting back on board – but with a different mindset. I’m going to follow a rule that is similar to the 80/20 rule but fine tuned to Shaun T’s motto of 90/10 – where I do well 90 percent of the time and allow myself 10% ‘give’ to take a breather or break… This applies to food and drinks! I honestly was out of control it seemed with both – and applying the rule to both cutting out alcohol and being on course with healthy eats 90% of the time!

Today was my 296th Day AF (not consecutive but overall) and my goal to stay in the 90% range is where I will end up by August 12, 2019 which will be the ONE year mark since I decided to shift my habits relative to booze.

I know if you read some of my previous posts/blogs – I said I was retiring the habit but this rebel voice inside me fights this all or nothing thing and rebels … so I’m accepting how with each year, my stats keep improving.

Bottom line is if I want to reach my health goals to get back to a healthy weight – I need to cut out booze – which usually leads to eating unhealthy foods and results in lack of motivation to do any of my routine workouts.

So while I’m in post-operative mode and can’t exercise for another 4 weeks – what I can do is clean up my eating/drinking… so the goal is to do a Dry July as a restart/reset. I won’t lie – today had some cravings come calling as it’s a holiday and drinks were all around me – but I stood in my promise to do Dry July. I know I can do this as I’ve done it before and now I’m glad to be joined again with my Lose ‘da Booze 100 Day Success Group as well as the Age 50+ This Naked Mind and The Alcohol Experiment Group.

Doing this with others is what has brought me the most success… so I’m looking forward to being back on track with my community as we strive to #LoseDaBooze for #DryJuly.

Back into Double Digits

277 Days AF – 9 days off and back ON!

It feels good to cross over that 10 day mark again. When you first get back to being AF – the first days can sometimes include symptoms that make it tough to keep going. I had to deal with physical symptoms that I had not experienced in some time including night sweats and more frequent headaches. I’m guarded against my progress as I’m physically not feeling my best and for that reason seeing my doctor on Friday. I believe that I’m experiencing symptoms of depression and with this recognition, realizing that despite my best efforts to heal myself … including being AF, exercising, meditating and taking some natural supplements… it just doesn’t seem to be enough.

I suppose my life situation has also affected where I’m at today. With over 6 years of dealing with constant high stress relative to my daughter’s severe mental health issues I’m just feeling burned out. I’m feeling like things will never get better and feeling a loss of hope. My weight loss has stalled because I’ve turned from booze to food for comfort and that’s just not ok anymore.

I have my pre-operative appointment today, then an appointment for my daughter (to help her with the disability program and hopefully accessing some services for herself) and last but not least – an appointment for myself to access some family support to get me through this.

As I myself am a health coach – I recognize that while I provide support and guidance to many through my groups, that I too must practice self-care and get the added support I need to get through this phase. There is no shame in asking for help. If nothing else, I see this as another piece of experience to add to my repertoire to hopefully be able to help others who may be going through similar situations.

I believe in my strength – but I also acknowledge I’m human. The priority to stay sober through this is KEY (despite my wanting to sometimes turn to it to ‘cope’ or numb my way through). I know that this is not the answer. Rather – the support groups, the counseling, checking with my doctor to make sure there’s no physical reason for how I’m feeling is what I’m working on this week.

Having crossed the 10 day mark – I’m now focused on reaching Day 21… which will happen post- surgery. I’m looking forward to what I hope will be 6 weeks of time off work to recover on many levels – healing my body, mind and spirit.

S.L.I.P.’ed – But it’s not Day One Ever Again

I achieved 277 consecutive days AF and then on May 17th I decided to join my fiance and had some drinks… and those turned into a string of 9 days of being off course. I re-started my count on May 26th – but do not call it “Day One” anymore.

Day one was back in 2013 when I first tried this thing called sobriety as I realized I wanted to shift my relationship with ‘da booze and thus created this blog.

The blog is my accountability and journal keeping of the experiences along the way. What I can say is that since December 16, 2016 when I finally completed my FIRST 100 consecutive days sober – I felt on top of the world. I had been trying since 2013 and never managed to string it along … but then it happened. I then launched the group on Facebook “Lose ‘da Booze 100 Day Success Group” to do a 2nd 100 consecutive days AF. I achieved that in April of 2017 and felt amazing !

Then SLIP happened – I fell off track for about 5 months and jumped back on for 174 consecutive Days AF… and slipped off again…

And now this latest one. Do you see a pattern? And by that I mean do you see how better is better. I remember back in 2015 I believe when I only had a TOTAL of 65 Days AF in the entire year!!

I did declare that I wanted to retire this habit once and for all but I guess I’m still a work in progress but each experience I believe is making me stronger and wiser. It’s not easy to share the slip – but I believe in transparency and accountability as a means of being honest with myself most of all.

When we hide or pull back – that’s when bigger problems usually come into play. So yup – I’m back on board and have not lost the “TROPHY” of 277 Days… and COUNTING as I build up the next step on the journey! Want to follow my journey? Check out my public page on Facebook for daily inspiration Healthy4Life with Helene (follow and hit ‘like’) or check out my website as I am also now a Certified Wellness Coach (another dream achieved in December 2018 as part of this forward progress/journey)!!

9 Months AF – Giving Birth to a New Life!

The day has arrived! Just like when you count down to the end of a pregnancy and complete the gestation… the work begins on forming this new life and learning to now focus on growing in other ways!

Sobriety is like a baby and it needs day to day attention. You must guard it with your life and nurture it consistently. There are days when it may require more attention than others. There are times when life seems to be sailing along smoothly and you barely notice a difference and other days where the waters are rougher and you find yourself looking back to old habits and means of coping.

My personal experience has been different this time when I compare it to my other longer stretches of the TWO first 100 days AF. The results that I achieved from the first stretch do not compare to this longer stretch and what I’ve accepted is that I make my own destiny by the choices I make.

What I can fess up to is that I have had this attitude of simply giving in to my sugar cravings for comfort and have discovered how it unearthed the once childhood issues I had with emtional eating that then graduated to coping with alcohol.

I now know that the work to stay the course with my own sobriety involves doing the work to heal the WHY I go to masking my emotions and being more mindful.

The transference of addictions is a very common thing – thus I switched from booze to junk foods and now am ready to begin a new path with a new focus. As I continue being AF – I now intend to focus on shifting my go to habits to the coping mechanisms that I know will help me to heal at a deeper level and allow me to reach the happy weight that will be mine again!

No more masking of emotions. Yes to working out the stress, frustrations and anger with some good workouts! Yes to using meditation, the support networks and tools I’ve gathered along the way to allow me to feel good in my skin again!

Don’t get me wrong – I feel great and very proud of this milestone that once felt unreachable. It’s THIS success that proves to me that I can do anything I set my mind to so while I continue my AF life – so do I now shift my focus to reaching my 53rd birthday in September and One Year AF milestone standing that much taller and that much wiser!

100 Days to One Year!

Today is day 265 AF – and I’m now 100 Days away from achieving my one year milestone! This is iconic for me as I started with the goal to achieve 100 Days AF … and now I’m counting backwards to achieving the full year AF.

I have been reading a lot and reflecting on the posts in our groups (online Facebook groups that support an AF lifestyle) and it seems that what I’m experiencing with the stronger urges of late is not unusual. As we work to live a sober life – there are phases that come through. Early on the desire to be AF is strong as the memories of why we chose to take the route is fresh in our minds (with alcohol still in our bodies and making us feel like crap). Later in the journey – when we’ve completely detoxed and feel better, we start to romanticize that maybe we can allow ourselves drinks again.

I made a choice on my 50th birthday to live a life without booze and believe in it so much that I created a forum with my Lose ‘da Booze 100 Day Success Group for others to join in as there is strength in numbers. I also joined Annie Grace’s groups (This Naked Mind and The Alcohol Experiment) as additional sober tools to help me on the journey.

I toyed with moderation in between some successful 100 days and then on August 12th – before my 52nd birthday decided that 40 years of booze in my life was enough! I wake up this morning following a very difficult day with super strong urges to cave in… and the feeling you get the morning after when you DON’T cave in is priceless! That’s what I have to bottle and remind myself of the next time an urge comes a calling.

Thank you to all who cheered for me and posted comments of support! Reading that I was someone you looked up to also made a huge difference as there are times when I am not sure what I’m doing is that great… but always hoped that perhaps I’d inspire others. So here’s to my NEW countdown of 100 Days… to ONE year of NO BOOZE!! #LoseDaBooze

In the end – you are doing this for YOU and no one else! You are so worth it!