Not quite the Dry January I’d anticipated...

New Year…Rarely a big fan of New Year’s Eve as the enforced jollity and inevitable hangover always seems a bit of a chore. This year however was spent with great friends and was FUN FUN FUN! Predictably the next day was a write off. My pre-ordered copy of ‘The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober’ by Catherine Gray had arrived but I barely had the energy to open the page as I recovered in bed…

Pure Retreats’ next Retreat is January 22nd and despite eating well, looking after myself and keeping super active, I’m aware that the one thing I berate myself for is my ability to find almost any excuse for popping a cork on the ‘bubbles’. It just seems so ‘celebratory’! It’s easy to blame the ‘midlife midriff’ on hormones but realistically we almost all drink way more than is healthy and I’m feeling a little ‘less than’ when I want to feel AMAZING.

Late last year, I stumbled across ‘The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober’ by Catherine Gary. I pre-ordered it on Amazon and forgot all about it. It popped through my door on 29th December, just in time for me to pretend I hadn’t seen it until 1st January, the traditional day for New Year’s Resolutions, & Dry January.

I’d already decided to hit Dry January with all the intensity of someone who thinks they are steely in their determination that that they can do it - except for that ‘birthday thing/wedding thing, afterwork thing’ - but not me. Oh NO, not me this time, I’m doin’ it. All in. No exceptions. Friends and family told, a few “YOU? REALLYs?” later, a derisory snort from one of the children, and I’m nose-in-book on the path to a better me.

I’d recommended the book to a number of friends as soon as I was a chapter in, there were a few familiar, slightly uncomfortable moments that I knew myself and my friendship group would recognise and we started to discuss how fired up we were with this literary inspiration as our conscience.

We now talked openly about how we might occasionally be guilty of shooting murderous looks at the person who was pouring themselves a more generous glass than ourselves. (Would we get our fair share?) Being out with a friend who was sipping while we’d greedily downed our flute of bubbles and waited desperately for them to catch up to justify another trip to the bar. (We’d all done it, and were finally admitting it.) Angling to get more than our share (Bad, I know…) Two had recently tumbled down the stairs of a smart London restaurant in unison barely feeling a bruise due to the anaesthesia of the free-flowing booze, and it could just as easily been me (our hosts were the epitome of generosity…)

Still, New Year, New Me. It wouldn’t be hard, looking forward to it, etc etc. BUT. Niggling in the back of my head was quite a big ‘thing’. Not a ‘birthday thing/wedding thing/afterwork thing’ but something I wasn’t allowing myself to acknowledge at all. It was a ‘January, already booked/ dream holiday thing’. We’re not talking a Retreat, of which I have experience plentiful, PURE Retreats are 5 days, alcohol free and obviously everyone feels all the better for it. It’s a break immersed in health and exercise and is a wonderful, positive commitment but this was a promise of SO MUCH delicious food and a SEA of holiday tipples, a really let yourself go for a whole week vibe…

I realised this meant that for the first time ever I’d be in the land of sunshine and lazy days and boozy nights. WOAH! Rewind! Make that sunshine, lazy days and what? I was struggling to imagine what this holiday might look like. I thought it best to decide to take a ‘one day at a time’ approach to this and off I set. As this was the ‘Dream Holiday’ it meant “No, thank you” to a drink in the lounge, it meant “NO, thank you” to bubbles on the plane. “NO BLOODY THANK YOU” to ‘Welcome Drinks’ in the hotel. After Night 1 of watermelon juice and water, I Facebooked my accomplishment. This was met with a sniffy “You only arrived yesterday” post back from a good friend who clearly misunderstood that actually meant a whole 36 HOURS…

Here I am, 10 days into Dry January and 5 days into my first Dry Holiday, and do you know what, I feel great. I’ve really embraced it. Smiling benignly, Mona Lisa style, as my husband orders just one beer or one glass of wine all evening in support. I’m not downing the bowls of nuts and snacks and trying wistfully to catch the waiter’s eye even though he must be sure he’s only just charged my glass. If anything, I’m feeling quite grown up. I’m swimming the 100m pool 5 times a day (Yes, 100m EACH WAY!) While Marie Claire is the Yoga & Super-fit Gym Bunny of the duo, I’m more a long walks and Pilates kinda gal, (I’m not shy of a 100k trek or two) but no dry mouths or thick heads means a penchant for the gym and enough water to refloat the Titanic. The scales are showing a difference already and I’m wondering if Catherine Gray’s advice of 90 days being the magic number is one I can look forward to.

This really isn’t a challenge, it’s thoroughly enjoyable. Perhaps Catherine is right, perhaps sobriety is going to be the New Normal…

PS Our new, cool, lime green, Pure Retreat polo shirts have arrived. I love ‘em but have been a little reticent about mine being a little snug. I’m feeling upbeat. No empty calories to consume between now and our next Retreat on 22nd January. I reckon, it’ll fit a treat.

Do excuse me, I’m off to the gym, it is my holiday after all.


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