A Happier Hour

How to get better skin in one simple step

Did you know that drinking alcohol can wreak absolute havoc on the skin? I recently shared on Instagram that my skin has cleared up so much since I quit boozing!

And it's not just me! Take a look at other experiences from authors who kicked the drink and the effects it had on their skin:

After 30 days, ( ... ) my skin looked considerably better, and I actually enjoyed getting out of bed early morning to exercise. - James Swanwick, author of The 30-Day No Alcohol Challenge.

I shared how much healthier I felt. My face and eyes were less puffy, my skin less dry, and my little wine pouch belly had disappeared. - Bex Weller, author of A Happier Hour

Oh, and I look better, too, that's for sure. I've lost weight, my skin is healthier, I'm less puffy, and I'm making more effort with my clothes and grooming. - Lotta Dann, authoer of Mrs. D. is Going Without

I have far fewer lines, and my skin is all plump and rosy. Plus, I have white and shiny eyes. - Clare Pooley, The Sober Diaries


So what's the deal? According to Ashwood Recovery, alcohol is a diuretic, which means that it dehydrates the body. "Without proper hydration, the skin dries out and becomes less elastic."

TRANSLATION: Drinking alcohol can dry you out, making you look older! The other side effect can swing the totally opposite way, causing you to break out in a fit of acne.

"The consumption of alcohol can alter your hormone levels and an imbalance in estrogen or testosterone levels has been proven to be a direct cause of acne," says an article in Bioclarity.com.

I used to have breakouts all the time - some people thought I should cut out dairy. Some people thought it was a hormonal imbalance. I thought it was stress or my diet. And maybe all the above could still apply. However, I noticed THE BIGGEST change by cutting out alcohol.

In the day and age of instant gratification, I know we all want to see results pretty quickly. And I really did start seeing improvement around the two week mark when I quit drinking. Are you ready to take a break from drinking and see the results for yourself?

WANT MORE RESOURCES?

  1. Say your Daily Mantra "I take care of my body so my body can take care of me.

  2. Head over to the Private Facebook Group and join us to share that you completed Day 19 of Sober October - or share any successes/challenges you are experiencing.

  3. For extra support, send any questions you may have to me at kim@100dayssober.com.

How to add essential oils to your sobriety toolbox

Happy Monday! Super excited to be celebrating Day 15 of Sober October! Last year, I think I made it to Day 8 of Sober October so - if nothing else at least I’m making progress!

Once I started reading books written by people who got sober, I noticed many of them mentioned the use of essential oils. For example, Bex Weller, author of A Happier Hour, wrote that she started to incorporate essential oils into a bedtime routine that had her looking forward to something after attending a special event:

"I put fresh sheets on the bed, and placed a new essential oil and a great book on my bedside table."

Also, Holly Whitaker from Hip Sobriety added essential oils to her sober toolbox as a necessity, among rosary/prayer beads and good tea and healing music!

When exploring topics for this Sober October Challenge, I definitely wanted to address how to incorporate essential oils into a daily regimen. And I really appreciate insight from Joy, of Lemon and Joy Life! Here are a few basics about what essential oils are - and how to use them. She also provides a few special blends that are great to promote relaxation and reduce stress. Follow her on Instagram at Lemon and Joy Life - and definitely reach out to her if you have any questions!

Image courtesy of Young Living

Image courtesy of Young Living

What are essential oils? - Essential oils are the highly concentrated version of the natural oils found in plants, trees, shrubs and flowers. They are the lifeblood of plants and contain therapeutic properties when properly distilled.

Image courtesy of Lemon and Joy Life

Image courtesy of Lemon and Joy Life

How can you use essential oils? - To use oils aromatically, you can:

  • open the bottle and take a whiff

  • rub a drop in your hands, cup them together and breathe in

  • diffuse them in a diffuser.

According to Joy, research shows that the constituents in pure essential oils stimulate olfactory receptors in the brain and activate the limbic system which is associated with memory and emotion. Simply inhaling an oil can ease daily stresses and emotional ups and downs. Many oils can also be used topically. To use oils topically, you can apply to your wrists and breathe in. Or you can apply to your neck or chest.

Here are some Young Living Oils that Joy suggests to promote relaxation or relieve stress:

Lavender- is the most popular of all essential oils because most people have heard of Lavender being a relaxing aroma even if they aren't familiar with essential oils or aromatherapy. This one can be diffused, applied topically, made into a pillow spray or room spray.

FUN FACT: Lavender is frequently called the "switch blade oil" because it has so many uses. 

Stress Away- a blend of Lavender, Vanilla, Lime and Cedarwood that smells like a tropical getaway. Keep the roll on you in a bag and take it with you to help calm the mind and body while on the go. It is great to use during rush hour traffic or before a difficult meeting.

FUN FACT: Both Lavender and Stress Away are also available in all natural bath bombs that are a great way to relax after a rough day. They are fun, fizzy and relaxing and so nourishing for your skin. 

Tranquil- another handy roll on but this one has Lavender, Cedarwood, Roman Camomile. This one is a favorite of parents and children.

FUN FACT: Joy suggests taking it with you to calm a tantrum on the go, you can apply it to children or adults at bedtime to promote a restful atmosphere and prepare the body for a good night's sleep.

Peace and Calming- "This one is a favorite to diffuse at bedtime in our house," says Joy. It is a blend of Tangerine, Orange, Ylang Ylang, Patcholi and Blue Tansy. "We love the aroma and the sense of calm it brings to our house. I have been known to diffuse this during playdates too!"

FUN FACT: Essential oils have been around since biblical times but they have had a resurgence in popularity in recent years and now you can buy them any where. They are not all the same, even if the label says "pure" or "all natural." According to Joy, Young Living has the Seed to Seal guarantee meaning they have the highest standards in every step of the process, starting with the best seeds, grown in optimal conditions, harvested at the optimal time, then distilled with the utmost care and precision and, finally, every batch of oils is tested in house and by a 3rd party with multiple tests to ensure every bottle of oil contains the correct amount the therapeutic constituents. Young Living has been around for 25 years and truly sets the standards for the industry.

  1. WANT MORE RESOURCES?

  1. Say your Daily Mantra "I seek wellness in my life." whenever you have a chance.

  2. Head over to the Private Facebook Group and join us to share that you completed Day 15 of Sober October.

  3. Send any questions you may have to me at kim@100dayssober.com. I want us all to have a successful Sober October so let me know how I can help.


30 Days of Freedom

Today marks 30 days since I had another Day 1. I feel totally free right now. I feel like I can take whatever comes my way - good and bad. You see, I had learned to reach for a glass of wine no matter what my day threw at me.

  • Had a shit day? Drink!
  • Celebrating something good? Drink!
  • Kids throwing a temper tantrum? You deserve that glass of wine!
  • Going to a birthday party? Grab a beer!
  • Are you reading a book, watching T.V., listening to music? DRINK!
  • Taking a vacation? Relaxing with friends and family? Going to the grocery store? FOR GOD'S SAKE JUST DRINK ALREADY!

I have always been a drinker. A boozehound. A lush - but it was always kept in check. I never crossed the limits. I never wound up in a ditch (although one night many years ago, before children, I did run smack dab into a bush and busted my flip flop). I welcomed a glass of wine with gusto. Always. Never really turned it down.

I used to be sad when I would go to baby showers and there was no alcohol. I remember taking the kids to Gravitopia (an indoor trampoline park) one time and thinking, "I wish they served wine here."

But lately, with raising toddlers, juggling a small business and going through the regular stresses of the day (and let's be honest, these are all princess problems. I know it's stressful to be a working mom these days, but I'm not exactly living in a war torn country fearing for my life), I started to think about alcohol all the time. And I started picking up bottles of buttery yellow Chardonnay and sweet sparking rose for the everyday Wednesday.

I would have good intentions to just drink a glass. But alcohol is freaking addictive people! And I couldn't have just one. I would usually drink the whole bottle, leaving me irritable, tired, argumentative and just pissed. I would sleep like crap, get out of bed and then do it all again even though I said I didn't want to.

Last September (September 2017), I somehow stumbled on Annie Grace's The Alcohol Experiment (I think it was a FB ad) and it completely changed the way I viewed alcohol. Annie uncovered the lies I had always believed to be true:

  • alcohol relaxes me
  • alcohol allows me to handle my stress better
  • alcohol makes me a sexy grown up
  • alcohol is the center of all my sources of enjoyment

I made it about 8 days but continued trying to unlearn some of my behaviors. While I didn't stop right then, I did start to view my actions differently. I made it about 13 days through Sober October and several days in January 2018. I even went to a concert sober in January. But after about Day 13 or 14, I would always slip back and start at Day 1. Again and again and again.

Here are some things that I did that helped tremendously. My husband drinks and was not interested in quitting for even a challenge (totally cool and fine with me) and most of my friends drink so it's not like I have a lot of sober inspiration around me physically. So I turned to online support and courses. There are a lot of them that I used - it's almost been a year in the making to get to 30 days so I didn't do these all at once!

  • I read books. And books and books and books! I really needed to immerse myself in learning about how other people viewed alcohol in a negative way - to change my behavior and thought patterns. I was also pleasantly surprised to see that I actually had the energy and interest in reading after the kids went to bed (before, I would be two or three glasses of wine in and just go to sleep). My favorite books are:
  1. The Sober Diaries by Clare Pooley - I am actually reading this for the fourth time. As a mother of little ones, she just so accurately describes some of the unique stressors that come with being a mom, raising small children and doing all of the little duties that sometimes become pretty mundane. She is funny. She is smart. She is compassionate and I just can't recommend this book enough.
  2. Mrs. D. Is Going Without by Lotta Dann
  3. Kick The Drink Easily by Jason Vales
  4. This Naked Mind by Annie Grace
  5. A Happier Hour by Bex Weller
  6. Alcohol Explained by William Porter
  • I signed up for online courses
  1. I loved the Sexy Sobriety 90-day course. It was an investment but I looked at it as that, since I needed all the support I could get to break this ridiculous habit! Bex offers interviews with women who have gotten sober, recipes, elixirs and live coaching calls that are all really helpful.
  2. My favorite course, though, was James Swanwick's 30-day NAC. It's really affordable and each day he provides a video (typically 20-25 minute videos) addressing best practices from a slew of experts. He is interesting, relatable and offers a private Facebook group to be part of. I have watched the videos several times and it's nice to revisit.
  • I stopped buying wine - I know this sounds so ridiculous but I would buy wine and then drink it. Because, of course I would. If ice cream is in the house, I'm going to eat it. Same thing with wine. It's just too easy to pour a glass if it's right there in my face.
  • I started buying non alcohol drinks - This is definitely something that is up to someone's preference. I am in the middle of reading The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober by Catherine Gray (LOVE IT. I will add it to the "read" list when I am finished) and she explains drinking near beer is like being a car accident victim wanting to experience a car crash simulator - that is a paraphrase. It helped me and I find myself not leaning on it too much these days but I like Becks non alcoholic beer. I also started experimenting with different soda waters and teas. I love Sprout's sparking lemonade options.
  • I started an Instagram account - This has helped me so much. Before, when I would declare to "never drink again!" to my husband, I would last a while but no one ever really held me accountable. To be fair, I never told my husband how much I really wanted to see it through. It sounded like a harmless declaration but I didn't ask him to hold my feet to the fire. There is so much sober inspiration and a genuinely supportive community - I feel like many of them are friends now. If you want to follow along, I'm on Instagram at 100 Days of Sober.

I would like to hit days 60 or 90 before going into all the physical and emotional benefits. But to touch on some quickly, I:

  • Have clearer skin
  • Am eating better - not perfect but better
  • Enjoy working out so much more!
  • Am sleeping better

So this story is not over. This isn't the top of the mountain - I'm just resting a bit to reflect and taking a peek down to see how far I've climbed.

What questions do you have? What advise do you have? Thanks for letting me share.

 

Be Prepared - Sober Tip and Tool Box

IMG_6329.JPG O.K So I'm back on Day 2 folks. This journey has had many ups and downs! Each time I break a sober streak, I don't like to start back at the beginning but I really feel like I have learned from each misstep.

I've pretty much learned how to get through stressful situations or unpleasant situations (temper tantrums, feeling overwhelmed with work/life balance, fight with husband, etc.). I had a lot of practice - and Day 1s! - figuring it all out and "thinking through the drink."

My latest hurdle (and reason for being back at Day 2) was a simple beer at the pool. It was a nice sunny Sunday. We were hanging out with friends and I decided to crack open a can of beer.

I didn't have a second one. I felt irritable and tired the rest of the day but it taught me that I have to prepare for the Good Days and Sunshine too!

O.K. So tonight we are going to watch fireworks for July 4.

I need to prepare tonight so I'm going to:

  • Visualize myself enjoying the fireworks and enjoying water and saying no to alcohol and crawling into bed without a drop of alcohol.
  • I'm going to think about those who inspire me - like some of my favorite authors of sober success stories (Clare Pooley, Bex Weller and Elizabeth Vargas)
  • PREPARE - what am I going to say tonight when someone asks me if I want a drink:
    • No thanks, I'm not drinking tonight
    • No thanks, I'm doing a sober challenge
    • No thank you
    • No, not for me thanks

Someone on Instagram suggested "I'm a retired professional" which is fun. But I'm going to head on over there, enjoy the fireworks with the kiddos and just say no!

This mindfulness thing may be working!

Mindfulness through meditation is really starting to work My mind has always whirled around at 1,000 miles a minute. I try to do five things at once, while thinking about the 12 things I need to do next. I kind of have always liked my busy mind. I have nervous energy that manifests in hair twirling and all kinds of silly things.

But lately as I've tried to do this sober challenge, I have started to turn towards meditation to try to calm the mind, focus on being mindful and present and at least try to train my mind not to wander at every single thing...SQUIRREL!

I signed up for Headspace initially for the kids. I noticed they had some small kids packs and the kids were not into it. But I mean, they are four, so I can understand. So I started doing the Basic Packs, and worked my way up to other different topics.

I can definitely see a change in my thinking. I still deal with lots of anxiety - even when not drinking but today I wanted to snack after dinner. I'm an awful snacker. I eat, then snack, then eat a meal, then snack. It's all mindless and I annoy even myself as I find myself heading for the pantry after a full dinner.

Tonight, my old habit of trying to fill space and time crept back in: The kids are taking a bath. Let me have some chips. A granola bar. A snack.

And, since I've been more mindful I thought, "You know I don't need any of that." And I said a mantra that I read about in A Happier Hour.

I choose sobriety. I choose happiness.

I took a few sniffs of peppermint oil and made a cup of tea and decided to write in my journal. And it's nice.

Speaking of nice. There have been some really kind people I've connected with in the sober community on Instagram. I have a feeling these relationships will strengthen over time and turn into an even better thing. xoxo Kim