Dry January: What I Learnt (& Why I’ll Continue It Into February)


Zero Sugar (Not Even Fruit) And Zero Alcohol

It’s the start of a new month and as always I’m a goal setter. I’m never about restriction but like to get real with:

  1. What makes up my best possible days?
  2. What empowers me?

So in the spirit of it being the first day of February, I want to look back on how January’s doozy of zero alcohol or sugar went.

My relationship with wine

I’d say probably I’ve been drinking about 3-6 glasses of wine a week since I retired from my ski team, in my late 20’s. All through ski career our diet was closely monitored and we weren’t allowed to drink during the training week. And I never really was a partier.

So for about 15 years, I’ve been drinking – what the statistics say – is moderate. Now that I went without for a month, it feels like 3-6 glasses a week is a heck of a lot.

I’m a fitness trainer and nutritionist by trade, and own a weight loss retreat in Whistler. At our program, we’ve got strict regulations that all guests have to go alcohol free during their stay. Their stays are up to eight weeks long!

And often when I’ve asked what the biggest thing they’ve missed in their diet, they say their end-of-day wine.

Now I know how they feel.

It’s definitely one of life’s little pleasures to have a good quality glass of wine, either with friends or loved ones, or cozying up in your pj’s to watch a good movie.

What motivated it

Before getting started – this is the post (below) that made me say YES to giving it a go.

Dry January Can Be Amazing for Your Health, if Done the Right Way

I also read this article about sleeping much better when you don’t drink.

I woke up on New Years Day feeling absolutely terrible this year.

I’d been keto for five or six weeks and put it aside when out with friends on NYE. The awkwardness of not joining in with all the delicious home cooking made me feel like that girl who I didn’t want to be – the one who can’t eat anything. Dammit, I should’ve bought my own food, but it was a last minute ‘sure, we’ll be right over!’

Then great conversation followed and before I knew it, it was dinner time.

When you’ve been on keto a while, alcohol goes straight to your head, and you’re supposed to ease back into sugar gradually.

I kind of DID NOT DO THAT so here I was on January 1st with a sugar hangover as well as a too-much-wine one. So I joined the #DryJanuary challenge and thought heck, I’ll go off sugar too.

What it was like to reintroduce….

It’s February 1st today. It’s been a GREAT experiment that both challenged and empowered me. Scientists say it’s pretty much the best thing ever. 

After a month without sugar or alcohol, some things have changed for me.

  • Big time for sure I missed fruit.
  • I gained much more strength and muscle mass from my workouts. They were 100 percent consistent, five days a week about 90 minutes per day. It was so nice to see progress truly increase.
  • Additionally, I ate at home waaaaay more because I hate going out to dinner and saying no to an awesome vino. But I did it….boom. Just like that. 

And now? Well I had chocolate last night. It was ok. Just…. ok. No bells, whistles and omg moments. I could’ve had an orange for the same experience. I’m going to try another month with zero alcohol so I didn’t try that yet.

As for sugar, I’ll reintroduce that occasionally.

Truth is, the more sugar you eat, the more sugar you want.

If you remove it, you don’t want it.

Sugar won’t give you the pleasure you’re after in the long term, it’s a short high that you can ride out – like any other addiction – with about 10 minutes of delay. 

If you’re thinking about going off sugar and alcohol for a month, I highly recommend it. It’s not easy though. Be mentally prepared to be somewhat irritated and agitated. Get some backup things to distract you. No, a glass of water won’t cut it! Apps and supportive friends or family who are aware of your challenge really will make a difference. It’s nice to have people to complain to!

Why do it? Because you deserve to feel your best, and these little things are actually massive game changers. 


Below are some great tips from the Huffington Post:

Tips For A ‘Damp February’ (And Beyond)

Alcohol Change say if you want to practice more mindful drinking try this:

  • Work your way back up slowly. Getting straight back to your old drinking level will not do you any favours.
  • Learn that it’s okay to say no every once in a while – you don’t have to have a drink just because it is there.
  • If you do want to start drinking at the same levels as before, why not plan a soft drink between every alcoholic one at first?
  • Use an app (like Try Dry) to keep track of your alcohol intake.
  • Don’t wait until next year to have another month off.
Hey, I’m Cat Smiley. I’m a fitness, nutrition, weight loss and life coach. Hire me if you want results! Click here to learn more about my 1-to-1 phone coaching services, upcoming weight loss retreats, and personal workshops.

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