Amanda's story: "The strategies I learned during Dry January are still important every day."

Amanda | January 2023 | 10 minutes

In this blog, Amanda reflects on her previous Dry Januaries and the lasting positive effects they had. She'll be taking part again this time!

Amanda's update for 2023

Goal? 1,000 days alcohol-free (892 and counting).

Greatest fear? I'll self-sabotage and return to drinking.

My feelings about giving up booze? A huge sense of pride and relief.

Greatest achievements since giving up booze? Staying sober in lockdown, entering my first fitness competition, losing nearly 2 stone, healthier eating, learning to run and learning to play the piano(ish).

I'm the fittest I've ever been and it's all down to one potent action - giving up drinking.

At this time of year, I look around the gym early in the morning. I see just a small group of us, (the other regulars have sacked off their sessions because they've been partying). I wonder at the cascade of benefits I experience every single day since I stopped drinking alcohol.

I feel great, I have mental clarity, I eat well, I'm more focused, I make better decisions and I rarely sack off my gym sessions.

And yes, sometimes I have bad days like the rest of us - I cry, I'm sad, I'm angry. I feel my feelings more. I'm still finding my place in the world and I'm constantly re-evaluating EVERYTHING. But it's life unfiltered, joyous and guilt-free. I am a Dry Queen!

My biggest learning? There are no shortcuts. It takes a plan, determination, clarity, patience, forgiveness, support and goals (lots of tiny goals). But the benefits are massive!

So, wherever you are on this journey, keep plugging away. One minute, one hour, one day, one week at a time. The cravings will subside, and the space will open up. You'll find balance.

Dry January has been like a new coat that I’ve bought and not been sure about. Something I have worn, put away and then wondered about trying on again, just to find second time round, it’s a great fit!

Always a nice surprise when that happens!

In 2019 I did Dry January for the first time. I managed to keep my drinking on track for half the year on and off, but by Christmas I was ‘enjoying’ myself way too much. I had started cracking open the wine at 4pm while I was cooking and on Christmas day I noticed I was the person drinking faster than anyone else (again…).

I knew it was time to stop. All the signs were there – poor sleep, feeling bloated, exhaustion, guilt, headaches, the feeling one glass was never enough, sweats, and hormonal imbalance.

On 1 January I committed to Dry January, not even realising the spectre of COVID-19 was looming just around the corner.

This time I kept a diary, along with selfies so I could bear witness to my physical and mental journey. I didn’t do much prep (first time I read the Try Dry book and followed it like a bible). But I did write down my aims – losing weight, better sleep, break the cycle and improve my complexion.

I knew what to expect. I tried not to focus on what I was missing, but to wait for the benefits to arrive.

I had all the classic signs and symptoms as my body detoxed – sweating, poor sleep, dark shadows under my eyes, cravings, dizziness, achy kidneys. I was shocked!

"I tried not to focus on what I was missing, but to wait for the benefits to arrive."

The good news is, these passed quickly. Day seven I felt great, swiftly followed by a slump on day ten with glorious blue skies on day 16! A surge of energy and positivity. The good stuff had arrived!

I aced Dry January 2020! Was I tempted to drink? YES! Did I crave wine on occasion? YES! But second time round, it was easier to ride the waves and find alternatives. And with some strategies firmly in place I decided to continue beyond January.

Then COVID-19 hit.

Suddenly I was required to be a working mother, good wife, and teacher to my children.

Luckily, being financially stable enabled my husband and I to work as a team and support each other to limp through. But mentally it was tough. The pressure of being together all the time, the sense of entrapment in our own home, the strange ‘open the fridge and eat all day’ mentality that arrived out of nowhere. And seeing our kids develop very real anxieties about germs, to the point they couldn’t be in the same room together.

Despite this avalanche of weird stuff, I felt compelled to continue my alcohol-free journey. Wild, right? I mean you would’ve forgiven me for falling off the wagon!

The thing is, the new coat fits me so well now. It’s getting worn in all the right places and feels downright comfy. So much so, when I put that old coat on (and I have, twice, for my birthday and wedding anniversary) it no longer feels comfortable.

"Having my drinking under control during COVID-19 saved me. It enabled me to dig deep, be resourceful, approach this new lifestyle with energy and determination."

Having my drinking under control during COVID-19 saved me. It enabled me to dig deep, be resourceful, approach this new lifestyle with energy and determination, be amazed at my children’s imagination and flexibility.

I often reflected what it could have been like drinking daily during lockdown - being hungover, lethargic, and bad tempered. I have so often thanked myself for making this change.

The strategies I learned during Dry January are still important every day.

Walking with a friend or listening to music or a good podcast (I recommend Oprah’s Soul Stories), online exercise classes, treats (dark chocolate is my personal fave), long baths with essential oils on the dark days (with post bath foot socks and eye mask when extra comfort required), alcohol-free drinks (ginger beer with a slice of lime or Peroni 0% for me), herbal teas, good coffee and appreciating my relationships – I am very lucky to have a husband who supports me in this.

The outcomes have been pretty mind blowing because I have stopped drinking and added other activities to my life.

  • I’ve lost weight
  • My friends tell me I literally shine with health!
  • I look younger
  • I sleep better
  • I’m clear headed even when I haven’t slept well
  • I no longer crave alcohol or wake up feeling guilty about the night before
  • My memory has improved
  • My muscle tone has improved 1000 fold
  • I have tonnes of energy and motivation.
  • I feel ‘more me’

Occasionally the thought of wine wiggles into my mind, but it’s more a flight of fancy than a real need. Will I drink again? I really don’t know. I can only quote from my diary on day 157:

“Not drinking has been the most positive and effective action I have ever taken for myself.”

I’ll be back for more Dry January in 2021.