Are you ready to ditch the booze and live an alcohol free life?
Well that's exactly what Janey Lee Grace (best selling author and co-presenter of Steve Wright in the Afternoon!) did over 2 years ago.
And she hasn't looked back. I caught up with her recently and asked why she did it, and how she ended up creating the Sober Club to help others.
You can watch the video below or listen to the podcast;
So Janey, the last time we saw each other, you were pretty much 100% focused on holistic living, nutrition, and ditching the chemicals. It looks like you've gone up a notch and given up the booze! What happened?
“Well, as you say, I've been focused for years and years on holistic living and everything. But, there was this one massive elephant in the room. And that was that all the time, I was sort of focusing on optimum health and well being, I was caning the booze absolutely caning the booze, like everyone else, fully functioning. I'm boozing and somehow I equated that with being perfectly fine, because it's legal and it's normal, and it's because it's what everyone does. It's a societal norm.”
When you say ‘caning it', what does that mean to you?
“Well I mean, I'll just pre empt that by saying, whenever I have these conversations with people, there's always that kind of measuring stick. So if I say, well, I was drinking one and a half bottles a night, people can go ‘oh thank God, I'm not that bad'. You know? And if I say, Oh, well, I was only drinking at weekends, people are ‘Oh, maybe I need to worry'. Actually, the real question isn't ‘am I drinking too much?' The real question is, ‘would my life be better physically and emotionally without any alcohol?'
“But anyways, to answer your question, I was drinking every day, and probably I'd get near a bottle of wine, some, probably most nights. I wouldn't intend to, it doesn't start like that. It starts by, oh, it's a sunny day, it's lunchtime, I'll have a quick drink at lunchtime. And then it's early evening and I desperately need respite from the kids, I'm exhausted. I've had such a busy day, I need a treat for me. I need to feel grown up. And then, then you have a glass of wine midday. By the time you add it up, it's a bottle of wine.
It took me ages to realize how much of a hold it really had over me, to realize that I didn't actually know how to stop it. I couldn't seem to get the motivation. I felt really scared. Because the bottom line was I thought that once I stopped drinking, my life would be over really, what would I have look forward to? How would I relax? How would I be fun, you know, party Janey, how would she ever appear again? All I could imagine was misery!
So I ditched it on 30th December, literally the day before New Year's Eve 2017. And that's it, I never ever looked back. I mean, you notice the phrase I use there, I always say I ditched the booze, I don't say I gave up. I never say I gave up, because I didn't give up anything. I have only gained, literally. The truth of it is, we are now so lucky in that there are some incredible amazing alcohol free drinks now.
If I've tried to do this 10 years ago, it would have been harder, because there was nothing decent really. But now everything, literally everything has changed. So I have this lovely phrase, ‘keep the ritual, change the ingredients'. So if you normally have a drink at six o'clock or whatever time you sit down and have a drink, if that's kind of a ritual for you, and that feels important, then you can keep the ritual so you still have a lovely glass, you still have something chilled and lovely in it. But why would it need to be alcohol?”
Talk us through some of the health benefits of going alcohol free
‘Oh my goodness, all the stuff you would expect to get; clearer skin, more clarity, far less anxiety. I'm not gonna say weight loss because you actually don't get that for ages, even if you need to lose weight, takes a lot longer than you think. But it does sort of kind of sort itself out, which is really interesting. But there's just so many benefits.
In my TED Talk, I'd finish up by saying ‘sober hair', because you get shiny hair. No, don't look at me the moment, I've gone feral with lock down! But I suppose the biggest, most amazing benefit is the the way that your anxiety changes. Now, I didn't even know that I was a particularly anxious person. It's not till I wasn't, that I realized how unbelievably anxious I've been. And the link between mental health issues and alcohol. I mean, it's off the scale.'
Why do so many women struggle with alcohol?
‘They feel trapped. I'll call it a trap. It's addictive, and I know that sounds blatantly obvious, but interestingly enough, I don't think I really realized, I think I thought there was something wrong with me.
I wanted some relief from the stress I was under. Alcohol is everywhere so it seems like the answer, but it is highly addictive. My absolute passion is not that saying ‘do you have a problem? Have you got to give up?' which is just completely negative and nonsense. The question needs to be, ‘have you actually wondered whether your life might be better physically and emotionally without booze?' And if you'd have asked me that three years ago, I'd say, hell yes, of course. Of course it would, but I don't know how to do that.”
Tell me about your Sober Club and how it works?
“I don't really care which route people come to sobriety you know, it's whatever works for you. But my approach is that, you absolutely don't do the kind of white knuckling it, I'm giving up thing, focus on what you're giving up. You totally focus on what you're gaining.
And actually, you fairly quickly find that the ditching the booze is just the first step. Then it's the what's next, because the way people's lives expand. Everything gets better. There's this horrible phrase, ‘sobriety is the gift that gifts keeps on giving', but it's true!”
What are your top tips for an alcohol free life?
- Do your research and get inspired. Find out just how bad alcohol really is for you. At the same time, get inspired. Living life without alcohol is not only logically good for you, it will change you in the most incredible ways that you could never have dreamt off. It will upscale everything, literally everything. So if you care about health and well being, that will be the most incredible gift you've ever give yourself. And, maybe you're just ‘sober curious', what would my life look like?
- Gather your sober toolkit. Find your resources, it's really important to know what else you're going to do and have. And then it's not a variable, it's non-negotiable. And if you're worried about friends, you text them in advance, you say, Oh, just a heads up, I'm not drinking tonight, so there'll be more for you. Or you can just be honest, and you can say, you know what, I wanna find out if I'm less anxious.
- Find your tribe. And that really, really is important. I know that now because I didn't do it quickly enough. When I did it changed everything.
Thank you Janey, I'm sure you will have inspired many women to an alcohol free life!
For more information, resources and support, visit Janey's Sober Club.