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How to survive and thrive on an alcohol-free challenge

January 14th 2019 / Ayesha Muttucumaru Google+ Ayesha Muttucumaru / 0 comment

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Struggling to stick to Dry January? Overcome six of the most common stumbling blocks with these top tips from someone who’s been there

Dry January is in full swing, but it can be tricky to stick to, especially when you’ve got a case of the good old January blues. Strength in numbers and support from those who are on the same journey can provide an invaluable resource though, something that the 30,000 people who’ve signed up to One Year No Beer’s (OYNB) alcohol-free challenges and bespoke coaching programmes can attest to.

Founded by friends Andy Ramage and Ruari Fairbairns in 2016, their team has helped tens of thousands of people create a healthier relationship with alcohol. And now, it’s the leading alcohol habit-change programme around with a 83 per cent success rate.

There’s everything to gain from signing up. In fact, a recent survey among OYNB members revealed that 58 per cent on the 90-day challenge said they’d lost weight, 76 per cent said they had more energy, 78 per cent said they were more productive and 80 per cent said they slept better. A large number of women also cited a lesser-known benefit that they’ve dubbed ‘Sober hair.’ As well as making their strands shinier, going sober has made them stronger.

OYNB's portfolio of programmes suit a range of lifestyles. If you’re a newbie to this or aren’t sure how long a break you want to take from booze, try the 28-day programme - you can always upgrade. For £42, you get access to daily email and video support, a private Facebook group and forum, five e-books and advice from guest contributors in fitness and diet. For more of a challenge, try the 90-day programme, £109, where you’ll also have access to a five-week audio programme. It’s so effective that nine in ten choose to continue going alcohol-free after the 90 days comes to an end.

A major reason for OYNB’s success is its MEND system, the four pillars on which the programme is based. Standing for Mind, Exercise, Nutrition, Do, it’s all about developing a more positive and proactive mindset about going alcohol-free and making the most of the time, money and energy you’ll have as a result.

Inspired to give it a go? We’ve teamed up with OYNB to give GTG readers a 50 per cent discount off their 28-day and 90-day challenges. Simply type GTG50 at checkout, but be quick, as the offer finishes on Friday 18 January.

To give you a flavour of the type of tips and tricks you’ll learn, we caught up with Andy to find out about the most common stumbling blocks that can get in the way of going alcohol-free - and what can help you stay on track.

1. When everyone else is drinking

It can feel like you’re standing out like a sore thumb when everyone else has a Champagne flute in hand and you’re there with a glass of Coke instead. However, the selection of alcohol-free alternatives out there has vastly improved over the last few years and they don’t just look the part, but taste like the real thing too. Andy rates Heineken 0.0% beer, Seedlip as a gin alternative, and Sainsbury’s range of non-alcoholic sparkling wines. Fizzy water with a slice of lime also makes for a great aperitif if you’re feeling a little self-conscious. Take it as an opportunity to experiment and see what’s out there.

2. When it’s the end of a stressful day...

One of the main reasons OYNB’s programmes have been so effective is because they force people to question habits that have become ingrained into their daily routines. Having a drink to unwind at the end of a hard day is one of them. There are three ways to counteract the temptation though, says Andy. “If this is where you usually slip up, remove all alcohol from the house,” he advises. “Research shows that if it’s out of sight, it’s out of mind.” Secondly, give an alcohol-free alternative a chance. The third and most effective way though, is to train yourself to learn how to relax without alcohol. It could be anything from reading a book, listening to a podcast, going for a run or meditating. Challenge yourself to try new things and see what actually relaxes you.

3. When there’s a celebration…

Forward planning is really important here. If you’re celebrating at someone’s house, bring your own (alcohol-free) bottle. If you’re heading out, call the venue ahead of time to check out its non-alcoholic drinks list. “Leaving it to the last minute and winging it never works,” says Andy. “If you’re in the moment and alcohol’s there for the taking, you’ll slip up nine times out of ten.” For a longer-term strategy, Andy recommends finding booze-free ways to celebrate to rewire the celebration:Champagne connection. It could be treating yourself to a nice meal, booking in for a massage or a trip to a theatre. “When your options for celebrating are confined to just one option, alcohol, it’ll hold you back.”

4. When friends call you boring…

Being bullied into drinking is one of the biggest obstacles to overcome. ‘Beer pressure’ is rife, but there are ways to counteract it. “My top tip is to take out the ringleader of your group before a big night out, and speak to them one-on-one about all of the reasons why you wanted to go alcohol-free,” Andy says. If you’ve got their support, the rest of the group is likely to follow.

Another good piece of advice is to have something booked in for the next day - a spin class, a walk in the woods...something energetic and uplifting, which will give you an excuse should someone start to give you a hard time.

5. When you’re feeling isolated…

If you’re going alcohol-free, chances are you’ll be in the minority on a night out. Finding a group of like-minded people that share the same goals as you therefore, is vital for long-term success. Here’s where OYNB’s private Facebook group and Forum come in. A hub that connects people together, it provides a space where you can ask for help when times get tough. This combined with the emails and videos that will be coming into your inbox on a daily basis, will help eradicate any feelings of isolation.

6. When you need a confidence boost

Having a drink to calm your nerves isn’t uncommon. It’s plastic confidence though, Andy warns, and recognising that is the first step. “Alcohol robs you of the opportunity to build real confidence, which comes with testing yourself and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.” This takes time, but there are some things you can do in the meantime for immediate results. One particularly effective technique that OYNB recommends to its members is striking a Superman or Superwoman pose (spine straight, open chest, hands on hips). Holding it for just one to two minutes has been scientifically proven to leave you feeling more confident, in control and powerful.

Feeling inspired? Sign up to OYNB’s 28-day challenge and 90-day challenge here and claim your exclusive GTG 50% discount by typing in GTG50 at checkout. Offer applies to 28-day and 90-day memberships only; Alcohol-Free Me and Mastermind are exempt from this promotion. Offer runs until 23.59 on Friday 18 January 2019.

Written in partnership with One Year No Beer.

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