My Favorite Non-Alcoholic Drinks

When I first quit drinking alcohol, I think the key to successfully staying sober was maintaining my rituals. Instead of coming home from a long day at work and cracking open an ice cold beer, I got creative and replaced it with something equally as delicious and refreshing. Mentally, I get the same calming effects of a “wind down” period without the mental and physical repercussions that come along with consuming alcohol.

These are my top three favorite non-alcoholic (cold) beverages that my husband and I have discovered. One for the days I want a beer, one to create a relaxing mocktail, and one to help with soda cravings. Because let’s face it- I love diet soda, but replacing alcohol with other chemicals is not much of a healthy alternative. Obviously these choices are all vegan and refined-sugar free. I hope these suggestions inspire you to try something new and delicious!

When I want a beer:

Lagunitas Hoppy Refresher / I find this at my local COOP.
https://www.lagunitas.com/story/hoppy-refresher

For when I want: To make a mocktail, to relax with some CBD, to enjoy sparkling water with anti aging skin and hair benefits. Seriously this stuff is amazing. Go get yourself some. I am clearly obsessed. Beauty Bubbles are my favorite, but Gingergrass is a close second.

DRAM Apothecary Beauty Bubbles Adaptogenic Sparkling Water + 25mg CBD / I order mine online at https://www.dramapothecary.com/product/beauty-bubbles-adaptogenic-cbd-sparkling-water/

Lastly, for when I simply want a soda or something crisp, carbonated, and delicious. I’ve tried every sparkling water available and these are the best. The watermelon is my favorite, but I also love the Black Cherry, Grapefruit, Lemon, and Grape.

Waterloo Sparkling Water / I purchase mine at Costco or my local COOP.

What if Our Cycle is an Advantage Rather than a Liability?

As a thirteen year old girl in the eighth grade I was taught that my period was something unfortunate I had to deal with. It was a miserable curse bestowed upon me once I was old enough to get pregnant – a shameful experience. I was taught to keep quiet about it because it would make others uncomfortable, especially boys who thought it was “gross.” I learned to internalize the emotional and physical pain because I was taught it was unavoidable, and there’s no point in discussing it, since I couldn’t be fixed. I was taught it was messy, uncomfortable, painful, and ultimately a sign of weakness.

My period was a gateway to my unrelenting and unfortunate tendency as a female, toward emotional and irrational thinking and behavior. An inconvenience for potential partners. It would overtake me each month, turn me into a weaker and angrier version of myself, and this narrative would justify every societal and personal subordination I would endure in life. Until I hit menopause, when we’d intensify the emotional roller coaster and subtract the period and the impossible task of being a presentable sex object 24/7, that never shows a sign of actually being a woman in her physical body.

I was 31 years old when I learned that bleeding is only one of four phases of my cycle, and that almost every bit of what we’ve learned and internalized about ourselves and our periods isn’t true. On some level every woman (and some others, I’m sure) know that simplifying the female reproductive system down to period and able to make babies is ridiculous. The fact that a woman’s body is powerful enough to create life seems to be more complicated than that. When you zoom out and start to look at how complex, intuitive, and strong women are, we are forced to confront the uncomfortable reality that the only parts we learned about our physical bodies from public education and some of our parents are the parts that have to do with the immediately external. Things that affect men or the people around you. Things that define you as either a baby maker or a non-baby-maker, someone who needs to be controlled because we hold the power to control the ultimate outcome.

Women’s bodies have been politicized all over the world for centuries, but this is not what this post is about. This post is about the knowledge that can liberate you from the seemingly hopeless period drudgery, and from the negative mental loop many of us grew up teaching ourselves was normal – to hate what our bodies are capable of. Learning about the four phases of my cycle has opened up an entire world of possibility and has inspired me to flip everything I thought I knew on it’s head. I now look at my cycle as an opportunity to wield my power as a woman, connect with nature, and optimize my life in all areas, outside the masculine “efficiency” paradigm. Men teach how to optimize your life within 24 hour cycles. Why are women working so hard to conform to this strategy when we would be better served to “optimize our lives” working on a 28 day cycle? Because the world is set up to serve the patriarchy, and because no one taught us how. Imagine what our life could have been like if we were taught as girls that our cycles made us stronger? That they were an advantage, rather than a liability.

I plan to write about this topic more as I advance on my journey to essentially “biohack” my cycle to improve every area of my life. It’s extremely complex and I imagine I will be working on this daily and improving it forever as I learn and change. Today’s post builds the foundation by very briefly explaining the behavioral aspects of the four phases and giving you resources to do further research – I’m sharing the information I wish I had years and years ago. Once I had this basic foundation, I was fascinated by how much more I could learn.

I gravitate toward this form of “self-improvement” because it’s empowering – it does not ignore or omit my femininity altogether, or label it as an unfortunate side effect of my existence as a woman – it treats every aspect of your cycle as an advantage, as it should be. Woman as center. I feel like in the last eight months of close observation, I’ve already been able to make small changes with big impacts. It may seem silly to alter and plan my workout routine, my foods, my work schedule, my projects, and my social events around my cycle, but I think that is the key to unlocking your feminine power. It only sounds silly because we’ve been taught that our emotions, empathy, and intuition make us weak, when the opposite is true.

The Four Phases:

Follicular

Duration 7-10 Days

Season: Spring

Women Archetype: The Virgin Warrior

Moon: Waxing

This phase begins after your bleed ends when hormones are at low levels and slowly begin to increase in concentration. This is a time of new beginnings, fresh starts, openness to new things, and creativity. This is the most productive phase of your cycle. Brainstorming and creative capability is high so this is a great time to start new projects, go to events, or try new hobbies or things at work.

Ovulatory

Duration: 3-4 Days

Season: Summer

Woman Archetype: The Mother/Lover

Moon: Full

During this phase there is a dramatic rise in estrogen. You may feel more social and your communication skills are on point. This is the time in your cycle when your intuition and awareness are at an all time high, and you have extra energy to burn.

Luteal

Duration: 10-14 Days

Season: Fall

Woman Archetype: The Enchantress or Wild Woman

Moon: Waning

This phase is marked by steady and declining physical energy levels as your body prepares for the Menstrual Phase. You may begin this phase with high social and physical energy but may feel the need to turn inward as it progresses. Your connections with other women feels stronger, however your need for introspection may increase so this is a great time for writing, journaling, and working on projects alone. Your brain chemistry is optimized for organization, task completion, and detail orientation at this time At the end of this phase anxiety levels may begin to rise as well, so holding boundaries and protecting self is important.

Mentrual

Duration: 3-7 Days

Season: Winter

Woman Archetype: The Wise Woman

Moon: New

This is a time of new beginnings, and a perfect phase for reflection and looking inward. This is a great time to rest (since physical energy levels are lower) and spend time reflecting on the last month and everything that worked and didn’t work for you. Objective decision making should be done during this phase because your ability to analyze situations and intuit what needs to be done are both strengths. Strategize for the month ahead.

Cited Sources and Further Research for Beginners:

In the Flow, Alisa Vitti

My FLO App

Expanded Podcast With Lacy Phillips, Episode 80, “In the Flo with Alisa Vitti, Female Hormone and Functional Nutrition Expert.” https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/expanded-podcast-with-lacy-phillips/id1419732648?i=1000464207886

Limitless Life Podcast With Melyssa Griffin, 9/24/20, “How to Use Your Menstrual Cycle to Plan Your Life.” https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/limitless-life/id1251824599?i=1000492348580

FemmeHead YouTube Channel, 3/22/18, “Make the Most Out of the Phases of Your Cycle.” https://youtu.be/4PJgCLsnF_o

Two Years No Beers Follow Up Questions

Today’s post is a follow-up to my One Year No Beer and Two Years No Beers posts written specifically about my sobriety journey. I decided to ask you what you were most curious about, and these were the most commonly asked questions. I hope you enjoy reading my responses. I plan to write more about this topic moving forward because if I’ve learned anything in the last two years it’s that many of you are sober curious – very sober curious. If I can help just one person by shedding light on living an alcohol-free existence, then I am happy to do it.

Did you “relapse” and start drinking again after you quit?

This question is interesting because after thinking it over I came to the realization that I had been “quitting” for years, I just hadn’t realized it yet. My husband and I had tried a few strategies to reduce our drinking, like limiting a night out to three beers. Strategies like these inevitably fail because three beers is just enough to inhibit your decision making capabilities and sabotage a plan. My husband quit alcohol for a while years before we both quit, but I did not, and because of my inability to see alcohol consumption outside of the “alcoholic / normal person” binary, that ultimately failed as well. However, because I was still living under the assumption that alcohol is safe and in denial about it ruining my mental health as long as I drank it in moderation, I did slowly reduce my consumption and stopped drinking anything other than beer, or champagne on a “special occasion.”

I give all of these examples because over the years I did everything except actually quit. Because I was afraid of what life would be like and because I was afraid of what that might mean I was. Not because I was actually physically addicted. When I look back, I can see someone who was desperately trying to break free of alcohol, I just didn’t have the tools to do it yet.

Once I made the decision to quit, after years of alcohol being more of a problem in my life than something “fun,” I did so with 100% certainty and conviction. It was like going vegan. I had that symbolic last drink and that last slice of cheese pizza and off I went into the unknown – happily. To say that I quit “cold turkey” in either situation would really be a lie. I had been quitting alcohol for years, and I had been quitting all animal products ever since I went vegetarian. It was only a matter of time. So no, I have not “relapsed” since making the decision to actually remove alcohol from my life. And because I have never questioned my decision, I will remain sober.

Was it hard to quit?

There are two things I want to say on this topic. One: Not quitting and continuing to live a life you know deep down is wrong for you is exponentially harder than the very temporary discomfort of quitting. Two: It is hard at first, but that passes quickly.

What is actually hard are hangovers, and wasted time and potential. Fighting with your husband for no reason. Emotional instability, repressed trauma, depression, missed work, horrible periods, sabotaged healthy eating, and not exercising because of lack of energy. What is hard is letting your sense of creativity, imagination, and sense of wonder die in your skull. Work days that never end because of your fatigue and brain fog, and regularly hanging out with people or in places you can’t stand without the use of alcohol to numb you. Not being able to find joy and happiness in the “little things” (which are actually the big things) because your dopamine receptors have been trained not to – by alcohol. Those are the hard things. What is hard is knowing you could just stop but choosing not to, for years. I really want to emphasize that those things are what are actually difficult, because you’re perpetually trapped.

Quitting, on the other hand, was hard at first but is very temporary. It was not difficult on a daily basis, but the “firsts” were an initial struggle. The first wedding you attend sober, the first family gathering, the first party, the first holiday, the first night out with friends. Those will be hard. In the beginning I constantly had a mock-tail in my hand that I used as a safety blanket and a way to deflect conversation away from my not drinking. As a woman, this can be especially challenging because if I ordered a diet soda I got the: “Are you pregnant” question more than once. So I would go to the bar before anyone got there and order a soda water with a splash of cranberry and a lime. No one would even know it wasn’t a cocktail.

The weird thing about this is that my real friends were aware I quit and were supportive – this charade was something I put on for my own comfort, and for the comfort of people who really weren’t my friends anyway. Isn’t it strange how we’re so conditioned to think drinking is normal that we protect the feelings of those around us that do drink? I didn’t want to “make anyone feel weird.” Would you act this way with cigarettes? Pretending to smoke so that you wouldn’t make your smoker friends feel uncomfortable? What a strange concept.

So it was hard in the beginning. I created rituals at home to replace my beer at the end of a long day. Usually some type of sparkling water in a fancy glass with lemon. It achieved the same desire – helping me wind down with something fizzy – it’s all just part of a ritual. After a month, I didn’t do that regularly anymore, only when it really was a tough day at work or a sparkling water just sounded good. And I stopped going to events I didn’t want to go to, and hanging out with people I didn’t like. I stopped staying up late (because I hate it), I learned to say no to clients and their fundraisers (I will still donate, just not attend) and I started having real boundaries.

And just like that, after a handful of awkward dinners or parties, it became easy.

And not only easy, it became AMAZING. When you’re the only one able to get up at five am the day after an event to workout, have a smoothie and a quick magazine read, it feels better than good. When you go to Pilates and work on your blog on a Saturday morning instead of laying in bed all day, it feels amazing. When you can get all your office work done in one block of a few hours instead of spread out over the entire week, it’s magic. When you’re so productive you knock your work week down to three and a half days, it’s almost hard to believe that that time existed before and you were just wasting it. And that’s just the beginning. I will tell you it gets better and better as you grow into yourself and heal those parts of you that you used alcohol to suppress. I can sense that even two years in, I’m only just scratching the surface of discovering myself and what I’m capable of.

How do you deal with friends and/or family members that don’t support you or understand? Or people who give you a hard time or call you “no fun?”

One of the ways I realize now that I was quitting alcohol long before I quit is through the company I keep. Several of my closest friends do not drink alcohol, or drink very little. Alcohol and drug dependency and addiction is common on both sides of my family, as well as mental illness. So I also have several family members who have quit alcohol and drugs. I am very fortunate in that way – everyone seems to understand, or at least on some level, get it.

Because I haven’t had to deal with this personally, I cannot give you advice on what to do aside from tell them it’s the healthy choice for you, and that they should respect that, just as you are not disrespecting them for drinking.

I do and have however, dealt with comments like that regarding my choices to be vegetarian and then vegan. All I can say to that is if you know in your heart it’s right for you, the judgments they pass on you are simply a reflection of what they see as flaws in themselves or challenges to their own moral frameworks. Otherwise they wouldn’t care so much. In other words, when someone judges you negatively for evolving, changing, or growing into a new (and hopefully better) version of yourself, it is typically not about you. It’s about them, and the fact that they are having to confront their own growth, or lack thereof. Hopefully looking at it in that way helps. The “you’ve changed” comment shouldn’t have a negative connotation. I’d rather change than be the same person for the rest of my life.

Before I wrap this answer up, I did want to mention one more thing that I have experienced, and that is weird. When you get sober and no one gives you a hard time, but also NO ONE talks to you about it. Ever. For me personally, I write because it helps me to be creative and expel ideas that would otherwise spin around in my head until they drove me insane… with the intention that maybe those ideas can resonate with, and help others. This topic (which by the way has exponentially more readership than any other topic I blog about) is no exception. I love talking about sobriety and my choice to quit alcohol, but to this day, no one has asked me about it directly, or brought it up in conversation. I’m not sure if this is because people are afraid this will offend me, or are not sure how to start the conversation. But I know it’s definitely not because of lack of interest or curiosity. You all want to know about it. So I’d say, in order to normalize not drinking alcohol, don’t be afraid to ask your sober friend questions, or just talk about it like you would anything else.

Do you just smoke weed now instead (or use other substances)?

No. But this question can get complicated. Depending on what school of thought you subscribe to, I could be considered not sober because I still consume things like caffeine, the occasional Ibuprofen or CBD. At this stage, I’m all about defining sobriety for yourself, and for me personally, I choose not to consume anything that inhibits my ability to be productive in ways that bring me joy. I know that I cannot get high or drunk (or even a tiny bit “buzzed”) and enjoy listening to a record, or drawing, reading a good book, or writing an article. I become a blob of anxiety with the capacity to basically only watch The Bachelorette and sleep, and nothing more. I want to be able to work on my business, enjoy time with my husband – drive somewhere. I want to be able to start a new project, hang out with my dogs, watch a documentary or reorganize the house with energy and awareness that I just do not have when I have mind altering substances in my body. I feel like it robs me of a lot of my joy, mental health, and self love, and does not align with my lifestyle or beliefs.

That being said, I am aware that caffeine and CBD also alter your brain and mood, but I choose to regularly partake because I enjoy them and do not feel as though they are a hindrance to these goals. I plan to write more about this in the future because it is a complex topic, but for today we will suffice it to say that no, I did not simply replace alcohol with other drugs.

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Other blogs you may enjoy:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/thereallifeveganwife.com/2019/08/17/one-year-no-beer/amp/

https://www.google.com/amp/s/thereallifeveganwife.com/2020/09/05/two-years-no-beers/amp/