Tuesday, January 15, 2013


Drynuary Halfpoint Check-In

John, how's it going? Are there any questions that came up in the comments of the first Drynuary post that you'd like to address?

John Ore: Fourteen days (and two weekends of NFL playoffs and Downton Abbey) in, it's going swimmingly. The odd bump in the road (more on that later), but still riding high and mighty and dry.

Our first Drynaury chat reminded me that, while I'm old hat at this, we're welcoming more newcomers into the fold each year. And that perhaps begs a quick review:

1) It's called "Drynuary." Say it quickly, it sounds sort of like "January." Some folks out there hate the name. For that, I do apologize.
2) It happens in January. After the holidays, in a stout month with 31 days.
3) It's a month (give or take). It's a commitment.

Now, this isn't parochial, and everyone is definitely encouraged to make this their own! I'm just offering up some background on how Drynuary came about for ME. As with everything, the opinions and viewpoints expressed are mine, and don't necessarily reflect those of the management. (Who conveniently opted out this year.)

Well, did you see that not-drinking is ruining your body and life?

JO: New year, same British denial that Drynuary should even exist, like Keyser Soze. So-called physicians in striped Cardiff party shirts making assumptions and moralizing about what you allegedly do with the other 11 months of your year are clearly in the pocket of Big Pint.

Look, Drynuary is a bit of a lark, a goof. Whining about it is part of the fun, sure, and it's a challenge, but you shouldn't take it so seriously that you become a bitter dullard. If the Brits had their way, I suppose we should also get rid of spiritually fulfilling personal endurance challenges like Tough Mudder, marriage, Half Marathons, or nine-course tasting menus. Oddly enough — based on a non-scientific sample of Twitter — it seems that Drynuary is quite popular in the UK. Classic English internal conflict.

To me, Drynuary is as much of an example of the axiom If It Feels Good, Do It as is having a martini with a steak. Not sure why people insist on trying to deny us the pleasure of abstinence. We ain't hurting anyone, except maybe the livelihood of our local wine shop.

Fine, that article is actually kind of weird.

But anyway. Any dark moments? I think around this time last year I justified getting a glass of wine with a friend I hadn't seen in a while, and got kind of trashed off ... well that first one, and then I had two more. And I guess that was my Drynuary 2012 confession.

JO: Let it out. I must admit, the NHL lockout ending was my first legitimate brush with temptation. It'd been awhile since I wanted a beer that badly at 9 a.m. on a Sunday. Then we went to a dinner party over the weekend, brought a bottle of wine for the hosts, and pounded cranberry-and-club-soda all night. Plenty of walking into the lion's den and laughing in the face of the lions, who are bartenders in this analogy.

If you've gotten through the first two weekends, you are well on your way. I'm not saying you're home free, but when you get into the double-digits, there's a certain sense of cruise control that kicks in that can help ward off those two beers staring at you from the back of the fridge. But keep your head on a swivel: In my experience, around Day 20 you're getting bored and fidgety. You're tired of tea and club soda. Stay frosty, try some new drinks that can occupy your mind as well as your taste buds. The bonus? Some of those drinks can act as mixers once you fall off the wagon. Scalability starts in Drynuary.

Why are you doing this to yourself?

JO: The British medical establishment and other armchair psychologists would have you believe that I'm doing this to have an excuse to do keg stands for the other 11 months out of the year. Because it's so much of a comfort to be wallowing in an April hangover and thinking "Hey, at least I have Drynuary!"

This is our 7th year at this, and it's almost as much of a habit as having a couple of beers after playing hockey. It's also nice to not have to think of a New Year's resolution.

After the first week, my jeans already fit better. That, in and of itself, is worth the price of admission. For me, there's always a bit of vanity involved, so if it makes me feel better and better about myself, why the Hell not?

I wonder if Urban Outfitters, etc., sell calendars with just the jokey months in them. Movember, Drynuary, whatever else there is.

JO: I like it! When my wife and I were actively trying to get pregnant, we made up names for the months to reflect our effort. Schtuptember was my favorite.

But seriously, why are you doing this to yourself???

JO: Clearly, for the attention.

I love wine!!!

JO: Me too! It tastes so good after wandering in the desert for 30-odd days. Plus, it makes me such a cheap date.

We're halfway there, gang. How are we doing, exiled wine-lovers?

75 Comments / Post A Comment


I think I am accidentally doing Drynuary this year! I started about a week late, though, so it's only been 6 days. The main difference so far is that it's harder for me to deal with stressful personal emails. Normally if I have a beast I'll save it for the evening and do it with a glass of wine. So now I'm substituting wine with... not writing people back. (Yay?)


@SockHopBop You could replace it with making rude faces at your screen while you type - though maybe you do that anyway?


@gobblegirl Aha that is a good tip, I shall try it!


Yeah, just don't write back. Let 'em call you, and then ignore the call.


This is as good as it gets @k


Oh, man, the money. The money!! It feels so nice to take out $60 on Friday and still have $50 left on Sunday.


What is not nice: dirty looks from waitresses/bartenders even if I order a soda instead of water/seltzer. I promise I will tip you! Plus I'm already out with friends who are drinking booze! Don't hate meeee.


@meetapossum Seriously, that might be the hardest part! The look of confusion and the weird judgment face for ordering a ginger ale.

I actually broke in a pretty big way on Saturday night. And then last night at pub trivia, to tamp down competitiveness. I'm getting back on the horse-wagon, though. No more for the next 16. I hope.


@cardiganboots I know. I want to wear a huge sign that says "I WILL TIP YOU. Just please don't glare at me when I ask for water."


@meetapossum This is so frustrating, and frankly I also feel like it's irresponsible on the part of the server. I frequently go through my own dry periods where I DD a lot for my friends. What am I going to do, sit at the bar drinking nothing? Obviously not. I always tip on everything, including water, but that doesn't stop the dirty looks.

Or in the case of one particular bar my friends and I go to, if I order a cranberry soda, the server WITHOUT FAIL brings me soda water. Seriously. Same server, knows my group, has done this multiple times to me. Asshole.


@redheaded&crazie Exactly! There a million reasons to not drink alcohol at a bar, and I guarantee that "I want to be an asshole to my server" is the least likely. I prefer to stay in my couple neighborhood bars where my bartenders are also my friends and know why I'm not drinking and also that I won't shaft them on tips.

Nicole Cliffe

I'm out. (tosses cash on table)


This has been easier than I thought it would be--so, for example, I went to a bar on Sunday to watch the Ravens game and I thought I would feel awkward, like I was taking up valuable potential-booze-purchasing space, but it was no biggie.

I don't really feel any different--slightly thinner, perhaps, but that would probably have happened anyway just from not eating 50 cookies a day.


so... the husband and I are inadvertantly doing drynuary as a part of the "whole30" schtick. We're doing the "whole30" schtick because he wants to, and because I'm a supportive wife (and it actually really suits my current dietary needs vis a vis my health issues). And surprisingly, I'm not missing the booze so much because HOLY HELL i'm about to punch someone in the face for some ice cream. or a hoagie. or a cheese slice. So - if you want it to be easier (?), cut EVERYTHING out and then you'll hardly notice the booze part.


@noodge Hahahahaha I also considered doing more than alcohol (not a full whole 30, but no alcohol + no sugar) and then was like NOPE. Maybe that's why the alcohol seems so easy, because I already caved on sugar?

RK Fire

@noodge Hahaha, you're doing the Whole30? I did the Whole Life Challenge last fall and it was pretty successful. Even though I wasn't perfect the entire two months, I still managed to change my body composition pretty dramatically and keep it off since then. So then, going into January my husband and I were like "Whole30? Sure, why not!"

No dice. I've been able to maintain my body composition but apparently I need to shell out $40 or log points into a computer that everyone can see or something in order to do this shit.


I just realized that may have not sounded supportive, so I just wanted to clarify that I am impressed that you and your husband are able to keep this stuff up! I am carrying through some of the habits I learned from doing the WLC through the rest of my life, which strangely enough consist of 1) smaller food portions, particularly if anything starchy is involved, 2) cook with coconut oil, it is amazing, 3) don't drink a bottle of beer for at least 3 weeknights/week, 4) seltzer water and lime is sufficiently novel enough to make me feel like I'm drinking something different at a bar.


@RK Fire hahaha no, I don't sound very supportive of it either, and I've generally been really skeptical of the whole paleo movement, but I figured I would give it a shot (HA! "give it a shot" to no sugar, dairy, grains, or alcohol for 30 days. EASY!) Day 7 today! arggghhh

Anyway, no you definitely don't need to pay any money or anything. they have daily motivational emails if you want to sign up for them ($14 I believe). We have a local group where one of the members paid for it, and (shhh!) emails the daily motivations to everyone else, and we do potlucks and it's been pretty fun. Basically it's just "don't do this stuff for 30 days" and you don't need to pay anyone for it. Neat!

And congrats on the habit changing! that's what I'm sort of hoping this does for us - I'm not supposed to eat much sugar (insulin resistant) and my husband is the king of processed snacks (gross.) I also feel like our drinking is at a level that is uncomfortable for me. It's nice to know that someone's experience carries on through their life!

RK Fire

@noodge My husband and I have been going to a Crossfit gym for three years now so I am slightly more, uh, susceptible to this sort of thinking w/r/t food.

I know the Whole30 is free, but back in the fall the creators of the Whole 30 was trying out what amounted to be a 60-day version complete with online accountability (not just for food but also for 10 minutes of "active recovery", 10 min of mobility/stretching, and fish oil every day), forums, etc, and a lot of Crossfit gyms signed up for them, mine included. I decided to give it a whirl thinking that if my body didn't change significantly, then my diet was perfectly cromulent since I had been doing a half-assed version of paleo before in conjunction with olympic weightlifting. I dropped down a weight class (which works out to be about 10 lbs) and kept my strength, so that was good.

All of that being said, I'm not sure if I would pay $40 for it again. I think I would probably do a group of some friends on google docs.


@RK Fire yeahhh I'm a serious cheapskate, so I wasn't interested in paying for anything. and the camaraderie is really helpful in our group! I highly recommend it, and kudos for doing (what sounds like) and even more impressive challenge! I'm not in the market to lose any weight, so this is especially challenging for me, but so far I have maintained and even gotten some definition in my muscles that I wasn't sure I could get anymore since I'm 35! I definitely think I will keep a bunch of these habits up once it's over, especially if it has a positive impact on my health issues (which I'm feeling like it is)


@OhMarie Yeah, I thought about using January to also cut back on sweets, spend less money, etc... but then I realized that I need all my efforts to focus on the no booze thing. I can't handle giving it all up at once. I'm just not that strong.

Petit Prince

I am - by reason of a birthday party at the start of the month - doing the 5th Jan through the 5th Feb. So its been ten days and Jesus, Mary and Gay Joseph I'm bored.

The only inadvertent consolation is that it is winter and my enthusiasm for doing anything except pondering life's ultimate pointlessness is more than usually dulled. I am getting more writing done, though, and absolutely leaping through my to-do list of thrilling things like making my own Icelandic yogurt. NB: It wasn't particularly worth it, except for what insight it may give you on the Icelandic character.

John Ore

@Petit Prince Try making hákarl next!


I was doing so well but then I slipped up last night. I had four glasses of wine and vommed. I'm feeling pretty bummed about messing up but I think I'll just get back on it and tack on an extra day in February. My friends have been really supportive about doing healthy adult activities with me! Friday we went ice skating and Saturday night we went bowling. I think they are enjoying changing it up a little bit. The guy I've been seeing has been awesome too, and has been not drinking with me when we hang out. Part of me just wants to never drink again, especially after last night! My pants are fitting better, too!



OMG - the same thing happened to me over the weekend. One beer became five beers became vom party :( But I'm hopping back on the Drynuary bus as well! Good luck!!


@craygirl Cool, let's not be hard on ourselves and get back to it! This makes me realize I do need to be careful when I start drinking again because I guess my tolerance has already gone to shit!

Anita Ham Sandwich

I think I'll do my own "Ides of Drynuary and Forward" version. I've had a few nights already in January of excess, highlighted by last night's wine (an ex and I were visiting friends who make their own (amazing) wine). So, from here through the end of the month!


I would say that up until two/three years ago a dry month would have been an epic task that was bound for failure. Now it seems like just a few more coca-colas than a regular month. I am proud of this adjustment in my alcohol life.


I'm doing great and hating everybody. No real temptation tonight; trying to write a boozy essay though, and that won't be easy without booze. Did I mention the hating?


@C_Webb I'll also be surprised if I lose weight, because when I'm not drinking I seem to be nibbling.


@C_Webb I feel you on the hating. Like I said on FOT, I kind of hate my friends when they're drunk and I'm not. They're so LOUD. Am I that loud when I'm drunk? (Probably.)


@C_Webb I've replaced booze with hot chocolate and snacks which is majorly counterproductive. Empathy.


@C_Webb Same problem with the increased snacking. I feel like I'm eating more at night, and not generally because I'm hungry. Maybe it's just habit, like having something to do with one's hands and mouth (insert your own dirty joke here)?


>It's called "Drynuary." Say it quickly, it sounds sort of like "January."

no. it doesn't.

acid burn

I wasn't really formally doing this, but so far this January I've only had one drink (and it was to celebrate something really special so I'm fine with it). But omg, that study saying that people should not drink 2-3 times a week?? That's like those articles saying it's healthy to not eat meat for one meal a day. I cannot imagine how gross I would feel if I lived the way those articles are implying is normal.


I went out with co-workers last Friday and felt so smug when they got a little tipsy but I was totally sober. Apart from that, I have mostly been avoiding being around people who are drinking.


Whoa, there. I need to call attention to this business of the "Cardiff party shirt." The Cardiff party shirt is Not a Thing! I object to attempts to make it a Thing. What about Essex? We all still enjoy mocking Essex, right?

Besides, Christian Jessen is a flamboyant TV presenter of affluent English extraction whose poor sartorial choices are presumably unrelated to any supposed Cardiff loud-shirt-wearing subculture.


@Melusina Seriously, what the fuck is he even talking about? So-called physicians in striped Cardiff party shirts making assumptions and moralizing about what you allegedly do with the other 11 months of your year are clearly in the pocket of Big Pint. What is he talking about?? When I think Cardiff I do not think...Christian Jessen!

Why all the comments about Brits? I don't understand... Also, Christian Jessen is not a so-called physician, he is a physician. And The British medical establishment and other armchair psychologists - the British medical establishment is an armchair psychologist???

I find "dryanuary" baffling. But even weirder is this guy's tone.


@timesnewroman I was so lost. Maybe it's because I'm not British, but what the heck? Anyway, I'm lucky that if I don't drink, my friends might bug me to get a beer, but they don't actually care. When I've had periods of no alcohol, my social life didn't suffer.


I've managed to stay strong (yay!), but dear god, living in Montana is terrible for this challenge. The temperature has hovered anywhere between 7º and -15º the past six days, and all I want is a glass of red wine. Is "too cold for Dryanuary" a thing? Anyone else feeling simliar feelings? Wahhhh Malbec, miss you :(


Half way point! It's cold and I want a glass of wine. Was just thinking "this limonata would be great with gin." But feeling good :) Thanks for the articles and camaraderie.


@TessDressed I have an open bottle of wine leftover from new year's eve. Every night I walk in the kitchen and see the bottle and immediately feel stabby. (It has the suction-closer-thing, but I am assuming at this point, it's bad and I should just pour it out for that reason alone.)


So, I've cheated. I got engaged on NYE which has made Drynuary difficult but I've been doing pretty well... but we're also moving kinda fast and booked a venue which is a vineyard which I needed to check the quality before putting the down payment on!

And then I needed to do another tasting when we brought our parents!
And then I had two glasses of wine with dinner. So a total of 4 glasses of wine :(

Other than that though, nothing but water - I went Drynuary hardcore. So water with lemon (often in a wine glass) and I'd like to say that - nothing. no difference at all in my pants. My pants have been tight so I was really looking forward to this (to be fair I'm only just getting serious about modifying my eating now but I'm not super gluttonous on the regular)... so yeah. bummer. because I really miss when my pants used to fit. This is also sadly reminiscent of when I completely cut out soda and gained 20 pounds. I formerly blamed that on the booze but maybe my body just responds well to unhealth.

It has been surprisingly easy to avoid drinking on the weekdays though, so I'm gonna try to keep this going.


I don't drink that much to begin with but decided to do Drynuary, and am actually surprised at how hard it is. I rarely have more than 1-2 drinks at once (like I think New-Years was the first time in months and months) and only drink with dinner a couple nights a week. And I just don't get drunk because I get sick before I get drunk.

But yeah, I have definitely been tempted a couple of times. Once was when I was stressed out and my husband and I were having some cheese before dinner, and I just thought how nice a glass of wine would be at the moment. Another time was when we were invited to a friends house for dinner and everyone was having wine. I think they thought I was preggers or something. I didn't want to go around announcing the drynuary thing for fear of sounding preachy.

My husband is not participating but by virtue of the fact that I'm not drinking he has only had a beer with dinner a few times. It's not like he's breaking out a bottle of wine and drinking it without me at dinner, which would be hard.

Anyway, I thought I wouldn't even think about the absence of booze that much, but I actually am thinking about it so even that is a lesson. I hope to keep this tradition going in my life in the future.

Good job everyone, even those that "screwed up"... just get back to it and don't worry too much.

fruiting body

@zeytin I am with you, not a huge drinker to begin with but surprised at how much effort it's taking! The biggest temptations for me have been: 1. sushi dinner when I REALLY wanted an Asahi and 2. got really mopetastic over the weekend and wished I could kill my feelings with some wine - but see, I never thought I used alcohol as a coping mechanism and now I know that I do, I feel good about staying off it for a month!


@fruiting body Yes, the food-drink matching thing has been responsible for a few of my cravings as well. I think that there can be exquisite pleasure in a great food and wine (or sometimes beer or cocktail) combo, and I've felt a bit bummed out a couple of times when I had good meals that would have been perfectly complemented by a specific wine.

Ellie Bailey@facebook

the name 'drynuary' is indeed stupid. we call it 'banuary' and you can ban anything you like, booze or chocolate or whatever.


@Ellie Bailey@facebook I like Banuary!

Edna Million

@Ellie Bailey@facebook I used to have a name for it that I liked better than Drynuary, but the latter term colonized my brain and drove the earlier term out. Banuary is a great replacement for my lost name, thanks!

Snood Mood

This is my seventh Drynuary (we call it Detoxuary) and my guy and I get through it by making exceptions once a week and then adding days on at the end. Cheating? Sure, but it gets us through it.

Diaphanous Gown

I think people said it on the original thread? But, that guy is a douche. One article pointing out that maybe some people should drink less year-round is not specifically attacking you, dude.


@Diaphanous Gown Seriously? John's a good guy. Clearly faux-outrage at a popular article related to the topic he's writing about does not make one a douche! Have you seen literally anything anyone's ever written on the internet?


One thing I'll say for Drynuary is it sure alleviates some of the winter blues I'm usually prone to. I guess not having small amounts of chemical depressants milling around your bloodstream all the time is good for you? Huh. Anyhow, I'm a cheap date on February 1.


@hungrybee I've found that my antidepressants seem to be working better. I felt like I'd slowly been sliding into a darker place the last 2 months or so, but I've feeling a bit brighter and more stable in Drynuary. Guess I'll have to be more mindful of that once the month is over. I really, really like wine, but I also really like getting out of bed and not feeling perpetually awful.


Yeah, I failed Drynuary so hard. 8 days of no drinking, which I felt good about! But then on the 9th day (or wait, shit...maybe it was January 8th, actually :( ) my boyfriend & I went out to this restaurant & ordered a bottle of wine. And then we had a boozy weekend, & mid-week last week, I went out with one of my friends & we also ordered a bottle of wine.

So, I can't even say I "slipped up"---it was more like FUUUCK IT!


This is my first Dryanuary and I think I'm going to credit it with my apparent ability to fight off the flu, even though my husband and coworkers and friends all seem to have horrible cases of it? Emergen-C in lieu of wine and avoiding crowded bars (more or less) seem to be working in my favor, and not just in the I'm-not-constantly-drunk-and-I-have-mo-money way.

But I assume this means I can schedule my flu week starting Feb 1st.


@ironhoneybee This is my first time doing Drynuary too! But I got the flu right after Xmas, so it kind of made the ease into not drinking easier? Because, even though I was still sick, I got hammered on New Year's and felt doubly worse on the 1st.


That did not last long. I knew I'd be taking part in a family wedding on the 12th and would be forced to wear a one shoulder silver snakeskin patterned dress and that I would not be refusing champagne that night; so I only half committed anyway and then fell into my "If you're not going to do it RIGHT then Fuck It!" style of thinking. For a minute I thought I'd do, "Just don't BUY any alcohol, if someone buys me a drink or it's free it's okay!" But that just got too complicated. Nevermind, drynuary! I am eating a lot of spinach this month, though!


I'm not a big drinker at all, so I guess I'm doing this involuntarily, too. It helps that I've been sick with whatever we all have since Christmas and haven't really wanted to go out. When I have gone out in the past couple weeks, I'm playing a show or something and don't drink because I'm way too nervous and active and I'll get sick. I could try to do a "dry month" with something I actually love, like sugar or pizza, but that seems a lot harder.

miss buenos aires

@kellyography I think that's Lent. (You know, if you're Catholic.)


Not a huge drinker here either, but it's been pretty easy not to drink. I also have a good female friend I've been double-dating with that is pregnant, so it's nice to not be the only person not drinking at the table.

Stacy Worst

Drynuary is still alive over here. Only barely, and on a technicality; I moved yesterday and satisfied the post-exertion/celebratory beer craving with Beck's non-alcoholic.

Getting smugger every day, keep the admissions of FAILURE coming!

Briony Fields

I love not drinking. I actually started in December, so I survived NYE on Cola Light and have been fine ever since. It helps that getting up early is a thousand and one times easier. Even if I only have one beer in the evening and don't get tipsy/drunk at all, I totally feel extra sluggish the next day, so my life is vastly improved with no alcohol.


I've been doing this, plus no dessert/limited sugar (THERE WAS JUST SO MUCH OVER CHRISTMAS), but last night was a big cheat on both because I'd got my father a cooking class and wine tasting for his combined birthday/Christmas present and I was not going to not do the wine tasting portion. Especially since the class was resolutely not vegetarian and I wanted something more than an appetizer out of my entrance fee.


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