How can you stop thoughts of moderating alcohol from driving you back into the drinking cycle?

Have you ever decided to stop drinking to get 5 days, 30 days or 100 days in and start to think “Maybe I can have just one glass of wine every once in a while…”, only to find yourself struggling to stop drinking again? I did that for years. And it can keep you stuck feeling like a failure for a long time. 

Why is it important to stop thoughts of moderating alcohol?

The desire to moderate alcohol is something that can both stop your sober momentum in its tracks and stop you from enjoying and appreciating alcohol-free life. 

It’s incredibly common because most of us have a love-hate relationship with alcohol.

We don’t actually want to stop drinking completely, we just wish we could “drink like a normal person”. We want to be able to moderate our intake of an addictive substance once it’s already got a hold on us. And that’s almost impossible to do for very long.

If you’re tired of the endless cycle of attempting to moderate your drinking you’re not alone.

I tried to moderate my drinking for years. I made ALL the rules about when I would (or wouldn’t drink) to get a handle on it. And I was miserable when I was doing it. 

If I’m being honest, I’ve never wanted “a” drink in my life. I’ve always wanted that fuzzy, buzzy feeling alcohol gave me and I kept drinking because I never wanted that feeling to end. 

I just didn’t have an off switch. I drank until the alcohol was gone or I “went to bed” (aka passed out).

Here are all the ways I tried over the years to moderate my drinking:

➡️ I set a drink limit: I would tell myself that I would ONLY have 2 drinks a night
➡️ I would make rules about where I would drink. For a while I would ONLY drink when I was out (so I wouldn’t drink a bottle of wine at home every night). And at other times I would ONLY drink when I was home (so I wouldn’t have to worry about driving).
➡️ I signed myself up for really early workouts so I couldn’t drink too much the night before.
➡️ I signed myself up for evening running classes so I wouldn’t drink every evening.
➡️ I switched from drinking red wine (my favorite) to white wine or beer since I didn’t like them as much
➡️ I would tell my friends and husband to cut me off after two or three drinks
➡️ I would start diets or health kicks where I couldn’t drink alcohol (and would only last a week or two at most)
➡️ I would try to shame myself into not drinking – taking selfies of how awful I looked when I was hungover or writing myself letters about how much I sucked
➡️ I would only keep one bottle of wine in the house at the time so I wouldn’t drink more
➡️ I would try to drink a glass of wine in between every alcoholic drink
➡️ I would try to eat before drinking so I wouldn’t get too drunk
➡️ I would track the days I drank and how much I drank in an effort to cut back or be more “mindful” of my alcohol consumption

None of it worked for very long! 🤦🏼‍♀️

What I finally discovered is that it’s actually easier to take a longer break from drinking than to try to “moderate” an addictive substance. 

When I was attempting to limit how much I drank or how often I drank I was actually putting myself in a constant craving and withdrawal cycle.

Whenever I was not drinking I was irritated and wanted to drink because I was in withdrawal from alcohol. And the minute I tried to have “just one” glass of wine my brain lit up wanting more. 

If you’ve ever tried to take a break from drinking and have gotten to 4 days or 7 days and given up, you know how hard it is to get some sober momentum. 

Making it to 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, 6 months or 1 year alcohol free is incredible. 

And what’s crazy is that as soon as you’re feeling better, sleeping better, feeling happier and looking better, those sneaky thoughts come back in. 

You start thinking “It’s been xxx days or months since I stopped drinking alcohol. I can probably have a cocktail on a special occasion and it will be no big deal”

Except it is a big deal. 

Sober momentum is precious and really (really) hard to get. 

You don’t want to dive back into the drinking cycle again because once you start with “a” glass, it’s really easy to have that glass become a bottle. And then have that special occasion become a Tuesday night at home. And to have it be incredibly hard to get 2 weeks alcohol-free again. 

So I want to share with you the strategies I give my private sober coaching clients to help them stop thinking about moderating alcohol and let them enjoy alcohol-free life.

10 Strategies to Put Thoughts of moderating alcohol on Pause

1. Set Specific Goals 🎯

Start with a goal of reaching a longer period of continuous time without alcohol. I recommend 100 days. You are not thinking about forever, but you’re also not just “trying” to not drink tonight or not drink during the week. Your goal is to try to get away from alcohol so you can see it clearly.

2. Engage in Non-Alcoholic Activities 🎸

Instead of focusing on what you can’t do, explore new activities that bring joy and fulfillment without alcohol. Join a running club, a meditation class, try guitar lessons, create a vision board, sign up for early morning workouts—something that doesn’t involve offers of a drink.

3. Focus on Positive Feelings 🧠

Shift your mindset from what you’re giving up to what you’re gaining. Concentrate on how you want to feel—proud, energized, present—instead of dwelling on what you’re avoiding.

4. Adopt a Mantra 🧘🏻‍♂️

Have a go-to mantra ready for when cravings strike. Something that reminds you why you’re on this journey and empowers you to stay strong.

5. Share Your Goal 👨‍👨‍👧‍👦

Don’t be afraid to share your alcohol-free goal with others. Surround yourself with supportive friends and family who will cheer you on every step of the way.

6. Romanticize Sobriety 🥰

Embrace the beauty of sobriety. Focus on the moments of clarity, incredible sleep, having more energy, remembering everything, waking up without feeling like garbage, the extra time you have, being able to drive home safely from dinner. There is so much good stuff in alcohol-free life!

7. Recognize Your Addictive Voice 🗣️

Learn to identify and acknowledge the voice in your head that tries to rationalize and justify drinking. By separating it from yourself, you gain the power to silence it.

8. Get Real with Your Language 💥

Change the way you talk about drinking. Instead of glamorizing or minimizing its impact, speak truthfully about its hold on your life and your journey to break free. Instead of saying “I think I’ll have a glass of wine at dinner”, be honest and say “I think I’m going to dive back into the drinking cycle that I worked really f*cking hard to get out of”.

9. Find a tribe of people who get it 👭

You don’t have to do this alone! Find a group of people who also are working on an alcohol-free life and want to get out of the drinking cycle. It makes this journey so much easier and a lot more fun.  If you join my Sobriety Starter Kit program you’ll meet incredible women in the community!

10. Practice Self-Compassion 💓

Cultivate self-compassion by treating yourself with kindness and understanding. Remember, you’re only human, and setbacks can be part of the journey.

Changing your mindset surrounding alcohol consumption is key to putting thoughts of “moderation” on pause. Instead of viewing sobriety as a restrictive or limiting lifestyle, reframe it as an empowering choice that aligns with your core values and goals. 

By shifting your perspective, you can cultivate a more positive and proactive relationship with alcohol, one that prioritizes your well-being and personal growth.

When you redirect your attention from alcohol, you discover alternative methods to cope, relax, or rejuvenate yourself. Without relying on alcohol for these purposes, you can explore more intriguing and sustainable approaches to fulfill your needs.

In this episode, Gayle and I discuss:

✅ All the ways we tried to moderate, control and rationalize our drinking

Why it’s so hard to moderate your alcohol consumption (hint: it’s an addictive substance that puts you in a constant craving and withdrawal cycle)

✅ How to remember your “why” when the memory of how you felt when you were drinking has faded

✅ How to switch from romanticizing drinking to romanticizing sobriety

✅ How to identify the hidden reasons behind WHY you want to drink so that you can solve for them without alcohol

✅ Why not drinking is a long game of compounding benefits

Other Podcast Episodes Related To Moderation and How To Protect Your Sober Momentum

3 Stages of Relapse + How To Protect Your Sobriety | Hello Someday Coaching

How To Stop Romanticizing Alcohol + Start Romanticizing Sobriety | Hello Someday Coaching

Why I Quit Drinking I The Hello Someday Podcast with Casey McGuire Davidson  

Stop Drinking with Identity Based Atomic Habits | Hello Someday Coaching 

Why You Need Sober Treats | Hello Someday Coaching

The Sober Lush – Living an Adventurous Life – Alcohol Free | Hello Someday Coaching

3 Ways I Can Support You In Drinking Less + Living More

❤️ Join The Sobriety Starter Kit Program, the only sober coaching course designed specifically for busy women. 

🧰 Grab the Free 30-Day Guide To Quitting Drinking, Tips For Your First Month Alcohol-Free.

💥 Connect with me on Instagram.

Or you can find me on Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube and TikTok @hellosomedaysober.

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Connect with Gayle Macdonald

Gayle Macdonald, life and sobriety coach, author and founder and nurturing voice behind Sober Bliss, has been happily alcohol-free since 2018. A lover of words, tea and trees, Gayle has a calming, grounding presence, and has helped hundreds of clients to tap into their own power and discover that they already have everything they need inside of them to quit drinking and feel good. 

Whether within the pages of a book, over a coffee, or on a Zoom call, Gayle has a soothing and gentle approach that makes working with her feel like drinking hot chocolate while wrapped in a blanket

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Are you looking for the best sobriety podcast for women? The Hello Someday Podcast was created specifically for sober curious women and gray area drinkers ready to stop drinking, drink less and change their relationship with alcohol.

Host Casey McGuire Davidson, a certified life and sobriety coach and creator of The 30-Day Guide to Quitting Drinking and The Sobriety Starter Kit Sober Coaching Course, brings together her experience of quitting drinking while navigating work and motherhood, along with the voices of experts in personal development, self-care, addiction and recovery and self-improvement. 

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A Top 100 Mental Health Podcast, ranked in the top 0.5% of podcasts globally with over 1 million downloads, The Hello Someday Podcast is the best sobriety podcast for women.

In each episode, Casey will share the tried and true secrets of how to drink less and live more.

Learn how to let go of alcohol as a coping mechanism, how to shift your mindset about sobriety and change your drinking habits, how to create healthy routines to cope with anxiety, people pleasing and perfectionism, the importance of self-care in early sobriety, and why you don’t need to be an alcoholic to live an alcohol-free life. 

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How To Put Thoughts Of Moderating Alcohol On Pause



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SPEAKERS: Casey McGuire Davidson + Gayle Macdonald


Welcome to the Hello Someday Podcast, the podcast for busy women who are ready to drink less and live more. I’m Casey McGuire Davidson, ex-red wine girl turned life coach helping women create lives they love without alcohol. But it wasn’t that long ago that I was anxious, overwhelmed, and drinking a bottle of wine and night to unwind. I thought that wine was the glue, holding my life together, helping me cope with my kids, my stressful job and my busy life. I didn’t realize that my love affair with drinking was making me more anxious and less able to manage my responsibilities.

In this podcast, my goal is to teach you the tried and true secrets of creating and living a life you don’t want to escape from.

Each week, I’ll bring you tools, lessons and conversations to help you drink less and live more. I’ll teach you how to navigate our drinking obsessed culture without a buzz, how to sit with your emotions when you’re lonely or angry, frustrated or overwhelmed, how to self soothe without a drink, and how to turn the decision to stop drinking from your worst case scenario to the best decision of your life.

I am so glad you’re here. Now let’s get started.

Hi there. Today, we are talking about


how to put thoughts of “moderation” on pause


so that you can see how it feels to get a longer period of time without going back to trying to just have 2 glasses a night or drink 2 nights a week.


My guest is Gayle Macdonald. She’s a Life and Sobriety Coach, an author and the founder and nurturing voice behind Sober Bliss. And she’s been happily alcohol-free since 2018. She loves words, tea and trees. She is a calming grounding presence. And I think you are going to love that on this podcast.


So, Gayle, welcome.


Gayle Macdonald  02:10

Thank you. That’s such a lovely introduction. So yeah.


Casey McGuire Davidson  02:16

Well, you’re so welcome. And I reached out to you to talk about this topic. Because it is the one that I think women struggle with the most as they’re taking a break from alcohol. And I know that I did. For years, the phrase I hear the most is, I just want to drink like a quote unquote, normal person. And we have tried. Most of us, to do that for years and years regardless of whether we specifically called it, moderation. We’ve tried to drink less. What do you think about the topic of moderation? What do you see?


Gayle Macdonald  03:00

Yeah, it’s such a common topic, it’s something that I get asked about a lot, because I think not drinking is scary. So automatically, we want to make it less scary. So therefore, if I can just drink last, then I’m still being you know, quote unquote, “good”. But I’m still enjoying myself, I’m having all the again, quote unquote, “benefits” of not drinking often. And I think it’s a way in our minds at least, to make it easier, even though in reality, it’s the hardest thing to do.


Again, when I, you know, was going through this, I didn’t probably use the word motivation, either. It’s the rules that we set ourselves that, you know, always thinking about it, even though we think that by thinking about it, and managing it and controlling it, we’re doing a better thing around it, when really quite the opposite.


Casey McGuire Davidson  04:06

So just because I think it’ll be helpful for us to talk about this. What are all the different strategies that you tried to moderate before you quit drinking?


Gayle Macdonald  04:22

It was things like, I will only drink at the weekend. I will only drink why? Which was hopeless because I couldn’t drink wine without getting absolutely wasted. So, it was saying, Well, I only drink beer. And then again, you know, when the B of an hour, then there was only wine there. So it was, you know, that was a no brainer as well. Or it was limiting the amount that I would drink. You know, it’s a weeknight, therefore I’ll only have one or two. What else did I try having? One day on? One day off? I think the weekend one was the worst because No, maybe Sunday’s were even the worst thing. No, they would. They are not doing good on a Sunday. And they, you know, they have fled. I need to be fresh for the week kicking-off again on Monday. So, I need to be good.


And I found Sunday such a struggle. And I don’t know if it’s because where my life was at the time, but they were pretty boring. You know, being at home with 2 young kids is not easy. And I thought, wow, it’s Sunday, I’ll start again on Monday. Never went to plan, either, is constantly thinking of rules for myself and putting restrictions around how much I could win when and what in order to make myself feel like I was doing something about it. Yeah.


Casey McGuire Davidson  06:02

And I mean, I did all of those things, the rules, I switched from wine to beer. I switched from, because I didn’t like it as much. I switched from red wine, white wine, because I didn’t like it as much. I was never a hard alcohol girl. So that was easy for me. I definitely tried water between each drink only on the weekends, I even tried buying box wine, which by the way, I do not suggest somehow in my mind, the rationale was like, oh, it’s because if I have three drinks, there’s so little left, that I’m tempted to finish it. So, if I don’t have a bottle of wine, I’d drink less, like, bad idea, don’t try that.


But I also tried activities as a way to not drink. So, I would join a running club that ran from seven to 8pm thinking that would curb my drinking. It didn’t, I would be white knuckling it or I would come home and open a bottle of wine at eight think you’d I deserve it still drink the bottle. Or I would sign up for workout classes at 5:30 in the morning, so that I wouldn’t drink too much the night before. And all that did was again white knuckling it for a few days give up and then feel really ill at my morning workouts, I would also try to do one of those, like, I’ll do whole 30 Because you can’t drink wine on it. Or, you know, restricting what I would eat. And so, I used to have a personal trainer and be like, oh, so I only ate with the idea of like, I’m going to hire this trainer. So, I’ll drink less. And then I give her my log and be like, you know, egg white omelet, salad, asparagus, and salmon, and then six glasses of wine, which now I’m embarrassed that I even ever showed her that, but she was like, What is this? And I’m like, Oh, I’m still in my book be out. All that was doing was hitting me harder because I had no food in my belly.


Gayle Macdonald  08:19

Yeah, yeah, exactly. I remember doing that as well, with a food log. And I wasn’t as honest with you. And I would not put down exactly how many beers I’d had that day to make it all neat and tidy. And in a book, you know, hide it with a bow with the lie?


Casey McGuire Davidson  08:39

Well, I think after she was shown so shocked, I stopped writing down which, you know, was interesting. I was like, why am I not achieving my goals? It’s hysterical. The reason I wanted to first talk about the ways we tried to “moderate”, and I bet there are a million more is because women I talked to you will take a break from drinking, they’ll get to 30 days, they’ll be feeling so much better. Somehow in their minds. They’ll say, Oh, it wasn’t even that hard. Forgetting the 100 times they tried previously and hadn’t gotten past day 2 or week 2. And then, they will say, you know, I don’t know if I even ever tried to moderate before I stopped drinking. They’re like, No, I just drank. I didn’t try to moderate. And so, I think it’s important to acknowledge that you did that we did.


Yeah. And one of the things I love, in terms of like,


how do you put thoughts of “moderation” out of your mind when you were stopping drinking?


Write down what you want to stop happening. You know what.

Why you actually want to stop drinking? Because you will get further away and feel better and forget or minimize? And then what you’ve tried before, to control your alcohol intake, what do you think about that? Have you done that with plants?


Gayle Macdonald  10:18

Uh huh. And it’s that whole openness and bringing awareness to the situation, because I don’t think that we can really change something unless we are, you know, completely 100% aware of it. And as we know, when we are trying to not drink, certainly when I was, you know, going through the moderation phase, I would tell myself little steps. So, I would hide the truth, though, I wouldn’t admit perhaps, is to just how much of an impact it was having on my life. So, by being open about it, and really having that awareness and noticing and focusing on what actually is going on here? And how do I want to feel in debt? I think that is really powerful. As long as we’re honest with ourselves, then it’s, it’s like a starting point, isn’t it? Like, okay, well, this is actually what’s happening. So where can I go from here? What can I do instead?


Casey McGuire Davidson  11:26

Yeah, I love that. You said both? Why? Where am I? And getting honest about that? And this again, is just for yourself. So, you can remember. And then also, what do I want instead? And I actually have I, I wrote myself notes when I was, you know, trying to stop drinking, I wrote myself notes in my phone notebook, before I stopped. And so, I have that.


And the things I said, were like,


I want to feel better. I want to stop waking up at 3am. I want to stop avoiding my husband’s eyes. I want him to stop asking me how I’m feeling. I want to stop forgetting the shows I watch at night, I want to stop falling asleep on the couch, which let’s be real was passing out, and my husband couldn’t wake me up. I want to stop feeling like crap in the morning. Like, that’s enough. You know, that’s enough of a reason. There were more. There were definitely more. There were the lows, but it was sort of the daily anxiety and feeling shaky. And putting on myself, that was what I didn’t want. What I wanted was to feel proud of myself to run a 10k Because I always told myself that I would to get a good night’s sleep and not wake up at 3am to do more things that bring me joy. Like that was what I wanted to feel instead. And keeping those two in mind helped me because I could be like, looking back. Oh, that. That is what’s changed. I am doing that. That’s what I want.


Gayle Macdonald  13:28

Yeah, yeah. I like to focus on, you know, especially with my client, and it helped me as well, to focus on the good things that not drinking would do for me, that would bring me.

I really tried to focus on how I wanted to feel as opposed to how I didn’t want to feel, because personally, it just made me feel worse if I focused on, you know, the show, yeah, girl and all of that.


And I thought in my head that that’s what sobriety was supposed to be, you know, beating ourselves up for how bad we were that we couldn’t want to work moderate that we couldn’t drink like a normal person and there must be something wrong with it. And it was going to have to be a struggle from view on him. And that didn’t sound like much fun at all.


Yeah, I thought, well, let’s focus on what I want instead. And how does that make me feel? That’s what I do. In most of my coaching now, I get people to connect to the feeling that they want to experience when they’re not drinking, or even just the thought of it because I find it so much more powerful. If you can, you know, physically feel how good it is to wake up without a hangover delicious. There’s two days when you haven’t had a drink and how blissful the sleep is. Because that will, you know, keep you going when it gets challenging, and it’s a struggle.

And when those thoughts of “moderation”, do repairman, because you’re like, Well, no, because if I have a drink now, and it will disrupt my sleep, I won’t feel as lovely as I do in the morning. I won’t appreciate those magical moments with my kid, or whatever. So that was really powerful for me to, you know, keep knocking those thoughts of “motivation” at bay.


Casey McGuire Davidson  15:47

Yeah, no, I think that’s great. And I’m a big vision board person. I find that it keeps what I want, front and center, because it’s so easy to get off track, just with daily life when things come up.


And so, I created just, you know, a little sign that had the quote that motivated me in the beginning.


And it said, create a life that feels good on the inside, not just one that looks good on the outside.


And I put pictures of Paris because I wanted to go to Paris. And I put pictures of me when I was 26. And I was riding a scooter by myself, it was like this orange scooter. Nantucket, which is this gorgeous island in North America, on the east coast, where I had friends and I, I scooted around to all these light houses. And I did. I took photography, and I sat on the beach by myself and ate a sandwich. And it was just that moment of pure joy, that there was no alcohol involved in when I was feeling horrible and defensive and irritated and worried like that was so far from the way I was. So, just that idea of I want to create a life that feels good on the inside. And then, I also had assigned that with like, more sunsets, more joy, more road trips, more love, more books, more walks, like all those things that there’s so much to love than isn’t in a bottle.

Casey McGuire Davidson 

Hi there. If you’re listening to this episode, and have been trying to take a break from drinking, but keep starting and stopping and starting again, I want to invite you to take a look at my on demand coaching course, The Sobriety Starter Kit.


The Sobriety Starter Kit is an online self study sober coaching course that will help you quit drinking and build a life you love without alcohol without white knuckling it or hating the process. The course includes the exact step by step coaching framework I work through with my private coaching clients, but at a much more affordable price than one on one coaching. And the sobriety starter kit is ready, waiting and available to support you anytime you need it. And when it fits into your schedule. You don’t need to work your life around group meetings or classes at a specific day or time.

This course is not a 30 day challenge, or a one day at a time approach. Instead, it’s a step by step formula for changing your relationship with alcohol. The course will help you turn the decision to stop drinking, from your worst case scenario to the best decision of your life.

You will sleep better and have more energy, you’ll look better and feel better. You’ll have more patience and less anxiety. And with my approach, you won’t feel deprived or isolated in the process. So if you’re interested in learning more about all the details, please go to You can start at any time and I would love to see you in the course 


Gayle Macdonald  17:33

Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. It’s so important, I think, to keep reminding ourselves of all of those things, all of the mores that are ours, when we do let go of the alcohol, because, you know, it’s quite a common thing to hear. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. And it just gets better. And it really does. I know it’s cliche, but it really does. And that might be so powerful to remember in the early days, because often we don’t do the beginning again and again and again. And over and over. We do the hard pay the most. And that’s kind of the image that we can get in our head. That’s what sobriety is, like, it’s so hard, it’s so difficult, I feel awful, to of course, motivation. If you put it against, you know, day one over and over, it is slightly more appealing. Yeah. However, if we give ourselves the chance to experience more time, more peace more space, then that’s when the benefit can really kick in and, and yeah.


Casey McGuire Davidson  18:58

How to, you know, the idea of how to put thoughts of “moderation” on pause.


The strategies are different, whether you’re in your first 30 days, or whether you’re further along. So, in my mind, in your first 30 days, thoughts of moderating are what stops you from ever getting out of the drinking cycle, that craving reward cycle. I think that alcohol is like a magnet, the closer you are to your last drink, the stronger the poll is on you.


So, when you’re first getting started, I think one of the most useful strategies to avoid thoughts in moderation is to stop thinking about forever. To set a goal.


I like 100 days because 30 days in, my mind is tricky, because your mind immediately thinks of moderation. So oh, I’m reset. I’m good. That wasn’t that hard. And you want to get past that to really, like you said, experience the benefits. But saying, Okay, I’m not going to drink for 100 days, picturing whatever season it is. So, spring or fall or, you know, winter and picturing all the things you always said you wanted to do that you haven’t done that you just haven’t gotten around to like whether it’s snowshoeing or reading books in a hammock, or whatever it is, and just saying, Okay, this is my goal. It’s a wellness challenge. It’s not forever.


Hopefully, that’ll put the thoughts of “moderation” on pause in the beginning to give yourself a chance.


And if you’re further along in sobriety, like 40 days, 50 106 months, then going back to what you wrote in the beginning, because the fading effect bias is real. Yeah, right. Like, I wasn’t that bad. I never tried to moderate, I can just drink on vacation and restart. And for me, one of my thoughts was in this is hysterical. My life is better now. Like, I have more tools, I’m more centered, my relationship is better. Work is less stressful. Therefore, I can drink moderately, because my overdrinking was situational. Because my life was really hard.


It’s so funny, because the reason my life was better and work with less stressful and my relationship was better was because I wasn’t drinking. Not. And, and somehow, I didn’t realize that. So, what I like to think of is, the goal is not to just go through your life not drinking. That is not the goal. Like, sobriety is the foundation that allows you to do everything else you want in life. So that of your goal being to moderate set a different goal that’s aligned with alcohol-free life, whatever it is you want to do, whether it’s going to Coach in school, or getting a vacation home or running a 10k, or starting knitting or guitar, like whatever it is, it doesn’t matter. What do you think, what about thoughts in moderation in your first 30 days, and then when you’re further along, for me, it was really important to me not drinking to make living alcohol-free part of who I was, part of who I am.


Gayle Macdonald  22:50

So instead of seeing it as, you know, a 30 day or three months, or whatever, it was kind of, I suppose goal or challenge, I thought that I would make it just to I was now I’ve just somebody who didn’t drink. And that in some ways made it easier for me. Oh, you know, looking ahead, and what will I do after this period of time, and when I get to a month, then I can celebrate with a drink or whatever it was. So, I had a mantra. In the beginning, and I talk about this a lot on my podcast, I mention it in my book, and on my blog.


My mantra was, I am not drinking no matter what.


And I tie that in with Michael Jordan, quote, when he said, you know, once I made the decision, I never thought about it again.


And those two, hand-in-hand, really helped me to just put all thoughts of “moderation” completely out of my head. Because I’d already decided that no matter what, I just wasn’t drinking.


Yeah, it doesn’t matter if it’s a good day or a bad day, or if I’m happy or I’m sad. Or if it’s Christmas, or if it’s in a month’s time or in 6 months. It doesn’t matter. I’m just not drinking. And that made it. It felt like firm ground to walk on again, as opposed to always, you know, will I? I won’t die. How long was it good this time and you’re not deciding every patient or not.


Casey McGuire Davidson  24:44

One of the things I like about that strategy now is that it immediately switches you to solution mode versus debating. So then, if your goal is 100 days, which then I love extending it, of course to six months and then a year, but say your goal is 100 days, you’re say, Oh, I’m 20 days into my 100 Day goal. I am not drinking right now.


So, what else can I do? Like, you’re just moving past and Jen Sincero, who wrote the You’re A Badass series of books. I’m a huge fan of hers.


She said, you know, deciding is freedom. Indecision is what’s torture.


She’s like, you don’t go up to your bedroom every night and sit around for 20 minutes debating whether you’re going to brush your teeth, and just being like, well, I won’t I do I need to, are they that dirty? I don’t want to get my toothbrush wet or whatever, like, No, you just do it, you don’t even think about it. And that’s that. Just not doing that.


I mean, it sounds so simple. One of the things, so I took a group course with Holly Whitaker, before she wrote, Quit Like A Woman. This was 8 years ago. There were like, 100 of us in there. And she said something that resonated with me.


And she said, You know, I can’t fuck with alcohol. You know, the idea is like, I have burned my hand on that hot stove. enough times. Like, if I put my hand on the hot stove, it is going to burn. ~ Holly Whitaker, author of Quit Like A Woman


And so, the idea with that is the way she said that she’s first a lot. And I do too. It’s like, what can I fuck with? Right? Like, what do you want? Why do you want to drink? Is it that you’re bored? Is it that you are not connected to your partner? Are you feeling left out? Are you thinking? This is all too hard? I’m overwhelmed.


Be like, Okay, I want to drink because I feel like this is all too hard. Well, what else can I do to get rid of that feeling? It’s probably that this is all too hard. Like you need to drop things off or like, Okay, I want to drink because I want to connect with my husband. All right. That’s why I want to drink. What else can I do? I mean, it moves you to solution.


Gayle Macdonald  27:22

It does. Yeah. Often I say to people, you’re drinking is fixing this bit here on the surface in that moment, but what it’s really doing is masking what’s underneath the surface. So, let’s try and figure out what’s really going on.


Like you said, My simple thing on my board – Am I hungry? Am I stressed? Am I tired? Look at the immediate situation and think, what can I do? So that was where my mantra really helped. Because I’d already made the decision that I wasn’t going to drink. So, my next thing was, well, what can I do, instead?


Okay, it’s Saturday. I’ve never did a whole Saturday without drinking in for as long as I can remember. So, what can I do instead? And it shifted the focus. Because I think when moderating or trying to motivate, the focus is still very much on alcohol, and drinking, and thinking about drinking. Whereas when we decide or choose, that I’m not going to drink, and that’s going to be you know, where I go from here. Then your focus shifts to what would a non-drinking person do right now. And it’s incredibly liberating, I found that when this thoughts of drinking, shall I Shawn tie, when can I? when they are gone? All of a sudden, this new insight from then, and we certainly got imagination again, and we’re creative, and we think of new ideas. Because alcohol just takes up so much space in our head. So, I think it’s good to try and remind ourselves, if we do think about moderating that situation, I suppose can be much easier dealt with. When we shift the focus away from alcohol, you learn different ways to cope, you learn different ways to relax, or to unwind or to, you know, get energize again, because alcohol is just not there anymore to do that. So, you find more interesting way more sustainable ways, I think to do those things. Yeah,


Casey McGuire Davidson  30:05

Yeah, absolutely. And one thing I also like to encourage women to do is to one, share your goal, share your alcohol free goal with everyone, just in a very, very positive way. And you know, whether it’s Oh, I’m not drinking for 100 days, that will or six months or whatever, that will make it a lot harder to decide to just have a glass or two. That is one thing that can help you put thoughts in moderation on pause until you get further away from it. The other thing I like them to do is to actually romanticize sobriety. So, when you are romanticizing drinking, your thoughts are, for example, it’s social, it’s sophisticated, I want to sit at the restaurant with a fireplace and have a glass of red wine. My partner won’t think I’m fun. If I don’t drink, that’s romanticizing alcohol. Drinking helps me relax, sleep, deal with anxiety, I’m happier when I drank, all that kind of stuff. romanticizing sobriety is saying, I’m fully present. And I remember the entire night, I can’t tell you how many nights I literally don’t remember, I was absent from the things I was most looking forward to.


Or I can go out to dinner, and I drive home without any worries of getting pulled over or not being safe. That is romanticizing sobriety, or I went out on a date with my husband. And I could still go on a run at 8am, the next morning, or even I went to Italy when I was four months sober, which was very hard, but also really good. And one of the ways I romanticize sobriety, you know, it takes creativity and effort, was I love photography.


And I got up at 7am and took photographs of the canals in the buildings before all the tourists took over just the locals or quiet waterways and bridges like that is, oh my gosh, this is what I get from not drinking.


Gayle Macdonald  32:44

Absolutely, I love that it is focusing on what you’re gaining, as opposed to what it is you think you might be giving up and keep those things front and center and gently remind yourself that perhaps, if I did have that one or two glasses of wine, then it’s going to impact these lovely things that I’ve got planned or that I want to do instead. So yeah, shifting the focus, I think, and as you said, romanticizing sobriety, focusing on the good things that not drinking allows us to do when to have and to feel rather than, you know, what in our mind, motivation might give us which is not very much apart from a full head and a lot of stress, I find the other thing I like people to do is just get real with their language.


Casey McGuire Davidson  33:39

If you’ve written down that list of the ways you’ve tried to moderate, you know how long you’ve gotten, I always ask clients, like, what’s the longest period of time you’ve gotten without alcohol in the past 2 years. For some women, it’s 4 days. For some women, it’s 40 days or more.


So, if you’ve only gotten 4 days, the idea that you can moderate and just do 30 days again, whenever you want. If you haven’t done more than for four days or two weeks, in the last two years just gets real about the likelihood that you would do that and how precious sober momentum is. If you’ve gone 30 or 40 days alcohol free and you’re like, oh, maybe I’ll moderate. I asked, How did you feel when you weren’t drinking? 90% of the time, women are like, Oh, I felt amazing. I was really proud of myself. I was fun. It wasn’t as hard as in the beginning before. If you’ve had a period of time alcohol free, and yet you’re back trying to do this again. And finally getting to 30 days again or whatever your highest. His point was the idea that you can go back, and drink minimally and not have it control your life. You’ve tried that, and you are back here trying to feel better again.


So, just in turn, I like women to just change their language and say, versus Oh, I’m just going to have a glass of wine at dinner with my husband and no shade here. I did that. And it took me 2 years to get back to not drinking, but that was my line. Just say, I’m choosing to dive back into the drinking cycle, like, just don’t gloss over what you’re doing, because that is what the choice is, which is okay, you can make whatever choice you want. But don’t, you know, for me, it was, Oh, I just want to have a glass of wine on a date night with my husband. After I’ve been sober for a period of time. That wasn’t really what I was doing. I was like, I want to drink again, in my choosing to dive back into that cycle.


Gayle Macdonald  36:09

Yeah, yeah. And I think it’s important to remember that often. It’s not really, you know, us who are making those decisions, it’s the addictive part of our brain. Because even 30 days, even 6 months or a year, there’s still that little bit of it, still lingering there, which is trying to trick us if you like, or, you know, not drinking for that part of our brain is uncomfortable. So, it just wants to get back to where it feels comfortable. And I also found that really helpful to separate, you know, that part of me from the real me. So, it wasn’t actually me with wanting to motivate it with that other part of me, maybe you probably heard people, well, the wine which or the wine whisperer or the be a monster, and trying to detach from that and say, Okay, well, that’s just the way in which was spying on my shoulder, it’s not really me. Not listen to that and do what I want deep down that was quite empowering. And it made it more of a fun challenge that the right word, you know, to not listen to this little devil on your shoulder, and to do your own thing. She’s a bit rebellious as well, to make it more of a, you know, I’m doing what I want. And you can sit there and whisper in my ear all you want. But I’m not going to change my mind. That really helped in some tricky situation, to detach, and to distance. Yeah, voice as well.


Casey McGuire Davidson  38:06

I completely agree with you that recognizing your addictive voice, which often is what tries to pull you back into drinking again, is really important. And that voice can sound like you, you can have just one or you’re better now. Or you deserve this. This has been so hard. Anyone would drink, or you got promoted, or it is New Year’s Eve, or it’s vacation. Anyone would drink like, or any of those thoughts are rationalizations that are your addictive voice and I called mine Wolfie because that’s what my coach called it. I worked with Belle it prior to thinking about drinking. And I got a leather keychain that literally said fu W and I used to rub it like a rabbit’s foot. Like it was just on my keychain. And just and of course that meant fucky wealthy.


And you know, I remember driving back from work one day and this new brewery went in under this new apartment building they were building in my town, and it was like 100 different beers from around the world and my thought immediately went up I’ve stopped drinking right when they put in this new brewery now I am never going to be able to get there why did they just add this great new date night spot? I’m going to miss out and immediately I was like, oh my god that’s my fucking Wolfie boys like, you will see no course I’ve been to that brewery many, many times. You know, not right when I was getting sober, obviously. But in the years since they have a fantastic selection of non-alcoholic beers, in addition to beers, I wouldn’t have gone there in the beginning. But no, that is a stupid voice. And it’s not yours. You know. And by the way, the voice that tells you, you never really tried to moderate, or this time will be different. That’s your addictive voice to same boy.


Gayle Macdonald  40:37

Yeah. Yeah, I think it’s also worth remembering that the longer you do have, without alcohol, you know, the more time that passes, then those thoughts of motivation will get less and less. You know, the stronger you become, the more comfortable you feel within yourself as being a person who doesn’t drink, then it will get less frequent the thoughts are become, you know, not as strong, they might, you know, just be fleeting, yes. Just because it feels difficult now, try not to tell yourself that it’s always going to be like that, because it won’t.


Casey McGuire Davidson  41:30

And I know if you’re listening, you probably don’t believe us. But trust us, I have had over 100 guests on my podcast, they’re all sober. And every single one of them says, like, I just don’t even think about it. Now, I no longer struggle with the decision. It may come up every once in a while. And, you know, in my mind, I say 2 things to myself.


One is, this is when I used to drink, meaning. It’s sort of code in my mind for like, Fuck, this sucks. Like, that’s what it means. Or, Oh, my God, this is going to be a challenge. Or when I see someone having a glass of red wine at a bar, whatever, I think, yeah, I used to love that. But it isn’t worth it to me anymore. I know where it takes me the consequences. And I just mean, emotionally craving. All that is not worth it to me.


But the other thing my clients say to me is like, I just want to be able to have a glass of wine on the deck with my husband. And I’m like, you can. There are non-alcoholic wines. Like, if that truly is what you want. I think Jamie Lee Grace, who does the Alcohol-Free Life podcast, I think she says keep the ritual change the ingredients. So, part of what I think is like, Just be honest, is it that you want the glass of wine or the drink or the beer? Or is it that you want the alcohol to hit your brain? And because there are just incredible nonalcoholic substitutions now that taste the same, but won’t interrupt your sleep and make you feel like shit?


Gayle Macdonald  43:32

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And also think about in those situations, what is it that you really want? What is it that you’re perhaps craving in that moment, one of the ladies who I worked with said, when she used to come home from school, she was a preschool teacher. So really stressful, high energy job all day, when she came home. All she wanted was that wine just to bring her down and to relax. And that was what she wanted, not the wine, but the relaxation and calming down and chillin’ out. So, we worked a while on how else could she cheat that. And in the end, it was peppermint tea and sitting down on the sofa, just for five minutes by herself. It wasn’t the wine at all. It was what the moment gave her.


Yes. So, it’s probably worth you know, asking yourself those questions. What is it about? I don’t know, wine on a rooftop restaurant with my husband that I really want. Is it the mine? Or is it the lovely situation? And yeah, and you know, you can have all of that, as you said, doesn’t matter what’s in your glass. Again, shift the focus away from you The alcohol shift. Yeah, okay to the feeling than the moment.


And that will help to not only put those thoughts of “motivation” on pause, but it will also help to make them appear less frequent.


Casey McGuire Davidson  45:17

Yeah, absolutely. I completely agree. And the other thing that I think, and women have said to me, often, you know, I just want to have x on y event, drink on special occasions. One of my favorites was, what if I do seasonal sobriety, like I drink during the holidays, but not in the spring, or like, during July, but not August. And, in my mind, there’s mindset work to be done there, right, because you are holding on some idea that a glass of red wine with a steak or a white wine with fish, or, you know, champagne on New Year’s Eve, or a beer at a firepit is inherently more valuable. Then another, another beverage and that is marketing, I worked in marketing for 20 years, we did focus groups, we spent hundreds of 1000s of dollars testing different things to appeal to audiences to make them associate their product with a need or with an event. And so, getting to be an informed media consumer is really helpful. And I don’t know any woman who doesn’t stop drinking, get away from it, and suddenly get really fucking angry at all the messages. She’s seen the memes, the jokes, the bullshit, the fact you can’t buy a birthday card for women over 30, that doesn’t have a wine reference.


Gayle Macdonald  47:11

Yeah, I know. I know. It is so unbelievable and blatant, just how much they tennis against ourselves, if you like, in a way, because we know that it’s not really good for us, if you’ve got a hangover, you know that you’ve just drunk something that doesn’t agree with you. But yeah, if it’s thinking if it’s in pretty packaging, and it’s, you know, once in a while and walk down, I think, at the end of the day, alcohol is an addictive substance. So, the more you drink, the more you’re going to want to drink. So, this idea of, as you said, seasonal moderation, or from time to time, is just that addictive part of us, still wanting to keep up with that behavior.


And I genuinely think the only way to put those thoughts of “moderation” on pause and to get through them is to keep reminding yourself that alcohol doesn’t serve you, you know, that it’s not the be all and end all, and that it’s going to get easier, you’re going to get through it, you’re going to get stronger. And at the end of the day, it will not have the same power and hold over you that it does seem to.


I really love that quote from the lab, when servers fixed, you know, right at the end, the Goblin King, and she says,


You have no power over me.


And everything just falls away. And I find that with alcohol, recognize that alcohol really, as a substance has no power. It’s a little bit of poison in a glass. That’s all it is. It’s everything that surrounds it, all the marketing. And if you can keep reminding yourself, that that’s all it is.


And there’s so much more on the other side of that, then I do believe that those thoughts of “moderation” will get less frequent, and you will feel so much more empowered by making those choices for yourself.


You know. I chose, I decided. I did it. It wasn’t the adware or the pretty painful it was me far more powerful than any, you know, ad campaign.


Casey McGuire Davidson  49:43

Yeah, I guess I’ll just say that.


Yes. So, I know we’ve talked about a lot of different things. I have loved this conversation.


If you’re walking or driving or doing something else and you want to put some of those thoughts of “moderation” on pause, so that you can get further along in alcohol-free life, so you feel better.


So, you can stop going up, to go to bed and spending 20 minutes debating whether or not you should brush your teeth. I’m going to put all these strategies in the show notes, and the notes of what Gayle said, and I have said, because I want you to be able to just digest them and have sort of a cheat sheet of different ways to shift your thinking. So hopefully, you can go to this episode, print them off, take notes, take a screenshot, and just have that in your back pocket.


So, Gayle, I know people are going to want to follow up with you. Your input has been amazing. How can they find you?


Gayle Macdonald  51:01

They can go to my website, which is I also have a book out though, you can find me on Amazon there. I’m on substance. I’m on YouTube. Basically, if you type in sober bliss, then I should come up somewhere.


Casey McGuire Davidson  51:23

Perfect. Thank you so much.


Gayle Macdonald  51:24

Thank you for being so wonderful. I really enjoyed it.

Thank you for listening to this episode of The Hello Someday Podcast. If you’re interested in learning more about me or the work I do or accessing free resources and guides to help you build a life you love without alcohol, please visit And I would be so grateful if you would take a few minutes to rate and review this podcast so that more women can find it and join the conversation about drinking less and living more. 



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