This article is written in partnership with Cutback Coach—they’re dedicated to helping us have a healthier relationship to alcohol, and we’re honored to work with them. ~ ed.
You’re not alone if you’ve been drinking more than you know is good for you lately.
In fact, three out of four U.S. adults drank more in 2020 than they did in 2019. (1.)
That’s nothing to feel bad about.
Worrying and guilt-tripping about how many drinks we had the other night doesn’t help. It only feeds our anxiety and stress. And we’ve all had quite enough of that.
What does help is cultivating more mindfulness around our drinking.
It turns out, setting ourselves up for healthier drinking habits is one of the most game-changing choices we can make to improve our overall health.
Creating more mindful drinking habits gives us more clarity of mind and supports our mental health. Building a better relationship with alcohol gives us more energy, helps us toward our healthy weight goals, and improves the quality of our sleep. And it doesn’t need to be all or nothing—drinking just a little less can have a major impact in all of these areas.
So, being proactive with re-balancing our drinking should arguably be at the top of our New Year’s wellness goals lists.
Now more than ever, we can all benefit from addressing our relationship with alcohol. Research shows that Americans over 30 have been drinking more during the coronavirus pandemic, leading to a widespread increase in problematic drinking. (2.)
Here’s a mindful solution that addresses the problem before it even becomes one:
“It’s time we make tracking drinks as common as tracking calories and steps.”
A lot of us are talking more openly about our drinking habits these days. Proactive alcohol health and the mindful drinking movement are experiencing a growth spurt.
But the binary perception of “problem drinkers” on the one hand (those who need to cut out alcohol completely) and “everyone else” on the other (who are totally healthy and have no problem with drinking) largely persists.
Because of this model, managing our drinking has become a concept reserved only for “problem drinkers,” something we keep hush-hush. If we need to control how much we drink, surely we have an addiction, something to feel ashamed about and avoid bringing up in polite conversation?
The truth is this “either-or” model is totally outdated and completely ignores the generally healthy drinkers, those who don’t feel like they have a problem, but who could benefit from being a bit more intentional about when (and how much) they drink.
The fact is there are millions of people who enjoy drinking and have no desire to cut out alcohol entirely, but would like to improve their habits around it, to be more intentional about when and how much we drink. Sounds like most of us, right?
We don’t need an all-or-nothing approach. We need consistent, guided mindfulness tools that we can use to achieve moderate goals.
Enter Cutback Coach, a simple, behavioral psychology-backed system for planning and tracking your drinking.
Cutback Coach is on a mission to redefine the way we think about our drinks. Their unique, text message-based service (3.) has been designed to give anyone who drinks—whether only occasionally or relatively frequently—exactly this kind of mindful drinking tool. No shame involved.
“I’ve tried to reduce or stop my drinking several times and have tried several different measures and Cutback Coach is the first thing I’ve tried that I have been able to stick with. There are no shame tactics. And when I don’t reach my goals I always feel encouraged. It’s easy to use and impossible to forget about without being intrusive.” ~ Lily, via TrustPilot
Co-founder and CEO, Nick Allen wants to make tracking drinks as common as tracking calories and steps, as a part of our proactive health and wellness routines.
Our drinking habits impact our health after all, so why shouldn’t we think about this issue in much the same way as we do our eating or exercise habits? You don’t need to be extremely out of shape to benefit from keeping tabs on diet and activity, and you don’t need to be a “problem drinker” to see major health benefits from tracking your drinking.
If we normalized the idea of tracking our drinks, we might have a whole lot less trouble with poor sleep, weight gain, decreased productivity, and a dip in our overall sense of well-being (that post-big-night existential anxiety most of us are all-too-familiar with).
What exactly is “Mindful Drinking,” anyway?
Public health and nutrition expert, Wendy Bazilian explains it succinctly: “Mindful drinking is about awareness and being present in your choices. The goal is having a healthy relationship to alcohol.” (4.)
For those who have decided that alcohol has no place in their lives whatsoever, this is an uncomfortable contradiction. But mindful drinking is more suited to those of us who can, and want to, walk the middle way with our relationship to alcohol.
Mindful drinking is a movement on the rise (5.), especially among younger generations. More of us want to be more intentional around our health and wellness, yet few tools exist to support us in doing exactly that when it comes to drinking—on our own terms, with awareness, not guilt.
“Everyone is either a wine-guzzling party animal or a clean-living health freak. Personally, I believe the middle ground is the healthiest place to be.” ~ Rosamund Dean, author of Mindful Drinking: How Cutting Down Can Change Your Life
It’s in this Middle Ground that you’ll find Cutback Coach.
The way to build more mindful drinking habits, as Nick and his team see it, is to proactively and positively manage our relationship with alcohol the way many of us have already started managing our relationship with food.
And Nick has the personal experience, customer testimonials, and research to prove this method works for regular drinkers like him, and many of us.
“I have been trying to reduce the volume I drink and this is the first accountability method I’ve found successful! It’s easy to use and motivational! I love the weekly recap emails. It’s awesome to see the progress!” ~ Linda, via TrustPilot
And the results speak for themselves. Cutback Coach members see an average of 29% reduction in weekly drinks in just the first month, and 39% by month three. All without sacrificing quality of life, feeling overly constrained, or living like they’re in a cloister.
Cutback Coach is Built on 3 Unique Principles:
1. Track your drinks like you’d track calories or steps.
Nick actually built Cutback Coach to keep on top of his own drink tracking.
“I grew up in a household with two parents recovering from alcohol addiction (they’ve given me permission to share that). When I started to drink in my early teens—and it became clear that I too had a tendency to overdo it—my parents spoke openly with me about their journey to sobriety, and helped instill in me an awareness of my own habits. Almost 20 years later, I’ve learned a lot about myself through the ups and downs of drinking.
While complete sobriety has worked for my parents (and many others), it never really felt right for me. Instead, I began to explore alternatives to avoid the negative health and social impacts of drinking, without cutting out alcohol entirely. After years of experimentation, I’ve now developed a system that works for me—and that is now working for many others as well.”
Tracking our drinks like we track calories or steps is one of the fundamental principles of Nick’s system. He’s walked the road and he’s seen exactly how tracking his consumption has directly impacted his mindset, health, and wallet.
Check out his reddit thread for his full comparative stats over just five months of following the Cutback Coach system. They’re pretty jaw-dropping. Here’s the quick summary:
In just 5 months, Nick was able to improve his health (and wealth) dramatically. He’s:
- Reduced from 31 drinks a week down to 14, eliminating calories from alcohol by 2,550 per week (basically a full day of eating).
- Added two extra nights of uninterrupted sleep to his week each week.
- Saved almost $100 that previously went to booze each week, reducing spending from ~$155 to <$70 on alcohol a week.
Nick’s results clearly show the massive health improvements we can bring about simply by cutting back on our drinks. This one small behavior change can help us reduce our calorie intake (lose weight), get better sleep (feel better and live longer), and have more money in the bank (compound interest, y’all).
2. Not another app on your phone.
The second key to Cutback Coach’s success is how refreshingly simple it is to use. I don’t know about you but I sure could do without yet another app on my phone to remember to sign into and update.
Cutback Coach’s easy, app-less service meets us where we are instead because their whole system is text message-based. Goal-setting, friendly coaching check-ins, weekly tracking: it’s all done on SMS.
For two reasons: 1. Text messages are faster, more discreet, and integrate more seamlessly into our daily lives than an app. 2. SMS-based intervention works better to form healthier habits, according to studies that showed a significant improvement over traditional methods for tobacco reduction and cessation. (6.)
Imagine what your health and bank account could look like a few months into 2021 if you start now.
3. Systems are more effective than goals.
“You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.” ~ James Clear
Around this time of year everyone starts thinking about goals, but everyone seems to forget how they’re going to get there. As Nick says, “Goals alone aren’t sufficient to make a lasting change. Instead, it’s the system you develop to achieve your goals that makes all the difference.”
With Cutback Coach you get the system to achieve your goals. It works at your pace, allowing you to set your own goals and create your own roadmap to achieving them with a predetermined intention for each week. You are only accountable to yourself. The system is only there to support you in reaching your goals and building awareness, not to beat you up for being human along the way.
The Cutback Coach system is built around three keystone habits:
1. A weekly promise to yourself.
Weekly promises don’t dwell on the past week and there is no failure, only self-discovery, week-on-week, as you figure out what does and doesn’t work for you. Cutback Coach helps you along by making weekly personalized recommendations based on your progress and self-determined goals.
2. Daily tracking & progress visualization.
Cutback Coach’s automated daily reminders about your goal each day help you to keep it front-of-mind. The simple act of tracking is one of the most important components of the Cutback Coach system and is loaded with psychology-based habit formation techniques.
3. Regular reflection and habit reinforcement.
Through the use of weekly reflections and thought exercises, Cutback Coach helps us recognize the triggers that lead us to over-drink and develop personalized strategies to override these subconscious patterns and automatic behaviors.
There is a middle way when it comes to drinking. We don’t have to quit something if we can enjoy it mindfully, and in moderation.
Cutback Coach uses simple, life-enhancing tools and tech to help us build a healthier relationship with alcohol that benefits every aspect of our lives, from our well-being to our bank balance.
“I’ve been using Cutback Coach for a few months now and it’s helped me noticeably cut back on my drinking. The SMS notifications cut through the noise, and are a quick, easy way for me to log how much alcohol I’ve had the previous day, without having to open up an app. Once I got into the routine, it became easy to take just a few seconds and a natural part of my morning.” ~ Dan, via ProductHunt