By Jimmy Warden
There is a saying that goes a little something like, “without struggle there is no progress”. Despite the optimism and positivity that I stated in my previous Sober October post, there have definitely been some struggles along the way. Some of these struggles have included cravings for caffeinated coffee (let’s be real, decaf just kind of sucks), cravings for a cold beer after a long week of work (yes, teachers do indeed drink beer every now and again), and a battle with the conversations I have been having with myself. Despite these adversities, I have still held strong thanks to willpower and a great support group, which just goes to show how strong community can be.
There have been numerous mornings, especially this past week, when I would love nothing more than a fresh, caffeinated cup of coffee. Not just for the purpose of the caffeine (yes that is a huge part of it), but caffeinated coffee just genuinely tastes better! Much bolder, stronger, and smokier flavors. It’s like a party for your taste buds. Not to mention, caffeine helps to jumpstart the body, and allow the consumer to start honing in on their tasks for the day. As far as the beer cravings, there’s nothing that tastes better than a cold, fantastically flavored craft beer from Lawson’s Finest Liquids at about 6 or 7pm on a Friday evening. I have really been missing those this month, but I know it will make them taste that much better once the month is over. The most difficult part however is the conversation that I have with myself at times. I ask myself the rhetorical question of “why am I doing this”, anytime a craving kicks in, and I support it by saying, “man a REAL cup of coffee would be fantastic right now” or “boy, it’s been a long week, a beer sure would taste amazing”. This just deflates my will, ever so slightly each time, but luckily my accountability groups have been there to help me.
My accountability groups have definitely been helpful in suppressing these cravings and keeping the conversations in my head positive. One group consisting of two Norwich grads, Jaren Jeffcoat and Lindsay Demers. The three of us have been participating in the Sober October challenge where we have not consumed any alcohol, caffeine, or any other mind/body altering substances. Another group has just been a one-on-one with my sister Kate Warden and me. Kate is participating in a “whole 30” challenge in which she is not consuming any alcohol (not even for cooking purposes), added sugars (real or artificial), dairy products, baked goods, soy, legumes (various beans and lentils), or grains. I’d also be remiss if I did not mention the support of my girlfriend, Rachel Branch.
Checking in with Jaren, Lindsay, and Kate has held me accountable despite my cravings. We check in on an “as needed” basis, which usually ends up being weekly. These check-ins have been huge for each other because it is an open, honest space to discuss some of the struggles that we have been facing with the respective challenges. Despite our adversities, everyone in these groups is holding strong because of their character and the extra layer of help with the accountability check-ins. Rachel has also been there for me during those moments when I’ve been ready to cave in by reminding me of my end goal and reassuring how good everything will taste and how much more I’ll appreciate these substances when I take my first sips on November 1st. If it wasn’t for the support of all the aforementioned people there is a much higher likelihood that I would’ve caved.
As we enter the final leg of our respective challenges, we all feel that we need to finish what we started. We do not want to let each other down and the challenges have now become bigger than just ourselves. We have people watching us (whether we know that or not) who most likely want us to succeed, but there are probably also some people out there that secretly want to see us fail, just so they can say “I knew you couldn’t do it”. Despite that, I know we’ll all have the determination and grit to finish the month strongly, and I’m sure we’ll have learned a lot from each challenge, which we can hopefully apply to our daily lifestyle upon the arrival of November and beyond.