Formalizing a Tally Clicking 90 Day No Alcohol Challenge

The biggest problem with my food was controlling drinking. I’ve discussed quitting – or at least severely curtailing – drinking for a long time. In An Identity Approach to Alcohol: Parts I and 2 I discuss how willpower-eroding it can be, and how counterproductive it can be in developing skills. I discussed pretty much the same thing almost 6 years ago at the very beginning of this project in Habits of Omission. I even successfully completed a 30 Day No Alcohol Challenge.

Back then, I didn’t understand the unmatting process or have the tally clicking system. Now I do.


Anytime I have an urge to drink alcohol for the next 90 days, I’ll click.

At the end of the day I’ll record the total number of urges for the day.

This is to satisfy my curiosity for the question “How many clicks does it take to remove the habit of wanting to drink alcohol?”


A) Positives
Separating out the triggers regarding drinking will let me understand how to truly control myself. I think it will help foster greater skill in things like socializing. I think it will also help me make better gains in fat loss. I think it will make me feel better overall, and will help me sleep better. It will help cement the tally clicking process as one that’s replicable and highly efficient. I’ll finally be able to have true control over a habit I just fell into. And I won’t feel like I’m using it as a crutch, either for socializing, having a good time, relaxing at the end of the day, or just feeling bored. I think it will also help me shift to becoming a more active person, perhaps even a morning person, or an outdoor person. It’s a key component of a family of behaviors that will eventually result in a massive identity shift. I think if this works, it will have massive implications in helping other people with their own lives and addiction patterns.

B) Obstacles
Boredom, especially the feeling of release triggered by drinking a glass of wine or going out to a bar, will be a big obstacle. As will the connection between celebration and drinking. I’ve conditioned myself to think that those are all one and the same. I have fear of missing out on unique drinks or experiences. I think it feels like I might have a more difficult time building a community because most of the people I have met or socialized with in the past have been when alcohol was around. I’m worried that it may be awkward.

B-1) Workarounds
I think treating this as an experiment that can always be changed is a good safety net for me. I also think the reintroduction phase of clean eating - namely the potential for having one cheat day a month - offers a psychological respite from the odd fear of never drinking again. I also know that the craving mind isn’t the same as the one that will emerge after 90 days, when the majority of urges will subside.

I think coming up with a list of alternatives for getting out of the house is important. Gong for a walk or a dip in the pool, for example, would deliver a similar hit of joy, contentment, and activity. Honing a nightly ritual might not only give me that similar feeling of release, but also become the beginnings of a sleep ritual for better sleep hygiene, something I’ve also wanted to work on.

I’ve got my spreadsheet ready, let the challenge begin!

How to Reincorporate Challenges as Raised Daily Minimums (Beginning Habit Periodization)

This past month I completed a 30 day No Alcohol Challenge. It was great, I learned a lot, but now what?

Lydia reported seeing that many people, after completing a Whole Life Challenge, went back to bad eating as normal. I found the same case during my No Bread Challenge.

Back in the day I feel many people assumed that after 30 Days you’d get a habit that you could extend indefinitely. We know that’s not true. Nowadays, challenges are supposed to do something - but what? If we don’t harness them, we might as well have not done them in the first place.

The role of a challenge, for me, isn’t to jump start initial change. It’s to extend an already established small habit. If there are three vectors to long-term change - willpower to start the habit daily, habit to extend it and make it automatic, and the grit or deliberate practice needed to push past skill plateaus and increase intensity - then challenges belong to the third vector. Unfortunately this is the vector I know the least about.

I do know that there is a certain amount of …looseness or roominess… I feel mentally when it comes to the idea of ignoring alcohol at a bar with friends. There is a similar sort of freedom with my 8 week progressive HIIT challenge - it’s becoming easier to visualize myself trying something like Crossfit.

And I’ve successfully fumbled into progressive minimums for rowing - I started with HIITs twice a week for 8 weeks, and now I’m doing the entire challenge again 3 times a week. HIITs are now in my program to stay. What is the best way to do this with alcohol?

Lydia is adhering to a once a week drinking rule. I’m thinking of something more gradual, a twice a week drinking rule. It becomes really weird in this case because A) I didn’t have an established drinking habit and B) I don’t know how to concretely record a NON habit, especially one that’s so sporadic.

I’ve also been researching what’s at the heart of all of this - periodization. I’ve mostly been able to look at weight lifting, and it gets confusing very fast - there’s linear, non-linear, and newer undulating models of progression. And the thing that’s challenging - but good - is that it’s based on years of progress - microcycles, mesocycles, macrocycles, quadrennial cycles.

I asked Lydia how Crossfit did it, and she said it was a 6-10 week cycle dedicated either to endurance or power, and that it was based on percentages of a max. And that reminded me of my time in weightlifting where people talk about various programs - Strong Man, 5 X 5, Russian Volume, etc.

My main concern is HOW they came up with these formulas of when and how much to drop down to. For example, if I do NaNoWriMo, I’m writing at least 1600 words a day. Afterwards, do I drop down to 50%? 60 %? If I drop down too low it results in fewer gains over time. If I don’t drop low enough I run the risk of blowing myself out. I have no idea how you’d even begin to calculate that with a large set of athletes, never mind using only myself across multiple skills. It’s something I definitely have to dive into because it’s where all the fruition of my habits comes to.

And how much of this crosses over to other skills? There’s a lot of research to be done.