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“The Dry Challenge” With Fotis Georgiadis & Hilary Sheinbaum

Habits and mindsets can vary from person-to-person. If doing a Dry Month in January doesn’t sound doable, try February or October. Sometimes timing is everything, and you want to set yourself up for success. Don’t feel obligated to complete a booze-free challenge on the first day of the month (or year)! You can start anytime! […]

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Habits and mindsets can vary from person-to-person. If doing a Dry Month in January doesn’t sound doable, try February or October. Sometimes timing is everything, and you want to set yourself up for success. Don’t feel obligated to complete a booze-free challenge on the first day of the month (or year)! You can start anytime!

As a part of my series about “Big Ideas That Might Change The World In The Next Few Years” I had the pleasure of interviewing Hilary Sheinbaum.

Hilary Sheinbaum is a journalist, author and speaker. Her first book, “The Dry Challenge: How to Lose the Booze for Dry January, Sober October, and Any Other Alcohol-Free Month” (publisher: HarperDesign) is out on Dec. 29, 2020.

With a press pass around her neck, Hilary enthusiastically started her journalism career as a red carpet reporter interviewing celebrities. Since then, she has contributed to 60+ publications including The New York Times, USA TODAY, New York Magazine, Us Weekly, Marie Claire, ELLE.com and Forbes.com. She writes about beauty, entertainment, food, fitness, love and more.

As a lifestyle and entertainment expert, Hilary also hosts segments on national, local and online broadcast outlets such as CBS and NBC.

When Hilary isn’t writing, in front of the camera, or investigating a new trend: she’s likely working out or eating ice cream.

She grew up in South Florida and currently lives in New York City.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

My first book, “The Dry Challenge” is coming out on December 29, 2020. I’m so excited! But, the concept for this topic was actually inspired by something that happened five years prior.

At the end of 2016, I made a bet with my friend Alejandro. The basis of the bet was who could complete a Dry January, the act of giving up alcohol, for the entire month. That meant no beer, shots, no cocktails — not a sip!

At the time, as a journalist, I was writing a lot of articles about food and beverage — meaning there were a lot of opportunities to taste (and fully consume) wine, spirits and beer. This “dry month” undertaking seemed impossible, but I took on the challenge anyway!

Fast forward to the end of January 2017: Alejandro lost our bet. I won! I didn’t have a drink for a full 31 days.

By then, I experienced many benefits to going dry for a mere month. My skin was clearer. I slept better, and I had more energy (despite some pretty gloomy January days in New York City).

With all of these perks, I decided to participate in Dry January the next year, the year after and the year after that. I’ve done four Dry Januarys at this point, and a few other dry months in between.

You definitely don’t have to wait until the ball drops on New Years to get started — Dry Months can begin at any time!

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Since my career began, I’ve interviewed a ton of interesting people — ranging from celebrities to politicians, influencers, founders and more.

Recently, though, it’s been really inspiring to hear about others’ positive experiences with Dry January, Sober October and other dry months. A lot of people have also told me how excited they are to participate in their first dry month, so that’s really heartwarming too.

Which principles or philosophies have guided your life? Your career?

When it comes to my career, I try to learn something new every day. I often participate in 30 day challenges, in addition to doing dry months and see how it changes my life or shifts my perspective.

For example, I’ve completed 30 straight days of Barry’s Bootcamp for a story, and given up makeup for a month for an article as well. I think it’s important to try new things and decide if they fit your lifestyle in the long-term! Afterall, some of these challenges can be life changing!

Ok. Let’s now move to the main focus of our interview. Can you tell us about your “Big Idea That Might Change The World”?

For many people, the holidays bring too much fun, too much food, and too much booze. January can be the perfect time to embrace the new you — and it all starts with taking a break from the bottle . . . but this challenge isn’t limited to the month of January.

The Dry Challenge is ideal for anyone who wants to complete a dry month challenge, giving up all forms of alcohol — wine, beer, spirits and cocktails, including no shots, no low ABV cocktails, and absolutely no champagne toasts — for thirty-one days.

Whether you’re thinking of participating in Dry January, Sober October, or want to choose a time of your own, this book walks you step-by-step through one drink-free month, from making a plan to sharing the news with friends and family (and what to do when someone tries to sabotage it) to getting back on track if you slip up and have a drink (or two).

Some essential topics and informative tips include:

  • “What You’ll Gain When You Lose the Booze” and other positive changes — including more time and money, and the health benefits of living a month without booze.
  • “Sober Month Support Squad” — how to enlist friends for support and combat social pressures from our current drinking culture.
  • Fun non-boozy activities everyone can participate in, dating (without drinks), “zero-proof” drink recipes, how to throw a nonalcoholic shindig, and the new sober nightlife trend.

With interactive activities from prompts to checklists to recipes, The Dry Challenge is the ultimate guide to stay booze free for one month. Cheers to a whole new you!

How do you think this will change the world?

Giving up alcohol for one month at a time can garner significant physical, mental and even financial benefits. If one person can feel more well rested, an increase in energy, with better skin and digestion (and save some money) — in addition to a variety of other benefits — imagine what that could do for the world as a whole!

Keeping “Black Mirror” and the “Law of Unintended Consequences” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this idea that people should think more deeply about?

A common side effect from participating in a dry month is actually drinking less year round. I don’t think this is a drawback, personally, but an interesting point for anyone who is looking to decrease their consumption long-term, too.

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this idea? Can you tell us that story?

There were two clear signs that this idea was a good one. The first is how good I feel on February 1 every year. The second indication was realizing year over year that Dry January is a widespread event, spanning continents and growing in popularity. It started in the U.K. and now people across the globe give up booze one dry month at a time.

What do you need to lead this idea to widespread adoption?

A one month commitment! If an individual gives up all forms of alcohol for 31 days — or even 29 to 30 days in shorter months — they can experience the positive benefits and life-changing effects. One of the best parts of a dry month is that you don’t have to spend money to try it out for size… in fact, you’ll likely save some hard earned cash that would otherwise be spent on happy hours and night caps.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Planning ahead can help you succeed (but it isn’t 100% necessary) — I agreed to my Dry January bet as the ball dropped on New Years Eve. I hadn’t cleared out the alcohol from my apartment, but that was ok! Depending on your personality, putting away (or storing) your booze can help your dry efforts.
  2. You don’t have to cancel your social plans — You can still hang out at the bar with friends, just order water or N.A. (non-alcoholic) beverages instead!
  3. Restaurants and bars serve a bevy of N.A. drinks — Venues across the U.S. even have dedicated drink menus that highlight mixed drinks that don’t contain any alcohol
  4. You can ask for support — You don’t have to pose a bet among friends to ask for someone to join you in a Dry Month. Having a group (or one person to cheer you on) can be helpful and motivating.
  5. Dates and drinking are the norm but it doesn’t have to be — You can still have fun and go on meaningful dates without a drink in hand! There are many alternatives including bowling, ice skating, having a picnic (without drinking) and ice cream shops, too!

Can you share with our readers what you think are the most important “success habits” or “success mindsets”?

Habits and mindsets can vary from person-to-person. If doing a Dry Month in January doesn’t sound doable, try February or October. Sometimes timing is everything, and you want to set yourself up for success. Don’t feel obligated to complete a booze-free challenge on the first day of the month (or year)! You can start anytime!

Some very well known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

I’m excited to see what the future holds for N.A. beverages. I think it’s a growing market for individuals who are giving up alcohol temporarily, permanently or just looking for an alcohol-free option.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Instagram — @hilarywritesny — https://www.instagram.com/hilarywritesny/

Twitter — @hilary_she — https://twitter.com/hilary_she

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

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