do i have to count days?

Here’s an extract from the  book

do i have to count days

from Clementine: “Why do you think it’s important to have continuous sober time? Why is it more valuable to have 60 days in a row, than to have 29 days, a week off drinking, and then 29 more days (like me)?”


I think day counting is important because each day represents a day when you said NO. You are building a wall between the ‘you’ back there, and the ‘new you’ over here, and so every sober day is a new brick in that wall. 

There are many forums and online communities that have pledges like “let’s plan to do 15 out of 30 days sober this month,” but they are not continuous days.

This doesn’t help us; we don’t get anywhere. On the days we’re not drinking, we are waiting to drink again. It’s like holding your breath and going underwater for a day. 

To me, the reason for a longer goal (100 days) is that you have to actually go forward and learn something. Once you remove the booze, you practise new things like self-soothing, treats, and learning to change the channel in your head. 

If you don’t pay attention to your sober momentum, then any day can be a drinking day or a sober day. By counting, you’re saying to Wolfie: “I’m not doing this. I’m getting the hell out of here. As far as I can, far away from you. One sober day at a time.”



I want to put this online, to hold myself accountable. I want to document the noise in my head. I'm tired of thinking about drinking. date of last drink: june 30, 2012

59 thoughts to “do i have to count days?”

  1. Off and on is a form of moderation. It works for some people, not for me. Everything is everything, but wine is NOT corn on the cob. It’s also more physically difficult to restart sobriety, the neural pathways in our brain are trained to drink, they want to revert to that, and will fight to continue to have us drink alcohol. (The Naked Mind by Annie Grace) The cravings are really physical, it’s an addiction. And not drinking is really easier.

    1. i think off and on is a form of ‘controlled’ drinking, which definitely doesn’t work … if you have to work at controlling your drinking, then things are already shitty. and will be improved by having none.

  2. Because booze screws up your neurotransmitters. If you drink a little too much once in a while, it’s takes ~10 days to balance them out. If you drink way too much, it takes ~30 days to balance them out. If you’re a chronic boozer it takes ~6 booze-free months to start balancing them out. If you do the on again, off again plan, it actually screws them up even worse because they start to heal, then you have fresh tender new healing neurotransmitters and you douse them in alcohol. So you actually make things worse doing on again off again.

    1. I didn’t know this! It makes sense to me, worth looking into more. The idea is great motivation to me… not to re-injure a healing wound, to see how differently my brain/emotions/thoughts might be after 6 months of letting my new little neurotransmitters grow without burning them with alcohol.

  3. I already feel better mentally committing to the 100 days. Leaving the possibility of drinking is merely testing whether you ‘really need to quit’. I like what you say about getting some completely sober time in to gain some momentum.

  4. I did 165 days on the Belle Challenge last year and I wish I had stuck with it. I am now on the Challenge again and I am at 57 days and I am white-knuckling it today. This sucks. If I had stuck with it I would not be going through this right now. I would have moved on to a longer solid sobriety count. I would be better at this. I would have more momentum.

  5. Counting days is the one thing that worked for me, another tool.
    Thank you, Belle!
    I am now on day 592!!
    (I think!)
    And to think it all started when I did your 100 day challenge!
    I remember I was so scared!
    I only had to restart one time!
    Big Hugs!!

  6. Day three for Me ! (Forced excitement ) ….unknown territory here . Thank you all for doing this with me. XO XO

  7. I thought that at first when I didn’t feel like I had very many days. It was like the lack of days was mocking me because it seems like it would be ” forever” until I had engough days to “matter” . Then on day on a coaching call, Belle said “listen seriously, you’ve gone ______days! That’s huge. How long have you ever gone without a drink? Like any kind of alcohol. ?” I didn’t know the answer. I knew there had been times I went for like a week, when I was ” moderating”. But I always was planning the next time. This counting days it’s freeing! The no booze at all is freeing!! Hugs!

  8. This is spot on. Sober momentum is qualitatively different than not drinking for a day or a few days and is not to be fucked with. For me, taking a bit of time off actually gives Wolfie ammunition to use against me the next time time I decided to choose sobriety. It’s gives him the argument that “Things aren’t really that bad! Look! You took a few days off here. You’re fiiiinnnneee. Stop making such a big deal over a little bit of ‘fun.’ Have another drink.”
    Taking an extended amount of time away from alcohol (I’m on day 304- holy shit!) gives me perspective. The time off makes Wolfie get weak and quiet and I start to hear other perspectives, like “Try standup paddle board yoga! You might love it!” and “Isn’t it nice to sleep so well??” and “Wow, being sober feels REEEEAAAALLLLY great!” And all these perspectives are my own ammunition for when, every once in awhile, Wolfie gets loud with a, “A beer woud be really nice right now.” and I get to say, “NO! Actually, that would be horrible right now!” Continuous days is about building a reserve.

    1. Love this! You are so right. Day by day booze fades into the past. And the muscle memory of lifting the glass gets overriden. Amazing job x

  9. If you are drinking on and off you lose your sober momentum. Your car has to start again! You have to do those 29days again….you lose the gifts that come with not drinking…..see I listen to my podcasts xxx

  10. Counting the days means so much to me. When I’m feeling a little weak, I look at my app that counts the days and think, I can’t give up those 158 days. And if I keep building days, then the days turn to months, to years, and that is something I can look forward to.

  11. I just finished your book and all I can say is wow, amazing, incredible and I’m on day 3 after years of heavy duty glamorous wine drinking. Tonight is very hard and all I am doing is reading and writing and getting ready to xanax myself to bed. I love you and thank you for all your lovely gifts and support

  12. Keeping this car in the lane and cruising, momentum keeping me moving. 18 days is so good right now, going for 180. Never was good at the moderation game, lost every round 🙂

  13. The more you try the controlled drinking, cause that is what it is, the harder it will get to have anytime between the days you are not drinking and the days you are. Remember that Wolfie wants you drunk ALL the time and doing something like that makes him stronger. He tells you see you don’t have to count days continuously…you’re not that bad…if you can stop for a while you can’t have a problem. I deluded myself with all these lies, especially when I was able to stop for 40 days for Lent. Well…at the end I couldn’t even stop for one day.

  14. Also….. after 23 days people tell me I “look different.” I have to do this. I have to do it for me. I have been in so much pain. I am sitting here drinking my reward…. “fizzy water and POM.” Love it ❤️

  15. Absolutely!! Counting days and telling myself that I needed to check in to my blog the next day to announce what day I was on was what kept me going sometimes during those first few weeks! Day 211 today!!

  16. My particular problem was always on and off. I might only drink one or two days a week – or even less – but when I did drink I usually binged and blacked out, like some sort of part time reality tv star. Realizing that I couldn’t stop that behavior meant realizing I needed to stop drinking forever. Counting the days makes me feel like I’m collecting accomplishments and distancing myself from that party girl persona I loved and loathed. Xo, Day 6

  17. I am glad to count days. Am at 7 today and that hasn’t happened for 14 years! After 100 days I know I will continue on this path. I’ve spent sooooo many years boozing, it’s time to know me.

  18. I feel that counting days is important because everyday makes me stronger in my battle against Wolfe. Building the bricks with each day makes a strong house like the children’s story about the three pigs. Every time I stop and go back to drinking it’s like my bricks become straw . Wolfe wins and gets in my head and all the negatives take over. Counting days just makes you feel safe and strong in your commitment to yourself . After a while I’m sure you don’t even remember the days , they become years and you’re so comfortable in your neighborhood of brick houses that you don’t notice the wolf out beyond the fences.

  19. I was scared to count days because what if I fail? But I keep making it another day and another day but I havent realky bothered counting them. I should probably think of my sober days as an accomplishment. I am going to celebrate these awkward 17 days. I made it two weekends in a row!!!!

  20. Yes, from a personal stand point, counting days was a vital part of the process of stopping the alcohol cycle. I can hear Belle’s voice in my head from one of the OMMs ” When you have sober momentum, you don’t fuck with it”
    I didn’t. ” you want to find out about what all the fuss is about. You want to feel like you know, you’re doing a good thing”
    Yes, I did want to find out what all the fuss was about.. I wanted to learn how to do shit while I was on the long flight, not just check my watch waiting until I could drink. That’s what the on and off again is, just waiting to drink. And when you drink, when you bang that u-turn.. you get to do that sucky part of the ride..over and over. And you know what? It’s gets old.. it’s boring!
    One of most important things that has kept me sober is in fact momentum.. I don’t and will not go backwards. Everyday is new personal best for me, whether or not it’s a shit day or not.. it’s built in new bestie for me. Why would I want to give that up?!
    ” Why is it valuable to have sober days in a row?”
    Because everyday is now a gift..(..yes “momentum is a weird gift” )
    To me.. from me.

    BTW.. today is day 196 for me 🙂

  21. Hi, I’m new here, on Day 3. I’m going fine so far, I did 8 weeks last year, 5 weeks early this year, but as others have said, I was always planning for my drinking after that, particularly when it’s coming up to Annual leave. This 100 day challenge will be my longest attempt and I am grateful to have found you Belle, and also all of the others being so open and honest about their journeys.
    I can stop and start at will, but I always drink too much when I start, so that’s what I’m hoping to change. I don’t know yet if this is a forever thing, time will tell.
    p.s. I have already purchased your triple pack, physical, digital and audio book, so if I get selected, please gift the book to the next deserving person on your list!
    Wishing you and everyone here a happy and sober day 😀

  22. Counting days puts space between the version of you who drinks too much and screws up, and the version of you who’s hoping for something better. It gives you opportunity to look back and say ‘ wow – look how far I’ve come.’ you remember what it was like on day 9, compared to day 345.. it gives you chance to achieve something that once seemed impossible, a chance to break free from wolfie.

  23. Counting days is very important to me because it represents the distance I’ve put between being held captive by alcohol and the freedom Im now enjoying. I love getting further and further away from my captor.

  24. I downloaded a free app on my phone called Quit That and it counts my days for me. I can see that it’s been 120 days since I quit smoking and 68 since I quit drinking! I have never had this much sober time in a row besides pregnancies. The app really helps! I like how Belle equates having sober days as putting up a wall between us and Wolfie.

  25. I used to go 10-12 days between drinks so whatever. The days I did drink more than made up for the random (mostly hungover, thinking of drinking anyway) “sober” days. 10 days was not enough to erase the damage the last binge did, so why did I keep piling on more?

  26. I have counted days from the very beginning. At first each day was difficult to complete but as the weeks went by it became easier. I now marvel that I am on Day 124. I like feeling they powerful accomplishment of total abstention. Naturenancy

  27. For me being sober on and off is a form of torture. I don’t enjoy the sober days as you said your just waiting to drink. But it’s also so hard to get back to being sober after a break. It takes all your strength that you have to really dig down inside to find all the while sometimes not believing you have that strength and then only to do it to yourself all over again! I have put myself through the torture enough. Time to make it easy on myself…continuous sobriety that I count and that counts. Each day upon day with a sense of achievement that builds on my self esteem.

  28. On again off again does not work.
    I am living proof !
    Good to read these comments that support staying sober.
    To simply know so many have gone before me.
    To be free of Wolfie is my goal.
    One day at a time that’s all I can focus on.

  29. I’ve tried off and in and it doesn’t work. Belle isn right; days i don’t drink I am often thinking about when i can. And i dont like putting all that time inti the thinking about drinking.

    Also, i like the feeling of adding the numbers and seeing them go up. Like a block tower, a coin jar, or my to read book lost. As the number for a up, it feels satisfying. I’ve done this for this long. It’s been this long since in had a hangover. It’s been this long since I lost my memory of night.

  30. I am ready now. The days of feeling so ill I can barely make it through must be gone. I want my strong mind and body back. I want to be me again.

  31. I think on some level I know that continuous sobriety, counting the days, is the answer. But I can’t quite commit to it yet. I do a few days sober, then have a few drinks one day because I feel shy at a party, then I remember that sober felt better and have a few more sober days, then something comes up, a beautiful warm evening and the offer of a glass of sparking wine. And I can’t remember why I want to be sober. I think I’m making progress, my relationship with alcohol has changed a lot and im much more conscious and in control of my drinking habits but I know that if I were able to commit now to just being sober I could be a better version of myself sooner.

    1. you’ll find that you do better with more support. there’s nothing about a warm evening that is improved with the addition of an expensive anaesthetic. hugs

  32. This is my 3rd attempt at the 100 day challenge – I’m on Day 19 and the sober momentum is building and it’s a godsend. It makes it harder to break when Wolfie comes calling and he’s been calling loud and clear all week. I honestly don’t think I would have lasted the last three days if I hadn’t had that momentum behind me. It’s Day 19 and I’m sober and I am not going to drink today.

  33. Good morning Belle! Can you believe we’re nearing our one year pen pal anniversary and I haven’t read the book!!!! It reminds me of Grover’s “there’s a monster at the end of this book”. Happy sober Thursday! Susanmarie

  34. I love the idea that I’m building a wall between sober time and the drinking days and every sober day is a brick in that wall. I am on day 9 today. That seems like so little time but it’s soooooo big! I can’t remember the last time I didn’t drink for 9 consecutive days. It’s been many years.

  35. #529. Day count is very motivating and the farther along I get the more there is at stake. I don’t want to mess up my streak although at this point the cravings are pretty much gone. I do think about drinking in the future sometimes but then remember back to how hard it was to stop, look at my Day count and say Naaaa. As far as moderation goes, I love it when you say that we have already tried and failed at that many times. It feels so good to have that whole internal negatioation process about -who what where when how much -gone from my brain. Simple, just have none. I say simple, but it wasn’t easy. XO

  36. I started to try to cut back years ago and it was a decent plan except for the fact that on my drinking days I ALWAYS drank more than I meant to and on my not drinking days I was uncomfortable and wishing they were drinking days. Then after a few years of doing this I realized that I was lucky if I could have 2 non drinking days in a row, and those two days were wicked uncomfortable because man did I want my booze. I was not controlling my drinking at all, not really. Counting days has been like seeing mile markers in a marathon, each time I count another one it gives me strength to get to the next mile marker. The best part – unlike an actual marathon it’s getting easier the longer I go!

  37. The on and off isn’t helping me, I’m trying to get the momentum going again. I had 150 days and things were feeling good, and I wish I stuck at it, because this sucks. I hate the mornings after I drink because I beat myself up mentally. I know how much better I feel on days that I haven’t had a drink.

  38. I have been trying to quit for 4 years, off and on. So another attempt, starts today. It sucks to start over again. There are so many good reasons not to drink, but because of my addiction I’ve had such a hard time going to the good side. I keep thinking I can do this all by myself,and slowly thinking I can’t do this myself. AA doesn’t work for me, my sponsor dropped me because I finally told her I hate AA. There’s a SMART group once a week, I like, but the rest of the days I’ve decided to read all my emails from Belle, and email, and read other AF emails to keep me on track. Summer is coming, but I know there’s no good time! So right now I’m counting the hours, and will download a counting app. I have to do this, my liver enzymes are really high, I have to choose living over dead.

  39. I have continuously being doing the off/on ever since I found this blog…..a year ago maybe? And guess what? Obviously it’s not working but today is day 2, and I’m hoping for continuous! And I feel great

  40. When we reset to zero, it feels like all those days were taken away from us and we want to scream how unfair it is. Guarding those days by adding them up is an illusion. We still have all those sober days – they are still an accomplishment which brought us to our current spot, and they will help us get to that point in the journey and move beyond when we are ready. Also the further you get from consumption, the harder it is to toss that away.

    1. if you’re not continuously sober, then wolfie says that day counting isn’t helpful. but when you’re longer-term sober, you see those continuous days as bricks in the wall between ‘that time back there’ and the ‘new you over here.’ don’t let wolfie tell you it’s an illusion. it isn’t. it’s real. sober momentum is real.

  41. I know it doesn’t work to try and moderate, I’m (along with so many others) proof of that, sorry to say. I’m still fighting with myself on this point, but I can say, I getting more sober days in than not. I just need to start counting the days to a goal, 100 day challenge? I should.

    1. it’s not about ‘more sober days than not’ although your brain will present that as a ‘good solution’ – the way to get the overwhelming desire to drink to stop isn’t to skip days, it’s to stop drinking. the drinking itself, even every third day, fuels the desire to drink. i know it seems counter-intuitive. but the way to feel better is to have none. and if you can’t wrap your brain around that, then quit for 30 days and then renew for 60 then for 100. and do it with support. hmm. i know a good place to get some sober supports…

  42. I’ve always been an all or nothing type of girl. I loved counting days in the beginning because it was new territory for me and everyday I felt progress. Every day was a victory.100 days seemed inconceivable, so I wrote myself notes, coaching myself to remember that I was rewiring my brain. After the 100 day goal, then it was 180, etc. I’m no longer counting days, but I believe absolutely in the sober momentum. My last drink was 1/6/16.

  43. I used to have that same question … why can’t I just rack up a few “See! I didn’t drink today!” days here and there and that would be enough? But that’s absolute Wolfie bullshit. It’s a way to keep you stuck and let Wolfie keep lying to you. And you’re SOOOOO right about the wall .. that wall means everything to me now. Last drink: 9/24/2016.

  44. Because if moderation was working, I wouldn’t have ended up here… that’s why I keel count of continuous days. Because I had to change my life, and a little bit wasn’t going to do the trick. Thank goodness for 100 days that set me on the path to day 747!!!

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