Audio: Do You Have to Wait to Have a Low Bottom?

This is Sober Podcast Episode #196 for my weekly sober podcast series.

I want to be on the Rich Roll podcast.

If you don’t know who he is, he’s an ultra-endurance runner, previous over-drinker. He’s a vegan athlete now and he has a podcast that is very popular. He talks to people about health and wellness, not just about recovery (although when the person he is speaking to has an over-drinking history, that will often become at least the subtext of their conversation).

I figured someone in my group probably knows who he is. Either you live in LA, or you know him, or you know his wife, Julie Piatt, or you know his cafe (Joi Cafe).

I’d like to be on his show because I think that I have an interesting perspective to offer, particularly as I just listened one of his archived episodes, where at the end, he and the guest — and the guest was another over-drinker, marathon ultra-endurance runner — were discussing how do you reply to people who email and say, “you’ve inspired me, I want to quit drinking, what’s your advice?”

The two of them come to it with different approaches, of course. As I’m listening I think, “gee I would say a totally different thing that will reach a whole other group of people that these two responses don’t reach.”

Below i’ve posted a 3 minute extract from near the beginning of the podcast, recorded while i was out walking to breakfast.

Do you know Rich Roll or Julie Piatt or Joi Cafe? Short of irritating him with multiple emails, do you have an idea how I can get on his show? Do you know someone who knows someone? I think the idea of a sober trial needs to be shared more, and we need to spotlight the newly emerging internet-based, anonymous, private, AND portable supports for sobriety.




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BG: “I don’t know this guy but I hope you get on his podcast. You have a lot of important information to get out there in the big boozy world.  My favourite part of the podcast was being in the cafe with you (at the very end). Loved that you read the menu to us. It’s that Harriet The Spy feeling. Do you know that book? It was one of my favourite’s when I was a kid. The fly on the wall. Being able to observe without being observed … Love listening to you Belle.”

MJP: “What I heard in this podcast is: you don’t have to wait for a lower bottom. A lower bottom for me could’ve been death or disability.”



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

  • 100 days seems so long. Like to big of an immediate goal. You’ll probably say just do today and that’s one down. How could I possibly stay on track for 100 days?

    • Kevin, I was just the same. So I said 7 days – which would have been the longest time for me without a drink in years. And then I said 30. And only then, really, did I say, OK, maybe I can make it to 100. I’ve had one slip, a bottle on one day, which I immediately regretted and felt very pissed off with myself about. But I picked my self up and started again at the beginning. But for that I’d be on day 130 or so. As it is I’m on Day 45, and determined to make the 100 this time. Belle’s very strict about keeping score, and she’s right. A bit sober, or mostly sober, just doesn’t cut it.

    • Kevin, I’m on day 90 and whilst 100 days seemed like a long time at the beginning. It has flown by and I can tell you it is the BEST thing I have ever done. The important part (as Belle would say) is to get your sober car moving. Break it down into smaller manageable chunks to begin with and congratulate yourself for a job well done every step of the way. Also, one of the things that really helped me was to challenge one of my beliefs about alcohol. Namely that I got a lot of pleasure from alcohol. Heres the thing though when I really thought about the times I felt real joy it wasn’t when I was sat on the couch watching mindless TV pouring wine down my neck. I realised I loved running far more than I loved wine. This was a real light bulb moment and I could really feel my alcoholic chains start to break. Now 90 days later, I am almost free. And it feels amazing. Good luck.

  • I think I needed to start running to be able to quit drinking. I sometimes worry about my sobriety if I were to get injured and not be able to run. I’m not an ultra-runner (yet?), but the gifts that it gave me – being able to see myself as a human who could be healthy, could be strong, could take joy running 10 miles on a Saturday morning instead of lying in bed hungover – were infinitely powerful.

  • The idea of a sober trial is appealing on so many levels, it’s easy to wrap your mind around, it’s easy to explain to those close to you when you aren’t ready to share your whole story. Also your use of sober tools is awesome. I have been to AA a few times in the past, I didn’t leave the meetings with any tools. Your ideas about sober tools and treats are so unique, and they are what is helping me make it through this challenge. Tools are something I really focus on when I know temptation is around the corner(like as the weekend gets closer) I now know to use my tools BEFORE the weekend, and I plan treats to have during the weekend. This is something I never learned just being “anonymous” at AA. The internet has been a huge tool for me in my sobriety, always at my finger tips. I am so thankful to have found your blog, I hope you get on the Rich Roll show I think it would be a great conversation to hear.

  • I have never heard of this person either, but if it’s your desire to be on his show, I wish you success! I started in an outpatient treatment for seniors, AA based, and then found you, Belle. It’s a good thing, too. While my counselor there was very open minded and did not push the AA stuff too much, it WAS an AA program, which frequently drove me crazy. Belle spoke to me much more on a level I was willing to listen to. I believe there is no one ‘right’ way to sobriety, but a number of things that each person decides works for them. Belle was undoubtedly the most important factor for me.

  • I love that there are several options that can be openly discussed… different strokes for different folks. I know some people who found new life in AA, it can be so very valuable for some people. I’ve heard many drug/alcohol counselors with the opinion that people just can’t be helped until they hit rock bottom, that may be true for some people as well. I needed your approach… an experiment, a challenge to motivate me. I would have never imagined I could string a 100 days together, but that’s what worked for me.

  • Send him a copy of your book. I haven’t listened to him, however, it’s all about perspective, really. And what he says resonates with some people, what you say resonates with others. I’m always interested to hear opinions about the same subject; I would imagine he is too – or he should be. Send him your book, because that would be a wonderful topic to open up with on his podcast!

  • I hope you get to meet this guy. He would be impress with your logic on this whole drinking thing. Good luck!

  • Belle… the only way that I was able to gain any sober momentum was to do exactly what you said… try an experiment for 100 days. Because let’s face it, if we could have ‘quit for life’ we already would have. Instead we try to moderate and fail over and over again. You frame it just right by telling our brain “You already know what a wedding, funeral, retirement party, or random Tuesday night is like WITH drinking. Why don’t you see what it’s like WITHOUT drinking. Nobody says you have to quit for good… just for now. Give a an actual try for 100 days. If after 100 days you think things were better with booze, you’re free to go back.”

    Hope you get on the podcast… you’d be your amazing self!!

  • This is one of those obvious comments that just hit me. I think the ‘secret’ that makes your plan work where others fail is that it is reduced, especially in the first hundred days to, ‘just don’t drink.’ Don’t make plans, don’t make promises, just get through the damn day without alcohol. Do whatever it takes: baths, naps, treats, food, distraction, avoidance, crying, etc. I think there are scientific studies that prove this is the best way to quit smoking cigarettes also (a very difficult addiction to break). Just don’t. 😉 Easier said than done. We can worry about the why and the future later. Obviously, when you are drinking…or just newly not-drinking…you are still dealing with a brain that is turned towards alcohol and therefore colored by it. It’s like punching your way out of a paper bag and the other competitor in the little arena is you. Just don’t punch, don’t fight, don’t reason, don’t engage…just dehydrate the wolf by taking away all the alcohol, and poof, the opponent disappears. Crystal clear thinking appears…almost magically….like a washed blue sky after a storm. Just stop pouring the damn poison into the system and you can find yourself again. Decide later why you drank, if you’ll drink again, and all the complex peripherals we humans tend to pile onto simple issues. For now, for today, don’t drink.

  • I’ve never heard of him, but I hope that you can get onto his show. What I got from the mini podcast was that one way doesn’t work for everyone (AA), but you have to figure out what works for you and if it’s tricking your mind into thinking it’s just a short time, then you get momentum and can keep on going.

  • I didn’t know Rich Roll until you introduced me to him Belle. And what a pleasure it has been getting to know him. I watched his talk on why not to hack your life and it resonated with me. Take time out, put in the work, things don’t just magically happen – they happen over time. I don’t know him personally otherwise I would totally get you on his podcast 😉

  • Go for it Belle. I don’t know who can help you. Maybe you have contact with some one else he’s interviewed? DRx

  • When I read Rich’s story on his website about his staircase moment when he realized he needed to make changes, I heard a common thread that resonated.
    The thread is: Is what I’m doing working for me? Am I making good choices? Is this my best self? Or, is this even a good version of myself? Or simply an acceptable version?
    Belle, I think you’d offer great perspective on his podcast. We don’t necessarily need to be at rock bottom to start making changes. We just need to be at a point where we are sincerely asking ourselves this questions.

  • Thanks for the support, I enjoy all the many ways you speak your mind on this subject of alcohol free life!

  • I thought I may of had a problem with alcohol but whenever I looked up AA I knew it wasn’t for me. What was? A sober experiment …for 100 days. I knew what my life with alcohol was like….but what was my life without it….I could do 100 days….I’ve now done 295 and counting. It’s much better for me on this side…

  • ALBERTTROTTER said it so well! Waking up with “party bruises” was something to laugh at in the morning, right? How did I get those anyway? I never remembered. Even falling off of a bar stool and cracking my head on the floor and being airlifted to a trauma center wasn’t enough to make me stop. That was 5 fucking years ago and I thought I was just a social drinker. I kept thinking that I didn’t have to seek help because I hadn’t “hit rock bottom” yet. What is that anyway? I was waiting for it to just get worse. And I would NEVER tell anyone to do that. You know what did get me to turn it around? Reading your blog, Belle. Signing up for the Jumpstart Class. Reading your book and doing it all with the frame of mind that I was trying an experiment. And after 30 days – I’d reassess.

  • I hope that you are soon contacted to be a guest on this podcast. I have no idea who he is but am sure you can offer great advice. My problem was that there was never going to be a bottom. I fell down and smashed my face, vomited all over my driveway in the light of day, spilled wine over everything, embarrassed myself too many times to count and worried my children. But none of those things gave me enough of a push to quit. I knew AA wouldn’t work for me, I don’t know how I knew, but it wasn’t my thing. I’m so lucky to have found you when I did. My life has changed completely. Just the promise that there was someone expecting to hear from me everyday gave me the drive to stay sober, to not drink for today, for 30 days, for 100 days and so on. You have done so much for so many and need to be heard so you can help others. Yay!

  • I hope you get on this show and many others because you have so many fresh and new ideas to share. Your perspective adds to the sober community -and really isn’t that what every show is looking for… A new perspective to help people find sobriety!

  • Wait for things to get worse?! WTF?? I like your approach wayyy better, I wish I had been introduced to it twenty years ago. I think about how much time I wasted trying to go cold turkey without the right supports and feeling that forever was too long. It’s far more effective to see how 100 days without booze would feel, sort of like waiting for Christmas. I was looking at old diaries and seeing how many entries were commiserating about the troubles I was having with booze – over and over again. The failed efforts, the fooling of myself and convincing myself that I didn’t “really” have a problem all the while falling deeper down the rabbit hole. I’m still relatively new in my sober journey (less than a year) and, now that the dust has settled, I am seeing with greater clarity the landscape of destruction of my own making that needs repairing. Dealing with feelings is something new – unchartered territory, but it’s good. I may have wasted time but I still have time and I’m not letting one second slip away from me again.

    People need to hear about your approach, Belle. Give them this option. The more tools the better. Your approach is refreshing, real. Wolfie personified speaks to so many of us.

  • I like your approach because it is Specifically Not AA. It isn’t -anti- AA or even -instead-of- AA (you can totally do both) but it is something _different_from_ AA. I got so-o-o tired of the huge amount of “AA or nothing” sentiment around quitting drinking…which is what the one guy was selling. I don’t buy into the “it’s okay just wait for it to get worse because it will” idea the other guy was selling either.

  • When I heard “you can wait for it to get worse” I didn’t hear “don’t stop now” I heard “look at your life right now, are you happy with your drinking or do you want to have other, perhaps more serious, consequences to make you feel like it’s time to stop?”

    The idea of an experiment is really the only one that could get me to try and see how it feels. Forever seems like too big of a commitment!

  • I’m hoping someone can help you onto the show. Your perspective is unique, and your approach is still fairly out there for some folk, I’m thinking about your recent short BBC radio spots which highliged for me just how polarised the views about over drinking are. Many people have only had this presented to them as ‘you’re an alcoholic or you don’t have a problem’… have found a way of describing our experiences, most of us think you can see inside our heads!!

  • You certainly have an interesting approach to not drinking, one that is important and reaches people. No one has to hit rock bottom to quit drinking, or quit anything for that matter. If you feel better without it, why keep doing it? The addiction requires support a necessity for success, which is where you come in. You provide support from your home to ours. No emphasis on higher power, and no clothes necessary! It’s perfect!
    And for getting in touch with Mr. Roll, maybe you could send him your next snail mail letter with a little tea.

  • The 100 day experiment is genius! It gives a person an “out” – they (we) don’t have to admit to ourselves or anyone the exact nature of our drinking we get to say I’m going to give it a rest for 100 days and then see what happens. You are so right about this method reaching a whole set of people who maybe *want* to stop but don’t want the “alcoholic” label.

  • I think that there are many different ways to crack this, and that the key to addressing it is to share, share, share anything that we know has worked for us. We have no way of knowing which snippet of experience is going to be key for someone else. Everything is useful and I think you would be a real asset for him to have on his show.

  • I like the idea of “quitting as an experiment” as opposed to an ultimatum. It was kind of a way to “call Wolfie’s bluff” .

  • The Voice says, ‘oh it wasn’t THAT big of a deal, people fall all the time. Really it’s just a funny story!’ And as the bruise starts to fade you start to believe that it was just a funny story. Then the next thing is a fender bender in the parking lot at the bar and The Voice says, ‘Oh my gosh, that could have happened to anyone in any parking lot!’ and you believe that too. Then maybe you wake up one morning and cannot remember where you were or where your car is, so you sheepishly stumble outside and breathe a sigh of relief that the car is where it should be, with no dents in it and The Voice says, ‘See, even when you are really buzzed you can take care of yourself.’ and after the hangover fades you decide it was not such a big deal. And it goes on and on, The Voice slowly moving the bar of acceptable behavior lower and lower so that you can keep drinking. So to me, ‘waiting until things get worse to stop drinking because they will indeed get worse’ may be a true statement, but it is NOT good advice

  • “I would be saying, you don’t have to wait for it to get worse. You don’t even have to think you’re an alcoholic. You don’t have to think anything. Why don’t you just try 100 days with no booze and see how you feel.”

    This made all the difference to me. I just couldn’t think about forever. I couldn’t even think about attending AA although I did ring them up once. I just couldn’t face the group setting. I’ve read numerous books on the subject, but nothing really convinced me until I found your blog. Even then, I thought the 100 day challenge was for others, not me. But I continued lurking and gradually I crept out. Your book, Belle, was the second discovery. As so many others have said, you could have been writing just for me – I felt you were writing me from the inside out.

    I don’t have the contacts, but I really hope you get on the show and wherever your voice can be heard. I thank the day I heard you. I’m on day 38 and wolfie’s still about but you’re right that his voice is becoming less insistent. I can even say that on one or two days I haven’t heard him at all. That I committed to 100 days felt a huge step but, crucially, it didn’t feel too big, it felt possible. I felt maybe, with support (yours and others’ who also visit here), I could do it. I’m doing it. Thank you.

  • I quit drinking and my husband didn’t at first and kept being grumpy about not drinking together anymore. He said I’m. It an alcoholic so I shouldn’t have to quit forever! My reply, in anger, was ‘whatever mr. righteous, if you don’t have a problem then try 100 days with alcohol, it shouldn’t be a problem!’ And he did…. and things got better. And on another note, I hit 6 months this week and today I almost drank. Once every 6 months, that’s moderation, right? I’ll only drink tonight, but then instantly my brain started thinking of where I could drink at breakfast cuz if I was gonna break the seal I might as well get in everything I’ve been missing… and, and, I checked my email and I listened to this audio on speaker. I’d listened to it this morning but whatever. I listened to it AGAIN on speaker, and my husband heard and he nodded along cuz he’d made it 100’days and we weren’t fighting anymore…. and he’s gotten a promotion too! He drove me home, we drank tea and read ads… we’re getting up early tomorrow to buy the deals in the ads…. we made it through, you
    Helped me Belle and your rubbing off on the hubs! Thank you!

  • I would never have gone to AA because I wasn’t (enough of) an alcoholic and it wasn’t anonymous (enough). I’d been getting worse for years and every milestone I excused, minimised or justified to myself. I’d always be able to delay because others were worse. I was secretive and couldn’t see an alternative. Sober trials sound like moderating but are very different. They won’t work for everyone but they are priceless to those for whom they’ve opened a sober door. Day 1000 just rolled around and I still can’t believe I’m one of those who has made it thanks to belle’s support.

  • How to get Belle on the Rich Roll Show:


    1. Immediately mention you live in Paris – (this is one of the few places that can break through a native Californian’s in-born ethnocentricity).

    2. Refrain from mentioning bacon.

    3. Talk up the fact the you are a runner.


  • This post is so spot on! You have an approach that is truly different from anything else I have seen out there. I still remember reading through your book and crying over all the things you understood about me, all the thoughts racing around in my brain, the fears I had about not drinking, about taking that first step, about the idea of never again…
    What was also key for me about your approach to the 100 day trial, was your constant reassurance that I didn’t have to believe right away that this would work, that all I needed to do was to trust you, to take that leap of faith, that I didn’t have anything to lose by giving it a try. Normally my over-analytical wolfie brain would have been examining every argument to look for a loophole, any excuse as to why this would wouldn’t work.
    And then when I think about all the little steps you had me going through in the book…first do this, then do this, do it even if you don’t think it makes any difference, do it even if you think it’s stupid, etc etc… Those made such a difference too. Because that feeling of overwhelm at the time was huge…I needed someone to hold my hand and just tell me what to do, step by step. That’s also one of the hugely important things in your book that I haven’t seen anywhere else.
    As Alicat says, finding you was a miracle.

  • Finding you on the web was a complete miracle. Like LovinRunnin says above, hearing that it was normal to not want to quit forever was such a relief to me. I tried AA myself, and while I did appreciate how welcoming they were there is nothing about those meetings that felt like ‘home’ for me. But this I can do. I am doing it. And I love being sober, except when I don’t. LOL. And when those moments arise (and they are just that now: moments) I e-mail you or listen to a podcast and they pass. The thing about waiting for a lower bottom is this; as an overdrinker the voice in our head that says ‘Drink Now’ is super duper exceptionally good at justifying events and actions. So one day the booze leads you to fall and you get a big bruise on your chin. The Voice says, ‘oh it wasn’t THAT big of a deal, people fall all the time. Really it’s just a funny story!’ And as the bruise starts to fade you start to believe that it was just a funny story. Then the next thing is a fender bender in the parking lot at the bar and The Voice says, ‘Oh my gosh, that could have happened to anyone in any parking lot!’ and you believe that too. Then maybe you wake up one morning and cannot remember where you were or where your car is, so you sheepishly stumble outside and breathe a sigh of relief that the car is where it should be, with no dents in it and The Voice says, ‘See, even when you are really buzzed you can take care of yourself.’ and after the hangover fades you decide it was not such a big deal. And it goes on and on, The Voice slowly moving the bar of acceptable behavior lower and lower so that you can keep drinking. So to me, ‘waiting until things get worse to stop drinking because they will indeed get worse’ may be a true statement, but it is NOT good advice. Shit, my Wolfie was so loud that I could have woken up from a drunk with two strangers and a goat in the middle of the desert and he would have told me it was ‘no biggie’. Waiting is bad!! GAH!!

  • The thing that strikes me on this audio is the same thing that struck me in the Sober Jumpstart Class. “Nobody wants to quit forever.” The first time I heard you say that I just started crying. I really thought I was alone with that thought. The idea that NOBODY wants to quit forever was a light bulb moment. And then you said on the audio, “just quit for 100 days.” I’m on day 111 now and so thankful you threw me that lifeline. Yes, I hope you get on Rich Roll’s podcast because I know there are plenty of people who need to hear that message.

  • I went to AA one time. I felt like a fish out of water period I was very opposed to raising your hand and saying hi my name and I’m an alcoholic. I felt that going to AA on a consistent basis would further initiate one into labeling themselves an alcoholic until they accepted they were an alcoholic, then what? I do not consider myself an alcoholic however I was in a bad habit of drinking two glasses of wine every single night by myself or with friends that happened by. It appeared all activities were associated with wine. Women of wine, wine and paws, wine at the Vineyard, wine and painting, etc etc. Belle’s approach to getting off the alcoholic elevator and to stop thinking about drinking was the perfect solution for me. I had anonymity, support through her jump start class, email penpal, one minute message, sober suitcase full of tools and her blog. I was giving up my habit for 100 days. I am now on day 132. I love not drinking! I will continue to stay on this lovely path of sobriety. I could not have done this without her program and the supports. I know because I had tried to quit before on my own, many unsuccessful times.