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Sober Socializing with Susie Streelman

In today's episode Alex meets Susie Streelman, creator of Zeroproof Experiences! Susie has created the Sober in the City Movement - if you're active on Sober Facebook and Instagram, you're bound to have seen it! In this episode Susie shares her sobriety story, and what's brought her to create Sober In the City events.

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You can find Susie on Instagram and learn more about her events at: @zeroproofexperiences. Follow me on Instagram @alexmcrobs and check out my offerings in yoga, meditation and coaching at


Alex: Hi friend this is Alex McRobbs founder of the Mindful Life Practice and you're listening to the Sober Yoga Girl podcast. I'm a Canadian who moved across the world to the Middle East at age 23 and I never went back. I got sober in 2019 and I now live full-time in Bali, Indonesia. I've made it my mission to help other women around the world stop drinking, start yoga and change their lives through my online sober girls yoga Community. You're not alone and a sober life can be fun and fulfilling, let me show you how.


Alex: Hello, hello everyone. Welcome back to another episode of Sober Yoga Girl podcast. I am really excited to be sitting here with Susie Streelman and Susie is the founder of Zero Proof Experiences and she has started the Sober in the City events which I'm sure you've seen if you're part of the sober internet. Uh, you know Facebook, Instagram world. I'm sure you've seen these events popping up because lots of uh big names, big people in the sober Community have been going to these events around the states and it's a little bit far from me from Bali but I've been watching from afar and I just think it's amazing. So, I'm really excited to have you here and to, to learn more about it.

Susie: Alex, it is great to be here with you Sober Yoga Girl. I have been listening to your podcast for, I don't know how long, over two years. How long has it been going?

Alex: Two years, two years next month.

Susie: Uh, I've been kind of in love with yoga for the last 15 years. I would say so and also in love with travel and Bali, Bali is one of those places I have been once, I have been once and you cannot get Bali out of your mind.

Alex: So true yeah, yeah. So True.

Susie: So really enjoyed all, you've had so many different podcasts I remember when you used to do like the, the yoga panel too.

Alex: Yes oh my gosh, that fell apart because, because when I moved to Bali we could not get all the time zones in one room because I was just too far and that was why we actually stopped doing it because it would have to be like midnight for me.

Susie: That, you know that does make sense. So I can see it but maybe sometime when you get over here you'll have to bring that back sometime.

Alex: That would be awesome, yeah.

Susie: That would be fun. So yeah, I live in Long Beach and let's see I, I guess I'm a somewhat recent member of what you might call the alcohol-free arena. Which, I think, is absolutely crazy this year, Dry January 2023 what, is that a thing in Bali at all or maybe not?

Alex: So much like I mean.

Susie: Have you heard of Dry January there?

Alex: I, I mean I know it's a thing because I'm like on clicked into like the Facebook, Instagram world but I don't know if it's happening so much here because well first of all Ubud is kind of like sober village like City you know, but I am, I am down in um Seminyak right now which is more of a tourist spot and right, I think because people are on vacation they just seem to be like drinking as normal. Like I think because it's a vacation spot it's like a little different but um I definitely see that Dry January movement happening all over my social media which is just, it's incredible. It's amazing.

Susie: Right, it is, I just found an article based on their Google Trends we're saying that this year there is a 25% increase in interest in Dry January 2023 compared to 2022.

Alex: That's incredible.

Susie: That is really huge you know, sometimes you feel like you're just noticing it because you know we notice things like mocktails, alcohol free beer, etc.

Alex: Yeah, but I really think something's changing. I, I posted something on my Instagram, I don't know if you saw it, yesterday someone sent me this article and I was, I was blown away by it. It was um about a science, a scientific study that was done in Canada in 2017 to put cancer uh warning labels on bottles and they ran it for a month and then the Canadian government ended up having to, so the alcohol industry intervened and the Canadian government had to pull the experiment because they couldn't afford the lawsuit. Is like what happened and the national news was reporting on it and I was like, I cannot believe this is in CBC which is like the national you know, news in Canada and that I feel even you know, at the time it happened in 2017 I don't think that made the news you know, and I just feel like there's this breakthrough movement happening around sobriety, absolutely.

Susie: Right like it is really escalating, maybe on steroids if you will so. Exciting though there's still a little work to do so..

Alex: Absolutely.

Susie: I guess, I would describe myself as an expert breaker, right? You know, a little break here and a little break there. Maybe I'm not sure who has said this before but I've read it in a couple of places where maybe it might take you like a decade to make a decision. A lot of times like from, from the time you first start thinking about it, for a lot of people you know, and that makes sense for me, you know. Not everybody but um it takes a lot of you know, maybe trial and error. Just thoughts things coming up so you know, I've, I've done a 30-day break before. Actually, the first time I did that was um after seeing a doctor and just you know, just for a normal checkup in my liver enzymes were a little bit high. Now, I'm a pretty health-minded person like fitness, nutrition, all that have been a pretty high value. So, it definitely grabbed my attention, maybe more than it would have for some people and he suggested I take a 30-day break and I was like what really? So you know, I made it through the 30 Day sure enough my librarian times went down and you know, I did cut back then. Actually, I kind of would, would manage it um you know, they would creep up and then go back down. So, I just I guess occasionally would take a break like I did a couple of Lent seasons, 50 days it's a pretty long time right, Alex?

Alex: Yeah.

Susie: So but then it was you know, kind of right back to okay champagne on Easter, right? Lunch is over um and I was pretty proud of myself for doing those 50 days. So yeah, I guess more uh recently I signed up for a longer break like I actually joined the um Sober Sis Jim couch program.

Alex: I've heard so much about this program recently. I'm actually going to have her on my podcast soon.

Susie: Oh fantastic. Yeah, she's a great friend. She spoke at our Sober in the City Event in Austin.

Alex: I remember. That's where I met her.

Susie: Right, yeah so, so super fun and yeah, so that was, that was a big change for me the, the mindset really, really changed at that time. What, what, what was it that changed though, right um I will say that one thing that was really a game changer was meeting other people too that felt the same goals and interests like was just gonna take a break and see how it went. Um, another really big game changer though I believe is the alcohol-free beverage industry because you know, a few years back I mean, if we look at all the things that are existing right now Alex, I mean so many of the products that I really enjoy did not exist three years ago.

Alex: So true.

Susie: Right? so yeah and um I think actually when I was in Bali, I keep, I keep going back to Bali, I can't help it, but I remember going to the beach clubs there and you know, I do think that part of, part of the population that lives there does not drink right? So they do have quite a bit like, I remember a couple of pages of alcohol-free drink menus at that beach club and I thought it was fantastic. Um no I, I was also drinking then too but no I would kind of go back and forth and isn't that nice? To have those options. So, I think with Zero Proof Experiences, that is a big goal. Is let's provide alcohol-free option for you whether you want to take you know, a night off, a week off or 10 years off, whatever you want.

Alex: I love that. I have a question for you about um the mocktails and alcohol-free beers because I post something in a sober Facebook group I don't know if you saw this, but I posted something in a sober Facebook group um maybe about a month ago about having an alcohol-free beer and I got some feedback from people that you know, there's a lot of people that feel that those can like impede your sobriety or you know get in the way or create a problem and I notice in the Sober in the City that there's quite a few people joining those events who I know as part of like uh AA or 12-step programs. Which kind of have that belief around the alcohol-free drinks and so I was wondering like, have you encountered that if people had that conversation um and what's your sort of thoughts around that?

Susie: Yeah, I like how you say you got the feedback and I think everybody should do what they enjoy and what they're comfortable with. So AA has been more traditionally kind of anti anything that mimicked, I guess or even had the same look as alcohol. It sounds to me like that's changing some it is a, it's a pretty big focus honestly of our events and I, I think we're very upfront about that. It's pretty you know, obvious from the the promotions that we do so if that's something that you really don't want to try it might not be the event for you. If, if you're coming to a point because your opinion might change from you know six years ago or six months from now, it might be something that you enjoy later. I was actually just kind of talking to my sister. She's doing dry January this year.

Alex: It’s amazing.

Susie: So, she was saying that um she went to Winco to buy some alcohol-free drinks and they didn't have a lot so I was you know, giving her some ideas of where she might pick some up. So she didn't mind like having the sparkling water and this or that but she did say that sometimes in the evening it would be nice to have something that's a little more special and yeah for me I've really noticed that a lot. Like for example, if you had walked in to, which I wish you had, are Sober in the City event in Austin, I don't think you would not have any idea whether there was alcohol there or not and I just had a conversation with another drink founder recently that he was saying it's, it's so much in your head. Like you can still have a luxury experience being out to dinner, being at a beach, barbecue, um watching the sunset in Bali and it's, it is nice. I, I think a lot of us feel this way. It's nice to have something special to drink just like everybody else is, is doing and you you'll probably be surprised. It does take a little practice though but you'll probably be surprised at a certain point when you go and you're, you're, you're enjoying the experience. You're enjoying the taste of the food, you're enjoying the people that you're with, hopefully you're enjoying some fantastic alcohol-free wine or mixed zero proof cocktails if you like, if you like I do think that can 100 add to the experience.

Alex: Yeah, absolutely and you're so right about it being in your head because I you know I had this experience when I was living in Kuwait. It's a dry country, it's an alcohol-free country and there were a lot of nights where I would end up at you know, a restaurant or at whatever event and have to be sober and think that like the, the thing was ruined because I couldn't drink and it's so funny because now I'm you know, I'm older and wiser and I've done the sober ironing thing for a while and I realized like because I was so obsessed with how much the night sucked because I was sober, I was like ruining it for myself right and so it's all just kind of a mental story that we narrate to ourselves about what's going on how we're experiencing it, so um yeah.

Susie: Yeah, I certainly know what it's like to believe that your life would not be complete without alcohol. Yeah, I certainly know what that's like to believe that.

Alex: So Susie, how long have you been alcohol-free for?

Susie: Uh a little over two years.

Alex: Amazing.

Susie: Yeah, yeah so when I took that break I should say I had no intention of really making this a long-term plan and yeah for now I am really enjoying it. I, I describe myself as alcohol free and I feel I guess, I don't, I don't know when it was, It was kind of exciting to get you know a little, a little bit of time. So somewhere, it might have been around six months, where I just started to feel more drawn to the alcohol-free lifestyle.

Alex: Yeah.

Susie: Than I was to, kind of drinking wine at night or maybe kind of taking up the headspace of am I going to have one glass tonight or tomorrow or three glasses that day because there's you know it, it it takes a lot of room right?

Alex: Yeah

Susie: So, at our events, we're really trying to create, we're trying to navigate a bit through this social scene.

Alex: Which you know for I was just going to share for a lot of people that's like the most difficult thing is like how do you tell people that you're alcohol free? How do you tell people that you're sober? How do you navigate you know, social events? And so I love that because it's giving people an opportunity to, to have fun, to enjoy, to try some new types of drinks and it's real, it's like practicing for like going you know, back into the events where there are where there is alcohol.

Susie: Right, because we know that socializing alcohol-free can be awkward but also sometimes socializing is just a little awkward depending on, on what it is but what I've seen is that people come, they have this experience of course we're making it pretty you know, really comfortable, really easy, because everybody's coming because they want to experience an alcohol-free evening and alcohol-free weekend. So for example, in Palm Springs next month we're going to be experiencing a whole weekend in a typical American city kind of an American Resort City, really so this will be a unique destination for us alcohol free and we're not just going to be like sitting around in our hotel rooms although, there's pool time if you want but we have a lot of activities. We've got you know a panel, we're going to have this time for the excuse me a solo social for the first time and that's going to be for anybody that is coming solo and over half of the people attending are coming solo Alex.

Alex: That's amazing.

Susie: So talk about brave. Yeah, yeah so what we see though is they're coming to this event, they're having a good time, they're being, we learned in Sacramento when we had Josh then on alcoholic come and he was our bartender. He shared with us and we got a lot of feedback after that event that people want to know more about the products. They want to know more about how to use them, how to make an easy drink, a sophisticated drink and where to get it, right? You, it's probably a little harder. After people come they experience the whole event. They go home and I think you feel a little empowered and I'm sure you've had this experience you know, at some of your retreat get-togethers that you've had for example and, and some of your attendees, I'm sure they go home just feeling empowered. I can hear them in the post event group say you know, I went home and I ordered this and that, that we tasted it Sober in the City and I brought it to the barbecue, I shared it with their friends. So, it really, I think builds confidence like you don't expect Alex every time you go out to the restaurant to have 600 alcohol-free choices right but once in a while it's nice to just experience that really a full experience and maybe you know, maybe you're just deciding if you like it or not. The alcohol will always be there if you know, you want to go back but it might be you know, just a fun thing to try, kind of a little checkup and, and see what you think a lot of the options too. Not that this is the very most important thing but they're pretty low calorie right like a large glass of wine can be like 20 to 30 calories compared to like 100 and whatever um so that's one thing I didn't realize until I don't know about a year ago I didn't think it would be that much different.

Alex: Why is it so different, do you know?

Susie: Well, as a matter of fact I was talking to Josh the non-alcoholic and I'll tell you what he said, he said Alex that apparently alcohol has a lot of calories.

Alex: Oh.


Susie: Go figure, right?

Alex: That's so interesting because I wouldn't expect it to be the actual alcohol like, I would expect it to be all this all the other stuff. The sugar um, so that's really interesting. So I was wondering, so you said to me that you did the first Sober in the City dinner?

Susie: About a year ago and it's really grown since then.

Alex: So take me through that, like what made you decide to start the movement and like how has that grown?

Susie: Uh so, it was actually just almost exactly a year ago. If you're in downtown Long Beach another event and I think, I started an Instagram account. A little before that just started asking some questions, maybe I had a dream of making some alcohol-free travel options and I thought maybe we could just start with a dinner. Like let's bite something off a little bit and you know, just messaging got a few people involved and we put together, a little this lovely dinner downtown Long Beach for 45 people, several the ladies wanted to have another one in Sacramento, we had Carolina viewport speak at our first event and then Peggy Cooney you know, it certainly has been a lot of people stepping up. I think you, you realize I think you know a lot of the people.

Alex: Yeah.

Susie: That have stepped up to really contribute and make this happen. It certainly isn't my event it's, it's a collaborative effort to really bring people together and, and showcase that it's absolutely possible to have a really nice and a really nice weekend.

Alex: That's amazing and so you have Palm Springs coming up in February um, which those of you who are listening to this podcast, I think it's going to come out early February and Palm Springs is at the end of February so if anyone who is listening is interested in that I'm gonna make sure the link is in the episode show notes but what else do you have coming up after Palm Springs? Like what's your vision for sober in the city?