As we enter a new year — heck, a new decade — it’s a time when many of us reflect on our health (and unhealthy habits) with a renewed resolve to make improvements. Increasingly, moderating alcohol consumption is on the short list of resolutions. “Dry January,” popularized in the UK several years ago, has become a phenomenon in many countries, including here in the US.
I completed Dry January for the first time last year, and I felt amazing. I had gobs of energy, lost weight, slept better, and had improvements in all of the biomarkers I keep track of including my bloodwork.
But then the Super Bowl happened, I attended a party where I had some drinks, and soon after I was back to my normal pattern. I wasn’t in a place where I wanted to quit for good, but knew I would generally feel better if I drank less.
As the year progressed, I started sharing my weekly intake on a text thread with some friends, and for a month or so tracked my drinks in a shared Google sheet that my friend, Kevin Rose, set up. At first, I didn’t have an explicit goal — I just wanted to start becoming more aware of my intake. I found that by simply tracking my drinks, my consumption decreased…but it was a hassle when I was out with friends, and I quickly abandoned the practice.
Then, this summer, Kevin told me he’d read the book Mindful Drinking which is packed with practical, non-judgemental approaches to cutting back. More importantly, the author, Rosamund Dean, delves into the ‘why’ around our consumption and ways to be more intentional about it. While this was the first book I’d read on the subject, it really stuck with me. So much so that it led me to rally my team at Big Sky Health, makers of Zero, to create this app.
We created Less to be a simple way to track your alcohol intake and to set weekly goals to reduce it.
- Track drinks with a simple tap
- Analyze your trends on the Me tab including 7-day and 28-day rolling averages as well as estimates on dollars spent and calories consumed
- Go for streaks around drink-free days and staying under your weekly goal
- View the big-picture view of your consumption on the calendar view
- Learn about the latest science, tasty mocktail recipes, and other useful tidbits on the Tips tab
- Quickly and discretely track a drink when you’re out with friends using the Less widget.
Our main goal was to make using Less easy and engaging so you stick with it. We spent time trying to figure out a way to make tracking more enjoyable than the purely utilitarian approach of using a spreadsheet or basic counter. After trying a few ideas, we landed on the metaphor of a sailboat on a journey where your actions (having a drink, or making the conscious decision not to) affect the wind, weather, and speed of your boat. Stay under your weekly goals, and you’ll have smooth sailing with the wind at your back — exceed them, and get ready for stormy seas. We tried to strike a balance of being engaging without being overly whimsical or distracting.
Crucially, we strived to create a judgment-free zone for people wanting to be more aware of their actions over the long-term. We let you define your goals and we provide what we feel are helpful articles and podcasts to educate along the way.
Alcohol for many is a sensitive subject, and understandably so. For those who have always been alcohol-free, or have embraced this lifestyle more recently, Less will probably provide little value. And for those who struggle with alcohol dependence or addiction, professional guidance and other support structures would be infinitely more helpful.
We created Less for those who fall somewhere in between — for those who drink but want to do so with more accountability, intention, and experience more drink-free days in their lives as a result.
The version of Less we’re releasing on the App Store today is just the foundation — we have big plans for adding new goodness to it, launching on Android, and will be listening eagerly to your feedback to help inform our roadmap. We hope you’ll give it a try and please let us know what you think by dropping us a line at email@example.com or on IG and Twitter.