Many have written about the no alcohol commitment before, so I wasn’t planning on writing anything when I decided to do it for 30 days. What did I have to say that would be different? It was something I wanted to do for myself, so why should I use it as a blog topic?
I also didn’t want to talk about it during the month, because it was a time of reflection. To be completely honest, I felt funny talking about alcohol so candidly. I chose not to say a word about it until I was done.
When I shared this post on Facebook of me with my first beer, I received A LOT of positive support. And I’ve never held back on this blog in the four years I’ve been running it, and I certainly won’t start now. So, here we go.
Last month Mr. H and I decided to do something pretty wild. We stopped drinking.
I think most of you can agree that we’re not alcoholics, but you also know how much we love our beer. When we looked back at all of our years together, we realized something and it stunned us a bit.
How long has it been since we’ve gone 30 days without a drink?
We eventually came up with the same age…twenty. Which was about fifteen years ago. Then I was randomly going through my pictures and noticed…damn, there are a lot of beers in these.
Most people do the whole Dry January thing, but we started off the year with a business trip to Vegas. From there it was one of the rainiest winters in Portland’s history and work stress was higher than usual—all things that led to more drinking.
One Saturday morning I was feeling like absolute shit after a night on the town, and I said to myself: “Enough.” And because having a buddy makes things easier, I asked Mr. H if we could do 30 days without alcohol together.
Some of you may remember that my sankalpa (aka intention) for 2016 was to Live Consciously. The idea was inspired by a wall of an empty gallery by my office.
A few non-drinking days went by and I decided to revisit that spot—take a new picture to remind myself of what that really meant to me. I was already realizing something that I knew deep down, that drinking was more like living unconsciously.
As a Yogi I’m a believer in treating our bodies with kindness. I eat organic local food, drink tons of water, tea, and other crazy elixirs I won’t begin to talk about. I workout constantly, but I rest too—with consistent sleep, meditation and gentle stretching, and the occasional massage.
But all of that couldn’t singlehandedly win the heaviness and exhaustion I felt after drinking one too many beers. It helped my body heal faster, but it was a constant battle. And, I thought…why am I doing this to myself?
There are studies about the health benefits of beer and wine, but moderation and self-control are key…
In moderation and with self-control, alcohol can promote healthy digestion, stress relief, respiratory benefits and sound sleep. If you are a non-alcoholic DO NOT start drinking alcohol thinking of the health benefits. It is for those who are already accustomed to alcohol, and have self-control to. There are plenty other ways and means to get the above-said health benefits. Even regular alcoholics should take a break from alcohol for weeks or months to allow the body to recover its balance and health. – CureJoy (What Ayurveda Has to Say About Alcohol)
We’re that hip childless couple living in a rad neighborhood in Portland, with more bars and restaurants than you would believe. We joke about this often, but it can be a problem—we don’t even have to cross the street to visit our favorite pub. Moderation and self-control are a hell of a lot harder when alcohol is that convenient.
Naturally when we stopped drinking for a month, we confused the shit out of people. We showed up at my work event, a bowling fundraiser, armed with kombuchas which we then poured in pint glasses to pretend like we were having a beer. We visited our usual wine bar, ordered snacks and drank water—and we upset our favorite bartenders in the process.
People kept asking us: Why? Why would you stop drinking?
This was only for 30 days, not forever. We love our beer in Portland, so yes, the idea horrified quite a few people. They didn’t understand how it was even possible. However there were others who pummeled us with questions, because it was something they had been thinking about trying too.
So, these are the great things I experienced while NOT drinking alcohol:
- I got through some tough shit. Instead of grabbing beer at the store or going out after a hard day, I meditated, practiced Yoga, or threw myself into writing. I chose healthier activities or (gasp) I relaxed more.
- I felt more confident. When you look at your adult years, you will likely see a drink in your hand at social occasions like I did. It’s kind of a thing. Without a drink, I was able to see “hanging out” in a different light. My conversations were more calculated and enjoyable.
- I had more energy. Overall, I slept better and felt great every morning right when I woke up. Mind you, this was smack in the middle of winter when energy levels are typically at their lowest.
- I had more time. My writing was much easier to keep up with, even with my usual hectic schedule. I rediscovered writing as a joy instead of a chore, and I finished my second draft.
- I lost weight. This was more of a bonus for me as this wasn’t the goal. With beer being my weapon of choice, there are a TON of calories and bloating that come with them. I got crafty with wellness mocktails, like this Apple Cider Vinegar Mint Detox Drink, which delivered nutrition and hydration.
- I saved money. A big one for us, because we live in that great neighborhood with entertainment at our doorstep. We kept wondering where our money was disappearing to…well, booze ain’t cheap.
- I felt life. Childhood memories came up, some I swear I hadn’t thought about since they first happened. A big hug from Mr. H, the fresh air hitting my face on a run, and the scent of the trees were better than ever. Alcohol has a way of numbing us, doesn’t it?
Did I decide to swear off booze forever?
From my pic up there with my celebratory beer after a month off, you know the answer. The answer is no.
That first beer tasted weird, but damn good. And when the sun is shining on a warm Saturday, I’ll be grilling on the patio with Mr. H with a cold beer in my hand. But it’s going to be one or two beers, because now I’m a lightweight. Now I have the perspective I needed to back off and learn self-control.
I understand that not everyone drinks. I also understand that there are plenty of people who successfully moderate their alcohol intake. Being the all or nothing kind of gal, this was the right move for me to make.
Maybe booze isn’t the thing you indulge in—maybe it’s sugar, fried food, eating late at night, or TV. Take a good look at something that has crept into your life, gone past the point of a “treat,” and evaluate if 30 days off would help change that for you.
It’s only 30 days (not eternity) but this kind of commitment to yourself is enough to make an impact…if you let it.
Tell me, have you gone 30 days without something and had a positive experience? I’d love to hear about it!