Why I Gave Up Booze for 30 Days

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.

30 days without booze

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.

reading with beer

cheers geniuses

Beer at Mo's Cannon Beach

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.

mindful living

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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?

patio beer

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!

indie books

51 thoughts on “Why I Gave Up Booze for 30 Days

  1. Sounds like it was a good month for you. Congrats on giving it a go. Like you, I enjoy beer, but I only have one or two at a time, maybe only a couple times a month. Too much gives me a migraine so I guess that’s a built in control measure.

  2. I did an alcohol fast last fall for 13 weeks. I had hoped to find out that I’d become a better person because of it, but nothing much changed in my life. Except that the grocery bills were a little smaller. I was kind of disappointed by what didn’t happen, but I suppose what it really told me is that I don’t drink enough to impact me in a bad way. Still, a bit of divine revelation would have been nice…

  3. Good for you 🙂 I went 4 months without a soda a few years back and now have a soda every so often and usually go for the water or an unsweetened ice tea. Happy Weekend – Enjoy!

  4. Oh I loved this. I recently committed to a 10 week alcohol break. I definitely drink too much wine – 2 glasses a night most nights a week and it feels totally out of alignment with yoga. I am humbled by how hard it is and how MUCH I was numbing with alcohol. But I feel so much better and I’m happy I’m doing it. Thank you so much for this motivation!

    1. Hey, stranger! I hear ya, honey. It definitely felt out of alignment with yoga for me too. It’s good to take a break to gain some perspective. I’m a total lightweight now!

      And, we made a deal to do this twice a year…more than that if it seems like we need it.

  5. Watched too many people screw up their lives and mine due to alcohol. It will never be that important to me, and I tend to get very judgey about it, especially when it becomes a more than occasional indulgence. Now sugar…that’s my worst enemy 😉

    1. I totally understand, Deb! I have always had a mean sweet tooth, and not drinking last month made it even worse. This month I gave up desserts and it has been WAY harder than booze. I’ve been exploring raw desserts and healthier options (like banana ice cream) so I don’t lose it. Almost through the month, and I’m not looking at cupcakes the same way anymore. 🙂

  6. I cut out all processed sugar between Thanksgiving and New Year’s once. Just to see if I could. The first “detox” week was hard and I found myself reaching for salty snacks I ordinarily wouldn’t have, but when I was done I found that most really sugary snacks were too sweet for me to enjoy anymore. I barely drink sodas now because I never quite got the taste for them back. It was worth it.

    1. Yeah, it seems like we give up one thing and try to find something else to replace it. I was just talking about my increase in sugar during my no-alcohol month, which prompted me take this month off from desserts. This has been SO much harder for me, but I definitely feel like I’m changing some habits.

    1. Thanks, Roy! Yeah, it’s tough with our busy schedules and our neighborhood, for sure. When we moved out to Portland (the land of amazing food and beer) it was all too easy to get into a habit of going out too much after work. Good to take a step back and reset.

    1. Dessert’s a tough one for me, Mike! Giving that up this month, because I was eating more sugary treats when I wasn’t drinking. Good to take a break and see what we’re made of. 😉

  7. It’s good to give up things you think you need or like a lot. I’ve found out the missing is in the mind and the body doesn’t really miss it all that much. Gives one a new perspective

    1. Totally agree, Dannie! I’m pretty good overall, but beer and dessert are definitely my weaknesses. I’m not going to swear anything off forever, because I believe in having a good balance. Already seeing both in a different light, as an occasional treat instead of a regular thing.

  8. I’ve given up wheat because it gives me hives, so that means I gave up beer. I have the occasional gluten-free one, now, since they’ve gotten better. if I do drink, I usually have a glass of prosecco—at least I did until recently when I read that it fosters tooth sensitivity. But I’m such a lightweight, I may only overindulge perhaps once every year or two. And then I feel too crappy to want to do it ever again. Now dark chocolate? When I’ve got the good stuff in the house, it’s tough for me to stop at one-two-three squares, perhaps half a bar. And because I’ve got this pesky Meniere’s disease that showed up a couple of years ago, I really can’t eat that much dark chocolate before it makes me feel out of sorts and turns me into a super cranky-grumpy person. I do think that alcohol saturates our culture, so much so that it makes nondrinkers feel a little “out of it.” I have a friend who doesn’t drink at all and is always asked why she doesn’t, as if she were a specimen at the museum that needed analyzing. When all of our major and minor events are sponsored by companies that produce and sell alcohol, it becomes the norm. I am reminded, though, of what our culture was like during the Mad Men era, when TV shows like Bewitched made jokes about having/needing several drinks during/after work. That portrayal has changed a bit, but the way alcohol permeates our culture has not. I’m thinking about this so much because I recently watched a TED talk given by an amazing doctor in San Francisco, about how childhood trauma affects health throughout a lifetime, and there’s so much childhood trauma related to alcohol. Check it out:

    Sorry about the brain dump. Cheers, dahlink!

    1. Love the brain dump, Jilanne doll! Great stuff and this doctor is beyond amazing…thanks for sharing it.

      I didn’t go into the “alcohol in our society” discussion in this post, because it would have been a long one. I totally agree with you. Speaking of Mad Men, I’ve been working at a marketing agency over a year now and even today that booze culture is still a thing. I’ve scaled WAY back from the time I first started. I was like…I don’t thinking drinking at work is fun, even on a Friday.

      I was reading that there are more sober bars and clubs out there now, which is pretty cool. That’s awesome for non-drinking people who want to be able to socialize without feeling like a “weirdo.”

  9. Great way to go! Congratulations on succeeding it and in indulging yourself in another delicious beer afterwards.
    I guess I should try to go 30 days without chocolate and/or 30 days with yoga… Right now, it feels like I can do neither but will definitely need the goal when Mr. R. goes back to Mexico again and I’ll have to cope with his absence again…
    Enjoy the feeling of well-being and knowing you’re already much stronger than you were 30 days ago.

    1. Thanks, honey! Mr. R…love it.

      Those are both good goals when you can commit to them. I had to ditch dessert in March, because I ate too much of it when I wasn’t drinking beer. Guess my body felt the need to replace those calories somehow. I’m already looking at desserts in a different light, and I’ve been exploring some really awesome healthier raw/vegan options.

      If you decide to do the 30 day challenge, I’d love to hear about it. Or, you can just share with your adoring fans on your blog, of course. 😉

      1. If I ever do it, in May, I guess, I’ll keep you posted and most certainly tell the tale. Because my not eating chocolate for 30 days would be an out-of-this-world achievement for me! Ah! 😉😇😈

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