Dry January Final Update
My 31st day of no alcohol is all but done. It worked! I did it.
And so my Dry January ends - not with a bang but a whimper! That's an odd saying isn't it?
But the absence of something like a daily glass of wine or two isn't really the same as achieving some kind of exercise target or giving up something life-threatening like nicotine or heroin. All I did was create a blank space - and apparently also give my gut flora a rest.
Why did I do it - and would I recommend it?
I embarked on this mission in response to a fairly 'wet' December. Particularly in the last week - Christmas to New Year I drank multiple bottles of beer and/or glasses of wine every day, far more than usual. Because it was there and we were on holiday at the beach and there were lots of people around. It was fun, but by the end of the holiday it felt like a lot.
And as you'll know if you've read past updates, I was inspired by an article in an online magazine that promised magical results from not drinking.
I have to tell you that you will feel SO FRESH AND SO CLEAN by the end of week two. I was sleeping so much better, my brain was firing on all cylinders, I was getting all my to-do lists done, my mood was sky-high, my PMS that month was so minor I almost didn’t notice it, my outlook on life was consistently positive, my energy levels were constant, I felt so clear-headed, and my skin was glowing.
So as the scorecard below shows - I have most of that too - but it's not like I'm jumping out of my skin. I just feel good on all of these measures.
The ones I feel personally more excited about were:
- I lost some weight with little effort - 3kg from the end of Christmas week, but 2kg from my normal weight.
- I learned to deal with stress more easily, rather than hang out for a wine.
- I saved somewhere between $30 and $50 a week - depending on whether I went out or not.
- I found it easy to be in social situations where others were drinking alcohol.
- And I think I've effectively destroyed the end of day "where's the wine?" occasion. I just don't have that gap anymore. Now it's just suddenly dinner time.
But the TGIF desire for a drink is still embedded. To be fair that's probably been part of my life ever since I first got a 9 to 5 job, so little wonder that it's still a thing after just four Fridays. As recently as this Friday I still felt it necessary to make myself a special treat snack to compensate [roasted Brazil nuts if you're wondering].
So would I do it again? Yes - in a heartbeat! Would I recommend it? Yes - it's good to realise that you're not dependent on a psychological crutch like alcohol to be stress-free or sociable.
Just one - I think what you do instead matters - probably more than the absence of the alcohol. I found my water bottle to be an invaluable tool. Women need about 2 litres of fluid a day - men need 3 - and I think I've been systematically short-changing myself. This last week I haven't been so careful to drink water and my skin stopped glowing and got dry again in a couple of days. Once I reverted to the 2 litre system it recovered.
Also - the woman who inspired me mentioned that she'd spent a lot more time at the gym instead of going out drinking and I suspect those endorphins would have super-charged her mood, and probably helped her sleep patterns and PMS as well. I did increase the amount of exercise I did a little - one or two more walks each week - but I don't think that really drives endorphins unless you 'walk like you're running late' - as I read somewhere.
I'll experiment with exercise later in the year - in the process of selling my house and moving so I'll wait till I'm settled.
So the big question - will I have a wine in my hand at 5pm tomorrow?
No. But I'm pretty sure I'll want to have a drink on Friday, so I'll wait till then and see how I feel. Maybe start making Friday cocktails. I'm a little apprehensive about the effects on my system to be honest.
And I don't want to go back to nightly drinking. I'd rather use the money for something more beneficial - maybe travel. A year's worth of alcohol would almost equal a return trip to somewhere interesting.
Almost literally flying free!
Research Finds Alcohol Lovers Live Longer!
I read this article last week - and fully checked the source to make sure it's not an alcohol industry front - and it says quite clearly that moderate wine drinking doesn't hurt and can be beneficial. But hanging around in your 80's and 90's doesn't really appeal to me so much. And besides, the difference between moderate and damaging doesn't seem that great to me - so I'd rather sit closer to the less but more end of the spectrum by treating alcohol as a special treat rather than a daily necessity.
So finally, best of luck if you're doing a Dry February or giving up something for Lent! And thanks to everyone who wished me well in person and on social media. It made the challenge so much easier. :)