Saturday, September 7, 2013

A new challenge: alcohol free living

 Photo Source

This post is dedicated to my friends Shawna and Anna :)

On this blog I've talked about "scaling back" on a number of things - Facebook, sweets, TV time, junk food, and more.  However, I've never talked about nixing the big A.  This Tuesday, I started what I regard as one of my most interesting personal challenges of 2013.  You may laugh, but I'm totally serious.

If you know me or read my blog, you know that I love beer and wine...and not just tasting it - I am actually passionate about beer and wine.  I love learning about the process of making wine and brewing beer.  I pride myself on having a great palate - I can identify almost any varietal of wine (or beer), can easily choose pairings for meals.  I love coming home from a long day of work and sitting down to enjoy a glass of wine and reflect on my day.  As Benjamin Franklin (supposedly) once said: "Wine makes daily living easier, less hurried with fewer tensions and more tolerance" (Source).  Well said, Mr. Franklin.

I also love the stories and moments formed in the presence of wine.  From wine tasting with friends in Sonoma, the Willamette Valley, and Colorado, to celebrating birthdays and holidays with loved ones, to toasting to the end to a major event at work, to my earliest wine memories (aka "Franzia days") in college - I smile thinking of these precious memories.  A lot of laughter ensues when you're having a glass of wine with friends, and it's hard to put a price on that.

Despite all of this, this year I started becoming more and more curious about the role alcohol plays in my life, and what could be the result of taking a break from it.  I thought about how often I "encounter" drinking - whether it's a birthday party, summer BBQ, wedding, vacation, dinner with my family, an evening work meeting, or happy hour with friends.  I realized that since most of these occasions happen every week, it's rare to find a day where I'm not presented with an opportunity to drink.  I also discovered that it's rare for me to pause and thoughtfully consider whether or not I really want and need a drink - it's more of a habit that I've become accustomed to.  In short, I wondered if the "too much of a good thing" theory might be relevant.  As my mind continued to wander, I felt more and more inspired about the idea of challenging myself to give up drinking for a significant period of time.  Suddenly I found myself committed to going for an entire month sans alcohol. 


WHAT I'M LOOKING FORWARD TO

I've thought a lot about the potential rewards of this month if I honor my commitment - fingers crossed the following will happen:

1. Re-learning how to make drinks a treat - not a daily indulgence.

2. Getting better sleep.

3. Losing weight (as a healthy eater and exerciser, I am fairly certain that cutting the alcohol calories will do me this favor).  More importantly - shrinking my waistline (I took measurements last weekend).

4. Processing and addressing how I'm really feeling without the effects of alcohol.

5. Having clearer skin.  As someone who's been blessed with nice skin for as long as I can remember, this year has not been good.  While it may also be hormonal, I speculate that nixing booze may help  my cause.  I came across an article about the effects of alcohol re: your skin: "Drinking regularly will depress your immune system and it is your immune system which helps keep the acne bacteria under control.  A weakened immune system will make it easier for bacteria to build up in your skin pores" (Source).

6. Challenging myself to be creative with the way I spend my free time.  It's not as if drinking consumes all of my free time, but as I mentioned earlier, it's the reality of most social and work plans.  I'm excited to experience more activities that support my wellness, like yoga classes, walks outside, and reading a book at the park.

7.  SAVING $!  Alcohol costs a ton of money, and I need to be saving more of it to begin with.  When I purchase wine at the grocery store and pay for drinks when I'm out to eat, it all adds up.  I love the idea of saving money and spending it on more meaningful things that will help me take better care of myself, such as treating myself to a manicure, or nicer produce at the store.

Over the next month I will most likely be doing a few blog posts highlighting my progress and what I've learned.  In the meantime, here are my findings thus far:


WEEK 1 FINDINGS

I started my alcohol detox on Tuesday (Sept 3rd) and it's honestly been a very interesting week.   The main thing I've appreciated is becoming more aware of my habits.  When I got home from work on Tuesday, I did my usual routine of setting my things down and heading into the kitchen to pour myself a glass of wine.  I stopped, paused, and said "wow." I realized that for the next month, that routine would end.  Instead, I poured myself a glass of cucumber basil water and sat down to hydrate and reflect on the day.  Later that evening, I went to my friend's house and had dinner sans wine while she had wine - another change.  I'll be honest in saying that I didn't feel the best that night and had a difficult time sleeping - and have thus far. 

Other "aha" moments this week have included getting an evening massage and coming home to drink water instead of wine, watching my favorite TV shows without wine, and passing on a happy hour with friends to run errands, go home, and take care of myself.  I've also lost 2 lbs and my skin is already looking better! Tonight I went out to the bar with my friends and stayed strong, even after the owner offered to buy me one on the house.  It was weird, but felt really rewarding driving home, not having drank anything and knowing I'd feel a lot better in the morning.

I know that the rest of this month will be much more challenging when I introduce football games, social events, and other evening meetings, but after just 4 days I can happily say "bring it on!"

2 comments:

  1. I love this, Margie! I have done a few sober run this year, for many of the same reasons you're discussing in these posts. I can totally relate to them! At first, some of the behavioral changes felt odd - having dinner or cooking dinner without a glass of wine to accompany me - visiting friends at happy hour and not getting a drink - saying no to free drinks at work events, etc. It's helped me feel more svelte without making too many other big changes. I did it first for 20 days in April. Then I did it again for a few weeks in July, and again for a few weeks in August. My boyfriend has joined me in making consciout choices to not drink for a weekend of parties, etc. It's been a great experience!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is awesome!! Way to go (and sorry for the delayed response). I really enjoyed my experience. You can read the post I just did with a brief recap. I absolutely love my wine, but want to move forward being more intentional...

      Delete