Dry January

A month off the booze

Hi, my name is ________ and I am not an alcoholic.

Newsletter_-_Feb15_-_Dry_MonthI do not consider myself a drinker. I don’t drink a lot but I do find myself drinking more often now than when I was in university. “Hanging out with friends” often means sharing a bottle of wine or spending time at a bar for a few cocktails. I even find myself watching TV with my boyfriend with a cold, crisp cider in my hand. I normally have two drinks a week, though that number creeps up to about six if there is a party or other event on the weekend. Last month I decided to stop drinking for the month and it was a very interesting experience. I am already planning to do a repeat later this year, because I learned so much from it.

After quitting smoking, giving up alcohol may be one of the hardest things for most people. The hardest part for me wasn’t the lack of alcohol, it was the criticism and ostracism I faced from friends who viewed it more as an insult or being anti-social when they were drinking and wasn’t. Luckily, most people were supportive of my decision but I never realized how much of my life was intertwined with social drinking. Many people in the drinking culture soon realize some of the unintended consequences. Fortunately, nothing will whip you back into shape faster than a good fitness program and a month off the booze.

Three advantages of “staying on the wagon” for a month… or longer

  1. Improving your social life and personal habits.

    It may feel a bit strange in the beginning, but later it will give you confidence knowing you don’t need to have a few drinks under your belt to start a conversation with someone. This is the kind of confidence that stays with you and doesn’t disappear like Cinderella once you’ve sobered up.

  2. Drop some of the flab and feel healthier.

    After a few months off the alcohol, your body fat may drop from 15% to 10%. Your muscles feel firmer. Add some exercise to the equation and you’ll definitely feel and see the difference. One study showed that an alcohol-free month led to the loss of an average of 1.5 kilograms and reduced blood glucose levels by 16% and cholesterol by 5%.

    Other benefits from abstention include better sleep, increased ability to concentrate, more energy, cleaner skin, a more positive attitude and improved digestion.

  3. Fatten up your bank account.

    Drinking can be expensive. A few nights out with friends at a bar, or picking up a good bottle of wine on the way home, all add up. Go the month without paying that “alcohol” premium just for spending time with friends and you will notice the difference in your purse or bank account. Commit to rewarding yourself with a treat at the end of the month with all the money you saved.

Following my month of sobriety, when I made my conscious decision to have my first drink I found myself enjoying the Pinot Grigio more than I had before. Maybe it was because I was sipping it, savoring all the flavors, rather than downing it like water. From that time I feel like less is more.

I feel fortunate to have a good relationship with alcohol, but I didn’t realize until now how much it is a part of my life. I think taking a month off can be good practice for anyone who drinks in order to step back and take a breather. You might be surprised what you see.