August 1st 2015 I decided to go without a sip of alcohol for thirty days. This would prove to be the longest consecutive amount of time I have gone without out a drink since turning twenty-one. My personal experiment also proved to be one of the most eye-opening experiences that I have had to date, and here is what I learned.
1. I don’t need alcohol to have a great time. I love dancing and being out on the town with my friends. For whatever reason I thought that in order to make it fun I needed alcohol. I didn’t. During my thirty days I still participated in every activity I typically would have from watching sports games to out on the town and only drank water. I still socialized with new people and was able to drive myself home every night.
2. I can remember everything. I wasn’t the one being told what I may or may not have said or done the night before. I was conscious and aware of all of my decisions.
3. I value different activities. I was able to make it to my morning hikes on the weekends and show up to boxing not feeling tired. I realized that these healthy behaviors meant more to me than staying out until 2am.
4. My eating was cleaner. My new- found energy also gave me time to focus on sticking to eating well and my diet goals. I made time to prepare meals on weekends that would keep me on track throughout the week and avoid eating out.
5. I didn’t need alcohol as a crutch. I went on a first date and dealt with stress from work that I typically needed a glass of wine to calm down. I realized that meditation and walking away to think about an issue proved to be far more beneficial than relying on wine.
6. I didn’t feel awful. I would wake up in the morning and plan my day. I had more energy to do everything I wanted to accomplish. I would enjoy my cup of coffee and be thankful that I wasn’t feeling sluggish and ill.
7. I was drinking and trying to compensate for liquid calories. The first week without alcohol I became three pounds lighter. I realized a drink here or there within the week quickly added up in regards to overall calories. One five-ounce glass of white wine has 120 calories and the average beer I would drink had 160 calories for every twelve ounces (National Institute of Health, n.d.). I realized these added calories I didn’t really need and they were not doing anything positive for me.
8. I know my true friends. My true friends supported my decision and never tried to tempt me into drinking when they knew I couldn’t. They continued to invite me out to social settings and never ridiculed me for my decision. I learned to gain a greater appreciation for those I have in my life who support me in whatever I decide to do.
9. I Saved Money. Alcohol is expensive and often the food at the bar is too. I saved so much money eating my healthy homemade meals before meeting up with my friends and water is FREE.
10. I found a greater appreciation for myself. I realized that I have the will to accomplish any goal that I put my mind to and that felt great! I had more time to focus on things that I’ve always wanted to do or learn and I was also ok with just being by myself. I started to appreciate who I am as a person more than distracting myself with the energy of those around me.
I have now become more aware of the goals I would like to achieve and how participating in drinking alcohol regularly won’t get me there. Although anything is fine in moderation, if you don’t pay attention you might moderation can quickly turn into a regular occurrence. Only 30% of Americans say that they don’t drink. The top 10% consume enough alcohol to average about 10 drinks a day according to Christopher Ingraham in the Washington Post (Sept. 2014). Becoming more aware of how often I have a glass of wine within the week allowed me to incorporate it as part of a cheat meal at the end of the week instead. I have a greater enjoyment for life and activity because I feel better and I would encourage everyone to try giving up a crutch of any kind for a month and see the results that may come.
Cheers to your health!
Ingraham, C. (2014, September 25). Think you drink a lot? This chart will tell you. Retrieved September 9, 2015, from http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonkblog/wp/2014/09/25/think- you-drink-a-lot-this-chart-will-tell-you/
National Institute of Health. (n.d.). Alcohol calorie calculator. Retrieved September 9, 2015, from http://rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/Tools/Calculators/Calorie-Calculator.aspx