August 22, 2017
Today marks the end of the first week of my one year no alcohol goal. All in all, it went pretty well, with nothing but positive things to report. These are the positive changes I have noticed:
1.) Better sleep with more memorable dreams
2.) Reduced likelihood of breaking my diet.
3.) Better exercise.
4.) More patience.
5.) Less anxiety/ depression.
There were some negative effects, too, as reported earlier in the week. The first few days I was detoxing, especially I experienced:
1.) Some anxiety especially when I wanted to unwind with alcohol.
2.) A feeling of skin crawling. Might have been a coincidence or nerves “reawakening).
3.) Anxiety around social situations.
All in all, my current feeling is that I made a good choice to forego alcohol for the next year. I shunned most social contacts and avoided situations that would put me in front of alcohol during the first week. But this is not how I am ultimately going to live, so I am going to be more aggressive about seeking out these situations during the next week. On Friday, I will be hosting a dinner party and opening a bottle of wine. We will see how that goes.
51 more weeks to go in this challenge!
August 21, 2017
Day 6 and still going strong. I told another friend about my decision and she was supportive. It felt good to be honest with her instead of coming up with excuses. I went back to work today, so I am settling into my new life.
I have noticed over the past few nights especially that I am dreaming more. I read somewhere that when you drink, the REM cycle is suppressed. I feel healthy and am happy with my decision. Another 359 to go!
August 20, 2017
The Myth of “Cutting Back”
“Cutting back” on things is something I have been trying to do my entire life, whether it’s drinking, eating, watching tv or doing other things that waste my time or negatively impact my health. I realized today that “cutting back” like so many lofty goals is always something I plan to do tomorrow. As in “Tomorrow, I’ll start my diet” or “After tonight, I will restrict myself to drinking two drinks a day, no more than three days a week.” It always seems to be a very promising prospect at the moment, but then tomorrow never comes so these plans inevitably get pushed further and further in the future.
I tried to cut back on my alcohol use and associate it with rules. But that did not work for me for one reason or another, mainly because after two cold beers on a hot Saturday afternoon, it was hard for me to say no to a third, no matter what the rule said. If people know you drink, they do not hesitate to encourage you to drink more. Because you/they are just breaking a rule, not violating a principle.
To change, I need to focus on what I am doing now, not tomorrow.
It’s Day 5. I’m catching up on housework and getting ready to go back to work tomorrow. Still no alcohol and still feeling good, although part of me wants to rebel, a part of me that says, “You’ve gone five days without an issue, so maybe there is no issue and alcohol can be a part of your healthy life. Maybe you are overreacting by giving up alcohol for a year.” But I am staying strong. This is a commitment I have made and I am going to do my best to keep it.
Thank you for reading.
Today was the first real test… going to a tavern for a late lunch with a friend. He hesitated, waiting for me to order first and when I ordered a club soda, he ordered a water. I told him what I was trying to do and why (which I did not expect I would do but he is easy to talk to) and he was supportive.
Seeing the cold beer in pint glasses (particularly the Guinness) was certainly tempting. I had second thoughts about Day 4 especially when I walked towards the bathroom. But I was able to do it. It also seemed like I could smell the pleasant/unpleasant smell of beer drifting through the pub for the first time.
I have had a bit of a sweet tooth the past couple of days. I went ahead and indulged this a bit because 1) right now quitting alcohol is more important than following my diet completely and 2) it was only a couple of cookies. I don’t know if the sudden craving for sweets is a result of foregoing alcohol.
I had a wonderful run today, beating all the times I had previously. I also seem to be adjusting better to the heat. All in all, today I walked and ran over nine miles (including the morning run and normal day walking). Also, got hair and eyebrows done and felt clear-headed and not too tempted throughout the day.
Tomorrow will be another test. I still haven’t told my best friend about this and tomorrow night is the standard Game of Thrones Sunday drinking and eating evening. This is the first time in ten years we have lived in the same area and have enjoyed hanging out since I moved here two weeks ago, and to-date this has always involved drinking. There will be other people around so I will not get to tell her the full story. I am somewhat nervous about how she will feel about this change. Hopefully, it will not affect my social desirability, but time will tell. To be continued…
The picture below is a possession I am suddenly NOT proud of having… a reusable six-bottle wine bag. Good for the environment, bad for me. It surely was not as well-used as it looks.
Still going strong, although there was some stress last night that made me wish I had a drink. I know that drinking is a depressant, but I find it relaxing. I still feel really good today. I did have an itchy feeling on my skin during the morning. I looked that up, and it was listed as a potential alcohol withdrawal symptom, the result of nerves reawakening after having been suppressed by alcohol. Given the amount I was drinking, this was probably not me, but it did give me pause. It caused me to look up some of the other effects of both long-term alcohol use and alcohol withdrawal, which are terrible. Whether real or a figment of my overactive imagination, the bug-crawling sensation and subsequent research strengthened my resolve to “break up” with alcohol by abstaining for a year.
I am doing other healthy stuff, too. Drinking water all day long. Workout felt really good today. I have had a higher craving to eat than usual but have managed it, mainly by eating when I feel cravings but sticking to healthy food. Although I feel good, I am having some occasional anxious feelings, mainly about going back to work next week. Probably not as a result of not drinking but I would usually have a drink or three to calm these down. Still no signs of breaking. I am thinking, though, it would probably be a good idea to go ahead and remove the alcohol from my house, even under the assumption that it is for guests only. Just a thought.
If anyone reading this has ever done a challenge like this, I would love to hear about your results and thoughts.
August 17, 2017
Woke up this morning feeling better and more energetic than I have in a long time. I slept well and had good dreams that I remembered. Which could not be from one day without drinking, right? It’s not like I was swilling a six-pack every single night or bringing vodka in a water bottle to work. But maybe I was drinking more heavily than I realized.
It only took two cups of coffee to get out on the road for my morning run. Running felt so good at first I overdid it and the humidity (which I am not quite used to having just moved to DC from LA) made me feel nauseous. A few minutes in the air conditioning and I was ready to start charging through my day, clear-headed and with intention.
I had dinner plans with friends, but they had to cancel, so I have not had to make an excuse for not drinking yet, and maybe not until the weekend or even next week. I still am not quite sure how I will break the news to people. The good thing is, I don’t have many friends here yet, so maybe there won’t be so much pressure. It will be a sensitive situation at work too because there is a large pressure to socialize. It’s definitely cultural in my industry. I don’t want people to suddenly think I “have a problem” or anything because that could affect my standing. I acknowledge this is probably the wrong way to think about it but I want to get a little deeper into this before I start talking about it.
No grand temptation to drink yet but there is beer staring at me from the refrigerator and a bottle of wine on my counter. I have not gotten rid of it (I think) in case I have guests. It’s better than buying it again.
August 16, 2017
Today I made the definitive decision to stop drinking for the next year. The decision was a result of a sudden blast of clarity I had this morning after I was hit hard with that nauseous, anxious feeling I sometimes get after drinking too much. Nothing terrible happened, no DUI or broken relationship. I did make some ill-advised Facebook posts I would not have made sober, and I binged on vending machine food after sticking to a healthy diet during the day. This morning I came to the conclusion I am just sick of drinking.
For me, alcohol is like having a partner that is really fun to hang out with, particularly when I am with my other friends but over time it became abusive, especially when the two of us are alone. It is the Great Derailer. Plans fall by the wayside if a couple of drinks are involved first. I am also heavier than I should be, due to a love of craft beer and the junk food that goes along with it. I think it has had a depressive effect on overall outlook and happiness quotient.
I tried to cut back on drinking, limiting things to a respectable two drink maximum three times a week. That has not worked for me. I find that drinking is its own slippery slope. After two, I am relaxed and carefree enough to order one or two more, and sometimes I keep on going after that.
So I have finally come to the decision to do an experiment: what would happen if I quit alcohol altogether for the next year? No drinking at weddings, no celebratory beer with friends, no wine at dinner parties, no Scotch while watching Game of Thrones. How would it impact my social life and current friends? My health? The accomplishment of my goals? My happiness?
And then I asked myself, what would happen if I blog every day about my experiences? Which is what this blog will be, a day by day accounting, to keep myself honest and to give me a goal to follow. For now, I am not going to enter a program, because I do not currently think I need one. I will enter one if I find that remaining alcohol-free is a problem. I am publishing this blog anonymously.