I’m not a daily alcohol drinker but I do like to have from a few to several drinks a week depending on what social activity (or stress related activities) I have on. I had been intending on taking a month off drinking alcohol for a while as I felt like I had overindulged over the Summer break (I’m in the Southern Hemisphere so our Summer runs from December to February). Dry January is gaining in popularity as good folks set New Year’s resolutions in conjunction with fundraising efforts and abstain for the month. That doesn’t work Down Under though as in January we are in full swing with parties, barbecues and great weather. Instead, the most common month to not drink here is July. Dry July is usually a good time to abstain as there are few social functions as everyone is hibernating so its a good time to take a break from alcohol and give the liver a rest but I’m planning on going to Hawaii in July and NOT drinking Mai Tai’s on the beach in Waikiki just isn’t my idea of fun! I don’t actually recall ever having voluntarily taken a month off drinking so this is a bit of a new one for me and would indeed be an Awesome Challenge.
So, I was 10 days into May when I realised the last day I had a drink (several actually as I went to a Hunt Ball) was April 30 so I thought – wow, I’m already a third of the way there so I may as well continue not drinking for the rest of the month. I tried to get my wayward brother on board and he agreed but then failed miserably a few days in so I was going it alone. While the first 10 days were easy, the last 21 were much harder as I now consciously knew I wasn’t allowed to drink! The good news is that today on June 1st, I can honestly pat myself on the back and say I did not have 1 single drop of alcohol any time in June (feel free to applaud me in the comments below).
Thankfully I didn’t have too many tempting events to attend. The hardest ones were when I had a home based wedding and also an engagement party to attend on the same Saturday. And last Saturday I had dinner with my wife and a few other couple friends and everyone was drinking except me (cue the sad face). The way I stopped temptation at these events was by offering to drive. My wife was pleasantly surprised about this as it’s normally her being the sober one. Speaking of my wife, she did something quite horrible last week. She phoned to say our friends who had returned from Italy had bought us a beautiful bottle of
Pallini Limoncello. She then proceeded that evening to open said bottle and drink some right in front of me (cue the sadder face).
So how do I feel after a month of no alcohol? The main physical benefits is that I have been sleeping well and have certainly felt fairly energetic and clear minded. It’s no surprise my energy levels have increased as my liver will be taking a much needed rest from not having to process alcohol. You can learn more about how the liver works here. My rested liver will also have had a chance to build up mineral stores including Iron which is essential for energy. Another benefit is that combined with good eating and exercise, I have shed the excess 4.5 lbs of weight I put on over the summer holidays so that in itself is justification to do it. And I’ve felt great while doing Grit and Body Pump at Les Mills as I’ve had the energy and clean system to fully participate as opposed to going to a class after a shocker weekend when we feel the need to punish ourselves and sweat it out for being so naughty.
There doesn’t appear to be much useful evidence out there about the true effects of abstaining for a month but in one study done by the Royal Free Hospital in London, participants lost an average of 5lbs of weight, reduced blood glucose levels by 16% and reduced cholesterol by 5%. Another benefit is that I feel like my will-power has had a boost – I think completing a challenge like this does wonders for the mind. I get to say ‘I did it’ and that success will probably make me feel like I can achieve other successes in life. A nice little non tangible benefit perhaps. So was it all worth it? Yes, I think it was. I feel great for having done it and also feel like I will drink less in general because of it. I won’t stop drinking altogether because they say there are some benefits to be had for having tipples of red wine in moderation.
So I now challenge you to complete your own Awesome Challenge and take a month off drinking. Post your comments below and let us know how you are getting on and we will be sure to give you some encouragement to help you get over the line.
As for that bottle of limoncello – I’ll be seeing you tonight. Cheers!