Exactly 30 days ago, an athlete I work with approached me about wanting to cut back on drinking. We talked for a while about the effect alcohol plays on athletic performance and what a reasonable amount of alcohol is per week. In the end, the athlete was determined to abstain from drinking for 1 month. Trying to be as supportive as possible, I decided to jump on board! Now, I realize that 30 days is not a long time – it actually went by quite quickly – and I am not a huge drinker anymore as it is. (bye bye college and 20’s). However, I thought it would be fun to share what I learned form my 30 days of sobriety.
- After about 20 days it just became a habit. Over the last several years, having a drink on Friday night or a couple drinks with friends was just what we did on the weekend. At first, when meeting up with friends or out to eat with my husband, it was awkward not ordering an adult beverage. As time went on, it became more of a habit and normal thing NOT to order the drink. Maybe there is some truth to the old saying that developing a habit takes 21 days.
- Holidays are prime time for drinking. Okay, this is not something new I learned; I have known this for a long time. However, when you are the only sober person, or at least the only person without a beer in your hand at a cookout, you become acutely aware of the fact that a lot of your friends use holidays as a reason to drink together – nothing wrong with that!
- If you’re a woman in your 20’s or 30’s and not drinking, people will assume you are pregnant. Even if you’re not a regular drinker and you attend a dinner, party, or
other social gatheringwhere drinking is going on and you do not take a drink, people will ask if you’re pregnant. Then, they will not believe you when you tell them you’re not. I still have friends that think I’m going to pop out a kid in 8 months.
- You can enjoy a few drinks a week and not sabotage your weight or body composition. I came to this conclusion because I did not lose any weight during these 30 days. Nor did my body change in any significant way.
I likenthis to the fact that our bodies are extremely adaptable and fight really hard to keep us where we’re comfortable – ever try to lose those last 10 pounds?
- It’s easier with a buddy! I will say, it was easier saying no to that ice-cold beer on Memorial Day weekend knowing there was someone I was accountable to. Just like when you start an exercise program, you are much more likely to wake up at 4:30 a.m. every morning when you have a friend waking up at the same time to meet you. My advice is to pair up with someone who has a similar goal as you!
- I feel great! It is very true that as you get older even a couple drinks can make you feel less than stellar the next day; at least for me! Specifically, alcohol makes me feel sluggish and kind of out of it the following day. Of course, I still had days that I felt lethargic, but this was purely due to lack of sleep rather than the effects of alcohol.
If you decide to embark on your own month or year of sobriety, I recommend doing it with a comrade and find other ways to have fun – hang out with the friends that make you laugh the most, go to a sporting events, and get outside as much as possible! Cheers!