21 Days Dry: What I Learned From Giving Up Alcohol

Alcohol. Where do I begin? It seems to weasel its way in to every possible corner of our lives. Present at special events, not so special events, even before events, after work, on weekends, almost anywhere you can imagine people wanting to have a good time. I’m not an alcoholic by any means, though I found my consumption of alcohol was effecting my bank account, my waistline, and my motivation. I got back from a long weekend spent with friends and I knew I wanted a change, even if for a short while. So, here goes: 

1) I needed three weeks of no distraction to get some serious work done.

2) I wanted some extra money in my pocket, and to shed those extra pounds I had gained over the Holidays.

3) I wanted to prove I didn’t need it.

I think some challenges you must mentally prepare for, but this one started before I knew what I was doing. My body knew I needed a break, so I listened. 

I’ll give it to you straight… Not only did this challenge feel extremely easy, I had the most productive three weeks I’ve had in a while. I found myself shifting to a mindset that created more room for work, and less room for things that were not as important. Suddenly, there were no more drinks after work, no more going out with friends on the weekends, no more wine to sip with dinner. So, I channeled that energy into projects that needed my utmost attention. I was waking up extra early, motivated by my success the previous day, and wanting to make myself proud again tomorrow. It became a cycle, and the thought that alcohol would not be a part of that routine actually inspired me to conform to a different lifestyle. If there is anything I’ve learned, it’s that humans are incredibly adaptable. Though we dislike change, we are innately built for its ripple effect. 

Aside from work success, I am happy to report I lost the weight and saved the mula. I realized how much money I was spending throughout the week, solely on drinks after work. Not to mention the elaborate dinners with wine I was having, and the bars we would go to after. It was all cutting some serious holes in my bank account, and by taking three weeks off, I probably saved hundreds of dollars and definitely gained the new perspective I had really needed. It all adds up, and by eliminating the amount of times I go out during the week, it makes the time I do go out more special and something to look forward to. 

In terms of how a sober lifestyle effected my body: it worked wonders. I was sleeping better, more awake throughout the day, and all the inflammation I had seen in my face had diminished completely. I can’t tell you how much easier it was to eat a more sustainable diet without the thought of alcohol looming in the nighttime. After all, alcohol isn’t the only thing that compromises your diet, it’s all that bad, greasy food the next day. By eliminating those temptations, I lost almost 5 pounds. Mind you, I wasn’t dieting at all. This is simply the result of no alcohol for three weeks. Yahoo!

Someone once told me to give up alcohol for one week at the beginning of each season. He said, “No exceptions, for one solid week. If you can’t do it, then you know you have a problem.” I think it’s important to remind ourselves that alcohol is not a necessity, it’s only a simple pleasure. If we can direct our lives under this assumption, we can live in a much happier and healthier way. By upholding a sober lifestyle for three weeks, it became clear that alcohol consumption is absolutely engraved into the social constructs of our society. Our lives revolve around when our next drink will be. When I stepped outside of this circle, I understood the danger in this idea. We have to remind ourselves to stay in control. If there ever comes a time where we feel we are not, maybe it’s time for a break.

My takeaway from this challenge…

Humans are strong. We adapt. We have built up energy waiting to be exuded into our passions, projects, and pursuits. By carefully eliminating what does not sustain us, we open ourselves up to possibilities that might have been forfeited otherwise. My wish for you: choose wisely. Celebrate in abundance, yet keep your wits about you. Go out with friends, yet know your time to come home. Do not be afraid to say no to the last drink. Self-control is sexy. Discernment is admirable. We have a valuable source of energy inside each of us. My question for you, is: What will you do with it? Where will you invest?

xx, Anna