I love to challenge myself and my family. I’m a tad bit competitive, so I was slightly disappointed when hubby refused to participate in this with me (and I didn’t want the kids to participate since they would beat me—they’ve gone YEARS without a cocktail).
Still, this was something I wanted to try to do and by announcing it to my Facebook followers and anyone else who would listen, I set myself up to being accountable not only to myself, but to hundreds of other people as well. Why did I want to torture myself during one of the longest months of the year (and the month with the biggest drinking holiday to boot)???
Well, if I’m going to be really honest, it was because I don’t fit in my jeans and I wanted to lose 10 pounds. Without changing my eating habits or going to the gym more, of course. This seemed like the easiest way to shed some weight before bikini season (not that I wear a bikini). Especially since I noticed I was having a cocktail or two on almost a daily basis. Oh, the empty calories!
While I didn’t think it was a “problem”, I knew it was becoming a bad habit, and it wouldn’t hurt to give up it for a month. Surprisingly, it was a heck of a lot easier than I thought it would be to not drink, believe it or not (most of the time). I’m sad to report that I did not lose 10 pounds, but in the process, I learned a thing or two, which I didn’t expect.
- It is much easier to say no to a drink to begin with than it is to have a delicious bottle of wine sitting in front of me and only have one glass. Why is this? Probably the same concept of “you can’t eat just one potato chip” (which I actually can because I don’t like potato chips which is totally weird because I’ll take the potato in any other form…but I digress). I’m also convinced that once you have that first glass of wine, your inhibitions go down and you have “just one more” because the wine worked and you’re relaxed and don’t give a #$&*.
- I don’t need to drink when I’m stressed. It’s strange though since we all walk around and say, “Oh God, I have so much stress today, I need a drink.” We really don’t need it do we? We just think we need it. When I said I could make it through March without alcohol, the Universe said hold my beer. March threw a lot of crap at me—I almost thought I was being punked by the Universe. I knew a glass of wine would relax me, but I held strong and went to the gym instead. The endorphins made me feel a lot better than the wine would have. And it made me rethink the whole “I need a drink” talk. It makes us sound like raging alcoholics even when we’re not at all. I like wine, but I never need wine. I have coping mechanisms. You do too.
- Having alcohol in the house doesn’t make me want to drink it. (Having a half drunk bottle of wine does, though, which is why I finished the open bottle on February 28. It’s like I’m worried it’ll go bad or something.)
- Peer pressure doesn’t bother me…okay, maybe it bothers me, but I can say no to peer pressure. People sitting around drinking while I’m not doesn’t bother me either. Hubby actually asked if it would be okay if he had some Scotch. Um, Scotch? Gross. I did however lean in for a deep sniff the day he uncorked a bottle of my favorite wine.
- I’m not sure whether it’s because I thought that without drinking I had more calories to play with, or I have some sort of oral fixation, but I found myself eating dessert almost nightly. A few times I hear myself actually say “I should have to ice cream tonight since I can’t have wine”. Up until about three quarters of the way through the month when I got on the scale and said, WTF???? After that, I started eating healthier. Or at least trying to. This is probably why I lost ZERO pounds. Which was kind of weird for me because I thought it would be the opposite…I incorrectly assured that I would have more willpower over food without alcohol. After all, how many times have you been out having a few drinks and all of a sudden loaded nachos are screaming your name at 1 am???
- The difficult part was dining out without alcohol. Having a drink when dining out has become a habit more than anything else. Once upon a time, we could rarely afford to dine out. And when we did, we certainly couldn’t order expensive drinks. The only drinking we did back then was at weddings and when we bought bottles of two buck Chuck. Fast forward many years later and we can afford a cocktail or two with our dinner out, and it’s become a need to order it because I can. Most of the time I only order a drink because we’re out…and I like the sangria at this place or the Moscow mule at another place, and I don’t want to miss the opportunity to have them even if I don’t actually want it. It’s like I have started to associate certain restaurants with certain drinks and I don’t think the place would be the same without them. You say Jose Tejas and I literally think Margarita and I must order it because how can I go there and not get their margaritas??? Hubby calls this “running up the bill”. You know how I broke that habit this month? Eating a lot of fast food. They don’t serve alcohol at fast food joints. Seriously though, eating at home was much easier. I don’t associate any foods at home with alcohol (maybe pizza and wine, but I could eat pizza out of a box while sitting on the sidewalk so that didn’t deter me from eating pizza).
- I didn’t save any money because I’ve bought at least 6 bottles of wine in the last month.
- Oddly, I did not sleep better, which was one of the “side effects” I was looking forward to. I had to take Z-quil quite a few times. This may have more to do with the dog waking me up in the night rather than the lack of alcohol.
- The headache I wake up with almost daily has nothing to do with red wine and everything to do with aforementioned dog. Or maybe it’s my sinuses. Either way, I can’t blame it on the alcohol.
- It takes 21 days to break a habit.
Sunday is April 1st. It seems anti-climatic actually. I thought I ‘d be dragging myself across the finish line with a bottle of wine and corkscrew in my hand, waiting till the clock struck midnight on the 31st, but I don’t think so. In fact, I think I’ll probably head up to bed around 9 with my friend Mr. Z-quil. Have I mentioned that stuff is the $hit? And good news, it’s non-habit forming, too.
2 thoughts on “What I Learned From No Alcohol March”
I agree with all of this! Going alcohol free helped me to evaluate my relationship with alcohol. There were too many times when I drank two or three drinks to “relax”…for me, I was drinking to self-medicate; to shift from work stress to “relaxation,” to slow my brain down. Going to the gym, reading a detective novel, calling a friend, all work better for me. During my 30 days, I found all sorts of better ways to relax. My 30 days have now turned into 153 days!