March and April whizzed by! I don’t know how, considering the goal for these two month was to reduce my alcohol intake, so you would expect time to go slower…
Feb was so fun that it was time to reign in the horns and moderate my alcohol consumption…. I hadn’t been guzzling gallons of cask wine and whizzing round clothes-lines or chandeliers anything like that, but I had been enjoying most evenings in the backyard with a few glasses of wine…sometimes more.
So, the goal for March and April was to reduce my alcohol intake to weekends.
Not completely alcohol free, although I do admire people that can do this, and activities like Feb Fast. I’ve always wanted to try a month without alcohol, but will say upfront, it sounds pretty challenging. I have friends that have done it, and noticed great changes. But me, never. I once signed up to pledge and the very next day was St Patrick’s Day….I lasted less than 24 hours.
Hello Sunday Morning is another great social movement that encourages people to pledge at least 3 months alcohol free. Again, I love the initiative, but I do kinda wish they allowed people to try it for a month first. I know behaviour change takes a while, but it also starts with small, achievable steps, and asking up front for people to pledge 3 months could be enough for some not to try at all. I certainly think many of my clients would be frightened off by committing to 3 months up front.
Two days in to the resolution and things were travelling along nicely. I was going strong and felt like I could hold out all together! Seriously guys, I had this. You needn’t have worried your pretty little heads about me. I was fine. I don’t even like wine…or wineries…or a French Martini with friends. You can just take that at face value. Don’t ask anyone who knows me or has ever met me. They’re lying. Or drunk. So how did I go in the end?
Well I certainly didn’t cut alcohol out all together, but I did definitely significantly reduce it in March…end of April was more challenging (with lots of birthday celebrations thrown in). And what did I notice? I can’t attest to the same level of benefits as those that cut alcohol out completely, but I definitely did notice better nights sleep, a few kg weight loss and that I was more effective in my work day. I was pretty happy with that, and just the general sense of achievement.
How to survive a month without (almost) any alcohol
- Have a back up – Serve plain or sparkling water in a wine glass and lots of ice – you’d be surprised how it can feel like the real thing. Add mint, a slice lemon or lime and you have a super easy mocktail
- Sign up for a pledge – Feb Fast and Hello Sunday Morning are two good starting points…not that you need to wait for Feb to roll round. Anytime is a good time to start
- Aim to include at least 2 (preferably 3) Alcohol Free Days per week and stick to only a couple of glasses on the other nights. That way, if you do drink more at a social occasion, you can get straight back to your usual plan for the rest of the week.
- Try alternating an alcoholic drink with a sparkling water or plain water, or slow yourself down by having a sparkling water at the same time, or a spritzer (white wine & soda) is a good choice and will last longer.
- Plan ahead – catching up with friends? Opt for a brekkie or coffee date instead of dinner and drinks
- Remember the benefits (of which there are plenty by the way, but just a small example of some below)
5 bevvy reducing benefits:
- Weight loss – Alcohol itself, regardless of whether it’s in beer, wine or spirits, is very high in kilojoules (or calories, whichever you prefer). In fact, per gram, alcohol contains almost double the amount of calories as carbohydrates. This is one of the reasons it’s best to choose lower alcohol drinks vs lower carb drinks. Fat and alcohol is a particular potent mixture. If you’re eating a fatty meal with alcohol, the body will process the alcohol instead of the fat or carbohydrate. It also opens up your fat cells, priming it to take in any fat consumed, so your body ends up storing more fat.
- Improved sleep – even though it might make you feel sleepy to start with, alcohol actually disrupts your normal sleep pattern. In the second half of the night, sleep after drinking alcohol is associated with more frequent awakenings, night sweats, nightmares, headaches and is much less restful. Binge drinking will also affect your levels of melatonin for up to a week. Melatonin makes us feel sleepy at night, helps us to sleep better and regulates our body rhythm.
- Reduced stress and better mental health – alcohol can actually make you feel more stressed because it’s a depressant. I’m sure you’ve felt in a funk after I big night on the tequilas. And nobody loves the “what was I thinking” feeling!
- Healthier habits – it’s not just the fact that alcohol is full of calories, it’s the flow on effect of drinking too much alcohol. It can throw your whole routine out, unhealthy junk food can sneak back in, you sleep badly, you’re tired the next day and unlikely to exercise or plan meals
- Improved concentration and energy = killing it in the workplace or study or just winning at life in general
And finally, for a guide to how many kilojoules are actually in your drinks, click here….you might be surprised. Cheers! I mean, bottoms up! I mean are you ready to claim back your Sunday????