I gave up alcohol, and here's what shockingly happened...
That's right. You heard me.
It all started on December 2nd. My husband and I took an awesome trip to #Nashville right after Thanksgiving. We took in all the sites, the sounds, and of course the flavors of Music City. (It was amazing, I highly recommend!)
The final day, I was hit HARD by a massive cold, and as a result, duh, I skipped cocktails because, well, I literally couldn't taste anything. haha! We returned home and I got on a antibiotic. TEN DAYS of amoxicillin 2x/day. I decided I needed to be a full-blown adult and not chase the antibiotic with a glass of wine.
I also thought: "Can I actually challenge myself to not have wine for 10 days?"
Ten days later, I proudly made it through, and something surprising happened: I felt clearer, happier and more energized. Right then... I decided to give up drinking all together for the month of December.
Yes, that meant NO HOLIDAY PARTY BEVERAGES. NO NIGHTLY GLASS OF WINE TO DESTRESS.
Uncovering the WHY
I've historically fallen victim to an all-or-nothing mentality with most things in life, and it showed up in my social habits as well. In college, I would hole myself up for weeks at a time working my ass off at studying and performing. Typically one night a month, I would go out, #fullout #nomarking. Drinking seemed to give me a break from my otherwise rigid self, an escape from the rigors of 22 credit hours (#musictheatermajor) and the pressure to be perfect. It felt like freedom to be raw, a little messy and dismantle the control I usually imposed on myself. aka escapism.
I thought drinking actually made me more fun. Read: I believed I wasn't enough.
Moving to NYC certainly doesn't help a person to drink less, since literally every. single. blesséd. social opportunity revolves around grabbing a drink. My early 20's - 30 were spent hustling, and to counter that hard work I definitely had my share of shenanigans. I'm actually laughing right now recounting the hilarious and crazy nights out I've had with friends. But then, I cringe at the times we were not mindful, and put ourselves in possible danger. Maybe some of you can relate, and it can be both nostalgic and sobering to reflect back.
After moving from NYC to Orlando with my hubs a little over 2 years ago, we slowed down a lot. Having to drive vs taking the subway, living in suburbia and having responsibilities like home ownership and pets shifts your priorities. But even still, grabbing a glass of wine at the end of my night stayed a ritual.
And that's all it was. It was a HABIT. And even though it was just one glass a night, a few nights a week, it still was engrained in me like blinking. I didn't like the fact that I felt out of control of this ritual.
Depravity vs choice
I've challenged myself to stop drinking in the past before. Proclamations like "This month, I am NOT DRINKING AT ALL ...to lose weight." The reason wasn't powerful, it felt like a grind, and I counted down the days until I could have a drink again.
This time, it is different. Before, I focused on what I wasn't allowed to have.
Now, I focus on everything that I am gaining from this lifestyle shift. I am actually giving my body so much by skipping even one glass of wine a night*.
*which by the way, is the recommended daily limit for women. 2 drinks per day for men.
5 benefits of not drinking
If you've ever wanted to cut out alcohol, but haven't known where to start: you first need a powerful why. Maybe you'll connect with one below!
1. Better sleep.
A reported 45% of people use alcohol to sleep better. While it may help you initially pass out, alcohol consumption actually disrupts sleep patterns, making it harder to obtain that deep sleep mode (Slow Wave Sleep and REM) which are imperative to a rejuvenating night's sleep. Not getting adequate deep sleep can bring an onset of disease and illness later in life, and in the immediate future can lead to weight gain, irritability and lack of focus to name a few.
2. Younger appearance.
Drinking dehydrates the body, making skin appear less youthful. If you reduce your consumption, you will not only have improved skin tone and quality, less inflammation around the eyes, but also save tons of money on facial products that only provide a bandaid for the real issue: dehydration and lack of sleep.
You also will likely lose weight, since alcohol contains hundreds of empty calories, and slows the metabolism down. You will also be less likely to overeat, since oftentimes drinking is paired with poor dietary decisions (and just poor decisions in general haha).