Close up of group of business people toasting with wine during a Christmas party. Focus is on foreground.

I’m Abstaining From Alcohol For 3 Weeks. This Is How It’s Going.

For a handful of reasons, I decided to abstain from alcohol from January 1st until January 22nd. I was going to try for a whole month, but I’m going to San Francisco for the first time EVER on January 22 and I’m not about to restrict my eating/drinking habits while I’m there. So three weeks sounded close enough.

I need to state for the record that I do not believe in deprivation- or restriction-based lifestyles. Unless it’s due to a clinically diagnosed condition (celiac, dairy allergy, alcoholism), I’m firmly opposed to diets that forbid certain food groups or require you to eat pre-packaged food. I think it leads to an unhealthy relationship with eating and an ultimately damaged well-being.

That being said, I do see the merit in a short-term detox, which is why I am (loosely) following the 28-Day Reset plan from Cassey Ho, my online fitness instructor.

The 28-Day Reset is not a diet. It’s a strategy to flush your system of all toxins, and then slowly re-introduce all the foods you normally eat back into your diet so you can identify how your body reacts to them. Here’s the scary part: the 28-day reset involves no gluten, no dairy, no added sugars, no processed foods, and (eeek!) no alcohol.

I’m following the first four as best as I can, but I’m not throwing myself off a cliff if I slip up here and there. If a friend is cooking me a meal, I’ll eat what I’m served. But I figured I should be able to stick to sobriety, no excuses, for 21 days.

As I write this, I’m turning the corner onto Day 12. In the last five years, I have not gone more than four days without at least a glass of wine. Here are some observations I’ve jotted down:

  • Avoiding alcohol during the week is pretty easy.
  • Avoiding alcohol during the weekend is not.
  • Avoiding alcohol during a drinking game is unnatural, but not impossible.
  • Avoiding alcohol when out to dinner is annoying, but I get over it as soon as the food shows up.
  • Saying “no” to bellinis during brunch really sucks.
  • Filling a wine glass with sparkling water and berries makes me feel better and less left out.
  • Of all the things I’ve cut out, I miss my morning slice of toast way more than I miss alcohol or cheese.
  • When in a large group, I am KEENLY aware of everyone’s ascending intoxication.
  • Being the only sober one in a large group is not as terrifying as I expected.
  • My friends stop finishing their sentences when they’re drunk, but the other drunk people nod knowingly and seem to understand. I never noticed this before.
  • I can say “no” to late night binge eating a lot more firmly than my drunk self can.
  • Waking up on Saturday and Sunday without a single trace of a hangover is both bizarre and exhilarating.
  • Getting “back into the rhythm” on Monday morning is a lot easier without the gelatinous weight of the weekend clinging to my internal organs. Enjoy that visual.
  • I feel less bloated.
  • My skin feels tighter.
  • I lost weight immediately.
  • I have more energy when I work out.
  • I have more energy in general.
  • I spend a concerning amount of time plotting my “welcome back” alcoholic drink.

All in all, it’s going well. The benefits are outweighing the downsides so far, and I’m happy to know I have some semblance of “willpower.”  The experiment continues. Let’s see how Weekend #2 goes…

 

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