I f*cking love alcohol, but when I gave it up for a month, a lot of things changed. I guess you could call it a late New Year's resolution, but really it was just a decision I made after a realization that treating myself to a large glass of red wine "because I had a long day and I deserve it," ordering that second Bloody Mary at brunch, and spending too much time drinking recreationally were all things that were catching up to me, physically and financially. I decided the best way to cut back and reel in the habit was to go cold turkey — just for a month. Would going 31 days without a drop of alcohol really make much of a difference? Turns out, it would.
I'm not going to pretend that this is some heroic tale or really inspiring before-and-after transformation. I mean, we're just talking about giving up drinking for a month, which, for a lot of people, is so easy it's an almost laughable challenge. But it's always a good idea to make health-focused changes to your lifestyle, no matter how small they may seem. And if you happen to be like me and have no shame in pouring yourself another glass but have also wondered what it might be like to go on a brief detox, here's what you might want to know.
I Had More Energy
"How do my co-workers manage to do a 6 a.m. Soul Cycle class before work or fit in evening workouts even on the busiest days?" I often ask myself. I've learned that energy is likely the root of that answer. Going out for trivia on a Wednesday night and ordering a couple beers or finishing a glass of red wine before going to sleep are little things that really did affect the quality of my sleep, but I think it took me eliminating them to realize it. Furthermore, erasing the possibility of drinking on the weekends opened up a whole new world of possibilities for me! There's a zero percent chance I'd have a hangover, so I started booking early workout classes like Pop Physique and not only getting there on time, but also enjoying them a lot more. Sleeping better, waking up easier, and not suffering from wine-induced sleepiness all transformed the amount of energy I had.
I Lost Weight
I can't tell you how much the exact number on the scale changed, because I don't even own a scale — that's not what this was ever about. But I can tell you that, yes, I lost weight. My too-tight jeans began to fit a little looser, my stomach felt flatter, and I didn't feel as weighed down or bloated (drinking hot water with lemon helped, too). I'm one of those people who avoids reading the calories in wine and beer — over 100 calories for a four-ounce pour?! — so it was easy for me to forget how fast each glass or pint could add up, and my body definitely reaped the benefits when I gave it all up. Plus, since I had more energy at the end of each day, I spent more time hitting the gym instead of crashing on the couch as soon as I got home. Challenging yourself to make better choices isn't necessarily about immediate and calculated change, but about feeling like a better version of yourself, and I definitely did.
I Saved Money
It's true that little things add up, and that's especially true when it comes to drinking. This mini hiatus was a painful (and helpful) reminder that alcohol can seriously drain your bank account and that cutting back for short periods of time can have a noticeable impact. I found myself relishing in the fact that the absence of brunch drinks, postwork cocktails, and corner-store wine runs also meant the absence of their price tags. I instead took this opportunity to save money and treat myself to some much-needed self-care.
I Ate Better
It's funny how healthy choices tend to have the snowball effect: one leads to another. Because of the fact that I had more energy, I suddenly found myself way more inspired to cook. Instead of spending Sundays day drinking in the park (ahem, pictured above), I became a meal-prep goddess. Part of my weekend routine became making plenty of spaghetti squash for a week's worth of lunch, and I stocked my fridge with protein-packed egg muffins to ensure I never skipped breakfast before work. Plus, what's the one way to guarantee you don't go on a pizza-eating rampage at 2 a.m. on a Saturday and wake up feeling gross? Don't get the drunk munchies!
I Taught Myself a Lesson in Moderation
Do I want to give up alcohol permanently or even on a bimonthly basis? LOL, no. But do I have a better understanding of my body and how it reacts to what I put in it? Absolutely. I thought I'd have such a hard time neglecting my stash of wine and declining invites to happy hours, but it was surprisingly easy. As the days went on, cravings went away and didn't feel like I "needed" a glass of wine after a long day. I've now reevaluated my habits and have learned that moderation is the key to feeling — and looking — your best.
I'll cheers to that . . . preferably with a glass of Cab.