I decided on a whim January 1st 2021 to cut back on alcohol. Seemed like a legit plan and an easy way to be a smidge healthier.
I didn’t have a time frame in mind and wasn’t doing it for dry January. I just wanted to see how how I felt without it. I’ve never been a huge drinker and pride myself of being drunk only once I’m my life (will never drink tequila ever again because of it). During the pandemic, drinking was heightened for a lot of people and I have no shame in admitting that my one glass of wine became two and I noticed the effects in my sleep, running and overall stamina. While two drinks doesn’t seem like a big intake, I was a lightweight and for me two drinks was more than I usually did. I wasn’t out of control, I didn’t have a problem, I just decided to go for a few days, then a few weeks and just like that…..
I haven’t had an alcohol in 365 days.
While I now notice even more that our society revolves heavily around drinking, the alcohol centric culture wasn’t anything new to me. When I was pregnant especially I realized how alcohol is so deeply intrenched in our adult social lives. It’s not only accepted but encouraged to pop open a bottle or finding humor in people getting blackout drunk. Even though most people can navigate this in a semi healthy way but others often over indulge and then pressure others to join in to mask their own fear of inadequacy. If a women doesn’t drink she is asked if she’s pregnant. If a guy doesn’t drink its assumed that he has a problem with alcohol. Let me be clear, I am not shaming people for drinking in any way. I do think though alcohol highlights a very interesting question….
Why is it the norm to ask why people don’t/aren’t drinking? Why is it abnormal to not be a drinker?
My husband gave up alcohol almost 3 years ago. It was met with a lot of question marks as to why he stopped drinking especially after being raised in a highly alcohol saturated upbringing. The truth is it no longer served him, there was no fun to overindulge, there wasn’t anything productive coming out of it and ultimately he made the choice to stop and not look back. I was inspired by his resolve and supported him in his decision. Many assumed that I had something to do with it but in fact he decided that he liked who he was without the alcohol and it was more fun to take in gatherings and have a blast without feeling the need to drink up.
I continued to drink in moderation and he had no problem with it. My decision to forgo drinking was my own decision as well and had more to do with my lifestyle than with a problem with alcohol.
Slowly as the pandemic trudged on I felt the need to taper off my consumption. It wasn’t any big event or anything of monumental proportions just a bunch of small things that when added together made my decision easier. I was more dehydrated and bloated which then would come back to bite me on my runs. My anxiety seemed worse even with one drink, although the alcohol would help bring me down, in the end it wasn’t doing anything but suppressing it. Regardless of how minimal my intake actually was I noticed my stomach hurting later on after partaking and just felt like crud the next day.
Even for someone who didn’t have a drinking problem and was a social drinker by normal standards, alcohol wasn’t making my mind body or soul feel good.
While most would expect stopping to bring about monumental changes, the differences were subtle and couldn’t be seen from the outside. I did notice I slept better (besides the kid that refuses to sleep in the room next door) I wasn’t as dehydrated on my runs and overall I did feel less foggy. Even without being a huge drinker though it wasn’t easy. Instead of having a glass of wine with dinner or having a beer on the back patio, I did feel like something was missing. I was tired of the same old non-alcoholic beer options and both my husband and I missed the flavor of different seasonal and craft beers. That’s when Athletic Brewing Company came into play. I ordered him a 6 pack of each of their standard beers to try so we could see what we liked and disliked.
*Spoiler alert he wasn’t a huge fan*
Me on the other hand? I found what had been missing. The flavor of a great beer without feeling like crud after. The all out stout became my go to long before I dipped my toes in and tried some of the limited release beers.
I enjoyed the icy cold pop of the cans to sit down with after a long day, to go with my dinner or even at lunch. Since it’s a non alcoholic there wasn’t any reason not to enjoy! Especially in the throws of training for my marathon I could drink and not worry about the dehydration that a conventional beer would bring. I could throw it in my beach bag and not worry about getting buzzed. It was the flavor I craved and had missed. It’s honestly probably the biggest reason I’ve been find staying alcohol free for this long, I have the best of both worlds.
My husband eventually found beers he liked and even found a non alcoholic liquor line Ritual Zero Proof that replaced the essence of a rum and coke. They also had a tequila option but it was just too realistic for me to get into it. It brought my right back to the local bar that I got drunk at and subsequently all threw up that next day. With so many options and more companies tapping into the market, I only see it becoming more popular to ditch the alcohol and live the sober life.
If you have been around a while or have followed me on instagram you have gathered that I’m pro health both mentally and physically.
I want to share my side of giving up alcohol to show that non-alcoholic options aren’t exclusive to just pregnant women, people who suffer from alcohol addiction, or something that should be looked down on in any way. I want to show that you can enjoy a cool drink after a long race and can just have the runners high versus a buzz, enjoying a beer at the beach on a hot summers day without getting a dehydration headache and puking.
We can enjoy and have fun without numbing our inhibitions, feelings and personalities. We don’t absolutely need alcohol, even if it is the social norm.
A few people have asked if/when I will drink again but I don’t have a set answer. Do I think I will drink again? The answer is maybe. I don’t really have any need to but if I want a real drink I don’t see any reason why not. At this stage in my life I just don’t have a use for it. I don’t judge anyone who drinks, to each their own and as long as you are responsible then go for it. It’s like anything else, we all just need to do the best for ourselves regardless of what is in our glass.