Four weeks ago on Saturday, March 24th I decided to take a full month off from drinking alcohol. This decision came from almost two months of suffering from insomnia, depression, high anxiety and constant break outs. I was exhausted, anxious and extremely irritated all the time. I felt I finally needed to take action on my life and figure out a healthy strategy to get a handle on some of the unhealthy habits I have created for myself since I have been running my own business, and working from home full time.
I have always envied people who take one month a YEAR to detox and reset by avoiding alcoholic beverages. I truly never thought I would be able to do this, or that I would ever have the will power to complete this kind of challenge. There was ALWAYS an excuse. Someone's birthday, an event, a celebration, the sun is out, a patio opportunity...there was ALWAYS something. Now that I have completed the challenge, I feel silly thinking how many excuses I came up with. I am glad I took the time to find it in me to take on this challenge and to complete it successfully. I thought that April was going to be such an "easy" month to take on. I had nothing planned except the anticipation of a few bachelorette parties and weddings, starting next week. I thought it would be easy; as there were no planned events, parties or birthdays that I needed to deal with. What I found, was that my life; personal and professional, is surrounded by alcohol and that there truly will never be a time that these temptations won't come up or interfere with my choice to not drink. It was a true testament to my will power, my friend group, as well as to my lifestyle choices.
Week 1 - what I thought was going to be an incredibly easy first week, proved me wrong on the very FIRST night.
Saturday, March 24th: We got invited to a Comedy Show, the Comedy Basement at Goldie's. I don't think I have ever been sober at a comedy show before. Everything most definitely is wayyyyy funnier, and it is such a social environment that drinking is always involved. I noticed, I tried to avoid the conversation of "why are you not drinking" by ordering Gingerale with a lime in it (as it resembled a mixed drink). I ended up enjoying the show, and definitely still found it funny. Successful night number one DOWN.
Sunday, March 25th: The first REAL test. Who would have thought that a SUNDAY would be my worst enemy as I started my long month of not drinking. The first event on this Sunday was a brunch at S+L Kitchen with my team and our spouses that featured $3 mimosas and $4 caesars. THIS was extremely hard as I love brunch and I love cheap brunch drinks! The second event was a VIP shopping party with the Vancouver Fashion Truck, where my client had the most beautiful display of champagne cocktails. Followed by a gathering at one of our new neighbour's apartment, where he served us appetizers and offered me a glass of red from one of my favourite BC wine's Adega on 45th . This was the moment I thought I was done for. I felt a sense of embarrassment rejecting his kind hospitality, (I also REALLY did not want to miss out on this beauty) and I almost took his offer when Rory chimed in, and let him know that I was taking a month off from drinking. I was so extremely thankful for this interuption, as I was sure to break in this moment after only a day and a half and four different kinds of events that tempted me to drink, I said no.
Thursday, March 29th: I attended Vancity Business Babes networking event when I realized, damn, my job is surrounded by drinking casually in social settings ALL THE TIME. It was hard to reject a glass of wine but I stood my ground, and of course it was fine.
Friday, March 30th - Sunday, April 1st: When I made the decision to have a month off of drinking, I did not calculate that there was going to be a long weekend associated with this month off. The anxiety around the fact that I would be unable to partake in drinking acitvities made me feel like I was going to miss out, or that I may not enjoy it as much.
On Friday, we went for high tea at TWG Tea Shop. Now, if you don't know already, but I am woman who enjoys the finer things in life, and I am never one to shy away from celebrating with a bottle of champagne any chance I get. So this experience in particular was a hard one for me, as I didn't get to have a glass of champagne that usually would accompany me during a high tea experience. This ended up being fine of course as neither myself or my spouse had alcohol with our treats. We enjoyed the entire experience with tea, which was perfect. We then headed to a friend's place for a games night, and they were all extremely understanding, and half of us didn't drink that night, so I felt completely comfortable.
Saturday, March 31st: We got invited to a Canucks afternoon Home Game with friends followed by a BBQ party. I can't remember the last time I didn't indulge in a beer at a hockey game, let alone at a sporting event. Since I have been of legal drinking age, I have never even considered the thought of not having an ICE, COLD, BEEEEER (any Blue Jays fans remember this?) at a sporting event, even though they range from $12-$16 sometimes. This was the first test to my month long hiatus, and I proved to pass it.
Sunday, April 1st: We went to Gibsons to explore a new part of BC. This was a hard trip as we went to an oyster bar (where I didn't accompany my oysters with some bubbly), and we also went to a brewery. We later finished the evening with a home-made steak, where for the first time in over 10 years, I did not enjoy my favourite meal with a glass of red wine.
Thursday, April 5th: I got invited to a media launch event for Brunette the Label's new Spring Line where we were greeted with a beautiful glass of sparking champagne. It killed me inside to reject it, but I was relieved when they offered me an alternative of sparkling coconut water. It instantly made me feel included and like I could still be a part of the special event.
Friday, April 6th & Saturday, April 7th: This was a very interesting weekened for me as both nights were surrounded by going out to public places to drink socially with friends and with strangers. By now, I had started to get used to ordering water or juice at a restaurant, and already had become acustomed to explaining my reasonings to friends and strangers as to why I was not drinking. I think this was the first few days that I felt confident in my decision, and that I didn't try and down play it to anyone as to why I chose to go this route.
Thursday, April 12th: My spouse had some friends from England who would be staying with us for a week. When I realized that this was happening a few weeks prior, I felt extremely anxious and regretful in my decisions as we typically host and entertain our guests with local beers and wines, and I felt like this would be an extremely hard visit if I had to be sober and not partake in social activities with them.
Friday, April 13th: This was then followed by one of my best friends coming into town for a few days. One of the main activities that we indulge in is drinking fine wine, and popping bubbly. I was so relieved and happy to hear that she was completely open to not indulging in alcohol either, and that of course it would not affect our visit in the slightest. (Which I of course knew it never would)
Saturday, April 14th: We took our visitors on a tour of the city, as well a tour of some of the local breweries that are within walking distance from our home. This proved to be extremely easy, and marked the countdown of one week left of my month long challenge.
The last week blew by pretty quickly, and has ended today as I get ready for our One Year Anniversary Party at I Like Her Style Vancouver, where I will toast to my month long accomplishment.
So, what did I learn?
- I got really excited at the thought of buying typically "expensive" (sad healthy is expensive to me) drinks that I normally wouldn't purchase such as fresh pressed from Glory Juice Co, Rise Kombucha, Bundaberg Ginger Beer, Sanpellegrino, Gingerale, Virgin Cocktails, etc.
- I felt extremely productive on weekends and was able to accomplish a lot more without a hang over or laziness hanging over my head.
- people said that I was still fun and easy to be around as I did not make it uncomfortable for them and I didn't judge them for drinking.
- I was able to avoid waiting for public transit or a cab to get home from a night out, I was able to drive and get home as soon as I wanted to without the hassle of waitng on someone elses schedule. (Uber, when are you coming to Vancouver?)
- I was able to finally get a proper nights sleep. After about a week and a half of not drinking, I was able to finally sleep all night without interruption.
- My spouse, colleagues, and friends were extremely supportive. I actually thought I would get a lot more peer pressure or negative comments thrown at me, but I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of judgement or pressure I got from not drinking that it made it extremely easy to do it.
- I saved money.
- I noticed a difference in my waist, did not feel as bloated or that I had a bulge anymore. I also did not eat late at night as I usually would after a night of drinking.
- sometimes at social events, I felt really insecure or anxious about being the only person sober. It made me not want to hang around as long, or made me not feel as comfortable as I usually would in conversations with strangers. It definitely made me more aware of how others act and how I may be perceived when I drink.
- there were a lot of times I felt like I was missing "out" on something if I wasn't drinking. I was able to take part in every event and experience in the last month that my spouse and friends were a part of, so I definitely did not miss out on anything, but the fear of missing out was extremely high.
- believing that food or experiences are not as good sober.
- people thought I was pregnant.
Do I feel any different?
Yes. I am sleeping better, and I feel accomplished that I could actually complete this challenge without failing once. I can't believe I didn't even come close to cheating, I just stood my ground and kept my eye on the prize.
Was it worth it?
Absolutely. Now that I have done it once, I would definitely love to try and do it once a year. I know for fact there will never be an "easy" month, but knowing that I had this kind of will power in me makes me feel like I can accomplish anything. I would love to continue to find other "one month challenges" that I can tackle.
Will I continue to drink?
Yes. I have realized that drinking alcohol definitely doesn't control my life or the events in it. I can still have fun, be social and enjoy my life.