13 Effects of Not Drinking Alcohol
This is a subject I never, ever thought I’d be writing up. In June of 2016, a yoga friend suggested a lifestyle change to which my response was, “Ha! Not for me. I mean, I’d probably lose ten pounds and save a bunch of money but…”
We were talking about drinking alcohol.
Cutting back was an idea I'd entertained before. It's obvious - especially for toning up. They call it a "beer gut" for a reason. Supposedly alcohol sugars settle right in the belly. But having a couple cocktails with friends, greasing any social situation, drinking a glass of wine while cooking, having a little Fernet and water over ice to relax at the end my day - that stuff was part of my life. A part I really enjoyed. However, something clicked that day.
The idea stuck in my head. The next couple of drinking opportunities I just drank much less than normal. Only one drink, say. Then I thought - this isn't so hard and it will be a fun, personal challenge. I'm not going to drink alcohol out of : boredom, loneliness or habit. Otherwise, I'll partake as I like. This meant pretty much not drinking so I went without for a week.
Then, on a Sunday around 4pm, as I was leisurely cooking up some tacos, I wanted a margarita. So I had one. Well, half of one. I didn't feel like finishing the other half. And, man! The next morning I woke up groggy and tired. AFTER HALF OF A MARGARITA.
After that, I stopped wanting alcohol because the effects of not drinking alcohol were so profound and, guess what? I like feeling good. I like having energy. I like being in total control of my actions. There's a newfound clarity I never EVER would have expected.
So, what happens when you stop drinking alcohol?
Here's a breakdown of the effects cutting out alcohol have had on me. Some were expected, some shocked me. Some were immediate, some came after my body was totally cleansed. As the changes piled up I thought, WHY have I never seen this info before?!
1. I WAKE UP AWAKE
What I mean is - I've slept well and I don't drag out of bed. I'm ready to get up and do stuff. There is less grogginess or wishing I could just stay in bed a little (or a lot) longer. This is likely due to sleeping very soundly - I don't wake up in the middle of the night parched / dehydrated or needing to use the bathroom. I'm refreshed, my body has re-energized while I was dormant. Ready to go!
2. I NEED LESS SLEEP
I've always been a big sleeper. At the beginning of my alcohol abstinence, I was sleeping a lot less and wanting to hop up super early and DO STUFF! Then I settled back into my "normal" 6-9 hours-ish but it generally leans towards shaving an hour off of how long I used to sleep.
3. I'M LESS HUNGRY
Not sure why but I get full faster and am just not as hungry. Another mark on the "staying fit" checklist of cutting out (or back) on alcohol.
4. IT SAVES SO MUCH MONEY
Dang. Cocktails and glasses of wine at dinner add up. The money savings is pretty huge. You can pretty much plan on your meal bill being halved or more.
$5 PEACHY KEENE at Gemma in Dallas, Texas
Texas peaches, lemon, ginger ale, thyme
5. LOTS MORE FREE TIME
Whether it's after work or at brunch, once you start drinking, production stops. Now I have so much free time. I'm blazing through books. I launched Lovage Inc. All my clients and projects get more attention. My house is really clean. Etc. 😊
6. LOTS MORE ENERGY
I don't drag and get fatigured in the same way. It's awesome. I've consumed alcohol somewhat for my entire adult life (20+ years!) and have never dried out completely so have not experienced this level of energy and awareness before.
7. CLARITY OF MIND
I'm clean, clear, focused, alert, aware. I'm more confident and less self conscious. Funny because traditionally, we drink to feel that way. But the clarity and awareness - it makes me feel so calm and with it. And...powerful. To do. To create. To interact. To engage.
8. I FEEL THE FEELINGS MORE
As in - emotions are not so dramatic and I'm more empathetic. Both pluses in my quest to be calm, assured and happy. I genuinely laugh again. Sad to say but I'd stopped laughing. I mean, I laughed but not authentic, joyful, heartfelt-response laughter.
TOPO CHICO (photo from their site)
I drink this in some situations I would normally have alcohol. Because I'm a Texan & the stuff is delicious.
9. SPOTS ON MY FACE LIGHTENED UP
Quickly. Like, within a few weeks I noticed that old freckles turning into age spots were lightening up a bit and I had a big 💡 moment. I realized - oh my gosh, age spots are often referred to as liver spots!! Your liver’s job is to detoxify. Mine is doing its job now without impediment.
10. I STOPPED SWEATING / SLEEPING HOT AT NIGHT
When I realized I'd stopped sweating at night, I bounced out of bed and texted the three friends I'd been talking to about the not-drinking thing. HOLY HELL. Sometimes I used to wake up drenched in sweat. I didn’t realize that was a cleanse struggle, I just figured I "slept hot." I thought - I’m so sorry, my body, to have done this to you for 20 years!
11. EXERCISE MORE
All that free time, you know? Might as well kill some of it at the bikram studio.
12. WEIGHT JUST FALLS OFF
Such a nice perk. Better sleep, eating less, exercising more. Duh, for sure. But before all those things were more of a chore, you know? Now they are just part of the regular "me."
13. IT IS SO APPARENT THAT ALCOHOL IS A FOUNDATION OF SOCIETY
So prevalent that almost all events, meet ups and experiences are centered around it. People talk about nursing cocktails or having their twelve pack with them like a proud parent. We all happily share getting bombed on our socials and it's applauded. So many businesses make their living off of alcohol sales and promotion. Not to mention lawsuits and recovery centers. It's big business.
I mean, I knew this but with a sober eye I really see it. Alcohol is...EVERYWHERE. ALL. THE. TIME. And though it causes much strife with addiction, injury and death, society still wholeheartedly encourages ample drinking.
GINGER KOMBUCHA (photo from the Kevita site)
Another favorite alcohol sub is Kombucha. Ginger is my favorite because it has a nice, spicy kick to it!
With a sober mind and body, remembering what inebriation does to me makes it seem INSANE to get behind the wheel of a car after any amount of alcohol. And this is coming from someone who, for decades, would think nothing of having cocktails with friends or wine with dinner and driving home. I was lucky nothing ever happened but we all know this is a major issue on our roads.
I’ve ended up replacing alcohol with Topo Chico or Kombucha when I cook or am in social situations. Soda water with a splash of cranberry (or similar) at a bar (free!). And I don’t miss imbibing. Without partaking, I feel super motivated, aware and…real. I'm so excited I made this change and I get to feel this way. It's thrilling.
I'm certainly not advocating for a crusade against alcohol. Just sharing what happened to me when I cut the stuff out of my routine. Who knows? In a few months I could be back to my old drinking self. But I doubt it. The changes feel too good. Especially at 40. It's like a new lease on life.
We’ll see if it sticks!
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Do you have a "I stopped drinking, too!" tale? I'd love to hear your story. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org xo
MID-OCTOBER 2016 FOLLOW UP NOTE!
Hi! I'm still living this reality and think it is likely my new way of life.
I've been in all sorts of cocktail-trigger environments and don't feel the pull.
Sometimes I taste my friends' drinks and my body recognizes the substance as non-potable again (like when I was young and had to "learn" to gain "a taste" for the stuff).
That is, it sorta tastes like poison and I can feel the effects going to my head RIGHT AWAY from one or two sips. 😝
Anyway, if you are interested in trying this for yourself, I highly recommend the 30 days that was encouraged when I got into this. If you have been a regular drinker, it will take that long for you to fully dry out, get used to not defaulting to the habit and notice all the changes.
Or, at least, that's how it worked for me.
GL out there, friends.