My Year Without Alcohol.
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As I write this newsletter from a café, I reflect back to 365 days ago when I made the decision to stop drinking. 100%.
It was the best, most singularly impactful decision of my life.
I’m not here to preach, to tell you drinking is a sin or that you should quit. What I can tell you, what I will tell you, is that ceasing the consumption of alcohol has had a profoundly positive effect on nearly every aspect of my life. I would encourage you to examine your relationship with alcohol, and ask yourself honestly why you feel compelled to put something in your body that serves no useful purpose whatsoever (ok, it sounds like I’m preaching now…) but instead acts as a poison for your body & mind. I won’t get into the psychology, but there are usually underlying reasons we drink alcohol (or engage in other destructive behaviors). Even if you decide to keep drinking, the reduction of alcohol consumption can have a materially positive impact on your life.
Changes & Results From 1 Year With No Alcohol
My body fat plummeted. I became the leanest (lowest % body fat) I’ve been since being a 20-something ironman triathlete. Oh, did I mention I turned 50 last year?
Far more importantly, all my important health numbers improved dramatically – cholesterol, various organ tests, etc. My doctor proclaimed me far healthier than the prior year (reverse aging anyone?).
I felt better than ever. Sure it is nice to have the doctor validate with empirical data, and I’m not even above appreciating the occasional compliment, but ultimately what is better than simply feeling great day in, day out?!?
I read more books than since my college years. With a clear brain – and more time! – you will find yourself doing those things that you ‘know’ are good for you but always seem too busy…or tired…to do.
I strengthened several relationships including long standing friendships. It’s hard to put into words, but I simply felt more like connecting with other people. I can only put it down to a generally enhanced sense of what is important in life, with health and relationships making the top of the list. I also had more to give…emotionally, spiritually.
I become more aware of my behaviors (and my emotions modulated). It all starts with the brain. Emotions, intelligence, muscle direction…when your brain is working well, you are working well. If you have not read it, check out the book “Change Your Brain Change Your Life” by Dr. Amen. You will gain a deep and profound appreciation for the importance of keeping your ‘control center’ very healthy, and wonder why you ever subjected it to poison.
I started sleeping better than ever. There are several reasons for this – less of a need to wake up to go to the bathroom, calmer mind, no ‘wearing off at 3 am’ effect…it is amazing how your world changes when you are getting a consistently good night of rest.
My focus improved. Clear head, more focus.
My energy increased. Alcohol just makes you feel more sluggish the next day, often causing people to skip workouts, thus leading to even less energy….
I became less anxious. There is a connection between alcohol and anxiety, whether that is the after effects of drinking, or the fact that drinking often masks dealing with real underlying issues. In any case, when you stop drinking you enter this virtuous circle where you are able to deal with issues better, so those things causing anxiety dissipate, and so on.
I saved more money. Pretty self-evident.
I had more time for things of importance to me. All those things you know you ‘should’ do but often don’t (read, exercise, etc), or activities that studies indicate make people happy (spending time with loved ones, etc.) – you now have the time and energy to pursue (see Seneca quote above for relevance).
You start inspiring others. Sometimes people ‘fear’ how others will react – especially in social settings – when you say you are not drinking at a given event. Anyone who looks down on you for staying healthy probably is dealing with their own issues. In most cases I found people telling me later that they were inspired to drink less…how cool is that, you get healthier yourself and have a positive impact on those around you. Talk about win-win!
There are other myriad benefits, but I want you to discover some of those for yourself!
Don’t get me wrong, prior to stopping drinking I felt fine, was in pretty good relative shape, had solid energy, etc…but I simply didn’t realize how much better I could feel. Like the proverbial frog in the ever-increasing temperature pot of boiling water, I had become used to a certain way of feeling and didn’t appreciate just how much healthier, more vibrant, and energetic I could be when not drinking. The changes were truly astounding, and for many aspects within days.
No need to wait for your ‘real’ life to begin….