Posts Tagged ‘alcohol’

Year Off Beer

Thursday, December 31st, 2015

i-would-like-to-formally-invite-you-to-beer-me-J2l…and all other alcohol, that is. Midnight tonight will mark the end of our year without consuming any alcohol [full disclosure: other legal items were enjoyed]. Reading back at my post this time last year, it’s interesting to see how life throws you curveballs. I talked Melissa into doing this, in part to get my health back on track. I’d gained 15 lbs since my all time low and I wanted to turn things around. I lost 10+ pounds in the first four months of the year, but then hurt my back in April. I tried various exercise routines, but nothing really stuck. I did do my first two 5Ks ever, which I don’t think would have ever happened had I not been drinking. I also haven’t gained much weight since hurting it; likely another benefit. All in all, we slept better, we went outside more, and we probably saved a good bit of money. I learned a lot about myself and am glad I was able to stick with it.

The question I get most often is whether I will continue into next year. For awhile, I seriously considered never drinking again. I had my reasons, but I don’t think they were entirely the right ones. Truth is, I now think a moderate amount of social drinking will be good for me. I don’t want to ever get anywhere close to where we were in 2014 and yet, abstinence is not for me. I have actually had two medical professionals tell me, in so many words, that I should have a drink and relax. I wouldn’t call that a license, per se, but it tells me being hard-nosed about not drinking didn’t mesh well for me. The short answer is yes, we will reintroduce it into our lives.

The second question I get most often is how we’re celebrating and/or what drink I’m going to have. The answer is we currently have no plans and, given the drink is probably a function of the place, have no idea what drink I want. In what is likely a sign of things to come, we’ll probably have a quiet night at home or do something low key like stop in a neighborhood bar. Hard alcohol doesn’t appeal much to me these days, so I’ll probably just have a really good beer. We are hosting a small get together at a newly opened beer hall in Seattle, so that’ll be a nice way to take have beverage with friends, take a deep breath, and relax.

As I mentioned, I learned a lot over the course of a year. Included below are a few that really stick with me. Would I do it again? Maybe… but not for awhile.

  • A lot of people told me I’d never make it. I don’t know if that’s an indication of their opinion of me or they’re speaking subconsciously about themselves, but there it was. I was really surprised at how pessimistic some people were. As you probably know, this made me want to be successful even more.
  • Bartenders are your new best friends. They’re either giving you free (non-alcoholic) drinks or giving you emotional support for, what I think, is being an alcoholic. I was surprised, in a very different way, just how supportive they were of complete strangers. Working at a bar has it’s risks and I think I saw a side of them.
  • Dinners out aren’t nearly as… special. Alcohol doesn’t make the world go round, but there’s something mechanical about going out to dinner and then heading home. Having a glass of wine or a nice cocktail just seems to slow dinner, and the world, down. I’ve found taking an Uber can really help make it feel like you’re not just running another errand.
  • People are sometimes uncomfortable… or considerate… about drinking around you. We had to remind people more than once that we were making a personal choice and they didn’t need to change themselves because of it. Then, there are others who will wave their drink in your face or work hard to convince to “just have one.”
  • I was on 25 planes this year. I didn’t drink at any of those destinations, including 50 cent beers on my birthday in Vietnam. It felt really forced.
  • Water is boring. I have one cup of coffee in the morning and that just wasn’t enough to keep my palette happy. I took to drinking a lot of calorie free sparking water because I needed something that tasted. Cranberry and soda became my “going out” drink.
  • I am uncomfortable meeting new people and being in groups. I am even more uncomfortable when I’m trying to figure out how not to be an introvert without alcohol. I never did figure out a way to prevent anxiety when going to social gatherings, especially if it was in public and/or they were drinking. I actually had to pass on, or leave early, more events than I care to admit.
  • There were quite a few events that we passed on because the price included open bar. I get that we can elect not to care, but paying a premium to be around… well, see previous and next comment… wasn’t for us.
  • Drunk people are way more obnoxious when you’re sober.

Alcoholics Anonymous

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Today marks the last day in my month-long pledge to abstain from alcohol. The month (5 weeks, actually) went by relatively quick, but it wasn’t completely devoid of trials. Passing up on partying and not being able to “tie one on” with friends wasn’t the problem, it was the random onsies and twosies scattered throughout life that were most tempting.

Thinking back on the last month, two examples of this stick out in my mind. One was having dinner with friends at a place that had a nice beer list and the other was coming home after a really crappy day/week at work looking to blow off a bit of steam. I don’t consider alcohol a crutch in either of these situations and it certainly wasn’t a necessity, but there’s definitely something mentally relaxing in “having a drink.” That said, I’m also willing to admit I believe some things are better with booze.

Perhaps the more interesting revelation is in just how much alcohol is part of our society. Not everyone drinks all the time but I definitely noticed that even when people aren’t drinking, there is still a decent amount of conversation about it. I know my social circle tends to be more privy to such things, but even the normal folk (read: squares) spent more time talking about beer, wine and drinking in general than I would have expected. I admit I was probably more sensitive to these conversations because I was purposefully not drinking; it still happened quite a bit.

Part of this experiment was to see how not drinking impacted my weight. The bad news is I’m still having a pretty big back problem. With physical therapy and general hurtage, I’ve only managed the gym about twice a week and half that time is spent stretching and working on core strength to address my back issue. The good news is it looks like despite this lower level of physical activity, I’m down about 5 pounds (1 lb/week).

It would be interesting to see what a full month of no alcohol and 5 day/week hardcore exercise would get me, but I’m not sure that’s going to happen any time soon. The more concerning thing to me is getting back to a point where I can ride bicycles and motorcycles… which seems pretty far away at this point. This actually makes me fairly sad because this Spring was the season I wanted to be obsessed with riding and lose another 20 pounds. Then there’s Emma… lonely, lonely Emma. Oh well, at least I can drown my sorrows tomorrow!

Cheers!

The Driest Month

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

I’ve decided to give up alcohol for the month of March. Why? A few reasons…

  • Lose weight – It’s no secret I’m stuck on a weight loss plateau. I’ve increased my exercise to 4-5 times/week and I do a decent job at watching what I eat, but I can’t break loose. I’m hoping I’ll see a difference when I ramp up my riding in the spring, but adopting a “wait and see” attitude isn’t good enough. If my exercise isn’t going to increase beyond where it’s at now, I have to decrease my caloric intake. What are my primary contributors? Well, I like to go out to eat a couple times a month, I’m addicted to carbs (read: pasta) and I love drinking. All these factors contribute significant levels of calories but I’m not in a place where I’m comfortable changing all three. Curious about just how much my drinking habits impact my health, I’m gonna start there. Any bets on if I’ll lose weight and if so, how much?
  • Triglycerides – I had a physical last week and this was the only item of concern. I eat a lot of fiber, I try to keep fat minimized, I don’t eat red meat (generally) or a lot of dairy and yet it’s still high. There are some genetics that go into it, but I can’t use that as an excuse. Since the sugars in alcohol can be converted to triglycerides, reducing intake can only be good for me.
  • Tolerance – Mine is problematic in that it’s fairly high. Ever since grad school, my tolerance has been at a level where it’s either difficult to achieve a buzz or I’m able to drink far more than your average person and still be functional. Were I in college, I’d be proud of this… but now it just means I spend more money and consume more calories. Taking a break from drinking should help bring it down to more normal levels.
  • Commitment – I want to see how hard it is. Yes, I’m well aware that pregnant women and people with liver disease have it much tougher than I do. I have little doubt I can go a measly month without drinking – that’s not the point. The point is I want to see how hard it is for me to go a month because it’s an indication of how much of a part of my life it is. I’m fully open to the idea that it’s too large a part, so I’d like to understand it better. Besides, I only ever drink on weekends so we’re talking a mere 8 days here… right? For what it’s worth, I thought about doing this two months ago and didn’t because of parties I was attending/having in January and February. No more excuses.

I’m not a fan of absolutions and I tend to think most vices are fine in moderation, so this will be interesting. See you on the other side.