Have you ever gone without drinking?
Like without a single drop of alcohol for any number of weeks or months?
I'll be the first to admit, it isn't easy.
Until it is.
This past New Years' Eve, we whooped it up with awesome friends, food and champagne (and wine, beer, shots, etc.) to ring in the new year.
January 1st came and we were groggy, hungover and annoyed with ourselves.
Was it fun to drink alllll the drinks and party all night with close friends? Absolutely.
Was it necessary to drink THAT many drinks to the point of us being incoherent and having a crappy next day? Probably (and most likely) not.
So, like any other mostly-rational, super hungover couple would do, we vowed to ditch all things alcohol for 90 days. THREE MONTHS. We wanted to start 2018 RIGHT, and this could be something empowering for us to try.
This would be the longest we'd ever gone without booze in... well, in EVER (since we started drinking as teenagers). So we knew it wasn't going to be easy.
I have ALWAYS enjoyed social drinking.
Patio season? I'm there.
Celebrating someone's baby? Yup!
Mexico for a week with my team? GIVE ME THE MARGS!!
Wiiiine not?Pretend to be a sommelier during the week as an excuse to drink 3 bottles of wine?
Casual Tuesday at a local bar to see a live band? Youuu got it!!
I just REALLY, really enjoy having a nice drink with people I love.
And let me also preface this with: I've never suffered from an alcohol abuse problem. But you know when something is starting to affect you negatively and if you can change something about it, you do.
As someone who's prone to slip into bouts of anxiety and depression if my daily habits aren't in check, I was interested to see how this would impact my mental health.
It seemed to me that the "booze blues" were just a part of my life that I'd come to accept.
Which is actually CRAZY, considering all the work I was doing on becoming my HEALTHIEST self each week (improving and healing my leaky gut, IBS, hormone imbalances, etc.) and how each weekend I boozed, all that work during the week (the workouts, the extra water drank, the pre and probiotics and superfoods and supplements and vitamin IV therapy from my naturopath) went down the drain as I tore holes at my (still healing) gut lining with a few glasses of wine, some chocolate cake shots and a margarita or three.
So when Brandon and I decided we wanted to ditch the drink for 90 days, we were serious.
I'll be honest with you here, the first two weeks were TOUGH.
It was the new year. We still had booze coursing through our veins from all the holiday parties and celebrations. We go to my parents' for dinner every Sunday and every Sunday, we'd be offered wine, beer, etc. as we came into the house.
My family likes drinking together.
Ooh boy, this was going to be harder than I thought.
Over the course of the next 90 days, we celebrated a couple friends' birthdays, where naturally, everyone was SMASHED.
Being the only two sober people there led to some major realizations about our relationship to booze. It was kind of weird at first, not to be right alongside everyone pounding drink after drink.
But then, it was also kind of cool to be able to leave the party and drive home in our own vehicle and not have to waste money on a cab and then spend time the next day going to get the left vehicle.
We had a few other social events to attend and each time we found we were able to say "no thanks, I'm not drinking" a little easier as we got more confident in our stance and started FEELING better.
Once you start to FEEL better, you realize just how BAD you felt before.
The 90 days came and went, and for the first time in THREE months, on Easter Sunday nonetheless, we had mimosas with brunch and then went glow bowling with my siblings and their spouses (super fun, in case you were wondering).
So we were back.
90 days of sobriety and then just like that, we ended it with some Sunday drinks.
Except we didn't end up going back to our old habits of 'during the week casual drinks' at all.
In fact, the first Friday night after we started drinking again, we both CHOSE to drink perriers on ice with frozen cherries and play a board game together.
It was magical.
Here's the thing - and this is my personal experience, mind you - going without drinking for 90 days led me to some pretty awesome realizations about my relationship with booze:
1) I'm definitely more fun when I'm drinking, but only because I'm not self conscious at all
2) I'm definitely more tired when I'm not drinking and others are
3) I can still have a good time with friends without drinking
4) Getting booze out of your system is a tricky process because sugar is an a-hole and super addictive
5) Saying you're not drinking when others are is usually a reason to get made fun of in social situations
6) You save a TON of money not drinking alcohol
7) My weekends were WAY more productive and relaxing
8) I started sleeping better
9) I had less frequent bouts of anxiety and depression
10) My belly bloat and IBS issues resided (I'm going to go on a limb and say that alone is worth quitting the drink)
11) I discovered some other hobbies I wanted to persue
12) Brandon and my relationship was strengthened
13) I no longer went on "weekend binges" of late night eats post drinking with friends
14) I got to know MYSELF on a different level and actually had to feel through my stresses, joys, anxieties, fears, etc. instead of coping with a glass of red.
15) I came to understand that while some occasions call for a nice drink with friends, I'm actually okay just having soda water or a fun mocktail
It was pretty freeing actually, learning that I, in fact, COULD, go out with friends and choose not to have a drink (or 5).
And having Brandon do the three months with me made it all that much more comforting too.
If you've ever considered giving up booze for a month or three, I highly recommend it. Not only for the health reasons (you seriously sleep SO MUCH BETTER), but also for the self confidence, empowerment and challenge that it brings.
We gave up booze for 90 days. And it was one of the best things we ever did.
Will we go back to drinking? Well, yes. We had drinks with friends last night as a matter of fact.
But when I woke up this morning, feeling those same booze blues and still feeling tired from a restless sleep, I knew I had to put this post out there, in case you, too, are feeling the same and need a little love tap to start your own journey.
With all the love my heart can give,