5 Things I've Learned So Far About Being Sober in January
When this blog post publishes we’ll be over halfway through the month of January, the first month of 2018. My goodness.
First, let me explain why I decided to do dry January and what it is. Dry January is where you spend the month of January not drinking. It is a popular trend (rightfully so) because we spend most of the two months prior, November and December, socializing and celebrating the holidays which includes a lot of sugar, carbs, and alcohol.
My decision to partake in dry January is no different being as I had travel quite extensively the month of November (two international trips) making it a wee bit hard to keep a routine including proper sleep, nutrition, and exercise, along with two holidays (Christmas and Thanksgiving) that found us on the road for most of it. Lots of travel time.
If you’ve been tuning into the podcast then you know how much I thrive off of having my “anchors,” which include needing two out of the following three in order to feel somewhat grounded; 8 hours of sleep, proper nutrition (mainly paleo based diet and minimal alcohol) and exercise. Oh! And lots of hydration. There is also something else that happens when you eat properly, get enough sleep, hydrate, and exercise...your body is able to rid itself of toxins. Some may call it “dropping the kids off” others may refer to it as “I’m going to my office,” regardless it is extremely important to feel said normal.
A friend once told me that if someone is in a bad mood it is probably because they didn’t poop yet that day.
Can’t deny it. (<----Seriously can’t believe I just bought up poop in my blog post.) Anywho, moving on.
My closest family members and friends know that when I’m gone for too long and feel like I’m living out of a suitcase….I get antsy and my husband would probably add, irritable.
My husband and I spent New Year’s Eve with a group of friends at one of our friend’s farmhouse in Indiana. I was already having some anxiety about being away from home again being as November and December were a bit touch and go. I also knew that I was leaving for Vegas for 8 days on the 6th of January so I really wanted to spend time at home.
All of that to say though, on New Year’s Eve I got to a place where the way I felt created enough pain for me to decide, “That’s is. We’re going dry from here until the end of January.” I needed a reset. I had looked back on the past two months which don’t get me wrong, were a flipping blast. I went on a mini vacay with my mother-in-law as she joined me in Barcelona post my first trip at the beginning of November, followed by celebrating Thanksgiving and eating such great food to heading back to Spain the Sunday after where my close friend met me in Madrid halfway through my work trip and we decided to take an impromptu trip to Bordeaux, France where we visited the vineyards, ate unpasteurized cheese (so. good.) and ate more croissants in three days that I have eaten during the entire year of 2017. And of course, Christmas and New Year’s was no different - all a blast.
Declaring I was going dry New Year’s Eve Day could have been a bit gutsy...I mean come on! What are you supposed to do when the clock strikes midnight on New Year's Eve?! Well, let me tell you. I have no clue because I was sleeping by 10:45 pm. Ha. Which I was completely okay with because in that moment my body needed sleep and rest and it was going to get it.
But in addition to that my 30th birthday took place in January (the 6th to be exact), I was spending a whole week in Vegas surrounded by 50 very outgoing, fun and social folks. Would I be tempted?
What was helpful is that I’ve done dry January in the past with the same events; birthday and Vegas, and did just fine so I knew I could do it again.
Part of the benefit of not drinking in Vegas is not compromising my immune system. There is nothing I hate more than being ill. And I know myself well enough that alcohol is the trigger. Because when I drink I don’t get good enough sleep, I tend to stay up later than I usually do which throws my sleep cycle off and in that moment I wanted to protect it.
The reason why I bring these up is that I want to create the context for what I’ve learned so far being 18 days into dry January.
Being all in is easier than being 50% in
It is much easier to be binary (all or nothing) vs partial. The reason being is because when you are partial you leave decisions up to that very moment when you need to make said decision. Sometimes you’re not in the right headspace or environment to make the decision that best serves you. By being all in, you don’t leave it up to chance. You already know your decision. It is made for you, by you.
I think this goes without saying that there’s no doubt a person gets better sleep when there is no alcohol running through their system. Especially if you’re someone like me who thrives on sleep, you don’t want to waste it or sabotage it. Where my 8-hour sleepers at?!
One less thing to manage
Alcohol influences our decisions, decisions to eat more, stay out later, be influenced by our surroundings. When you’re sober you making quicker and faster decisions. It also doesn't take up space in your brain wondering whether or not you're going to drink at dinner or not.
When you really want to do something, you’ll do it
I’m a massive fan of Tony Robbin’s book, “Awaken the Giant Within.” There’s a part of why we as humans do what we do and usually, it is either to avoid pain or gain pleasure. My decision to not drink in January brought more pleasure than actually drinking; better sleep, better decision making, FEELING better. I also knew that I was only not drinking for 30 days and it’ll be there when I'm done.
Your friends may be bummed, but they’ll get over it
While this didn’t happen to me as much, I’m sure it happens to other people when they go dry so I do want to acknowledge that the decision to go dry is YOUR decision. Know that you’re doing it for you and your benefit. While other’s may be bummed or disappointed, they’ll get over it and move on.
I suppose another thing I’ve learned so far is that I love Pellegrino with lime...in a wine glass ;) It helps to make me feel like I’m still involving myself in the social affair.
So what’s next?
I’ll finish out the rest of the month dry.
I’ll be more intentional when I drink and how much. Going dry helps bring awareness to my actions. Also, going dry shows you just exactly how good a person can feel. Similar to that if someone cuts out carbs and refined sugar for a month, you feel amazing! You now have that benchmark of knowing how good you can feel and how crappy you can feel when you put not so great foods in your body thus helping you make better choices that serve you in the future.
One thing that I’ve scaled back from doing is drinking wine during international flights. In the beginning, I’d do it to make myself sleepy but it made adjusting to the new time zone a nightmare. Now I usually stick to one glass or less, avoid drinking within the first 48 hours upon landing in order to let my body adjust.
I’m curious, have you ever done it? If so, I’d love for you to share your experience.