A Dry January.

For fun?

For insanity?

For a good cause.

I decided to sign up for this, after sponsoring an Earthchild’s Yoga lessons last year, (but not through this initiative last year. Last year was easier. I just had to go on a holiday to Bali). This one is a new challenge for me. We were allowed to start our January Dry month on any day that suited us after the festive-season. I chose 4th Jan, as I already had a lunch on a wine-farm booked for the 3rd which I was very much looking forward to (and who drinks water on a wine-farm?? That would be selfish. The actual vines need the water).

I decided to keep a diary to see how this journey goes. Just some thoughts as I sail / struggle through this!

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Day 1

Also same day I went back to work after a blissful holiday. I couldn’t help it, really. I just had to go and buy the biggest bottle I could find, and proceeded to drink half of it throughout the evening. Sparkling water.

Day 2

Bought some more water. This is getting fascinating now.

Day 3

Right, so I have been doing some reading as I don’t really want to write a 31-day blog about water-consumption. It’s quite interesting, really. I wanted to find a post about how a liver heals, or a timeline of recovery / healing of your body, and what does what when – when you abstain from drinking alcohol for a month. I was somehow hoping to fill my head with visions of my liver lighting up and flushing full of clean blood, perhaps my pancreas relaxing into a blob, or even a bunch of neurons making new connections (or even passing out business cards).

I didn’t end up finding much, especially since I was looking on day 3 or so and was probably using keywords such as ‘miracle’ and ‘amazing’ when I was searching on Google. What I did find was encouraging, and interesting. Turns out that taking a break from that wine has a few healthy results:-

  • lower blood-pressure
  • lower cholesterol
  • lower glucose in the blood
  • weight loss
  • saving money (if you actually have any to save come Jan)
  • And lastly  some stuff about reduced liver fat (a fatty liver is not good), and livers not being so hard (a soft liver, like a kind heart is apparently the way to go).

There was some other fierce debate about how good this could be if everyone went for a great big binge-drink when they’d finished for the month. Kind of like having a sugar-free month, and then buying the biggest cake you can find at the end of it – but I think that boils down to choice, or restraint and is not really relevant to debate here.

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Now that I am about halfway through, this is what I am noticing:-

  • I’m sleeping better now. I always thought that glass of wine with dinner was relaxing me and helping me to sleep after a stressful day. I was wrong. I’ve since learnt that alcohol metabolises into glucose (thanks to our faithful liver) and what is Glucose..? It’s sugar? Have you ever slept soundly after too much sugar? #NufSaid.
  • I’m getting quite scared of hangovers. The worst I have had lately was an insomnia hangover (yes, I know I’ve just said I’m sleeping better now – but Cape Town heat… In a loft apartment. Hmmm.) Anyway, that insomnia hangover made me scared of the classic red wine hangover and I think I will be a bit more mindful in future.
  • I’m feeling better about myself. Just the fact that I am completing a challenge, staying focused, determined and committed – and that I’m succeeding, is a great boost to the self-esteem.
  • I’m eating better. I never ate badly before, but I read that it’s important to not only remove the toxins that tax your liver (stop drinking), but you need to add the nutrients your liver needs in order to do it’s housework. As a result I’m just feeling a whole lot cleaner, and lighter – even if that’s just mentally.

So what have I learnt:-

  • (Some) non-alcoholic beer is actually quite nice.
  • I enjoy drinking alcohol – but I can manage without it.
  • I enjoy being mindful and looking after my body.
  • I didn’t lose my sense of humour.
  • I will go back to enjoying that glass of wine.
  • I will be more mindful – and incorporate dry-days into each week to make this experience sustainable.

I guess it boils down to forming new habits or creating routines. But really, it’s for a good cause too – so I challenge you to give it a try.

And yes, come 5th Feb, when my month is over, I’d really like to give myself a great fat pat on the back, buy a bottle of bubbly and celebrate. But I’m not going to drink the entire bottle in one go.

Cheers!

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