This Post was originally published on February 28th, 2014
I made it. For those of you who doubted me I will accept forgiveness payments in cash, check, or beer. In fact screw the cash or check payments, I just want beer. As of 4:30am (my weird rule about when the new day starts) I will be able to once again imbibe the delicious nectar of the gods known simply as booze.
I think that taking the Sobruary break was really beneficial in several ways. Most importantly it helped me to evaluate my relationship with one of the central things in my life. As with every one of these lifestyle experiments that I try I have to look back and see how it can affect my future. Going in I had three main areas where taking a break would be very beneficial and I think that I was able to make progress in all three areas.
First I looked at this from a health perspective, to kill my tolerance and start trying to live healthier. I have to assume that a bite has been taken out of my tolerance, I guess I will have to test that out during Saint Patrick’s Week. If I die of sun poisoning after passing out early then I guess you can blame sobriety. I have found myself drinking more water both at home and at work I feel like I am well hydrated and generally feel better. Oh yeah, by not drinking my calories and being more active I was able to make some big strides and I am down more than 10 pounds over the past month.
Secondly I looked at the economic benefits. Every dollar that I saved by not drinking this month was more than offset by the $1,000 I had to shell out in taxes. I did save a lot of cash on beer alone, but I also found myself adjusting how I did other portions of my shopping. The market where I do most of my shopping has a great beer selection by not slowing down to peruse the cooler I found myself powering past the chips and sodas that are located in the same aisle. I suppose that this could be folded in under healthy living, but in reality I identify it more with economics since my weekly grocery spending has dropped by a decent amount. Also my electric bill was lower because I unplugged my beer fridge, gotta go for the little wins.
Lastly I was intrigued by the social aspect and the challenge of being sober in a world where I am so identified by beer. I went to Boston for a few days for a birthday celebration and was able to stay sober in one of the drunkest cities in the western hemisphere. But I was worried about how my friends, many of whom I haven’t seen since college, would react to me standing there drinking water. Lo and behold except for a bit of good natured ribbing they not only accepted it, but were very supportive about me giving this a shot. I won’t lie to you and say that not drinking for an entire month was easy, there were a few days where I wanted to put on some bluegrass and sing my sorrows into a bottle of Jack, but overall I think that I was able to get it done with few regrets.
Now for the other shoe to drop. This break wasn’t all positive. For instance two of my best friends came up to Vermont for a beer event and didn’t call me because they were worried that I would be tempted and fall off the wagon. I was kind of hurt by this, but to be fair, for Heady Topper I might have fallen off the wagon. This is the best example of a social problem, but not the only one. I shied away from going out for dinner or to hang out with friends because I was following the out of sight out of mind tactic, plus I worked 24 of the days in February so I was pretty damn tired. One of my friends came over a few times for dinner during February and I could tell that he felt kind of uncomfortable to be drinking alone in front of me, but I think that we were able to make it work.
So where do I go from here? Honestly I am not sure but I feel like there are a few things that I can do to to keep the benefits going forward. I know that this weekend I am going to work beer back into my system gradually. Attending the drunkfest that is Magic Hat Mardi Gras is probably not the best idea for gradual inebriation, but I am driving so that should keep everything in check. I was thinking about installing a weekly quota system or a taking X number of days off would probably fail. With a stringent system like any diet it is just too easy to have one slip up and throw the whole thing out the window. I would also spend most of my time trying to work around the systems that I put in place instead of just going with the flow. Instead I am thinking about doing a weekday quota of 24 ounces of beer, or a limit of 1 beer if I am drinking by myself. This will allow me to have dinner or go out and grab a beer after work with friends, while keeping me from downing a 6 pack in my recliner. Since I spend so much time traveling or going to events on weekends I am going to use them as cheat days without limits, but I hope that drinking less over the week will keep me from drinking a ton on my cheat days.
One of the motivating factors that got me interested in taking this break was how I was using (or abusing) the Untappd app. I am going to start using it again but instead of approaching it with the Pokemon gotta catch em all mentality I am going to use it simply as a way to remember what I have had and what I though about it. If I get badges that’s cool, but I am not going to chase after them, as we all know we don’t need no stinkin badges. I will also embrace it as more of a social tool that helps keep me in touch with my friends who I don’t talk to enough.
It has definitely been an eye opening 28 days. I think that I have grown personally while shrinking a bit physically. I managed to spend more time sober than I have during any period in the past 10 years, which I think was a pretty good accomplishment. Tomorrow will be the resumption of the rest of my life, but I can always look back and say that I pulled off sobriety for an entire month, short as it may be, who knows maybe I will make this an annual thing. I hope that I made some of you proud, thanks for the support. For the rest of you don’t worry your beer swilling idol is back.