dry january.

If you haven’t already figured it out, I did Dry January. Drinking has always been a part of my weekend, whether or not I wanted it to be. I went to college in the middle of nowhere Ohio and there wasn’t much else to do except go to house parties or to one of the 3 fun bars in town. I remember thinking during my time there that once I graduate, I will totally slow down on the drinking. To be honest, it hasn’t quite been that way. I still have had the mindset that RIGHT when Friday hits, it’s time to drink. I think the stress of my job during the week and routine creates this desire in me to have a crazy weekend to balance it out. I knew I had to make a change, but I never had the “right time” to implement it. Then came New Year’s resolutions. My main resolution was to complain less, but that didn’t seem like quite enough. My brother and boyfriend decided to do Dry January and I thought what better an idea than to join them in the challenge (I’m somewhat competitive).

What was my first dry weekend like?

Some of my friends in Boston were out of town, so I just had my roommate to hang out with all weekend. She didn’t feel like doing much or drinking either so we both just decided to chill. We watched documentaries Friday night, Saturday morning I went to Barry’s and then met her for shopping, and then we just chilled with a few others on Saturday who didn’t feel like drinking either. I went to bed at 10:45PM and Sunday I woke up at 11AM. I haven’t gotten that much sleep in YEARS. I took a 2 mile walk, grocery shopped, cleaned my apartment, did yoga, wrote some of this blog post, and read my book. Note that most Sunday’s cause debilitating anxiety for me after I’ve been drinking for 2 days. I don’t really leave my apartment because I feel like such crap from drinking which causes even more anxiety. I hated Sundays and they made me dread Mondays event more. My first weekend of not drinking provided me with a pleasant Sunday that I didn’t really realize was even possible!

What were the rest of my dry weekends like?

I was pretty nervous for the next two weekends because all of my friends were going to be back in town and ready to go out. I had to psych myself up a little bit to put a smile on my face and still participate in all of the social events I would normally go to. I thought it would be WAY more difficult than it actually was. I was so used to the “social lubricant” that I assumed I couldn’t be bear to be social without it. The weekends went by and I still went out with my friends but opted to drink lattes at boozy brunches and soda waters with lemon at bars. No one even notices you’re not drinking when you have a soda water in your hand!

Things I noticed after the 26 days:

  • Decreased Anxiety — As I mentioned before, I usually experience horrible anxiety after a weekend of drinking. It normally ruins my next few days until about Tuesday. This has been very hard on me especially now that I am in a new city and I’m not surrounded by my 3 best college friends and boyfriend, I actually have to deal with the anxiety alone. Sounds depressing, but I am well aware that it is directly related to drinking so it also gives me hope because I know how to prevent it.

  • Improved mood — I legitimately have not been in a bad mood in 26 days. That’s all I have to say about that.

  • Increased Energy/Productivity — (duh, no hangovers) I have accomplished so much in the past 26 days it’s hard for me to even think about going back to drinking… I have put more time into my Instagram, my website, my clients, my mental health, and my physical health than ever before. Not to mention my productivity and energy at my corporate job has been improved immensely.

  • Clear Skin — After the holidays, my face was a wreck. The alcohol, gluten, and sweets truly caused some serious breakouts. Don’t get me wrong, I still had a breakout here and there during dry January but it was minimal and disappeared quickly.

  • Muscle Definition — Ok, TBH this didn’t really surprise me. I gave up on real muscle definition awhile ago and have been mainly just working out to maintain my weight. Now that I have the energy, I can workout 5-6x a week and put forth all of my effort. The results: toned muscles that I’ve been working on for years. I don’t have a 6 pack, but I just want to make the point that if you’re struggling with muscle definition/ weight issues, taking a break from alcohol and seeing how your body resets is an amazing experience. I also believe that if I kept my workouts the same as before when I was drinking, I still would see some major changes in my body.

Overall, this has been a learning experience. It’s not all about the weight or about the clear skin for me, it’s about how I discovered I didn’t need the alcohol to be social even though I thought I did for years. I am NOT going to give up drinking forever. I love alcohol even though it does bad things to my body. I love what it does when consumed in moderation. I love going to wine bars, breweries, and boozy brunches with friends and family. Moving forward, I plan on only drinking in social situations and only if I am really craving it. I don’t plan on just having a glass of white wine at lunch because everyone else is. I am going to take charge of my drinking habits and as cheesy as this sounds, not give into peer pressure to drink when I don’t feel like it (the peer pressure sometimes comes from my own head). I can honestly say that I have thoroughly enjoyed this experience of dry January. It has not only made me physically feel better, but I am more confident in myself now that I know I can be out and about without alcohol. I will definitely be taking full weekends off of drinking off and on moving forward.