This past month I made the drastic decision (literally drastic) to give up drinking for the entire month of September. I had what others would refer to as a dry month and may I just add that it was hell. I’ve had a lot of my friends ask me why I thought this was such a good idea and if I lost my marbles. I mean yes I lost my marbles, I lost them last year when I thought it was a good idea to suddenly move my life to Australia with no strategic planning, but again that turned out to be the best decision I could have ever made. So at this point I figured I was a pro at making good life choices and not drinking for an entire month would be one of those choices. Spoiler alert, it totally wasn’t, but I am here to share with you my experience and any tips I have for others who also want to give this a whirlwind go.
Before I go into my experience with all of this, let me first explain to you all why I decided to do a dry month, particularly September. My answer is simple, one that many others will not bring themselves to admit, but I have been drinking like a fiend since I landed in Australia last year and I haven’t stopped since. Their drinkers down under and will find any excuse to have a cold one. I feel like I had morphed into one of them and continued to carry this out when I landed back in the homeland this summer. Summer and drinking goes hand in hand so well, everyone knows this. It is a well known fact and us Canadians during this time of year will find any excuse to have a drink in our hand before crawling back into hibernation for the winter months. So I thought to myself, why not cleanse my body and liver for a month by not drinking, I mean how hard can it be?
Okay first off I would like to point out though that I did have a slip up on the first day when I took a single shot of Vodka, but may I add I was completely peer pressured into doing it. It was more of a final send off to no drinking for the month and it was vodka, so in my books it totally doesn’t count.
I think when it comes to giving anything up for the first time the first few days, if not week, will be the hardest. I went from a having a casual drink every night, whether it was having a beer at the bar with some friends or a glass of Pino after work while binge watching Friends on Netflix, to completely cutting it out cold turkey. Needless to say, I was dying. The worst part I think to get over is seeing your friends drink while you sit there with a glass of water in your hands trying to act as if the decision you had just made was totally fine when in fact you regret every minute of it. Even the smell of wine was making me go crazy, I hated it. There have been numerous times when I had wanted to cave and say SCREW IT! When I got to those points I began asking myself, am I really that obsessed with having a drink? Is this what I have become? Now I’m not saying I’m an alcoholic, I know for a fact that I am not. I know when to stop myself from having a drink from now and then, but I didn’t realize until doing this free zone drinking how much I would actually drink on a weekly basis. But I think what kept me going was the support system I had and the promise I had made myself in doing this. I wanted to prove myself wrong in that I could go alcohol free for a month without depending on a drink.
After doing this I realized several key notes that I would like to point out of both the pros and cons of doing a dry month. This is what I gathered….
- Clean liver
- Feeling refreshed in the mornings as opposed to feeling like you’ve been hit by a train several times in your sleep
- Saving money
- Getting to experience how idiotic your friends really are when they drink and documenting every second of it
- Appreciating the food that you eat when fine dining as opposed to inhaling your plate to soak up the bottle of wine you just had
- In bed by 11pm on a Saturday night because your body refuses to let you stay up without the fuel of alcohol
- Indulging in sweets to fight the urge of drinking – too many times have I had a bowl of vanilla ice cream with Lucky Charms just to battle this urging
- Gaining more weight than intended due to eating a buffet of sweets – I definitely lost more weight when drinking, without a word of a lie
- Missing out on the last moments of patio season, especially when the weather decides to introduce us into a heat wave for the last week of September
- Missing out on the social drinking while you have to sit there nursing a glass of water like an idiot – YASSSSS! Which again brings me back to my first point….
If I had to pick one major disaster from all of this it would definitely be the weight gain. One of the main reasons I also decided to do this dry month was in the hopes to lose weight from all the alcohol I have been drinking, but it did the exact opposite to me. I was seeking sugar elsewhere and well my mouth managed to find its way into ice-cream, cakes, sugary cereal and red velvet cookies. Definitely no strategic planning done here, no surprise.
In the end I am proud of myself for sticking this out and accomplishing what I had set out to do, again minus the weight loss aspect. I learned from this that I don’t need a drink for every social outing that I go to and how much I love the fact of waking up in the mornings knowing a hangover is not going to kick in. I can and will say that the way I drink will be changing (for now), but here are some of my tips I can give to those who too wish to have a dry month of their own.
- DON’T do a dry September – opt for a month where no big social events are going on and summer isn’t still floating in the air.
- A week leading up to your dry month slowly ease out of the drinking, don’t indulge and pack it all in thinking it will suffice you for the month, I can tell you that it won’t.
- You will be seeking indulgence elsewhere – if you are like me and already crave sugar on a daily basis, opt for dark chocolate. It is a lot healthier than stuffing your face with a bowl of vanilla ice cream with freshly baked red velvet cookies mushed into it….definitely not my finest moment. This is where your strong will power will need to come in, mine clearly failed but I have more hope for you.
- Have a support system, it seriously helps. Every time I wanted to give up and have a social drink I would text my friends and ask if it was a good idea to drop this whole dry month nonsense and get back into drinking. They then would respond with the same question I had just asked them, which again leaves you questioning yourself why you are doing this in the first place.
- Plan for a big night out on the first day back into drinking to celebrate what you had just accomplished. It’ll have you looking forward to the months end and realize how dramatic you were being this entire time.