10 Things I Learned from 30 Days of Not Drinking
The wine may be missing, but here's what I gained (hint: not pounds)
Mocktails will save your life.
As a casual wine drinker (it's 5 o'clock somewhere), I had to immediately find a substitute beverage for my evenings and social events. Sparkling water became my go-to, either alone or with juices and fresh or frozen fruit (still served in a wine glass for old times' sake). La Croix and cranberry-apple is my staple, but don't forget about smoothies and any (virgin) summer cocktail. When out at the bars, soda water and a lime will keep anyone from asking you where your drink is.
You aren't alone.
I was nervous about telling anyone I wasn't drinking; I almost felt guilty, especially at big events or birthday parties. But I quickly began to notice that I wasn't alone. When I looked around, a lot of people weren't drinking; some didn't drink at all, while some were taking time off like me. Others just didn't care and were even intrigued by my venture.
Saturdays should not be wasted (pun intended).
I used to go crazy on Friday nights, only to spend the majority of Saturday in bed. This past month, I've been so productive on Saturdays (as opposed to spending the day in my sleep mask and adhering to a strict Advil regimen). You add so much time to your weekend when you aren't wasted for half of it.
The "you smell like alcohol" thing is real—very real.
I didn't discover this until I was around people who had been boozing heavily the night before, while I hadn't. I'm horrified to think of the times that this could have been (and probably was) me.
Alcohol was making me fat and tired.
As someone who worked out regularly and led a (relatively) healthy lifestyle, I couldn't figure out why I wasn't losing the amount of weight that I felt I should have been. While I knew alcohol wasn't exactly conducive to weight loss, I wasn't ready to cut it out completely. My 30 days off demonstrated the point. In even just 10 days, I started noticing changes in my body. Not only that, but I feel better. I'm sleeping through the night, and I'm never groggy from the night cap (which is now tea).
There is more to life than the bars.
I didn't realize how much I defaulted to the bars until I was actively avoiding them. While I've still been going out, I obviously prefer a lot of other activities to drinking soda water and lime while my friends get lit.
Expanding my horizons beyond my city's local bar districts was an eye-opening experience. Art museums. Festivals. Libraries. Road trips. Nature parks. Coffeehouses. Historic landmarks. Local shops. I challenge you to hang out somewhere besides the bars, regardless of whether or not you're drinking.
Coherency is not overrated.
"Tipsy" used to be my goal on any night out. My cranberry-sans-vodka phase has reminded me how refreshing it is to still be able to articulate my thoughts in a conversation at midnight on a Saturday. Not to mention the regret-free morning after, knowing I didn't say or do anything that I don't remember.
Drinking is a really expensive habit.
Have you done the math on your Uber rides? I did. Having the freedom to drive wherever I'm going (as opposed to Ubering literally everywhere on a typical social weekend) is liberating, and cheap. Then there are the bar tabs. The drinks with dinner. The pregame materials. The rounds at the bar. The post-bar food. The hungover food. The hair of the dog. It's a vicious cycle.
I found some serious wiggle room in my budget when I cut out drinking. Not to mention how much more pleasant scrolling through my bank statement became (Who did I buy all of those Vegas bombs for?).
A girl's gotta have her standards.
Now that alcohol and I have spent some time apart, I'm able to evaluate what I like, what I don't, and what's worth drinking in the future. I've missed wine, and haven't missed liquor at all. When I do start drinking again, I'm only going to drink the quality versions of the drinks I like. Life is too short for the wells hangovers.
Human connection is more authentic when sober.
Before my hiatus, the last sober date I went on was probably a milkshake and movie night in high school. While living alcohol-free, in both friendships and dating, I noticed a distance between myself and certain people, while I grew noticeably closer to others. Conversation flows much differently when alcohol isn't invited. Flirtation is much more nuanced. The goodbye kiss, or lack thereof, is a totally different experience. I'll still take the sober date over a drunken hook-up every damn time.
Whether this motivated you to try 30 days off of drinking, or inspired you to go get a drink from the fridge, I encourage you to at least give a mocktail a try. Cheers!