What Happened When I Went 6 Months Without Alcohol
I lost weight, slept better, and began living a healthier lifestyle.
Regardless of how much we drink, alcohol can inevitably have some undesirable effects on our bodies. In fact, there are a lot of benefits to going alcohol-free.
As a college student, drinking always played a huge role in my social life. However, my acne got worse after a long weekend, and my freshman fifteen turned into more of a freshman twenty-five. Not only was I seeing the negative physical effects of alcohol, but I was seeing the mental effects of it as well. I was tired all the time and felt sluggish. I was able to fall asleep easily, but I wasn't getting quality sleep.
In an effort to begin living a healthier lifestyle, I decided to go six months without alcohol. Here's what happened.
1. I lost weight.
After just a week without my favorite drink, I noticed that my clothes began fitting more loosely. This is because I finally cut out all those hidden calories and sugars that alcohol and cocktails contain. I wasn't even working out or dieting—I simply didn't have that next-day alcohol bloat.
Alcohol is known to cause weight gain, because it contains empty calories, affects the digestive system, and lowers nutrient uptake. It's no wonder that a lot of people gain weight during college—its all of that alcohol and those late-night trips to Taco Bell in a drunken stupor!
2. I slept better.
This one came as a huge shock to me. Since I was young I had trouble falling asleep, but alcohol seemed to take that away. After a few drinks, I could wind down before bed and fall asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. However, just because I fell asleep faster doesn't mean I was getting a quality good night's rest.
I quickly noticed that I felt more energized the morning after not drinking than I did after drinking. I had the energy to get things done in the morning and avoid that dreaded late afternoon crash. In addition, I had the mental clarity to spend extra time studying for exams.
3. My acne cleared up.
Of course, I still suffer from the occasional whitehead popping up in the middle of my forehead, but for the most part, my skin cleared up. Not only did I have less acne, but my blemishes became less noticeable, and my skin felt more hydrated. Alcohol can affect the hormones in the body, which can cause testosterone to spike leading to increased activity in the sebaceous glands. These glands can build up, get clogged, and develop into nasty pimples.
I was able to say goodbye to wearing layers of foundation to cover up the acne, and to the five-step facial routine I had accumulated over the years. Instead, I said hello to more money in my pocket.
4. I created a savings account.
Yeah—you heard that right. A college student with a savings account. Not only did I save money on the surplus of makeup and moisturizers that I once needed, but I saved a lot of money by not drinking. Rather than splurging on $8 cocktails at the bar down the street, I got to put that money into a savings account.
Over the six month period of time I went without a drink, I saved over $1,000 dollars. While to some it might not seem like much, to me this meant being able to take that vacation I had been wanting to take—and I did!
5. I felt less anxious.
Before deciding to put the drink down, I always had pretty bad anxiety. I thought it was just a part of life that I would have to deal with. Little did I know that one of the physical effects of drinking too much can be anxiety. Alcohol actually changes the levels of serotonin in the brain, which can make anxiety worse when the alcohol wears off. This is why so many people who are addicted to alcohol experience withdrawals—it actually rewires your brain.
Due to all of the positive changes I saw when I stopped drinking for six months, I decided I would only drink on special occasions. I looked better, felt better, and even enjoyed life more. After all, I didn't want to give up a shot of tequila and lime on Cinco De Mayo, but I did want to make a significant lifestyle change for the better. It turns out that cutting down on my alcohol intake was just what I needed.