It’s the last day of January and as such it’s the last day of my self-imposed prohibition. At midnight tonight I’ll be “allowed” to drink alcohol again. It’s been an interesting month for me.
The first week or two could nearly have convinced me that the universe was trying to tempt me to failure. I had more impromptu pub outings in the first week of this month than I would expect in a whole month usually. Someone new joins the team at work? Let’s welcome him by going to the pub. Feeling a bit of January blues? Let’s have some fun down the pub. Got half and hour to kill? Pub. (OK, maybe not quite that bad.)
Initially I tried to keep a rough count of the number of drinks I would have had had I been drinking. By the 10th day the total was worryingly high, averaging more than two drinks a day. To be fair to myself this was almost certainly an over-estimate. One night of heavy drinking is rarely followed by another, but a healthy person can withstand several nights of heavy non-drinking in a row.
Things have calmed down in the weeks since. I’ve mostly been not drinking wine at home, with the occassional non-glass of wine at a restaurant at the weekend. It has certainly made dining out a little more affordable.
In the first weeks I lost a bit of weight. By midway through the month I’d dropped all of the weight I gained over Christmas and in the weeks leading up to it. About 4kg in total. I’ve hovered around that same weight in the last couple of weeks though, which probably means that I took the drop in calories due to not drinking as an excuse to over-indulge in other things.
I didn’t struggle with this challenge. Even while sitting in a pub surrounded by people drinking it took very little for me to stick to my resolve and order a Coke. That’s notably different from how I felt about giving up caffeine for a month last summer, which was a struggle some of the time.
I have to own up though: I did have two slight infractions this month. The first was early on when visiting friends for dinner. Everyone else was drinking Champagne cocktails, so I was drinking my fruit juice from a flute to join in. Two of the glasses got mixed up and I took a small sip of what I thought was my drink before the taste gave away its true identity.
The second infraction was in Gerry’s Wine and Spirits, the finest liquor store in all of London, where we went last Saturday to restock some of our cocktail ingredients. They had, as they often do, a promotional stand offering tastings of one of their drinks. In this case it was a vodka. Since I was shopping rather than at a pub or restaurant I wasn’t expecting to be offered a drink. My guard was down. I took a sip of the vodka before I realized what I had done.
Between those two errors I must have consumed about a tenth of a unit of alcohol. Somewhat less than my usual monthly intake, I reckon.
So, not too difficult a challenge in all. I flexed my willpower a bit, but not to extremes. I lost some weight, but countered that effect through extra snacking. I saved some money, but was forced to eat Italian food with no red wine accompaniment. Most importantly, I started my year of monthly resolutions with a success. Next month will have a much tougher challenge.