Originally posted November 1, 2017
The Sober in October challenge came about because I was curious. I was curious as to what would happen. Would I miss alcohol? Would it be hard? Would I lose weight (not that this was a goal of mine just curious if I would)? Would others lose weight?
We have all read that drinking can hinder our weight loss goals. I never ask clients to do something that I would not do or have not tried myself. I admit part of my experiment was because I want to be able to ask and coach people through giving up drinking as part of a weight loss plan.
So now I have done it! I gave up alcohol for one month. I thought the whole experience was very interesting. I walk away from this experience with a few observations I want to share.
Observation 1: Lack of Commitment
First, I was surprised how few people really committed to “Sober in October.” Lots of excuses as to why this was not a good time. “It’s beer fest,” “I am going Vegas,” “It’s my niece’s wedding,” and on and on.
I am proud to say that I attended a concert, a wedding, spent two weekends in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where happy hour starts at 4 pm after a hard day’s work on the cabin we are building, had multiple dinners with friends – Carl and I even met another couple for drinks one night. It was not that hard.
Strategies are Key!
I had a few strategies for staying sober. When up north partaking in happy hour, I made sure to have my colored covered cup with a straw filled with ice and water. This gave me something to hold onto and no one really knew I was not drinking alcohol. They thought the cup was filled with a mixed drink. So there was no, “Oh Laurie, have a drink, get a beer. ”
When we had dinners or were at bars I ordered non- alcoholic beer. I still had something to hold onto, and people did not even realize I was not drinking alcohol. I don’t want to make it seem like I didn’t want people to know I was not drinking, I think it just made it easier for me. If and when someone noticed I just explained our challenge and everyone was very supportive.
At the wedding I attended I just asked for cranberry and soda, no vodka. Again I had something to hold, just like everyone else. The non-alcoholic beer tasted good but it was totally not worth the empty calories. If I am going to have empty calories I at least want the alcohol!. So I don’t think I would employ the non-alcoholic beer choice again. The soda and cranberry may still have empty calories and sugar but I felt less bloated drinking that option than the non-alcoholic beer.
Observation 2: I Wanted to Reach for a Beer after a Long or Trying Day
Second, I was surprised that I wanted to reach for a beer after a long or trying day. I felt like the beer was the exhale I needed to help me relax. I think this only occurred two or three times in the first week or two. Now believe me, there were many trying days in second half of the month too. I just did not have the reflex reaction to reach for a beer. Since this apparent reflex reaction after a trying day has subsided, I hope to keep this reaction at bay. No need to consume those empty calories that hurt my body’s ability to burn fat.
Observation 3: I Lost Weight
Third, I was very surprised that I lost weight. I don’t weigh myself often, only when I notice a change in the mirror, or in how I am feeling. I do know that I tend to stay within a two to three pound window pretty consistently. By October 20, I was noticing that I looked and felt lighter so a few days later I jumped on the scale. I continued to weigh in every few days until the end of the month. That two to three pounds that I typically stay between, 148-151, was now 142-145. I can’t say it was all related to being Sober in October as there were some other changes that occurred during October that may have contributed to this, but not drinking was definitely part of it.
Observation 4: New Found Freedom
I have never felt like I was not in control of my social drinking but I do feel even more in control of it now. I don’t have to have a beer while watching football just because the other people I am with are having a beer. I can order a drink without vodka and not feel out of place because everyone else has a drink in their hand. I look forward to enjoying this new found freedom that was always there, but not practiced.