They say it takes 21 days to form a new habit and with Lent being 40 days and 40 nights, theoretically, I should have formed a new habit, right?
I have never had much of a tolerance for alcohol and although I have nothing against drinking, I’m not physically able to drink more than a few drinks before the looming dread of tomorrow’s hangover just ruins the whole thing for me. So much so that I have told myself (and anyone else that will listen) that I have an alcohol intolerance. I should probably have an allergy test…
My hangovers are always sensational if I drink more than 3 of anything (singles, always). So, unless I’ve justified the occasion to be worth such an awful hangover, I
usually know when to stop – such is my fear of feeling like absolute hell the next day after drinking one too many.
However, my work life pretty much revolves around eating out accompanied by alcohol and consequently, my alcohol consumption, usually looks something like this:
Breakfast meetings – no alcohol, usually although not always(!)
Business lunch – usually one glass of Whispering Angel
After work events – bubbles are usually free-flowing, maybe a couple of these…
Dinner out with friends – a couple of glasses, either white or red depending on what we’re eating
In addition to the above, I may go for the odd cocktail with a friend after work (raspberry martinis, always)
The occasional aperitif (Hendricks and tonic)
Throw the odd brunch in here and there (I never do bottomless, but I’ll treat myself to a glass of champagne)
And if I am at home in the evening, I will have a glass of Malbec. Never more than one glass though. Steady on.
When you look at all of that, i’s quite a lot of alcohol for Mrs “Alcohol Intolerance” and my drinking strategy clearly appears to be ‘little and often’.
When I worked it out, in a typical week, I was drinking around 14-20 units of alcohol.
Whilst this is not a lot of alcohol compared to some – I’m not comparing – this is a lot more than I thought I was drinking…it’s only when I sat down to complete the Try Dry app that I totted it all up.
Fast-forward to Good Friday and I managed to get through Lent without a drop of alcohol despite being busier and more high-pressured than ever work-wise, having lots of alcohol in the house; hosting a charity wine event; attending a friend’s 40th birthday party; dinners with friends, some of whom don’t live in the country and it seemed befitting to ‘celebrate’; this COVID-19 outbreak, along with it school closures, social distancing, subsequent lockdown amid wide-spread panic and finally a very sad family bereavement (not C-word related). I did not drink.
I stayed alcohol-free during all of this and I noticed a few things:
I lost weight
Completely unintentionally, but I did lose weight. I didn’t actively monitor it, but my weight is usually always the same so I noticed when it changed (I used the Boditrax machine at the gym).
I slept better
This was one of the first things I noticed. MUCH better sleep from week 1, much better. Deeper sleep, like a baby. It was lovely…
My skin has never looked better
Any dermatologist will tell you that sugar and alcohol will wreck havoc with your sin. Giving up alcohol during Lent has improved my skin tone, texture and the brightness of my skin and I am very happy about it. No expensive skincare required!
Other people changed their drinking habits around me
Some friends I met for dinner typically didn’t drink either, which was incredibly thoughtful of them and I was really touched. I hadn’t even thought about not drinking around people that don’t drink alcohol! Sorry to my non-drinking friends…
Peer pressure among adults is a real thing
Friends, colleagues and clients also thought I was a bit mad. Or incredibly pious.
I momentarily wondered if they thought I was boring. Even though I know that I’m not boring!
I even had a lawyer for the other side on a conference call, suggest I ‘be easy on myself’ and have a drink. Just because.
People came up with very thoughtful ways to help me drink, like the ‘Sunday’s off’ loophole of Lent – which was very nice of them.
Like also suggesting that a particular social event required that I have a drink – Mother’s Day for example, I very nearly caved(!)
As helpful as people were trying to be, I actually didn’t want to drink. I was enjoying the discipline.
I had a clear head
Giving up alcohol for Lent has given me a clear head to think, pray, appreciate, to be grateful, to make decisions, meditate easily, have late nights without foggy mornings – it has been an insightful and reflective time.
I saved money
I used the Try Dry app to track my alcohol-free days whilst giving up alcohol for Lent and it also keeps track of how much I’d have spent on alcohol.
Apparently, I’d have spent £126 on alcohol during Lent. I did say on Instagram Stories that I would donate any money saved to the NSPCC. However, the app doesn’t take into consideration the taxi journeys I would have paid for but instead drove, I’m also sure that the app developers did not use the price of a decent cocktail in London when creating the app and so I will donate what I consider a “real” saved figure…
I developed more discipline
Saying ‘no thanks’ when out with groups of friends, ‘no’ when out to dinner with colleagues and events with other content creators, ‘no’ when at a birthday party with an open bar, saying ‘no’ when the world goes through a global pandemic and not having a drink when a close family member passes on – requires some serious discipline.
Essentially, giving up alcohol for Lent has confirmed what I already know:
“If you really want something, you’ll get it done.
If you don’t, you’ll make excuses.”
To the person who suggested I give up alcohol for Lent –
thank you, ever so much. This is for you:
I bet you’re wondering if I will give up drinking entirely?
No. I am currently drinking
a bottle of bubbles as I finalise this blog post. Champagne tastes better than I remember.
Will I go back to drinking how I was previously drinking?
No. But less. A lot less.
This weekend, I will raise a glass to celebrate Easter, celebrate life, my late grandmother’s life and the health and safety of everyone I know.
Anyway, Happy Easter everyone. Cheers.