What a stressful week to give up drinking! People we know in the UK are either seriously ill or have died from Covid related issues this week and we can't be there to support them or their families, and it makes you feel horrible and useless. Add to that the fact that we are heading into yet another lockdown here in Spain, and to top it off our dog seriously hurt himself. If ever I needed a large glass of white, or a relaxing G&T, this was the week! But I am proud to say that I didn't. I stocked up on non-alcoholic beer for the tempting moments and have been asking for non-alcoholic wine at the bars. One thing I have noticed over here is that they don't serve non-alcoholic wine like I am used to in the UK, it's more like concentrated grape juice, which can be eye wateringly sweet.
I excitedly stepped onto the scales at the end of the week. Despite the increased walks, eating better, and obviously not drinking.... I lost NADA!! Still only the 2lb from the week before. However, I did read a study that showed a month free from drinking alcohol can lead to a weight loss of 2kg (4lb), a decrease of blood pressure of around 5% and improvement of diabetes risk of around 30%. So I am part way there regarding the weight loss at least. I don't think I am going to lose the half a stone I wanted at the beginning of this.
The past, present, and future walk into a bar. It was tense.
Well, this week has started with most of those that I dragged into this falling off the wagon. A birthday celebration was bound to be the biggest obstacle for staying Dry. Some are off for good and some have made promises to change their old habits and drink less. Either way, I think everyone has learnt something during their two-week experience. I have come close to caving in and joining them, but I know I would beat myself up if I had.
What I have found this week is that I am having to justify my Dry Jan actions to others, even people I don't really know well, and I find that exhausting.
"You are still doing it? Are you mad?!"
"Erm. Yes. Today is the 12th.. January is 31 days long"
"Yes, but one isn't going to hurt you"
Past years when I have done a Dry Month, I have used "I'm on antibiotics" as an excuse, a safety net from having to explain myself. I seem to be encouraged at every turn to "just have one" and I am finding this as irritating as F~~~. I am trying hard here to do something good for myself. A challenge is just that, a challenge, and some days can be really difficult, It would be nice to be encouraged rather than ridiculed. I would love to have a glass of wine, but when I set myself a challenge/task, I tend to follow it through. It's to prove to myself that I CAN abstain and that I am NOT reliant on a drink to have a good time and there is the obvious health BENEFITS to consider. Why some people have to bang on about it negatively I dont know. What I do know is that I am not going to have a drink just to make them feel better about their drinking!
It has highlighted to me that I really don't enjoy sitting with groups of drinkers for the sake of it, listening to the same people telling the same stories (sometimes in the same sitting!!) and watching them stagger to the bathroom or more worryingly across the road. I much prefer having an occasional social drink, or a red wine and cheese night with my husband in our garden on a summers evening.
Remember to stop and smell the rosé.
This was probably the toughest week so far. With the weather in Spain momentarily heating up, I have missed sitting outside in the sunshine with a large glass of cold white wine, watching the condensation dripping down the glass. But a positive to the week was that I found a great non alcoholic Sangaria / Tinto Verono in the village shop. It doesn't taste any different than the real thing once the contents of the fruit bowl was added. My friend couldn't taste the difference either and was convinced I had bought the wrong one (I confess I checked, because I wasn't convinced either!) OK, it probably contains sugar/aspertaine, but you can't win all of your battles at the same time. I've also found a couple of "sin alcohol Ceveza" (beer) here in Spain. The one called Tostada has a horrible first mouthful, I wanted to spit it out as it reminded me of drinking cold curry, but once I pushed through that, I actually rather enjoyed it.
My Dry January conclusions
- I am loving the whites of my eyes being... white! Alcohol affects every organ of the body but most of the impact is on your liver. Alcohol raises Bilirubin levels which can give some nasty symptoms for us with Gilberts Syndrome.
- I don't feel like I've slept any better from not drinking, but that's probably due to the two weeks of having a 40kg dog sleeping with me either on the sofa or on the bed. However FitBit has proven that on most nights I have slept deeper which has huge benefits to the body and mental health. With the increase of water based drinks, I was still getting up to use the bathroom most nights, but going back off to sleep far quicker than I would normally.
- My digestive issues are remarkedly improved without drinking. I know red wine is particularly bad for causing digestive flare ups with me.
- My skin is pretty good normally, but I have seen a decrease in the dryness. My face appears fresher.
- I have woken some mornings with a banging headache as if I HAD been drinking, maybe that is from the deeper sleep, the increase in sugar or maybe an ingredient in the new non-alcoholic drinks that I have consumed. But they never lasted longer than an hour at a time.
- I've still had foggy days this month. I have added coffee dates to the wrong day in my diary, forgotten what I went to the shop for, or put things in odd places. I can only assume that is from an overactive mind or is hormone based (every female go-to excuse eh?!)
- I have been true to myself and proved again that when I set myself a goal I see it through, which is a positive personality trait.
- I most certainly CAN be entertaining and make people giggle without a drink propping up my confidence. It has shown me that I just need more confidence in myself around groups of others