What I Learned From Dry January
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What I Learned From Dry January | FNBB 51
I just finished a very long, cold, dreary month of what they are now calling Dry January. This is when people are excited to voluntarily give up drinking alcoholic beverages for the month of January. But are usually upset with their decision by the first weekend. I was on that boat.
While listening to Mike and I on the Friday Night BeerBlog, you might assume that we drink beer on the daily, but that isn’t the case. We try to contain our beer-drinking to the weekend. It’s only on certain holidays and at weekday celebrations of some kind that we might bend those rules. The weeks between pretty much Halloween and New Year’s Eve are FULL of those days.
Let’s just say that by December 31st I was feeling pretty soggy and maybe even a little puffy from all the alcohol. So I decided that even though I may have failed at Dry January in the past, this time it had to be done for MANY reasons.
So I set about to conquer alcohol in January.* The 1st of January was a Saturday, so I was going to be tested right away. And it wasn’t terrible. Even the second weekend didn’t phase me. But by that third weekend I found that would have been easy to say “screw it, good effort” or “who the hell put five weekends in January”. I soothed by taking a few whiffs of Mike’s beer and marched on. All the way to January 31st.
The first thing I learned from Dry January is how not funny Mike is when he is drinking and I am not. We are Milewide Beer Co. fans and their beer comes in 16oz cans. We normally split 2-3 in an evening and so without me drinking the other half, it went to my son, Ian. So I had to sit and watch and try not to be jealous that Ian was getting my beer.
The second thing I learned is that there is one decent non-alcoholic IPA available out there. I found one that I liked and tried to enjoy it as much as possible. But it really is like trying to smoke a candy cigarette. It looks like you are doing the thing, but it just isn’t the same. I could only stomach one 12 oz can of the non-alcoholic beer at a time. The addition of a second gave me rot gut.
The third thing I learned is that while not drinking does reduce calorie input, unfortunately you won’t loose any weight from it if you are supplementing with more snacks or dessert. Yeah, this was a show stopper. I dreamt of the five pounds I was going to lose during this process only to learn that the scale hadn’t moved anywhere but up. Grrr. But I will say that I definitely felt less puffy at the end of the month – like less bloated, so that’s a win even if that scale is a bitch.
The fourth thing I learned is that everyone around me was supportive of my decision when I went dry in January. My family didn’t really tempt me and when I was out with others, they were quick to explain to others around that I was dry for January in attempt to shield me from undue alcohol offers. I felt like everyone was on my side. Like they wanted me to succeed. But maybe they were helping me because they were very glad that it wasn’t them.
The fifth thing I learned is the biggest and most important. At least to me it is. I mentioned that I’ve tried Dry January in the past and failed. But I didn’t this time. I took this decision one weekend at a time and made it all the way to the end. It may sound strange, but I can tell you it wasn’t easy. And when I was tempted, I had to remind myself over and over why I was doing this. I needed this and I knew it.
And what I think I needed even more was the knowledge that I could do it. Because if I could make this decision and follow through, what else can I make a decision about and follow through on? Once you discover that will power again, it’s game on.
So did I have a beer on February 1st? You bet your sweet ass I did. I didn’t sign up for an alcohol-free Dry February. But, I will tell you that I will be cutting back. Once you don’t have it, you realize you don’t need it. So I’ll be needing less of it in 2022. And now I’m on to a new challenge for myself. My Dry February will be to cut back my need for dessert.
Now, I’m not a big brownie, cake, cookie person, but you can find me every night with a few spoonfuls of Nutella and Peanut Butter or Biscoff. Or candy bars. Or mixed nuts. Or handfuls of granola. And if I don’t get my fix I feel like I’ve been cheated. It is truly more of an issue for me than the weekend beer. So Dry January was a good test and opportunity to strengthen that choice muscle.
I feel that going total sugar cold turkey could lead to pulling that choice muscle, so I am allowing myself 10 chocolate chips at night. I count them out and enjoy them one by one. Just enough to satisfy. I did this back about five years ago when I lost 20 pounds, so I know it works and I can do it. So here we go. Please think of me often.
*I stated from the beginning of the month that on my birthday, January 26th, that I was allowed to drink. And I did.
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