My Dry January Experience

lacroix water

It seemed like everywhere you turned this month, people were talking about Dry January. It's a relatively new concept, a creation of the UK's public health to, well, get people to give up drinking for the month of January. I myself fell into this month long booze ban purely by accident, but that doesn't make my results any less amazing. 

The following is my personal story of giving up drinking for a month, with a little thrown in about how I forced my husband into this

I consider myself a connoisseur of different alcohols. I love trying out new beers at hip craft breweries, exotic sounding names of spirit concoctions always get my attention, California red wine is my jam, and I think you can't go wrong by serving champagne at every meal. I am a weekend drinker with the occasional glass (or two) of wine with pizza on a particularly rough weeknight. 

I don't have a problem going days without alcohol, drinking has never interfered with my life and ability to do anything and no one (including medical professionals) has ever told me they are concerned with my drinking. So why did I opt to give up drinking for an entire month? 

This past fall I had my final beer. I was out at a restaurant and I just found the taste didn't jive with me for some reason. I kept saying it was like I lost my taste for beer. Shortly after, I started to feel the same way about spirits. Then wine. Finally, on New Year's Eve while drinking a single glass of my favorite champagne Veuve Clicquot, I announced that I would be giving up alcohol for the month of January. I hadn't really decided on any resolutions and this one seemed doable. Without even knowing what a "dry January" was, I had been building toward it for a while. 

There was just one person that I need to do this with me, the guy who lives with me - my husband. He was less than excited to give up alcohol for the entire month. In fact, he told everyone he was wasn't doing it but rather that I was forcing him into it. Boo hoo, I said. I was serious about doing this. 

In the interest of full disclosure, I slipped. The first two weeks went by like a breeze. No booze at all. Then there was a social situation where I had one glass of wine, then a dinner out where I had one small beer, and a weekend when someone brought out the whisky. All tolled I had slipped three times in 31 days. How did the husband do? Well, let's say he slipped a lot more than I did. Since this really wasn't his idea and was kind of forced on him, he didn't take it as seriously as I did. 

And I was pretty serious about it. After spending two full weeks without a drop of alcohol, I realized that I was sleeping so much better. And while I will never fully be a morning person, I did found myself waking up earlier and feeling better in the mornings than on days where I had something to drink. Even if I drink in the afternoon, for some reason it would still affect my sleep. Anytime I have something to drink, I wake up in the middle of the night. I thought it was just my imagination but turns out this is a real thing 

"As the alcohol starts to wear off, your body can come out of deep sleep and back into REM sleep, which is much easier to wake from. That's why you often wake up after just a few hours sleep when you've been drinking"

I also found I was getting more done at night. Without drinking I was able to spend a few more hours doing things I normally can't get to during the work hours. But that doesn't mean this was easy. Sure there were a few fun benefits but it was damn hard to be the one at every dinner and function asking for water. Over and over again I'd have to explain that was I really only doing this because I just felt like I wanted to. No health reason, no personal issues. I can't quite explain it but like I said before, I feel like I just sort of lost my taste for anything.

I knew a few others over social media that were doing this too. I asked them how they had planned on getting through the month and the answers ranged from drinking more soda to mixing up mocktails. I liked the idea of adding something with a little bite and flavour, but I didn't want to add any unnecessary calories. That's when I turned to an old favourite, LaCroix and their flavoured fizzy water. My favourite flavour will always be coconut but I added in a few of the mixed flavour varieties to add a little spice to my life. The pineapple strawberry tall cans (that's what I'm holding in the above photo) was my go-to.

Now that February first is here, I am left with the question of what next. Do I go back to my weekly habit of drinking, do I try this challenge again in February and make sure there are no slips this time? I can't tell you the future but I can tell you when my intent is. I do plan on adding some drinks back into my life, but the amount and frequency will be greatly reduced.

I have a trip later this month to the Bahamas and while I can't wait to try a rum based drink at the John Watling's Distillery (where they filmed a scene in Casino Royale!) my plan is to not go crazy. There are so many things I want to see while on vacation, like getting up early to photograph the sunrise, and you can't really get a good head start on the day if you had too many the night before.

I can honestly say I am glad that I did this challenge because it really made me realize that I don't like the way alcohol makes me feel. That's my biggest takeaway. Those times that I did slip during the month made me feel not-so-great and life's too short to be living feeling bad, right? The practice of this month will also help me fend off well-meaning friends and family who offer drinks. I really got used to saying "No thanks, I've got my water. I'm good". It also made me realize that when I am the one hosting, I need to ensure I have more non-alcoholic options for my guests.

I don't plan on being preachy about this. Like I said, I do intend to drink again. You don't need to worry that my blog will become a dry free zone on the internet. I've actually got a few cocktails using some of my favourite spirits that I can't wait to test out when the weathers warm. I just want to try and cut down on how many drinks I may have overall.

Oh, and how did my reluctant husband feel about dry January being over? Quite happy! I don't think you'll be seeing him doing this challenge again, but he does agree that he sleeps and feels so much better when he's not drinking so he's agreed to cutdown with me.

It's a really personal decision to join a challenge such as a dry January. The greatest reward and success comes when you make that decision for yourself so another realization I had is I won't try and force my challenges on others. I'll just share my story and hope I can add some perspective and maybe even inspire a little, which is what I hope I am accomplishing by telling my story here today.

Tell me - Did you participate in Dry January? Did you find it difficult to stick to? Do you think the time away will change your habits for the rest of the year? I'd love to hear your thoughts, leave your comments below.

1 comment

  1. Great post and such honesty! I like that you were able to learn some things about yourself that you didn't realize before. My husband did it with me while we were in situations together. But when he was with work colleagues or his friends he drank. But it certainly helped to have some camaraderie! I don't regret doing Dry January, but I don't think I will do it again, haha.