It’s been over a year since I decided to quit drinking alcohol for at least 365 days. With some exceptions (two conference trips away with work and my best friend’s wedding), I managed to stick to my own goal without too much difficulty. I’ve come out at the other feeling like I don’t miss alcohol much (at least most of the time), and deciding it’s a change I’ll probably make permanent. Of course, no rule without exceptions, so I’ll allow for special occasions and the odd drink here and there. A hot summer’s day sometimes just calls for an ice cold pint, doesn’t it...
I wasn’t drinking all that much by the point I stopped, but still enough to impact at least a weekend a month and make the occasional dent in my bank account.
Here are the 6 most impactful things I experienced during my year off the booze...
1. I sleep better
This was the biggest change I experienced, and relatively quickly too. Overall it feels like I’m getting better-quality and deeper sleep overall, and not just compared to the nights after I’d been drinking. I would imagine it’s got a lot to do with not messing up my sleep patterns after a night out drinking at the weekends, and that having a knock-on effect into the working week.
2. I have more energy
This one took a good few months to kick in, but once it did it was very noticeable! I have more energy at the work, more energy to perform better at the gym and overall feel more sprightly and “with it” than before I quit. It’s probably also got a lot to do with the first point!
3. My skin is clearer
My skin wasn’t terrible to start with, but I would get the occasional spot and my forehead would always have annoying little whiteheads. The whiteheads have pretty much cleared up 99% and while I get the occasional spot still, it’s a lot less than before. I can definitely put this down to drinking, because that’s the only thing I changed.
4. I’ve found new ways to spend time with friends
I’ve gone on nights out sober and as I’m sure you can imagine, it’s difficult. There’s been a real shift away from “meeting for a pint” to grabbing a coffee, meeting outside or doing physical things like going to the gym together. And my friends don’t seem to mind - at least not much!
5. My bank account is happier, to some extent
To start with I definitely saved a fair bit of money, but as a lot of people find, when you have more money to play with you start spending it on other things. I now probably spend more money on food than I did before, for instance, knowing I can treat myself to a nice lunch or dinner out if I’m not spending money on going out getting drunk.
6. I get more stuff done
A pretty obvious one! No Saturdays or Sundays spent hungover means I’ve had a lot more free time on my hands where I’ve felt restless if I didn’t do anything. This has allowed me to focus a lot of time on finishing my personal training qualifications, setting up my business and of course dedicating time to the personal training itself.
I have friends who have given up alcohol for a year and called it “life-changing”. While I wouldn’t go that far it has certainly made a positive impact on my life and one I’m happy to stick to. As with everything, I believe that alcohol in moderation doesn’t have to be too much of a hindrance in reaching your fitness goals, and it can enrich your life socially. There’s even some evidence that lower amounts of alcohol can impact testosterone levels positively in men, as well as increasing oestrogen in women, but it’s worth noting that these increases are related to liver toxicity and thus not exactly good for you. And, for men, post-workout alcohol also impairs muscle growth signalling - so don’t decide to run off to the pub after your weights session just yet...