challenge

Ejo #88 – My Diary: Who’s The Boss?

Day #1
I’m not drinking for 25 days.

Huh?  Well, the Department of Health in the UK has recently decreased the recommended daily intake of alcohol, and as air traffic controllers we are subject to these guidelines. I recently had my annual medical examination for work, and it turns out that I should probably reduce the amount I drink. What better way to do that than to go cold turkey? So far today I’ve only felt an eensy weensy yen for wine. Nothing major. More out of habit than anything else, I think.

Day #2
Today I woke up feeling sluggish, stiff and swollen. Exactly like a hangover. What the hell? After getting out of bed though, I felt a lot better and I’m hoping it was just a vestige of the last few days of drinking. I’m actually committed to doing this, which is a new thing for me. I usually say to myself, “OK, I’m not going to drink today”, and then halfway through the day I’m gagging for a gin and tonic. What feels different this time is my attitude. I’ve decided. Like a switch has flicked in my mind, and it ain’t no thang. Of course it’s only the third day, so let’s talk on Day 18 and see how I feel.

Day #3
I’m wondering when the morning clarity and freshness is going to come, because today I woke up bloated and groggy again. What gives?? Is this detoxing? Is my body getting rid of all the shit from processing alcohol in my liver? Let’s go with that. Hopefully I’ll be bounding out of bed in no time.

Day #4
Today I had a pang, just a tiny little pang, for wine. Out of nowhere. It disappeared just as quickly as it had appeared, but it definitely stood out, as it’s the first time a craving has shown its face since going on this crazy journey (oh yeah, I’m living on the edge with my 25 day booze challenge!!!).

I feel good. I feel clear. I actually think that sometimes I drink to make myself more interesting (if only to myself) but it’s nice to see that I’m pretty much the same and don’t need alcohol to feel good. I still write silly emails, laugh like an idiot at funny videos on YouTube and jump up to dance when a good song comes on. I’m still enjoying life, sober. And that is pretty great.

Day #5
The end of day five and just as I suspected, being sober on a day off work was hard. There were several times throughout the day when I could have killed a glass of crisp rosé. And I know that David felt the same way. Extra kudos to him because he never actually signed up for this and he’s coming along for the ride anyway. Maybe to be supportive, maybe because he knows it’s probably good for him too. Either way, I appreciate the hell out of it.

Day #6
Well, this is really sucking right now. There are so many reasons I drink – to relieve boredom, to reward myself, to inspire creativity, to relax. And suddenly my outlet for all that jazz is gone and I have to find something else to fill all those little holes. So far I’m having trouble finding a suitable substitute.

I can’t be bothered cooking dinner.

Day #7
So, last night we ordered Indian for dinner, but what I realised is that ordering takeaway (especially when I’m supposedly trying to be healthy) is a substitute for drinking.

Mind. Blown!!

I’m just finding it a little boring not drinking right now. But, I need to get over that and recalibrate my boredom meter. That’s what this whole challenge is about.  It’s been a whole week, and I’ve noticed rather amazing changes. I’ve always had oily skin, but lately it’s been some serious Deepwater Horizon shit. Seven days later, this has improved noticeably. I’m also sleeping a bazillion times better. And not waking up in the night as often. Getting up in the morning is still harder than I’d hoped it would be but the quality of sleep I’m getting is markedly better. Which is pretty awesome.

These things keep me motivated.

Day #8
It’s getting easier. New habits are forming – old habits are breaking. I’ve read that a habit takes 21 days to catch. To become automatic and natural. I’m already feeling something changing in my brain. I’ve never been physically dependent on alcohol – and if I was I would give it up completely. But I definitely have an emotional attachment to it. And it is this attachment that I feel softening, cracking, melting away. Huzzah.

Day #9
Uh, so why am I putting on weight? I mean, come on. Normally, if I skip the booze for a couple of days I see a drastic reduction on the scales. But no, in the last nine days I’ve actually gained weight. Sure it’s only 200g but… what the fuck? I don’t get it. I was really hoping to see some weight loss. Having said that, my clothes are definitely fitting a little bit better, so I guess something is going on. I just have to persevere.

Day #10
Today I was nostalgic. For some reason pear juice popped into my head, and I remembered this amazing organic pear juice we once bought in Amsterdam. We brought it back to Dubai, and made incredible cocktails with it. Good times. These thoughts differ from the ones I had a week ago, when I was craving booze. Today, it crossed my mind, pleasantly, and then faded away with no real urge to follow up on it. Progress.

Day #11
Today I woke up feeling like I’d been hit by a truck. It’s frustrating because I’d always imagined that a long stretch without alcohol would be some kind of panacea for my health.  So why aren’t I waking up feeling good?

I am definitely noticing improvements though.  My days are just better. I feel sharper, and more engaged. Which is a really nice feeling. I’m starting to have little mini-fantasies of continuing with this booze challenge once the 25 days are up. Today I even (just for a second) had a fleeting thought: maybe I’ll never drink again!!!!! It was summarily dismissed, but it actually felt like a plausible option. This would not have been the case 12 days ago.

Day #12
Another day down. It’s getting easier and easier. I feel like the habit’s back has been broken. Tonight, at 10.30pm I kind of wanted a nightcap to unwind after a long day at work. But this was less a physical urge than a mental one. The physical urges have essentially disappeared, but I guess the mental ones might take a bit longer to tame. We have another 13 days.

Day #13
Being teetotal is a completely different mindset. It kind of simplifies life, and makes a lot of things easier.

Day #14
We are nearly halfway through. How do I feel? Fucking great. When we first started not drinking I thought I would miss it every single day, all day long. But that’s not the case. I honestly thought my life would be taupe without booze, but it’s just as colourful, if not more so.

Day #15
I’ve been toying with the idea of giving up alcohol for a while. I don’t think I have a drinking problem, but I do like the idea of being completely in control. And then, out of the blue, a friend declared on Facebook that she was giving up booze for a whole year (shout out to Nancy). Twenty five days seemed easy in comparison. It was perfect timing.

Day #16
As part of our job, David and I are subject to random drug and alcohol testing. So this isn’t just a health-kick for us, it’s something we need to do in order to ensure we keep our jobs. This is serious stuff.

Day #17
I thought that giving up alcohol would make my days drag, stretching out empty and bland. But in fact, they are filling up because I am being more productive. I am ticking things off my ancient to-do list like a demon. There just isn’t enough time in the day to do everything that I want to do. Shit is getting done!

Day #18
I am so frustrated that I have been alcohol free for 18 days (COUNT THEM) and I have not lost a single ounce of weight. I mean come on!!! I am not eating any differently, in fact I’m eating better. I am active. I’m getting plenty of rest and drinking lots of water. I’m really bloody pissed off about this.

Day #19
Not drinking is the norm now. I don’t have to think about it. I don’t have to fight the urge anymore, because the urge is gone.

Day #20
Here’s my dilemma. I actually really enjoy drinking. I like inventing cocktails. I appreciate a fine wine. When it’s hot, I like nothing better than a cold beer to cool me down. And I actually trained myself to like whiskey (how’s that for dedication). I don’t like all booze – you couldn’t pay me to drink Jägermeister or Sambuca (blech). But for the most part, hell yeah, I like it.

What I don’t like is being really drunk. I don’t drink to excess, because I’ve been there and it’s shit. I know where my line is and I tend not to cross it. I love being in that glorious tipsy zone, and I manage my alcohol intake to ensure I stay there.

Day #21
Three weeks. The challenge is nearly over. So far I can’t say that there has been some kind of profound lesson learned or epiphany experienced. The challenge has done exactly what I’d hoped it would do, which was to break the spell that alcohol had on me and to prove that I could do it. To show alcohol who was boss.

It’s me.  I’m the boss.

Day #22
I feel so good about blitzing this challenge that I’d like to focus my newfound discipline towards other areas of my life, like diet and exercise. A lifestyle change might be in order.

Day #23
Today I had a bit of a sad spell in the afternoon, and in the past I might have been inclined to have a little glass of something – a drowning of the sorrows, if you will. I only realised afterwards, that the thought never even crossed my mind.

Two more days.

Day #24
It’s lovely, and somewhat surprising, how easy it has been to adjust to life without booze. We are fast approaching the end of this challenge and I haven’t really started to process how I feel about that.

On the one hand, I feel like I could continue not drinking. That, perhaps, I should continue not drinking. On the other hand, I’m really looking forward to a drink. On the third hand I’m a bit scared of drinking again. And on yet another hand I almost feel as though having a glass of wine will mean the undoing of all the hard work I put in to get to this point. And it will have all been for nothing. So many hands. Only one more day to figure it all out.

Day #25
Well, that’s it. The end of my no-booze challenge and I’m about to go to bed, having not allowed a single drop of alcohol to cross my lips. I have actually really enjoyed not drinking – the physical improvements to my life and also the mental improvements. It really does feel like my body and mind have had a nice little vacation in the last three and a half weeks.

It’s almost a shame to subject them to alcohol again, isn’t it?