October is almost over. My favorite holiday, Halloween, will mark the end of a successful experiment: a month without alcohol. I dubbed it "Sober October." Sigh, I thought I invented the name, but I guess I didn't.
There were several reasons behind me trying a dry month. Topping the list was MONEY. I love whiskey tastings, brewery tours, craft beers... and in Chicago, this hobby is expensive. I wanted to see how much cash I would save.
Second, my diet was bad at the beginning of October. I didn't have a lot of free time, so I was stopping at Taco Bell a lot. I figured cutting the beer calories wouldn't hurt.
As an atheist, I no longer practice religious traditions from my childhood like Lent. I was the weirdo that liked Lent, though. I enjoyed giving up soda, candy, etc. I felt healthy and strong when making those changes. Sober October felt like a (shorter!) version of the good parts of Lent.
Finally, I read this story on NPR, and the related study from New Scientist. Granted, it wasn't a particularly good study; the sample size was incredibly small. The results were still worth thinking about: better blood glucose levels, reduction in liver fat, and all sorts of anecdotal lifestyle improvements. Why NOT try a dry month??
...Well, apparently, there are lots of reasons not to try one. My boss laughed, SURE I'd break after just a few days. "No way," she said. She then bought everyone beer as a reward following our big brand launch, because life is cruel.
There were other types of doubt, too. I was told by one person that I must be an alcoholic if I felt the urge to try dry. I was told by someone else that I'm "totally NOT an alcoholic," making my choice equally baffling in the other direction. One concerned party wondered if this was a sign of an eating disorder, or at the very least, an "unhealthy relationship with food." I got tired of justifying myself to extremely reactionary people.
Apparently, Chicago really loves its booze. You're some sort of troubled weirdo if you just opt out for a while. People wouldn't get this riled if I gave up Sour Patch Kids, you know?
Thankfully, most of the feedback was positive. Geek Girl Jess is doing the exercise with me. Several fitness-loving friends told me how great I'd feel. Many who had done this before expressed jealousy over the money I'd save, the weight I'd lose, the energy burst I'd inevitably get...
I'm sure it's different for everyone, but my results were more psychological than physical. Though I never once struggled to say "No" to a drink, it hasn't been an easy October. Beer, wine, and whiskey are much more central to my social life than I had realized.
I wanted a drink at the Ghostbusters Burlesque Show and during the Democratic debate. I wanted a drink before my panel at Valor Con and after my husband and I got into a fight. I wanted a drink when my phone died and when our new fire pit came to life. No, no thank you, no, thanks anyway, no. Sure, I'll go to a brewery with you, sure, I'll watch the Cubbies get slaughtered... I'll just drink this Cherry Coke Zero.
I'd love to say I've been drinking a lot more water and feel totally energized. I really don't. I drink plenty of water, but have definitely upped my soda and coffee. I still get night terrors, feel tired mid-day, get headaches, and haven't noticed any improvements in my skin. I'm physically the same. I DID discover Bella Beez; life-changing, for sure. :d
While I'm not miraculously a supermodel, I am grateful for Sober October. It has shown me just how thoroughly I depend on routine, and how obsessed I get with my hobbies. Sometimes I buy too much cosplay stuff, sometimes I play video games for too long, and sometimes, I grab another crazy-expensive beer instead of asking for the check. It's good to discover that you're stuck in a rut.
...Even if that rut is delicious.
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