30 days alcohol-free: day 30

I think I’m relatively safe in saying that I made it through the 30 days alcohol-free challenge! It’s Wednesday, and it’s yoga night, and I never follow yoga class with a glass of wine. So I can report 100% success! Woo hoo! Challenge 1 is over.

It really wasn’t that difficult to do, with very little in the way of temptation thrown at me over the past 30 days. (She says smugly, after getting through the 30 days.) 30 days of abstinence from one of my favourite things.

If you know Gretchen Rubin’s work, you might be aware of the abstainer/moderator tendencies that she identifies.

For the moderators, the “everything in moderation” theory works very well. Moderators can have one piece of chocolate cake and then stop. Abstainers find it difficult to stop at one, so if they open the bar of chocolate they won’t be able to stop until they’ve eaten all of it. So for abstaners, it’s easier to have none at all. I get the feeling that sometimes moderator types don’t understand this, and can’t figure out why someone would “deprive” themselves, when they could just have one piece. “Everything in moderation.” What people who can moderate might not get is that, while they can stop at one piece, for an abstainer one piece leads to another and another and, fuck it, the whole lot.

I relate to the abstainer tendency for most things. Especially chocolate, which I don’t eat even though I really love it. Especially the 90% cocoa chocolate – and there’s no “it’s so rich I can only have one piece” nonsense for me. I can eat a lot of it. Oh yes.

I find it easier to abstain from sweet things than to have small amounts. When I was kicking the sugar habit I fell off the wagon by having unexpected sweet things dropped into my lap and, as soon as I’d said yes once, the next opportunity (or walk past into the bakery) was easier to say yes to, and the next time was even easier, and I very quickly fell back into eating sugary treats on pretty much a daily basis again.

Now if I say yes to something chocolate or sweet, it’s usually because I’ve thought about it and I’ve made a conscious decision to eat it, enjoy it at the time, and for that to be the end of it. Not to think, “well I had chocolate yesterday, so I might as well have some today as well because I’ve already busted the no-sugar rule”. It’s become easier to regulate this the longer I’ve stayed on the no-sugar wagon.

Gretchen Rubin puts it like this:

If I never do something, it requires no self-control for me; if I do something sometimes, it requires enormous self-control. If I try to be moderate, I exhaust myself debating, “Today, tomorrow?” “Does this time ‘count’?” etc.

This is me. If I’ve made the decision that something is off-limits, that decision is made, there’s no temptation and I don’t feel deprived. (Although I can and do make a rare decision to have a dessert, which I decide deliberately and knowing that this is a one-time special.)

In the same vein, I’ve found it easier to give up alcohol entirely for a month than I think it would have been to have limited myself to one drink a day (for example). The decision was made. No booze. I didn’t have to think about it again. And that’s why I say it wasn’t really hard to do.

So where to from here?

Well I’m not quitting drinking, even though I’ve noticed benefits of giving it up. I never get a hangover, or even that seedy feeling from just one too many. I think I have more energy. I feel less weighty.

What I want to do from now on is stick with my previous intention not to drink on a school night – or at the very least not to drink after I get home on a school night, because, you know, occasional lunches and dinners out might call for a beverage or two. This might be pushing my abstainer personality to the extreme, but I’m going to see how setting limits works.

As I said in a previous post, drinking on a school night was contributing to me staying up too late, so to help me in moderating my intake on the nights I do decide to have a drink, Challenge #3 is starting on 1 July. It’s a work in progress, and I have a bit more work on what that’s going to involve before I can post about it.

But for now (well tomorrow actually, which I think will end up being Friday because no beer on a school night), I’m looking forward to a beverage that’s been sitting in the fridge waiting for me for over three weeks!

Here endeth the challenge.

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