Problem: I haven’t had much success. And I’m all about results. I’m not really an it’s-all-about-the-process kind of gal. Add to that the fact that I tend to want to fix everything at once. It's all black and white--no living in the grays. So no baby steps, no matter how many times I’m referenced Bill Murray in What About Bob? Love that movie.
But I’m going to blog in baby steps. Because, screw it, maybe Bob is right? So here’s my first baby step. Remember that last glass of champagne? I have embarked on Dry January.
Surprisingly to me, this is a thing. Dry January began in Great Britain--all those pubs. It’s sponsored by a small independent charity called Alcohol Concern. Dry January is on Facebook, Twitter, and has it’s own registration page on a UK website. There are dozens of articles that list the benefits of abstaining from alcohol for a month: reduction in liver fat, weight loss, lower levels in blood glucose, even lower cholesterol.
I actually did Dry January last year, although, much like this blog, I began on January 6, the day of the Epiphany. For me, this is just as good a day as the 1st for new beginnings because, along with being a religious holiday in some countries, epiphany means to experience a sudden and striking realization. Because I was born Cuba, we celebrated El dia de los reyes magos--Three Kings’ Day--along with Christmas. My mother loved the post-Christmas sales and my sister and I loved the twofer. On Christmas, we each set out our stocking but, on January 6, we put out a shoe, which was when we received the mother-load of our presents. We celebrated Three Kings’ Day all through high school--in college, I studied abroad in Paris where the day is celebrated by eating a King Cake. The cake contains a fêve, or bean, which is usually a little plastic figurine, and whoever gets the bean is crowned king or queen. Ok, enough factoids. Just saying the day holds significance. And who really wants to start anything on January 1st? I'm eating pancakes and watching the Rose Parade.
Last year, I didn’t drink alcohol from the 6th to the 31st, which was when my husband and I toasted to, “good enough.” There is a school of thought that Dry January leads to a very Wet February. I didn’t find that to be the case. But my drinking did creep back to unhealthy levels so, again, no lasting change. I did take advantage of my dry spell to do my yearly blood draw for my physical and, indeed, my results showed healthy liver enzymes and lower cholesterol. So why wasn’t that motive enough to moderate?
This year, I haven’t found it all that difficult to abstain because I have a pretty bad cold. So other than my nightly hit of Nyquil--which I don’t count but probably should--I’ve been good so far. It helps to have a partner, in my case, my husband. But I distinctly remember struggling last year and I imagine that will come.
The question is can something like Dry January serve as a platform for continued change? I’ve been told that if you do anything for 30 days, it becomes a habit. But drinking isn’t really something you do, like taking out the garbage or flossing. For me, it’s more of a lifestyle. I go out with friends and drink. I like a glass of wine while I cook. I sometimes drink when I write, believing it softens that editorial voice inside my head and allows for more flow.
So I definitely think there’s more to it. If I make it to 31 days, that’s a good start. But how do I make it stick?
This is my year of change. I hope you join me.
Please feel free to comment below.