Why I reduced my alcohol consumption to 1 drink per week
Why I stopped drinking alcohol (so much).
- There are no affiliate links in this post or a hidden reason behind it to make you buy non-alcoholic products or any other hidden agenda
- This is NOT a post about why you should stop drinking or reduce it. I am simply providing my perspective and learnings to give you an insight into who I am and why I made these changes.
Please do not read this article as something you need to change in your life. You don’t have to change anything, you don’t have to stop drinking or even reduce drinking. YOU. DO. YOU. If you do find yourself feeling defensive as you read this article, you may want to seek internally about why you feel the way you feel, your level of attachment to alcohol may be higher than you think. I only say this because that is what I found through my journey of detachment from my habits that I don’t want to ”give up”.
A little background
Before I jump into why I have limited my drinking, I should explain the background of when and how much I typically drank.
I was a late bloomer (around 21) when I started to drink in college. And I went straight from 1 beer to Jager shots and cheap booze sold across the street from the UGA campus. I’d like to blame this on social pressures or the desire to fit in with the crowd, but I now know that it was my own internal pressures and insecurities that made me change my health and fitness-focused lifestyle to going out and partying. Mostly, (entirely) to meet and impress girls.
Between 21-26 were probably my heavy drinking days, 3-4 times in an average week but really heavy binge drinking on the weekends (6-10 drinks on big party nights)
26-33 were strong drinking years that also brought along some more ‘party-party’, which allowed me to drink even more and stay out even later. I always had an excuse or a reason to go big. Tough and stressful work week, some sports event, a beach vacation weekends, a new DJ that’s going to be playing, a friend’s bachelor party or I’ll take it easy after TNT (the next thing).
Cool story bro, get to the reasons already…
Health benefits – We’d prefer not to have cancer.
I started becoming aware of the non-liver damaging health impacts of heavy alcohol consumption even before the big 2018 health report according to The Global Burden of Diseases study, which analyzed levels of alcohol use and its health effects in 195 countries from 1990 to 2016 that made headlines found that essentially no amount of alcohol consumption is good for your health and increases your chance of early death significantly. Source
Julie had already brought to my attention a study that if you are drinking more than 7-10 drinks per week and/or binge drinking (considered to be more than 3 drinks per day), that your chances of getting cancer increase by 55-85%. We had to have a conversation around this as we are so focused on being healthy in every other aspect in our life, that why should we continue to destroy our body and mind.
“Compared to women who don’t drink at all, women who have three alcoholic drinks per week have a 15% higher risk of breast cancer. Experts estimate that the risk of breast cancer goes up another 10% for each additional drink women regularly have each day.”
“The bottom line is that regularly drinking alcohol can harm your health, even if you don’t binge drink or get drunk. All types of alcohol count. One drink equals 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor.” Source
No more beer belly, it doesn’t feel terrible to have a flat belly. I mean, why bust my ass in the gym doing thousands of crunches when I can just keep the useless calories off?
“I have the freedom to be sick and make my personal choices”: Before I used to think, that my health is my business and who gives a shit if I get sick, it’s my body and I can do whatever I want to it. Well, we all do. We all split the cost of our healthcare system and the burden of the cost of the average shitty health of an American is shared by the rest of us. Not only that, it doesn’t just hurt me, people around me that care about me also get impacted when I’m unhealthy, as we all share the pain of each other’s sickness and health.
Better sleep and clarity through the fog
I only noticed this change once I stopped drinking, how my morning-after routine is impacted. Typically fogginess in the morning resulting in sluggish slower movement and though the process. I get out of bed faster, I don’t need to slam a coffee to feel awake, I sleep better and feel more rested. I can’t overemphasize the quality of sleep, I started to notice how much alcohol impacted my sleep until I significantly reduced it. Now when I drink, I can pretty much guarantee a shitty night of sleep, even after drinking lots of water and having a meal.
Depression and anger
The morning after crankiness. This was my man-PMS. Even after 1-2 drinks, I feel underlying unhappiness that is there for no real reason. It’s the same day as any other day, but somehow, there are just more challenges. Things don’t seem to go my way, people annoy me more. I’m more lost in thought and I’m blaming others for how I feel.
“How much happiness do I want to borrow from tomorrow?” This quote from my friend Cameron really hit me on alcohol’s relationship with its depressant qualities.Cameron – OffTheGridCamper.com
How much is our booze habit costing us? How much were we spending?
We were easily spending $1000-$1500 on alcohol alone, fuck that! Let’s put that money to good use.
Quitting our jobs to start our business. Being a CPA and our company’s CFO and financial genius, Julie tracks everything. We knew that if we wanted to start our own business and leave corporate murica one day, we had to make some changes. Then came a simple list of where we were spending our money and having a chat about what we are willing to give up. The rest was easy! Drinking and going out and partying was simply no longer on either one our lists as a top 5 item.
FIRE movement – Financially Independent Retire Early. Do you want to be financially independent or spend the rest of your life ‘’partying’’ to find yourself broke on the other side, that’s all I had to ask myself.
How much are these future health costs going to cost you? What is the financial cost of getting cancer? What is the financial cost of taking daily medications?
“But I work so hard at my stressful job to make money, I should be able to spend it and relax! Yes, you should Reet, but why do you need to work so hard at a stressful job that you hate if you simply don’t spend as much money?”Internal dialogs
Being present for others
There were times that I would go spend weekends with my family and visiting my nephew that I was so hungover that I wasn’t as present as I should have been around them. I absolutely love spending my time with my nephew and nieces, playing outside, being creative, being a good listener, being silly and I SUCK at all of those things when I’m hungover.
The one thing that makes me keep going on this path that I hope to stay on, is this idea of being the change I want to see in others. I am realizing that I want to have happy and healthy relationships with others, I need to be the change first and take all the steps that I can to improve and flourish those relationships. I can’t spend my time worrying about everyone else’s alcohol or party problems if I haven’t cleaned my own house first. Being strong myself allows others to find motivation and making changes in their lives as well.
I hated my drunk uncle, not any specific person, but any drunk adult that would interact with me when I was a child, I do not want to be that person around the next generation.
When I start drinking, it diminishes my willpower towards other things I’ve chosen to avoid or know that they are bad for my health, sweets, late-night pizza (before I was vegan), hangover food. So, the one decision to just have a drink doesn’t just stop there, it ends up snowballing into other decisions that I wouldn’t make with a clear mind.
I’ll add more thoughts here as I try to stay on course, it is not lost on me that there are cycles and phases in life and I know many people that go many years without drinking and then the relationship changes due to a change in life circumstances. Part of the reason I’m writing this article is to document this journey for myself. I didn’t really have a ‘’problem with drinking’’, but why wait to get to a point where we have problems? Why not try to be slightly proactive?
I’m still consuming alcohol and enjoy it when I have it with the right company at the right occasion. On most occasions, Julie and I will actually split a beer if we are really craving it. We drink it slowly and wait to see if we want another one before we order another, most times we don’t. Do I still let loose? Sure, maybe once or twice a year I may intentionally choose to have 2-3 drinks and know that I’ll have a hangover, but those occasions are happening less and less.
March 2020: I’m now averaging around 1 drink a week or less (especially right now during the Coronavirus 2020 quarantine) now and am really happy with this balance. It is down to this, drinking is not an automatic decision now, it’s a conscious, mindful choice to indulge and I’m present while I’m drinking and aware of my decisions. Most times, if I’m feeling slightly slow the next morning because of a drink, I do a quick check-in, realize that I don’t have to let it ruin my day and move on.
If you found this article helpful and want to try this on your own, here are some helpful hacks and podcasts that you may enjoy.
DO NOT LISTEN TO ME.
Try it for yourself, we are all different. Perhaps it won’t have any impact on you.
Some hacks that worked for me to reduce my alcohol consumption, if you’d like to try them:
- Just count them. What you measure you improve.
- This was drilled into me in my head by business books and mentors and it has been one of the best ways to set the baseline. You can only improve from there. Counting your drinks helps you know where you are today.
- Breaking the trigger: The post-ride beer is now a post-ride vegan protein shake, the happy hour is now chai time, the weekend out partying is now a weekend out hiking. You get the idea…There are things that we automatically associate with having a drink, it helped me to break those associations and replace the alcohol with something else that I also enjoy. There is no need to be boring!
- Listen to one year no beer podcast
- Meditate: this has to be the single most impactful method for me to create some space where I can become aware and respond to situations instead of reacting to them. It’s allowed me to have just a long enough pause where I can choose at the moment, whether I want to drink or am I being an automatic robot that always says yes. I used headspace to start, but there are a lot of great options out there now.
- Don’t be automatic – find new activities with friends or find new friends. You may have to break your routine of doing the same thing every night or every weekend. You can’t get your friends to do new activities? Find new friends! You’ll be able to separate your true friends that love you for who you are versus your drinking buddies.
- Find another fun drink that you enjoy, for us, it’s tea or lime sodas. Buy a soda stream or get into making kombucha. You’re not giving up the idea of having a fun refreshing drink that makes you feel good! Many times, I’ll join my friends that are having a drink with a lime soda (summer) or a decaf tea (in the winter)
- Find a partner in crime – share the study with someone and see if they are interested in joining you on a challenge. I’m so lucky to have Julie as a partner and that we can help nudge each other with a gentle reminder or a check-in.
- Do it for the right reasons, you have to want to do it or it won’t work.
- MOST IMPORTANT: Be patient, just keep heading towards the goal. I stumbled, a lot! I still had binge drinking nights in the beginning, I would just refocus and change it in the future instead of being down about my actions. Just keep moving forward and keep making progress. You don’t have to go cold turkey, and you don’t have to stop all together either! Find your own balance.
- Read different points of views from others like this article,
If you enjoyed the read, or even hated it, let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment, calling me, or a postcard before the USPS goes out of business.