Every January I resolve to scale back on consuming alcohol for a while to detox my body after the holidays. When I say “awhile”, I mean a couple of weeks.
During this past year, I noticed a pattern in my alcohol consumption. If I was meeting friends, there was always a cocktail. If I was at a social event, I had a glass of champagne in hand. Even at home with dinner, I had a glass of wine while cooking, or with dinner. I wasn’t getting drunk, nor do I consider that a problem with alcohol. I considered it the norm for anyone of drinking age to incorporate libations in social events, gatherings with family and friends, and to relax at the end of the day. But it did begin to weigh on me when I realized that I was pouring a glass of wine every time I sat down to watch Netflix.
I didn’t plan to be dry the entire month of January, but what happened was unexpected and a lot easier that I thought. As the first week rolled into the second, and third, there was a shift in my life…and I loved it….
YOUR YOGA PRACTICE WILL CHANGE ~ Does your brain feel dull or confused during yoga? Do you feel lethargic and unmotivated? If I had a couple of glasses of wine the night before a yoga class, the thought of sweating it out in a hot yoga studio was very unmotivating. I was tired and foggy. Savasana was the only pose that I looked forward to. Remove the alcohol and you will find your yoga practice improves and becomes more consistent. You make it to the studio 3-4 times per week and you push yourself a little harder in your practice.
YOU LOOK BETTER~ Okay I was going to say “younger” but that’s a stretch! No more puffy face and eyes, and dark circles in the morning. Alcohol dehydrates your body and depletes nutrients from your skin, and here I was slathering expensive creams and serums on my face and neck every night, fighting a battle that I was making worse!
YOU SLEEP BETTER~ And you’ll get up and go to yoga in the morning! I used to think a nightcap helped me sleep better, but I was actually tossing and turning and up half the night. You wake up feeling rested and ready to take on your day!
YOUR GYM WORKOUTS IMPROVE~Alcohol can limit the metabolism of other substances in the body, particularly carbohydrates, which means muscle glycogen levels are limited. Your body has to burn through the alcohol first. Fatigue sets in earlier in your workout, making you feel tired and sluggish. It’s hard to improve on speed, strength and endurance. I’ve always been a “gym rat”, you never had to twist my arm to work out. I feel stronger and have more energy to put toward my strength training goals.
YOU EAT HEATHIER AND DRINK MORE WATER~ I do eat healthy, but I noticed that when I had a drink in hand I was nibbling a lot on cheese and gluten-free crackers, chips and salsa, a bite of dark chocolate here and there. In the morning, I reached for coffee first. Now when I wake up I have a cup of hot lemon water and I want to eat breakfast before I have any caffeine. And I don’t want as much coffee anymore. I want water! I crave fruits and veggies all day, and water! Eating healthy consistently is so much easier.
YOU NOTICE A CHANGE IN YOUR BODY~ All of those glasses of wine with dinner, margaritas on girl’s night out, and champagne at brunch are filled with empty calories and sugar. You’ll create a calorie deficit by replacing booze with water, and you might lose a few pounds.
YOU HAVE MORE ENERGY~Ever look at your to-do list and get pissed off? When you wake up after a good night’s sleep and no brain fog, you’ll hit the ground running and blow through that to-do list like a boss. And you want to make it to yoga practice, hit the gym, plan your meals for the week, and prep your food. See how it all works together?
YOU BECOME NICER~ Or maybe more pleasant is a better way of putting it. I think I’m a nice person, but I realized that I have more self-awareness and it’s improved my relationships. It’s not always all about me. Having more compassion and empathy feels really good.
So there you have it. As dry January comes to a close, I can say with the utmost honesty that I still LOVE my glass of wine with my girlfriends. And my cranberry vodka with a splash of lime while relaxing on the deck with my Handsome. And my margarita no salt with my chips and salsa. Is this a permanent change for me? I’m not sure. But for now I’m loving the way I feel.