It seems autumn is the season of self-punishment for the gluttons. We try to quit smoking, we push ourselves above and beyond our paces in charity runs, and some of us try to take the path of teetotalism. Self-confessed whiskey aficionado and lover of Pinot Grigio that I am, it seemed logical to register myself as a participant in Sober October, a charity drive set up by Macmillan Cancer Support for anyone strong enough to give up the booze to raise money. Motivation wasn’t hard to find on Facebook.
After a final beer, or seven, with some mates on September 30th, I dedicated myself to clean living and so far I’ve been totally, absolutely fine (I swear). I feel inspired going into my last week. Granted, I’ve only raised £38 at time of writing – I know there’s more to come when I actually prove I can do it for the 31 days – but I realise every penny counts. The charity is close to me so I’m fulfilled enough in knowing I’m going to succeed in the challenge. What I didn’t realise was that there would be many other ways in which Sober October would personally benefit me:
1) Giving up booze alone will dramatically improve your health
The natter of empty calories and damage to your liver often swirls in my mind, but then it kindly drips away into the abyss of self-denial, to live with my dreams that one day I’ll marry Bradley Cooper and that I’ll suit blonde hair. Doing teetotalism properly has forced me to confront the truth: I drank too much. My diet’s hardly one to be proud of and I’ve only recently took up running again, so how have I managed to lose over half a stone? Stunned by the achievement, I thought I’d do research into how booze affects the body and I was taken aback. It turns out I could have lost half the weight I have just from retaining less water, since alcohol causes the salt levels to rise. Regular alcohol consumption also puts pressure on the heart, which might explain why my running times have had a big improvement recently and why I don’t get a stitch any more. However, the one bit of research that really gave me a wake up call was calorie content. My favourite bottles of Blossom Hill are 700 calories each. 700! No wonder my belly’s shrunk.
2) You realise how much more likeable you are when you aren’t drunk
We’re all a type of ‘drunk’ and unfortunately for me I’m the embarrassing type. I fall over a lot, I mouth off, I have ‘accidents’ and a recent one to add to the list is that I also climb out of windows (I don’t condone this, by the way). I’d often wake up full of regret, not because of the hangovers or the fun moments I can remember, but the stupid, pointless things I did after The Point of No Return. People like to say it doesn’t matter, but it does. Your drunken moments are ghosts to forever haunt you and being away from the drink has made me realise I can avoid them. The problem before was that I relied on drink as a liquid confidence. I couldn’t talk to people until after a couple of glasses. Now that I’ve had to go without, I’ve been forced to learn, and it turns out sober me is okay. Sober me can hold conversations and crack jokes in the pub or bar. Being more confident without the booze will hopefully stop me reaching The Point of No Return in the future. It’s not rock and roll, but it’s nice to feel capable and responsible for yourself from time to time.
3) The money you save isn’t as much as you’d think
I know, a negative point! Obviously you save on shop bought drinks, but unless you solely drink water when at a bar, the soft drinks market doesn’t really keep you in pocket. A 250ml serving of a soft drink compared to an alcoholic one isn’t even a quid cheaper in most cases. Some soft drinks served at bars, if you like to go Skyrack a lot anyway, are more expensive than a standard pint and unfortunately they were the ones I liked. Why could I just not like Coke? Why?
So what am I going to take from my month of sobriety? A lot less alcohol to pre-drinks, for one. My tolerance to alcohol will have greatly reduced and I intend to keep it at a low level. As a third year with deadlines coming up I don’t think I’m going to get much opportunity to build it back up anyway, but those weekend feelings are hard to resist! If I’ve learnt anything, it’s that I’m not invincible. I’m only young but my drinking habits were already taking a noticeable effect on me. From now on I will be a little bit more mindful of what I’m chugging back during Ring of Fire.
First one is my own photo
Other three are from giphy.com