For the month of January, <3M and I gave up drinking, marking it a Dry January. Here’s what I learned during the month and the positive health changes that followed.
My decision to have a Dry January was not at all because <3M and I think we have a drinking problem, it was more just as a reset and a personal challenge. We saw Dry January as a fun health experiment and a way to save a bunch of money because we often go out for weekday happy hours and weekend meals that includes a few expensive rounds of drinks.
Now that January’s come to an end, I thought I’d share a few of the things I learned during Dry January and some of the positive health changes I noticed by cutting back my vino.
I found other ways to ‘wine down’ after work.
Before, it’d be a glass of wine while making dinner or mindlessly sipping on a glass of wine while I pounded out a few more work emails at the end of the night. It definitely wasn’t relaxing. In place of this, I started more self-care and found other ways to ease into my evening.
- Spending with the dogs. I spent a lot more time with the pups, playing with them and their toys, cuddling, and longer, slower walks while listening to audiobooks.
- Coloring. Yup, adult coloring books. My mom gave me this one and a set of markers for Christmas, and I’ve really enjoyed coloring.
- Reading. Not so many books but more magazines as I relaxed at night. I’m finally taking advantage of that Amazon Prime membership that includes digital magazines from Kindle.
My skin began to glow!
Less alcohol had a serious impact on my skin and I’m really loving the change.
- Without alcohol, I’m drinking more water.
- As a result, I’ve noticed a difference in my complexion. My skin simply looks cleaner and less red. I also have fewer lines — probably because I’m truly hydrated.
Improved stomach health with fewer aches and pains.
I’ve always had stomach issues but by avoiding alcohol in January, I experienced fewer stomach pains than normal. I’m not 100% sure if this is due to the lack of alcohol but it’s the only big change in my diet.
- I’ve also been drinking lots of kombucha which is full of good for you probiotics that may have contributed to my improved stomach health.
- Again, because I was well-hydrated all month long, the extra water may have helped with digestion and to flush any bad bacteria from my gut.
- And overall (maybe a bit of an overshare) I definitely experienced less bloating. And, funny enough, I got my 23andme results back this month and learned I have a slight intolerance to gluten, so this wasn’t too surprising that once I cut out beer (which is filled with gluten and I also naturally eat a low-gluten diet) my stomach aches decreased.
Better sleep quality where I slept deeper and dreamt more.
Before I was restless — either ridiculously tired but not able to sleep through the night or I had trouble falling asleep.
- Now I’m falling asleep much more easily. Usually with 15-20 minutes of heading to bed!
- I’ve had deeper sleep accompanied by vivid dreams since forgoing alcohol. Prior to January, I can’t remember having a lot of dreams but this month, I dreamt A LOT. Very vivid, deep dreams, probably because I finally hit REM sleep for an extended period of time.
- I’m waking feeling more rested and am more alert throughout the day. I also feel like my body clock has adjusted to a regular wake and sleep time without the alcohol stimulant so it’s become more natural.
Increased my workout intensity throughout the month.
I work out 4-5 days a week, depending on my schedule. Sometimes my workouts weren’t 100% and I felt like I was phoning it in, but this month all of my workouts felt strong and like I was making the most of my time.
- I’ve felt a true difference in my workout stamina and ability to sustain a greater intensity during workouts – likely a byproduct of quality sleep and recovery.
- As a result, I’m lifting heavier weights than in the months prior. I believe this is a result of better hydration and rest days truly being rest days allowing my muscles to repair themselves without having to process alcohol and soaking in the deeper sleep.
We fattened our wallets.
Saving money was a guaranteed outcome of participating in Dry January.
- <3M and I spent more time in the kitchen cooking at home. It was quality time and gave us something different to do together. It also became something we both looked forward to each evening (or at least I did!).
- I learned to enjoy happy hours while drinking Topo-Chico which helped me concentrate more on the people and conversation.
- Although we saved money, <3M and I still ate out but we transitioned to day-dates on Saturdays or Sundays and I loved it! It was such a treat to go out in the middle of the day for a nice meal — and it was still affordable because we weren’t dropping money on drinks.
Now that the month’s over, I thought I’d be eager to start drinking again but the truth is, I love the lifestyle changes that came with Dry January and it’s something I’ll keep in mind throughout the rest of the year — possibly choosing to drink only when I truly feel like it.
So rather than jumping to pour a glass of wine on February 1st, maybe I’ll at least hold off until February 2nd to cheers my Dry January success.
Have you ever challenged yourself to a dry month? What did you learn from the experience, was it similar to mine?