I’ve mostly cut alcohol out of my life since the start of this year, other than the occasional spree when a friend’s having a party and something tasty and refreshing is on offer. I’m past the point where I feel a need to drink to fit in, or have a good time – goodbye University! – and I’m 95% of the way to being able to go to a bar and order a diet Coke without an overwhelming feeling of shame and emasculation.
It’s partly a health thing, and partly related to the fact that I just wasn’t happy meeting someone for the fourth time and having no recollection of them, or having no memory of the night between 2am and waking up the next morning. The final reason is that, with three hours of Capoeira on Saturday and Sunday, together with a two-hour session once or twice during the week, I simply can’t afford to be hungover and dehydrated. My latest novelty is Bikram Yoga (90 minutes in a room heated to ~105°F/40°C with a humidity of 40%), which I’m aiming to do for 30 days straight – 3 down so far – and less frequently thereafter, and I think I’d pass out if I tried that after a night out.
There are two downsides I’ve found so far to sobriety. The first is that I’m essentially (self-)excluded from certain events: such as those with a high entry-fee and ‘free drinks’, or day-drinking events (such as St. Patrick’s Day in NY) when I’d quickly realise the drunk guy hugging me and telling me he loves me isn’t The Best Guy Ever but just some idiot with a hip-flask. The second, much worse downside, has been that I’m now acutely aware of exactly how long it takes to get home at the end of a night, rather than nodding off happily drunk on the subway or in a cab.
On the plus side, physically, I feel great; mentally I feel a lot more alert and active; and socially I feel exactly as awkward as I did before, but with the advantage that no-one now knows me as ‘the guy who…’ from some ill-advised drunken escapade. Also, Mint.com – previously the bane of my life with its 7am “You have exceeded your budget for alcohol & bars” message the worst complement to a hangover – tells me I’m saving a surprisingly large amount of money per month, which is always fun.
I’m by no means converted to the hippy ‘your body is a temple’ mentality (I love bacon too much, for starters), but I am completely sold on the benefits of drinking rarely, eating healthy and exercising a lot.