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Let’s talk booze, shall we?

So it’s a little belated because we’re already almost a week into the Lenten season but B and I have decided to give up alcohol for Lent. So we toasted to each other one last time over a glass of red wine last week and have been drying ourselves out ever since.

Why give up alcohol? A few reasons actually…

1) For starters, although we don’t really drink all that much to begin with, I think we tend to drink if it’s around. Let’s be real, East Lansing (home of my alma mater Michigan State University) is definitely a drinking/college town and Lansing isn’t far behind it with the local political scene. We both feel like we end up drinking more than we need or want to without even realizing it because so many activities around here revolve around drinking or take place in bars. I honestly can’t remember the last time we were out drinking at the bars all night but there sure are a lot of after work happy hours and receptions to contend with. Basically we’re trying to weed out the unnecessary drinking in our lives.

2) Expanding on point #1 a bit… I got to thinking a few weeks ago that I don’t know if I’ve gone 40 days without having a drop of alcohol since I turned 21 years old. That’s not to say I drink heavily… I’m sure my college friends would tell you I was usually the most sober of our group when we went out because I am a big worrier and don’t like that out of control feeling that comes with getting too drunk. I was always happy to be the “Mom” when we went out and look after everyone. That’s not to say I’m an angel, but the point is I think my liver could use a break. I don’t think it’s necessarily a problem that I haven’t taken a 40 day break from drinking in a few years, rather, the issue is drinking just because it’s there and everyone else is doing it. How many glasses of wine have I had just so I’d have something in my hand at a reception to or to loosen up a bit in a social setting? Countless. In my line of work it kind of comes with the territory. Everyone is so enthusiastic about and accepting of drinking and you really can get razzed a bit if you abstain.

3) Health. If you’ve read my blog you know I’m already a pretty health-conscious person and I’m really working hard to get in better shape physically. More than anything, I’m curious to see whether abstaining from alcohol for 40 days (or more, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it) will have any significant impact on my fitness routine. How big an impact does alcohol have on my fitness goals and results? Will I have more energy? Strength? Stamina? Will I recover faster? Will it affect my measurements and weight? Will I be more toned? I’m not sure, but I will be paying very close attention to those things over the next month or so.

4) What role will alcohol play in my life in the long run? Over the last several years I’ve been on quite a journey with regard to my health. Among other things, I’ve quit smoking, started eating more of a whole foods/non-gmo/organic diet, been vegan for a couple years, raw for a couple months, tried many new fitness endeavors (yoga, running, walking, pilates, weight lifting, hiking, etc.) and the list goes on. Every time I experiment with something new, I really try to take what works for me and fits well in my life and leave what doesn’t.

For example, B and I ate almost entirely raw for a few months last year. It was both interesting and challenging. Ultimately I found it to be too restrictive, unbalanced and dogmatic for my liking. (Plus I’m not convinced it’s the healthiest way to eat… as some would argue.) That said, I do believe there was a huge benefit to submerging myself into the raw lifestyle for a few months. It really opened my eyes to what my diet had been lacking, namely raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, etc. And because I had to learn how to prepare so many raw dishes in order to feed both myself and B every day, our diet now has even more variety and balance. It really helped us to weed out a lot of overly processed and nutrient-deficient foods which we then replaced with foods abundant in vitamins and minerals.

Actually, that’s been the main theme in my life in the last few years, gradually getting rid of that which isn’t doing me any good, whatever the case may be, and replacing it with things, people, activities, habits and thoughts that are good for me. Which brings me back to alcohol. I have very mixed feelings about it. On the one hand I think it’s fine in moderation and truly enjoy a glass of red wine to relax after a long day. My grandma has a glass herself almost every day. “Good for the heart” she says. On the other hand, do I really need it? I spent 21 years not indulging in a glass of red after a long day, and got along just fine. I’m not sure about this one just yet… but maybe I’ll have more insight at the end of these 40 days.

What about you?
What are your feelings on abstinence/alcohol issue?

Did you give anything up for Lent?
What have you weeded out of your life?

Cheers! 🙂

-S

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