To drink or not to drink: The low down on my Feb Fast experience
Just finished FebFast (FF) and feeling like a million bucks? You may have increased overall vitality and saved a few additional pennies across the month, but was it all worth it?
To support my partner with his gut health, we decided to jump onboard and become Sober Sally’s this February, as part of a great charity FF that raises funds for young disadvantaged Australians. FF encourages people to “pause for a cause” by forfeiting alcohol for 30 days, however giving up that after work beer or weekend wine is a huge ask, especially over Summer where many social scenarios provide the perfect opportunity to enjoy a drink. I didn’t think the goal was going to be that challenging Monday to Friday, as neither of us drink during the week at home. However, I pre-empted any social setting across the weekends would be the biggest hurdle. It was time to give our bodies a break from boozy weekends and completely reset.
I kicked off Feb 1st with a soda water or 10 a friends welcoming home. This was a piece of cake. I was super excited to be starting the challenge off and happy to have a whole weekend of activities ahead of me, that would not be slowed down by the effects of too many drinks the night prior. I should proudly point out that I has already been sober for a week leading up to February.
Week two on the other hand was hard. We away for the weekend for a family birthday and alcohol formed part of the celebrations. I didn’t want to continue drinking soda waters any more. The additional slice of lime really wasn’t sprucing things up for me either. God I was hydrated, but if I drank any more soda, I think I could have exploded. I was craving the sweet bubble taste of a cold champagne and the feeling you get when you’re two drinks in and you’re super relaxed. A virgin mojito was where it was at which saw me through to the end of the night!
At the halfway point, I started to recognise a trend of when I felt like a drink. After a busy work week, I always feel so stressed and whether it’s 1 drink or many to finish the week off, it always provided a sense of relief. This got me thinking about my relationship with alcohol. Was it healthy or unhealthy? I could confirm that I liked that taste and the resulting relaxed state it put you in, but I didn’t like that drinking in excess was often used as band aid to supress my emotions and I certainly did not like the associated hangover. I can’t say I’ve met a person who does! I didn’t like the truth and it was here I made a promise to myself to drink responsibly, stick to a drink limit and don’t drink when I’m not in the right state of mind.
I thought the Saturday evening of week three was going to be another challenge as we had friends who were also doing FF staying with us down the coast. I honestly thought it was a matter of time before someone cracked. We were all pretty ready to enjoy each other’s company as per usual over a bottle of wine however this weekend was different. The alcohol-free Mojito recipe from the week before came in handy.
The final weekend was a breeze. I was feeling so good by this point and was far from even thinking about a drink at the girl’s dinner. My cravings had completely diminished, nothing would be able to tempt me! Although a wine too many can get you to sleep quicker, I found my quality of sleep was better without it and I didn’t have weird dreams. My body was less inflamed, my stomach was flatter, my cognitive function had improved and of high significance, no hangovers or associated anxiety. This meant having more time to spend at home doing things I often push to the side. My liver and skin were also super thankful that I had removed additional toxicity from my body. On the contrary, there was some Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) on the rare occasion. I felt as though I was eating more to compensate on the deprivation. I don’t weight myself so I can’t comment on weight fluctuations, however my clothes weren’t feeling as lose by the end of it. Too many sides of chips with my grilled fish, I think!
My top tips for going 1-month booze free:
1) If you’re worried not drinking will make you stand out at a birthday or event, a mocktail is the perfect cover up. I don’t drink much soft drink, but I figured if I’m missing out on a glass of wine a sugary beverage is not going to kill me. For a healthier alternative, try a soda water with lime, fresh berries and cucumber - no one will question you and who’s to say you even have to tell people you aren’t drinking!
2) Still be social – just because you’re not drinking doesn’t mean you have to miss out seeing your family and friends. An added bonus is the money you’ll save on drinks and Ubers if you still attend and opt to be the designated driver.
3) Make the most of your Sunday. My new Sunday comprised of getting up early then smashing out a workout before brunch with friends. My afternoon was filled by a weekly food shopping and meal prepping before enjoying the rest of the day to do anything else. Impossible to get all this done, if you’re lying in bed all day.
4) Find a friend, family member or partner to do FF (or any month of no drinking) with. This was you’ll stay accountable every step of the way. At one point I was ready to cave but my inner ego told me I had to outlast the other person.
5) Ease your way back into drinking – alcohol is highly toxic and cannot be stored in the body, thus needs to be metabolised prior to any carbohydrates, fat and protein circulating from a meal. Only one standard drink of alcohol/hour can be processed by our body, so when we have multiple drinks it can make us feel worse for wear the next day. Throwing all those unwanted toxins into your body again s going to put it into shock!
Thank goodness February was a short month this year. 28 days of no drinking was achievable, but I enjoy a drink socially with friends across the weekend too much to give it up all together or go prolonged periods without it. The handful of drinks I consumed the weekend post FF had me feeling far from my best, so I can safely say that sometimes going without it can make all the difference.