Thursday, June 9, 2011

The 30 Day Challenge - Final Thoughts

As I mentioned before, I ended the 30 Day Challenge at 27 days.  I have to admit, I was pretty disappointed in myself for choosing to end it early.  I mean, I felt like I failed.  At the same time, it was really hard going as long as I did without having a single drop of alcohol.  I had friends that couldn't believe how I stuck hard to the plan through certain nights out where I would've been drinking.  It was nice to have their support and hear that they were proud of me. 

Here are some final observations:
  • Depriving yourself of something that you love for no reason at all is downright torture.
  • I lost 2 pounds.  Woo hoo!
  • My average restaurant check was way down when I chose to dine alone.  When I went out with friends I still ended up splitting the bill equally just out of convenience.  Besides, I'm sure there has been times where my friends have paid for a bourbon or two of mine.  What goes around comes around.
  • My monthly credit card bill was actually higher than usual.  This can be attributed to using not drinking as a justification to spend money elsewhere.  Flight to the Bahamas to see my cousin from Arizona for a few days?  Sure, I'm not spending on alcohol!  New shoes that I don't need?  Sure, I'm saving by not drinking! 
  • I got a few more things done on the weekends than I normally do.  I still need to get back into playing golf.  I miss that a lot but paddleboarding has taken it's place as a weekend activity, most likely because it's free for me.  Getting more active is something else I need to do and will likely be a 30 Day Challenge in the near future.
  • I was a tad spicy while I was on off the booze.  Little things annoyed me more than they usually would and I would be quick to point them out.  It probably was because I was on edge from sticking to my challenge even when I knew I could quit at any time.
  • I gained a lot of perspective.  As much as I enjoy having a bourbon when I come home from work, it's really not something I have to do every day.  And on the days that I do partake in an after work drink, it's ok if it stops at just one and I head home.  The night after I made my triumphant return to drinking I came home and drank club soda instead of having a bourbon.
  • Speaking of my return to bourbon...  I think karma punished me for ending a few days early.  I went up to West Palm Beach for my cousin's "Gentlemen's Night" where we ate like kings, enjoyed some bourbons and cigars, and then headed out for a night on the town.  We got back to my buddy's house late at night and were lounging outside talking and all ended up falling asleep outside.  My hands and face were exposed to any mosquito or bug that wanted to chow down and apparently I taste pretty fucking good because I woke up the next day with about 15 bug bites on my face and hands.  Just today they are finally starting to go away.  Next time I'll finish the 30 days!
In the end, I was proud of myself for learning that I could go without alcohol if I had to.  I survived live sporting events, playoff games at bars, Memorial Day Weekend, and a couple of road trips without drinking.  These are all occasions where I usually have a couple pops.  I gave up something that I love and learned that it's also something I respect.  I'm not a drinker because I enjoy getting smashed.  I enjoy spirits, or really bourbon.  I enjoy the history behind it being discovered, the process by which it is made, the various roles it has played throughout history, the flavors it contains and the fact that it is the only spirit classified as a distinct product of the United States of America.  I enjoy talking about bourbon with others, as evidenced last night when I dropped serious knowledge while enjoying a happy hour bourbon at Michael's Genuine. 

I liked the 30 Day Challenge idea though and it's not to say that I won't quit alcohol again for 30 days some other time.  Uh, wait a minute...  I probably won't do that again but maybe I'll quit during the week or something.  I've already moved onto a new 30 Day Challenge - no fried food for the month of June.  I thought it would be real easy but damn is it hard!  Nowhere near as hard as quitting my love of bourbon though.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The 30 Day Challenge - Thoughts After 24 Days

Wow.  It's hard to believe I've gone 24 straight days without one drop of alcohol.  I've stayed true the entire time, never once sneaking a drink while alone at home or on the road.  It's not like there hasn't been any temptation.  Sitting on the couch with Dad watching TV one late Saturday afternoon as he sipped a bourbon was tough but I managed.  Being out in social situations where other people were drinking was tough but I held a firm grip on my iced tea or club soda or that first O'Doul's.  Congratulating my cousin and his wife on having their first child and not being able to sip a celebratory bourbon with him while having a cigar was downright torture.  But I stuck to the plan.  Here are some observations since my last update:

  • While I appreciate the concern when friends feel bad when they drink around me, it gets a tad annoying.  I'm undergoing this challenge for me, not you, so do whatever you want.  If I didn't think I could handle it I wouldn't go out in the first place.
  • I've noticed I'm a little more short with people.  I'm not sure if that's the absence of alcohol or just me or maybe both.  I think when I have a drink I'm a little more relaxed and subdued and little annoying things that people say or do are easier to ignore.
  • I had a great night out with friends in West Palm Beach, doing dinner and then catching some live music at a bar.  Live music definitely helps one forget about not drinking alcohol and this band was great.
  • Lots of people are impressed that I've made it this far and I've really appreciated their support and positive comments.
  • The #1 most annoying question that I've really had enough of hearing: "So, you're gonna get wasted the day you're able to drink again, right?"  No, I'm not.
  • Not drinking has been pretty depressing at times.  Not because I miss the alcohol, or the buzz, or the flavor but because of the social impacts.  Sitting at a bar drinking a bourbon is something that I really enjoy.  Sitting at the bar drinking iced tea or club soda just isn't the same.  I find I'm asking myself, "What the hell am I doing here?  I could be doing this at home."  I feel like I don't belong there and then I go home.  Maybe all that sounds silly to people and I can understand that I guess.  It probably is silly.  At the same time, it's a hobby, a pastime, an interest that I'm denying myself of for really no reason at all besides mere curiosity.  That sucks.
I will give full disclosure on one final item of importance.  I will be ending my challenge, or at least taking a timeout from it for one day, on Saturday.  That will be day 28.  Why end it early?  My cousin is having a formal get together for his newborn baby girl to hang with the guys and there will be a bourbon tasting.  I don't get to see my cousin often and I passed on toasting his new child my last visit so I will be participating on Saturday.  After 28 days at that point, another 2 days ain't really gonna make a whole helluvalotta difference anyways.  That's not to say that I will have a drink on Sunday or Monday.  Maybe I won't?  That's something I'll be discussing in the next post at the conclusion of this journey.  Until then, the no-alcohol beat goes on...