Thursday, 4 February 2016

My dry spell has ended. Thank you, Donald Trump!

No, I've not slept with Donald Trump. However, that misogynist, racist asshole, who throws his toys out of the pram when he doesn't get his way, has been the perfect incentive for me. And as a result of his influence, I'm healthier and perhaps slightly wiser.

First, the backstory:
I realised back in November that perhaps I was going out and drinking a bit too much. But, the holidays were around the corner, so I carried on and decided that January would be the perfect month to give my liver a break. Many people have 'Dry Januarys' so I wouldn't be alone. But not drinking when you live in the UK is far more difficult than not drinking when you live in the USA or Mexico. Going to the pub is a social expectation here. People meet up at pubs far more than each other's houses or coffee shops. Plus, I have a fantastic local called The Lamb, where the most interesting and creative people I've ever met congregate. It's become a big part of my life, and I find myself there at least once a week if not more. Thus, I knew that this giving up booze for a month thing would not be easy. I needed an incentive to keep me on track.

If you've read my blog in the past, you'll know that I've a history of using my political/ethical beliefs to keep me on the road to meeting goals, so I was a bit surprised that I didn't come up with this idea on my own, but I didn't. The credit goes entirely to my friend, Kellie, who suggested that if I had a drink in January I should have to donate a sum of money to Donald Trump's campaign. Since I had social plans over the first weekend in January, I decided that the 4th of January should be the start date of my dry month. Thus on the 4th of January this was my Facebook status:

As 2015 was the year of indulgence for me, I've decided that 2016 will be the year of good health. Therefore in order to begin, I will not have a drop of alcohol from now up until the 4th of February 2016. If I do have a drink during this time, I will donate £300 to Donald Trump's presidential campaign.

There was no turning back now. Everyone knew I wasn't allowed a drop of alcohol, and the brilliant part of this was that everyone I knew supported me. No one wanted me to give Donald Trump a penny, so no one tried to get me to drink. If I was getting pressured to have a drink, I would explain my incentive, and they would quickly offer to buy me something non-alcoholic. In fact, I have yet to actually meet someone who supports Donald Trump. If those people really exist, they do not live in the UK.

Second, the results and realisations from my dry month:

-I slept better!
I am normally quite the night owl, but found myself going to bed at more reasonable hours and then sleeping straight through the night. When I was out late, my sleep that night was sound. I didn't wake up early and stare at the ceiling feeling like crap having to guzzle down a pint of water.

-My resting heart rate dropped!
This surprised me a bit. I received a Fitbit Charge HR for Christmas and began to wear it immediately. My resting heart rate at that time was at 68bpm as an average before I started my dry month. It's now at 62bpm. For one week my average was 60bpm. This means my heart doesn't need to work as hard when I'm not drinking. Granted, I'm also exercising a bit more (see below), so that also might have something to do with it.

-I was more productive at work on the days after I went out with friends!
I was still social. I still went to The Lamb and did other things on various school nights. I just didn't drink. As a result, I was far more productive at work on the days following. I am always active and alert when I teach, so that remained the same. It's the prep time where my productivity increased. I didn't find myself staring off into space in the middle of a task, and as a result I ended up doing more at work and brought less work home.

-Weekend mornings are far more enjoyable!
This one really needs no explanation.

-I wasn't as socially anxious as I expected I'd be!
Social anxiety is probably the reason I started drinking in the first place. I have always been nervous in social situations, but after a few drinks I am intelligent, funny, and beautiful and don't care what people think. Sometimes my desire to be intelligent, funny, and beautiful would go a bit too far. The best example of this is my one and only real blackout when I was a student at Michigan State University. My friend, who was an active member of the Democratic Party, asked me to accompany him to the Governor's Christmas party. He was also helping secure a role as an intern on The Governor's Cabinet Council for Human Investment, so attending this party would be to my benefit. Since I was so nervous, I drank far too much. My last memory of that evening is clinging to my friend's arm barely able to stand while trying to have a conversation with a group of people that included Governor Blanchard.  Fortunately, my friend was tuned in enough to get me out of there, and I still somehow ended up with the internship. It's what my housemates told me I did when I got home that makes me cringe. Sorry, but I'm not going to relate it here. If you run into me in the real world, ask.
Anyway, since that time I must have grown in confidence because while I was out socially this past month, I discovered that I am already intelligent, funny, and beautiful and really don't care what people think. I no longer need alcohol to make me these things.

-I have just as much fun with my friends who are drinking when I'm sober!
Oh the laughter that happens when we share a few drinks. So many funny things are said that sometimes we laugh so hard we cry, and guess what? Those funny things are still said, and they're still just as funny. Plus, the goofier my friends became when they drank, the goofier I was. I still had a great time. I just didn't feel like poo the next morning.

-It was easier to exercise!
This one is a no-brainer. Cycling long distances on the weekend (30 miles +) is a lot easier if you haven't had a few drinks the night before. It's also easier to drag yourself to an exercise class during the week if you didn't have that glass or two of wine with dinner the previous evening.

-I ate better!
And it was easier to do so. There were no impulsive stops for 'cheesy chips' on my way home from the pub, no hangover pizza orders, and less cravings for cake (although the cake cravings were still strong, just not overpowering).

-And finally, my favourite thing... I LOST 9.5 pounds!!!!!

So today my dry month ends. Will I remain a teetotaller?
Hell no! I like the taste of alcohol, particularly whiskey and bourbon. I miss occasional overpriced cocktails, and I enjoy wine with dinner. Plus, it's just nice having a few drinks with friends at the end of the week. However, I do not intend to return to the level of drinking I was at in November. I feel much better now than I did then, so I still intend to use good old Donald as an incentive to keep healthy. Tomorrow I shall post the following on Facebook:

As Donald Trump helped me achieve my dry goal for the month of January, I will continue using him to guide me in healthy choices. With the exception of one day a week and when I'm travelling on holiday, I will, as accurately as I can, track my calories every day on My Fitness Pal from now until the 17th of June, 2016. If I do not do this, I will have to donate £300 to that man's presidential campaign.

But tonight I'm off out to celebrate my achievement of a month of sobriety with a few drinks.

So, thanks Donald! The fact that you're such a twat has been truly inspiring.

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