Friday, September 19, 2014

30 Days Without Alcohol: The Epilogue



Instead, I'll begin with the facts:

I began my 30-day fast on Wednesday, August 20 after an awful hangover. The 30 days ended yesterday. For 17 days, I didn't have a sip. No beer, no wine, no liquor, no moonshine. Not even a drop of NyQuil or mouthwash.

Then, on September 6 (day 18), a good friend visited from Texas. We made plans to get lunch, attend the Reds game, and eat dinner. My friend enjoys adult beverages, and I decided the morning of his arrival that I would have to break my fast. I adopted the mantra, "Life's too short not to have a beer with your friend who's visiting from Texas." Go ahead and stitch that on a pillow if you'd like.

I felt a bit guilty (because I somehow acquired all of the Catholic guilt without any of the actual Catholicism), but life moved on. I then drank on day 20 (happy hour with my wife), day 24 (UC football game with my wife), day 25 (dinner and drinks with a friend visiting from Columbus), and day 30 (pre-theater dinner with my wife). So, I suppose I technically fasted for 25 of the 30 days. 83 percent ain't bad, right? That's a solid B.

Alcohol isn't evil, but it can certainly ruin lives. I've seen it happen. I also find it ironic that Budweiser is criticizing the NFL for its handling of the Ray Rice situation when alcohol is likely a contributing factor in many domestic violence cases. But that's a rant for another day.

What I learned is that I often drink alcohol without thinking about it. When I don't even really want it. When I'd be happier with a glass of cold water. I have no idea why I robotically have a cocktail at night. It's like fasting from food and realizing how often you eat without being hungry. It's just something to do, I suppose.

So here are my new alcohol rules based on what I learned over the past 30 days. Hopefully I'll stick to them.

1. Liquor is not my friend. Thinking back, almost every nasty hangover (including the recent two) has been liquor-induced. I like a mixed drink as much as the next guy, but never more than one in a sitting. And only special occasions. (Tuesdays are special occasions, right?)

2. Introducing two-drink Steve. When it comes to beer and wine, two drinks is plenty. I've never been hungover after two drinks, so I just need to know when to say when. And I promise not to take advantage of this rule by ordering 36-ounce beers or drinking wine straight from the bottle. That's cheating.

3. 1:1 water ratio. I tried this every time I broke my fast, but my goal is to drink one glass of water for every alcoholic beverage I consume. Water keeps you hydrated and lessens the effects of alcohol, thus reducing the hangover.

4. Make it count. I love having a drink with friends. I have no idea why I sit home in my pajamas and drink a beer. If I'm going to spend the money and destroy my brain cells, I might as well make it count. Happy hour with the wife, Reds game with a buddy, post-golfing beer with my dad, brunch mimosa on vacation, a flask of whiskey in between classes (sarcasm font). Water will suffice while I'm watching reruns of The Golden Girls in my pajamas. But celebrations call for fermentation.

Now let's all hold our glasses high and toast to fasting from alcohol!

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