For the past few years, I’ve done a sober January challenge. Every year people give me a hard time about it and ask me why I’m doing it; basically, I do it as a personal challenge, so I don’t get soft. I want to challenge myself to be a bit healthier, and to challenge the (bad) habit of having drinks every weekend. It’s also a good reset after a holiday season of excess (this year wasn’t too bad), and it saves a bit of money. Usually the effort is combined with more careful calorie counting than has been observed in December, with the ultimate goal of shedding a few extra pounds and feeling a bit better physically.
This year’s experiment has been pretty easy. I’ve had a few evenings where a drink with coworkers, or a glass of whiskey sounds like the perfect cure for my anxiety, stress, or boredom, but I’ve stuck to my guns, and reinforced for myself that there are healthier ways to deal with stress and anxiety.
Maybe it’s because I’m cutting the sober month short on the 21st (because we’re heading off for vacation), but I’ve enjoyed how easy it’s been so far. Likewise, it’s been surprisingly easy to reduce my eating; usually when I make an effort to cut my appetite I’m somewhat miserable with hunger (and a bit whiny about it). I feel a momentum building that I believe will continue through the vacation and beyond… I often *say* one of my goals is physical fitness, and I think this year I might actually get to the point where I feel fit. The combo of a better diet and my goal of riding 1,500 on bicycle this year (currently at 87 miles so far this month!) will hopefully prove effective.
Other benefits of sober January:
- I usually suffer with heartburn a few days per week – cutting out alcohol has all but eliminated this issue
- I’ve lost 6-7 pounds in a little over 2 weeks
- weekends seem a bit longer – if I don’t have a drink or 2 at 6pm on Saturday, then I’m less prone to sitting on the couch doing nothing for the remainder of the evening (last night I was busy installing a few programmable thermostats instead of drinking)
- I’m more likely to get up early and get out cycling on the weekend (I rode to the grocery store this morning)
- My hair is growing back! Just kidding, unfortunately I’m pretty certain that I’m genetically cursed with thin hair and early onset baldness :(
I have another week to go before my abbreviated sober month ends, and I am hoping to lose a few more pounds and really cement my resolve to continue through the next year with some healthier habits. Do you ever challenge yourself with periods of sobriety or deprivation? What are your results?
[featured image: Alan Levine]