I love wine! We all know I love wine, for Pete’s sake. Wine has been present in my life every weekend for years. You know how people can’t live without sugar, I can’t live without wine. I, myself, can’t believe I am writing about how I stopped drinking wine for a month, or the fact that I’m doing it (it is merely Day 10 without wine as I’m writing this paragraph), or that I actually did it. So if you have recovered from the shock of this turn of events in my life, welcome back and keep on reading.
I believe I do not have a problem. I think I just created this bad habit drinking wine every weekend. However, there are 2 types of wine drinkers:
#1. Like Alex – who doesn’t care if it’s Saturday and he is not drinking wine.
#2. Like Olena – who at the words “no wine” on a Saturday night gets these big eyes and a broken heart.
Being a very self conscious and honest person with my own self, I have been thinking about above mentioned facts lately. I know I’m more “addicted” to wine than my husband, even though I have a full right because I’m a mother. I am a mom drinker, I know many other mom drinkers, however I have known and know enough people who overuse alcohol. “Who am I?” question has been bugging me lately (I would be lying if I said a month in Mexico had nothing to do with this decision). I believe some people have more addictive personality, and some lesson before mentioned. I’m in the middle. I quit smoking, I stopped eating processed foods, I can exercise. So, I can do it if I want to. But do I have a problem with not drinking wine?
After coming back from Mexico where we have been moderately drinking every day, I had a feeling deep inside of me that I need to cut back. I swear I didn’t Google anything but one night this post popped up on Pinterest. I have read it with big interest and it made me think about my own relationship with wine. Completely unprepared and scared to quit alcohol for a year, I decided just to stop drinking without an occasion, which in a few days turned into not drinking for 30 days challenge, and later on into a crazy desire to document and share this journey with you. As I am “growing up”, I’m “cleaning up” my life. I have tackled the diet issue (almost), I’m pretty content with materialistic things I have, I am dealing with “skeletons” in my closet, and now I feel like I need to sort out my relationship with alcohol.
My Relationship with Wine
- Frequency: Not every night, about 3-4 times a week. Writing this down alone is shocking.
- Amount: 1-2 glasses or about half a bottle.
- Occasion: Friday because it is Friday, hello?! Saturday because it is Saturday, hello again?! Sunday because tomorrow is Monday, ugh! During the week because it was a hard day, sure! Vacation – every day because it is vacation. You get the idea.
- Weight: The biggest bad ass reason to cut back on alcohol is my growing ass. YES! No matter how healthy I eat, how much I work out, if I keep drinking this much, it is equivalent to running on a hamster wheel. Unless I work out every day like crazy which I do not feel like doing at ALL.
- Energy: Alcohol makes me tired, even 2 glasses of wine make me way less productive the evening of drinking and the day after.
- Headache: Wine gives me a headache. 1 glass is OK but truth is who stops at a 5 oz glass?! No, let me rephrase – what mom pours 5 oz in a first glass?! Fun is just beginning and I have to stop?! Are you crazy?
- Sleep: On the nights I drink wine, my sleep is followed with anxiety and is not as deep. Result is more or less tired, unproductive and a bit grumpy Olena.
- Mood: The day I learnt that alcohol actually is a depressant from my friend Jenn who is a psychologist, changed my life forever. And it’s true. Every time I drink wine I think about it and I can totally see how I’m more unhappy when I drink – I’m happy for the first 2 hours but then that feeling of guilt and unbalanced hormones overtakes me. And guess what? Wine hasn’t solved any of problems YET.
- Fear: Lately, I noticed that fun things in life don’t seem as fun without a glass of wine. Am I missing out on some life experiences with my kids and husband because of wine? I need to be honest with myself before it is too late.
- Envy: I noticed I started looking around and asking myself “That person is enjoying life, looks happy and I know he/she is not drinking”. And it makes me totally jealous! I want to be THAT person. I know if I’m feeling that way, there is an issue that needs attention. YES.
- Lack of Fun: Will I still be able to have fun at social gatherings and in life without wine? What will I do for so many hours without a buzz?
- Replacing with Sugar: Every single human being needs a way to relax and indulge. Many people turn to sugar or food in general when they are trying to quit a bad habit. Where as I didn’t care about desserts for years because I knew I was already drinking wine, I’m scared to replace wine with sugar because of the weight point above. I’m not scared of turning to smoking cigarettes (already an issue of the past), or marijuana (tried that, did nothing for me, smell alone makes me run), or even drugs (I’m well past that stage) but sugar is a concern.
- Uncertainty: What is next for me in life? What happens next? How am I going to live without something that has been part of my blood since I was a teenager?
The goal of this challenge is not to quit alcohol forever but to be HAPPY aka to break a bad habit!
Day 1 – 8 Without Wine
I decided to approach this challenge by taking day by day. As I “grow up”, I find this strategy along with “go to sleep and tomorrow will be better” working quite well for me. Also keeping busy always distracts me and I’m sure many of you can relate – I’m redecorating our living room so endless shopping trips to Homesense are keeping me occupied and away from wine, harmful for my wallet more than wine but not really because we get to enjoy the space I spent money on for years to come vs. sitting in uncomfortable leather couches and not reading due to lack of lamps. And by the way, I sold our old decor and furniture on Craigslist and new furnishings cost me only $500. Ha!
First Friday: First 4 days were easy because I started the challenge on Monday. Friday rolled in and I had a tiny concern about the night, especially since it was Good Friday – a day off, but I ended up painting a door all day and then in the evening Alex made dinner, we went for a walk and watched TV. First Friday without wine was totally OK although I had “a wine devil” whispering into my ear for some time.
First Saturday: We left our house early, took Skytrain and spent all day in Vancouver taking boys to the Science World, drinking coffee in a boutique coffee shop, walking along the ocean in False Creek, and shopping for a new mattress. When we got home at 9PM exhausted, kids went to bed and me and Alex watched TV a bit. It was way past my usual “wine hour” of 6-7PM, so I was totally OK.
First Social Gathering: Sunday happened to be Easter Sunday and my friend Katie invited us for a turkey dinner. Imagine beautiful sunny day, over 20 people, women are chatting and cooking in a gorgeous kitchen, men drinking beer on the patio, kids running around. Honestly, I was concerned how I will do without wine where everybody is enjoying alcohol, but I can’t say I was terrified. Remember, we are all “growing up” eventually. I did perfectly fine enjoying this beautiful day, amazing food and great people. We got home near 9PM and me and Alex went for a walk because spring air is just SO GOOD right now.
Guess what happened on Easter Monday? I woke up at 9:40AM! Something I haven’t done since I was 20ish and pre-kids.
I haven’t worked out much during this period because I don’t feel like it. Instead, I have been going for 4K walks by myself or with Alex, in the evening, inhaling wonderful spring air of Vancouver. It is so gorgeous outside! I eat the same healthy normal. I have been eating more dark chocolate though, 75% and 85% one.
Day 9 – 14
Weeknights: No problems. I think “the wine devil” is leaving my shoulder, I swear. However, I have enjoyed more than my usual share of dark chocolate and ice cream during the week, which I saw on my face in a form of acne. Sugar + ovulation = not a good mix for hormones.
Friday Night: My sugar cravings have subsided. We went to a friend’s house and I had club soda and a tiny bit of treat.
Saturday: We went to Costco at night, had a nice hot tub after dinner and watched TV. Honestly, this was the day I started thinking I can live without wine because Alex was drinking next to me and I could care less eating my organic strawberries. Wohoo.
Sunday: No problem at all. Wow, is it me or is it really me?!
Day 15 – 22
What a week of celebrations! It was Alex’s Birthday on Tuesday, Mom’s Night on Friday and my friend’s huge Birthday party on Saturday. Making it 2 weeks without wine, I honestly wasn’t very concerned how am I going not to drink wine!!! Even a year ago, not to mention 5 years, I would have been very upset to celebrate anything without wine. On a scale of 1 to 10, I craved wine at 3 during these events. Most shocking part to me was that I still managed to have a ton of fun with laughs, great food and a bit of dessert.
I am starting to think I really do not have a problem and that new life is ahead of me, when we do not drink wine every weekends. I am really enjoying not to wake up with a headache and be present every moment. I’m not going crazy on sugar but I’m having my treats – a bit of chocolate ice cream, a chocolate bar or a small slice of cake, without any guilt since I’m avoiding hundreds (honestly close to a thousand) of empty wine calories each week. Sweet!
I got my period this week and it was shockingly not painful, which has been the case for the past 5 years. First 2 days are usually followed by excruciating cramps. This time barely any pain. Hm, I have found that dysmenorrhea’s symptomps can get worse from alcohol. I also didn’t feel bloated. Overall I feel less bloated every day now. Let’s see what happens next month.
I feel super energetic and productive. So productive, we decided to go on a road trip to San Francisco.
Day 23 – 30
As it is Day 30 of me not drinking even a drop of alcohol, I don’t think I even have much to say except what I have already said last week – it is FINE. I feel totally fine not to drink. I would like to have a drink if it is an occasion, but I’m not going to drink tonight to celebrate the end of the challenge, in case you are wondering. Nope, no desire. Because it’s just fine. I’m content with Netflix, chocolate, a walk, and a book.:)
- Life Is Fun Without Alcohol: Life can be and is amazing without wine if I’m genuinely happy with my life. Wow, seriously, not drinking wine made me brave enough to see a counsellor and to deal with past and present issues. Parties are fun without wine if I’m hanging out at the right parties. By the age of 35, I do seriously evaluate the company I’m hanging out with as time is precious and I’m simply more content to read a book or watch a show if a partying crowd is not my crowd. I think we can all agree on that. I proved myself I do not have an addiction and moving forward I would like to enjoy a glass of wine celebrating a birthday, going out for dinner with Alex or at Christmas. I would be OK to not drink every weekend because it is a weekend but I’m going to enjoy a glass of this beautiful wine with friends at dinner on Saturday.
- Weight Loss: I did lose 2-3 lbs. I didn’t have a scale when I started, but I can feel my clothes is fitting more loose. Simple math: 1 lb of fat = 3,500 calories, 4 weekends no wine = 4 x 1,000 calories saved. There you go.
- No Fitness: I didn’t workout past month. That is a whole new post in itself.
- Increased Energy: There are seriously barely any bad days. Even my period was way less painful. I am full of energy.
- Improved Sleep: Hello deep sleep without anxiety when my mind is spinning trying to remember that I didn’t drink a bottle of wine at a night club dancing all night, so how come I feel like crap and can’t sleep?!
- Better Mood: Hello, balanced hormones. Seriously, I’m way less irritable, just ask Alex.
- It Is Easier to Be Healthy: Well it is. The biggest part is that I feel way less bloated. Another big thing is that I do not crave salty greasy foods the day after I drank a few glasses of wine. Again, hello balanced hormones.
Life is an ever changing landscape. We grow, we learn, we laugh, we cry. It is all OK as long as we are honest with ourselves. Life is a beautiful thing if you are brave enough to look at the core of what really makes you happy and go for it. Denying or delaying your feelings won’t solve the problem, just like a glass of wine will not do the trick either. But if a glass of wine makes you happy and helps to relax, there is absolutely nothing wrong with it! If you are having doubts about your alcohol consumption (like I did), I highly recommend to complete this 30 Day No Wine challenge – you will learn A TON about yourself! And I will be brave and say this – if you can’t live without alcohol for 30 days, probably it is a good idea to seek professional help. I honestly would have, before it was too late. IMHO.
So, cheers to this amazing life!
P.S. I think I will report some time in June how next 30 days will go. 🙂