As you all know February is the shortest month of the year. What better month to challenge yourself to make one of those changes that you toy around with in your head but never get around to? If you were considering drinking less alcohol, then I invite you to join me in practicing Sobruary (sober February)!
- January 31st is the last day of alcohol consumption
- February 1st-28th: no alcohol with exception of three cheat days for those that might struggle with going “cold turkey”, or special occasions. Limited to two drinks each of the three days that you choose.
- Find an accountability buddy – It’s always easier to challenge yourself when you and a friend can motivate each other. If you have a hard time finding one just ask me!
- Make fun, drink-free plans. Having something to look forward to that does not require drinking can help with the temptation. Schedule a movie date, explore the outdoors, or go to the gym! There are so many other options!
- For a those wanting a real detox, try to not replace the adult beverages with sugary substitutes, but rather opt for things like tea, sparkling water, decaf coffee, or juice without added sugar
What Lead Me to Practice Sobruary:
Eating clean has become something that I enjoy and makes me feel better, but while I am no longer tempted by the donuts or cake others might crave, I do not have the same strength when it comes to passing up an adult beverage at happy hour. Yes, I am admitting it, alcohol is my vice. But I mean let’s be honest, how many of us can say the same? Between playing the waiting game with diagnostic tests and a country currently divided by political sides, drinking certainly helps to subside the emotions that we’d like to tune out… at least temporarily.
During a recent discussion with my oncologist, he mentioned to me that alcohol suppresses both the immune system and the bone marrow. Essentially with my weakened immune system and bone marrow that is slowly being taken over by plasma cells, I am playing with fire when I drink alcohol. For almost a year I allowed myself (and stuck to) only one drinking day a week and it really opened my eyes to how much weight is put on drinking in our society. Roughly 38 million Americans drink more than they should, but it has become such a social aspect of our lives, it is not that easy to abstain. On days that I was not drinking I could feel that I was the odd man out, not to mention bitter that everyone else got to be normal. Yes there are some health benefits to having say a four ounce glass of wine each night but the truth is, how many of us are keeping it to just that?
Here are some key things to ponder that you might not know about your love affair with Sam Adams, Jose Cuervo, or Chateau St. Michelle (from Hello Doctor):
- It can damage your skin. Too much alcohol leaves skin dry and dull. It also widens the blood vessels on your face.
- Drinking a lot is fattening. Alcohol has calories, and going over two drinks a day will see you steadily packing on weight over time.
- Alcohol can damage your liver forever. Heavy drinking can cause cirrhosis and hepatitis – both very serious diseases.
- A little booze may help your heart, but binge-drinking much can increase your blood pressure and damage the muscles of your heart.
- Alcohol can cause depression
- Alcohol has been linked to cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus and colon, as well as some breast cancer
Personally I have found that while drowning my sorrows in a bottle of wine might help in the short term and certainly has its fun moments, in the long run I was worse for it. Alcohol is a known downer, and boy it can bring you to a darker place than you were when you took that first sip, especially if you keep up that pace. In more recent months, having a “screw it, I’m just going to drink” attitude was awful for my state of mind. Keeping a positive vibe while dealing with serious health issues can be a feat in itself. I can honestly say it was much easier to block out the negative thoughts when there was less alcohol intake.
Alcohol can be addicting too, and that’s no joke. If you sense that you might have a problem controlling your intake it is so important to make sure you talk to someone about it that can help. So many people struggle with coming to terms with how much is too much. Case in point: how many of us actually check off the accurate box when filling out medical forms when asked how many drinks we consume in one week?
Some of you are already good at limiting your intake, other readers might not even drink at all (kudos!), or maybe you aren’t looking to change this aspect of your life right now. But if you are, know you’re not alone! We’ve got this!