It’s March. I made it through my alcohol-free February. It was more challenging than I thought it would be. Not a real struggle fighting strong cravings, but a niggling want was there more often than I’d expected.
I’ve been putting off writing this final instalment, as I didn’t have any interesting observations over the final week. I’m feeling distinctly uninspired. Perhaps I’ve got used to not drinking and have stopped missing it so much. But, where I thought I’d abstain until after my race on Sunday, instead I saw in the month with a couple of drinks. It was Friday, after all.
So I’m left a little deflated, wondering whether I’ve actually achieved anything. I’ve always shunned campaigns such as Ocsober and Dry July as I don’t know how much is achieved by such a temporary abstinence. Which brings me back to why I chose this challenge.
1. To get fit and healthy
The main reason that I chose to go without alcohol throughout February was for my fitness. I was in a rut with my running, and I thought that stopping drinking might be the boost that I needed to kickstart my fitness.
It worked! After a temporary setback due to sickness at the start of the month, by the third week I was up to running 10km. And on Sunday I joined a local race and knocked 10 minutes off my time. The progress was from ‘barely moving’ to ‘slow jog’, but I’ll take it!
A happy side effect of getting my running back on track is that I also lost 2kg.
So yes, my alcohol-free February has helped to kickstart my fitness goals.
2. To ‘re-set’ my drinking patterns
In New Zealand, we get the summer holidays immediately on the heels of Christmas, and this often leads me to get caught in a pattern of overindulgence (with eating as well as drinking), and feeling like I need a ‘re-set’.
If the number of times I found myself wanting a drink in the early days of the challenge is anything to go by, this was definitely needed. But how effective is a temporary abstinence? Will it create a new pattern, or will I slip straight back into old habits? I’m not sure.
I know that when I stopped drinking for almost a year, when the Christmas celebrations finished, I returned to not drinking. It slowly built up over the year, and wasn’t until the following summer that I’d begun drinking regularly again.
So this would indicate that a ‘re-set’ would work, and that it would undo this new bad habit. But I will continue to reflect and review, and make changes if needed.
3. To help others
The reason that I chose to share this journey on the site is so that it could help others who are looking to change their behaviour.
Below are the key steps to change behavior. You can use them to lose weight, quit smoking, stop drinking – anything that involves a change in behavior patterns.
- What’s your why?
- Identify your triggers
- Make a plan for how to avoid your triggers in the early days, or for what you can do instead of eating/smoking/drinking.
- Reflect, Review, Restart stronger.
- Make this your main focus.
Changing behaviour is HARD. It took me over 15 years to quit smoking. But the steps above will make you far more likely to achieve success that lasts.
How did you go with your health or fitness goals in Feb? If there’s anything you’re stuck on, feel free to get in touch and see if I can help.