A Year Without Drinking – Chris’s Naked Life

I was introduced to This Naked Mind via Oonagh Duncan in Toronto, who was the head trainer for a fitness bootcamp class I attended for a few years. She’d sent a message to her mailing list about how she was affected by This Naked Mind and included a link to a free webinar. This led to a year without drinking for me.

year without drinking

A Year Without Drinking

At one point, Annie said something along the lines of, “when you finish reading the book, you’ll actually drink as much as you want! Which will be nothing,” and I thought, “challenge accepted.” Here’s what happened in the year since then, as I approach one year without alcohol. (I do clarify in the following that I’ve had “non-alcoholic” beers which contain up to 0.5% ABV, which I don’t consider cheating, as 1) I’m no longer chasing a buzz and 2) you don’t get drunk off 0.5% ABV!)

Audience

Right off the bat, I think I know the type of person who’ll be most interested in reading this. Is this you?

  • Enjoys drinking alcohol! (duh!)
  • Tries to keep it “reasonable” and generally succeeds. AND YET …
  • … keeping it “reasonable” still results in unwanted emotions the next day or so (kinda blue, second-guessing how I conducted myself after just one pint, etc.)

If this is you: read on! If you’d like to read what I have to say, regardless: read on! However, if if you do not have the same nagging questions about whether drinking is “worth it,” this may not interest you.

What

One year ago, I listened to the audiobook for This Naked Mind by Annie Grace. What I learned from the book inspired me to try an experiment where I wouldn’t drink for a month (June, 2019!, i.e. patio season, birthday season, Pride season – the works). What I experienced in that month inspired me to extend the experiment through a full year. In that year, I experienced the following without drinking:*

  • A conference with evening socials
  • After-work “drinks” with colleagues
  • Toronto Pride month
  • An annual sketch-comedy show where drinking is … a thing
  • Friend/family birthdays
  • Bars/clubs
  • Dating
  • Dungeons & Dragons
  • A cottage weekend
  • Climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and went on Safari in Africa
  • Oktoberfest
  • Changed jobs
  • A wedding
  • A broken collarbone
  • Xmas and New Year’s
  • A GLOBAL PANDEMIC

For every new type of event I was going to without drinking, I kept notes on the following:

  • During the event: What did I drink instead, and how much Fun did I have? Did I think it would have been better with drinks?
  • The next day: How did I feel, both Physically and Psychologically?

*Caveat: I have continued to purchase “de-alcoholised” beer, which has a maximum of 0.5% ABV. I feel this does nothing to invalidate the experiment, as one doesn’t get buzzed from 0.5%. Additionally, you can hear Annie’s thoughts on NA drinks.

Start Reading

Wondering what a year without drinking could do for you? Start reading This Naked Mind now and find out!

So What

Almost without exception, the results were:

  • Fun: AS MUCH FUN. OCCASIONALLY, MORE FUN.
  • Next day, physically: GREAT
  • Next day, psychologically: MUCH BETTER

What were the exceptions?

  • A couple of things were not that much fun; however, I 100% believe these are things that were not fun in the first place. Not drinking certainly helps me end the night at an “appropriate” time, rather than having one more to see if things pick up.
  • I sometimes have a headache in the morning, the day after. All I can think is that I’m still going to bed dehydrated, now and then.

My key revelation:

  • I’d been a social drinker long enough that I couldn’t separate the feeling of “being buzzed” and the feeling of “enjoying myself.” This blew my mind in the initial month of the experiment. At events with social drinking, I would get started with a near-beer (or even, water) and 30 minutes later wonder how I could possibly feel buzzed? Then it occurred to me: this is the feeling of having a good time. The magic is inside of me.

At this point, I bet it sounds like I’ve drank the (non-alcoholic) Kool-Aid, right? Well, prepare yourself:

  • Three months into not drinking, I’d gone out for after-work “drinks” with colleagues. After we finished up, I headed to my bike to ride home at twilight on an August evening, and I thought to myself, “man, I love not drinking.”

I shit you not.

Now What After A Year Without Drinking

As a result this is why I won’t go back. There’s a lot to be said about how alcohol affects your health, but I was aware of all of it and it didn’t stop me. Instead, I’ve come to understand that drinking adds literally nothing to my life, and the toughest things for me are 1) missing the taste, and 2) missing ordering a drink. Neither of those desires is anywhere near strong enough to get me to order another one, though.

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