Yesterday, I listed some of the reasons that led me to giving up booze last year. Today I look back at those one year on, and see how things have changed.
1. Physical well-being: An awful lot better. I have always had a fairly robust immune system, but this last year I haven’t had as much as a head cold. I have had zero sick days from work, have had no bugs, no stomach issues, nothing. I have a lot more energy, and don’t feel at all run down. (This reminds me though, I need to go and get my flu shot. Not so much for my own sake but for the herd immunity).
2. Mental health: My mood swings are still there. But I have had fewer bad days in the last year, and have been well able to deal with them. I have had some shitty days of course, but no prolonged periods of anxiety. I’m much more in control of things than I have ever been.
3. Finances: I’m still not rich of course. Nor will I ever be. However, it has been so much easier to save money this last year. Not just the money spent of booze itself, but making more sensible decisions regarding the rest of it.
4. Being active: I have had my periods of laziness. But at the same time, I ran my 7th marathon last week, having done my 2nd ultra-marathon earlier in the year. I climbed several mountains, and did much more cycling, including a 105km event. I also did a hiking trip in Iceland. So yeah, it’s been a pretty active year for me overall.
5. Other ‘indulgences’: None. Sober is sober, and it is great.
6. Shame: Of course I no longer have that feeling of waking up completely paranoid, and wondering whether I had done something awful.
7. Decision making: Yes, this clearer mind has helped a lot. I can’t say that I have said or done anything in the last year that I regret. That has to be a first.
8. Ambitions: I’m not going to get into much personal detail in this blog, but this last year I have got round to do many things I had been procrastinating on for a long time. Writing more is one of course. Also, learning a language (well, re-learning to be precise). Spending more time reading, and less binge-ing TV shows. I’ve probably read more books this year than I have since I was a kid. I was a voracious reader then, but then college, work, and other distractions started to get in the way.
9. Diet: Less junkfood, but by no means does that mean I have cut it out. I am still prone to snaccidents. But my general well-being is not too shabby considering I’m at the tail-end of my thirties. Diet is surely part of this. And yes, I do get enough protein, thank you very much.
10. Being a dickhead: Yes, I still can if I want. But I have been much more considered and diplomatic this last year. Perhaps it’s because I am not a drunk person in the company of other drunk people, and I avoid the meandering masses much more easily, so am less likely to fly off the handle at someone.
So do I miss it? Sometimes, indeed. I do especially miss being able to have a pint of stout. But if I ever get a craving for it, I quickly remember all the reasons I had for giving up. I can almost physically feel it in my guts and kidneys when I conjour up those memories. The feeling of bloatedness, of a constantly demanding bladder, of stomach cramps. Not to mention the crawling sensation the following day, the sensation that I am wearing somebody else’s skin, and constantly swaying from sweltering to freezing. I can feel all of that in an instant, and that is more than enough to kill any craving. Now, I sweat when I’m training, not when I’m going through the DTs.
So, overall, a great decision, with no regrets. I still get asked the same questions about not drinking though. Or get wide-eyed excited looks from some friends when they see me with a non-alcoholic beer. I suppose this will never end. But I am determined to stay on my high horse, as some have dubbed it. I’m happy to play up to that, as the decision has had nothing but a positive impact on my life. Is life perfect? Of course fucking not. Is there such a thing? Nope, this world is not a fairy tale. Does life kick me down? Sometimes, but I’ve never been better equipped to kick that fucker back.