Drained shot glass on fire

There was that time I quit drinking for 1 year

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Alcohol. It’s positives and negatives are debated on almost a daily basis but I will safely assume that most adults (and teenagers, let’s be real) drink regularly. Some use it as liquid courage (and it’s referred to as such in some cases) while others may do it to simply enhance their mood. Some like the taste, others feel pressured into doing it. Myself? It was probably a little bit of column A, B, C and D and being in university didn’t make it easier. The bars were right there and I wanted to meet new people (read: girls). The best way I came to do that was grabbing a drink with some friends and hanging out.

I had experienced hangovers before. Painful, dreadful and healed with shawarmas (the kebabs of Toronto), McDonalds or next-morning, pan-fried, greasy-ass eggs. Hangovers never stopped me. I would wake up, groggy and profess: “I will NEVER drink again.” Then, a few days later, my buddies and I were sharing a pitcher.

It wasn’t until I looked at myself in the mirror one winter morning that I really saw what this lifestyle was doing to me. My waistline had become a waste line. Just a stomach filled with all the garbage I had been feeding it. And on that one winter morning, I once again professed to myself: “I will NEVER drink again.”

My own mind quickly brought me back down to earth. “C’mon man,” I said to myself. “You’re not going to actually stop drinking forever.” And damn, my mind was right. But I wasn’t going to go down without a fight. That’s when I decided: “I will not drink for 1 year.”

Making a commitment like that to yourself isn’t easy, but I held myself to it. For the entire year of 2013, I was not going to drink a sip of alcohol. Boom. Done. No excuses.

I will preface this story by saying: This was a life changing year.

The Life Changing Year

To be honest, it wasn’t that hard. I’m a pretty talkative person and I love meeting new people, so the “liquid courage” aspect of alcohol was unnecessary in the first place. I’m also lucky to be a person of extremes. If I’m happy, I’m usually really happy. If I’m sad, I’m really sad. If I’m zen, then I’m SUPER zen. But no matter the mood, the mood enhancement part wasn’t needed. The taste? Domestic beers: enough said. I wasn’t in it for the taste. What really made this adventure difficult was the social pressure. This realization was the beginning of a whole ‘nother part of my life.

I still wanted to hang out with my friends, but being the only not one drinking can be awkward. Super awkward at times even. The people I were around were REALLY trying hard to figure out why I didn’t want to drink.

“Dude, just drink one beer, that’s it.”
“Why aren’t you drinking, you sick or something?”
“How are you having fun without drinking?”

I couldn’t even blame them for the questions. In their minds, I was willingly removing myself from having fun. To alleviate this, I tried to use different excuses at times because I had told nobody that I committed myself to not drink for one year. I said that I was poor (which wasn’t true), I said that I was gaining weight (that’s true) and I said that I would drink next time with them (never happened).

As I kept on going out though, I started to realize that without drinking, there was this thing called Time that kept passing. When I got drunk, the night would reach 3AM before I even realized it. When I didn’t drink, I was honestly getting tired at 12AM and 1AM. I started leaving my social gatherings earlier because I was tired, or because I just didn’t feel like taking care of the people who got obnoxiously drunk.

My weight loss was going okay, but I was still plagued by the simplicity and accessibility of fast food. My realization of this is where the true changes began.

Because I wasn’t staying out late, I wasn’t eating an additional, greasy meal twice or three times a week. In addition, my body was getting more rest because I was actually sleeping at somewhat regular hours. Halfway through the year, I stopped going out 3 times a week and started going out once per two weeks at most. I started focusing on going to the gym and running more.

This resulted in one of the biggest changes I ever experienced.

The Turnaround

After those 4 months, I was a completely different person, both physically and mentally. I was much much happier than I was before. I looked the best I had ever looked, and I got a great job with an amazing company. The best part about all of this was that because of this job, I was able to study on exchange in Sweden for 6 months. Living in Sweden had been a dream of mine, and I finally achieved it when I committed myself to losing weight.

But I would only lose that weight because I changed my lifestyle.

The only reason I changed my lifestyle was because I stopped drinking.

Fast forward to the end of 2013: I was fit, happy, and ready to go to Sweden. The one thought that kept swirling in my head was: “Are you going to start drinking again?”

Well my friends, I did start drinking again. The good news is that it didn’t change my lifestyle that much. I was still fit, happy and living in Sweden.

Luckily, in Sweden and in Toronto, alcohol is expensive and it’s not very accessible (thank god for LCBO and Systembolaget). This made the entire process of losing weight and keeping it off fairly easy. I was doing well with this until December 2014.

That’s when I went to Belgium.

1 comment

[…] days like these that remind me of why I stopped drinking for one year. My head is hurting, and my stomach is saying “Really man? We’ve been through this […]

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