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Sobriety and Life

30 alcohol-free days: how does it feel?

I already described “hard” statistics of being sober for 30 days. Let’s discuss the “softer” part today – how it feels doing 30 alcohol-free days.

Background

I have started the 30-day challenge on February 24, 2020. It’s not the first time I’m starting some “challenges”, so I knew, that it might be harder than it initially seems. So I wrote down just a few goals:

  • Resting heart rate <60 BPM [starting 72]
  • Blood pressure <130/90 SYS/DIA [starting ~140/95]
  • Weight<85Kg [starting 92]
  • No alcohol and no cigarettes for 30days [starting: a lot]

Before the challenge, I was already exercising “almost regularly” and “barely” smoking for ~2 months. I decided to continue these but didn’t make promises to maintain them. But I made a promise to myself, that the main goal is 30-days alcohol-free. So in case of a crisis, I can eat and smoke myself to death, but avoid alcohol.

Factual results were already discussed, so go and read it. Spoiler: I achieved 3/4 goals. Weight goal was too ambitious and didn’t reach it.

In this post, I want to discuss, how I felt during those 30 days. The whole month could be roughly divided into 4 stages, each ~1 week long. I call these stages:

  1. Whoo-hoo, let’s start
  2. Fuck that energy
  3. Hello, Life
  4. New normal

Let’s discuss each of them.

Whoo-hoo, let’s start!

As with many new promises to ourselves, at the beginning we are excited. I am no exception. I started full of motivation to transform myself, improve life, get fit, sober, make more money and so on and on… But it’s not the first time I’m starting something, and I know how things tend to end after just a few days… So I wrote down a short target list (see above) and tried to keep calm.

Surprisingly, despite all known potential difficulties the first week went great and motivation didn’t go anywhere.

During this first week, I was really proud, that I finally took action and doing something about my problem; I had strong support from my wife, which surely made things easier.

During this stage weight, resting heart rate and blood pressure showed major improvements, which resulted in the even higher motivational state and energy boost.

Fuck that energy…

When the excitement began to settle down, the new phase started to evolve. Most health metrics improved during the first week, but most health benefits kicked-in the second week – I was feeling full of energy. All the time. I didn’t felt that way for a really long time.

Energy might sound like a very positive thing, and in most cases it is. But not always. In order to feel good with a high degree of energy – you need to burn it. And in order to burn it, you need ways and methods how to do it…

I was numbing myself with alcohol for a really long time and didn’t develop any hobbies or activities, which burn energy, which made my ass itch so much, it felt quite painful doing nothing…

So I had to learn new activities fast, which isn’t the easiest thing to do. So I was improving my house, started cooking a lot, continued exercising and even increased intensity, started walking each day-long distances.

Somehow I managed to balance out amount of energy and activities.

Hello, Life!

The motivation and excitement were almost gone (normalised), I learned (at least short-term) how to deal with all the energy – everything seemed to get really well. But… Hello, Life! You moth****r…

Let me explain.

I believe the first two weeks made me much more “normal person” (i.e. non-drinker). The excitement was gone, health and energy were restored, alcohol was out of my system, sleep improved, I was no longer hangover for most of my time.

But then, I was starting to realise, that life around me didn’t stop. I went to work daily, I had family and not everything was perfect all the time. Stress at work, small family issues, traffic etc. Normal everyday problems. I needed to deal with them.

For long years I was dealing with them simply – a six-pack of beer every evening. Double that on Fridays, maybe Saturdays as well (if the week was bad (or good) enough). Now I didn’t have my stress removing tool…

And this was the hardest week of the challenge. Furthermore, COVID-19 quarantine has started and my therapist had to cancel our appointments, so I was left to deal with my own problems alone…

Fortunately, I was visiting therapy already for a while. Some year ago, I had really though life crises and had some skills developed on how to deal with most problems. Just had to start using those skills.

Somehow the hardest week has passed and I survived. Without alcohol!

New normal

Last days of my challenge have started. I just learned two important life skills – how to deal with energy and how to deal with everyday problems. And I was thinking, what’s next!? I was ready to take any new lessons.

I already didn’t felt, that my health was improving – it was just good. I already didn’t felt, that I had excess energy – it was just in balance with my activities. Everyday problems were not bothering me anymore. I wasn’t feeling any special at all.

Nothing new has happened. Just normal life. This “normal” was so not normal to me, as it was so uncharted territory, but I believe that’s how non-drinkers live their lives. This was New normal to me and that was just normal!

And then, the 30 day challenge has ended…

To be continued…

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