How and Why I Decided To Cut Back on Drinking
Is it possible to give yourself an intervention?
Several years ago, my Facebook profile picture was a photo of myself with a glass of red wine in my hand. It was a black & white photograph, which I felt gave it an arty, moody style. I don’t know how other people saw me, but Looking back, I hated that photo. I saw myself as a miserable drunk. I felt like that glass of wine defined me.
Sometimes you’re acutely aware of something you are doing. You know it’s bad for you, but you continue to do it, anyway.
I’ve noticed over the last few months that the amount that I’m drinking is growing. You could blame Covid, or even the fact that where I live, surrounded by multiple vineyards, two breweries, and two pubs. It’s easy to blame external influences. The fact is that I know the amount that I am drinking is increasing and it scares me.
Is it possible to give yourself an intervention, a real talking to? I don’t have a circle of friends that would stage an intervention. Probably because they don’t think like that. I don’t talk about how much I drink, so how would they know how I feel? I need to give myself an intervention.
“It’s about accountability and responsibility. If you don’t have that, then you have nothing.”
Let’s talk about how much I actually drink. Maybe it doesn’t matter. The amount that I drink will either shock you or not register as a problem. My acceptable tolerance may differ from yours.
I don’t feel I drink an enormous amount. My problem is that I drink every day. Not giving my body a rest. Today I had one beer, the last one in the fridge. Yesterday I had six. The night before I shared a bottle of wine, and the night before that, three beers. That is way too much for me.
Looking at myself in the bathroom mirror. Through blurred vision, looking at the weight I’m putting on. Seeing how dry and unhealthy my skin is. “You aren’t doing yourself any favors continuing like this” Telling myself, this has to stop. I have to change. I’m going to change.
I’m a practical person, so I need a practical approach. Let’s talk about why I need to cut down.
You put on weight
It’s no secret that beer and wine add pounds to the waistline. I’ve been in denial for a long time, I see myself in the bathroom mirror every morning, wondering how I got into this shape. Trying my best to eat and drink healthy. It lasts for a few weeks, but I inevitably go back to the beer, wine, and ice cream. I go to the gym, but wonder why the weight never really comes off.
Think about how you will feel if you continue on the same trajectory for the next 5 years. What would you say to your younger self? How would your life change if you made the change now, and not in 5 years' time?
It’s easy to see where the motivation for reducing my drinking comes from. Weight gain, bloating, and lethargy to name a few. The weight gain is the big one, though. There is only so much I can suck in my belly or hiding behind some ill-fitting clothing. No more excuses.
Drinking is expensive
Think of the money I will save if you cut down the booze. All those craft beers and wine don’t come cheap. When every beer I buy is around $10USD a pop, it’s going to add up. Add about the $20USD for a decent bottle of wine, it’s an expensive habit. Here is one week as an example:
For one week:
- 2 x Bottle of wine — $40
- 1 x Pack of take-away beer at the local brewery — $14
- 1 x Small glass of beer at the brewery. Because I couldn’t leave without a cheeky one for the road — $5
- 1 x Supermarket-bought 6 pack of beer — $15
Total = $74
Not all weeks are the same, but when I set it out like this, I am shocked that I’m being so wasteful. I can think of far more productive endeavors to spend my money on than this.
Set yourself a savings goal. Choose a product that if achieved will show you have the willpower and commitment to cutting down, saving you money, and showing yourself that you can achieve a goal. The exciting part is choosing what to save for.
Drinking less will help improve your concentration
I’ll admit there have been a few occasions that I’ve gone to work with a hangover. Not the worst handover, but a hangover nonetheless. I have a career that requires a great deal of analytical thinking. By continuing down this road of self-abuse, I’m doing myself and my career a great disservice.
I’ve taken a break from alcohol several times. Finding that cutting out the turps for even a week allows me to think far more clearly. I feel more productive, allowing me to offer so much more energy and value to my team. Looking back, you always think that ‘Now that wasn’t so hard, was it? Unfortunately, it usually ends up in something like ‘You’ve done well. Let’s have a drink to celebrate.’
From now on, I have to keep reminding myself of how positive I felt when I cut down. It added far more clarity and energy to my day. It’s important to find the right balance. I don’t want to give up drinking. I enjoy it, but I do have to find an equilibrium.
Drinking less will help you be more healthy overall
When I visit my doctor, the first thing she does is direct me towards the scales. This usually ends up with the look of ‘this is not where your weight should be’. It’s then usually followed by a few calculations on her computer, producing a graph to say that if I don’t do something now, I am at ‘x’ percentage of keeling over within the next 10 years. Not the advice you want to hear.
I know what needs to happen. Cut down the alcohol. Eat more healthy. Do more exercise. Choosing to focus the most on the alcohol, everything else will fall into place.
Just by learning from other people’s experiences, I’m looking forward to a clearer mind, clearer skin, and hopefully losing a bit of weight. Just have to keep reminding myself of why I should do this and why it’s important.
Next steps and actions
Write a journal (this article is a good start). This was a powerful lesson I learned from someone that helped me a few months back dealing with some demons that surfaced during our Covid lockdown. The advice was worth their weight in gold and has served as a powerful reminder for me that writing can be far more therapeutic to the right person than any therapist can be. Writing is also a great deal cheaper.
I should tell friends
There is plenty of evidence that supports the notion that if you have a goal, you are far more likely to achieve the goal if you tell someone about it. It creates accountability and hopefully; you gain the understanding and support of your friends at the same time. You should be able to confide in a friend for a lot of reasons, and genuine friends will thank you and respect your decision to tell them.
Like I said earlier. I don’t want to stop drinking, but I have to set some rules on how I’m going to conduct myself throughout the week.
- Never drink alone. It’s really easy to grab a large bottle of beer or a glass of wine after a hard day’s work. Too easy. I end up drinking the whole bottle. From now on I will only drink if I am in a social situation, and never by myself.
- No more than two drinks in one session. It’s too easy to drink several bottles of beer or glasses of wine, even in a social situation. I know I have to cut down. This will help me.
One way that I can do this is to set a challenge that I will give up a sum of money if I drink more than two drinks in one session. If I drink more, I pay up.
- Slow down. My wife always tells me I drank far too fast. It’s scary how I guzzle a glass of wine or beer. I’m already finished and my friends around me are only a third of the way through.
It’s easy for me to look at these rules and think that they are contradictory. For me, cutting down does not mean giving up. It’s about gaining back more control of my life. As I said at the start of this article, It’s about accountability and responsibility. If you don’t have that, then you have nothing. Feeling far better and being more healthy than I am now. It’s about not using alcohol as an emotional pacifier. Looking for other ways to de-stress. Cutting down my alcohol intake is a straightforward decision.
I feel I have more to say on this subject. Keeping a record of my experience and sharing it with you is important. I hope you enjoy the journey.