A few months ago, I vowed to develop a healthier lifestyle, increasing my fruit and veggie intake, exercising every morning and practicing better sleep habits. I also considered giving up alcohol, which I'd always heard has tremendous health benefits.
When I really thought about it though, I realized that I don't actually drink that often. I'll have a glass of wine after work on a random Tuesday and maybe a couple cocktails over happy hour on Thursday. The bulk of my drinking takes place on Friday and Saturday ... so what if, instead of giving up alcohol entirely, I just relegate my intake to weekends only — specifically days when I don't have to get up for work the next morning.
Having done this for a few months now, I can report back that refraining from alcohol Sunday through Thursday is way easier than I expected. People are pretty understanding when I explain my rationale — in fact, many of them seem downright impressed. I still get invited to happy hours (heck YES let's split the bacon-covered brussels sprouts), and I've even figured out some low-cal alternative beverages that aren't just plain ol' water (kombucha and tea, primarily).
Since cutting down on my alcohol intake, I've noticed the following health benefits:
- My sleep has improved. Now when I DO drink, I notice that I'm more restless and prone to waking up in the middle of the night.
- My weight is stable. This is combined with regular exercise and mostly healthy eating, of course, but cutting out 300-900 calories of basically sugar per week is nothing to sniff at.
- My budget is happier. If I'm going to drink, it's probably going to be some artisanal, hipster cocktail that costs $12 a glass. Limiting this to two opportunities per week has saved me a grip of cash.
- My tolerance is lower. This keeps me from having too many drinks, making me a cheap date a limiting the aforementioned sugar hit.
- Drinking feels special again. This isn't a health benefit, but it's nice to feel like alcohol is a treat and not just a regular part of my day.
My fiancé has recently jumped on my weekends-only alcohol bandwagon, but he's making an exception for any social occasions that pop up during the week. We don't go out on weeknights terribly often, so it's been pretty easy. We're heading to New Zealand for a two-week vacation on Saturday, however, and I have a feeling all bets will be off. I'll be back on the wagon mid-February!