Today's the day. Today marks 100 entire days since I've had a sip of alcohol, thus successfully completing my 100 Days of Sobriety Challenge. And wow, it has been a game changer.
I should probably back up a second: One hundred days ago, I decided that I needed to give my body a break from alcohol. In the midst of deciding how long to abstain from alcohol, I stumbled across tons of stories from people who quit alcohol for good. I was moved and inspired by the stories of people who said "screw you alcoholic culture, I'm gonna do what's best for me," so I decided to do a 100-day alcohol fast. (You can read more about my decision here.)
The past 100 days have taught me so much and I'm really thankful I stuck with my commitment. Here is what I have learned:
- Culture tells people to do a lot of things: Many of our cultural norms aren't the best for people, but we go along with them because they're accepted. Drinking alcohol often falls into this category, and I realized the importance of really thinking about why we do the things we do. After quitting drinking for 100 days, I have seen how unnecessary alcohol is, period. Water, coffee and tea have actual health benefits - and I don't buy into the idea that alcohol provides any true additional health benefits greater than those beverages. I also don't believe that alcohol is necessary to have a good time.
- Building discipline is super satisfying. The discipline it took for me not to break my fast has been really satisfying. There were moments when I wanted to bail on my commitment (because the commitment was to myself, not to other people) and have a beer with my husband or friends. However, I am so thankful I stayed faithful. The discipline I've practiced in this category of my life has inspired me to become more disciplined in other categories, including figuring out how to be a better wife and Christian, and jumping back into running with new goals.
- True peace or relaxation doesn't come in a bottle. You won't find peace after four beers or a bottle of wine, but you might need to find a toilet. The happiest happy hours are found in yoga studios, on runs or during hard workouts, not at bars, and a stressful day at work can just as easily be remedied with a workout or prayer, minus the calories.
- Emotions are real and it's ok to feel them. It seems as though we are always trying to numb our pain, cover up our insecurities, pretend our fears aren't real and ignore our hurt away. What if instead of stuffing away or numbing our emotions, we learned to handle the thoughts swirling in our minds in a healthy way? This is a day-by-day practice and no one is perfect, but numbing our feelings temporarily will not lead to long-term healing or growth. It's important to be fully present in our lives and to learn to push through the tough spots so that we can also be fully present in those times of deliverance and joy.
- Sporting events (and other typical drinking events) don't require beer. The only things I like better than live sports are live sports and good beer. I went to a hockey game and two baseball games (including seeing my Cards!) without consuming alcohol, and guess what? All of those experiences were so fun and I still got to enjoy overpriced hot dogs. My experience participating in drinking events also included a company happy hour and dinners with friends who were drinking. Saying no to drinks wasn't a big deal and I didn't have less fun than I would have with a beer or glass of wine.
- Too much sugar and too much alcohol are both super terrible. Eating too much sugar is not a good replacement for booze, and it will wreck your immune system and skin just as much as alcohol does. In the same vein, alcohol should be viewed like candy and soda and sugary treats - it's a vice. For most, it is ok in moderation and on occasion, but will wreck you when overindulged. The only difference is that alcohol's effects are much harsher and destructive.
- Less drinking equals more time for important things. For me, those things included better quality time with my family and friends, more restful sleep, earlier and more productive morning weekends, more Bible time, more motivation and time for long runs and more motivation for weekend yoga classes in the morning.
- If you decide to drink less, the people you love probably will too. Over the past 100 days of not drinking, not only have I abstained from alcohol but so have my husband and close friends. None of them quit drinking completely, but each have commented to me that they have been drinking less too in response to my 100 Days of Sobriety Challenge, and have seen positive benefits. Plus, our time together doing non-drinking activities has still been really fun and has actually helped deepen our relationships.
As you can tell, my 100-day alcohol fast made a positive impact on my life and on the lives of those I care about. If you're considering taking a break from alcohol, I highly recommend it (and I would do it with you!). Now I need to determine what my next 100-day challenge will be. Comment with ideas below or if you've successfully completed a 100-day challenge, I would love to hear about it!