“Do it,” they said.
“It will be good for you,” they said.
“You’ll lose weight,” they said.
“You’ll look and feel divine,” they said. Really, that’s the word that was used. Divine. I am supposed to feel divine.
But after 28 out of 31 days of a so-called ‘Dry January’ or a January free of alcohol consumption, feelings of divinity have yet to set in. Actually, I don’t feel one bit improved and I haven’t lost so much as an ounce of weight. I am, however, cold, bored and very much in need of a cookie.
I can’t even remember where I first heard of ‘Dry January’ or why I thought it would be a good idea for me to try it. It’s not that popular here in the United States but in the UK where drinking is something of a national pastime, it’s gotten to be quite a trend in the last few years. Two million Brits gave it a shot last year, pardon the pun.
They’ve even done research about the possible health benefits. Your liver is supposed to lose fat and losing fat is never a bad thing. It’s even supposed to keep harmful drinking episodes down by 72 percent which I suppose is a residual benefit, after January is over because if you’re doing it right, drinking incidents, harmful or otherwise, should be down by 100 percent during a January that is actually dry.
First, the good news. I sleep better. Much better. Not the celebrated sleep of a baby since my bladder is simply too old for an uninterrupted night but a good night’s sleep nonetheless. And I’ve saved some money. Not a lot since it takes a whole bunch of my favored two buck Chuck to bust a budget, but there have been savings. Otherwise, that’s about it for the up side.
On the negative side, it took a week or so to get to that good night’s sleep. The first few nights were pretty much up all nighters. I’ve also been kind of bored. Bored is maybe not the right word, more like restless. I have very little patience with being unamused. Which is pretty much all of the time. I’m continuously and relentlessly on edge. One friend suggested Valium or Xanax. The mind reels.
I crave sweets. Not surprising since alcohol metabolizes as sugar. I have been very careful not to buy sweet snacks to keep around the house but unfortunately, I know how to make them myself. Over the snowy weekend, using just stuff I had on hand, I made fudge, a French yogurt cake and a batch of cookies. I have even developed a technique for making passable fudge in the microwave that cools in the freezer and is ready to eat in less than 20 minutes from the first attack of the sweet tooth. Which probably solves the mystery of why there’s been no weight loss.
Worst of all, I am cold. Really, really cold. I have been freezing since Jan. 2, a deep cold that goes all the way down to the bone. I am not used to this. I usually have a very forgiving internal thermostat and am never bothered by heat or cold so I find this very distressing. I’m thinking Dry July would be a much better idea. If I do Dry January again, it will be somewhere tropical where I can bake on a beach all day and not spend an entire month in a cold miserable shiver. This part has not been fun.
But the biggest takeaway is that I’ve done it. Well, in three more days I will have done it. That is a great feeling of accomplishment. Frankly, I wasn’t sure that I could do it. A glass of wine is a great tranquilizer and two or three are even better. Since I don’t smoke, and by don’t smoke, I mean that I don’t smoke anything, legal or not, and I don’t care for drugs, either recreational or therapeutic, my only stress relief system is a cocktail or three or a bottle of vino. I am happy to report that in their absence, my head has not yet exploded.
We all know that two glasses of red wine a day is good for your heart, a glass or two of champagne a day helps prevent or slow down Alzheimer’s and that raging alcoholism is unhealthy in every way but what about the space between those extremes. Where do the benefits end and the problems begin? I don’t know and I tried to find out. As Don Draper once said on “Mad Men,” If you have to ask yourself if you’re drinking too much, the answer is yes. Although I try not to take advice from fictional characters, that bit of advice had the ring of truth about it.
But now, I think perhaps, it isn’t necessarily so. The booze was just too easy to give up. No real side effects. No convulsions or DTS which the internet assured me would be forthcoming. Not even a shake.
Yeah, I miss the cocktail hour. But not unbearably so. It seems I just like a glass in my hand while I watch television. And surprisingly, it doesn’t matter if there’s Merlot or water in that glass. That’s a good piece of information for me to have at my fingertips.
But now, as my cold, dry month is winding down, I am starting to think about how I shall break the fast. There’s still a bottle of champagne in the fridge left over from New Year’s Eve. Maybe a mimosa on Monday morning when February rolls in. Probably not. Wouldn’t want to waste the rest of the bottle. Maybe I’ll just wait for the week-end. It was just my luck that this January had five, count them, five full week-ends. Maybe I’ll just wait for week-end number six of 2016 to break out the corkscrew. I don’t know yet. Because I have options now. And that does feel divine.
Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699 or on Twitter @BillColvard.