TFLA Challenge Update: No Alcohol for 30 Days. Completed!

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On June 14th when I decided to give up alcohol of any kind for 30 days I had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into.

Originally, the goal of this challenge was to experiment with my body to witness what, if any, affect the absence of even the limited amount of alcohol that I do consume would have on my overall health.

However, this challenge quickly evolved into a battle of wills and the ultimate social experiment before I could say, “I’ll have a virgin Pina Colada please“.

[Sure sheep are cute, and love to party, but it's best to climb out of the pen and think for yourself]

I never realized what a central role “drinks” play in our everyday social environment. When I posted the idea for my challenge here, I received a message from a couple of people undergoing the same challenge.

A Facebook friend said when she read my initial post she believed she was the last person to ever use alcohol as a social crutch, yet during her own 30 day challenge she found herself avoiding all social situations that involved drinking (aka most of them). She said she’d rather “avoid temptation then to suffer through it“.

As I contemplated her message I wondered:

Are many of us really so eager for group approval that something as “everyday” as alcohol has such an enormous impact on how we function socially?”

Unfortunately, it appears the answer is an inebriated and slurred “yes”!

The benefits vs. the suffering

Perhaps it’s just me and my already eerily low amount of social inhibitions that makes sober such an easy task, but I found the “suffering”, as she mentioned, faded very quickly and the benefits I gained were far and away worth the forgoing of a couple (or several) useless drinks while out with friends or co-workers.

But this was not immediately apparent.

During my first two weeks I found zero difference in overall health. My workouts were normal, my energy levels hadn’t changed and I didn’t notice any difference in my cognitive abilities.

But week 3, right on the dot, is when something changed.

I awoke in the morning, and the “fog” was noticeably clearer and I became fully alert much faster.

My short term memory was noticeably better, my conversations were smoother and I was never stuck searching for a word or a phrase. All pistons were firing. At this point, purely on a physiological level I was convinced, you booze you lose!

Drinking and the effects on relationships

But the question still remained:

How would this impact my social relationships?

It seems in any personal health initiative this is the most difficult task; being confident enough to live a healthy lifetime in the midst of an entire planet seemingly working against you.

Example 1: Try being a male going out to a steak house and ordering fish or chicken.

Example 2: Try being a male and ordering only a salad at any restaurant.

If you’re doing this for the first time, unless you’re already friends with a progressive group of men or only friends with women, be prepared to be labeled “as less of a man” quicker than Ryan Seacrest.

The more challenges of this nature I put myself through I’ve noticed it doesn’t just take the proper mindset to live healthier, but it also takes some personal strength and conviction to make the right choices no matter who may be watching.

Personally, I’m not typically one to lie or dodge questions, so when I’d say, “I’m not drinking tonight” the reactions were always entertaining.

The news would evoke immediate questions to justify my actions:

“Are you driving? You must be driving. Are you on a detox? One of those juice things right, ya, those are tough.”

“30 Days? NO booze? Are you kidding me? In the middle of the summer? Why didn’t you do this in February? You’re an idiot.”

“Have a drink. No seriously, have a drink. Don’t be gay.”

This is my favorite, because somehow gay people are now also being associated with boycotts on alcohol? Apparently, living a healthy lifestyle is such a vile and inconceivable concept that it approaches lunacy.

I had never realized the massive herd mentality that drinking alcohol created. I found it especially interesting that even those that tried to limit their consumption were constantly being pressured by other drinkers to “top-up” or drink more as if trying to justify their own inebriation by breaking the will of their peers.

Finding the strength and support

This seems to be how many diets fail, because of a lack of will power to be your own person, especially without the right support group in place.

So any of you out there trying to lose weight for the first time, or get back into shape, the most important way to look at it, is you vs. The World.

During any health based challenge, it is important to stick with the people that will support your goals. I don’t mean people that live as you live, just merely peers that accept your decision and will stand behind you.

My friends for example, have been ideal. Never once resorting to anything more than a one-liner dig, that I would likely have thrown their way myself. Other than that, my Sober Sally challenge has been a non-issue.

It is also important to realize anyone playing devil’s advocate and naysayer simply aren’t strong enough to it themselves (or even stand by and support you).

In Part 2, I will be discussing how alcohol can seriously affect your waistline, and I’m not even talking about calories. Even just a few drinks can seriously disrupt your sleep, your overall health, AND your weight loss goals!

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  1. Rahim says:

    This is a TRULY inspirational post! I’m frustrated with certain loved ones who don’t have it in them to even try this. What would you recommend that I say to them to get them motivated? I could show them this post so they can read it for themselves but they will just pay a bunch of lip service and continue to do the same old thing.

  2. Rahim,

    Appreciate the kind words.

    I’d suggest you wait for Part 2 where I dive into some serious health effects of alcohol consumption. It may help.

    I think the biggest problem with alcohol is that no one is really ever told “in your face” about the disastrous health benefits. I’ll admit, I’m not going sober forever, but in the past few months my eyes have definitely been opened. I just wish they would have been opened around, i don’t know…before university. haha.

    And until someone speaks up, we’ll never get the kind of push back that we currently have from the Health department on cigarette use. I’d even go so far as saying putting a photo of a car wreck and destroyed livers on some beer bottles, at least make people think about their choices a little bit.

    But I do applaud you for wanting to help other people though. Maybe you should still show them the post, and then put it out of your mind. If they ask you or I for further help, we’ll help them, if not… well, maybe we should just focus on those that are willing to help themselves.

    thanks again for the comment.


  3. Oscar - freestyle mind says:

    Hey Michael, so are you giving up alcohol now? I did this challenge back in april with alcohol and coffee. Fortunately for me anyone told me that I was gay :D , on the contrary I received some support. But from my experience when I quit smoking, your friends will stop after a while and they’ll make the habit, just like you.


  4. No, I’m not giving up alcohol, but I think my drinks will be few and far between from now on. I’m currently doing a two month zero alcohol stint right now that ends on the 1st of October.

    Its gotten to the point where I really just don’t see the benefit of drinking anymore.

    Good for you for quitting caffeine as well. I typically only drink green tea or the odd espresso when I need a caffeine hit, but I’ve heard a few friends try to even cut down on coffee and have failed miserably.

    I don’t know if my friends will ever cut back on their drinking, I doubt it. Smoking I can see, for obvious reasons, but drinking… I guess i’ll have to keep an eye out for that.

    thanks for the insight Oscar.

  5. Dave says:

    I’ve also noticed better sleeps when no alcohol is involved but then again it could be that I’m getting older less resilient after a night of drinking?

    Is there any studies that test different age groups with drinking and quality of sleep? This could also be another piece of the puzzle…

  6. sangita says:

    All of this could well apply to another equally sensitive subject - food (which you have already mentioned). I mean the herd mentality applies to food as well. Try eating healthy in a gaggle of relatives in an Indian festival or get together! It adds a new dimension to the term frustration. I think here Brad Pilon’s ideas are a saving grace! He seems like a light at the end of the tunnel!

  7. Sangita,
    Couldn’t agree more. I can relate as us Italians tend to use food and drink as the centre of all celebrations. A fast the next day is all I need to right the ship.


  8. Daniel Munday says:

    I love a quite beer on most weekends but when I’ve gone alcohol free for a month the hardest part is always the first week - breaking the habbit and then it’s pretty much smooth sailing.

    Well done on getting your challenge crossed off!

  9. Thanks Daniel.
    I’ll agree the first week is crucial but once the “wheel” is moving, it becomes much easier to stick to the challenge.


  10. Spida Hunter says:

    Awesome stuff on this Michael, I too drink more ‘socially’ now i.e. 1-2 beers and maybe once a month get “on it”.

    Went through the same experience with why? What is it really about? What am I about when I’m on it?

    Keep exploring brother and I’m sure you will find your own version of “middle ground” from it all!!

  11. Rob says:

    Great post Michael. I gave up drinking last year and feel great. The aches and pains have gone away, and my motivation to work out is unbelievable compared to the years when I was drinking.

  12. Ferdinand Dornellas says:

    Beer was my drink, but I’m on the alcohol free now!