My latest foray into Removing Life’s Artificial Ingredients has been quitting drinking alcohol. So far, it’s been fairly easy to eliminate grains, processed foods, excess sugar, and anything non-Paleo.
The hardest, and biggest change so far has been quitting alcohol. Alcohol consumption , while fun in moderate doses, and social gatherings, has been a bit of a problem for me. Simply put, when I do drink, too often it’s too much. Not every time, but enough times.
Ever since I came of drinking age in my late teens and early 20s. Alcohol was a constant factor in my life.
Special occasions were marked by its consumption:
- Socializing, after work,
- After finals in college, and all of college
- Every Friday and Saturday,
- Attending sporting events, restaurants
- Weekday meetups with friends
and at all these events, I would expend considerable effort making sure I had a drink, or was procuring my next one.
The list could go on forever of how alcohol fit into my life.
I was not a daily drinker, nor did I need it to survive the day. This made it easier to say there wasn’t an issue. But there was!
What was the problem?
My aim was to get the perfect buzz.
What happens when I attain the perfect buzz? I keep doing what I’m doing, thinking the buzz would be perfectly maintained.
The Perfect Buzz rarely lasts.
What did happen is I would go from Perfect Buzz to visibly drunk, and worse. I could list many stories, ranging from harmless, hilarious, shameful, hurtful, embarrassing, and lucky to have survived. Some of my relationships have ended while drinking.
Most of the time my actions were benign to my friends and myself. But not always, and there were times people weren’t spared my acting like a jerk or embarrassing them or myself.
Ultimately, alcohol will affect your heath and well-being. It’s very hard to exercise and focus on what you need to do when you’re buzzed, drunk, or hung-over.
Most importantly, alcohol affects and impairs your self-control, judgment, and awareness. These days, it’s not always necessary to be alert and on the lookout for our evolutionary predators and other natural dangers that we had to avoid during our evolution.
A saber toothed tiger is not going to pounce as you stumble out of the local dive. However, it is very likely that we did not evolve consuming alcohol to the point of impairment on a regular basis. Say 1-3 times per week.
What impact does that have on our well-being when we do that? For me, the impact was negative.
Alcohol is a neurotoxin. It can accelerate aging of the brain, and elevates the stress hormones in your body.
What is the point of developing a primal/paleo based lifestyle, if I am going to continue to excessively drink alcohol? It will negate many of the positive effects that going primal/paleo offers.
I quit drinking alcohol on September 1st, 2012, and it has been the best decision I’ve made in years. I didn’t join any organizations or programs. I did this on my own. I do occasionally have a glass of wine, about once a month.
So what happened?
The results are impressive;
- Lost 15 lbs.
- Wake up feeling great every day.
- Active and motivated on Saturdays and Sundays (they’re not recovery days anymore)
- Less stressed.
- No urge to drink any more.
- Spending less money. Obviously alcohol costs money. It also leads to more spending, such as greasy hangover breakfasts, buying drinks for your friends and random people in bars, and the impaired judgment causes you to spend a lot more than you planned to.
What about you? Can you keep to a glass or wine or two? Do you get the urge to keep drinking? Do you want to stop?