I gave up alcohol AND coffee for a month and this is what happened

Similar to many others who have proclaimed an alcohol-free month this January, I too, have participated in the tradition of going an entire month without alcohol. To take it even further, I actually added coffee to that list as well. 

For many people, the month of January is symbolic towards building how the rest of their year is going to be. Many people want to start off the new year on a good foot, which would include refraining from a specific type of behavior – In this case, it would be alcohol and coffee for me. 

After having experience an already difficult month and a half throughout November and December, I decided that this was the right thing to do.

Having dealt with my very first hands-on experience of being unemployed, I felt that January would signify a turning point for me, so I wanted to eliminate the two biggest distractions in my life. I wanted to devote this alcohol/coffee-free month towards focusing on myself. I wanted to figure out how to be with myself, and be happy with myself. I wanted to get a better idea of what I wanted out of my life. And surprisingly, that’s exactly what happened.

At first, I thought I was going to lose my mind and become a hermit, but instead, it worked out in my favor. And this is exactly what happened. 

1. I wrote more. It’s amazing how much more I wanted to write. It’s because I had clearer thoughts that weren’t drowned out or interrupted by alcohol or caffeine. I honestly thought that the lack of alcohol or caffeine would actually cause a significant dip in the amount of writing I produced, but ironically, it made me more productive.

2. I read more. Aside from the fact that I had way more time on my hands due to unemployment, I actually did read more. Naturally, since I went out a less than usual, I spent those weeknights where I wasn’t meeting up with friends for drinks towards reading and learning more than I normally would.

3. I exercised consistently. The one thing I didn’t miss about alcohol was the hangovers and the general feeling of exhaustion after a night of drinking. I had my weekends to wake up early and go to the gym. I put myself on a consistent workout schedule and stuck with it because I didn’t have nighttime drinking distractions.

 4. I lost weight. The combination of regular exercise and elimination of extra calories from alcohol and even coffee (if it’s a fattier coffee drink) significantly affected my weight loss and how I looked overall. My jeans actually fit better and my stomach really did get flatter when I cut the calories from drinking.

5. I got so much better at cooking. When you change one part of your daily routine, it usually affects other parts as well. When I cut out alcohol, I avoided the drunk food-ordering and had more time to go grocery shopping and actually learn to cook properly.

6. I ate healthier. Going back to #5, I ate healthier because I wasn’t going out to eat as often (because food + drinks is usually an automatic combination) and I was staying in and making my own meals. 

7. I saved A TON of money. After seeing the actual numbers in my bank account, I was shocked by how much of my income went towards buying coffee every day or going out for drinks. The numbers don’t lie. Cutting back on alcohol and coffee saves major bills.

8. I was more focused on my goals. Instead of wanting to avoid my problems by drinking, I was more attentive towards what I wanted to accomplish while I wasn’t drinking. I was able to actually sit and think about the things that I wanted to  in my life, both in the short run and the long run.

9. I made better decisions. From personal experience, I can say that my worst decisions usually happen while I’m under the influence of alcohol. When you’re buzzed, tipsy, or drunk, you’re not in the right state of mind to be able to handle situations properly or make appropriate decisions. Thankfully, I had this entire month to make good decisions that led me to where I am now. 

10. I spent more time with people that actually mattered. You’d be surprised by how many people feel uncomfortable being around you if you’re not drinking, which says a lot about the company that you choose. The people that I spent time with while I was alcohol-free were the ones that still wanted to hang out even though I wasn’t drinking with them. And those are the people the really matter.

11. I got better quality sleep. To be completely honest, I still wasn’t able to sleep properly at first, but that was due to my own anxiety of what would happen after the month was over. Regardless, the quality of sleep that I did get was phenomenal. This in turn, led to me feeling better during the day and being more proactive throughout the week.

 12. I restored my faith in God. Despite what other people’s religious beliefs may be, mine were re-established during this month. Growing up, I’ve always been a Christian I’ve always believed in God and I’ve always had faith in God, knowing that things would work out. But there were times in the last few years where I really wasn’t sure that my luck was ever going to change. But after this month, and what has happened within the past few days, my faith is stronger than ever  in knowing that things really do work out.

 

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Stronger than that

So, we’ve all flipped the page on another year and now it’s 2016. Many of us like to completely dismiss the events of the previous year and start anew in hopes that Day 1 out of 365 of the new year will be a fresh start for us – A new beginning. Yes, it’s a new year, but it’s not a completely fresh start. I used to look at New Year’s as an opportunity to put the past behind me and move forward. And of course, that’s what we should all aspire to do. We should move forward and constantly keep moving forward. But I don’t think  that we should dismiss the events of the past.

I haven’t had the smoothest or easiest of years in 2015 and I know that I’m not the only one. I know that, compared to others, I didn’t even have it all that bad. Compared to others, I still have heaps more to be grateful for. I’m not bitter or resentful about the unfortunate things that have happened to me last year or any of the past years. And maybe I am writing this with hindsight bias because at the time, it was much harder during the actual heat of the moment, but looking back now, I know that I could never get to where I am without those moments of defeat. F. Scott Fitzgerald once said, “Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.” Well, I’m so glad that I never stayed down after all of those moments of defeat.

In 2015, I thought that every obstacle was going to be the one that was going to send me over the edge. In 2014, I thought the same thing. And the same goes for 2013 and 2012. Ever since I graduated college, each year seemed to be getting harder than the last. The thing is, I realize more and more with each passing year that life will just never get easier. I’ll only get stronger. I’ll only get better at handling difficult situations. I’ll learn from the past.

We shouldn’t neglect the events from the past because they have made us who we are today. No matter how tragic or difficult our hardships from the previous years have been, they shouldn’t be in vain. They are milestones and they are a part of us. We shouldn’t dwell on the past, but we should use them as a reminder that we are a lot stronger than we think.

When the Miracles Happen

There are moments when you should throw in the towel. Those moments when you just need to call it quits like if you’re terribly miserable at your job or if a relationship just isn’t working. At times like these, it’s okay and perfectly reasonable to give up; those times when you’re compromising your happiness.

But then, there are times when you need to hang in there. There are times when you can’t give up even if life is throwing its worst at you.

2014 is over and a new year has begun. Close your eyes and just reflect on how far you’ve come and how much has changed.

And here we are.

We made it through another year. Of course, it was not effortless.

Looking back on this past year, there were many defining moments that tested my strength, patience, and tolerance for struggle. I can’t say that it was easy, but I can say that it was all worth it.

This past year, I came across a quote which I would call my definition of 2014 and I greatly appreciate it now more than ever. The quote is:

“The moment you’re ready to quit is usually the moment right before a miracle happens. Don’t give up”

It may sound like this quote contradicts the opening to this blog entry, however, I’m using it in a different context.

Every challenge that I faced this year made me feel completely defeated. I wanted to crawl into a corner, stop trying, and claim myself ‘a failure’. Yes, this is a little melodramatic for my age, but I know people would feel the same way.

I’m thankful that I didn’t crawl into that corner because if I had, I may not have accomplished the things that came later on in the year.

The beginning of 2014 wasn’t pretty. It was a reality check.

Even now, I still don’t have it all figured out. It will take years upon years. But with each year and each defining moment, I’m getting a little closer.

Miracles happen. They don’t necessarily happen at the same time for all people, but eventually they do. Sometimes you have to give up the good to go for the great. You have to leave something behind to go after something more. You have to rediscover yourself.

This past year, I got a little closer to doing just that.

I fell in love, I explored a new country, I became part of a band, I got a new job, I got a new apartment, I got a boyfriend, I ran the New York City Marathon, and this past Tuesday, I finally got published in Elite Daily for the first time.

I wouldn’t have experienced these miracles if I hadn’t kept it together.

My advice to you is to hold out for your miracles and know that they will happen. It may take time, but the time will be worth it.

“Word is Bond”

I often think a lot about words versus actions. I go back and forth, debating which is more important. Lately, my loved ones have been enlightening me on the importance of actions and I know that they’re right.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “The more you say, the less”? Well, in my interpretation, it means that talking too much is useless. Words mean nothing if you don’t put them into actions. Take this from someone who does a lot of talking. I often have a lot to say and when I don’t say, I write (Thank God for this blog).

Another phrase that you may or may not be familiar with is, “Word is bond”. This is a phrase that I often hold true. Unfortunately, not many people have this same mindset.

Living in New York City yields a lot of opportunity for disappointment. There are always distractions and no one can ever really commit to one plan because frankly, there are just too many options. A Saturday night can start off as a regular dinner at a Thai Restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen and end up as drunken karaoke and disco dancing in Williamsburg. You just never know where the night could go. People in the city are always running around, partially committing to several things, and attempting to cross off every item on their agenda.

Yet, when it comes down to meaningful promises, you have to be more careful.

The promises you make to the people you love and the promises you make to yourself are the ones that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

With the New Year just around the corner, I’ve begun brainstorming the list of goals I want to achieve as some of you may also have done. I know that if I write this, I am more inclined to fulfilling it because as they say, word is bond. I’ll never make a promise to myself that I cannot keep and I try desperately to do the same with the people I care about as well.

So my goal for 2015 is to try to say less and do more for the sake of my loved ones and for myself.

After all, in the end, “It’s what you do to the people you say you love. That’s what matters. That’s the only thing that matters”The Last Kiss

A Quick Guide to Celebrating the New Year

As we are reaching the home stretch of another year, our eyes begin to widen and twinkle with hopes for a New Year. Out with the old and in with the new, many of us might say. But what makes New Year’s so special? Why do we celebrate and drink the night away long after the hour of midnight just to wake up with the same familiar headache as the previous year?

Many of us, including myself, get very nostalgic during this time of year. We reflect on the events that have happened in the months past. We hold onto the good memories as we attempt to forget the bad ones. We remember the friends who have come and gone. We carefully evaluate the seasons of change.  We think back on the defining moments. Then, we try to construct a plan for how to make the next year even better than the last. We write resolutions and make promises to ourselves and to each other that we often know we cannot keep. Why do we do this?

We do this because New Year’s is our opportunity at a clean slate, a fresh start. So here are a few tips for mentally preparing for that flip of the calendar:

Celebrate with the people that you truly care about

Getting sh*t-faced in a beat-bumping, crowded club with a thousand strangers is fun…once in a while. Try to spend your time with the people who are truly worth your time. If you’re somewhere that you don’t want to be, you’ll always look back and think about the people who weren’t with you rather than those who were. These are the moments you can’t get back. Celebrate with your real friends and the loved ones that matter.

Don’t set unrealistic expectations for the night (or the year)

Just remember that you can’t control everything. Things don’t always go as planned. You might not be able to meet up with your friends across town. You might lose your credit card. You might not get that magical midnight kiss. Go with the flow, enjoy the night as it comes, and be understanding that your “perfect night” doesn’t always look like a scene from the movies. The best moments are the ones that are unplanned. Setting unrealistic expectations just sets us up for failure. Have fun and embrace spontaneity.

 Don’t dwell on the past

The past is there for you to remember, not to dwell on. The past is the past. As cliché as it may sound, a New Year means a new you. Take what you have learned from the past and apply it to the present. Don’t get hurt all over again by the same person. Don’t let ghosts from the past haunt you. Sure, there were tough times, heartbreaks, and moments when you felt defeated, but you have the opportunity to move forward. Don’t dwell.

We celebrate New Year’s because we are celebrating life. We celebrate the unpredictable moments. We celebrate making it past all of the struggles, the sad moments, and the disappointments. We celebrate new relationships, new jobs, new places to travel, and more. We can never know exactly how far we can go until we’ve gone there. In light of a New Year, we look back at how far we have come and we celebrate the opportunity to go even further.

As we scramble to make plans with our friends and anxiously await that momentous countdown to midnight, we prepare ourselves for the unknown. Put on your party hats, search for that fabulous sequin dress, and get your bottle of champagne ready, 2015 here we come!

All or Nothing

I had all of my wisdom teeth removed yesterday. Not exactly a life-changing moment or milestone, but whenever something out of the ordinary happens, I tend to get uber-philosophical and try to find some sort of meaning in that particular experience.

Now, I’m not going to create some kind of ironic metaphor for how having my wisdom teeth removed is a rite of passage or how it marks my official “adulthood” because it’s not and it doesn’t. I am, however, going to write about something else (which honestly could have been attached to any other experience) The timing for this just happened to be right, and in all honestly, I’m just alone and bored at the moment.

Lately, I’ve been especially bored with my life. The month of January has been rather dull and un-eventful. They say that’s how it usually goes though. After the holidays, everyone is just in recovery mode and the New Year starts off pretty slow. It’s funny how life works like that. Two months ago, I had way too much going on. I was completely over-whelmed and in desperate need of a break. Yet, now that I have this quiet time, I’m begging for something interesting to happen.

My roommate texted me a quote a few weeks ago. The quote went something like this; “Life has many ways of testing a person’s will, either by having nothing happen at all or by having everything happen all at once”

It seems that these words are finally sinking in for me.

Some people live off of chaos. I’m that kind of person. I’m not talking about destructive, evil chaos. I just mean that I like the rush of when there is a lot happening all at once. It gives me something to write about.

Whenever I know that I have a busy weekend, week, or month coming up, I can’t help but countdown the days until it happens. I try to hide it, but I’m not very good at concealing my emotions. So, ever since I scheduled my appointment to have my wisdom teeth removed, it was all I could think about because I really had nothing else to look forward to. I had mentioned in my previous blog entry that I was a good planner. Well, it’s because I like seeing how things will pan out. I enjoy witnessing the fruits of my labor.

I always complain about how I’m such a stressed person. I guess I really shouldn’t complain because in some sort of weird, masochistic way, I like the stress in my life. I thrive off of everything happening all at once because honestly, whenever nothing is happening, I get anxious and am begging for some sort of dramatic situation.

I know that it’s only the start of 2014 and I’m sure things are going to pick up soon, but I just can’t wait until the next chaotic period to come. As they say, it’s all or nothing.

New Year, New You

In an effort to avoid bombarding readers with an additional “Happy New Year!” post on New Year’s Eve, I’m going to publish this post early since it’s something that has already been on my mind for the past few months.

I caught up with a close friend last night, and we talked for hours about various topics about life. When we arrived at the topic of what our plans were for New Year’s Eve, we both began to look back on how much has changed in our lives this past year.

We’re approaching the end of 2013 and are about to begin another new year full of new experiences and memories that we’ll eventually reflect on as we, once again, approach the end of the year.

Although a new year may not seem so monumental to some people, it’s quite monumental to me. It’s a time to sit down and look back on all of the things have happened in the span of a year; the gains, the losses; the heartbreaks, the accomplishments; the failures. I always look forward to a new year and view it as an opportunity to learn and grow from the year(s) prior. I pin point the highlights, whether they be good or bad.

It’s always nice to have someone who has been there with you throughout the year; to help recall on the memories that we tend to block out; the hard times. It’s funny when we remember the hard times. Looking back, it never seems as bad as it actually was when we were in the heat of the moment. Remembering the hard times is what reassures me that I’ll get through life’s obstacles and come out of them being a stronger person, with a better perspective on life. It allows me to focus on the things that I want to change about myself.

I don’t write in my journal as much I did prior to buying my iPad, but I do still use it as another tool (other than my friends) to help me recall memories and events from past years. One major thing that I still use it for is to see if I actually accomplished the things I set out to do in the upcoming year.

I’ve developed this tradition with myself (ever since I’ve had my journal) where I list out realistic goals that I want to accomplish in that year. I’m proud to say that I typically accomplish the goals that I set out for myself. It’s because I’m the kind of person that believes that word is bond. Aside from making promises to other people, the most important promises we make are the ones we make to ourselves. If we can’t hold true to the things we set out for ourselves, how can we ever expect to hold true to the things that we tell other people?

It may seem selfish, but it’s absolutely necessary to work on yourself first before getting involved with someone or something that may take up a significant amount of our time. We should try to be the best version of ourselves, always. And this is why I’ve heavily overused the phrase, “New Year, New You” this past month as I’ve reflected on 2013 (A phrase that is a re-occurring theme for a majority of the January issues within my company’s magazine titles)

New Year, New You.

2014 is another new year where we have the opportunity to become whoever we want to be; to utilize the experiences that happened in the past year and learn from them.

Here’s to 2014.