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.

 

“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!