Tag Archives: no alcohol

21 for 2021: week 9

Week 09/2021: week of 1 March

21 for 2021 update

Last year, one of my 20 for 2020 things was to have a month without alcohol. I started that on 2 March 20202 and I haven’t had a drink since then. So this week marked the one-year anniversary of my last drink. We went to Dunalley for lunch at the pub and stopped at Barilla Bay to get oysters on the way. I bought a can of their Oyster Stout, which I was going to drink at home that evening. I didn’t and it‘s still in the fridge where I left it on 1 March 2020. 

I still haven’t decided whether the alcohol-free thing is a permanent change. I quite like saying “I don’t drink” but I still have some rather delicious beverages in my beer cellar that I would very much like to try. So I need to work out a way to drink them but not make drinking a mindless habit like it used to be for me.

I had some interesting work to do this week, which made the week go faster. That was nice and I actually enjoyed being at work. Well you know, apart from the noise. On the recommendation of my audiologist, I got some noise-cancelling earbuds, which are a lot more portable than the headphones I’ve been using and they’ve been making a big difference in my capacity to function and not get overwhelmed in noisy situations both inside and outside. 

I’ve also been working through a couple of non-work courses in my spare time, which are on two topics that are totally unrelated and I’m finding great joy in discovering the connections between two topics that I would have thought were completely different areas. It has been an interesting week of discovery for me. 

I’m still working through the habits chapter of the Change Journal (thing 7) with my yoga stretches, the pre-work ritual (thing 20) and now the post-work ritual. Now that I have my exercise program from the exercise physiologist (thing 1), I need to build that into my routine as well. I’ve decided there are a couple of the exercises that I will try and do every day and track them in the Change Journal, and then the rest of the program I’m going to do four days a week instead of my afternoon walk.

I had to get out of the house on Saturday afternoon, so I decided to take my SLR camera for a walk (thing 16). I picked up this camera, a Pentax Z70 with a 28-80mm lens, from a second-hand camera shop in Canberra many years ago. I went to a class to learn how to use it but found everything too overwhelming, and ended up staying in green mode most of the time. Around that time I moved to the country and, having been inspired by the work of a local landscape photographer, spent some time photographing rural scenes with it. I didn’t use it much after I got my first digital camera. I remember going through a roll or two of film when Kramstable was a baby but, apart from that, it’s been sitting in a drawer for the past 13 years or more. I still had a battery for it and there was a roll of film in it with about seven exposures left on it. I have absolutely no idea what is on the rest of the film, so I figured what better way to find out than to finish it off. The film is very expired so this could be very interesting when I take it into the camera shop to get processed.

After having gotten used to a digital SLR, I found the controls on this camera to be very minimal, and the instruction book that came with it even more so. I eventually worked out how to put it into manual mode and how to adjust the exposure and shutter speed. Before now, I’d only used it in manual mode for the class, when all of this was very new to me. At least now, having had the experience of using a digital SLR in manual, I had some idea what I was doing, even if I wasn’t sure exactly how to do it.

For my first photo, the camera wouldn’t focus. This was not going well. Then I remembered that the lens gets stuck at the extreme end of its focus range and needs a little jiggle to get “unstuck”. Right. It was so weird to hear the buzz of the film advancing as I pressed the shutter instead of the digital click, and even more odd that I couldn’t look down at the non-existent LCD screen to see what the photo looked like. That’s a habit that’s very hard to get out of.

I used up the film, it rewound itself and I’m going to take it into the shop next week to see what’s on it. I’m not calling this thing done yet. I want to go out somewhere and make photos with it for a few hours and use at least one roll of film.

Vegetable of the week

Thing 2 is to choose a different vegetable every week from the book In Praise of Veg and make a recipe from the book using that vegetable. 

This week I chose bok choy and I cooked Alice’s Grilled Bok Choy with Peanut Sauce (page 434) on Tuesday. I have to say the amount of peanut butter I’m going through to cook the recipes in this book is pretty phenomenal, but peanut butter, yum! I’m not complaining. 

Grilled bok choy

I probably could have served this with another veggie dish but I poached some chicken breasts, shred them and serve with rice noodles. It was a simple dish overall, excellent for mid-week. 

On Saturday it was time for a fully vegetarian dish, Seven-Spice Butternut Tagine (page 160). This had a lovely combination of coriander, cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg and pepper. As well as butternut pumpkin (squash), it had tomatoes, chickpeas and red capsicum. It was really nice with lots of leftovers. I’d definitely make this again.

Butternut squash tagine

Regular projects

There are several things on my list that I have made a regular commitment to doing in the hope that this will be more likely to make me do them. I worked on these ones this week.

  • Thing 5: Spend an hour a week working through my annoying undone things list. One hour on Saturday morning. I didn’t do this. In lieu of this, Kramstable and I spent at least an hour trying to catch one small chicken and lock her away with the others after we’d seen a hawk in the yard. Four of the others were appropriately terrified and huddled in the chook house. One so much so that she let me pick her up and hold her for basically as long as I wanted. I had managed to lure one of the other two, who are now candidates for the most stupid birds in the flock, into the cage with food, and had almost got the last one in when the first one got back out again and refused to be caught. It was a very traumatic time as we imagined what her fate might be if the hawk returned and she was still running around the yard, but catching her seemed like an impossible task. In frustration, I decided to get some water to fill up the bowls and while I was out of the yard, Kramstable, by some miracle, had finally managed to grab the elusive chicken and we got her into the cage with the others.
The elusive chicken refusing to be caught
  • Thing 9: Write my mother’s life story. I went to see my mum on Thursday as usual. She showed me a photo of her grandfather’s house in Scotland that he had built in 1918. I managed to locate it on Google streetview, so it was cool to see where it was. I doubt the oil rigs would have been the bay in 1918 but it was cool to see the town where his family had lived for a time. 
  • Thing 11: Complete the Compelling Frame course. I worked some more on lesson 5. I need to do the practical exercise. It’s been hard to photograph something in full sun when the days have been overcast and rainy though! I watched the video for lesson 6 as well.
  • Thing 17: Brainsparker gym*. I worked on lesson 3 of the third module, which explained the “empathy map”. I missed this month’s live workout on Thursday because my alarm didn’t go off, which I’m very annoyed about because I really enjoyed the last one.

21 for 2021 summary

  • Things completed this week: 0
  • Things completed to date: 1 (1)
  • Things I progressed: 7 (2, 4, 9, 11, 16, 17, 20)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress: 5 (5, 6, 8, 13, 18)
  • Things not started: 8 (3, 7, 10, 12, 14, 15, 19, 21)

Blast from the past

Following on from my 10-year review of my blog, here’s another one of my favourite 2011 posts. This one is from 9 May 2011: Happiness what.

I think the point I wrote then is still true today:

. . . while I’m waiting for my life to be perfect, my life goes on. I’m wishing some things were different but I’m not doing anything about them, and at the same time I’m not really appreciating the things I do have

9 May 2011

What I’m reading this week

  • Personality Hacker by Joel Mark Witt & Antonia Dodge
  • Me by Elton John
  • The Summer Island Festival by Rachel Burton
I totally enjoyed this. It made me laugh, it made me cry. Recommended.

Habit tracker

  • Days I did my morning planning routine at work (Goal = 4): 4
  • Days I did my post-work pack up routine (Goal = 4): 4
  • Days I worked on my art (Goal = 2): 3
  • Days I read a book (Goal = 7): 7 
  • Days I did yoga stretches (Goal = 7): 7
  • Days I had a lunch break away from my desk (Goal = 5 work days): 5
  • Days I went for a walk or did other physical activity in the afternoon (Goal = 7): 7
  • Days I shut my computer down before 10.15 (Goal = 7): 6

20 for 2020: week 14

Week of 30 March

My 20 for 2020 list.

Things continue to change in the world at a rapid rate as the covid pandemic wreaks havoc across the world. More and more people from my work are working at home as we are told to stay at home unless we absolutely have to go out for work, to get food or medical supplies or to exercise (alone or with no more than one other person). People are joking that the world of social distancing and staying home is something introverts have been doing for years, and I can relate to that.

20200401 Bus Mall 1001am

Deserted bus mall being cleaned. The construction work is still going on.

Adding a couple more days to my working from home routine is a welcome relief from the noisy open-plan office (which is remarkably not noisy now, because most people aren’t coming in any more). And the weird thing about that is, I have endured the noise for over two years and now it’s so quiet, it’s unnerving because it’s not supposed to be so quiet. And that makes it hard to concentrate. As opposed to weekends when I’ve gone in to study with no one there and been super-productive because on a weekend it’s meant to be like that. It gives me a real sense of unease to be in there at the moment and I’ll be relieved when I don’t need to go in there any more.

20200330 Macquarie & Harrington St 904am 2

Macquarie Street, Monday 30 March 2020, 9.04 am

However, working from home while there are other people there doing the same thing has its own challenges. It seems to make a big difference, just having other people in the house, to how it feels to be there.

20200330 Stay at home

Front page of the Mercury, Monday 30 March 2020

All very small problems compared to the scale of this issue and the chaos, fear and tragedy it’s causing across the world and I’m sure I will find ways to deal with it. I’m grateful that I still have my job and that my workplace is still a safe place to be.

While the schools were still open this week, they asked us to not send our kids if we were able to supervise their learning at home. With at least one parent at home every day, we were in a position to do that. Kramstable has been working on the material set up by his teachers this week, and I’ve been impressed by his ability to make himself a schedule, that includes breaks, and stick to it each day. School holidays will start a week early to give the schools more time to put learning resources online for next term. The school has been great with its communication and I am really impressed with the work everyone is doing to make this as minimally disruptive to the kids as possible. We’re in for an interesting time over the next few months adapting to new ways of learning.

20200331 Frilly pants edit

I can’t ride to work in these pants but they are brilliant house pants

I am trying to hold myself to as much of a routine as I can in this strange world, which means going on my non-negotiable walk every morning at 5.30 (or thereabouts), doing my 15 minutes of creative work, getting dressed, eating breakfast and having movement breaks during the day whether I’m working at home or in the office. I’ve started to add a morning mindfulness activity into the mix to try and keep myself more grounded but I think I might need to work this in a couple of other times during the day.

I’m rolling with my 20 things as best as I can. One of the big ones was completing 30 days alcohol free on Tuesday (thing 5). I did this in March last year for 19 for 2019 and went straight back to drinking almost as soon as I’d finished. I struggled with maintaining drinking in moderate amounts, in not drinking on weeknights, in not drinking late at night . . . and the result was I was feeling really down on myself for not being able to control myself better. I couldn’t understand why I could easily go without a drink for a month but then rarely go one night after that.

This time I did my 30 days in conjunction with the book The Alcohol Experiment by Annie Grace, which offers you new ways to think about alcohol, why you drink and whether alcohol is really giving you what you want.

20200402 The Alcohol Experiment

The Alcohol Experiment

I was reluctant to try this experiment because I was worried that the result might be I would never want to drink again and (at least I thought) I rather enjoyed drinking. I won’t say too much other than it has completely changed the way I think about alcohol and made me realise that I don’t really want to drink at all right now. Never is a long time, and Annie cautions against committing to never drink again for the rest of your life, so I won’t say I never want to drink again. But right now, especially right now when the temptation might be to drown out the fear and anxiety about what’s happening in the world with alcohol, I don’t want to drink.

The good thing about this book is it asks you to consider what you want to do after the 30 days, not just run you through the 30 days and leave you on your own, which I was when I did my alcohol-free month last year. Being more mindful and informed this year, I think I have a much better chance of not getting back onto that slippery slope that I fell onto last year. For now, I have made the decision not to drink.

20200402 St Davids Park 2

Autumn hasn’t been cancelled

I have been working on my photo project (thing 1) and I’m now into the tidying up stage of it. I’ve been reading before I go to sleep (thing 14), which is not my favourite time to read, but it’s the only time that’s working for me at the moment.

20200401 Walking

Reading about walking

I did a bit more work on my monthly review (thing 22) to try and work out my goals for April. I got a bit lost last week when I did it and am still not sure what I’m tying to do. I feel very unsettled and ungrounded at the moment but I think that’s probably a very common reaction to what’s going on in the world around me, and the fact that the world as I know it is very different to the world I was in this time last month.

20200405 Sunrise Taroona Beach

Walking alone is still allowed

Summary for the week

  • Things completed this week: #5
  • Things completed to date: 7 (4, 5, 6, 10, 15, 16, 18)
  • Things I progressed: 3 (1, 14, 22)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress: 5 (3, 7, 8, 11, 13)
  • Things not started: 7 (2, 9, 12, 17, 19, 20, 21)
  • Days I stuck to my 15 minutes creative habit this week: 7
  • Days I read a book for at least 15 minutes:  7

19 for 2019: week 13 update

Week of 25 March

On Sunday I completed the month without alcohol challenge (thing 13). I went for a whole month without a drink. Yay me!

I’ve written a lot about doing this over the month and I’m not going to go over it all again other than to say I feel a whole lot more energetic, I get tired earlier and go to bed earlier, which was my goal for the month. I also lost somewhere between 3.5 and 4.5 kilos, depending on which day I weighed myself.

I was listening to the Happier podcast over the weekend, where Gretchen Rubin and Liz Craft were discussing, conveniently, giving up something for 30 days.  Liz mentioned that she had given up alcohol for 30 days. She said that she felt she was drinking a lot of wine mindlessly so she decided to eliminate it, and that if she decided to bring it back in, she would be more mindful and less habitual about it. She considered it a good way to break the habit and see how she felt without it.

Something Gretchen observed was that people give up something for a period (like 30 days) as a way to get into a new habit of not having that thing and that the 30-day “without” period helps them to rethink their patterns associated with the old habit. But she also found that sometimes people give up something and think they have created a habit whereas, in reality, they have just achieved a goal, that is, the month. And that if they want to keep going it’s harder, because having reached the goal they have to start again, which she suggests can be harder than the initial abstinence. To avert this, Gretchen says you need to think of the month as a milestone in a bigger change that you’re making, not as an end goal.

In the chapter on rewards in her book Better than Before, Gretchen discusses this topic and she observes that “the real test of a 30-day blast is what happens on day 31”. She recommends that if you do this type of thing with a view to kickstarting a new habit, you should decide in advance what you’re going to do to keep the habit going after you’ve reached the milestone.

Last time I gave up alcohol I hadn’t thought about this at all and day 31 was Friday and there may have been a very large can of a product I very much enjoy consuming waiting for me . . . and it ended at 30 days.

This time, day 31 was actually day 32 and it was Monday and I’d already decided that I’m going to reinstate the habit I’d been trying to bring in for many months of not drinking on a school night. Like Liz, I want to be more mindful about drinking and make a deliberate choice about when I am going to do it, and how much I will drink, not just sit down at night and fall into that deadly trap of drinking and Youtube.

I have some more to write on this over coming days but right now I know the first danger time will be the day I decide to have my first drink.

This week’s numbers:

Day 25 (Monday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 16,2447 | Bedtime: 9.55

Day 26 (Tuesday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 16,292 | Bedtime: 9.55

Day 27 (Wednesday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 17,474 | Bedtime: 9.30

Day 28 (Thursday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 22,208 | Bedtime: 10.00

Day 29 (Friday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 18,485 | Bedtime: 10.00

Day 30 (Saturday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 15,707 | Bedtime: 10.00

Day 31 (Sunday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 20,645 | Bedtime: 10.00

With that step count, I finished the Cancer Council’s March Charge fundraiser with a grand total of 373 km for the month (73 km over my target distance) and I raised $420.62. And I achieved my goal of going to bed before 10.30 every night. Now there’s one I really have to keep an eye on maintaining!

I didn’t make a lot of progress on other things, but here’s what I did in week 13.

Thing 6: Wellbeing: I made a cabbage salad to have for lunch (actually that was last week). It was really good. Will do again. I added quinoa to it this week.

Thing 12: 33 Beers: Complete. I finished Book 10 and added in the beers I have tried in book 11 for a total of 345 beers. The idea is if I’m out somewhere and want to know if I’ve tried a beer before I can look it up on my fancy Google spreadsheet and find out.

Thing 19: Lightroom: Still using it.

Status for week 13

  • Things completed this week: 2 (12, 13)
  • Things completed: 8 (3, 5, 7, 8. 9, 12, 13, 15)
  • Things I progressed: 2 (6, 19)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress: 5 (1, 2, 11, 16, 18)
  • Things not started: 4 (4, 10, 14, 17)

Water, water and more water

On Tuesday I wrote about how I was going to attempt Chris Bailey’s water experiment that he wrote about in The Productivity Project. Chris gave up coffee, alcohol and soft drink for a month and drank only water. A lot of water. He says he drank four litres of water a day and nothing else. As far as I can see, he doesn’t say specifically that drinking nothing but water (and a lot of it) gave him more energy; it was more that cutting out the other drinks did. He discovered that for him, four litres was what he needed. He suggests that if you drink three (women) or four (men) litres a day you will be “surprised at how much energy you have”.

My challenge was to increase my water intake to three litres a day for the last week of my no-alcohol challenge to see if Chris’ hypotheses that doubling my water intake would make me feel better.

It actually wasn’t hard to drink that much, and even more, water, especially when I wasn’t drinking anything else. I always drink 500 ml when I wake up and am usually thirsty when I get back from my walk, but don’t usually drink anything then. So it was easy enough to add in another 500 ml when I got home from my walk. One litre before 6 am. Easy.

I have a one-litre water bottle at work and most days last week it wasn’t difficult to fill it twice during the day, which made up the remaining two litres. At home, most days after work I also indulged in carbonated water with lemon juice. Yeah, I know. Not quite the same as a late afternoon cider but very refreshing.

I’m surprised at how easy it was to drink three to four litres a day when previously I often struggled with two. It was almost like the more water I drank the more I wanted to drink.

Interesting.

I’m not sure if I can say after a week that drinking more water increased my energy. I certainly didn’t have any more energy last week than I did in the previous two weeks when I started to notice an impact from the other things I was doing. I’m sure that drinking less alcohol has increased my energy, as has getting more sleep, and I think the two things are related.

However, I think there’s a point during the afternoon or early evening when you need to stop drinking water or you’ll find yourself waking up at stupid hours in the morning needing the bathroom and being unable to get back to sleep. And when that happens and you’re back to the five or six hours of sleep you were getting before the no-alcohol month, all the benefits of going to bed earlier are wiped out and you have a lot less energy the next two days until you get so tired you crash and eventually get a full night’s sleep.

Or maybe that’s just me?

I know there’s lots of ideas floating around on how much water you need, the potential side effects of drinking too much water, what happens if you don’t drink enough . . . it gets very overwhelming trying to work out what’s right! I think the key is to figure out what works for you and that might be different on different days depending on what you’ve been doing, the weather and a heap of other factors I can’t think of right now.

For me, I don’t think that drinking more than two litres of water a day (and nothing else) had any real benefits so I’m not going to make any real effort to continue to do it. If I want a herb tea or a brewed cacao drink I’ll have it. If I want water, I’ll have that. If I want a beer, well . . . stay tuned for more on that.

Water, water everywhere

This is the last week of my 30 days no-alcohol challenge. Yes, I have almost survived a month of no cider Sunday, no beer and pizza on Friday, no wine with cooking dinner on Saturday . . . and it hasn’t been hard at all. Yay! I feel great and I’m certain that this has contributed to me having more energy most days no than I did on most days at the start of the month.

Whether this is because not drinking has led to me being more tired (or actually noticing that I’m tired) earlier in the evening so I’ve gone to bed earlier and got more sleep, or whether it’s the absence of this drug in my system, I can’t say. It’s probably both.

I’ve mentioned Chis Bailey’s book The Productivity Project in previous posts, which is where the energy tracking experiment that I’ve been doing in conjunction with the no alcohol/no coffee/more sleep challenge came from.

In Chapter 23 (which I need to point out is in the section of the book called “Taking Productivity to the Next Level”—yep, that’s me, next level productivity!!), Chris talks about how he only drank water for a month. His intention had just been to see what happened when he removed caffeine and alcohol for his diet but he then found he had increased energy from drinking huge amounts of water—like four litres a day! He suggests three litres for women and proposes if you drink this much water “you will be surprised at how much energy you have especially if you’re already dehydrated”.

Now, I know there are lovers and haters of the two-litres of water a day regimen and that there are many different views on whether you need that amount, more, less, much more, much less, only drink when you’re thirsty, if you only drink when you’re thirsty you’re already dehydrated and you should have been drinking more . . .

I don’t know.

Advice on how much water you need is confusing and inconsistent and I honestly don’t know who is right. I suspect it’s different for everyone and it’s probably different every day depending on what you’re doing that day. However, I don’t think that experimenting with drinking three litres of water a day for a week will be enough to damage myself significantly so I’m prepared to give it a go this week, the final week of my no-alcohol challenge, and see what happens.

This means I have to give up my coffee substitute for a week, which is a brewed cacao product called Crio Brü. This has no sugar, no caffeine but contains a substance called theobromine, which apparently has similar but milder stimulant effects as caffeine, without the addiction or the crash factor that caffeine has. It has potential health benefits as well which may or may not be real. If they are, bonus for me. If they aren’t, I haven’t found anything that says the stuff is bad for you like caffeine probably is, so I’m happy to keep drinking it instead of coffee, for now at least. It means I still can indulge in the habit of a morning hot drink but without the caffeine side effects.

Green tea would do it too, but yuck.

However, in the interests of the experiment, I will have a break from it for a week. I’ll miss a morning hot drink but I think I can cope.

So that’s the plan for this week. I don’t think, having stopped drinking coffee and alcohol, and already not consuming soft drinks, that missing a cup or two of cacao and a couple of herbal teas in favour of more water will make that much of a difference to my energy levels but I’m happy to try it out.

Update: Day 1

Monday: I noticed no difference in my energy after 3+ litres of water. I had a slight energy slump in the afternoon but this could have been caused by going into work early, not going out at lunchtime and not having eaten enough during the day. (You reckon?)

19 for 2019: week 12 update

Week of 18 March 2019

I’m really happy looking at my 19 for 2019 list stuck on my wall near my desk. I have six of the 19 things I wanted to do this year ticked off and it’s only March.

I finished my reading goal of 12 books for 2019, including six fiction books (thing 5), in week 11 and I think that might have been a pretty low bar. However, I’m not going to change it. I’ve made reading a habit that I do every morning and I’ve been sticking to it pretty much every day.

I’ve also started reading a few pages in bed before I turn out the light, which is something I always said I hated to do, read in bed. But I think that might have changed because my usual habit has been to be on the computer right up until I’m ready for bed and then crash straight into bed after I turned it off. This month I’ve been turning the computer off an hour before the time I’ve set as my bedtime so I’ve had some time before I feel ready to go to sleep to read. As well as that, on some days I’ve been finding pockets of time where I’ve sat down with one of the (four) books I have on the go and read a few pages then too.

So yes, I am reading more, and I’m keeping my reading list updated here if you’re interested.

I’ve now completed 24 of my 30-days alcohol-free challenge (thing 13) and it’s going well. As part of this, I’ve been tracking my energy every hour for the last three weeks. I’m still not sure whether I can draw any conclusions about what my “biological prime times” might be (you can read about that here), since I think the first week and a half at least are unreliable due to the fact I was in the process of getting used to being alcohol (and coffee) free. But looking back over the day to day averages, I can say for sure my energy levels as a whole have increased over the month. I don’t even need the spreadsheet to tell me that. I’ve felt more energetic than I did before, more motivated and more able to get things done. (This is not going to stop me tinkering with the spreadsheet and making some graphs and analysing it to death once the month is over . . . )

This week’s numbers:

Day 18 (Monday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 17,315 | Bedtime: 10.15

Day 19 (Tuesday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 15,874 | Bedtime: 10.15

Day 20 (Wednesday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 18,720 | Bedtime: 10.00

Day 21 (Thursday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 23,001 | Bedtime: 10.00

Day 22 (Friday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 16,163 | Bedtime: 10.00

Day 23 (Saturday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 17,055 | Bedtime: 9.55

Day 24 (Sunday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 16,268 | Bedtime: 9.55.

As for the other things, here’s how I went in week 12.

Photo course (thing 1): I submitted some photos that I took last week for assignment 16.20190317 Wrest Point Casino 2-Edit

Walk from Taroona to Moonah (thing 3): I did this last Sunday but I’ve now written a blog post about it if you want to check out the full story and some photos.

Wellbeing work (thing 6): I have done a lot of reading and note-taking and planning of ways to bring more vegetables into my diet. The next step is to actually follow through. Always my stumbling point!

Photojournal (thing 11): I printed the last four collages on Monday and have stuck 26 into the book to complete the first book. 26 to go and I’m done!

33 Beers book (thing 12): I entered book 9 into the spreadsheet. One more to go (and the one currently in progress).

Bucket List book (thing 18): I’ve added a couple more things to the draft list. I know I’m probably missing the point with this book. I should just write the things in there and get on with doing them rather than making a list and then working out what to put in and what to leave out. It’s just a book, after all. And if I end up getting them all done I can always get another book . . . I don’t need to limit myself to 100 things.

Lightroom (thing 19): I’ve been editing some photos on the desktop version instead of on my phone.

Status for week 12

  • Things completed this week: 0
  • Things completed: 6 (3, 5, 7, 8. 9, 15)
  • Things I progressed: 7 (1, 6, 11, 12, 13, 18 19)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress:  2, 16,
  • Things not started: 4 (4, 10, 14, 17)

30 days alcohol free: day 10

I wrote this post on Sunday, day 10 of the 30-day no alcohol challenge, and felt like it hadn’t been difficult at all. I’d been feeling really good about it. I guess that’s a good thing. I’d hate to be finding out that I’m addicted to alcohol and was unable to give it up!

(Confession: Later that day, around 5pm, when I was cooking dinner, I did start to feel like I was missing out. I had started a tradition on Sundays where I’d sit with a cider and write up my week in my photojournal. It was the first time I really felt like having a drink, but I didn’t cave in and I ate cheese instead. Lemon Mineral Water Sunday doesn’t quite cut it when I’m used to Cider Sunday!)

I was talking to a workmate, who I discovered is also having a break from alcohol, about this challenge. One of the things I’ve observed, other than feeling a lot less physically heavy, is that I am getting more tired at night, around 9 pm, and feel like I’m ready to go to bed at 10pm. When I’d had a few drinks in the evening, I rarely felt like this and was regularly able to stay up until past 11pm. My workmate said the same thing and we concluded that alcohol masks the tired symptoms so that you feel more aware and alert, but your body really is tired and is ready for sleep a lot earlier than you think it is.

So going to bed earlier, which is not one of my 19 for 2019 things, but is something I need to do so that I get more sleep and have more energy, has been something I haven’t had to try very hard to do now that I’m not dealing with the “I’m not tired” feeling that comes from having a few drinks in the evening.

In Chapter 23 of The Productivity Project, Chris Bailey writes about his 30-day experiment to drink only water. He cut out all coffee, alcohol and sugary drinks from his diet, much like I’m doing (as of Sunday). Like me, Chris already didn’t drink soft drink, but unlike me, he says he didn’t drink a lot of coffee or alcohol before he started.

I already touched on coffee on Saturday (sob!) and noted Chris’ comment that by consuming caffeine you are “borrowing” energy from later in the day. Along the same line, he suggests that drinking alcohol is “borrowing” energy from the next day. He says that it may “provide you with a bit more energy and creativity as you drink it, but it will also almost always provide you with a net loss in energy and productivity and make it much more difficult to accomplish what you intend to—especially after you come down off the buzz the drug gives you. [ . . . ] In the morning you have to pay interest on the energy loans. This leaves you with a net loss in energy.”

His conclusion after the 30-day experiment of no coffee or alcohol was that by the end of the month he began to have a huge amount of energy and that the amount of energy he had was much more stable; it didn’t fluctuate anywhere near as much as it had when he’d had a few drinks every week.

Chris suggests that most people (me!) won’t want to completely cut alcohol out of their diet but that if you understand the effects of drinking on your energy levels, you can make the decision on what to drink intentionally knowing the consequences.

This is a different way, to me, of looking at alcohol consumption than the normal messages of how bad it is for our health and the health risks associated with drinking, which are not insignificant.

I often read about how alcohol can overload our livers, contribute to weight gain, increase our risk of some cancers, and I completely disregard the current recommendations for “acceptable” drinking of two standard drinks a day, with two alcohol-free days a week. I don’t doubt any of this information but, despite overwhelming evidence about the risks of drinking, I have never been able to use that as motivation to reduce my consumption. It always seems as though those consequences happen to other people, or they take years to manifest and I have plenty of time to change my habits and, until then, I can go on doing as I please.

I know that this is not true. There are, no doubt, heaps of studies into why trying to encourage people to change unhealthy habits by telling them what the risks of their behaviour are often doesn’t work. Do gruesome photos on cigarette packs work? Smokers know the risks, yet they continue to smoke. Likewise, people who drink know the health consequences of doing so. I know them yet I continue to regularly drink at unsafe levels. (I know there’s a lot more factors involved and it’s a lot more complicated than this for many people. But this is a blog post, not a scientific paper and I’m writing about my experiences, not about the complexities associated with overcoming addiction and other related issues!)

What Chris’ experiment showed him, and what I’m hoping mine will show me, is the immediate consequences of drinking. Not the long-term possibilities that might affect future me. I’m hoping for results similar to Chris’ results so that when this experiment is over I will be more likely to make conscious, intentional decisions around if, when and how much I drink, knowing what the impact of those decisions on achieving my goals will be.

Today is day 14. All is good.