So Easter was a couple Sundays ago. For everyone reading, it probably meant the following: another candy holiday, an opportunity to have a friends Easter brunch, maybe you visited family, and maybe you went to Church for one of the two times of the year that you go (sorry in advance to non-Christian readers. I hope your Purim was baller).
For me, this was probably the most significant Easter of my life. I can now start drinking again.
That’s right, I gave up alcohol for Lent.
I didn’t really do this for very religious reasons, or because I had any sort of problem. The main impulse was: I am fat. I want to be less fat. What comes below are a couple of key learnings from an arduous process that I can’t in good conscious recommend to anyone.
Yes, I lost weight.
Not an absurd amount like Andy from Parks and Rec, but noticeable and semi-embarrassing nonetheless. Also and even more incredible is that the pounds fell off when I was pretty sedentary. A couple of busy months at work combined with Mrs. Icehouse traveling a lot led to me being a single dad and not making it to the gym a whole lot. Which is fine, babies can’t squat for shit anyway.
It’s not as hard as I thought it would be.
Maybe it’s because I don’t live the single dude barhopping life anymore, and can generally avoid alcohol pretty easily, but on the whole, once I told myself “we’re not drinking” I didn’t need to drink. It probably also helped that I live in Colorado and have other legal options, too, for when the going got tough. I said I gave up drinking, not that I went completely sober.
Sometimes it was really hard.
These times were pretty sneaky. I still went out to bars with friends, attended all-day birthday drinkathons, and even went to a brewery by myself (they have awesome wings). But if you know about these things in advance and wrap your mind around them, they’re not that bad. It’s really the little things that surprised me. For instance, I love grilling out. I take pretty much any opportunity to do so. BUT when your usual grilling cadence involves lighting up the grill and cracking open a beer (or a nice chardonnay, depending on what you’re cooking), your desire and ability to grill suffer. Something is just off.
I was more productive.
In a shocking twist of events, when you show up to work bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 8 a.m. on Monday, you are better at working. Also, as the week progresses, you have more energy and a clearer mind. This isn’t rocket surgery y’all.
Lent is not always 40 days.
Did you know that? I sure didn’t. I started by counting the days and weeks that had gone by, but then had to switch, like Taylor in Platoon. It was just too depressing to realize I wasn’t as far as I thought I was. This year’s Lent was 48 days. 48! Jesus was in the desert being tempted by the devil for 40 days. Stick to that, you idiots.
I saved money.
Daddy got a new pair of shoes! But interestingly, this made me more excited for nights out. What used to be a $100 date turned into a $70 date, stuff like that. Everything got a new cost/benefit ratio, which, for the most part, was positive.
Alcohol affects me more now.
I’m not a small guy by anyone’s definition. But 2 beers are enough for me to get a pretty healthy buzz at this point. It should be noted that I don’t drink any 5pt macro beer, so adjust the equation as necessary. The point remains, as my internal organs processed all remaining crap out of my system and learned to exist without weekly (daily) punishment, they began to function more efficiently. Now, the influx of poisons get processed on the quick and I can have a pretty darn good time and still be legal to drive.
Hangovers are worse.
It’s not for everyone. And for those it is for, you should definitely start small. I’ve taken weekends off in the past, for a variety of reasons (athletic training, being broke, being somewhere with no access to booze). But once those periods of time were over, I was back at it. However, these periods helped me understand my body and mind’s reaction to the lack of sauce and adjust accordingly. It’s important information to have before undertaking a journey such as this. With any bad idea (e.g. BASE jumping, heroin, anal sex), you need to start small. You can’t just go for it and emulate the pros immediately.
It’s not that great.
Aside from the obvious, like weight loss and monetary savings, it’s really nothing to write home about. I was expecting some short-of-spiritual experience with enlightenment and all that jazz. I didn’t get that. I was just not drunk or hungover. How do you feel right now? (Hungover people don’t answer). Okay, it was that. For a long time. Whoopdedoo.
So there you have it. Now, the Monday after Easter, the only thing I can really say is that I set a goal and I accomplished it. There are other, more rational types of alcohol fasting that I would support more than what I did. Like giving up booze during the work week, or giving up a specific type of booze. I have a friend that gives up bourbon every Lent. He calls it his annual slugfest with gin (accurate). Do that. Don’t do what I did. Now WHO WANTS TO PARTY?.
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