100+ Days Of No Alcohol 💯🌞🙅🏻🍺💪
A lot has changed in my life over the past decade — from moving to Amsterdam (new friends, new things, new places, various jobs), to starting a startup, to living in New York (and Lisbon) for a while, to having a son.
It’s often said that change is the only constant in life and that’s certainly been the case for me. It’s been a pretty wild ride at times tbh! I’m really grateful (and lucky) for the people I’ve met, the experiences I’ve had, and the things I’ve learnt along the way (and all the fun I’ve had).
But through all this constant change, one part of my life has steadfastly remained — drinking alcohol.
For me — meeting new people, experiencing new things, being in new places, and enjoying nightlife (which are all things I love — I didn’t start PartyWith by chance you know), has often meant drinking.
As I previously wrote, towards the end of 2017, as various events unfolded and stresses hit me all at once – I upped my alcohol consumption, and started drinking almost every day.
Not enough to get really drunk, but I was getting pretty unfit (and around 10kg heavier than just 3 years ago), unhappy (now that I look back on it), and unsure how to work my way out of a fairly tough startup situation (something I’m still recovering from, but getting on top of now — and something I actually want to share in another post, soon).
Time For Some Different (Ch-ch-ch-ch-)Changes
Something needed to change. And I decided my change was going to be: get fit, focused, and tackle my challenges head on.
Hmm… what’s something that might help me to get fit, lose weight, become more focused, increase my productivity AND save money? … 🤔
The answer was pretty obvious. 🙅🏻🍺
‘Dry January’ was my goal initially, but as that month passed, I was only just starting to feel some benefits. So I decided to keep it going. Over 100 days later, I’m still on the wagon — not a drop in 2018.
For someone who was drinking almost daily, it’s been surprisingly easy for me to stop completely. And I think it’s been good, and important, that I did stop all together — I’ve had a few people ask me things like: ‘Don’t you miss having a glass of wine at night?’ or if I’m out somewhere with a group: ‘Just have a couple and go home early’.
Nice ideas in theory, but the thing is — I’ve never been very good at knowing my limits. In some aspects of life this is a probably not a bad trait to have. For example as a founder, by not knowing limits, I’ve gotten way out of my comfort zone, overcome challenges, pushed through barriers (that I sometimes didn’t even know where there) and not taken no for an answer.
Oh, I wasn’t meant keep pushing that to the limit? Well… it worked. Sorry, not sorry!
But when it comes to alcohol, I’ve found out the hard way (repeatedly, without ever really learning), that it’s not so good to not know your limits.
I don’t think I’ve ever been an alcoholic. If I have been, it’s one of those highly functioning types. 🍻🤓💻 Point is — I’ve never been good at having ‘one’ drink. Invariably ‘one’ turns into ‘one more’ for me. I’ve had nights out, where ‘one more’ has kept going and literally turned into 10 more, and home at 4am… on a Wednesday (Bart!).
What Happened Since I Stopped Drinking
This is not meant to be some preachy post about how ‘Alcohol is Bad (Kids)! ☝️’. As I’ve written before, I like alcohol, and have for a long time. And I’ll most likely drink again sometime fairly soon.
I just wanted to share some of the changes, for me personally, that have come about since I stopped drinking:
- Work: I was already working incredibly hard on my startup, and have been for years now (#hustling). But since I stopped drinking I feel like I’ve found another gear — I can work longer, more focused, and am thinking more strategically. I’m also more open to and trying quite different things, whereas last year I was kind of grinding away in one direction just trying to force it to work. Creative ideas are flowing too – it sometimes feels a bit like I’ve unlocked parts of my brain that have been lying dormant for years (maybe they were just hungover 😂😳).
- As for the details of what’s happening with my startup and work-life — I’ll share that in another post. But gee-whiz, there’s some exciting stuff cooking! Thanks in part to all the hard yards, and focus, I’ve been able to put in this year so far.
- Health: My body is loving it — after years of alcohol (abuse — sorry bod / bud), I’m in the best shape I’ve been for at least 3 years. I feel… healthy. 💪
- Exercise: I’ve been hitting the gym about twice a week (I went 3 times in 2017 TOTAL), and have added semi-regular playing of casual basketball and tennis, to my weekly indoor soccer match. And of course riding my bike to and from work, and to meetings, everyday (which I wasn’t doing at the end of 2017, with a broken bike, combined with a bitter cold spell). I’m really enjoying playing sport and exercising more. I wouldn’t go as far as Arnold Schwarzenegger in Pumping Iron (Google ‘the pump’ 😂), but it does feel pretty good.
- Weight: I’ve lost 7.2kg. That’s not all down to not drinking — it’s that combined with exercise, and eating healthier too. But it is a big factor: by not drinking I have more energy to exercise, and I don’t feel like eating crap food, like I often would after a night of drinking. And I’ve started to feel the difference of carrying less weight — I sometimes get the feeling I’ve forgotten something when I leave the house on my bike: Wallet? Check. Keys? Check. Phone? Check. Bag? Check. Hmm, that’s not it. I realise it’s probably just the extra kilograms that I’m not taking with me these days! When I look at my chest now, I even start to see some muscle tone, after years (of pancaking manboob build-up 😂).
- Appearance: I don’t want to go so far as to say I’m ‘glowing’ (I kinda do), but I look less puffy and bloated, and my eyes look a little more open (no one has called me ‘piggy eyes’ since I stopped drinking anyway 🐷 PS — no one’s ever called me that). I dare say I’m maybe even approaching being photogenic (a running joke at my expense at PartyWith because I always looked bad, or just really odd, in every single photo ever taken of me). I’ve had some people lately telling me ‘you look good’ when they see me. That hasn’t happened to me for a long time, probably since about 8 years ago, when I went from having long hair, to short. After that I had a deluge of friends telling me ‘you look SO much better with short hair!’ (apparently I’d been walking around looking awful for years, but no one had bothered to tell me, until the long hair was gone. Thanks guys!).
- Energy: I’m bouncing off the walls with energy some days, which is mostly a good thing. But sometimes it’s to the point of annoying my family, especially if they’ve just woken up. I even annoy myself sometimes with having too much energy and ideas. ‘Go for a run’ as my parents used to say when I was a kid when I had too much annoying energy.
- Sleep: I’m going to bed much earlier than I used to (10:30pm-ish) and waking up early. Sometimes insanely early. I woke up at 4:30am yesterday (😳). And instead of rolling over and going back to sleep (couldn’t, wide awake), I got up, did 3 hours of work, wrote the bulk of this blog post, had a healthy shake for breakfast, hit the gym, came home and had another breakfast with the fam, and was still in the office by 9:30am (and had a productive day there until 6:30pm).
- Learning: For the last few years, I’ve committed myself to constantly learning. Startups are hard, and I want to increase my chances of success, by learning from others. So I read, watch, and listen to everything relevant I can find. But I’ve really upped my learning game lately. Since the start of 2018 I’ve listened to 8 business audiobooks (I’m listening on 2x speed now) and 165 podcasts (I wasn’t counting, but just now checked how many I’d listened to on Breaker). As well as listening, I like to learn by writing about a topic — I wrote 15 Blog posts (16 including this one), whereas normally my blogging cadence was one post every other month. I also started a newsletter with interesting content I find, about the intersections of tech and people: Join Weekly.
- Other / Random: One rainy Sunday afternoon I felt like doing something different. So I decided to bake a Soufflé (I’d never even eaten one)… which turned out really bloody well 😄 (FYI – I’m lucky to have a girlfriend who loves and is very good at cooking, so I hardly ever cook usually). I mean…who makes a Soufflé!? I’ll tell you who – sober people.
- Negatives? There aren’t too many to be honest. One thing that happened is that I got sick a bit more, just with colds a couple of times, and the flu once. I’m not sure if it’s due to lack of alcohol (maybe the alcohol was killing germs?) or if it was Amsterdam’s longer and shittier than normal winter.
Right, that’s done, time to get shit-faced!? I’m actually pretty buzzed writing this! Can you tell? 😜 Kidding.
Despite all the positives, I don’t think I’ll stop drinking for good — summer is coming in Amsterdam, which means King’s Day, boat parties, BBQ’s in the park, sitting on terraces, listening to live music at rooftop sessions, plus the FIFA World Cup is on, and it’s daylight until about 10pm, all of which are enhanced with a few brewskies.
But I don’t think, and I don’t hope, that I’ll go back to drinking most days of the week, like I was last year. Hopefully I don’t turn out like Barney from the Simpsons after having one drink…
Have you ever taken a break from alcohol? What was your experience? Thinking of taking a break? Feel free to reach out to me with any questions you have about my experiences and I can maybe give some tips: email@example.com
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Interested? Then please Join…Join.