Wahoo! Halfway through.
5 weeks of not drinking AT ALL! Yay me. And yay Rich. Nice work us. Almost 7 weeks in total, excluding 4 days in Sydney after the first 10 days (actually 7 weeks for Rich, because he didn’t go). I’m paying for that by adding on an extra two weeks. Boo!
So where am I at?
Up front I set a few goals, and I figured, in the interests of keeping myself on track, it would be worth checking in and seeing how I’m getting on. To refresh my and your memories, the goals were:
- Giving my liver a break – this has been translated to “getting my liver back in shape” after a reasonably irregular reading.
- Lose some weight – my weight had been piling on as the alcohol volume was creeping up.
At the beginning that was about it. Since then, I would also add:
3. Have I saved any money?
4. How does my skin look?
5. How do I feel, compared to at day 1?
6. What have I learned so far?
This post is primarily a summary of where I was versus where I am now.
- GIVING MY LIVER A BREAK
My liver has been a bit of a challenge for a few years now. There are two measures identified as important in blood tests, which are used as indicators of a liver under duress.
- GGT (Gamma-Glutamyl Transferase)
- ALT ( Alanine Amino Transferase)
It is important to note here that the presence of these enzymes do not indicate that alcohol is the definitive cause of any issue, as there are a number of other possible causes (hepatitis, fatty liver from weight gain, etc).
Here are my results:
The great news is that my ALT levels are already down to normal levels. Meanwhile, my GGT levels are still twice as high as desirable. That said, if I had liver cirrhosis or hepatitis, this reading would be in the thousands. Not ideal, but not disastrous. It’s coming down.
2. LOSING SOME WEIGHT
Wow, talk about oversharing! I am the last person to publish my weight in a public forum, but I guess I’m a big girl now! Plus photos to make it all the more real (not nude, I have limits).
First the numbers:
1st May: 68kg
23rd June: 65kg
Total lost: 3kg
I haven’t taken any other measurements, but I can tell you that my jeans are fitting me better. I would also say that at 68kg I was the heaviest I have been in my life other than when I was pregnant, which is horrifying, especially on my 160cm height. So where I am now is a significant step forward.
I’ve set my goal weight at 60kg, but if I can get down to low 60’s I’d be a happy girl.
Now to the pictures (eek!). The left side is from May, the right is this week:
The jeans are the same. I think my face looks thinner. Certainly I’m smiling, which always looks nicer.
3. HAVE I SAVED ANY MONEY?
This is difficult to measure. The majority of alcohol purchased was from the supermarket, so is not split out on my credit card bill. So this is not perfect, but we can take a guess.
I have included restaurants and bars, taxis, food shopping and anywhere else we were likely to have been drinking. The comparison is for two months prior to this project, versus the past two months.
March-April Spend: $6009.89
May-June Spend: $4245.14
ie. A CRAPLOAD OF MONEY!
Holy hell, how much were we spending?! The May-June spend, to be fair, is 5 days short of a full month, but even allowing for five days, we’d still have saved $1500. Over the course of a year, that equates to over $10,000.
The savings have come from not drinking (of course), no taxis, less eating out. I’m blown away by how much that is.
4. HOW DOES MY SKIN LOOK?
More photos. Be warned, these are make-up free selfies. Without the amazing lighting and “make-up free” look of celebrities that somehow manage to exclude foundation and mascara in their definition of “make-up free”.
I think I’m more frightened of posting these ones than the full body shots.
I don’t think there’s any difference. The lighting is a bit rubbish in the second photo, but other than that I look pretty much the same. No miracle cure there then.
5. HOW DO I FEEL COMPARED TO DAY 1?
I actually felt pretty good on day 1, because I was excited about what lay ahead. As the week went on though, there are a few quotes that sum things up:
“Feeling very tired and a bit grumpy. All the energy I had has disappeared. “
“..woke this morning with a headache, and feeling a bit sluggish. Like having a hangover, but without the fun bit the night before.”
“..interesting to note at least two times when I lost focus, and nearly poured myself a glass without thinking about it.”
“I feel really tired and scratchy as all hell.”
“Another average night’s sleep, followed by waking with a headache.”
“Once again I was just wrecked. So tired I had to have a sleep mid-afternoon.”
It’s quite heartening to read this. Because that’s not how I feel any longer.
- My energy levels have readjusted throughout the day. I am motivated during the day, I wake easily and without headaches, and am achieving far more than I did when I was drinking.
- My moods have stabilised, I don’t get the same levels of grumpiness I did on the days I didn’t drink. On the whole I feel more balanced, less prone to anger, and more positive.
- My sleep is still broken and I wake once a night. But this could be due to any number of factors other than alcohol. It could just be my age.
- I no longer accidentally reach for glass of wine, but I still need the placebo of a replacement drink at night to underscore the end of the day. The kombucha is good for me, but I would like to break the cycle of needing a glass of something.
6. WHAT HAVE I LEARNED SO FAR?
- I have had a problem with alcohol. No matter how much I want to deny it, the realisation has dawned that while I am not an addict, I am a problem drinker. 15 units of alcohol per week is healthy and normal. Heading upwards of 20 is not.
- Energy levels take a hit during the first couple of weeks, but given time, you’ll find you have more energy during the day than you’ve ever had
- Sleep patterns will also reset themselves, once your body readjusts to being alcohol free
- Socialising is the most challenging aspect to this project to date. But it isn’t insurmountable. I wrote down a few tips to help myself get by.
- Mindfulness is going to be essential to my long term health. A lot of my drinking behaviour was happening on autopilot. I need to think before I reach for another drink and set limits for myself. I need to reprogramme my behaviour around alcohol.
- The amount of alcohol you can safely drink is a lot less than I’d thought. Drinking less than 3 units per day (around 300ml wine) with two alcohol free days per week is considered best for health, while drinking no more than 6 units in one sitting is considered best for personal safety (being it physical or psychological)
- Our relationship with alcohol is as ancient as we are at an evolutionary level. It’s always been there, even when we were apes. There are few societies on earth that do not have psychoactive substances at the heart of their culture, and often of their religion. While it may be an excuse, we can cut ourselves some slack about wanting a drink occasionally.
Five more weeks to go. Wish me luck.
Although I think the next five will be far easier.