NYR 1903: “Drink Less.” Part 2 – Drink Tracking Q&A.

Years, lovers and glasses of wine; these things must not be counted.  – Anthony Capella

In last week’s post, I wrote about how my goal was to have fewer than 700 drinks in 2018, and I ended up drinking 692.6. This year, my New Years Resolution is to have fewer than 500 drinks in 2019. Click here if you’d like to see a spreadsheet which details every single drink I’ve consumed since October of 2017. I’m sure you have questions.

Where did these numbers come from?

I input these manually, using an app called DrinkControl. The app is free, but if you decide to pay for the premium version (as I did) you get the added feature of being able to export your data as a .csv file, which I then uploaded and published with Google Sheets.

Can’t I just keep a tally, rather than using a complicated app?

The app is very user-friendly and not too complicated. But yes, you can certainly keep a tally on your own, and simply record the number of drinks you consume in a given night. I experimented with this approach a few years back, but a big question kept coming up: What, exactly, counts as a drink? 

If I take a sip of my wife’s wine at a birthday party, is that the same thing as ordering a giant 25.4 oz Foster’s Oil Can to go with my Bloomin’ Onion at Outback Steakhouse? This illustrates an important point: if you’re serious about drinking less, you shouldn’t focus on the number of drinks you buy, but rather the amount of alcohol you’re consuming.

And this is where DrinkControl earns its keep. The app calculates your number of “drinks” by taking the number of ounces you consumed multiplied by the alcohol by volume (ABV), and applying a U.S. standard where one drink = 14 grams of pure alcohol.

That sounds like a lot of work… aren’t we splitting hairs here?

Absolutely not. Hands down, the most eye-opening part of this recording process has been the importance of monitoring ABV, and with beer especially.

For example: let’s say that (hypothetically) I drank a lot of beer in college while watching football. I’d sit down with my friends and easily drink six beers in a 3-4 hour stretch. At the end of the game I’d feel buzzed for sure, and certainly be in no condition to operate heavy machinery. But the rest of the day would be pretty manageable, especially considering my responsibilities at the time were fairly minimal.

Fast-forward: now I’m an adult in the real world, and I decide to meet my friends to watch a game at a local brewery across the street. It’s half-time, I’ve had three beers and when I stand up to go to the bathroom…


I’m actually pretty tipsy. What happened?

Well, in college I was drinking 12 oz cans of Busch Light (which, let’s be honest, I still drink today). Now I’m drinking these:

Juicy Jay’s, the flagship IPA at Legion Brewing. These are delicious, and come in at a formidable 6.3% ABV. And Legion isn’t serving 12 ounce bottles; they’re serving pints. You want to know how many cans of Busch Light I’d need to drink to equal three Juicy Jays? Almost seven. Lovely. And so the football game ends and the Panthers lose and I stumble home, right about the time the girls are waking up from their naps… fantastic. Did I mention I have work tomorrow? ABV is important, and I’ve found that using the app keeps you honest about it.

What if I don’t know ABV?

Most of the time it’s on the bottle, if not you can usually Google it. If you’re still not sure, here’s what I usually go with: Beer=5%, Wine=14%, Liquor=40%.

What about keg stands?

Well, first of all we may want to consider phasing out keg stands in 2019. That being said, you may encounter circumstances where it’s hard to tell exactly how much you’re drinking.

Punch is a good example. In this case just do your best: if it’s a wine-based punch like a Sangria, then just treat it like wine. If it’s a punch made with liquor or Everclear, then treat each drink as a double and just make sure you’re not wearing your Fraternity/Sorority Letter Shirt because you know you’re not supposed to be drinking in your Letters.

Won’t This Take All The Fun Out Of My Drinking?

Maybe. I honestly have no idea.

This is the most common, and perhaps most important, question I’ve received on this topic. And unfortunately I don’t have a good answer for you.

Because everyone is different; for some, tracking consumption sounds like a tedious exercise at best, and at worst an onerous chore that runs completely counter to the purpose of drinking in the first place. Not only that, but there’s also the concern of what other people will think of you if they know you’re doing this. Why are you counting your drinks? Do you have a problem?

I’m not going to tell you “you shouldn’t care what other people think,” because I’m sure most people (like me) already know this and yet still struggle with it. If you do feel like you’re overly concerned with the opinions of others, consider reading this post on why you should stop caring what other people think. For what it’s worth, I’ve been recording my drinks for well over a year now, and I don’t think anyone even knew I was doing it.

And for me at least, I don’t feel that it’s taken away from the fun at all. It’s kind of like the dichotomy we talked about in my last post on getting organized. Just as I don’t believe having a clean house comes at the expense of having fun, I don’t believe having a disciplined approach to monitoring alcohol consumption takes away from the experience of drinking with friends.

So if you’re interested, give it a try! I’d love to hear about your experiences and perspective.

In next week’s post, we’ll talk about specific strategies for reducing your overall intake without succumbing to FOMO. See you then!

3 thoughts on “NYR 1903: “Drink Less.” Part 2 – Drink Tracking Q&A.

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