NYR 1903: “Drink Less.” Part 4 – Closing Thoughts.

It’s late March, and so far I’ve had 107.8 drinks in 2019. Here’s a snapshot of the last 30 days:

Not bad. I’m on pace to hit my goal; most days I’m not drinking at all, and on the days that I do I’m keeping it within a reasonable range.

Which is great… but don’t get too excited. Warm weather is (hopefully) just around the corner, and that means pool parties, cookouts, golf, weddings and bachelor parties. If you look at last year’s data, over 60% of my drinking was in late spring/early summer. So I’m cautiously optimistic about my numbers.

To wrap up this series, my original plan was to write about what I’ve been drinking lately. I was going to break it down into three categories (beer, wine and liquor) and talk about easy ways to reduce intake, mostly by opting for drinks with more volume and lower ABV, like this:

And fewer drinks that are low volume and high ABV, like this:

I even had a joke lined up about martinis in particular, involving Mrs. Shellhammer from Miracle on 34th Street inviting Santa Clause to stay at her house indefinitely after drinking just one of them.

I figured a final post on drinking strategies and tactics would be fun to read about and fun to write about, and a light way to end a series on a heavy subject.

But it felt like a missed opportunity, and a little dishonest.

And honesty is really all I have to offer you guys, because I don’t have any solutions at this point. Most of the Personal Development content out there appears to be written by people who already have their problems figured out, and they have a plan in place to help you get there, too. This isn’t meant to be a jab at those writers – I genuinely believe that there are solutions to the struggles we face as we try to better ourselves – I just haven’t found mine yet.

Instead, I had the genius idea of starting this blog prior to solving anything. And so you get to watch me stumble through the beginning of the journey, hitting plenty of road blocks along the way. If I’m not honest about those, what happens if you encounter them, too?

If anyone out there is trying to cut back and having trouble, I don’t want them to read a bunch of tips and tricks and wonder why it’s not working for them. The truth behind my cutting back is a lot more simple, and a lot more difficult. Here it is:

The reason I’ve been able to cut back is because I’m taking it seriously.

Shifting my attitude towards drinking has been the biggest factor in my success so far. How did that shift happen? Four main things:

1. I started tracking my consumption.

By using the DrinkControl app to monitor my progress, I’ve kept my overall consumption at the front of my mind. This has allowed me to be more choosy when deciding when to drink, and given me a better idea of what drinking moderately means to me when I choose to do so.

2. I read a book.

This Naked Mind, by Annie Grace. This book breaks down the various reasons why we drink, and picks them apart one by one. I probably agree with about 80% of the content (the author takes the position that there are zero benefits to drinking whatsoever – I’m not there yet), but just reading the book reduced my urge to drink in a lot of situations, and as a result my consumption took a huge dip right after reading.

3. I changed my lifestyle.

Or I guess you could say my lifestyle changed me. The biggest thing: having kids.

Practically speaking, having a Mimosa or a Bloody Mary with brunch used to be a very enjoyable pastime… before I had kids. Because here’s the deal: for me, day-drinking was almost always accompanied by a crucial element: the afternoon nap. And at this stage in my life, the afternoon nap isn’t always in the cards.

More importantly, the idea of being too hungover to play with my kids makes me really, really sad. That happened a few times in 2018, and a few is way too much. I don’t want to miss out on this amazing stage in my life as a parent, and I also need to be aware of the example I’m setting.

The other big lifestyle change has been working out more. An upcoming workout can be a great deterrent against unnecessary drinks (not to mention a useful excuse in social situations).

4. I got others involved

External expectations are a huge motivator for me, and writing about this has helped to clarify my thoughts on a complicated issue. Once I got over the hump of telling people about my goals, things got much easier. I’ve gotten a lot of feedback and support from readers, which has helped me to stay on track. Like I said in a previous post, you don’t have to start a blog and publish everything you’re drinking online; but if you do decide to be more transparent about this subject, you may be surprised.

And on that note, I wanted to mention one last thing I’ve been doing with DrinkControl.

One of the app’s premium features allows you to create your own customized drinks for recording purposes. If you have a particular cocktail or alcohol brand that you drink regularly, you can save that template for easier recording in the future. It’s also useful for tracking purposes, if you’re interested in knowing how much of a certain drink you’re having. What I’ve recently done is created a new drink within the app, called simply “A.”

And the “A” stands for “alone.”

I decided that every time I drink by myself, I’ll record it as an “A.” I figured it would be useful to know how often this happens, and get an idea of what percentage of my total drinking is done by myself, with no social benefit whatsoever.

And I haven’t drank alone since.

Thank you for reading, and for the support and encouragement.  I’ve enjoyed writing this series, but I admit I’m looking forward to moving on to something a little lighter in April. See you then!

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