Ever since I was a teenager, I've worked hard and played hard. And the whole "playing hard" part typically involved alcohol. As a collegiate soccer player, our whole team celebrated with booze after a good win — or loss, for that matter. Today, after becoming a real-life adult and a mother of two, I still like to drink a couple of times a week. Wine, rum, a microbrew — you name it, I like to drink it. No, I don't stay out at bars into the wee hours of the night like I did when I was a 20-something, but from time to time, I enjoy a buzz. My husband and I will enjoy some drinks by the bonfire or with a Netflix show, or I'll overindulge when I get a night away with the girls. But the older I get, the more the alcohol negatively affects me, and the hangovers are the worst.
Yes, I really shouldn't be drinking anymore because I'm finding that it's just not worth it. I'm much more tired because the alcohol keeps me tossing and turning all night. And I almost always take my crankiness out on the kids, something I always regret. My gut protrudes much more than I'd like it to, too. And then I, of course, only want to eat greasy food. Plus, my energy level is far too low to exercise, making me feel even more sluggish. The hangovers are getting worse with my increasing age. Sometimes it only takes a couple of drinks to make my head pound the next morning. So after all of these negative side effects, I wondered . . . why do I even drink? I couldn't come up with one solid reason, so I stopped drinking for more than a week to see what happened. Here's what I found out.
I Have Energy Like a 20-Something Again
The biggest difference I found after giving up all alcohol for one week is my boost in energy. I pop out of bed in the morning and get my workout in as soon as possible (after a quick cup of joe, of course). My day starts with a jolt, and I'm charged for the rest of the day. I don't feel lethargic, needing that midday coffee or nap, either. I push through all day, crossing things off of my to-do list. And most importantly, I have energy for my small kids, something I didn't always have before. Now I don't have that guilt looming over my head if I'm too tired to play soccer with my son. Instead, I bounce up and kick the ball around with him in the backyard.
I Can Finally Wear That Slinky Dress Again
Not that this should matter, but an added perk to giving up alcohol is that I have dropped a couple of pounds. A no-brainer, yes, but I always wondered if the number on the scale would drop if I stopped drinking altogether. Nearing the end of my alcohol-free week, I grabbed a slinky dress for a date night that I hadn't felt comfortable wearing, and to my surprise, I rocked it with confidence. My bloating stomach settled down, and I no longer craved that greasy food like I used to. Instead, I grabbed an apple or handful of almonds rather than a double cheeseburger and fries. I've been happy to see those pounds drop because those extra pounds just weighed me down.
I Wake Up With a Smile Painted Across My Face
Honestly, the biggest perk I've found since giving up alcohol has been my happiness. Cheesy, but true. On the mornings after I drank too many glasses of wine or bottles of beer, I'd wake up feeling regretful. I'd take my crankiness and tiredness out on my family, but in reality, I just felt bad about myself. But now, I get out of bed and smile at my children. I hug them tight and we start our days off right, something I should have been doing all along.
Will I give up alcohol forever? No. Drinking during the week just because won't happen anymore, but if I'm celebrating a loved one or at the lake, then I may crack open a nice cold beer. But I have made up my mind to prohibit all hard liquor and only have a couple of light beers or a glass of wine on occasion. Feeling like crap the next day and ruining everyone's day just isn't worth it to me. I've learned that I can "play hard" by working out and living spontaneously. Playing hard doesn't have to look like unwinding with alcohol. I look forward to living life hard and waking up with a smile on my face because that's what my family and I deserve.