|I don’t like New Years resolutions, but I am subject to the December excesses. As a consequence, I am ringing in the New Year with a month during which I abstain – more or less – from alcohol and caffeine.
It’s quite likely that my twisted mind decides on this course of action in December so as to jettison guilt as I contemplate the third massive meal in as many days, and the several that are to come between the middle of the month and the beginning of January.
Having done this several times, I highly recommend it. A month is a perfectly achievable target for giving up alcohol, and although I am not fanatical about the health benefits of going teetotal, but there is a difference between not drinking between two weekends, and not drinking for 30 days. You feel it when you fall asleep and when you get up in the morning, and it’s a good feeling to rediscover if you, like me, are a non-abusing but nevertheless frequent drinker.
As for the caffeine, well that’s a whole different story. Kicking a heavy caffeine habit is much more painful than stopping the alcohol. Caffeine withdrawal is a painful and unpleasant experience that involves a nasty brand of headache that aspirin and paracetamol are impotent against, and as your body tries to remember how to function without the constant adrenal boost of induced dopamine malfunction, you can feel as though your ability to stay fully conscious is somewhat impaired.
This painful period lasts about a week, after which a very pleasant effect usually follows. The nervous jittery energy that comes with caffeine is replaced by a more wholesome form of energy, that feels more positive by nature, and that doesn’t give you that feeling that you’re walking a tightrope between an inability to keep functioning and a caffeine overdose. That sense that this artificially-induced drive is going to cost something in the near future.
So I’m now almost two days into the abstinence period, and I’m happy to say that the headaches are most definitely there with a vengeance. I’m not really missing the alcohol at all, although I keep noticing moments when I think that I would probably have taken a glass of wine with dinner, or gone for a drink with a friend, where I’ve had to consciously avoid the habit of just saying “yes”.
I also know the benefits of not overdoing the zeal, and since I know I’ll be seeing a group of good friends for our annual reunion on the weekend of the 22nd, I’ve given myself a 2-day pass in advance for that trip.
Over the month, by also taking care of what I eat and doing some exercise, I expect to lost about 4kg, fit better in all my shirts and generally feel like my body is back in shape by the beginning of February. Past experience tells me this is all very much possible. Not bad for a 31-day effort, and I can do it without using the word “detox”, or adopting a lifestyle based on crackpot nutritional theories with no scientific backing.
This morning I walked into work and bought a coffee as I always do, only to realise when I reached my desk that I couldn’t drink it. Luckily there are plenty of people who have given up nothing at all, and at least one of them likes their coffee with milk and a sugar.