Dry January: Who's in? John is, and so far it's not easy

Making New Year's resolutions is one thing. Maybe you keep them, maybe you don't. But swearing off alcohol for the entire month of January? It takes willpower

January 6, 2020
John and a martini

Milton Hubatka

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Dry January. You probably know someone who's doing it. Maybe you're doing it yourself. For some people, it's a traditional reset after New Year's Eve that clears your head and cleanses your body as you launch another year. For others, it's one part of a New Year's resolution to lose weight, get fit, live a healthier life. Some people just need a break to take stock of their relationship with beer or wine or tequila.

Well, I'm doing it.

For me, it's all of the above, I guess. I'm definitely on board with the weight loss/fitness angle. Over the past year, I've noticed that my pants are a little tighter around the waist and certain "slim fit" shirts I used to wear comfortably feel more like straight jackets. So the typical fitness formula -- eat less, exercise more -- is a no brainer.  

But where does alcohol fit into the picture? I'm not going to lie -- I do enjoy some wine with a meal or on the weekend an ice-cold gin martini to start a meal, during a Seahawks game, at a bar with a friend. (My preferred gin is Bombay Sapphire, although I'm a fan of Big Gin and The Botanist gin too. Just FYI.)

The thing with alcohol, though, is that besides containing lots of calories itself, it dials back my inhibitions just enough to relax my resistance to salty snacks, cheese and crackers, a big bowl of popcorn, all kinds of things that aren't really contributing to my well-being or the comfort of my clothing.

If you Google "Dry January," you'll find all kinds of opinions and pointers:

7 Major Dry January Health Benefits, According to Experts

Dry January isn’t for everyone, experts say. Some drinkers need treatment. Others are trying Dry-ish January

Health officials explain the psychological benefits of Dry January

How Dry January Affects Your Gut, According To Experts

Dry January is easier than ever, thanks to the rising popularity of nonalcoholic drinks

I'm giving up alcohol during January for the 3rd year in a row. Here's how it helps me understand my relationship with drinking after almost losing a loved one to alcoholism.

How Dry January Affects Your Body After Just One Week

Heineken and these booze companies support ‘Dry January’

Just in Time for Dry January: No-Alcohol Whiskey and Gin Alternatives

(Um, that last one -- no-alcohol booze? Seriously? Non-alcoholic beer kind of makes sense, but I'm not sure my body's going to be fooled by alcohol-free gin. Anyway . . . .)

In the first six days of 2020, with no alcohol passing my lips, I can't say I've noticed a huge difference yet, except maybe it's a little bit easier to wake up at 4:15 in the morning when I haven't had a couple of glasses of Shiraz with dinner the night before. I know from past experience that I'm in for more mental clarity, increased energy, and an easier time at the gym when I'm powering through 45 minutes on the elliptical.

I also know that when I'm used to at least a little alcohol in some form nearly every day, it's hard to break the habit of wanting some wine at night after I've gotten my son to go to sleep and I plop down on the couch for some Shark Tank. And, of course, those Seahawks games -- tough to get used to those without a cold one on hand. But it really is easier to resist the nachos and the Chex Party Mix, so I call that a win.

For some reason, it seems like more people are starting 2020 with Dry January than in years past. Maybe it's because it's a new decade. Maybe it's because things in the country and the world around us are weird and scary and we want to be able to feel as if we're actually in control of at least one thing in our lives. If you're doing it, I'm right there with you. Let's see how this goes and check in throughout the month, okay?

If you're not doing Dry January, hey -- there's always Dry February. After all, it's the shortest month, so it's way easier than doing it in January. Good luck!

BTW, here's what I drink. It's a poor substitute for a martini, but I feel very virtuous:

 

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