Surviving (and Thriving) in Dry January

by | Jan 6, 2018 | Nutrition

I decided to repost this article I did last year on Dry January today because, well, when I published it last year, it was after I’d already made it through the month. But for some of you who are contemplating starting it for this January (or have already started it), I wanted to provide some extra motivation from when I did it. While this year, I’m not running an actual Dry January again, I definitely dialed waaaaaay back on booze and sugar since New Year’s—a holiday week at home for the first time in a few years meant a lot of treats! (My sister is a pastry chef, so they were all amazing… and I did a ton of activity during the last couple weeks, but still was feeling like a reset was warranted.) I realized I didn’t want to do a full Dry January this year because, to be honest, I’m more of a moderator than an abstainer. I love the idea of abstaining from stuff, but it takes over a lot of mental headspace for me (I re-realized that a couple days ago, but more on that later!). And I know this month is a great one for me to dial back on junk food and drinking, but it’s easier for me to do with without saying a definitive NO to any one thing.

Besides, to be honest, I’m more a sugar/dessert person, so for me, dropping wine is easier than ditching chocolate—and when we don’t have that many reasons to go out drinking or crack a bottle of wine at home, it’s easy for me to do Dry January and start eating more dessert instead! I think this year it just makes more sense for me to think about moderation.

But for those of you intrigued by the idea of Dry January, I have some advice/findings from doing it last year.

So, back to it! The old post:

Guys, January is over. And I’ll be the first to say, thank goodness. I decided, on January 1, that I was going to jump into Dry January this year. And it was well worth it, even though I’m really excited to be in California and enjoy a margarita later this week. Why try it? A couple reasons:

Resetting Regular Habits

The holidays, and a crazy schedule of friends and family in November and December plus hectic work schedule, I needed to take a breather and go a few weeks without any alcohol in my system. I never really go over three drinks in a night, but I was getting to pretty much nightly wine consumption. Not terrible, but I definitely could be better. So I figured four weeks totally off would reset my system a bit so I wouldn’t jump at the wine bottle every night.

Easy Calorie Slashing

I knew Europe for most of January was already going to mean a lot of awesome food and pastries (my favorite), but I knew if I wasn’t drinking, I’d save a ton of calories there and buy myself a little bit of wiggle room.

Improved Sleep

I didn’t think this was going to happen, but I had read from other bloggers/writers who tried Dry January that improved sleep quality could be in my future. I haven’t been waking up hungover or anything, but I did notice after the first week that I wasn’t waking up as much in the middle of the night, and was waking up feeling a lot fresher.

It’s Not As Hard As You Think

The first week is annoying if you’re used to having wine at night, but you quickly get out of the habit. It was way easier than I thought, but then again, I had the benefit of being with people who don’t drink too often, especially during the serious bits of the race season. There were a couple times I was almost drooling when I saw someone in a restaurant with a big glass of wine, but honestly, I didn’t have trouble saying no.

Less Stressful Travel

There is nothing worse than flying even a teensy bit hungover, and avoiding that with all the flights we’ve had has been so good! Even skipping the free wine on planes actually made me feel a ton better when I landed, and the time changes were a little easier to deal with when my body wasn’t processing booze and a new timezone.

Save on $$$$

We ate at restaurants a lot in Europe because of our schedule, and skipping the wine list made my bill so much lower. I also was less inclined to go out to eat when I had the chance to eat in, since (to be brutally honest), for me, it’s not as much fun going to Mexican if you’re not going to have a delicious margarita!

Discover a Balance

I realized that I was definitely eating dessert more often this month: that’s a habit that I break, but usually end up back to within a couple months. So that wasn’t ideal, but I knew the first week, I wanted to not restrict anything other than alcohol so I didn’t have a meltdown. By the end of the month, I was eating less dessert and still no booze—maybe because dinner was erring on the side of later, maybe because I was adapting—and I definitely was happier the next day when I skipped the chocolate before bed. In the future, it’s definitely one or the other, not both.

And now that it’s over, I’m psyched to enjoy a margarita, but I don’t have an urge to crush three of them. So, the experiment worked.

Conclusion? I’m still excited to go enjoy a glass of wine tomorrow on date night, but I can safely say that we won’t be drinking as much wine when we’re in for the evening. And if I do, I’m going to make sure I counterbalance it by skipping dessert! I also realized that when out in social situations where other people are drinking, it’s not really *that* hard to skip it, or stick to a small glass. Sparkling water, which is more popular in Europe, was a big help so I felt like I was having something fancier than just plain water, and I think I’ll order that more often in the US. Really, no one cares if you’re not drinking, if you just say it firmly enough.

I definitely recommend giving a dry month a shot if you’re realizing you went a little hard during the holidays.

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