[countdown date=2013/03/22] There is [dhmtimer] left in the 90 day Alcohol Free Challenge!! [after]The 90 day Alcohol-Free Challenge was Successfully completed on March 22nd, 2013![/countdown]

It’s that time of year again! New Years resolutions are in full bloom, and people are trying to figure out what they’re going to be aiming to do for at least the first week of the new year. Diets! Exercise! World Peace! The usual stuff. For me, I think this just came at a time when I felt low on energy and in need of a tune up & some maintenance. After my last alcohol free challenge, I never really picked it up in full swing again. No waiting for the weekend to go party (or more often the case, not even waiting for the weekend). I’ve since drank socially, and very infrequently. A very nice adjustment to both the wallet and the liver, in comparison to my days back in Canada where it had become the norm to go out 3+ times a WEEK with co-workers!

Alcohol Free - partying with old friends

“Old habits die hard!” Catching up with some of Toronto’s finest – booze was definitely involved.

I tried going out a few times in the past little while with old friends. Although I had a great time with them – the unfortunate realities sank in quickly:

  • My tolerance has disappeared. In reality, I would probably now be drunk off one large Singha beer… so why did I push that limit?
  • Old habits die hard. Getting together with old mates often brings back old habits. We drank like we used to. My body paid the consequences… for days! Sick that night, hungover the next day, and sore the day after.
  • We don’t get any younger. *Sigh*. You’d think after all my travels I’d have realized that the fountain of youth is not filled with rum and coke. It comes from treating your body like a temple, and respecting it as such.
Alcohol Free - Passing out in Chiang Mai

An exceptionally shameful picture during some New Year’s shenanigans should be reason enough! “This was ME???”

The Alcohol Free Challenge

So, the answer seems quite simple. Just don’t drink as much. Though this is sometimes easier said than done, given the setting you’re in. Sometimes one can just sit comfortably knocking back icy cold beers on the beach, or sipping some wine over dinner, without even realizing the amount consumed until it’s too late. Going completely Alcohol Free removes that possibility from happening. It will put you in an interesting state of mind when meeting new people, when going to social events, and your perspective on night life when you’re one step removed from it.

Alcohol Free - Chang Beer in the village

Even in an Akha Hilltribe, having the occasional beer was the norm.

From my past experience, I learned how so many people treat alcohol as a vessel for social engagement. I was confronted on a couple occasions by people who were incredibly friendly, and by no means alcoholics, but could not understand how I could refuse the offering of a beer during a beach party, or during a giant festival. It actually made them uncomfortable to a certain degree. It’s a fascinating journey into the human psyche. This really challenges your own will and inner strength. I persevered and felt stronger because of it. Of course we still managed to have a good time, but there was the odd duck who just couldn’t understand it or accept it. Well… that seems to be a good filter for those I choose to have in my life then. A true friend should be able to support your decisions through any choice you make in life (as long as they’re non-damaging to yourself, of course). It becomes a great social experiment, though some of the realities may be quite black and white at times.

There’s no question about the health benefits associated with being alcohol free. Even after just a few big nights out over the past couple months, I already feel more susceptible to ailment and have gotten sick (twice!) for the first time in over a year! This is a definite driving force behind the challenge and one which I know will be the push needed to see it through to the end.

I think the hardest part of going alcohol free, as mentioned, is being in the company of friends, new and old. Especially while on the road. If you bump into an old friend, what better way to enjoy the encounter than sit around for a few hours over some beers and catch up on life happenings? Or after encountering someone new, hitting it off during a day of snorkelling, jungle hiking, bathing elephants, or whatever it is you’ve bonded over… now the evening sets in, and your new group of friends want you to join them for a frosty one at the local watering hole. “Oh, I’m trying to go alcohol free for a few months” are some difficult words to hear yourself utter… sadly.

Alcohol Free - booze wagons in Bangkok

Booze wagons are everywhere in Bangkok! Temptation shows her cards.

You may start to find distain in the drunken behaviour you observe in your sobriety (realizing “That was ME???” is never a nice awakening). The feelings of good fitness you may feel can be overwhelming. It becomes hard to imagine not being alcohol free and reverting to feelings of lethargy and fatigue you may have experienced before. But there’s still that little itch. That lure. That sense of wanting conformity is almost inevitable in some circumstances. It IS possible! My last 3 month challenge actually turned into 4 months, as I didn’t want to start drinking again while travelling in the presence of my friend Anthony. He was still in the process of doing his own 6 months alcohol free challenge! He’s a true inspiration and certainly helped in making my own challenge possible!

So there you have it. I am going alcohol free for 90 days once again – just in time for a sober Christmas and New Years! Wishing you all a safe and happy holiday – alcohol free or not!

Alcohol Free - good times sans booze

Enjoying an alcohol free evening with my awesome Filipino posse! :)

 

[countdown date=2013/03/22] There is [dhmtimer] left in the 90 day Alcohol Free Challenge!! [after]The 90 day Alcohol-Free Challenge was Successfully completed on March 22nd, 2013![/countdown]

 

If you have any tips, comments, feedback* or even your own personal challenges with going alcohol free, please feel free to leave them in the comment section below – (or if a private matter, email me at ian@wheresidewalksend.com and I’ll be sure to answer and help however I can)!

* words of encouragement are also greatly appreciated ;)

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