Every year I strongly consider becoming a “Dry Athlete” and giving up the booze for January. After all, Dry January is the perfect way for your body and wallet to recover from an indulgent Christmas, not to mention New Year celebrations.
By giving up your old friend alcohol for a mere 31 days, you will save a few quid, lose a few pounds, and feel more energised and refreshed in the process. But for some people, that’s not as easy as it sounds. January has five whole booze-free weekends to get through and after the year we have all had, you may take the view that now is not the time!
If, like me, you’re considering giving your liver a well-earned break, here are some very helpful tips you’ll want to try.
1. Don’t hibernate
The worst thing you can possibly do is to hole yourself up in your house and attempt to hibernate – even if that seems to be the only option available at the moment! Make it your mission to get up and make the most of your hangover-free weekends and mornings. Plan activities you would never normally get round to at times you would never usually be up. A spot of DIY? Declutter the garage? Clear the garden?
Since many of us are in Tier 4, make sure that if you leave your home for exercise you start and end your journey at your home – ideally on foot. No driving to local beauty spots unfortunately.
2. Ditch cocktails for detoxing mocktails
Don’t settle for plain old tap water when you go out. Drinking mocktails is a great way to get through dry January, as you are still treating yourself to a luxurious drink, minus the calories and headache the next morning. Try Seedlip, the world’s first distilled non-alcoholic spirit, which has zero calories and is sugar, sweetener and artificial flavour-free.
3. Know your numbers
Read it and weep. A Pina Colada cocktail with rum has 644 calories. That’s more than a Big Mac burger. A pint of lager has 180 calories – more than a small slice of chocolate cake. And a large glass of white wine is 185 calories – the equivalent of 4 fish fingers. Calculate exactly how many calories you will save by ditching the booze – odds are you’ll be shocked by how many you can save.
4. Plan a holiday
Planning a holiday is the perfect way to motivate yourself during dry January – at least it used to be before COVID travel restrictions. Putting all the money you’ve saved on booze into a ‘holiday piggy bank’ will still be a visible inspiration to keep going, along with your shrinking waistline of course. We surely will be able to travel safely and freely again soon – even if we will now need visas to travel to Europe.
5. Recruit a partner in crime
Your driathlon will be about a million times easier if you have a least one of your friends onboard the good ship sensible. You’ll have a sober partner in crime to go out with and look suitably smug while your other friends are being drunken idiots around you. I say ‘around you’ – I obviously mean on Zoom these days.
6. Get drunk on love
Replace visiting your old friend alcohol with seeing real actual people that you care about. Check in virtually on that old friend you’ve not spoken to for ages or make time for your partner. Booking a romantic city break used to be a great motivator but at the moment you’re better off improving your cooking skills and creating romantic themed food nights from your favourite country – minus the wine of course.
7. Try a new type of exercise
Taking up a new exercise for the month will boost your levels of serotonin plus giving you something else to focus on. You’ll be amazed at the variety of free exercise classes and videos you’ll find on YouTube or simply dance to your favourite music. A daily walk (socially distanced) of course will also help.
8. Think positive
Don’t picture your month of sobriety as something negative. Think of it as something great you are achieving purely for yourself. Rather than focusing on denying yourself alcohol, envision your success and how happy you will be at the end of the month when you have reached your goal.
9. Tell Everyone
By telling everyone you are never drinking ever again (well, for January) will increase your chances of success. Why? Because your feelings of shame will be increased by about 98% if your friends or family catch you clutching a sneaky gin & tonic when you shouldn’t be.
10. Cut back, don’t cut out
If all else fails, simply cut back on your alcohol intake and set yourself an achievable goal per week. This will be much easier to sustain and will certainly alleviate any January blues. There are also plenty of other ways to put goodness into your body, by upping your intake of fruit and vegetables, drinking more water, and taking supplements such as Milk Thistle which protect the liver from alcohol damage and premature ageing by helping to regenerate liver cells.
Will you be signing up for “Dry January” this year?