I’ve become an early riser. Without an alarm I wake up between 5:45 and 6:15 almost every morning. In June I gave up alcohol and ran every single day for 25 days. Even as I felt strong and happy living this way, I knew that strict adherence was only easy because there was an end in sight. I even went to a burlesque show in a bar with friends who were drinking and managed to stay sober the whole time and get up early the next day to run! The weirdest part: It was easy.
On the 25th day I completed the Rugged Maniac and concluded the race by hopping off the wagon to enjoy the beer included in our race entry, as well as some canned wine, and a little cognac.
It was a blast. I had an amazing time at the race and it was fun to drink with my friends after. The next day I felt hung over on top of the soreness I felt from the race. When I am sore from running or a work out I kind of like it. In the way pressing a bruise is strangely satisfying, that kind of muscle ache feels good. It makes me feel tough, like I have earned something. But a hang over just makes you feel tired and shitty. Not tough. Not proud. Weak.
After spending 25 days sober I feel differently about my relationship to alcohol (don’t worry bar friends, not that different haha).
Since then I have surely kept drinking. I drank at a company party (and the after party, and the after after party). I attended another burlesque show where I enjoyed tequila drinks late into the evening and talked excessively to many interesting strangers. I have had a brunch with bottomless mimosas, beers at the beach, and rosé in the park.
With all that in mind, something is different. I no longer keep alcohol in the house and drinking after work for no reason no longer appeals to me. Even the burlesque night with the tequila ended at midnight for me, because I still get up before 6:30 am every morning (The company party was a rare event ending with me ordering a Lyft at around 4:45 am. Even then, I still got up before 8:30 am the next day.). When I go to film club, I don’t even want more than two or three glasses of wine. Film Club Tuesday used to mean Severe Hangover Wednesday. Now I don’t struggle to leave the bar after the discussion. The break from drinking made it easier to break the mindset that led me to see last call every single time I went out. I love arriving home from an outing with time enough to shower and get to bed by 9:30 pm.
I don’t run every day, but I do something every day. I average between 7 and 10 miles of walking each day.
I was happier and felt better than I have for a long time while I was not drinking and running every day. That said, I still want to drink margaritas and eat burritos on dates and enjoy wine in the park or crab meat voodoo bloody marys for Sunday brunch with my friends. I have no intention to give up any of that.
But I think I learned something from derailing my hedonic behaviors with a drastic 25 day clean up. I can sometimes fall into the mentality that if a little of something is good then a lot is better. But that is not true.
The goal should be to have enough, not as much as you can get. Drinks and snacks are FINE, just don’t go bananas about it every day. There is no shortage. I can afford a doughnut. I can afford a drink. Just because something is free doesn’t mean I need to have as many as I can get. Just because I’m out, doesn’t mean I need to stay out until dawn.
Moderation also goes both ways. Just because running is good doesn’t mean I need to run until I’m crying. If I hit the gym I should not find it difficult to lift my tea cup the next two days. Waking up at 5:45 am is great. Waking up at 5:00 am is unreasonable (you can’t even do anything at that hour! Too dark to run safely, stores not open, rude to call people that early, etc.).
Living with balance is a process that I’ll keep working on. I have a couple 5ks this weekend and then it’s vacation time.
I’ll let you know how a balanced vacation works out.