40 for 40: I gave up wine for 40 days (gasp!)

As you may know, my 40th birthday recently passed. A big milestone and yet something pretty regular too. I had a great day with my family, eating some of my favorite foods and doing some of my favorite social-distance friendly activities. It was great and my family made me feel so incredibly loved. 

Leading up to my birthday, I decided to give up alcohol for 40 days. I really wanted to look and feel good for my 40th birthday, and I knew that meant a little bit of sacrifice. So, adios vino! Not that I drink excessively, but alcohol has been something I’ve enjoyed regularly since starting college at 18 years old. I’ve given it up in the past, during my pregnancy and when I was very ill with an ulcerative colitis flare, but for the most part, an evening glass of wine or cocktails with the girls has always been something I’ve regularly enjoyed. And, being completely honest, the regularity and amount of alcohol increased significantly during COVID. Basically, it was time to make a change!

Why 40 days?

I chose forty days because I really didn’t want to give it up for too long. Haha! I thought 40 days was just long enough to feel like I might feel and see some results. I was hopeful that by refraining from alcohol for this amount of time, I’d be able to see a weight loss result, possibly see clearer, brighter skin, and feel improvements in my energy levels. 

Also, forty days felt do-able. It seemed like just long enough to stretch me and get into a groove with not drinking, but not so long that I would drive myself crazy. It seemed like a perfect balance point for me to give it a go and actually succeed. I mean, what’s 40 days, right?

It wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t terrible either.

Overall, giving up alcohol for 40 days wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be once I put my mind to it. Sure, at first, I felt like I was missing out, especially since Mal didn’t give up alcohol, but after a while it got easier and actually began to feel a little bit like normal. Drinking seltzer with lime felt funny in the beginning, but I grew to enjoy it. I even discovered how listening to music to relax at the end of the day, rather than reaching for my usual glass or mommy wine, was actually enjoyable and that it really did the trick!

In addition to learning a new relaxation strategy, I also experienced some pretty cool health benefits too! I could definitely tell that giving up alcohol helped balance my blood sugar. I was not as hungry, had fewer sugary cravings, and I was sleeping a lot better too. It also felt really good to wake up feeling healthy and energized, not dehydrated and sluggish. Even though I was very conscious of not replacing the wine calories with sweet treat calories, I didn’t long a single pound. I even got to a point where I realized I wasn’t even thinking about drinking, or, if the urge did come, it passed quickly. I used to think about having a glass of wine at 4 o’clock almost everyday and that urge completely went away! 

A strange thing happened though

At the start of week four, I noticed my skin was breaking out like crazy. WTF?!? I get breakouts from time-to-time, but I generally have pretty clear skin, so this was a little weird for me. I assume my body was probably detoxing. Alcohol increases estrogen dominance so I think removing it from my diet surprised my hormones and the breakouts were a result of my hormones working themselves out. 

After about a week, the breakouts started to go away and all that was left were the good health benefits like more energy, less dehydration, and a general feeling of well-being. Oh, and now that the breakouts are gone, my skin is so much better. So, that’s a definite win! 

It was a good experience

In all, this was a pretty good experience, and I’m glad I gave up alcohol for the 40 days leading up to my 40th birthday. It’s good to challenge yourself and give your body a break from time-to-time, especially when it’s something that’s actually really good for you. I have no plans to give up my beloved wine long-term, but I am definitely glad I gave it a shot. I’m still surprised I was able to make it 40 days! 

Drinking alcohol is a pretty hotly contested activity in the weight loss coaching community. Some coaches say you can’t drink ever, some say in moderation. Because I believe in a macro-ish approach, I advocate for flexibility around alcoholic beverages, meaning, so long as they ‘fit’ into your day, they’re fair game. So, happy birthday to me and bottoms up!

Have you ever given up alcohol? How did it go for you? Did you experience any of the same results I did?

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