In Defence of Dry January

In Defence of Dry January

"F**k dry January" read the subject title of an email I got this week from a London studio. And I was met with quizzical looks from colleagues when I mentioned some people enjoy the challenge of not drinking for the month - "just exercise some self control?" one of them 'helpfully' advised.

Today, walking to the pub for a Sunday roast, one of my friends observed we were engaging in what she called 'Jan chat' i.e. the art of chatting about all things depressing (Brexit, Trump, not drinking, death etc.) during January, which I guess summed the month up for her. It seems most people find it a pretty miserable month.

I'm going to put this out there - I'm not finding the start of 2017 at all depressing, and I'm also doing dry January (the caveat being I was on holiday at the beginning of the year, and not wanting to miss out on a cocktail on the beach, I started on 7th and I'm going to finish on 5th February). I'm actually not a massive booze hound day to day, but I'm a classic binge drinker. Monday - Thursday I will happily not pick up a drink, but come Friday night, I get carried away and will drink thoughtlessly without consideration for any plans I have the next day.

Don't get my wrong, it's not like I'm getting drunk and embarrassing myself or falling over when I've had a few drinks. Unfortunately, I suffer with migraines that are almost certainly triggered by (among other things) alcohol, and especially wine. Having therefore not touched a glass of red or white (although perversly I can do most bubbles except cava) for years (let me tell you, not drinking wine at weddings comes across incredibly anti-social), my hangovers and migraines have become considerably better, but they still remain. I'm also such a busy person that the levels of guilt I experience having to spend a Saturday or Sunday on the sofa in a self-inflicted state of house arrest after a night out are hardly worth the night itself.

And so, I decided to do dry January. For some people, dry Jan is all about the challenge of seeing if they can go a whole month without a drink. For me, it's a simpler exercise: after a heavy and tiring December and holiday with friends over New Year, I just really wanted to give my body and mind some time to recover. The timing has been right for me because I set myself lots of goals for 2017, such as training for various sporting events which has kicked off.

Halfway through, I'm really relishing the mental clarity. Having an intensive job, whilst training five to six times per week and blogging, I tend to be running around a lot. Yes I love letting loose occasionally but at the moment it's great to not feel a bit crap at work from two ciders the night before (yep, that's all it takes for a migraine to kick in for me...). I've also been getting up early at the weekends to get my running in before the rest of my plans, and even managed my first Parkrun (which I wrote about last week here) which I've never got to before because of the early start.

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Here's some dry Jan facts if you are thinking about giving your body a break from the booze:

  • Lost productivity and absenteeism due to alcohol costs the economy 17 million working days and £7bn a year*.
  • 85% of participants felt a great sense of achievement after taking part in dry January*.
  • New Scientist participants reported they found it easier to decline alcohol after the study had ended, or to start an evening off with low-alcohol drinks.

*Source, Alcohol Concern.

That's my story in any case. Of course, your life is only yours and whether or not you decide to do a dryathalon, it's your choice and I would urge anyone not participating to not judge those who are. Why begrudge someone trying something new for a few weeks?

What else have I been doing this week apart from not drinking? Here's my week in half marathon training:

Monday: My gym has changed it's class timetable so my beloved HIIT sprints treadmill class wasn't on offer this morning so I did a Kayla Itsines week 2 session, arms and abs.

Tuesday: I was planning on going to the Women's Health Running Club followed by the cinema, but ended up working a bit later then heading to the launch of the new Bootcamp Pilates HIIP (High Intensity Interval Training Pilates) class at the new Strand studio. The original London reformer pilates studio is going from strength to strength and I would really recommend this class to those who: a) are time-short and want a really effective workout in 30 minutes; and b) want a mixture of a workout on and off the reformer. The new studio is also tapping in on the less studio-saturated area around Embankment.

Wednesday: Intending to go to the new Nike track speed sessions, I ended up running three miles solo and working late - it was one of those weeks.

Thursday: Kayla Itsines, legs (in hindsight, this was a bad idea given my Friday plans!).

Friday: My first class at The Running School and it was so great! I'm going to blog about it when I have a few sessions under my belt. I also went to 1Rebel for a Reshape class with my friend Sam in the evening - my Friday nights off the sauce aren't what they used to be but I can tell you that exercising is as therapeutic for the week's work stress as a beer is!

Saturday: Rest day with LOTS of walking around London. We did an awesome terrarium workshop at Geo-Fleur and it felt so good for the soul to be up early doing something creative on a Saturday.

Sunday: A frosty six mile long run putting in some of my learnings from The Running School.

Veeeery forsty miles on Sunday morning.

Veeeery forsty miles on Sunday morning.

Are you doing dry January or have you ever done it before?

Priced out of the London fitness scene?

Priced out of the London fitness scene?