What I Learned From Sober November

If you recall, I wrote a piece about how I was going to go sober for the entirety of November. Well, November has come and gone, and I achieved that goal.

And honestly?

I don't miss drinking.

I haven't had a sip of beer, whiskey, tequila, or *other alcohol* since the weekend before Halloween. I wake up every day between 7 and 8, roll out of bed, and head to work or the gym, depending on the day of the week. I'm in the habit of going to the gym right after work, before I plant myself into the couch and become useless.

Don't get me wrong, I love beer. I love whiskey. I miss the taste of both. However, I feel the best (mentally and physically) that I have since 2014 when I started my weight loss journey. Going 30+ days of waking up feeling amazing, maybe sometimes sore from a workout, is wonderful. I didn't have a Saturday or Sunday where the light peaking through my curtain forced me to wake up and face a hangover. I didn't fall out of bed at noon just to slink to the couch for the Bears inevitable loss (I didn't drink this month and the Bears didn't win (maybe they're related??)). I was up and home from the gym before pregame coverage even started.

I have more energy, even in the morning. If you know me, you know that I am not a morning person. I used to work late shifts for work because I was usually up until 2am anyways. During college I was either closing down a bar or bouncing until 4am. I used to think 10am was waking up early; now I feel like 10am is a wasted day. I have energy as I put together my lunch for the day in the kitchen as Kevin grunts at me while his coffee pours.

This isn't easy for a fat guy.

This isn't easy for a fat guy.

Sadly, I fell short of my workout goals. The goal was to run 60 miles and bike 200. After 19 workouts and 11 rest days, I achieved running a little over 48 miles and biked 161 miles.

I'm not ashamed of this. It was hard. The first two weeks of the month, it was a shock to my body. I had bad shin splints during most runs. My thighs wanted to quit during most bike rides. I went from working out an average of three days a week, with only one or two including running, to an average of five very long workouts a week.

Despite falling short of the goal, I still lost ten pounds. I ate healthier than I ever have. Today is my celebratory cheat day where I eat everything I have craved for over 30 days. But for the past month, my snacks at work were fruits or vegetables. My side dish during dinner was the same.

I figured that this weekend, the first of December, would be spent with a bottle stuck to my lips. Honestly, I didn't even want that. Last night, I sat in a bar with my parents, aunt, uncle, and their friends and just enjoyed my water and turkey club sandwich while I waited for Tommy Emmanuel to hit the stage. It's not that I fear relapsing into whatever habits I had before. It's not that a fear hangovers. I just genuinely feel better without booze in my life. I have enjoyed slimming down again. I have enjoyed not having to ask someone "what did I do last night?" No, I don't think I'm quitting for good, because there are beers that I like and I want to have them again, but I do not have a plan to start again. I don't feel that I need to deprive myself of something I enjoy if I feel the urge to want it one weekend. I just don't need to force it into my schedule.

It's a weird feeling, being 26 and still feeling peer pressure. When friends look at me with the look of, "oh, you won't join us in drinking tonight?" as if it's a social standard for being in public. I am not suddenly against drinking. I miss the social aspect of it. It's an activity to do as a large group, but it's not necessary to be apart of said group. I miss splitting pitchers of beers and margaritas, but I don't, also. That doesn't make sense.

Look, I'm not telling anyone to stop. I am just telling you my personal experience. I'm not trying to make anyone feel bad for their choices. Sure, I love when people better themselves, and people have told me how they are cutting down the frequency of drinking nights even if they don't want to completely remove it from their lives. I, personally, felt that quitting cold turkey was easiest for me.

In college, people had a ironic nickname for me: Sober Steve.

It's time I live up to the name.