This year was my second time committing to Dry January (you can read about my first year experience here!). It was one of the five things I did to jumpstart 2018. Some of my experiences this year were similar to ones that I had last year. All in all I think it’s a great way to kick off a new year, and I’ll certainly be partaking again in January 2019.
A little background to give you an idea of what I really gave up for the month of January. I don’t usually drink that much during the week. At the occasional happy hour or dinner out with girlfriends, I’ll have a glass of wine, but rarely do I have more than two drinks on any given weeknight. On the weekends, Michael and I usually go out to dinner on Friday and Saturday, which includes drinks before dinner and at dinner. So I knew the hardest part of Dry January for me would be the weekends.
5 Things I Learned from Dry January
- It wasn’t nearly as hard to abstain from alcohol this year as it was last year. Michael and I still had dinners out with friends on the weekends, but for the most part, I didn’t really head to any bars to socialize after hours during the week this year. Instead of post-work happy hours and networking events, I really dedicated January to getting back into a better workout routine so I spent most of my happy hours at SoulCycle instead.
- I still felt guilty not ordering a drink when I would go out for dinner. Try going out to dinner on a Friday or Saturday night (in a town like D.C. where everyone is drinking) and ordering just water. I know there are plenty of people who don’t drink for various reasons so it shouldn’t be an issue, but I always feel like the waiter or waitress is annoyed with the fact that I didn’t order an alcoholic beverage (it’s likely just me). I definitely felt the need to explain that I was doing Dry January.
- This should come as no surprise, but I saved so much money! Instead of dinners costing $30-$50 for just myself, they ended up being around $20-$30 (at a nicer restaurant). I had this same experience last year, but it still blows me away how quickly a bill can add up when you’re drinking.
- I actually enjoyed picking up casual dinners instead of eating out. Picking up takeout for dinner on Fridays/Saturdays was an easy way to avoid the temptation of drinking. And I actually enjoyed it! As much as I love getting out and about, by the time the weekend rolls around (especially Friday), I’m much more inclined to pick up dinner and have a casual night in. This habit also lent itself to saving even more money since we weren’t dining at nicer sit-down restaurants.
- Although it wasn’t all that difficult to abstain from alcohol for a month, I definitely enjoy my red wine and the occasionally margarita or moscow mule too much to ever totally give it up. I’ll likely stick to minimizing my drinking during the week. Even this past weekend, I went out both nights and only had five drinks total for the entire weekend so I’d say that’s a win! It’s all about balance.
With Lent starting this Wednesday, I know a lot of people are trying to decide what to “give up” for the Lenten season. If you’re still stumped, definitely consider an alcohol free Lent. It was a fun challenge and definitely something that you’re reminded of on a daily basis.
Did you participate in Dry January?! If so, what did you learn from your experience?! Would love to know in the comments below!