For many people alcohol and drink is an area they need to address on their health & fitness path. If you find yourself drinking a few nights a week and / or find a drinking session can upset the following day or two of health and fitness behaviours then it may be an area to look into. If so, consider the following.

Choosing To Drink – Even though I have not drunk for over ten years I am not overly anti-alcohol. For me, it is important to train yourself to have the ability to choose not to drink in any given situation. This means wherever you are there there is at least equal emotional weight to not drinking than to having alcohol. This means saying no to your friends does not bring with it a big pressure or awkward feeling. It means you can step into a pub without a preset desire to drink or you don’t have to drink to counter any awkward feelings of a social situation etc.

There are two ways to develop this area, one is to gently stop drinking in certain easy situations until accustomed to it, then develop to the next level of difficulty and continue until you can do it in any situation. This could mean first meeting your friend who doesn’t drink in a pub at lunch and not drinking with them, then maybe meeting another non drinker to do the same but this time in the evening. You continue not drinking in more “difficult” situations as and when you feel ready. Eventually you will have built up to cover all social situations. 

The second approach is to go hardcore and just cut out drink for a period of time then go ahead with your normal social life etc. The sober October movement started growing the last few years which i prefer to dry January. This is because in dry January most people stop drinking but also stop going out. In Sober October with so few doing it and no post December hangover most people are in their normal swing of life which is even better for training yourself to not drink in all situations. 

Once you are able to not drink in any situation you will usually find your alcohol consumption naturally drops down to a sensible level. This is why I am not really anti alcohol, I am just pro being able to choose.

It’s Not Just About You – The biggest issue people run into in when trying not to drink is other people. It is important to remember that changes you make also affect others. You may run into a little bit of pressure from friends / family for various reasons.

This may be because the thought of you not drinking means they will be self conscious when you are sober and they are drunk. Sometimes you not drinking makes them feel they shouldn’t be drinking neither which unlike you, they do not want to investigate right now. This change in your health behaviour may represent to them a symbolic change in the status of your relationship with the other person which can create resistance. Some people simply do not like change whatever it may be. For many of these issues you can usually get around it with a congruent story and how you act during the process.

Often at the beginning (esp if a forceful peer group) you may need some stories that ease off the social pressure, this is best done by blaming some external thing for your not drinking and suggesting to your social circle it is only temporary. Adding in a little acting that you are missing out can also add to this. For example,   

– My Doctor gave me a liver test and said I cannot drink until go back for the retest in a few weeks. I am really annoyed but I am not drinking today” This does not need to be a true story and you can act a bit about being upset to drink. Good for strong social pressure groups as sounds a bit serious compared to being on antibiotics.

– “I have been drinking way too much recently and a hectic schedule coming up so I am taking a little break from drinking now.” 

-” I am running an experiment looking into how alcohol affects me. It is a bit of a weird thing to do but I read some interesting report that some people are affected much worse by alcohol and you don’t really know if that is you unless take some time off it. I have been drinking every week for over year so lets see what happens. “

– “I am on a body transformation plan, strict no drinking for 8 weeks. I am sure I will be back on it once I am done with this but I am all in now.” 

– “I lost a bet with a mate, now I cant drink for a month. #gutted”

– ” I have been having a few issues with my mood / Concentration recently so I am looking into whether alcohol affects it, hopefully not but we shall see so no drinking”

Once you have not drunk even a few times the social pressure is greatly reduced. If you do it for a longer period of time your friends will almost forget you used to drink. You are now able to easily choose whether you want to drink on an event by event basis.

Sometimes you will find a specific person is very persistent and forceful about you having to drink. This is best tackled by having a direct conversation, if it still does not produce a change in behaviour then leaving the drinks given to you will get the message across. This of course says much more about them than you and it is very interesting in how people act. I only really had a couple of people try to force drink on me after I gave up, one night out they bought me 2 pints…. I didn’t touch either of the beers and they never tried to give me a drink ever again.

Selling The Change To Yourself – Most social ties are fairly easily broken in my experience using the above strategies. The second element of change is selling the change to yourself. I will cover this in another newsletter as have written enough today.

Photo – The last time I drunk was when I was in Peru 2007 where I took this baby Llama and Machu Picchu photo.

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