As we took off for our honeymoon to Switzerland, I had already decided that I’d probably have a drink. I hadn’t drunk any alcohol in 6 months. I’d originally planned to stop drinking for 3 months, but felt so good that I just stuck with it. I’d never planned to stay sober forever, and as the honeymoon approached, it felt like a time and place I wanted to enjoy a drink.
This is a simple post about something that you participate in every day. You rarely intervene, and in general, you’re not required to. Even so, 20 to 30 thousand times a day, you breathe. Breathing is unique in that it occurs automatically—even when we’re unconscious—but is also able to come under conscious control. Our breath sits at the intersection of mind, body, blood and brain, unifying them in one living rhythm, and finally binding our bodies into a much greater reciprocity with outside and Other:
You found a new diet. It’s the low-x diet. x might be carbs. x might be fats. x might be meat. x might be processed foods. It has a compelling story: x is now known to be the secret underlying cause of our health and obesity crisis. By reducing x, we can lose weight, reverse chronic disease and in 6-8 weeks probably definitely look like Brad Pitt in Fight Club. That fat will literally be dripping off your abs.
Earlier this year I read Catherine Gray’s The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober and decided to stop drinking for 3 months: a Sober Spring. It seemed to arrive at the perfect time for me, as I’d become fed up (again) with drinking, hangovers, and the effect of both on my anxiety. Well… the 3 months have gone quickly and smoothly! Here I want to talk about my biggest lessons, and how shit-faced I got the day it all finished.
It’s already been 2 weeks since I had my last drink, and for the next 3 or so months, I won’t be drinking any alcohol. So far my war medals include surviving an afterparty with a free bar, living with 6 bottles of leftover wedding wine, and managing to eat a delicious leg of lamb without a red wine chaser. I know, right? #FirstWorldProblems But why? I’m not here to preach or convince you—these are just my reasons for trying Sober Spring, with a little extra information thrown in for the curious.
When our own choices turn to compulsions, we suffer a loss of meaning. It’s when “I choose to” becomes “I should” or “I have to”. Perhaps a habit felt great at first, but now we’re squeezing everything possible out of it. Perhaps our situation has changed. Regardless, the inner judge takes up the war cry, constantly nagging and attacking. Keep moving, keep pushing, this is important. It can easily become a cruel tyrant, a thoughtless momentum.
A new weight loss study was released this week, reported by various news outlets with the following headline: Counting calories not key to weight loss, study finds. The description went on to explain: People in the study who cut back on added sugar, refined grains and highly processed foods while eating plenty of vegetables and whole foods — without worrying about cutting calories or portion sizes — lost significant amounts of weight over the course of a year.
When most of us think of “fitness”, the images that arise are often not pleasant: sweaty gyms, restrictive diets, and the thought of fitting even more tasks into an already busy day. If we summon the courage to visit the gym, we get home to catch the latest news about that new thing that causes cancer, and how we all need to eat less, move more, and eat five a day.