What I Learned from Dry January

Resetting my relationship with alcohol

I had pegged this as a goal months ago. The last time I tried to do Dry January, I only lasted 10 days. I was a miserable failure. I was determined to complete my goal this time.

Even though I had extenuating circumstances that arose after making this promise to myself, I pretty much made it. With my father’s passing two days after Christmas, perhaps I should have bailed on this goal. I allowed myself a pass on the day of his memorial service, but other than that, I did not imbibe.

So, how did going without alcohol make me feel?

I have to admit, there were times when I felt a bit left out. Alcohol is such a big part of social gatherings in our culture. Staying with family where everyone was drinking in the days surrounding my dad’s memorial service, it was super difficult to resist having a drink. 

I also had a terrible headache the first 4 days of the year. The thought did occur to me that it might be a sign of withdrawal from alcohol. That is part of my reasoning for having a drink after my dad’s service. I thought it might cure my headache, since Tylenol, Advil, and Excedrin Migraine did absolutely nothing. But the drink didn’t help, either. It turns out my electrolytes were out of whack. I took two SaltStick FastChews, and my headache was gone in 30 minutes. Pretty crazy. This scenario does match the information I found on the interwebs, though. 

I found myself a bit anxious this month as well. I chalked this up to grief, but this, too, can be a symptom of alcohol withdrawal. My symptoms included heart palpitations and chest discomfort, but these occurred over two weeks after my last drink. I don’t know if this was directly related to my choice to quit drinking or not. 

I am sleeping better. That has been a positive change. 

I’ve also lost weight. 6 pounds! I love that my clothes fit better now. 

My running has also felt pretty good, and I feel stronger. I’ve also stayed faithful to my run streak goal. I felt I needed it to help manage my normal level of anxiety, for running is my other secret weapon for battling this. 

My real purpose in completing Dry January was to reset my relationship with alcohol. Especially during the pandemic, I went from being an occasional consumer to almost daily. And, let’s face it. Alcohol is a poison, and drinking too much can affect your overall fitness, performance, and ability to recover from workouts. And a recent study has shown that consumption can be harmful even in very small amounts

It’s amazing, though, how much the running community centers events around alcohol. Big races always serve beer after. We have running groups that center around breweries. And some alcohol brands have running teams. It sometimes makes it really difficult to participate in this beloved sport without imbibing. And I do absolutely look forward to that post-race beer. 

After my run club’s recent 15k, I almost didn’t go to the after-party. It was held at a local brewery, and I didn’t want to be tempted to drink. But the race directors assured me that there were multiple, delicious non-alcoholic beverage options. They were right. I had a lovely kombucha, served in a beer glass. And I didn’t feel left out. 

Will I go back to drinking?

Yes. But definitely less than before. 

I’m certainly not perfect, but this experience has taught me that I don’t require alcohol to deal with stress, even with so much on my plate this month. 


Have you done a Dry January? How did it go? What did you learn about yourself? I’d love to hear about it!

As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy. 

Published by annecreates

I am a physical therapist, wife, mom, runner, artist, and vegan. I'm passionate about helping others find wellness, speaking about the human experience, and in fighting for social justice. Assistant Coach for the Sports Backers Marathon Training Team. Current ambassador for: Boco Gear, SaltStick, SPIbelt, Goodr, Noxgear, and Switch4Good.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: