Experiment 7: A Dry January
+Reduced weight by 6lbs
+ My environment had a huge impact on my desires and cravings. When I was out at a restaurant, or watching a show at the theatre or playing poker with friends, these occasions were very much harder to resist and self control was needed.
+ Accountability increases your odds of success.
+ Look for triggers, including people, meals and occasions that will affect your behavior.
As I watched the clock strike midnight on the kitchen stove, I thought to myself, one month earlier it was New Years Eve and the world was cheering in 2015. At this moment however, I was however cheering my success at not having drunk for a whole month (something I probably haven’t done since I was a teenager).
With all the festivities over Christmas and toasting in the new year, December was no doubt the month that I consumed the most alcohol in 2014.
Despite being English, I have never drank in excess. However I am certainly fond of a glass of wine or a pint of beer whenever the occasion calls for one. I’ve never stopped myself from having a drink if I wanted one. I thought it would be an interesting experiment to see what it would be like to eliminate alcohol as a 30 day challenge.
On a day to day basis, I don’t normally drink. However, I do find, that with an Italian meal a nice bottle of red wine compliments the meal well, as does a cold beer when eating an Indian or Thai curry. These cravings increase when I am out at a restaurant or with friends or family who are drinking also.
This experiment has taught me to become more aware of the triggers that affect the decisions in my life.
I did not have a problem not drinking for the vast majority of the month, however there were triggers, some more sensitive than others that would affect my behaviour and require varying degrees of self control.
These triggers, the time of the week (I was more likely to want a drink on the weekend). The people I was with as well as the location I was at.
When I lived in Thailand, I noticed how much easier it was to eat healthier and to eat a mainly vegetarian diet. Coming back to the United States, with all the juicy hamburgers, ribs and pulled pork, made it very difficult to lead the healthy lifestyle that I wanted.
What I have learnt, is by putting yourself in an environment where there are people and things that make it easy for you to be the character that you want to be, greatly helps your chance of success. Once you adapted those characteristics, when you go into a different environment, you have a certain immunity from the influences of other people and environments.
I set the challenge to both my parents and my brother to see if they wanted to join me in a dry January. I was pleased when they all agreed. Having someone on the journey with you, to check in, and to help hold you accountable really can have a psychological boost in your chances of success.
Telling people about my challenge, made for an interesting conversation and helped to provide support for me as well as holding me to account, even though they were not taking part in the experiment.
Think about the kind of person that you want to be and put yourself in the environment that fosters those characteristics.
If that’s an entrepreneur, find a city that has a bustling entrepreneurial scene, and join a coworking place where there are others who can keep you accountable.
If you want to become a kinder, more compassionate person, find a charity or nonprofit that resonates with you, and see what volunteering opportunities that they have available. Better still join their board of directors, so that you a more direct role.