How Giving Up Drinking Improved My Health—in a Surprising Way

Welcome to Month of Me, where every day in January we'll be publishing a new fashion, beauty, or wellness article featuring a first-person account of shaking up an old habit, pushing beyond a comfort zone, or simply trying something new. Follow along for 31 days of storytelling, including what it's like to quit alcohol for 80 days, try Beyoncé's very strict diet, or completely overhaul your closet.

Name: Jacqueline Lee, Photo Editor and Licensing Manager, Who What Wear and THE/THIRTY

What Did You Try? I gave up alcohol for 80 days.

Why Did You Try It? I wanted to improve my mental health and focus.

How Did You Prepare? Stocked the fridge with soda and yummy food, had one last margarita…

Photo:

Cameron Whitman/Stocksy

What Happened During the Whole Process? The challenge was simple. I cut out any alcohol for 30 days (ended up doing 80 days). I switched out the weekly wine in my shopping basket for soda and sparkling water.

After the first week, I felt a bit more rested and I felt like a lost a bit of weight. After the first two to three weeks, I started to have a bit more energy and improved focus. All the changes were pretty subtle, but my to-do list felt a lot more manageable, and I was definitely more motivated to do fun and creative things outside of my usual routine. For instance, I joined a book club and took a bread-baking class.

Photo:

@jacquimlee

The first few weeks, I found myself constantly craving sweet things, which made a lot of sense once I figured out a glass of rosé, or any other wine, can have zero to 130 sugar calories per glass, depending on how dry or sweet it is. I'm not going to lie, I definitely treated myself to the type of delicious sugary sweets and baked goods I'd normally resist. Doughnuts are amazingly delicious!

Photo:

JACQUELINE MCLENNAN LEE, THE/THIRTY

Any Challenges? Friday nights were a little deflating at first without my go-to glass of wine, but a good movie and waking up early and rested on a Saturday morning was a great tonic.

Any Surprises? Apart from a little weight loss (about 5%), I didn't notice a lot of obvious improvements to my outside physical health. Although, it might have been a different story inside my body, as some of the listed benefits of being alcohol-free are improved liver health, immunity, and reduced risk of some cancers.

I was expecting my 80 days without drinking to net out as healthily for my bank account as for my liver. Not so. It turns out that eating out in L.A. is still crazy expensive, even without the $16 glass of wine. Plus when you're 100% sober as you sign the check, you notice more.

Photo:

@jacquimlee

What Did You Like About It? I loved having more time and energy to fill up with new things.

The best thing, hands down, for me about skipping drinking is how much more time there is. When I see my friends for brunch and mimosas, I spend the rest of the afternoon happily shopping or watching Netflix. Without the mimosa, I had so much more energy and enthusiasm and started to actually do things I'd been talking about for ages, like joining a book club and learning to bake bread.

If your friends are anything like mine, most of them probably won't even notice you aren't drinking, and the ones you tell won't care a jot. I was pretty unsociable for the first few weeks, but once I started seeing people, it didn’t take long for it to feel totally normal to order a glass of cranberry juice instead of a glass of California pinot.

What Did You Hate? Nothing!

Would You Try It Again? Yes! I'm planning to start again soon and go for 100 days. I kind of loved not drinking for 80 days. It shook my lifestyle up a bit and made me get out of my comfort zone, try new things, and meet new people.

Photo:

Alina Hvostikova/Stocksy

Any Advice for Anyone Who's Thinking About Trying It? Once you get through the first couple of weeks, it gets a lot easier. Fill up your calendar with fun things that don't involve drinking but do involve new people or things you've always wanted to try.

Next up: I Tried the Whole30 Diet—Here Are My Honest Thoughts