I’m a mom of a toddler and infant twins, and I have a busy career. I've always been very active and conscious of my diet, but I recently noticed that every single night after getting the boys to bed, I was pouring myself a glass of chianti and sinking into the couch, exhausted. Although I've always been very moderate with alcohol, somewhere along the way I had started to feel like I needed that glass of wine to keep me sane—and I didn't like it.
As a yoga teacher, I'm conscious of my habits, and this one needed work. I think a glass of wine once in a while is completely fine, and to justify it I kept reminding myself that red wine is full of antioxidants, and my doctor had even said a small glass was fine while I was breastfeeding. Plus, French women drink wine all the time, right?
Once I'd gotten these justifications out of my system, I made up my mind to completely cut wine out for three weeks. Here’s what happened.
My athletic performance improved.
Ask any athlete: Alcohol disrupts performance. This is because it's a diuretic, and it can impair muscle growth, dehydrate the body, prevent muscle recovery, and deplete your energy. Without my nightly glass of red, I noticed I had more endurance on the elliptical, could run faster at the playground, and had more strength in my daily life lifting my kids and practicing yoga and Pilates.
I slept better.
It’s a myth that a glass of wine or alcohol helps you get a good night’s sleep. Alcohol can initially make you drowsy and help you nod off, but you might wake up within a few hours, and you'll probably get lower-quality sleep overall. Alcohol has been shown to reduce the amount of time you spend in a REM state, and it suppresses breathing, which can lead to sleep apnea. As a mom of six-month-old twins, I'm not getting a lot of sleep as is—but I have noticed that sans wine, the time I spent sleeping was much deeper, and I woke up more refreshed.
My sugar cravings went away.
Let’s face it: Red wine, as good as it is for you, is high in sugar. Sugar raises our insulin levels and can make us crave more of the sweet stuff. Have you ever noticed how easy it is to polish off a piece of chocolate cake after a meal filled with wine and spirits? I often had my glass of wine with a square of dark chocolate as my little nighttime ritual. Once I stopped drinking it, I stopped craving the chocolate.
I replaced my nightly glass with meditation.
Without the tiny buzz I got from my glass of wine, I felt more compelled to roll out my mat and do some gentle stretches followed by a meditation. I loved the quiet time I had for myself, and my mind became clearer. I also had a more mellow energy as I went to bed—i didn't just dive face-first into my pillow.
I lost weight.
While I didn't really have weight to lose—I'm still nursing, so I actually want to hold on to a few pounds—I noticed that my mid-section seemed more trim. So for anyone looking to get leaner, give it a try!
Will I go wine-free forever? No, probably not. I still believe in moderation, and I do love a good glass of wine with friends or family. That being said, I love the way I feel when I don’t need that glass of wine to relax or unwind. There are plenty of ways to reduce my stress at the end of the day, and I really do feel clearer and cleaner on the nights when I don’t drink.
Now when I do raise a glass, it’s a conscious, healthy decision—and one that is even more special when it’s done on occasion, not habitually.