10 Things I Learned From Not Drinking For 100 Days

Written by Michelle Cady

Photo by Irina Milevskaya

I love a good challenge, and I especially love a good endurance challenge. I've run marathons and half marathons, completed Olympic distance triathlons, done Whole30, gone vegan for a year, tried 21 days without coffee (not fun), changed careers—the list goes on.

So when I heard about a 100-day no-drinking challenge, it sparked a curiosity in me, but I filed it away in the back of my head. I'd train and run a marathon and people would readily cheer me on, but 100 days without drinking? What would my fun-loving friends say?!

Let me be clear: I don't think of myself as a "problem drinker," and while there have been nights where I've "over-imbibed," I am generally a "zero to four drinks a week" kinda girl. But as a health coach, I know the negative effects of drinking on the body—so I decided to give it a try.

I've noticed that many of my clients are driven, busy, high-achieving, stressed-out people. Sometimes a couple of extra glasses of wine feels like their only escape. Clients will come to me to optimize and up-level their health and wellness, and drinking is something we talk about.

So many of us race through the week and then want to hit the brakes on a Thursday or Friday night. My challenge was this: How can I figure out how to take little breaks throughout the week so I don't need to jam on the brakes once the weekend hits? How can I continue to optimize my self-care, nutrition, fitness, and stress-management so I don't crave a drink?

Then I asked myself this: What would it feel like to wake up 14 weekends and 100 days in a row without a hint of a hangover? And how would I feel running my own business as an entrepreneur during the busiest season of the year? This was, in essence, a self-care challenge. So I didn't drink a drop of alcohol for the 102 days between December 10, 2016, and March 22, 2017. At times it was really hard. And at times, it was absolutely glorious because I felt so damn good. Here are the top 10 things I've learned along the way:

1. No drinking means more exercise.

I didn't need to plan my workouts around any "could be" hangovers or the fogginess I sometimes get now after just one glass of wine. There was no mental gymnastics counting my hours of sleep or canceling morning workout classes last-minute. I could sign up for that 9 a.m. Saturday boot-camp class and actually crush it.

2. I got better at managing stress.

During my no-drinking challenge, I learned to take mini-breaks from both my business and my social life earlier in the week, so I didn't feel the stress build in my body and mind as the week wore on and then need to blow off steam when the weekend hit. I admit I was a bit of a hermit Monday through Friday nights! I realized how badly I needed my introvert time and time to recharge.

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3. I found new ways to relax.

I found new and different ways to relax, take the edge off, and indulge. A hot Epsom salt bath, reading a book in bed, going for a walk, tucking myself into bed at 9 p.m., and even doing my first puzzle.

4. I learned to confront my feelings head-on.

The good, the bad, the ugly. There were a handful of times I had to confront my feelings head-on, without the numbing effects of alcohol. Turns out, sitting through a bad feeling and crying or being sad is the best way to work it out of your system.

5. I became so much more productive.

My weeks were super productive, and I got a lot more done for my business, my clients, and my own personal life on a weekly basis. I was even able to fit in extra workouts and a weekly yoga class, and I had extra time to relax midweek.

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6. My skin looked great.

Plus, my digestion was smooth—no weird tummy aches or bloating.

7. I slept so much better.

Falling asleep peacefully and waking up well-rested never gets old. It feels pretty darn magical waking up at 6:30 a.m. on a Saturday feeling bright and energetic and getting in a walk or some solo reading time before the world wakes up.

8. I stopped the drunk eating.

Instead of half-tasting bad pizza at 2 a.m., I conscientiously enjoyed onion rings, ice cream, dark chocolate, and the bread basket as "sober treats" during my 100 days. And I really enjoyed them.

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9. I started reading books again.

I love reading. I loved reading as a child, and during my 100 sober days I read a lot of books—especially fiction and biographies of successful entrepreneurs—as a way to transport myself momentarily out of my head, my brain, and my life. It was such an escape!

10. I finally stopped making the "but I have an event!" excuse.

There's always going to be an event. I made it through Christmas, my boyfriend's birthday, New Year's Eve, our anniversary, and Valentine's Day. I found that even if I felt the urge to order a glass of wine to "fit in with the tribe," once 30 minutes passed, I'd settle into the conversation and get a social high without the booze.

Inspired by Michelle's story? Here's what happened when this woman quit her nightly wine habit.

And are you ready to learn more about how to unlock the power of food to heal your body, prevent disease & achieve optimal health? Register now for our FREE web class with nutrition expert Kelly LeVeque.

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