In most ways ShApril 2016 (get in shape in April) has been my easiest yet. My main goals for the month are no makeup and no alcohol, as well as general upping my heathy eating and lifestyle. Though these goals have been super easy to uphold they have been very (alarmingly?) enlightening.
Here is my justification of the no-booze goal for this month, with 1 and 2 week in annotations.
Since turning 19 (and probably before that), I have never gone a month without alcohol. I’ve barely gone a week, most likely. Drinking for me is social, for pleasure and taste, and habitual. The habitual aspect was the most challenging during week one. My will was tested the first few nights, coming home from a long day of work between 8 and 10pm, and wanting the habitual glass of wine to de-stress. I learning quickly that the craving only lasted an hour or two, and then I wouldn't crave it at all. By the second week I wasn't thinking about it at all (when typically after a stressful day I'd be thinking about my glass of wine on the way home. Actively thinking about it. I also haven't craved or been tempted by any booze other than red wine. (Oh boy do I love a good shiraz…) Lol. For a long time I rode the “caffeine to wake up and alcohol to wind down” carousel. Caffeine has been interesting as well. The first week, again, I didn't notice much of a change. By the beginning of the second week I was noticing that I didn't need as much caffeine to get going in the morning or during the afternoon "crash". So I decided to start tracking caffeine* as well to see how much I was drinking. I also switched to decaf coffee (well, mostly). This peaks during times of extreme stress for me, such as my tortorous internship in 2012 and my grandfather’s illness last summer. I say I’m concious of my alcohol consumption, but am I really? Especially if I’ve been using it as a coping mechanism? Coping mechanism may have been a little harsh, past Amelia. More like a security blanket.
Recently I’ve purposed to become more aware, and I’ve begun tracking days I consume alcohol or not. It became apparent to me that a dry month was necessary. I was tracking alcohol on my fertility app, not how much I was drinking, but just if I drank or not. (The app I use, Kindara, allows users to add custom fields. Perhaps more on this later). When a month or cycle went by, and I saw 30 dots in a row for "alcohol", I remember feeling that I wouldn't be proud to show this to a friend or family member. Now I look at the row on my app and I'm very proud at all the days I haven't had any.
I look forward to seeing the effects of this on my body and mind! I’ll admit, I don’t have a sweet tooth, I don’t crave junk food, and I don’t smoke…but I do drink. Now. The effects of not drinking. This was a different and illuminating story from week one to week two. Week one I had a few cravings, I was also thinking about what it would be like to hang out with friends and not drink booze...what would we drink instead? Must we always have drinks in our hands? Anyway, I did start feeling some changes in my body right away. But - and this is the illuminating part - I didn't want to admit it. To myself or anyone else. It's not like I felt earth-shatteringly different. But wait a minute, I was sleeping very soundly. And falling asleep faster. And waking up faster. And being productive in the morning faster. I didn't want to admit that these changes could be a result of not drinking my beloved wine. Habitual drinking is the norm in my family culture. So why wouldn't it be normal for me?
By week two I had to bit the bullet and admit to myself that I was feeling change. Change as significant as when I went vegetarian for the first time (in January 2014). Since cutting out booze I have not had a single night of restless sleep (20 nights**). I've been able to wake up more easily without hitting snooze on the alarm. I've had more energy in the morning - just this morning I woke up naturally at 7:00am, out of bed, showered, drinking tea and working productively by 8am. (And it's Sunday). Typically my productive time started around 11am. I always justified it; "I work till 9pm, why should I get up early?" Now I feel like I've gained a whole half-day of productivity. The social aspect has been so easy that I haven't even thought about it. (There's a sign of quality friendships, alright). We hang out completely normally, and at the end of the night I'm not tired, can drive home, and even get a few things done before crashing in bed.
Summary: So far the biggest changes I have noticed are my productivity level, especially in the morning, how easy it is to fall asleep and wake up, and the coma-like peaceful sleep.
(No Alcohol since 03/28...20 days)
Here is my justification of the no-makeup goal for this month, with 1 and 2 week in annotations.
No makeup is more of an experiment in how others react to me, if at all. Fun fact: I have not noticed a single difference as to how people react to me. My husband has commented that when he first met me I barely wore any makeup at all. Like a lot of women I go through stages. While being engaged I really learned how to do my makeup and had a lot of fun doing it! My skin was also particularly probelmatic so covering it up for the wedding was important to me. Ironically, of course, the more makeup I wore the worse my acne flared. (Twas ever thus, eh?). My skin feels very soft and hydrated, more so than normal. I haven't had any major breakouts but I have had a few tiny 24 hour whiteheads (weird, but I'll take it). The teacher in me also wants to be the best role model I can be to my students. I plan on sharing with the girls that I’m doing a makeup-free month, if it comes up. I have mentioned it to a few students. Reactions I got from them were along the lines of "That's great, You don't need makeup anyway, Oh that must be so good for your skin, You look gorgeous anyway". I look forward to any improvements/changes in my skin, any reactions from my friends and students, and focusing on self-love! I do find that when I look in the mirror some times, especially at work, I look a little plain. Just a little un-polished. I feel completely fine and don't even think about it until I catch myself in the mirror. As I said to one coworker, I'm still going to wear cute outfits, do my hair and wear accessories. I don't think anyone has commented or noticed directly that I'm not wearing makeup. I had to get dressed up to represent my department this week and speak on stage. I received many compliments on how nice and professional I looked, even though I was completely bare-faced on stage. We took some professional photos as well and I must admit I thought my skin looked great. It's making me re-think wearing foundation for sure. My typical work makeup is eyebrow powder, eyeshadow or highlighter, black mascara, sometimes liquid eyeliner, and a combo of blush/highlighter. Right now, after two weeks, I am seriously questioning everything...except maybe my good old mascara. It's also been a nice adjustment to not have to book 10-20 minutes in the morning to get ready. I can just get dressed, do something with my hair and go.
Summary: I have not noticed a difference in how people react to me or treat me, I think my skin looks lovely though I do look a little plain at work. And ditching the makeup routine in the morning gives me a little more time for me-time or productive things.
(No makeup since 03/10... 39 days…started while on a journey to India & Nepal)
On to week three and four! All the best to everyone in their ShApril goals!
*Tracking caffeine: I downloaded a free app, "Up Coffee", and synced it with Apple Health on my iPhone. In the app users can add a specific beverage in a specific amount and record at what time they drank it. The app is cute and is meant more for alcohol and sleep patterns. But what's cool is that it syncs with the Health app, and from there I can see a graph of my caffeine consumption by day, week and eventually, month.
**Though I am just entering week three of ShApril I have more than 15 days of no makeup and no booze. No makeup began on my trip, on March 10th, so it's been more like 40 days of no makeup. And my last drink was on the flight home on the 28th of March, hence the 20 days of no booze.