40 for 40: I gave up wine for 40 days (gasp!)

As you may know, my 40th birthday recently passed. A big milestone and yet something pretty regular too. I had a great day with my family, eating some of my favorite foods and doing some of my favorite social-distance friendly activities. It was great and my family made me feel so incredibly loved. 

Leading up to my birthday, I decided to give up alcohol for 40 days. I really wanted to look and feel good for my 40th birthday, and I knew that meant a little bit of sacrifice. So, adios vino! Not that I drink excessively, but alcohol has been something I’ve enjoyed regularly since starting college at 18 years old. I’ve given it up in the past, during my pregnancy and when I was very ill with an ulcerative colitis flare, but for the most part, an evening glass of wine or cocktails with the girls has always been something I’ve regularly enjoyed. And, being completely honest, the regularity and amount of alcohol increased significantly during COVID. Basically, it was time to make a change!

Why 40 days?

I chose forty days because I really didn’t want to give it up for too long. Haha! I thought 40 days was just long enough to feel like I might feel and see some results. I was hopeful that by refraining from alcohol for this amount of time, I’d be able to see a weight loss result, possibly see clearer, brighter skin, and feel improvements in my energy levels. 

Also, forty days felt do-able. It seemed like just long enough to stretch me and get into a groove with not drinking, but not so long that I would drive myself crazy. It seemed like a perfect balance point for me to give it a go and actually succeed. I mean, what’s 40 days, right?

It wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t terrible either.

Overall, giving up alcohol for 40 days wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be once I put my mind to it. Sure, at first, I felt like I was missing out, especially since Mal didn’t give up alcohol, but after a while it got easier and actually began to feel a little bit like normal. Drinking seltzer with lime felt funny in the beginning, but I grew to enjoy it. I even discovered how listening to music to relax at the end of the day, rather than reaching for my usual glass or mommy wine, was actually enjoyable and that it really did the trick!

In addition to learning a new relaxation strategy, I also experienced some pretty cool health benefits too! I could definitely tell that giving up alcohol helped balance my blood sugar. I was not as hungry, had fewer sugary cravings, and I was sleeping a lot better too. It also felt really good to wake up feeling healthy and energized, not dehydrated and sluggish. Even though I was very conscious of not replacing the wine calories with sweet treat calories, I didn’t lose a single pound. I even got to a point where I realized I wasn’t even thinking about drinking, or, if the urge did come, it passed quickly. I used to think about having a glass of wine at 4 o’clock almost everyday and that urge completely went away! 

A strange thing happened though

At the start of week four, I noticed my skin was breaking out like crazy. WTF?!? I get breakouts from time-to-time, but I generally have pretty clear skin, so this was a little weird for me. I assume my body was probably detoxing. Alcohol increases estrogen dominance so I think removing it from my diet surprised my hormones and the breakouts were a result of my hormones working themselves out. 

After about a week, the breakouts started to go away and all that was left were the good health benefits like more energy, less dehydration, and a general feeling of well-being. Oh, and now that the breakouts are gone, my skin is so much better. So, that’s a definite win! 

It was a good experience

In all, this was a pretty good experience, and I’m glad I gave up alcohol for the 40 days leading up to my 40th birthday. It’s good to challenge yourself and give your body a break from time-to-time, especially when it’s something that’s actually really good for you. I have no plans to give up my beloved wine long-term, but I am definitely glad I gave it a shot. I’m still surprised I was able to make it 40 days! 

Drinking alcohol is a pretty hotly contested activity in the weight loss coaching community. Some coaches say you can’t drink ever, some say in moderation. Because I believe in a macro-ish approach, I advocate for flexibility around alcoholic beverages, meaning, so long as they ‘fit’ into your day, they’re fair game. So, happy birthday to me and bottoms up!

Have you ever given up alcohol? How did it go for you? Did you experience any of the same results I did?

7 Comments

  1. Currently still going strong with no alcohol since the first week in January! Not 100% by “choice” as I am trying to heal my gut issues and was recommended by my doctor, but I am choosing to put my health first and that does feel good. I don’t miss waking up dehydrated and sleepy so that is a win. It was harder in the beginning but now it’s just normal for me, I don’t even really think about it unless I’m being social and others are drinking. My husband has not given it up but it doesn’t bother me at all, I don’t even notice at this point. It’s gotten so routine for me, but I think the summer will be testing me a little more- without any social events due to covid I think it was easier for me to give it up. Don’t plan on this being a forever thing, I’m hoping I get the green light in the fall!

  2. I am surprised you didn’t loose any weight if you didn’t use those calories else where. Obviously you must not have drank enough to make a significant calorie impact. Good for you for sticking with it and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

  3. I did a dry January once but DEFINITELY went overboard elsewhere so gained weight. Like…a nightly glass of wine or beer was replaced with a big ol’ dish of ice cream etc. So I learned a bit about myself and moderation.

  4. A year or so ago, I gave it up for three months and felt great! I originally wanted to go a full year AF, but ultimately craved a glass of wine, caved, and went back to my old habits. I did sleep much better without alcohol and had more energy (but replaced my wine with desserts so ended up gaining weight ugh).

    I’m currently trying to heal my IBS gut (this is at least 20 years of struggle for me) so am going completely off alcohol for as long as I can. Hoping until the end of this year, if not longer. I do love me some buttery chardonnay though! But I find drinking a La Croix from a wine glass does the trick! Makes me feel fancy without the hangover. 😉

  5. I am a desperate lover.I gave up whiskey long back,and started enjoying wine.The love for wine went so far that I started preparing wine at home, with all kinds of fruits.Then came the challenge!I quit drinking for almost 2 months.But the urge for wine remained the same.Just as the clock struck 6, something in me told… It’s time’babes.
    But,my will power was too strong to handle this.I didn’t had to take pills for killing headache,had better sleep, awesome morning and a healthy diet.
    Now, I have a more shining skin as I always had,and not but last the least,Sooner Wine shall be back to get the kick,as Pals we are ♥️✌️

  6. I’ve given up alcohol for dry January, a whole 30 round, and my pregnancy. I feel better and usually lose some weight….but mm wine lol. Good for you and happy birthday!!

  7. well done! I did this over Jan and found that once you get past that first weekend it does get easier. Amazing how habitual it becomes.
    I didn’t have any differences (slept the same, no weight loss) but I did enjoy waking up feeling a little less groggy. I’m 20 days into another 30 days without alcohol as the lockdown made me drink a little more and I was aware of using alcohol to cope. Not always a bad thing (self-care is so important!) but I wanted to shift the habit a little.

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