31 DAYS. NO DRINKS. NO SMOKES. AND NO MEAT.
How many of you get really drunk, eat a gigantic meal at 3AM, text whichever “friend” you know is awake like an idiot and then immediately wake up late the next day full of calories and regret? Is it just me?
If it is, I hate you.
If not, well…I welcome you to try this.
As I write this post it’s currently 12:15AM on Monday, March 7th. It’s officially been a week since I decided with my friend Bops that after 5 days of constant partying and unhealthy eating in Goa/Mumbai, we would give up drinking for a month. Then since drinking also feeds the other habits, lets just quit smoking also (I’m the recreational drunk smoker, and yes, I know that’s complete bullshit but that’s another story for another day). Then just to say “what the hell”, I thought let me quit the meat also. I figured since quitting the first two vices will indulge me to eat a bunch of chilly chicken goodness, I should try to counter balance the weight gain by giving up something I love the most…meat. And I mean, I could save an animal or two right? (Bops is from Coorg so not an option for him and he’s also a skinny bastard).
So in the interest of acting like the #SentiSanjay that I am, here’s my takeaways from Week 1 of cleaning up my act while living in Bangalore, India.
WEEK ONE LESSONS
1) Having a Friend Helps:
If you hang out with the same 4 people till 3AM each week dissecting the night and just “chilling” in the patio of whichever friend has a house with no parent, going clean with one of them makes things simpler. The other two will make the plans, and you and your sober buddy can keep dibs on each other. It also makes for company when they all go out to smoke, do a round at the bar, etc.. Conversations also move beyond “Fu*k come get smashed bro.”
2) Pressure was Surprisingly Minimal:
I’m a full-time comedian, and most of my friends are big time party machines. I have that friend like all of you who sees you sober and immediately says “Dude don’t be a bitch duuuuuuuuude.” I was nervous about having to wiggle my way out of each of these conversations, but it was shockingly easy. The beauty of India is you can just say “Bro some puja is there at home” and nobody can really argue with that. After the initial one minute of explanation, you realize it’s all in your head. (e.g. When you meet a friend in a group and they’re not drinking, do you honestly care for more than 10 seconds?)
3) Getting Through the bar/pubs on the Weekend was easy.
I look forward to Friday/Saturday because I don’t normally drink during the week, and I like to go out and spend time bullshitting with my friends and “boozing.” Not to mention gossiping, maybe dancing/singing, and just taking time off from work. But in Goa I realized maybe I’m doing this too much and not working enough to justify it, which is why I’m trying all of this now. I still went out on both Friday and Saturday, and it was surprisingly ok to babysit a diet coke and actually eat a normal meal at the bar. I still ran into the same friends, they still chit chatted as they usually do before looking for cooler people (chicks) and I still went home fairly content at 1 in the morning. Don’t get me wrong, on April 1st I’m gonna go take a shot and have some fun, but in all honesty I feel like my weekend would have panned out exactly the same had I been drinking away. The risk of missing out on a social life when not drinking was just an illusion. Is being sober awesome? No. But is getting smashed overrated? Yes.
WEEK TWO LESSONS
This week was a little tougher, since I went to a few events where they had an open bar and some delicious kababs that looked divine and also free. However, since I already had 7 days in the game, I’m happy to report I’m still going strong. Coffee and diet cokes are a man’s best friend at the moment. My main takeaways as I’m now 14 days clean:
1) Teetotalers aren’t Necessarily more Productive
We vilify alcohol for a ton of problems, and I understand why that’s warranted. But if you’re going to be a lazy unproductive person, quitting booze isn’t going to fix that. I know plenty of people who never drink and are also not nearly as accomplished as some of my more party oriented friends. And vice versa. But equating drinking/bar hopping with fun is also not required. I’ve been of the notion for too long that Friday/Saturday = Drinking and Fun, and taking a step back from that notion has definitely helped me put a focus back on doing other things. I’ve started to take meetings on Friday evenings, socialize with folks outside of my standard party crew and opened another area of life I was simply ignoring out of laziness. The beauty of that is my party friends will still always be there, and not partying each night hasn’t really changed anything for either of us. I’m 100% the same person and I feel a very light productive streak going. Lets see.
2) Life Exists Beyond the Bars
All of the above still holds, plus I’ve got more money in the bank account and more energy. It also motivated me to do things like take out my camera and shoot random videos and just keep myself busy. I’ve switched up how I spend a free Friday or Saturday now and am meeting more friends for dinner, moving on some creative projects that I would have postponed and I’m home at 10PM now writing this blog before getting back to editing a video I was working on. So far, so good. One of the lessons I’m also learning is that just like we get bored with the 9 to 5 routine, going out each weekend also gets routine, it’s just not recognized as easily. Drinking on Friday’s is fun because the work week is over, but try to celebrate more than just another five days in the history books. The bar, if anything, should be used to celebrate what you’ve accomplished outside of it.
WEEK THREE LESSONS
Oh man, I miss booze. And meat. As a comedian most events I do has open bars, and yeah, I’m not an alcoholic but a drink would be nice.
1.No Hangover to Blame
I’ve been sleeping a lot (like, uninterrupted maid ringing the door bell 5 times sleep) lately and each time I wake up, my mind is like “Ufff…..rough night…..wait a second, I’m not hung over.” For some reason years of Saturday/Sunday afternoons getting up has also programmed me to treat the weekend mornings as time reserved for doing nothing. I find myself doing a lot more before 10AM now, and I’m glad that’s happening.
WEEK FOUR LESSONS
Home stretch. Went to the show for the Whose Line is It Anyways Guys in Bangalore last night. Open bar, amazing food. My last sober observation:
1. Conversations Move Beyond Hi/Hello/Bye
When we get drunk and are out, we usually have our circle we came with and everybody else you run into are just people you sort of do the pleasantries with. You’re drunk and so are they generally. For me however, I actually sincerely talked to whatever friend I happened to be out with or run into. In fact, since I wanted to stay busy to keep my mind occupied, I made plans with lots of people. The craziest part? We actually followed up on them. I haven’t followed up on a plan in years, so thank you sobriety 😃
So that’s pretty much it. Is there some miracle detox life changing that happens when you quit drinking/smoking? I’m not sure. The health benefits you already know about. But I do recommend whoever reads this to quit alcohol for one month out of the year. It helps break your routine also proves you don’t have a problem. You will lose absolutely nothing but surprised at what you may gain. Which will then make your next time at the bars all the more fun.
Time for a drink.