What I Learned from 30 Days of No Alcohol & Coffee

I have always loved learning how to up the anty on my health game. I’ve gone vegan for half a year before, done plenty of dairy-free months, completed 30-day squat, plank, and burpee challenges, and once upon a time, my friends convinced me to run a 5k with them. A 5k that was the next morning. I had not run 3 total miles in one session since high school. I’m pleased to say I survived. After a lonnggg 2019 of fully embracing indulgence, I needed a challenge. Most of all, I needed to know that my self-discipline was still in there somewhere.

Commence Sober October.

The challenge was to give up one thing for 30 days, with Sober October being the catchy option most people were choosing. I love catchy, so I joined in. And because I like to do things the hard way, I challenged myself to stop drinking coffee, as well. 30 days. No coffee. No alcohol. One crazy girl.

I told my boyfriend about the challenge, just to prepare him for my new holier-than-thou lifestyle, fully knowing he wouldn’t be joining me. “That sounds really boring” was his response. Ding ding ding, we have a winner.

But pain is temporary, pride is forever, or something like that.

I also forgot to mention that I work part-time at a bar. Like, serving alcohol, the very thing I was avoiding. And that said bar is connected to Duluth Coffee Company. Yes, thee best coffee in Minnesota. Served right next to me.

Two girls, one mimosa. This is me, still having a great time with my soul-sister, Lisa.

Here’s what happened:

Week 1: About 3 days into the challenge, I started to have the most horrible nightmares. One of these nights, I woke up yelling “STOP HITTING HIM!” and that’s all I remember. I also would wake up feeling like my brain was on fire. No, not a headache. Literally like something in my brain was thawing out and the excess was steaming away. I’m fully convinced that during this whole detox my brain was like “Who turned on the lights in here?” This little brain-fire-nightmare diddy lasted for a week.

I know you are expecting something mind-blowing, but weeks 2, 3 & 4 were not interesting. Boring, to be exact. I took the things I learned in Week 1 and repeated them over and over until the 30 days were up. That’s how you complete a challenge: learn, do, repeat.

Here’s what I learned:

1. Yes, it is possible to pass up every free coffee station. And you will start to notice there are a lot of them.

2. Detoxing from caffeine will suck, and then it won’t. The same goes for alcohol.

3. If you don’t drink, you won’t be hungover. Genius.

4. Liquor is used to make people comfortable. This one I found out right away because I am not one to get drunk weekly, I just like to have something to hold in my hand and sip on. I once served a woman who was a recovering alcoholic and she asked for cranberry juice in a wine glass. Same comforting effect, sans alcohol. So, that’s what I did. I would make Shirley Temples for myself at the bar. I kept juice at home. When I was out with friends, I would ask for a cran-apple or orange juice. All of these had the same comforting effect, and no one ever questioned me.

5. As for replacing coffee, I fell in love with drinking a big glass of water first thing in the morning to bring me back from the dead, and then if I wanted something hot and delicious, I would make a steamer* or any kind of tea. (*See recipe below). This habit stuck with me even after the challenge ended.

6. People will try to knock you off, mostly people who don’t know you and don’t get it. I had at least 4 people try to buy me a shot or a drink while I was bartending and even after explaining, they would still say “Come onnnn, just one shot!” I learned that a firm “No, thanks” usually works better than all the explanations. And, guess what, no matter what decision you have made for yourself, you don’t EVER owe anyone an explanation.

7. Willpower is a muscle you have to strengthen. Challenging yourself in any way will make you feel good about the new tight and taught muscle you have to flex.

One of my favorite memories during these last 30 days was an outing post-bartending shift. My boyfriend and one of his friends came in while I was closing up the bar. I served them a couple of drinks, and then they headed to the bar across the street while I was locking up. When I bellied up next to them, they were thrilled to see me on the same side of the bar as them. The bartender walked over to me, “What can I get you to sip on?” “I’ll take an orange juice, please.” Our friend, bless his heart, shouted to the bartender “She has some catching up to do, make that two of them!” And with that, I knew it was never my love of gin & tonics that I sat at a bar for, it was the people. Awwwwww.

May you champion through any challenge you are faced with, self-imposed or not. Pain is temporary, pride is….oh forget it. See you for No Nut November.

Lexi’s Homemade Steamer Recipe:

Boil water

Add half water, half dairy-free milk (cream if you have) to your mug

Shake cinnamon, allspice, cloves and a dash of cocoa (the more, the merrier)

Sip, enjoy.

You can make so many dang combinations like this, from adding pumpkin spice, eggnog, sugar, vanilla, whatever you want. Just base it with hot water and dairy-free milk and you are good to go, yo!

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