New Year’s resolutions have not been my favorite “thing.” It’s about as welcome as giving up something for Lent (which I prefer instead to add something meaningful to my life rather than give something up). But this year I’m using the New Year to be resolute – to stop talking about it and start living by example. I’m giving up alcohol. No, it’s not because of a drinking problem, but it is a choice based in research. A decision that has been discerned over the past few years as research has moved from being presumptive to conclusive.
“Moderate alcohol consumption has been linked to an approximate 30-50% increased risk in breast cancer.”US National Library of Medicine/National Institutes of Health
Yes, the evidence is in black and white. Now it’s up to me to reduce my personal odds. No more alcohol. But in the process of making this decision, I was faced with personal insecurities like: What do I drink at networking events? What about open bar parties, weddings, celebrations and toasts where the expectation is that you consume to be socially appropriate? Helping to convince myself, I’ve built my case by focusing on the benefits, landing on five good reasons why I am giving up alcohol:
- Reduce cancer risk: Yes, the biggest reason I’m abolishing alcohol is staring me right in my face – alcohol is connected to a higher risk of getting cancer. And the other four reasons are a bonus.
- Save money: Have you ever looked at your bar bill when eating out? It is likely to exceed your food bill. Making this real on a weekly basis, consuming $10 worth of alcohol a week (home/eating out) rings up to $520 (or likely more) per person annually. I’m already starting to think about what good can be done with that chunk of change.
- Save calories: Alcoholic drinks are packed with calories. An average glass of wine (that would be 6 oz mind you not a full glass) carries about 140 calories. Many of our medical challenges today – cancer, diabetes, and more are linked to our diets and an overweight America. I have been known to enjoy a frozen margarita, so thought I’d share the breakdown of calories, sugar and carbs: 410 calories, 59 grams of carbohydrate, 52 grams of sugar, and 570 mg of sodium. Wow! I can eat a whole meal for that….and when you drink a lot, you tend to make poor food choices as well, and so you overeat. Think about this as calories to allocate elsewhere in your diet.
- Lose weight: Fewer calories and more sober food choices means I’m more likely to maintain or lose weight instead of gain it. That’s good news for middle agers like me who struggle to keep the creep off every year.
- Live sober: No drinking means you are living (and driving) sober. Does it mean I won’t be “fun” anymore? Certainly not. I am, however, reducing the chance of unintended consequences – a damaged reputation or a digital imprint that can come back to haunt me personally and professionally. We all know somebody who has made that mistake.
So, now I’ve put it out there, both as a statement of my intention and also to challenge others to do the same for any or all of the reasons I’ve shared if that seems right for you. As temptation is part of being human, I’ll need your support not to slip along the way. With the New Year looming, I encourage you to be resolute in having your thoughts follow through to action. Whether it’s alcohol or something else, take a stand for yourself and your future.
Cheers to the New Year ahead and being resolute about things that matter.
P.S. I’m retaking the Personal Health Profile that I created in 2012 based on current research and compare my previous score as a non-drinker. It may be a good place for you to review your health habits for the New Year as well.
P.P.S. Do you have a tasty, low calorie, alcohol free drink suggestion for me to try? I don’t drink pop much or at all (Coke or soda depending on where you live), and do like fresh fruit, so if you have ideas and recipes, please share them. I’ll be making mocktails in the New Year until I find one I can call my new signature drink. Reviews will be posted via social media (Breast Cancer MyStory and DCIS MyStory Facebook and twitter).