First, this is not a you-are-in-idiot-if-you-drink-alcohol story. I get annoyed by patronizing stories about sobriety. I enjoy my drinks in the evenings and have no intention of radically changing my habits. It’s like with my consumption of meat. There was a period when I started losing weight and increasing my running and convinced myself I’d never eat meat again. That experiment failed. There was no good reason to be so dramatic about my nutrition and sometimes I’d crave steak. Nowadays, it’s all resolved: I don’t eat red meat that often, but I greatly enjoy a juicy ribeye steak every other week or so.
When it comes to alcohol, for many years, I’ve enjoyed having two-three drinks every evening. Beer or wine, never hard liquor, and I never drink during the day. Beer is especially enjoyable if I run in the evening and the weather is hot. Last year I questioned my habit, wondering if it was an addiction, and stopped drinking overnight. No problems —for weeks, I went without a sip of alcohol. Then I “restarted” during the Christmas holidays. The days were lazy, my wife was having a glass of wine, and I joined. Then several weeks later, I stopped again. Then I resumed. I ran a marathon earlier this month and stopped again two weeks before the race.
The dry stretches were good. It felt good to cleanse my mind of the fog that alcohol no doubt causes. The fog was nothing extreme, not impacting my routines and certainly not my running (I’d never do anything that would jeopardize my daily running), but it was a fog nonetheless.
After my marathon, I treated myself. I grilled a steak and enjoyed a bottle of cold Chardonnay. Let me admit that I finished the whole bottle. It was a beatiful day, and I was over the moon with my marathon result, in which I set my PR. So I then continued moderate drinking every evening for several days.
Now I want a break again and am getting to the main point of my story. There is so much advice on how to stop drinking that I’m sure what I’m about to suggest has been said many times before.
My alcohol consumption is not an addiction, but there is an element of habit. There is nothing ominous about it. When I’m done running in the evening, I grab a beer or have a glass of wine. I then have dinner. Then I have another glass. The day is winding down at that point — it’s seven or eight.
The trick to breaking a habit is identifying the exact moment when I usually act on my…