You may have caught the fact that I don’t drink in my review of the Maui Brewers Fest. Or, you may not have (after all, what’s a non-drinker doing at a brew fest anyway?). Being a non-drinker isn’t something I make a huge deal about – it’s just part of who I am. Part of me wishes I could get on a soapbox and tell you that the reason I don’t drink is because I’m self-righteous or because I expect more from society, or at least because something profound happened. But that simply isn’t true in my case.
My mission is to live a simple yet significant life. I’ve found that, for me, drinking alcohol really isn’t conducive to living my fullest potential. That’s it; short and sweet. But of course, it isn’t that short and sweet. There are many factors that play into my decision not to drink.
Surrounded By Addicts
I grew up between two households of substance abusers [you can read a little about my experience here] and was surrounded by my father’s inebriated friends all too often. As a kid, I saw no examples of moderation – my dad and all his friends were constantly high (many times to the point of violence), and my Grandma took so many pain pills she would nod over while sitting at the dining table. At Christmas, all us kids would awkwardly joke about how badly our crazy Uncle – dressed at Santa Claus – wreaked of alcohol when we went to sit on his lap and get our gifts.
This was normal.
By high school, I started to recognize that this way of life was definitely not normal, and that I didn’t want the next generation to ever experience what we did. When everyone started going to parties and drinking, I hung with friends who were going to the movies instead. I caught some flack from some friends for being a “goodie two shoes”, but I could deal. By senior year, I had only had a few drinks, and decided that I hated the taste of alcohol.
[assisting a friend with a keg-stand]
I was literally the only person from my high school to go to the University of Oregon, and I liked it that way. I yearned to recreate myself, and this was the perfect opportunity! Because I didn’t know anyone else, I decided I’d stay open to trying new things, including alcohol and parties.
When I drank, I became fearless. I was social and uninhibited, and I was making tons of new friends [when we could remember each other the next day]. Throughout the next four years, I drank quite a bit, but I never saw myself as having a problem.
Senior year, Ben and I decided to cut caffeine [that’s a story for another day!] and I really started to do my research on healthy living. I was in the gym for at least 2 hours every single day and yet I was packing back on the pounds I had worked so hard to lose. This is when I made a conscious effort to decrease my alcohol consumption.
Alcohol + Weight Loss
- Alcohol is loaded with empty calories, something there is no room for when you’re trying to lose
- Because of those empty calories, alcohol actually makes you hungry
- Alcohol both impairs your judgment and destroys your willpower [I can remember consuming countless amounts of fried foods at 2am while wasted]
During college I met many of my friends’ families and was shocked to see them imbibe responsibly. I realized that, for me, it is possible to just have one sip and not be tempted to drink any more [I’m still not a fan of the taste of alcohol]. My lifetime has been one of over-indulgences, including alcohol, and I’m lucky to have found a balance with drinking that really works for me.
To be honest, the question I’m most often asked, especially because of age and where we are in our lives, is whether or not I’m pregnant. At first this really bugged me [do I look pregnant to you!?], but then I realized that drinking is such a social norm nowadays that it’s natural for people to respond in that way.
Unlike many non-drinkers who feel judged for their decision, I haven’t encountered many negative situations. Like I said, I don’t make a huge deal about not drinking. Plus, I’ve sort of gotten used to being looked at as strange [you don’t have a TV, you don’t eat wheat, and you don’t drink?! Oookkaayyy…]. I don’t avoid social situations that involve alcohol [like the Maui Brewers Fest], but I do find ways to have just as much fun at them without alcohol [food-tasting!].
I find that my life is much more productive without alcohol. I continue to get fitter and healthier, I’m not bloated or fuzzy-headed, and I never have to worry about missing out on life due to being hung-over. I will take a few sips at very special occasions, or if I feel like it, but I haven’t “felt like it” for a few years now.
I don’t find it necessary to ask Ben to stop drinking, because I don’t feel that he has a problem. He really enjoys beer, and I don’t envision asking him to quit a passion unless it begins to hinder his lifestyle. In the same sense, I don’t actively tell people that drinking is bad.
I made my decision for myself because it helps me live my most significant life.
Do you drink? Why or why not?
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