It was December 2016 when I first heard of Drynuary, short for “Dry January,” which refers to the practice of abstaining from alcohol during the first month of the year as a strategy for reestablishing control and giving the body a break from excessive consumption during the holiday period. It seemed like a good idea in late December, and then I remembered the idea just as I was raising a glass of Champagne at a New Year’s Day brunch…and reluctantly set down the glass, untasted. There were times during the month when I felt as if I were marching through a vast desert, but I made it to the end without a drop of alcohol, and the experiment was deemed a success.
The next year, Drynuary started a week early, as a couple of glasses of wine at a holiday party left me feeling very poorly (although it might have been a handful of cookies that was really to blame). Drynuary 2018 was also a success, but I resumed drinking afterwards, having become at some point a fan of local craft IPAs, while I continued to enjoy an occasional sip of Scotch or Tequila.
I’d decided to take some time off from the corporate world during 2018, and it was now possible to have a beer at lunch — something new — and sometimes I’d indulge in a second drink at dinner. Alcohol consumption began to rise, and not always with good outcomes: two drinks at a hotel in Mammoth Lakes left me literally staggering (possibly due to the 8,000-foot elevation), while a single beer after working on the trails back at home in New York left me groggy and unfocused (possibly I was somewhat dehydrated). I had never made a conscious decision that more alcohol was in my best interest, and therefore the question was raised, who was in control — me, or the adult beverage industrial-marketing complex?
So it was time for another experiment, which I coined Dry-ember, short for Dry September. As part of this experiment, while banning alcohol for the month, I’d relax some of the restrictions against sugar and processed carbs that are part of my normal diet, the strategy being not to fight battles on two fronts simultaneously….