The October Challenge

3Sisters Yoga and Fitness is coming up on its’ annual October Challenge. The Challenge is a month long event that provides a set time for those of us who would like to take our yoga practice to a different level and/or a chance to improve our level of fitness. It can also be a time to experiment, explore and maybe even surprise ourselves.

Last October I challenged myself to do a certain number of classes and to try each and every type of yoga class that is offered at 3Sisters. Easy enough considering I’m retired and I love practicing yoga. But in addition, I decided to try a month long experiment. I thought I’d try to quit drinking alcohol for the month.Now we’re talking about a challenge! See last October I was 60 years old and had been drinking for longer than I can believe or really want to admit. I’ll call it 42 years ( since that makes the math an age where I would have been legal) but really my first “drink” was a sip of Stroh’s beer with my Dad watching the Browns game somewhere around the age of 12.  Hey, at least I had adult supervision. Most of my adult life I have been a daily drinker. A good one. Good in the sense that I could carry on at my job and appear to have life mostly together. And, good in the sense that I was good at drinking. Most of the time I could drink a lot and be “okay”. I actually had a sequence, a routine, on my big nights out. A couple of Tanqueray’s and tonic with a lime ( don’t want to get scurvy),  a few Vodka and grapefruit, more than a couple of ice cold beers and then usually a good glass of Cabernet and a cigar. Drinking was a big part of who I thought I was and how others thought of me. Friends (and quite a few bartenders) knew my routine and and we took some pride in knowing each other’s.  You get the picture... I really liked to drink. As I write and read this I really sound like a boozer but I never considered myself one. And my friends didn’t consider me one either. So I wasn’t really sure about this idea of not drinking but I thought it’s only for a month and hey, I’ll get in good shape and maybe even lose a few pounds.I am not a regular user of Facebook. I do, however, occasionally check the 3Sisters Yoga and Fitness page. On that page last September, a  teacher from the studio , Lisa, “ liked” a book called “This Naked Mind-Control Alcohol-Find Freedom, Discover Happiness & Change Your Life.”  The book is written by a woman named Annie Grace. I normally would never read a book with such a long title but, given my upcoming challenge/experiment,  I decided to get it and take a look.I started the book on September 29th. The author writes in the beginning that the book is about alcohol, education and choices. She writes “ by the end of this book, you will be free to weigh the pros and the cons of drinking  and determine alcohol’s role in your life... you can remain happy ( good, I thought, because  I’m a happy guy,) about your choice because it will be yours alone, decided from a place of freedom rather than out of obligation or coercion.” I really liked the sound of that. But it got even better. She goes on to write “ Don’t change your daily routine-feel free to continue to drink while reading this book”. Huh? Yes! Well at least for a few days before October 1st. So I settled in on my chaise with a Tanqueray and tonic with a lime and read with curiosity piqued but with no expectations.Well I couldn’t put that book down and I plowed through it in less than a week. And I haven’t had a drop of alcohol since October 1st of last year. After just a few weeks I didn’t really find it difficult to not drink. I haven’t had to “deny” myself or avoid certain situations , people or “triggers”. Annie Grace writes that “I drink as much as I want whenever I want, The truth is I no longer have any desire to drink.” I have come to feel the same way. Looking back on my experience it reminds me of that great scene in Forrest Gump where he has been running for 3 years, 2 months, 14 days and 16 hours and he stops in the middle of the road somewhere in the desert and says “ I’m pretty tired. I think I’ll go home now.” He goes on “ And just like that my runnin’ days was over”. Well, my drinkin’ days were a lot longer than Forrests’ running days. But if Forrest was a drinker like me he would have said “just like that my drinkin’ days was over”. In the book Annie Grace calls this “spontaneous sobriety” and I am very fortunate to have experienced it.

What has happened is wonderful. As a result of not drinking I have lowered my resting heart rate 10 beats per minute. I sleep better. I think more clearly. I I have lost and kept off 7% of my body weight. And my personal relationships are even more meaningful and richer. Another person who stopped drinking expressed  “it’s now like seeing everything in life in high definition”. It really is that way for me now.And perhaps most importantly I have found this feeling of complete freedom. (Just like the part of the long title of the book said I would!) I’m not sure I can explain it. Maybe someday. For now I’m just going to enjoy.I did meet my challenge of number classes at 3Sisters and trying every type of class offered. And I still have a tonic and a lime (still don’t want scurvy) but hold the gin please. 

I hope you challenge yourself at 3Sisters in October and maybe do a little bit of experimenting and exploring and maybe you’ll surprise yourself.

By: John, “the 3 sisters Dad”

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