This isn’t a preachy list of the miraculous health benefits of giving up alcohol. I won’t tell you that I sprang out of bed every morning with endless energy, ready to crush my workouts and tackle my to-do lists.
I won’t tell you that I lost weight, saved a bunch of money, or woke up with an instantly clear complexion, radiating an alcohol-free glow.
The truth is, I didn’t experience any major physical changes when I gave up drinking for 30 days in January. But I did learn something huge about myself—something that completely changed the way I view a glass of wine or bottle of beer.
Why did I want to stop drinking? For one, Dry January is officially a trend in the wellness world, and as a health editor, I was curious. The other big reason: I’d never actually tried not to drink.
I had my first sip of alcohol back in high school (tequila from a friend’s parents’ liquor cabinet, naturally). Since then it’s played a pretty constant role in my life. From casual parties to college fraternity ragers, the ritual of having a few drinks became as ingrained as going to class or out for a run.
Alcohol eased the awkwardness of my freshman year of college, when I knew no one. It helped push me past my inherent shyness to meet new people. I was always into books and school, so drinking was also a way to prove there was more to me than good grades and studying.