Every year we do a No-Booze November. For the month leading up to Thanksgiving we drink no alcohol. We do this as a sort of “reset” to our systems. We both tend to drink more than we’re comfortable admitting, so changing it up for a month helps us to develop better habits (at least for a little while). Part of why I drink so much alcohol is because it tastes so darn good. The choice between flavorless water and a good hard cider with complex flavor and crisp carbonation is no contest. So last year I looked around for a mocktail recipe that would satisfy my cravings and I found one from Alton Brown. It’s called a “shrub” and is VERY good. It’s the result of an ancient preservation method and because of this, the leftovers of the batch I made last year are still good.
This year we added Netflix to the list of no-nos. Netflix has become a major addiction in my life so I decided that tv should be off limits too, since the idea is to create better habits in place of not-so-healthy ones. I thought alcohol would be the hardest to give up, but nope. Turns out, TV is way more pervasive in my life than alcohol. I was so bored the first day, I just didn’t know what to do with my time when I got home from work. Usually I sit down and binge watch a show until it’s time for bed, with a small break for dinner. From 5 to 10 pm, Monday through Friday and pretty much all day Saturday and Sunday was dedicated to The Walking Dead, Pretty Little Liars, Private Practice, Parks & Rec, Dexter, or whatever. Just writing that down makes me cringe. Probably 45 hours a week just watching TV.
So now what do I do with those 45 hours? Well, at first, I cleaned. Everything. There was no cleaning left to be done after the first day so beyond that, I started listening to a LOT of podcasts like How to Do Everything, Welcome to Nightvale, TED Radio Hour, and anything else my NPR One app has to offer. I’ve also started going to the gym more regularly (twice last week! I haven’t done that for 3 years).
Then came last night. Both of us were so exhausted after a jam-packed weekend that we just didn’t have the energy to do anything else. We knew it was breaking the spirit of the No-Netflix rule, but justified it because technically we were watching PBS, NOT Netflix. We watched several episodes of The Great British Baking Show through the PBS app and Chromecast. I felt guilty about it but there was just nothing else my energy level could muster to do.
So, mid-way through our alcohol and Netflix fast, I’ve learned one major thing: I should be very worried that when this fasting season is done I’ll go right back to watching TV too much. And if history is any lesson, I’ll be drinking just as much after November as I did before so I’m going to have to set some ground rules if I am to maintain the healthy habits I’m trying to form now. I’m thinking Rule #1: Only drink on the weekends and Rule #2: Only 1 hour of tv a night.
Crossing my fingers.