Stephen Parsons is an amateur rugby player and coach at Morpeth Rugby Club, a Northumberland County Council employee and a big fan of the Newcastle Falcons and he's giving up alcohol for a month - Dry January. If you want to join him in the quest, it's not too late to sign up and if you're taking part and having a wobble, his posts may inspire you to keep going.
As I got past the second weekend and more and more people start to notice the blog and he newspaper coverage, and the picture of me on the work intranet, I am starting to think more deeply about why I am doing Dry January and what I hope to achieve from it.
I was persuaded to take the challenge by the public health team at Northumberland County Council as a way of challenging myself and to see what impact alcohol has on my body.
At the start of last week, we took some key measurements: Height, weight, blood pressure and pulse as a starting point and we’ll monitor these as I go through the month. I’m sure I’m not alone in making scary self-assessments post-Christmas, but I must admit the initial figure given for my weight was a little scary. We checked and did a further calculation and that was slightly better, but only very slightly.
As well as looking at my vital statistics, I’ve also looked at the number of units I would normally drink in a month. This again was a little shocking given the new government advice on the recommended number of units for alcohol consumption in a week; it’s 14. Blimey, I usually have 14-16 units just on a Saturday!
And here’s a real shocker: When my usual Saturday intake is converted to calories, I’m often consuming more than 2,300 calories in one session which is more than a little worrying.
Although it’s not the sole reason for me doing Dry January, I do want to lose weight (please see this week’s very honest rugby gear photo) and I am hopeful that it will be an unexpected side-effect. I’m going to measure this.
I’ve set myself the target of losing 10 pounds this month and while it’s not a large figure in comparison with my overall weight, it is what I consider to be a reasonable/achievable goal.
The weight loss side-effect of not drinking will be beneficial in the long term, health-wise, and I am already feeling more awake during the day and I seem to have more energy even after just 12 days.
I have survived two major ‘drinking situations’ over the weekend. The first was after a competitive game of rugby on Saturday where I stuck resolutely to the soft drinks and then I decided to be a taxi for friends who were out in Newcastle on Monday. It has been a different and a positive experience being the sober one in the group.
Thank you so much for the donations that I’ve already received for CHUF – I’ve now doubled my fundraising target, which is great news. If you would like to sponsor me, please click here: www.justgiving.com/Stephen-Parsons8