DRY JANUARY BLOG (Part 3): 12 days in – weighty matters: Why, oh why have I gone dry?

Stephen playing rugby. Picture by Chris Lishman Photography

Stephen playing rugby. Picture by Chris Lishman Photography

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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.

Stephen having his blood pressure checked, pictured with David Turnbull, health improvement officer, Public Health, Northumberland County Council.

Stephen having his blood pressure checked, pictured with David Turnbull, health improvement officer, Public Health, Northumberland County Council.

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

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