2018/10/21 update

Effects of Quitting Alcohol: Personal Experience

Fifteen years ago, I decided to quit one habit which I have kept for more than a decade, smoking. I do not remember if there were any immediate health effects felt from doing so, but perhaps at least the good thing was that I have not experienced any negative effects from smoking tobacco. My father was a long time smoker. He quit smoking when he was around his retirement, but the 40 plus year exposure to those chemicals didn’t forgive him; three years ago he was diagnosed bladder cancer. He underwent surgery and removed all the malignant cells, since then he hasn’t experienced recurrence, yet. But seeing him depressed from the fact that he got cancer relatively young made me believe that the decision to quit smoking when I was 30 was at least the best that I could do around that time.

A couple of months ago, I decided to stretch myself even beyond. Inspired by an article on Lancet, I made up my mind to finally say “Sayonara” to alcohol for good. I will become 45 years old next month, and thought that in order to spend the rest of my life in the most meaningful way, beer, wine whiskey or the like are not necessary. I have enjoyed consuming them for about three decades, and I made a lot of friends through parties that included alcohol, including my wife whom I met in an Izakaya, or a Japanese bar/restaurant where alcohol is served. However, things have changed a lot recently. Particularly, I started to manage my own small company, and a life of a CEO, how small the business might be, is really time consuming. Drinking takes up a lot of my time, for sure. I did not think that my health status was particularly damaged by the level of alcohol that I consume, but once in a while I drink quite deep (as a Japanese ex-“Salary Man”, and as some of my friends seeing this blog post might know) and including the hangover next morning, the time wasted was not short. Life is all about focusing, and the most important strategy is to decide what not to do, rather than what to. I have been giving up a lot of things throughout my life, not only smoking. I stopped watching the TV 10 years ago. I no longer play Mahjong or go fishing, which I used to do a lot. Golf, tennis, skiing, scuba, travel for pleasure, I keep myself away from those things. And I am still quite happy without those kind of things. Life is so full of exciting things.

So I decided to move out of my comfort zone. And here, I am going to record some of the immediate effects that I have experienced, so that this time I will never forget them. I will begin from the least obvious one.

  1. Hair growth: I have to confess that I was literally on the verge of becoming bald. After quitting, clearly it has become thick. This was something that I have not expected, and I do not know the biological mechanism behind it. maybe some toxic metabolites of ethanol are not good for the health of your hair follicles.
  2. Intense working out: Now I have more time I can use for my daily exercise. In the last couple of months I was able to run more than 300 km/month.
  3. Weight loss: in addition to increased workout, improvement in my diet (avoiding the high calorie bar food and the after party cravings) contributed to 6 kg (12 lbs) loss in my BW.
  4. Change in taste: I was not a big fan of eating fruits and sweetness was not my taste. Now I eat at least one fruit a day and a big fan of ice cream.
  5. Life is good (, still): Indeed, there probably will be some friends that I will not meet as much as we used to. I will miss the taste of some of the brilliant wines that I used to enjoy. But I am not afraid of change. I am sure that I can find something that I will enjoy. More than a quencher after my 10 K run, or a shot of a Bourbon with my old collage dorm mates.