I am not giving up alcohol this October

FebFast, Dry July, Oscober, Droptober (cut out booze and you’ll lose weight) – for a third of the year we are made to feel guilty about enjoying alcohol. More than a third if you count all the publicity these events get in the month beforehand. Let’s name the next one Bore-gust, so the smug suddenly-sober can sit around with their sparkly eyes and talk about how their lives are sooo much better now that they get up early on Sunday mornings.

Sure, these things are for good causes – cancer, kids, “healthy lifestyles” whatever that means, but apparently it doesn’t include the cheek-aching laughter that happens when you drink with friends. But if the cause is so great, then why all the body policing? After all, telling people they should give up alcohol for a month in order to lose weight and get sparkly eyes and give their livers “a break” (which I’m not convinced about because livers are very good at what they do), isn’t really in the spirit of doing it to raise money for charity, is it?

To borrow a wonderful phrase from Marieke Hardy‘s You’ll be sorry when I’m dead, I like living life blurrily. My life does not revolve around alcohol, but alcohol is certainly a part of it. Just like food and reading and live music and blogging. Besides, I gave up alcohol for six months in 2000 (long story, but it involves an alcoholic and a broken heart), and became so smug, judgey and boring that even I didn’t want to hang out with me.

I know it’s Michelle Bridges’ job to tell people they should lose weight. Otherwise she wouldn’t sell books or get clients. But don’t assume that we all want or need to lose weight. Enough with the body policing.

In her Sunday Life column yesterday, she wrote:

At some point in our lives, we need to start saying “no” to ritually tucking in to lollies and cakes. Colour me cynical on this one, but I believe that when we are no longer children, we should leave behind childish things.

Firstly, why? And secondly, booooorrrrriiiiinnnnng. In my experience, people who keep a child-like joy in their lives are the ones who are the happiest.

There’s something very weird about a grown man or woman walking out of a fast-food outlet holding a double whopper dopper burger and a bucket of cola.

What’s weird about an adult buying food? Personally, I think it’s funny that people drink coke (I used to clean the toilet with it, works wonders in a grubby sharehouse), but if people want to drink it, that’s their business. You’d hope that someone in the health industry would have a stronger argument than just “grow up because softdrinks are for children”. One that’s perhaps, you know, backed up by science.

She also writes that “a piece of sponge cake in the office every Friday afternoon” is a junk food habit and you should stop it. Bollocks. If you get a piece of sponge cake every Friday, then I say enjoy it. Enjoy the break from your desk, enjoy the chatting with colleagues, enjoy the ritual of sharing a cake at the end of the week. Also, can I come and work with you?

(Disclaimer: I am not a health professional and this is not health advice. If you are concerned about your liver, see a GP to have it tested. You wouldn’t take medical advice from me, so why take it from a personal trainer with a barrow to push?)

45 responses to “I am not giving up alcohol this October

  1. Well, I don’t drink alcohol at all (just because I’m not really into it) so I bequeath you my share. Go for it, and enjoy.

    Also, Jillian Michaels (scary, bat-shit-crazy-yet-kind-of-awesome trainer from Biggest Loser US) says she eats chocolate every day. Sure, she exercises to balance it out, but the point is she doesn’t believe in not having the things you like. And telling people that adults shouldn’t eat certain foods is ridiculous. I thought one of the perks of being an adult is that I could lie on the couch in my underwear and eat Nutella straight from the jar??

    • And if that isn’t a perk, then frankly, I don’t want to be an adult.

      Another perk of being an adult is not having other adults tell you what to do. If they did, you might as well be a child or work at News Ltd.

  2. I don’t drink for health reasons, i.e. having suffered a stroke two years ago it’s not exactly advisable. It wasn’t hard to give up, cos I didn’t drink much anyway (never at home, and not too much socially), but I do miss it terribly.

  3. At least it is just a suggestion. I am far more perturbed by the Danish applying a fat tax and the possibility that our government will jump on this as a revenue raiser.

  4. Michelle Bridges REALLY gets up my nose. Metaphorically of course. Even she would have to shrink some should she wish to get up there literally. Everything is so clear cut and so straighforward as far as she is concerned and real life is not like that at all. I don’t get what is ‘weird’ about an adult buying that sort of food. Call it many other things if you wish but ‘weird’? That is just weird in itself…

  5. Doesn’t Michelle Bridges know that a burger and coke make a hangover feel better??

    I don’t drink either (I think my share is divided amongst other members of my family, sorry NWN). If MB wants to slam office workers eating cake, she’s never been to a playgroup/mums group – for mums it can be cake every day of the week. You need something to keep you going! I questioned this once at playgroup (why do we feed the kids fruit and the mums eat cake?) and one mum said, very tiredly ‘please don’t take my cake away from me…’

    Cake is good.

    • That’s ok about your share. I think I drink my family’s share – and I’m one of seven.

    • Catherine,

      that is a good point about playgroup, I had forgotten how much that piece of cake each week meant to me. I was always so grateful to those wonderful women who came bearing a home-made slice to share with those of us incapable of cooking such delicacies. At the time that was probably the highlight of my week.

      • And this is what Bridges doesn’t seem to understand: cake, slice, biscuits (particularly homemade) are things you share with others. And the connection, the friendship, that comes from that – yes, even in an office when you stop working to do something else together – is more important for your wellbeing than whether or not you look good in skinny jeans. There is room for healthy eating and cake in life.

  6. Scotch makes chocolate cake taste better, it’s as simple as that. Besides, life’s more amusing through a semi-inverted haze.

  7. My fourteen-year-old thinks your anecdote about coke as a toilet cleaner is Cool. Will try.

  8. Health/fitness fanaticism is the new religion in the West. It isn’t just boring, it’s creepy!

  9. While I get the point, and think it is a good one, we (collectively) do have a fat problem (or perhaps we don’t- that is how it seems from these responses). Part of this problem is that it affects those (the children- won’t someone think of the children) who are learning their food habits from others who are exercising their adult rights to eat what they want. So we have a complex situation where me exercising “my” rights comes to be a participant in creating collective behaviour that impacts on others. So although it is attractive to pick on this obviously skinny and probably obnoxious woman, we shouldn’t at the same time lose sight of what is going on in our society and the impacts that has on others who are not yet adults and are in the process of having their eating habits formed.

    • Mattinthesprings, welcome to the News with Nipples. This is not really what this post is about. I’m writing about the contant guilt trip we get over alcohol, and how the “give up something you enjoy in the name of charity” message has vanished under the body policing.

  10. And just to add- there is no way I’ll be giving up my alcohol this October (or any other month for that matter)!

  11. Yeah, and apologies for invoking the “children”, they were really just a way of making an additional point to that made by you earlier that our collective experience of eating cake produces something other than fat deposits (as Michelle Bridges might look at it)- it (hopefully) produces happiness, connection and a sense of belonging but at the same time we also need to be aware of what else it might produce.

  12. Yeah, I hope you aren’t pandering to the obesity epi-panic here… Just because someone eats cake doesn’t mean they will be fat and just because someone is fat, doesnt mean they eat cake…

    • And just because someone is skinny, doesn’t mean they are healthy either. I know quite a few people who eat lots of burgers and pizzas, very little fruit/veg, don’t exercise, but are skinny.

  13. And if you look around the internet there are plenty of feminist sites that address the issue of fatphobia and the argument that fat does not necesarily mean unhealthy.

    Referring to The Children is a form of mother-blaming and we have quite enough of that going on already. It’s a little unfair to demand that over-worked individuals be responsible for fighting the global corporate push to sell unethical food choices.

  14. Michelle Bridges and ilk forget that human beings are hard wired to eat.
    Society may have evolved but our basic DNA has not. We are designed to eat during times of plenty so that when our food sources are scarce we have the physical reserve to survive it.

    We are also born favouring sweet over all other tastes. (Breast milk is sweet) Plus, any one, and I mean anyone, who tries to tell me, an adult, what I can and cannot put in my mouth is treading on very thin ice.

    I am over weight. (I have a digestive disorder that I won’t go into on account of it’s TMI and really gross at that) But aside from my digestive issue (and a lady reproductive issue that I have had since I was a very skinny adolescent) I am in perfect health.

    Frankly I am more concerned about societies obsession with external appearances and how being defined by a very narrow view of what constitutes beauty (which apparently now also means health?) is what we live for? For me, life is the 3 L’s. Living, laughing, loving.

    Judging other people on any term you care to insert here tells me that a person is more worried about what other people are doing than they are about how they are living their own lives. And that by judging others, they are trying to elevate and validate their own sense of self and worth.

  15. I didn’t mind Dry July when it first came about, and did donate to a participant this year, but I also cared about her chosen charity and she wasn’t part of the smug-preachy-sober-brigade. But then along came Octsober and I thought, hold on, we’ve already got Dry July. And now we have Feb Fast (because apparently the woman who created it didn’t google “giving up alcohol for a month” before deciding to start her own charity.) I hadn’t heard of Droptober – safe to say it made me roll my eyes.

    I didn’t mind it because it was more of an awareness raising thing – “wine?” “oh no I’m doing Dry July” “oh what’s that?” “it raises awareness about diseases that can be caused… blah blah” like Movember or Shave For A Cure. But then we had to start making funny little puns out of any month possible. Enough!

    I’m writing my Honours thesis and will fight to the death anyone who tries to take away my pinot in the month of October.

    • Why don’t we get mainstream media support for Fanuary? Oh yeah, that’s right, because pubic hair on women is icky.

      Steph, welcome to the News with Nipples. What’s your thesis on?

      • Violence, memory and commemoration in Northern Ireland.

        Oh yes it’s a happy piece of prose.

        I’ll have to see it Fanuary is listed as a charity yet…

  16. *if.
    The more academic writing I do, the more my regular everyday writing becomes a pile of rubbish.

  17. Agree wholeheartedly except on a sidebar leivers are good at what they do – until they fail which of course means you need to give up drinking for a bit longer than a month.

  18. that should be livers

  19. They can pry my vodka glass from my cold, dead hands. It’ll be empty by that point, anyway.

    I hate food shaming. Hate it hate it hate it. A burger now and then is not going to mess up your life (unless you have dietary issues/allergies, natch). A chocolate isnt some wicked indulgence you should gleefully, naughtily and orgasmically consume (thanks advertisers). Whilst I very much advocate for healthy eating, it’s because it helps your HEALTH, not necessarily reduces your waistline, even if one does lead to the other for some people.
    Of course, I’m privileged enough to be able to afford healthy food, have access to healthy food, and have the time and knowledge to prepare it in tasty ways. The sanctimonious brigade seem to forget that not everyone has those luxuries.

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