an english professor, a publican's daughter and 150 days off the grog

an english professor, a publican’s daughter and 150 days off the grog

August 13, 2010  |  life, main blog, motivation

At Melbourne University in the early 70’s, I took in a lecture from an English Professor of biochemistry who specialised in the liver. He offered the following advice:

 “You students are like much of the population – on average, moderate to heavy drinkers. Your livers will probably let you get away with this, providing you abstain from alcohol one day a week, one week a month and one month a year”

Many years later my GP commented on self-confessed consumption levels – ones I thought modest at 25 standard drinks a week, with a month off a year and the odd alcohol free day - by declaring confidently that it was simply a matter of what would be destroyed first, my liver or my brain!

This year I signed up again for the wonderful Feb Free program where we give up the grog for 28 days and raise money for the homeless. The first few days are always a bit of a struggle as the comforting glass of wine with a meal makes way for green tea. But this soon transcends to clarity and self – righteousness. Why do I bother putting these toxins in my body? Now you need to understand that I LOVE the world of wine – collecting, tasting and the social interactions that accompany it. So I was looking forward to a taste on the first day of March.

That morning I woke up feeling SO GOOD that I decided, in a moment of quiet determination, to keep the abstinence running indefinitely. I managed to remain in this state for 150 days, almost running Feb Free and Dry July into each other! I found it interesting that some people were keen to put pressure on me to “just have a glass”, whereas others respected the decision and in some cases, resolved to also run a concurrent dry spell (out of sympathy or guilt). Through sober eyes, it’s much easier to see the way alcohol underpins the social norms of this country. I also reflected on the wasted time and increased health bills that flow when alcohol consumption exceeds its role as a social lubricant and accompaniment with food. Apparently the social cost of alcohol abuse is at least $15 billion annually.

From a personal perspective, I lost eight kilograms without even trying – there must be more sugar in wine than I had thought. I also seemed to find lots of extra time (needed less sleep), was mentally sharper, more inclined to exercise, and couldn’t wait to wake to the high of the morning. Maybe more people would do this if they realised how wonderful natural highs can be – with no side effects. I have enjoyed a wine or two recently but have used the 150 days as a circuit breaker to ring in a new approach to consumption – sipping and tasting, drinking less and better and reverting to the regime of that visiting English professor.

By the way, my wife joined me for some of the journey – doing her bit for temperance. She needed to get a few credits after failing the temperance exam at Rutherglen Higher Elementary School. What hope did she have as the daughter of Frank Ferrari – founder of the famous Poacher’s Paradise Hotel in Rutherglen?

(feature image courstesy Tony Sernack)

1 Comment

  1. Kenneth
    I can confirm that I did observe a more measured and considered approach to wine consumption during your visit which also coincided with a more moderate approach from my end as my palate erecovers from the knee op. Well done!! I aim to maintain the philisophy of ‘less is more’ and ‘quality lasts’…


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