Behold! My Kryptonite… Summit Extra Pale Ale, or simply “EPA” as it’s called around these parts. It’s beer. Really tasty beer for those who haven’t had the pleasure. Brewed right here in the Twin Cities. Those of you who know me, know I hardly drink any other brand.
Here’s the thing. I drink too much of it. It’s as simple as that. The spare change I spent on alcohol this past year ended up as a spare tire around my waist. So, in the spirit of New Year’s, I’m setting a goal for myself…
That’s it. That’s the number. I will drink a maximum of 99 beers this year. It’s a pretty simple resolution. It doesn’t matter what kind of beer. 99. Total. If I’m out at a restaurant, I’ll cut myself a little slack and count a pint as one. But nothing above 16 ounces. And I won’t replace beer with another form of alcohol. Those are the rules.
Waste and Waist
I’m not exactly sure how much beer I consumed in 2016. 6 to 8 on average per week sounds about right, especially adding in holidays like July 4th. That’s at least 1 beer a day. For simplicity, I’ll round it to 400.
Yikes! Sounds like a lot when it’s said out loud. But beers can add up quickly in the summer. You can’t toss bean bags at the lake without a beer in your hand. It throws off your balance. And my wife knows, I don’t grill without a cold one on my lips.
Any way it’s sliced, 99 beers would be a BIG reduction in my annual intake. That’s only about 8 beers a month! So, why am I doing it? There are two big benefits that I’ll actually be able to measure: Money and health.
Let’s talk about the money. $844.93. That’s what I spent on alcohol this past year. At least that’s what I was able to easily identify from my credit card statement. It may be closer to $1,000.
I didn’t consume all of that, of course. Some of it was the occasional bottle of wine for my wife, my contribution to parties or hosting guests. But I have no doubt I can easily cut that number in half. If I reach my goal, I think we’ll save at least $500.
Now, let’s talk about health. 206. That’s how many times I worked out last year. I counted, because I wanted to hit 250. Then Thanksgiving happened. And Christmas. Why do they have to be so close together?
Regardless, I did an awesome job hitting the home gym on a regular basis even though I slacked late in the year. I’m sure I am much healthier than I would have been, but the fat around my waist stubbornly stayed… even during the really good months. The amount of time I spent pumping iron, I should have a kick-ass body by now. Beer is a huge reason I don’t.
What’s in a number?
Why 99? Why even put a number on it? Why not just drink less? Or limit the amount of money you can spend on alcohol each month?
First, 99 is a fun number. It’s that classic kids’ car song that annoys parents on long trips and it made a great title for this post. I also wanted to make it challenging enough so I feel like I accomplished something at the end of the year. And I wanted to come in under 100. 99 it is.
Second, the best goals are measurable. It’s the M in SMART. Simply saying, “drink less” doesn’t work as well. Especially for me. I must have a solid number attached to a goal. Something to track. Something to make it more like a game. Something to tell me if I passed or failed.
In the case of my workout goal last year, striving toward 250 (that arbitrary number that I picked out of thin air) kept me going strong deep into October. Even when I hit a little bit of a wall in November and realized I wasn’t going to hit 250, getting as close as I could to that number kept me from quitting altogether. I’ll try for 250 again this year.
Finally, I wanted to set a specific number of beers instead of a monthly money budget because it’s just easier to keep track of. And I don’t want to get into a situation where 2-for-1 happy hours are okay because they don’t bust my budget. That would maybe solve the money part of the equation (if I don’t buy appetizers), but it wouldn’t help with the spare tire around my gut.
Outside of encouragement from my wife to make healthier choices, one thing in particular helped me get over the hump. A podcast on the power of small habits helped me actually take action. If you get a chance, check out Jake Desyllas’ take on habits in Episode 178 of The Voluntary Life. It has led to me making several small, but significant habit changes in my life that are starting to snowball.
I listened to that episode in late 2015. It led directly to me taking the small step of habitually climbing 7 flights of stairs every workday to my corporate cubical. That felt pretty good. It helped lead to my workout goal, which led to this goal.
The point is, I’ve experienced how one small habit change can lead to another and to another. That’s a very powerful thing. I want to break the habit of having a daily beer. And it’s because I want to reap the full rewards of the other good habits I’ve just formed.
Take two down… 97 bottles of beer on the wall
I hesitated to write this article today, because I’m already two beers down. I had a couple last night while watching Finding Dory with my son. I’m behind pace already! And there are still some cold ones beckoning from the fridge left over from the New Year’s weekend.
This is too important to me, though, for a variety of reasons. Regardless of what you think about New Year’s resolutions, this is still the best time of year to set annual goals. Posting this article will help keep me accountable throughout the year.
Wish me luck. Best of luck on your own resolutions and HAPPY NEW YEAR!
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