Martijn's story: "After the challenge I was someone who could moderate. And that has been the biggest lesson for me..."

December 2019 | 7 minutes

During December 2018, I began to drink more during the holidays than I was previously used to. I'd normally have around 10 beers on Fridays and Saturdays, which my body seemed to handle alright. But during this month, instead of resting in the two weeks that I had off from my internship, I began to drink during the week. That's when I decided something had to change.

My body really couldn’t handle it. Even my mum said that I should take some rest and recharge my batteries for my internship. Unfortunately, I didn’t listen and got really, really drunk the next weekend. I blacked out. At that point I said to myself: “I need to change this lifestyle.” My best friend and I spotted this thing called ‘Dry January’ on social media. It came at the right time because we both wanted to detox our bodies and improve our health. With a group of three we decided to take on the Dry January challenge.

The first week was pretty easy except for the weekend. We have a big group of friends and our weekends usually involve parties and nights out. That first weekend I realised that it is really nice to have a ‘sober buddy’. You can support and help each other when you are having a hard time trying not to drink.

By the second week, I couldn’t really see what the benefits were of not drinking, but I decided to keep going anyway. I got even more determined when one of my friends quit the challenge. Two weeks down, two weeks to go.

It was the third week when I really noticed some health benefits. Besides not having hangovers on a Sunday, I started to feel really fit. That might sound cliché but it’s true! When I woke up I wasn’t tired, and in my football games I felt in better shape. When it came to studying, I memorised information much faster.

I also really enjoyed using the app. You could mark each day with ‘did not drink.’ That was a satisfying feeling. On top of that, it gave you more insight in your financial life. I saved £40 a week, and instead of drinking on a Friday I had lunch or dinner with family in the city.

In the last week, I started to realise that it was almost the end of Dry January. The past three weeks flew by and on the last Saturday it felt normal for me to have a soda instead of a beer at the football club.

The last day of the challenge I was at the football club. At midnight, everyone started to cheer and applaud, and I immediately got handed a beer. It never tasted so good and I was really proud that I did the challenge. My friends and family thought that I would immediately go on the loose again, but I proved them wrong over the months that followed.

In January, I learned that being fit at the weekends also got you fit during the week. Before I started the challenge, I knew that I would drink after the challenge was over – but I was also a rascal who didn’t know when to stop. After the challenge, I was someone who could moderate. And that has been the biggest lesson for me: learning to moderate my drinking.

Now, after a party weekend, I have some chill weekends to bring some balance to my mental health. Dry January is a great and quick way to assess your relationship with alcohol. I don’t think it’s bad to drink, but I do think you need to be in control of how much you drink. Dry January did that for me: it helped me to moderate my drinking and create a better balance for my health.

Why not take a break from drinking?