This was the question posed to me by my friend Sarah recently, while we were out mountain biking in the awesome Cairngorms where we live. I hadn’t seen her for a while and she looked frickin’ fantastic. Skin glowing, eyes sparkling and she was riding the bumps and jumps like a seasoned pro. I, however, was struggling to find my flow, really feeling the few glasses of red I’d had the night before.

Obvs, I asked her what her secret was. An affair? An unexpected windfall? A new diet?

“No, I’ve been off the booze for a year now and I’m really feeling the benefits,” she said.


I wasn’t expecting that.

You see, Sarah is a big-time party girl. The life and soul of any social gathering; the one first on the dance floor and last to bed. Photos of us clutching overflowing wine glasses and hugging each other slightly maniacally have been posted a-plenty in the past on social media.

I thought for a minute.

It was my 40th birthday about a year ago, when a group of us had hiked up my favourite hill wearing cocktail dresses or ball gowns to crack open champers and scoff cake at the top. On the way down, I was desperate for a fizz-fuelled dip in the legendary ‘Green Lochan’ (it’s apparently home to a clan of fairies) and Sarah was one of the few who’d granted my wish and jumped in with me.

“What, you were dry then?” I asked.

“Yep. I didn’t want to make a big deal of it, though,” she said.  “I’d seen friends’ faces drop when I said I wasn’t drinking and I felt guilty. Like I was letting them down because I wouldn’t be as good in my job as ‘official party starter’. So I started ditching alcohol on the sly. You know, like drinking lemonade and lime pretending it was gin. And surreptitiously tipping my wine, et cetera.”

That’s when she started telling me about all the benefits:

  • She’s found it much easier to lose weight and keep it off (the dramatic reduction in carb-craving hangovers have definitely helped on this front)
  • She’s sleeping like a baby (there’s a reason why they call it beauty sleep)
  • She’s managing to get up early and relax, or run, before the inevitable chaos of a day with three kids starts
  • She doesn’t get panic attacks anymore when she reads those ever-more-frequent news stories about links between alcohol consumption and cancer. In fact, she’s generally less anxious (Mmm. That was music to the ears of someone like me, who suffers occasional acute anxiety bouts)
  • She remembers the fun she has. (“Of course I was worried I’d have less fun. But, actually, ditching it has brought fun into focus, rather than blurring it, which is what I realise alcohol had been doing for me. I now have memories to savour, not memory blanks to stress over.”)
  • She’s experienced a whole new level of orgasm

I have to admit, my eyes widened like saucepans when she said the last one and I nearly fell off my bike. “Yep,” she said with a cheeky wink. “It’s worth trying just for that. Girl, you’ll thank me, I promise.”

She could see she was getting to me. Me! A fellow party girl who often feels the pressure to perform the ‘official fun starter’ role at social events too.

But I wasn’t sure I had her confidence to fulfil this role without a bit of Dutch courage. To be honest, I’m still not. However, for once, I’m curious.

That’s when I found One Year No Beer.

Now, I’m not going to say that, by the end of this blog, I’ve suddenly transformed into an alcohol-free zen goddess with thighs to die for.

No. For someone like me, for whom the narrative of ‘alcohol=fun’ is so deeply entrenched, I know it’s going to take time to challenge that belief. But I like challenges. Which is why I’m going to start with a manageable one: One Year No Beer’s 28 day challenge.

But you never know where it might lead. If I look and feel as good as Sarah by this time next year, I’ll be well chuffed. And I’ve got a sneaking suspicion my husband will be, too…

by Suzy Bashford


Follow Suzy’s experiment into alcohol-free fun living on One Year No Beer’s blog. Even better, why not challenge her to/accompany her on a social act – from karaoke to dancing ‘til 2am – without Dutch courage and read how she gets on


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