What happens to your body when you give up alcohol: Shirley and Del share their results

28 February 2019 . United Kingdom

As millions of people across the UK gave up alcohol last month, our very own Shirley Wilson-Brown, Customer Experience Consultant, and Del Green, Digital Communications Manager, took up the challenge. They documented and monitored their progress through one of Bupa’s health assessments. Here they share their motivation for giving up alcohol, the challenges they faced and their results.

Shirley’s motivation

Everyone has heard of the Dry January challenge and, most prefer the ‘Wet January’ version to get them through the dark, miserable month. Having tried and failed to take up the challenge on many occasions, this year, I was determined to succeed. Taking on the Bupa Dry January challenge, was the drive and determination I needed.

Before going teetotal, I had a Bupa health assessment to get a picture of my starting point. From 1 January, I cut alcohol from my life completely, even in my cooking. I didn’t consciously change my diet, but I was much more aware of what I was eating. I also decided to go the whole hog and increased my exercise, making Body Combat and Pilates my new best friends. If I’m going to do something, I’ll go for it 100% and I was determined to see a positive change in my results at the end of the month.

Shirley’s results

  • My BMI dropped by 1.3%
  • I lost 10lbs in weight
  • My blood pressure reduced very slightly
  • My cholesterol dropped by 0.56 points
  • Low-density lipoprotein (LDL), which is the bad cholesterol in your system, dropped by 0.11
  • Triglyceride (Trig), which is the fatty sugary acids in your system, dropped by 0.37

I can honestly say it was easier than I thought it would be. I didn’t think I felt that much different, I certainly wasn’t hopping around the office with bounds of energy and feeling healthy. However, now I’ve come to realise I did feel different, I just didn’t notice it. Now it’s February I’ve remained a friend of Body Combat and Pilates, but the not so conscious eating and G&T’s have returned. So, would I do it again? Absolutely, it made a positive difference, I just didn’t know it at the time.

Del’s motivation

Most of us take it easy after the festive period so I was already considering doing Dry January, but volunteering to have my efforts followed and documented gave me that little extra push to last until the end.

I class myself as an average drinker; so a couple of beers over the weekend, perhaps with the odd Gin or Rum thrown in. Then the occasional midweek drink, usually if there is a social occasion (and definitely during the summer months).

I had my last drink during the early hours of New Year’s Day, but wasn’t able to get to one of our clinics until a week later to have my initial health assessment. So, for me ‘Dry January’ ended up being ‘Dry January and most of February’, as I wanted to do a full month of measurement. I ended up going back on 21 February – so 52 days dry!

While not drinking, I didn’t make any other life changes. So, I ate the same and exercised the same (which is actually not very much at all).

I actually found it really easy not to drink. Maybe because it was off the back of Christmas, but I just didn’t fancy it. I did have one night out with friends and opted to drive to help stop any temptation, but to be honest, I wasn’t tempted at all.

Del’s results

  • I lost a tiny bit of weight – 4lb / 0.2kg
  • I lost 3cm round my waist
  • My body fat reduced by 0.6%
  • My blood pressure reduced quite a bit, putting me firmly back into the ‘ideal’ rating
  • My total cholesterol dropped by 0.53 points
  • The low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or bad cholesterol, dropped by 0.61 points

So very small changes overall, but all in the right direction.

A highlight (or rather lowlight) that came out of my health check is that my cholesterol is high, and I know that cutting out alcohol alone isn’t the way to combat it. I know that I also need to exercise (a lot) more and eat a better diet – while moderating my alcohol intake for it to improve.

So that’s what I’ll be doing over the upcoming months. Making an effort to change my diet and exercise more. I found taking up the challenge really easy to do – and while I won’t be going completely teetotal, I can easily cut down, drink less and it’ll all be for a good cause.