I recently had the chance to jump on the phone with James Swanwick, former ESPN SportsCenter anchor, Hollywood correspondent, international journalist, business owner, and all-around nice guy.
James has lead a pretty Fierce life. He’s written two books, has a top-ranked iTunes podcast (“The James Swanwick Show”) and has interviewed celebrities including Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Arnold Schwarzenneger, George Clooney and Al Gore, as well as owning part of a media company in Australia.
More recently, he’s been helping people give up alcohol for 30 days, with a Facebook community and series of daily videos.
When I came across James’ efforts in this direction, I had to interview him. As a non-drinker myself who quit alcohol at age 30, I have a huge amount of support for anyone who is helping others achieve sobriety. (If James hadn’t created a 30-day program around reducing alcohol, I would have done.)
In our conversation, James shares loads of practical tips that will allow you to continue to enjoy a robust social life without imbibing a drop of alcohol – while experiencing the better energy, deeper sleeper, and healthier body that comes with not drinking. Listen:
A few of the things you will learn in this conversation:
- How much money you will save by not drinking — not only how expensive it is to drink, but what alcohol actually costs you — two very different numbers!
- 10 ways to socialize without having to drink — how to manage the “social pressure” of everyone around you drinking
- The easy, 3-ingredient drink that you need to order at the bar instead of alcohol
- Word-for-word scripts of what exactly to say when your friends pressure you into drinking
- Why you may want to think twice about hiding your non-drinking from friends
- How you can reduce or eliminate alcohol in 30 days — with the power of community
The website is www.30DayNoAlcoholChallenge.com (affiliate link).
Also follow James on:
If the conversation above didn’t convince you: here are the 12 reasons you need to make November 2015 an alcohol-free month:
- PREPARING FOR DECEMBER. You know you’re probably going to drink a good bit more than usual in December, so might as well give your liver a 30-day break to prepare for it!
- YOUR SKIN WILL THANK YOU. You ever seen one of those Hollywood actors who looks great in their 20s in their first hit movie, then doesn’t work again until they’re 55, and in between does a ton of drinking? Notice how puffy they look? Yeah, that’s alcohol. It ages your skin. I was convinced of this when I met a beautiful 28-year-old woman who looked about 18. Turns out she had been raised in a strict Mormon family and had not touched a drop of alcohol until age 25. 3 years of drinking at 28 compared to most women who have 10-15 years of drinking under their belts at that age makes a big difference. If youthful, healthy skin is important to you, give your skin a break for November.
- CANCER. Ethyl alcohol is not a carcinogen (cancer-causing). When your body metabolizes ethyl alcohol, however, it breaks it down into acetaldehyde, which is a known carcinogen (meaning it causes cancer). So, does it sound like a good idea to put something in your body that causes cancer? No? I didn’t think so, either.
- YOUR SLEEP. Americans are already getting less sleep than ever before — an average of 6.1 hours today versus an average of 8.1 hours in 1910. 1 of 3 Americans describe their sleep quality as “poor.” Alcohol can make it harder to fall asleep, or interrupt your sleep patterns, or make it harder to reach deep sleep. Giving it up will show you what you’ve been missing from a deep, restorative sleep. If you hate mornings, try giving up alcohol for a bit and see how much better you feel in the morning.
- CALORIES. The scary statistic is that 2 out of 3 Americans are qualified as “overweight or obese.” Let’s be honest, you’re probably going to binge on sugar due to family and friends peer pressuring you into it during December, so it might not do you any harm to stop drinking so many calories during the month of November. The average glass of wine has 123 calories, so if you have a glass of wine per night, that’s 861 calories you are cutting from your diet each week. That’s a quarter of a pound. I don’t know about you, but I can think of a LOT of things I’d rather eat 861 calories of instead of wine. Or — just lose a pound in the month of November without doing ANY additional exercise or dietary change!
- LESS LIKELY TO DIE. Alcohol causes 88,000 deaths in the United States every year. That’s more than car accidents, and the equivalent of a major war on humans that goes on, year after year, in a bloodbath that we are consistently losing. By comparison, “only” 38,329 died of a drug overdose — yet there is a “war on drugs” and no “war on alcohol.” Alcohol is the leading cause of death among teenagers. Six Americans die of straight alcohol poisoning each day.
- MORE MONEY. When I stopped drinking I notice that the cost of my average “night out” shrunk by about 33%. As James says in the interview, it’s not just the cost of drinks that you should tot up — it’s the cost of alcohol-related expenses, including late-night fast food, Uber or Lyft, taxis, impulse purchases while under the influence, and Morning-After pills or visits to Planned Parenthood (or other expenses) caused by bad decisions made while under the influence.
- NO HANGOVERS! Hangovers suck — feeling drained, lethargic, irritable, moody and low-energy on the weekends (or any morning) is no fun. 1 in 2 Americans feels unhappy at work — a staggering 50%. Think of all the better uses of your energy than “bouncing back” from a mild hangover every night. If you can put in a lot of focused, productive effort in November, you’ll feel better about taking time off for holiday cheer in December.
- HELPING OTHERS. You may not struggle with alcohol use, but you never know who around you may be struggling, and your example of sobriety may encourage them to re-examine their own choices. This could lead to better health choices for that night, that week, or a lifetime. You may inadvertently change a life, or save one. Consider it part of your Christmas giving.
- SETTING A GOOD EXAMPLE FOR THE KIDS (or young people in general). When asked how to raise moral children, the Dalai Lama said, “Oh, that is the most difficult of all: to raise moral children, you have to live a moral life.” Moreso than at any other stage of life, children learn by watching the example you set, rather than listening to the words you say. By showing them examples of sobriety and self-restraint, you can instill in them the lesson of moderation and balance.
- YOU’LL ATTRACT A BETTER QUALITY PERSON INTO YOUR LIFE. When you decide to have some sobriety and restraint, you tend to attract to you other people with these qualities. Here’s something I’ve observed in common about people who spend a lot of time partying and drinking: none of them make a great deal of money, none of them have much awareness of their inspiring Purpose in life, few of them are people I would consider “successful.” I do know a lot of upper-middle class who self-medicate with alcohol when they realize that their “success” didn’t bring them the spiritual fulfillment they imagined it would, and this is one of the saddest things to see: marriages on the brink of ruinous and costly divorce, kids with massive behavior problems, due to an unhappy partnership exacerbated by heavy alcohol use. But above them, I do know of quite a few multimillionaires who don’t drink alcohol at all. It makes sense: they have more time, money, and energy to focus on their purpose in the world, a side effect of which is enriching them financially but the most important aspect of which is enriching them mentally, emotionally, & spiritually.
- YOU’LL BE BUILDING A BETTER SOCIETY FOR 30 DAYS. A society with few drinkers is a society with fewer pointless deaths due, lower medical care costs, and lower costs of lost productivity (alcohol use causes and estimate $250 billion dollars of lost productivity each year in the U.S.). In short, by giving up alcohol for one month, you are building a safer, richer society. And isn’t that worth it?
- BONUS 13th REASON: You’ll be able to perform better in bed. Enough said.
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Also published on Medium.