Unlike a lot of people, I've never thought those who chose not to drink were a little strange.
Instead, I respect their strength. Alcohol - especially beer - is so entrenched in Australian society that choosing to drink is the easy option. Choosing not to is much, much harder. And these people have taken the hard road.
I've chosen to join their ranks - not forever, just for this month.
The main reason for becoming a dryathlete is that I had a very merry festive season. And a long one - it stretched from just before Christmas to the week of my birthday in the second week of January.
I enjoyed quite a few beers in that stretch and, though I never came close to waking up with a hangover or needing to make a few urgent calls to God on the porcelain telephone, I figured I'd overdone things a bit.
So I woke up one morning last month and thought, "It'd be nice to take a break for a while".
The other driving factor is simply to show myself that I can do it. I'd heard of others taking a month off and thought, "Wow, I don't think I could ever do that".
Lately, I've seen that as a bad attitude to have because it implies that beer, and not me, is in control. So there's no better way of ending that than becoming a dryathlete for a month.
I'm following a few simple rules. First, there will be no days off. A part of the official FebFast routine is they let you donate money to buy a "leave pass" so you can have a day off from abstaining.
That just seems entirely hypocritical to me. If you're promoting an event aimed at encouraging people to abstain, why make it easy for them to drink? I don't get the people who buy leave passes either; the whole point of FebFast is to not drink for the whole month. Not just when it's easy, but when it's difficult too.
Second, no alcohol-free beers are allowed. If I'm not drinking for a month, then opting to drink something designed to resemble a beer doesn't seem right to me. It's like vegetarians who eat products designed to look like meat. If you're not eating meat, why do you want your food to look and taste like it?
The first week without beer can be described in the following thought process, "I think I might have a beer ... oh, that's right, I've got to wait until March". My brain went through that quite a bit in the first seven days because the booze-free idea hadn't taken hold.
That week also felt really long.
The second week, things are much different. The days don't seem long and my brain doesn't think much about having a beer. It's all much easier - like I needed a week to adjust to the beer-free concept.
As for the benefits of not drinking this month, well, they haven't eventuated yet. Aside from the fact that there's a bit more space in the recycling bin at home, I haven't noticed much of a change.
Which isn't what I expected - I figured I'd sleep better, think clearer and lose weight. But hey, there's still two weeks to go.