finance, Health, Living, Uncategorized

Beer Gardens: A Gift and a Curse

The weather has turned, and boy oh boy is it about time! In my particular area we went from 9 degrees Celsius to 22 degrees Celsius in about a week, after a particularly long and cold winter. Barbecues were being dusted off and fired up at an incredible rate this past week, and suddenly everyone decided that being at the park was the best idea ever. My favourite local hike was suddenly inundated with people (which is great, but for goodness’ sake please don’t blare music out of speakers when you are hiking with other people. No one wants to hear your shitty dance music when they are trying to appreciate nature). It’s that beautiful time of year when people remember why we live in the area that we do.

Which brings me nicely to the main topic of this post. Beer gardens. A delightful Eden where we are all too often found sitting on a fine afternoon getting pickled in the sunshine. I love a beer garden, and they have sprung up near my apartment at a very quick rate. Microbreweries have become extremely popular, and I am fortunate (maybe?) enough to live close to four of the finest. Each of them has a great patio that tempts in the casual passerby. And since the school year is starting to wind down, my teacher friends and I are finding ourselves there quite regularly.

Mmmmmmmmm…..get in my belly!

I really enjoy beer. I really enjoy good quality beer. I really enjoy good quality beer while surrounded by happy people soaking up the rays. The problem, though, becomes clear very quickly and in a twofold manner: beer is expensive, and it is not very good for you.

Beer is expensive.

One beer at the microbreweries cost $7.50. Given that I usually imbibe in three or four in an afternoon or evening, it quickly drains my fun money that I have for the month in only two or three sessions. If it’s a particularly rowdy evening I’ll even pull out the credit card and add more to it, which results in a bigger headache the following day, both in hangover format and in regrets as I look over my spending the night before. I always find that after about three drinks (depending on how long we are there) I don’t enjoy myself as much. I’m a very fast drinker and can rack up a bill that is shocking the following morning.

Beer is not very good for you.

I know, I know: “No shit, Sherlock.” It should come as no surprise that beer is not a healthy option. I don’t necessarily think having a beer is going to kill you, but the poison is in the dose. In my case, having three or four beers in a night used to be no problem, but I’m growing more aware of how I feel the during the night and the following day. The beer itself adds to my waistline, and then there’s the small matter of hangover food and bad choices the following day. It’s basically a self-inflicted toxic hobby, and there are very few, if any, positive payoffs to it.

What changes do I make?

Make my water a double, please!

Beer gardens aren’t going away, and neither is my desire to hang out with my friends there. So it’s up to me to create new solutions that solve the problems.

  • I only take cash. I take a set amount of cash with me on a night out, pretty much guaranteeing that I will not drink more than I have budgeted for.
  • I am learning to sip rather than guzzle. I’m trying to actually enjoy the taste of good beer and savour a pint rather than mindlessly drink while chit chatting.
  • I have two glasses of water for every pint.
  • I buy a four-pack for $13.00 and invite my friends back to my house. We don’t have a patio that gets direct sun, but we can still have fun and play board games.
  • We only go to the beer gardens after we’ve done something good, like a hike or a bike ride. It helps to mitigate some of the worst health effects and encourages us to only have one or two.
  • I track my drinking with an app. If I have a drink I add it to my app and it tells me then and there how many calories I’ve consumed, how much alcohol, and how long I would have to work out to offset the damages. It’s pretty eye-opening.
  • I set aside one night a week where I’m allowed to drink. We still go to the beer gardens, but if it’s not my drinking night then I leave all forms of payment at home and stick to water.

I’ve only started implementing these measures but I’m already noticing a huge difference. I love waking up in the mornings after a night out and remembering all the great times, and then checking my wallet to see I’ve successfully stopped myself from spending every dime. I have better conversations with my friends and strangers, and am able to function properly the following day. I suspect I’ll also drop a little bit of weight if I stay off the beer entirely for a little while, given how calorie dense it is.

I’m coming around to the notion that beer gardens can still very much be part of a healthy lifestyle, but I need to actively put measures in place to keep them that way. Summer’s coming, and I look forward to the challenge.

Any other ideas for helping with this? I’d love to hear them!

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