The problem with working in medical statistics is that you become all too well aware of any flaws in your habits. I see colleague after colleague presenting results from all around the world that show incidence of various diseases increasing with tobacco intake, for example, but that's not too bad because I don't smoke or hang out with (regular) smokers. More unsettling are the ones for alcohol consumption. I had gotten into the habit of having a largish glass of wine with dinner every night, and that would often lead to another one afterwards. I'd rarely end up drunk, but would very rarely have a night off and was certainly exceeding the recommended limits, leaving me at the high end of a number of graphs of unpleasant conditions. I'd tried various ways to cut down: giving up entirely (which I found possible, but unsatisfactory), not drinking at home (which was a shame when tinyjo cooked something special), stopping at one drink (tricky), and so forth. None of them had been very successful, or rather, none had felt very sustainable. However, I've been using my current technique for about six months now and it seems to be working remarkably well, so I thought it might be of interest.
It was, I think, inspired by an article I read somewhere about gamification. I decided to try coming up with a system which was easy to administer yet flexible, and would cut down on my casual drinking while leaving me free to enjoy social drinks. I call the result 'Teepartial', and it works for me. The goal is to only to drink every other night (on average), and the rules are:
- My score started at 0
- It goes down by one on a day when I drink
- It goes up by one on a day when I don't drink
- It mustn't go below -3
- It stays the same on a day when I drink exactly one drink (which I'm defining loosely as a pint or a largish glass of wine. Less than 2.5 units, say.)