This May, I tried something new to lose weight. Weed.
Weight has been a constant struggle for me. I'm 49, 6 feet 2 inches and weigh 322 pounds (as of today). In adulthood, I've weighed as little as 220 pounds and as much as 360 pounds.
Over the past year, I've dialed in my diet and exercise routine. Except for one last thing: The Cheat Day(s). On cheat days, I basically eat what I want and allow myself to drink. Cheat days started as a weekend thing, but have grown to be as long Thursdays to Sundays.
The thing about cheat days is that they were never tracked, so I was not aware of the damage that cheat days had. I estimate that I consumed an extra 5,000 calories on average each week over the past year. Most of these calories are from alcohol.
Long story short, I've learned that cutting alcohol is the key to losing weight for me. This is something I learned after painstakingly measuring what I consume and the impact of post-drinking days did to my fitness and mental health.
Removing alcohol is good, but I wanted an alternative. Early in my journey, a friend of mine who was also cutting back learned about a product called CANN. CANN is a mocktail that is spiked with a microdose of the psychoactive chemical found in cannabis (weed, marijuana, hemp, Delta-9, THC, etc).
These drinks essentially give you a slight buzz in much the same way a beer would. What these drinks don't do is give you a hangover or add to many calories.
I initially didn't pay much attention but I assumed they would not be legal in my state, but later learned that I could get CANN shipped directly to my house. In fact, after I did my research I learned that some cannabis products based on the hemp plant are widely available in most states today.
So in February and March I did some "hands on" research with these cannabis drinks. After some experimentation I figured out a weekend routine that could replace the pints I used to pick up from the craft brewer down the street. I began to replace a day or two with drinks from CANN or some other vendors I found.
In May, I was due for another "Dry Challenge" where we all agree to not drink alcohol for an entire month. I decided to use this as an experiment to completely replace alcohol with cannabis.
My plan was to stick to the diet and exercise plan I had. This plan is basically walking twice per day to get at least 7,250 steps, limit calories to around 2,200, and to make sure I got at least 100 grams of protein.
The only change was to replace all alcohol with either non-alcoholic beer and/or a cannabis product like a micro-dosed drink or a similar dosed gummy.
On May 1st, when I started this experiment I weighed 329.9 pounds and I was feeling pretty bad emotionally. My "cheat days" had creeped up again after a few weeks of cutting back. I felt bloated and a bit anxious and low on energy.
On the weekends and cheat days, I would have about four of the cannabis drinks. My favorites where made by a brand named Floral and another named Cycling Frog. Both of these had taste profiles that were close enough to an the IPAs I loved. The effects where pleasant and floaty, occasionally I would feel paranoid or anxious.
These drinks fit into my normal routine of sitting on our new deck, socializing, doing hobbies, cooking out.
The best effects though came through during my normal day when I wasn't using the cannabis drinks. My energy and attitude in the morning was so elevated. I was motivated to do side projects and did more writing in May than I had all year. I just felt good.
You might argue that I felt good because I wasn't drinking any alcohol. That is fair, and surely that is part of the reason I felt so good. Still, I have done Dry months recently and never felt quite this good.
May was not all perfect and I still craved alcohol once or twice while we were out at a restaurant and when we had particularly amazing weather. Occasionally, I overdid the amount of drinks I had which lead to bizarre waking dreams and some anxiety.
Overall though, this experiment was a success. By June 1st I weighed 321.0 pounds and so dropped 9 pounds in those four weeks! For me, this validates my theory that replacing alcohol with cannabis will help with weight loss.
The most obvious fact was that I learned that I could use cannabis to replace alcohol and not feel deprived. This means that in the long term, I can imagine a future that is essentially alcohol free.
Of course, I proved to myself that I can actually lose weight and that cutting alcohol is a fairly painless way of doing that.
The most surprising thing was how much better my days felt while I followed this plan. Everything just felt better. Work was better. I was not as irritable as I normally would be at work. I felt more inclined to take the time to prepare meals. I literally felt amazing for the first time in a long while.
This isn't for everyone. Compared to alcohol, cannabis is complicated. You can take it in lots of ways and everyone seems to react to cannabis in different ways. Too much will make you feel very strange and too little will have no effect at all. You will have to experiment and find your own balance. That can be a tall order for someone who is used to just kicking back a few beers.
You can argue that substituting cannabis is simply transferring one addiction to another. This is somewhat fair. If you want to quit all mind altering drugs, this is not the plan for you. If you suffer from serious addiction, this could be a trigger for you. Personally, my issue with alcohol has never been about the buzz it's the awful side affects you get from drinking. My issue is the weight gain and hangovers.
Depending on where you live, obtaining legal cannabis could be an issue. Even though, hemp based cannabis is federally legal for now this changes based on what state you are in.
Based on what I learned in May, I'm debating making what I did in May a permanent change. What do you think, would you do this?