In 10 days, the Eat Fit Alcohol Free for 40 Challenge will end and I will toast with a crisp, fizzy French 75. Or perhaps a flavor-packed Bloody Mary with celery, pickled things, hot sauce and a little paprika rimming the glass. No, I’ve got it! Maybe it’ll be a chilled, bubbly flute of Veuve Clicquot, like when I took the challenge back in 2016. Oh, wait, I also have two bottles of Whipsmart from a boutique winery in California gifted by a friend during Carnival, so I could crack open that brisk Muscadelle. The bottle says it has hints of honeydew. Clearly, I don’t have to make this decision right now, but as you can tell, breaking what has become the most surreal 46-day Lenten abstention of my life is on my mind.

For the most part, it hasn’t been too difficult to forego say, a gin and tonic with the exact right amount of limes. (That’s 17 limes, for those who aren’t G&T drinkers. Don’t skimp on the limes, guys.) Not that there haven’t been times when I wanted a boulevardier, made with precisely the right balance of whiskey, sweet vermouth and campari. For example, the first week of the COVID-19 shelter in place order — specifically during our Zoom happy hours with friends. That said, it was entertaining to watch everyone get more and more buzzed. By the end of the call, every person was wearing either a hat, wig or mask — including me, and I hadn’t had a drop of alcohol! But the times I thought a classic gin martini with a twist poured into a gorgeous little pre-chilled vintage glass would be tasty were fleeting moments, in which I was quickly mollified by a fizzy, zero proof Seedlip cocktail or dealcoholized wine.

People, that time has ended — this gal wants a grownup drink. That’s right, I said it.

This last stretch is similar to the final 10 or 12 days leading up to the half-marathon I ran last year, in which after faithfully training for months, that little voice in my head kept whispering, “skipping a day or two won’t matter.” On the one hand, it probably wouldn’t make or break my ability to finish the race. The groundwork for that had already been laid and, barring injury or some other unforeseen obstacle, I knew I could do it. But on the other hand, it was the principle of the thing. I had come too far and worked too hard to slack off down the home stretch — and just like after the half-marathon, there is a cold, alcoholic beverage waiting for me at the finish line.

Are you reading a transcript of me giving myself a pep talk? Yes. Is it really necessary? No. Could it help one of you who also is undergoing the challenge? Maybe? I hope so. Because right now, it’s just us against ourselves.

No, it won’t matter if you leap off the wagon and crack open a cold, refreshing, effervescent, ever so slightly sweet Nola Brewing 7th Street Wheat and luxuriate in that first sip, smacking your lips and saying, “Aaaaah, tastes like summer.”

Wait, what was I talking about?

Oh yeah, the final countdown. Girding our loins. Sticking to our guns and all of that stuff. Yes, you could have a perfectly chilled, boozy old fashioned, lovingly crafted with your favorite bourbon right now and it wouldn’t matter. Not one bit.

Or, you could stick it out for just 10 more days and enjoy the feeling of accomplishing a personal goal. Not only accomplishing it, but crushing it, given the fact that you stuck with it after a pandemic struck the entire globe, sending the world into this weird panicked holding pattern. You will also have the satisfaction that comes with delayed gratification. It truly makes everything that much sweeter. Except a brut Champagne. That’ll still be as dry as you like it. Mmmmm.

So, let’s do this guys, because we’ve come too far to give up giving up. Don’t be a quitter. Or, I mean do. Keep quitting! Ugh, you know what I mean. I need a drink — but not until Easter Sunday.



To learn more about the challenge, which runs until April 12, visit Ochsner’s #AlcoholFreeFor40 page. If you are participating and posting about it to social media, use the hashtag #AlcoholFreeFor40 and share your progress in the comments. For questions about the program, email Kimball at or follow her on Twitter at @mollykimballrd.

Follow Melanie’s stone cold sober bon vivanting on Instagram at @melaniewarnerspencer.

Follow Ashley’s NOLA somewhat sober, aka sober curious, swizzle trip through mocktails and more at @taraashleymclellan on Instagram.