How Your Drinking Habits Could Be Sabotaging Your Fitness Goals
What's your go-to drink?
Beer? Wine? Tequila? Cosmopolitans?
Whatever it is, the more important question is: how much and how often are you drinking your go-to? I'm not asking for your annual doctor's appointment number...you know the one where the doc asks you how many drinks you have in a week and you lie and say "just a few when I'm out with friends."
I'm asking you to be honest with yourself for a second here.
How many drinks are you having each week?
Is it one every day? Is it a few on the weekend? Or is it ten on Saturday alone between your pregame beers, late night shots, and long islands at the bar? This "Saturday night" may apply more to my millennial readers, but you get what I mean...
Let me be clear here, your drinking habits are your choice, healthy or not. I used to work in the alcohol industry and to say that my number was low would be a lie. We drank often for work, and socially, too. My number was high, but we'll get back to that in a second.
I'm not asking these questions to make you feel bad about yourself or your number. But I AM challenging you to be honest with yourself about your drinking habits so that I can pose this question I see all the time:
Can you go out (habitually) AND be in your best shape?
Hate to break it to you, angels, but the answer to this question is absolutely not.
Let's go back to my story for a bit. So like I said, I used to (like most people my age) go out pretty frequently. When I was working in the alcohol industry, most of my weekends were spent in the bars, at parties and boozy brunches, or at big drinking events like concerts and baseball games. While I was living this lifestyle, I was simultaneously working my butt off in the gym trying to see results. I was always so frustrated by my lack of improvement when I was doing all the right things in the gym and meal prepping healthy foods every week. Why couldn't I see my abs? Why did I just feel "soft" and "skinny fat"? Of course I didn't want to admit that my weekend beers and breakfast pizzas were probably a lot to blame for my tummy and leg bloat...but that would mean I would have to say goodbye to all the fun! Right? No, wrong.
When I left the alcohol industry last summer, I stopped drinking for about three months because I was just over it and guess what happened? Amazing things, that's what! I'm going to share just a few of these with you really quickly:
1. I watched fat and bloat disappear from my waistline. Almost immediately, my shape became less soft and more toned. All that muscle I had been working hard to build in the gym was still there (yes! it wasn't a waste after all!), it had just been hiding from me under my weekend fun rolls.
2. Goodbye hangovers, hello productivity. My results inside and outside the gym improved drastically. I had more energy for my workouts, I was better hydrated, and I wasn't sabotaging my exercise with poor nutrition from late-night snacks or hangover brunches. I had my entire weekend to do GOOD things for my body, like go hiking, clean my house, and start reading all the books I hadn't had time for before because I was always out.
3. My mental health improved. Alcohol is a depressant and a strong one at that. After long weekends of drinking, I always felt guilty and disappointed that I'd wasted another weekend not taking care of my body the way I should. I knew what my weekend habits were doing to my results and I knew I needed to make a change. Once I finally did, I didn't look back because I felt SO much better not drinking all the time. And truth be told, I still don't miss it. At all.
There are so many more positive things that happened as a result of my cutting back on the drinks. But I know what y'all are thinking...am I claiming that in order to be healthy, you can't drink? Outside of if you struggle with addiction, ABSOLUTELY NOT! Enjoy alcohol, like sweets or cheat meals, in moderation.
Have a glass of wine with dinner or at drinks with your friends. Enjoy a beer or two at that concert that you've been looking forward to for months. Indulge a little more on special occasions. A couple drinks every week, even, isn't enough to harm your progress, but binge drinking every weekend? That adds up fast.
If you're doing everything right Monday through Thursday but eating like crap and drinking the bar straight out of booze every weekend, you are not going to see results.
Not only are you not going to see results, you also are not treating your body the way you should. And that's not a judgment, y'all...that's just a fact.
Give your drink number a second look, and this time be honest. If it's way up there, think about cutting back and see what happens. The results may just shock you.