Starting out, I want to make it clear that I’m not suggesting anyone cut drinking out of their life, necessarily. What’s important is that we are aware of alcohol’s impact on our health. For a lot of people, drinking remains a challenge. They track their food, exercise regularly and get good rest. Yet, they continue to struggle. Most of us don’t realize that the unsubstantial amount of liquid in that glass, can, or bottle has more punch than meets the eye. 

Alcohol is a countermeasure to fitness. Alcohol is a countermeasure to fitness. I say again, alcohol is a countermeasure to fitness. It contributes to dehydration, high caloric intake, and poor sleep.  Alcohol consumption is associated with poor decision making, and can ruin your motivation. I’m not only speaking of alcohol at the abuse level. You don’t have to be intoxicated to be negatively impacted by the beer, wine, or liquor in your system. Beyond the immediate drawbacks, there are peripheral complications associated with drinking. When we go out for margaritas, are we paring the drinks with healthy foods? Not likely. Nothing goes better with a cold margarita than some chips and queso, right? How do you feel the next day after enjoying Happy Hour? Even if you didn’t drink to excess, it’s likely that you took one look at your gym bag and said, “not today.” Stacked up, the side effects of having a few drinks after work start to look pretty dangerous. Please know that I’m not out to vilify social drinking. It is important, though, to look honestly at the cost of our decisions.

I have a friend whose drinking habits line up somewhere in the light-to-moderate category. He just doesn’t drink much and when he’s done, he’s done. He said that one of the differences he’s found between his habits and those of his friends is when they go out, he has a drink, but they start drinking. It’s a subtle difference, but if you were to describe a night out, would you mention the time you had a drink, or the time you started drinking? No one plans on making a bad decision, but if we don’t plan on making good decisions, we may lose by default. 

So, how do we plan better? I understand that there can be a lot of social pressure to keep up with those around you. Many people aren’t comfortable being the only one at a work function or a holiday party without a drink. So, here are some tips:

·       Water first. Alcohol dehydrates you. Make a deal with yourself that you’ll match a glass of water with each serving of whatever it is your drinking. The important part of the bargain is that water goes first. You’ll find that you will drink a little less.

·       Know your portions. Do you know what an actual serving of wine looks like? Make sure you’re making your own drinks and try to avoid sugary mixers. 

·       Be a good host, but don’t feel like you’ve got to keep up with anyone. People process alcohol based on a number of factors, such as body weight, age, and recent food consumption. You are not on the hook to match anyone, especially if you’re the host. The people you’re entertaining may only be going out once a week, while you’re engaging multiple times throughout the week. 

·       Know why you’re drinking. If you find that you only drink to excess, it may be time to talk to someone. If you find that you negotiate with yourself about your drinking, or attempt to set specific conditions, make sure you’re doing so for the right reasons. If you know that you need to perform on Saturday so you avoid alcohol on Tuesday, you’re thinking ahead. However, if you have a lot of, “I only drink when…” statements, you may be justifying your drinking. 

Allow me to reiterate a point. I want to toast to your health. The information we’ve explored here isn’t about the moral implications of drinking. It’s about awareness and impact. A big part of what we do at PT Fitness is talk about our Focus. Focus means knowing everything about yourself and how your decisions work with, or against, your stated goals of living a healthy lifestyle. Now that you know, take a minute and think through some of your habits. If you see an opportunity for an adjustment, take it. Apply the tips we discussed and see if you don’t feel a little more motivated, clear-headed, and ready for the day.

Here’s to you and you’re health!