Now that the holiday weekend is over.. let’s talk about alcohol!
I think this is a big subject because it seems to also be a touchy subject. We put many labels on people in regards to whether someone drinks or doesn’t drink, or how often or how much they drink.. don’t we? We may use it to decide who we want to hang out with or what we do. We may use it as a guide as to how we prioritize other things in life.. such as weight loss or health.
It is true, isn’t it?? Seriously?! Who doesn’t have some of those stories?! And they NEVER start with, “Well, I was eating a salad..”
Why? What is it with alcohol? One reason could be that alcohol releases Dopamine in your brain’s “reward center”. Here is some information on Dopamine according to “The Willpower Instinct” by Kelly McGonigal, PhD:
It also impacts the cerebral cortex making you less inhibited. Oh yes.. it actually is “liquid courage”. We relax more, speak more freely, and generally take more risks.
Here is the skinny on how it impacts your possible health, fitness, weight loss, and/or muscle building goals from Rob, Owner / Trainer of Brutal Iron Gym:
“Alcohol intake will greatly influence both building muscle and becoming or trying to stay lean. In regards to building muscle alcohol intake lowers testosterone levels and impairs protein digestion, both of which will greatly reduce not only how much muscle you can build but also how much muscle you can maintain. As for its relation to body fat, alcohol does contain calories just like fats, carbs and proteins and alcohol impairs the digestion and use of other nutrients when present in the body. Our body treats alcohol like poison meaning that when it’s present in the blood stream the body will stop the digestion of other nutrients in order to process and remove the alcohol which causes the other nutrients, fats and carbs to be more likely to be stored as body fat since they didn’t have the opportunity to be burned off for energy while the alcohol was being processed.
As with any other “cheat food” or any other lifestyle choice that impairs our growth and adaptation from training (examples; ice cream, pizza, skipping meals, not getting enough sleep, etc…) alcohol consumption must be moderated. If you are getting great results while drinking 2-3 times per week then so be it, however, if you want more results, lowering your alcohol intake would greatly help. Eventually if you wish to obtain your best possible physique alcohol needs to be removed from the diet completely.
Finding a balance between progress and lifestyle is a personal choice. I’ve known many people who chose to still drink on a weekly basis knowing that it would hold them back because they valued the alcohol higher than their physique, but I’ve also known many people who did the opposite, they dropped the alcohol and in turn increased the quality of their physique… both of these groups of people are happy, so whether you decide to drink alcohol or not is your choice, you just have to decide which you value more, alcohol or your physique.”
– M.S. Human Nutrition
– B.S. Health & Physical Education
– ACSM Personal Trainer
I would say it is pretty much the same as everyone else’s.. it is fun to partake!! Those nights have led to some of the best stories! And did I mention the significant improvement in my dancing skills?? 🙂
Ultimately though I feel worse and not necessarily out of guilt. I physically and emotionally feel like crap the day following drinking. A day following over-indulgence has taken me well past the afternoon to feel human again. What about just a glass of wine or two or a beer or two? Even then, I still feel like crap the next day.. I feel bloated, gross, and sluggish physically. Mentally, I have what I have dubbed “rebound depression”.
I used to always ask “If alcohol makes me feel like crap the next day but exercising makes me feel great, why do I choose drinking instead of going to the gym?” I knew if I could turn that around, I would discover one of the keys to success in my weigh loss endeavor. I just didn’t know if I would.
I did eventually and my body and mind thank me for it.. most of the time. I can go months without ever considering or having a drink and feel healthy, vital, and happy. Here is the rub and I can’t pretend it is isn’t true.. socially this is a game changer. I mean in some cases, it is “Game Over”.. “Do Not Pass Go”. And that will have been the single thing that changed.. “Sure. I can meet you but I won’t be having a drink”. Bam! The door didn’t have a chance to hit them in the ass because they were gone so quickly. LOL 🙂 I have watched as I went from hero to zero instantaneously.
I am human.. so, yes, I question my decision to drink less frequently. I ask myself questions such as “What am I giving up socially to maintain a certain lifestyle?” When I look at it logically, I simply cannot justify giving up what makes me feel wonderful overall.. inside and out.. for a few hours of a good time. In my case, I feel I have to unapologetically value my general well-being more than I value having a drink every week. Mentally and physically, I am able to bring an all-around better version of myself by limiting my alcohol consumption. If others disagree with my choice, then I have to accept that as well.
The challenge for me is to have the guts to let down my guard and be myself without “liquid courage”. Laugh! Be Silly! Be comfortable in my own skin so that I do not need the effects of alcohol to be the real me. And guess what.. It most certainly can and does happen! 🙂