We’re often being told that life is all about balance. For many of us, however, finding and maintaining that balance is not so simple. We bust our butts at the gym constantly striving for that next PR, but the commitment and dedication toward a wholesome lifestyle doesn’t always translate to the outside world. At the gym it’s easy to hone in on your fitness goals, but once you set foot outside, temptation is all around us—with alcohol in particular.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, drinking in excess can lead to many health complications and can increase your risk of diseases like dementia and breast cancer. NIAAA also conducted a study showing that the number of women who claim to have had a “heavy drinking day” at least once in the past year is at an all time high. In fact, women’s alcohol use and abuse is growing to look more like men’s. (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the prevalence of binge drinking among men is twice the prevalence among women, to give you an idea of how they compare.) We are all aware of the risks of heavy drinking, but knowing what these risks are doesn’t necessarily stop us, or slow us down, when it comes to indulging during a night on Sixth Street.
So, what’s the solution? Staying in when your friends or colleagues suggest happy hour? Is it possible to drink in moderation without compromising your fitness goals? Jesse O’Brien, co-founder of Central Athlete, provides some helpful tips to a more conscious approach to consuming alcohol. Follow these tips, and you will successfully “minimize the footprint of alcohol,” as O’Brien says, and lead a healthier, more balanced lifestyle.
Before you set out on a night where you know alcohol will be involved, try to maintain your routine as much as possible:
Center yourself; clear your mind as much as possible of the stress of the day
Drink lots of water! (At least half your bodyweight in ounces)
Eat a balanced meal, high in protein, to delay the rate of alcohol absorption
Get about 20 minutes of sun exposure
Engage in quality movement and activities to promote blood flow
Take a sip and savor the drink—think about how it feels and tastes and what sensations it evokes
Avoid sugary mixed drinks
Have one less drink of water than you have of alcoholic beverages
Explore gluten-free options. Tequila, for instance, is derived from the agave plant and is naturally gluten-free!
Drink at least 20 ounces of water before bed to minimize dehydration
Just as you maintained your normal routine before your night of drinking, do the same the day after with:
Plenty of movement
A little bit of sunlight
A nice, healthy meal (fight the urge to drive thru Whataburger for a greasy cheeseburger)