December and Christmas holidays are already behind us, a new year is about to begin, and it is a great moment to reset and come back more vital to our fitness routine. We all know drinking alcohol affects our performance and results, especially if it is not done in moderation. So, not a surprise, reducing alcohol consumption is in many New Year's resolutions, and there is also this famous "Dry January" campaign. Let's dig into this story a bit deeper and see what one (1) month without alcohol could do for you. Let's go.
What is Dry January?
Dry January began in 2012 as public health campaign initiated by an organization called Alcohol Change UK. The campaign's slogan was "ditch the hangover, reduce the waistline and save some serious money by giving up alcohol for 31 days," and it is a one-month challenge focused on the benefits of an alcohol-free life. You can read more about the campaign here. And to put it into their words:
It is not about giving anything up. It is about getting something back. Get your fun back. Get your energy back. Get your calm back.
Why participate in Dry January?
The truth is that alcohol is not all that bad, we wrote about this in an earlier blog post. However, drinking alcohol can negatively impact our bodies and performance when it is not consumed in moderation. Our body and performance are mostly affected by the caloric surplus of (junk) food or by not getting enough hours of sleep rather than drinking alcohol. However, a month without booze could have some potential benefits for your fitness journey.
Cutting down on alcohol calories gives you the margin to eat more real food and add a wider variety of nutrients to your diet. It is also proven that you are getting better quality sleep; therefore, you feel less tired during heavy workouts. Ultimately, it lowers your sugar intake since many alcoholic beverages are quite high in refined sugar.
How to complete a month without Alcohol?
1. Define your why.
Everything starts with the "why," as Simon Sinek once said. To complete a month without alcohol you should think seriously about why you are taking this challenge. Is it because you see it as a detox opportunity, have you noticed that alcohol can negatively impact your physical performance and progress, or are you just curious to see how it feels to be completely sober in social events? Having a clear intention before starting something is very important. Think about your "why."
2. Plan your social activities.
If a certain situation or a specific group of people makes you want to drink, it does not sound like a great place to be. But have we not been quarantined enough? Those reading this article probably enjoy drinking a glass of wine or a refreshing gin tonic. But under no circumstance should we feel forced to do it! Instead, let friends and family know about your intentions and encourage them to keep you accountable. Better yet, enlist someone to do the challenge with you.
3. Find alcoholic free beverages you enjoy.
Quitting on drinking might be tough but substituting alcohol with something you still like makes it way easier. So when you crave a drink or cocktail after a long week, reach for alcohol-free beverages like sparkling water, soda, or virgin drinks—basically, the nonalcoholic beer, wine, or cocktail. But, and here it comes, some brands still contain a tiny percentage of alcohol. So if you have no idea what to order, try the following:
- Kombucha: A healthy nonalcoholic alternative to natural wine could be Kombucha, a fizzy sweet and sour drink made with tea with multiple health benefits thanks to its probiotics. Kombucha is often compared to natural wine because they pass through the same fermentation process.
- Mocktails: Who said that cocktails have a complex and balanced taste only because of the alcohol they contain? Mocktails can achieve the same harmonious blend of acidity, sweetness, and bitterness as regular cocktails. Mocktails based on natural fruit juices and do not contain sugary syrups can also be very nutritious.
- Alcohol-free beers: If you cannot give up on the taste of your favorite beer, you can look at a 0-alcohol version of it. In the last couple of years, numerous beer brands have created beverages without alcohol that are equally refreshing and tasty.
Dry January is an excellent opportunity to kick start the New Year, detox from the Christmas booze, and focus on your fitness goals. However, even if taking part in challenges like Dry January or Sober October is intriguing and fun, the question is, "how could you implement a part of this change into your whole life?".
It does not have to be all or nothing when it comes to alcohol. To build the body you want, you need commitment and dedication, but balance is also key. After all, remember that you can only have long-term results if your healthy changes become lifetime habits.