Alcohol and Your Goals

Maybe one of your New Year’s resolutions was to be consistent with diet and exercise. Awesome!

When setting out to work on this resolution, there are many aspects of our lifestyle that can impact our efforts. 

One of those aspects that can really impact our goal attainment is drinking alcohol, and the chain of events that can sometimes occur when drinking alcohol. That chain of events may include starting with intending to only drink 1-2 alcoholic beverages. That can sometimes lead to socializing and mindless over-consumption of more alcohol, more drinking to stay social if we are wanting to have fun, let loose, or to deal with increased anxiety in social settings, and possibly then mindlessly over-eating on foods that may not be the healthiest options.

So what is the impact of drinking alcohol on our goals of body composition changes and exercise? Alcohol tends to be a source of empty calories, and as we explored in the chain of events in the previous paragraph, people don’t always stop at drinking 1-2 alcoholic beverages. This can lead to consuming excess calories. Consuming excessive calories in any form – food or alcohol – leads the body to store extra fat and gaining weight, often in terms of excess belly fat, or the dreaded “beer belly.”

And what about alcohol and its impact on exercise? Small geeky moment alert. A study from Barnes, Mündel, and Stannard (2010) suggests that a moderate dose of alcohol may impair normal muscle recovery after very strenuous exercise. If exercise and performance are a priority for you, drinking alcohol in excess could contribute to injury and impact your goal attainment.

So what are some healthy mindset exercises to practice when looking at alcohol consumption and what are some healthier alternatives for alcoholic beverages? Here are some ideas:

Behaviors: 

  1. Go into a social event with a plan. If you know that you have to get up early the next day or have an exercise planned, reminding yourself of your goals may impact your decision to drink in excess.
  2. If you know that you are going to drink alcohol, similar to the idea of taking time to really enjoy and savor the taste of your food, pick an alcoholic beverage that you truly like. Pick 1 drink, and sip it slowly, being mindful of the taste and flavor, and pay attention to the social setting that you are in, enjoying the environment you are in, and people you are with.
  3. Make it a goal to have 1 glass of water for every alcoholic beverage consumed. Alternate between the alcoholic beverage and the glass of water. You’ll feel better the next day!

If you know that you will be drinking, here are some healthier alternatives:

  • Vodka seltzer with lemon or lime
  • Bloody Mary
  • One glass of red wine
  • Scotch on the rocks

Lastly, here’s some non-alcohol containing beverage ideas: 

  • Virgin Bloody Mary – just omit the vodka
  • Instead of a Margarita, try sugar-free lemonade with a salt rim and a wedge of lime. 
  • A dressed up tonic water – get wild and add sliced cucumber.
  • Flavored sparkling water (my favorite) – dress it up with added fruit, herbs, or a little fruit juice.

Cheers to health!

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