3 min read

On Health, Fitness, and Simply Not Drinking

On Health, Fitness, and Simply Not Drinking
The gym at 5:30AM on a weekday. In the winter.

Cutting alcohol out of my diet helped turbocharge my transition from boardroom life to self-employment. This single change has helped with:

  1. Time. Way more time in each day and every weekend. Like twice the amount of time you thought you had to get stuff done.
  2. Calm. Alcohol creates a ton of anxiety, chemically, in the brain. Removing that as well as the “OMG did I text that last night?” berating self-audits at 3AM is a huge relief for your entire nervous system.
  3. Sleep. Oh the sleep. I go to bed and do not wake up until the morning, fully rested, every single day. This has a huge effect on your mental and physical state. I look forward to sleep now as an absolutely joyous component of the day. Even one drink can affect your sleep significantly.
  4. Fitness. I’ve always been pretty fit but alcohol held me back and certainly made those 5:30AM CrossFit classes difficult to get to. Now I look forward to every work out and getting up for them in the morning is easy peasy. I also recover much more quickly both in the workout itself and afterward.
  5. Overall Health. Improved lipid panel and metabolic panel results across the board, lower BP. 15lbs of fat gone. Better skin. No more achey knees and ankles in the morning, no more lingering physical injuries. A calm, predictable, and happy digestive system. Very rapid physical recovery time and no more nagging “bad joints”.
  6. Productive Weekends. The usual Saturday and Sunday half-day hangovers are gone and weekends are now absolutely amazing experiences end to end.

That's a lot of upside. Can you imagine if there was a pill that did all of that? How much would that pill be worth to you?

Rationalizing The Change

The hardest part of cutting out alcohol was rationalizing whether it was even an issue at all. There was no rock bottom moment, no life-ruining wake-up calls.

Most of my friends and family thought the notion of me not drinking was utterly ridiculous. Because of this, I went through years of back and forth internally about giving up something so seemingly (but falsely) “wonderful”.

Like many people raised by boomers, I grew up with the idea that as long as you weren’t a brown-bag, sleeping-on-a-park-bench alcoholic, there was nothing to be concerned with. Alcohol was simply a “privilege” of being an adult and a necessary part of all adult fun and all adult celebrations. 

Finding "No-Rock-Bottom" Examples

It helped me immensely to find examples of famous people who simply stopped drinking because they knew it was holding them back, without any rock-bottom life-ruining lows. I love John Mayer, so it was really handy that he had also gone through this exact realization back in 2016.

John simply exercised the highly unpopular option to just not drink. His internal dialogue as described in this interview was something like:

“OK, John, what percentage of your potential would you like to have? Because if you say you’d like 60, and you’d like to spend the other 40 having fun, that’s fine. But what percentage of what is available to you would you like to make happen? There’s no wrong answer. What is it?’ I went, ‘100.’”, he goes on: “If you look at drinking the way that you look at anything else — which is risk-reward; what am I giving up, what am I getting,” then you’ll see that it has “some of the worst odds that ever existed.” 

Bingo, this is EXACTLY how I felt. I could have some of my potential, or all of it. Life on easy mode, or life on hard mode.

You Will Need the Extra Time and Energy

Dealing with the stressors of starting your own business is simply WAY easier if you are in good physical shape & getting good sleep consistently. 

You'll also appreciate the increased self-esteem both from being more physically fit and rested.

While working for someone else in a corporate job, you could get away with being hung over or groggy some days. Close your office door and move a few meetings around, lie low. Been there, seen that plenty.

Not so much when you're building your own future directly as your own boss.

Is this you?

I know several people who will drink perhaps 1 glass of wine a week, or nurse a single drink through an entire social event. If that's you, then alcohol is probably not really dragging you down that much. Carry on.

On the other end of the spectrum, if you've got a severe drinking problem then by all means please seek professional help, soon. This post is not for you.

If you're somewhere in the middle, consider giving it a break. For me, 90 days was enough to see so much benefit that there was really no reason to go back after that.