How to overcome mainstream alcohol feasts to look better
A big part of becoming a better version of yourself and becoming an athlete is your diet. While there is no shortage of Instagram Accounts telling what to eat, when to eat and how you should prepare it there is not really a lot of tips around on how to pick the few things apart which are really sabotaging yourself in a big way. One of them is alcohol. I have written up some techniques and thoughts to help you to reduce your intake and to rethink your approach. Let me know what your tips and tricks are to lessen your consumption or how others you know improved their life by being mindful about alcohol.
Have a strong motivator
If you want to drink less you need a strong motivator first. There are several which you can use when it comes to alcohol, for example
- You want your liver to be healthy
- You want to avoid to undo your hard work in the gym
- You want to be a better role model for your children
- You want to have children when you are older ( alcohol usually does not help with fertility when applied over decades)
- You want to stay smart
- You want your skin to be smooth for a longer time
- You want to save money
- You want to get back your driver’s license / not lose it
Whatever it is that keeps you going, take your pick
Prepare a list of substitutes
A good rule for forming better habits I took from Cialdini’s book Pre-Suasion. His little trick to keep your mind in check is to formulate rules which you can follow whenever you want something specific and do a better alternative instead. Here are some examples:
- Whenever a want a whisky, I drink a beer instead
- Whenever I want a beer, I drink water instead
- Whenever I go to a party I will stop drinking at 11 pm instead of 2 am
And so further. This avoids that you must go cold turkey while still improving overall step by step. Radical changes in a person’s behaviour are usually triggered by a strong external factor. Those can be the birth of a child, a new partner, a visit to a doctor, a death in the family, moving out of the home to start university or going to rehab. These changes stay in place until the external stressor is removed and a relapse becomes very likely. If you improve bit by bit, it is more likely that the changes will stay long term. If shock therapy is not medically needed, form one better habit a time to become a long-term improved version of yourself. Write these down so that you take yourself more serious.
Avoid having alcohol in the house
This should be straight forward and it is still astounding to see how many people fall short on this one. I have two friends who repeatedly state that they want to cut their alcohol intake and get in shape. One of them has a well-stocked wine bar and whenever you look in the freezer you will find a vodka bottle ready to pop. The other has two crates of beer in the basement whenever I visit. Of course, you can bring that down to being nice and forthcoming to the guests you entertain. Still not necessarily setting yourself up for success. If you can’t do without anything in the house for whatever the reason, at least buy smaller quantities and bottles applying the substitute trick mentioned earlier.
Learn to say no politely
Another way of getting sucked into the pit of social drinking when you want to improve is to learn how to say politely. A good way to do that is to point blank state what your motivator for not drinking is and steer the conversation towards that. Examples:
“I want to lose a stone until my wedding to look my very best in my dress. That is why I am currently abstaining thank you very much for offering. Just out of interest, when did you get married?”
“I recently went to the doctors and the blood tests were not the best. Thanks for offering. Nothing serious, but I still want to nip it in the butt in time. How do you currently keep fit?”
“I was out for quite a few times recently and have a business trip coming up. Thanks for offering but I’d rather take it slow today. What about meeting up when I am back to have a few pints?”
“If I drink that one mate I will probably forget her name… Don’t want to undo your hard work as a wing man. Come on let’s go and see where they are. Takes them ages to discuss us on the toilet”
It helps to practise some of these in advance so that they come naturally to you and you don’t stand there gobsmacked when you are asked and do not want to impolite. One usually leads to more, so stay strong. In case you cannot escape a very nice or adamant host say yes politely and drink very slowly.
Be the designated driver
When I got a car first I was lucky enough to be on of the few with that privilege in my entire year. I did Judo back then and I always have been of a broader built. That combined with a Fiat Cinquecento which was definitely not designed to with a German tall man who does Judo in mind let to a lot of laughter with my friends. Still, in the end, I was the one who was laughing as I turned my car into bliss when it came to drinking.
Being the designated driver saves you
- Time as you do not have to wait for anyone (in case they are late just go without them)
- Discussion when to leave (you drive, you decide)
- Money (for obvious reasons as you are not drinking)
- Money ( if you have nice friends and never charge for petrol the one time a month you do go out you will not pay for drinks)
Being the designated driver enables you
- To choose who to drop off last (Never underestimate the power of this)
- To have a conversation with drunk people while you are sober
- Now all the current gossip
- Build character to be a responsible person
I enjoyed my time being the designated driver and If yu want to cut back on alcohol this is a nice way without feeling too bad about not drinking
Have a reward system
Keep track of the days you go without alcohol and reward yourself when you reach certain milestones by going for a nice dinner, buying that pair of earphones you always wanted, investing the money you saved on booze into a new car/upgrade of your current one or a trip to Ibiza or Venice (and yes maybe even drink there, at least it is on the beach).
Have a punishment system
Set yourself a goal and if you do not reach it leave it to the ones nearest to you to punish you for failing. This works well with significant others or parents. Sit down with them to reflect and how to check on you. Maybe they also have something they want to improve on like quit smoking or saving more money. By doing this you kill three birds with one stone. You show them that you care about them, you actively reflect with them about your goal to get new ideas and gain an ally to check on you.
Have a day off
Of course, you do not want to be a complete bore. But rather than going with the flow each week and getting drunk at the same pub with the same people to lose your key on the same stair while bringing home one of three same girls/guys make that one weekend a month you do go out count. I would usually check the local discos and pubs for the most interesting weekends in terms of what was on. Be it the soccer world cup match, a band I always wanted to see or going across the border to the Netherlands (I come from a place that is very close). If you do it this way you have two to three weeks of preparation to make this one day something really special. Nowadays my fiancée takes care of this.
A simple way to help you get started
To help you start I put a simple excel spreadsheet together for you to keep track of the days that you do without your glass of red wine, a bottle of beer or a shot of Jägermeister. The first week will be the hardest. Once you have your first seven ticks in a box you can move on to stretch yourself to a month. Treat yourself when you achieve this goal and celebrate with a good (!) night out or even better weekend activity somewhere new, you always wanted to go or you already know but do not get to go that often. Avoid going to the same place you always go to have a drink to not fall back into the habits you formed over years.
I personally stayed off the drink for half a year when I prepared for my first marathon in 2013. It changed my life for the better and now I am more energetic, better built and fit than I have ever been. It was definitely a step in the right direction and hope this little free download will help you to achieve the same.
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