Alcohol
Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

Alcohol. It’s something we have an interesting fascination (okay, relationship) with as a society.

Recently, Chrissy Teigan opened up that she’s decided to quit drinking alcohol. In and Instagram story, Teigan wrote, “One month ago, on my birthday, I got this book from my doctor and friend. I was done with making an ass of myself in front of people (I’m still embarrassed), tired of day drinking and feeling like s— by 6, not being able to sleep. I have been sober ever since and even if you can’t see yourself doing it or just plain don’t want to, it is still an incredible read.”

In the story was a photo of the book Quit Like a Woman: The Radical Choice to Not Drink in a Culture Obsessed With Alcohol.

So Dry January? No Alcohol 30-Day Challenge? Sober October? I started thinking about doing my own challenge consisting of no alcohol.

Are you considering doing a Dry January, Sober October, or a No Drinking Challenge of sorts? I am! I did a poll on Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok to find out if people were looking to participate in a Dry January.

Instagram Dry January Poll Results 45% yes 55% No
@im_theHBIC Instagram Poll Results
Twitter Dry January Poll Results 31% yes 52% No 17% answers please
@im_theHBIC Twitter Poll Resulsts

After the year of 2020 – I *get* why some folks are hard no. But this year, I thought I’d take a stab at participating in Dry January.

Whoop It Up!

As a Whoop user, I’m all about their data. Luckily, they have LOTS of data available for me to measure the affects of alcohol on my body (and its performance).

For those unfamiliar with Whoop, it’s a wrist worn strap that measures your strain, recovery, and sleep. Or as they say on Talking Elite Fitness “The Big Three.”

Whoop home interface

Strain

Whoop Strain Score
My Whoop strain score from December 28, 2020

Strain equates to how much stress you’ve put your body under for the day. Remember stress is not only physical like working out or having a job where you frequently move such as a construction worker but it’s also related to emotional stress. Or emotional stress – such as when the parasympathetic nervous system kicks in.

For the Dry January / No alcohol challenge, I’ll measure how my strain score fluctuates.

Recovery

Whoop recovery score image
My Whoop recovery score from December 28, 2020

Ever wake up and wonder – how hard should I train today? Or maybe you’re someone who feels tired but knows they got plenty of sleep? The Whoop’s recovery score will help you understand how well your body has bounced back from the day before.

“Whoop calculates how recovered your body is by measuring changes in your HRV, RHR, and duration of sleep.”

Alcohol generally has an affect on the body’s ability to recover. It’s why many professional athletes limit the amount of alcohol they consumer while they are in need to perform. For the month long, dry January / no alcohol challenge, I’m hoping to see improved recovery scores (and few ones in the red)

Sleep

Whoop sleep score
My Whoop sleep score from December 28, 2020

Ahhhh. The most critical element that many of us skip out on – quality sleep. I am definitely someone who could do better at improving their sleep hygiene. Since the Whoop can be charged while being worn, it’s a great way to track your sleep and sleep quality.

Doing this Dry January / sober challenge I’m hoping that I can see and improvement in my sleep quality. Sleep hygiene will happen when I’m back in the office.

Alcohol & Performance — or Lack Thereof

Each morning I wake up and fill out the daily survey as it relates to my previous day and night. There’s a question on alcohol and you can fill in how many drinks you had and when your last drink was.

My December was — interesting. I definitely consumed quite a few drinks – especially as the holidays happened and I was at home more often due to the shelter-in-place in my state.

My December 2020 Whoop Alcohol Survey Data

Over the last 90 Day, I responded Yes to having a drink 20 times. And let’s also just say that I was not seeing peak performance during those 90 days. My HRV (heart rate variability) tends to drop when I have alcohol. My Resting Heart Rate also shoots up when I respond Yes to alcohol and I lose 17 minutes of sleep, on average. OOF.

So I’ve decided to embark on a month long sober challenge. Before jumping into the challenge, I wanted to know what are the benefits of not drinking besides the things I’ll track in my Whoop.

Benefits of Dry January

1. Decrease your risk of disease

Stethoscope
Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

I come from a family with a host of chronic illnesses and cancers. You name it, I can probably confirm someone in my family has (had) it. From heart disease, to fatty liver, from Lupus to Diabetes. There are a whole host of medical struggles that run in my family. So cutting out alcohol for a month is probably a great idea since it can decrease my risk of diseases.

New Scientist ran a study in 2013 which showed a significant drop of blood glucose and liver fat in people who participated in Dry January. So if you’re someone who has a family history that includes chronic illness, then participating in a sober month or no alcohol challenge may be a great idea to help improve your health!

2. Hello youthful glow!

man smiling in mirror with tattoos
Photo by 13on on Unsplash

Alcohol and good skin generally do not go together. Heavy alcohol consumption can lead to poor skin – and I don’t just mean acne. You’ll notice your pores are larger and you’re prone to more breakouts. If you’re like me and have skin issues like dermatitis, the stress on your body from alcohol can lead to flare-ups.

I don’t know about you but I’d prefer to find ways to keep those as bay.

Skipping alcohol will help improve the quality of your skin and its elasticity. So the next time you skip that drink, your skin will thank you.

3. Weight loss

Are alcohol calories truly empty? Not exactly. A calorie is simply a unit of energy so technically they can’t be empty. In fact, alcohol is a macro all on it’s own. It’s just one that we typically don’t count when we are looking at counting calories or macros for weight loss or gain.

Since alcohol constitutes calories, by removing the extra calories from our day then we are opening ourselves up to potential weight loss. And if you’re anything like me, then when you’re drinking you get the munchies. I might have a couple glasses of wine along with a charcuterie board and a slice of pizza. Before I know it, that’s several hundred extra calories. Over time, these extra calories can lead to weight gain or simply not allowing you to achieve the goals you’re working so hard for.

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