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  • Writer's pictureLisa Magnuson

Sober Curious?

It's all the rage, not drinking that is. Or at least that is what the media would like you to believe. However, I can say, I have quite a few friends and family that don't drink anymore, or occasionally take big breaks from consuming alcohol. It started as a fad, "dry January," and it has morphed into more of a lifestyle over the years for some folks. There are even bars that cater entirely to non-drinkers, serving fancy non-alcoholic "mocktails" and creating an ambiance that is similar to a typical bar. So obviously there is a market for it if whole establishments are being built around the premise of sobriety.

Have you thought about quitting for a while? Do you ever question if you drink too much, too often, or have any sort of unhealthy relationship with alcohol? If you have, you may want to seriously consider taking a break from the stuff for a while and see how you feel without imbibing. If this seems like a ludicrous idea to you, can I suggest starting with only 1 week? Go a whole 7 days without a drop- and see what kind of feelings that brings up in you. Are you anxious come Friday night, do you reach for that glass of wine at 7 pm every night and get mad that you can't have it? Or perhaps you really don't miss it all, in fact you find that you sleep better and feel better during your day and workouts. Both scenarios can be true, and neither one is wrong or right, but you won't know until you try.

I'm not here to demonize alcohol, or say what you should or shouldn't do or drink, but it's our job as your trainers and wellness advocates to tell you about the good, the bad and the ugly side of drinking. I have taken breaks from alcohol before, obviously most women do when they are pregnant (hopefully) and I have done it when I'm not growing a human as well. Every time I do, I am able to re-frame my relationship with alcohol and I tend to learn a lot about myself and my habits.

Myles and I have decided we are taking a break together this time. Just to see how we feel and what we learn. We love to experiment on ourselves and try to be an example so we aren't the ones saying, "do as I say, not as I do." I'll let you know how it goes.....

There are many reasons to quit for a while ranging from multiple health factors, to mental clarity (think- this is your brain on drugs... if you remember that egg frying commercial), to sleep quality and so on. If you need a little nudging, may I suggest listening to this excellent podcast by Andrew Huberman. I listened to it after I had decided to go "dry" for a while and WOW it was eye opening and helped me solidify my decision to "try on" sobriety for an extended period of time. He does an amazing job of explaining how alcohol affects your body and the long term damage it can inflict, but also gives you reasons to pause, and evaluate if you could be prone to alcohol addiction even if you would never consider yourself an "alcoholic." And honestly, your willingness (or adamant refusal) to give it up for a while, can speak volumes about your current relationship with the substance.

One very important point he makes after reading multiple peer reviewed studies and interviewing a prominent sleep scientist is that only 1 drink; just one glass of wine, or one beer, will disrupt your sleep cycle architecture (think slow wave sleep, deep sleep, REM, etc). So even if you aren't drinking much, but you consistently have 1 drink a night, your sleep is most definitely suffering most likely with you not even knowing the effect that glass of wine is having on it. This is just one other reason why abstaining for a while will allow you to track your sleep when you aren't consuming alcohol and see how well rested you feel or if you use sleep monitoring apps/devices, what the data tells you.

Of course, not everyone will want to quit completely, even lessening the overall amount (quantity) you drink is helpful for improving many of the health factors he mentions in his podcast. Drinking is part of our social fabric, many events are centered around it and it feels "weird" not to drink sometimes when everyone else is. So if you aren't interested in the cold turkey method, you can try just a little bit less, or less frequently or take small breaks when it's convenient for you and so you don't feel socially awkward if that's a concern.

If you want less of a deep dive into the reasons why less is more in the case of alcohol, may I suggest this short article by the NYT? It also highlights the many negative health effects drinking has on our bodies.

I know- I get it, drinking is fun, and I enjoy a good cocktail, glass of wine, or IPA like anyone else. BUT, it comes at a cost and I want to minimize the damage I'm doing to my body, for a while at least, and see what shakes out in the end.

If the idea of drinking less resonates with you, but you are afraid to try because you think others might think you have a "problem," don't worry about it. So many people are "taking breaks" nowadays that there really is no stigma attached to trying out sobriety for a spell. You also have the option of using us as your scapegoat for trying. You can tell others, "my trainer has challenged me to refrain from drinking alcohol for "x" amount of time and I'm giving it a shot." In that same vein, if you need any support from us, please let us know. We can help keep you "on the wagon" and are open and willing to start a FB group or any other type of online support group (with just clients and friends) to bolster resolve and help navigate social situations that can make you feel awkward.

I have several female friends right now that are all not drinking and we are doing "mock" happy hours- like going bowling, or having game night, activities that don't revolve around drinking. We still want to hang out and have fun, but we don't need to center our outings around alcohol. I know from past experience, I can have just as much fun stone sober as I can drinking, and I usually feel a whole lot better the next day too.

I sincerely hope you all don't feel like I just rained on your parade, but the truth is we care about all of you and think this is VERY important information for people to know. Alcohol is not good for you, no matter which way you try to slice it, it's just the cold, hard truth. If you think "life's too short" to give up drinking (even for just a short time), that's fine- you do you, but we would be remiss in our health advocacy role, had we not shared all the information with you to allow you to make an informed decision.


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