Five Ways Alcohol Can Affect Your Fitness Goals

If you are serious about improving your fitness and are using exercise to achieve your goals, it is vital to avoid things that will counteract what you’re doing. Otherwise, you’re just wasting your time and – if you’re paying for a gym membership – your money too.

The chief culprit in this respect is alcohol. A drinker’s lifestyle is just not compatible with that of an athlete. And whether you see yourself as an athlete or not, the fact that you’re taking this physical approach says you are.

 

Alcohol Can Affect Your Fitness

You may be the only one involved in your fitness drive, but that doesn’t make you less valid. What it does do is make you responsible for every aspect of it. You don’t have the benefit of a fitness coach, a dietitian or a motivational expert. So you have to be those things yourself. Yours has to be the voice that says, “Don’t be a mug. Why undo all that hard work for the sake of some alcohol?”

I’m pretty fit these days and like to think I’m getting fitter all the time, or at least maintaining the levels, despite being in my 30s, when nature suddenly turns against you. I work out regularly. I’m a demon with the push-ups and will give you a hundred of them at the drop of a hat.

I play basketball and although LeBron James’ status is not under threat from my direction, I have the respect of my teammates and we hold our own in our league.

But if you’d seen me 10 years ago you wouldn’t have recognized the guy I have just described.

I am a recovering alcoholic. I have been sober nine years and counting and to get to where I am today his involved climbing a long, hard hill, which has mercifully leveled off now.

First, there was the addiction itself – complicated by the fact that I was also a drug addict, constantly craving meth. Then there was the rehab: both alcohol rehab and drug rehab.

And once I was back on my feet I was determined to get back into shape.

Alcoholism can happen to anyone. For many people, it starts with a social habit that spirals out of control. But it can be a gradual process that you hardly notice. It manifests itself in losing your good habits and gaining bad ones. A lot of people find help in rehab centers, like the a Largo treatment center.

So let’s go through five ways alcohol can interfere with your fitness goals.

  1. Weight control
    We all have an ideal weight and if you’re sporty it is even more important. But while you’re listening to diet advice and may think you’re in total charge of your carb and protein intake if you drink alcohol more than just occasionally, and particularly if it’s part of a routine, you’re adding calories to the total, perhaps without realizing it.If you look at photographs of sports stars of past times, you’ll see some are clearly overweight. That’s because they played in an era when the “weight police” had yet to rise to prominence.Even as recently as the 1960s it was okay in some circles to be fat and talented. Nowadays we’re more enlightened and although fat-shaming in the wider context is unfair and humiliating, in the world of sports and fitness, only sumo wrestlers can get away with being overweight. I assume they can, anyway. From hurtling around a baseball field to sitting for a living in Indycar or F1, slim is good and porky is simply not allowed.
  2. Energy levels
    All exercise requires energy and drinking alcohol robs you of it. You can eat and work out all you want, but if you’ve had a heavy session the night before, you’re not going to be at your best.The trick is in seeing that by avoiding those drinks you are actually helping yourself. Let your non-sporty friends do what they will. For you to be you, alcohol cannot play a part in your routine, and certainly not shortly before or after a game.
  3. Sharpness
    Assuming again that you want to be fit, not just for appearance’s sake but to perform better, you need to be alert, thinking clearly, reacting rapidly and generally the guy nobody can slip one past. Alcohol slows your reaction times; it does so when you’re drinking and driving and therefore more likely to be involved in an accident, and it does so when an opponent is running at you on a soccer field and you react too late to what he’s about to do.
  4. Muscle repair
    The reason we feel sore after a good workout or in preparation for a new season is that exercise causes tiny tears in our muscles, which the body naturally repairs and makes us stronger than before.Alcohol impairs that function, so the old saying “no pain, no gain” could be modified to “even with the pain, still no gain”. That bottle of wine or six-pack is determined to do you no favors.
  5. Dehydration
    A body with too little water at its disposal is like a cracked river bed. It’s unnatural, it’s harmful and if you’re trying to get fit, it’s just plain stupid. So while you may be taking on” the right amount of fluids, as they say, if there is alcohol in your system it’s sending that water right out again, getting rid of toxins. After exertion, when we have been sweating, we’re short of the pure wet stuff anyway, so sending a diuretic in just doesn’t make sense.For many people, then, it’s a stark choice: get fit or get drunk. You can’t do both.If you have a tip that you think could help others resolve this conflict  (and there are no “cheats” in this, however hard you try), please leave us a comment.