Without a doubt this is one of the most popular topics I discuss with my clients during training. And it puts a smile on my face every time I hear it.
Don’t get me wrong, there is an air of integrity in asking this question is it suggests that the person asking is attempting to integrate social responsibility into a healthy lifestyle. However, I’m also acutely aware that there may be a hidden agenda within the question. It’s because of this, I tend to tread carefully when answering. Here’s why.
Over the years I’ve learnt to read between the lines on many of the things my clients say. For instance, If I ask how many drinks a client has consumed in the past week, I quite often get the following response… “Not as much as usual” or “It was much better than the week before!” Just so we’re clear, both of these responses tell me two things.
- They’re desperately trying to avoid providing the real answer.
- They know that by telling me the real answer, they leave themselves very little room for negotiation when they stand on the scales and see their body fat percentage increase, rather than decrease. This, by the way is often met with a response of “How can that be?? I’ve been really good!!”
When I began recording results with my clients, it meant that not only were they held accountable for their results, but so was I. If a negative result was ever recorded, I used to doubt myself as a trainer.
You see it’s very easy to point the finger at the trainer, or a workload, a social life, the wife, husband, boyfriend , girlfriend, kids… you see where I’m going with this.
I’ve already mentioned the word accountability but what I haven’t focused on is how imperative it is for the owner of the personal goal (i.e, the client) to take complete ownership of that goal.
So, let’s have a look at that question again…
Whats the best alcoholic beverage I can drink while I’m trying to get fit?
The short answer… vodka, fresh lime and water, or vodka, fresh lime and soda.
If you’re asking because you’re looking for a PT to give you the green light to switch from your current intake of red wine or beer in the hope of still hitting the town to go round for round with your mates, armed with your new elixir of life, ready with the excuse of… “Yeah but I read somewhere that drinking vodka, fresh lime and water is totally ok!” you’re kidding yourself.
While drinking vodka, lime and soda is considered one of the better beverage choices, if you drink to excess then you’re still likely to make the same food choices on the way home from a night out or the following day. This is where a great deal of the third party damage is caused and it is directly related to the drinking session you’ve just enjoyed. Now it’s less about the benefits of making smarter beverage choices and more about how to curb the hangover you’ve just given yourself.
Let’s put some numbers to this. A vodka, lime soda is roughly 82 calories. Times that by a good night out (let’s say 8 drinks), that’s 656 calories, approximately half a daily calorie intake for some. Now if you’re doing this once every now and then, and you’re exercising regularly with a balanced diet, then hey, it’s not so bad. But I’m guessing there’s a few of you out there that have looked at my suggestion of 8 drinks in a session and thought, that’s a little light on. In fact, a good session could see that number closer to double. And that’s just one night.
Now that we’ve done the maths, how do we fix this? How can we start to really focus on socially responsible drinking AND looking after your health at the same time?
Here’s three simple tips that I’ve implemented in my life and I’ve gotta tell you, what I’m about to suggest, I wished someone had suggested to me years ago. Put simply, implementing these suggestions when I did, was the start of me losing weight. (PS, I used to be 19kgs heavier then I am today.)
- First things first – stop eating shit food. No more kebabs at 3am. Stop telling the cabbie to make a detour to a Maccas drive through on the way home. It’s rubbish and you know it. The only reason you’re eating it is because you’re hungry and it’s convenient. So… if you know you’re going to have a big night, make a frittata or a bolognese sauce or cook up some chicken thigh fillets in your favourite marinade and put it in the fridge before you head out. Trust me, this works. It’s healthy. It’s convenient. And there’s plenty left over for breakfast or lunch the following day. No need for crap food any more. Planning and preparing food for yourself before you head out will help you start to make better food choices.
- Drink water and get over your friends giving you grief for it. We are long past the days when it was deemed ‘soft’ to sneak in a cheeky water between drinks. Be that guy / girl that buys a round and includes a bottle of water for yourself. If you start creating this as a habit, you’ll inadvertently drink less alcohol while hydrating yourself throughout the course of the night. It’s a win-win for your body and will greatly reduce the chances of feeling rubbish the following day.
- Alcohol-free days. I’m not kidding, back when I worked in the industry, an alcohol-free day meant streamers falling from the ceiling with a matching banner that screamed ‘Congratulations!’. I knew that I needed to start taking better care of myself so I started by choosing the two ‘lowest risk factor’ days as “AFDs”. The days where I would generally not have an event on, or maybe run a training seminar on the history of Vodka or Gin for example. This would eventually become Monday and Wednesday. It didn’t always go to plan. Creating habits doesn’t happen overnight but every time a Monday or a Wednesday would roll around, I would be reminded of what I was aiming to achieve on that day. We got there in the end.
These three suggestions are literally the tip of the iceberg in a long list of things you could do to improve your health and fitness, while enjoying a drink with friends. So let’s keep it simple. Start with these three. Or start with just one of the three. But whatever you do… START.
To your continued health and fitness,