Alright, let’s get this out of the way. This isn’t a New Year’s Resolution, “New year, new me” post. The timing happened to work out and I needed a good starting point to give me a little boost of motivation, so January 1st it is. I’ve done a 21 Day Challenge it in the past but not this extreme. I’m going to give up drinking alcohol, among other things, for three full weeks, and maybe even more if I feel like it’s going well.
Drinking is a lot of fun – it’s what pretty much every single social function I attend revolves around, it’s what my actual job revolves around. So this is not an easy task for me. It would be easy to just stay in every night and not to give in to the temptation at a bar or in a social setting when someone hands me a beer. The hardest thing is explaining it to people – and inevitably having to justify it to people, as if it isn’t completely obvious. My friends will probably call me a loser on Friday/Saturday nights for not drinking but you gotta expect that’s gonna happen. It’s actually funny how much you hear people saying “I wanna give up drinking for like a month.” But it’s rare people actually go through with it. We’re generally more health conscious as a society nowadays and everyone’s starting to realize the benefits of giving up alcohol for even just a few weeks.
Seriously, it’s unbelievable how good you feel. Almost makes you think how rich and good-looking you would be if you never drank in the first place…
After I graduated college, I weighed 215 lbs. – the heaviest I had ever been in my life, excluding high school football where it was at least a good mix of muscle and not entirely beer gut and Chipotle. I felt awful all the time, none of my size Large t-shirts fit me like the normally should and I hated the way I looked. CRAZY bloated in this one from 2014.
I had lost weight before. In high school, I lost about 30 lbs. my senior year after my football career ended and I had knee surgery. I stopped lifting weights, read a book on healthy eating, and started doing hot yoga. But Losing weight is TOUGH. And it take A LOT of time.
You’re not going to lose weight eating salads Monday-Friday and then binge drinking Thurs-Sunday night and eating pizza. That’s what I once thought, but you’re just wasting your time.
After college life ended I was sad, but I was also so happy to just relax and recover from 4 years of physical abuse to my internal organs by eating healthy and not drinking for a few weeks. I felt incredible. At first I had alcohol withdrawals and the shakes that accompanied cold sweats, but once I got over that I started a habit of going to the gym and then sitting in the sauna for 10-20 minutes. I lost 15 lbs. within 2 months just from chilling out on drinking and eating a bit healthier. If I went a Friday or Saturday without drinking, I felt so accomplished, healthy and just overall better in life. I would wake up around 6:30-7am go to the gym or go for a run, eat breakfast, read the paper, have a coffee, do my errands, and be done with everything by 11:30am. See my Morning Routine.
And recently, I had one of those experiences recently that makes you never want to drink again. That’s actually why I started writing this article and came up with this challenge. After work one day, I had 6 beers. Then at dinner I had a glass of wine. Then at home I had a full bottle of wine to myself. Then I went out and had 5 Jack & Cokes and God knows how many tequila shots. I woke up the next morning and saw vomit all over my bathroom. The whole day I felt so awful, I had McDonald’s and ice cream to cure my hangover. That’s when I said enough’s enough and wrote down the outline for how I was going to cut that out from my life.
***Reader’s Note: I apologize if none of the information above was useful to you. See below for the actual stuff you’re probably wondering about***
Ok so, admittedly, I already live a very healthy lifestyle already so this isn’t a desperation attempt to get ripped or have a 6-pack. So why the hell am I doing this? I don’t need to lose weight or go on a diet. I honestly just thoroughly enjoy the feeling of being healthy. I’ve been around 185 lbs. for the past two years (pretty normal for a 6’0 male), I work out 4 times a week most weeks, I do a triathlons, I eat vegetables most days and I try not to drink during the work week. I’d consider myself a pretty disciplined person.
My downfall however, has been that once I step off that healthy lifestyle, even for one second, I lose it all. If someone brings in bagels or donuts or muffins to work and I give in to the temptation, I’ll have one, then another one, then a third one, and a fourth, and so on until I feel like utter garbage. Then I’ll figure “Eh what the heck, I’ll get some pizza for lunch too, maybe a beer.” And then it’s down that vicious wormhole of junk food and booze for the next 24 hours. I’ll have more beer when I get home, order Chinese and then go out and binge drink with my friends. I wake up the next day, have a bowl of Fruit Loops and then do my best to muster up the courage to break a sweat and go for a run to get my life on track. If I’m lucky, I do. But if not, then I continue that unhealthy eating and drinking into Sunday. Then Monday I try to get my health back on track – go to the gym, eat vegetables, and don’t drink until Friday. It’s one step forward, two steps backward every weekend.
Lately though, I’ve been getting sick of this routine and I’m fed up with the way my body and my brain feel every Sunday when I inevitably fall off the wagon. I feel sick, dumb, sluggish, and useless. The hangovers are only going to get worse.
Which is why I’ve decided that starting January 1 I am going to challenge myself to live the way I’ve always wanted to for three full weeks. I know, I know, this is the typicla New Year’s Resolution – “New year, new me!” But I’m only doing it now because it is the only stretch of 3 weeks where I don’t have some sort of trip or social obligation. I’m actually going to New Orleans immediately after this challenge so it will most likely go to shit right then and there. But, for now here are my rules for the next 21 days:
The 21 Day Challenge
- No alcohol
- No dairy (milk, cheese, etc.)
- No white carbs (bread, rice, etc.)
- Avoid sugar
- No fruit
- Limit caffeine (one cup of coffee or green tea is fine)
- Workout at least 10 times
- Try fasting for 1-3 days
- Walk at least 10,000 steps a day
I will take a before and after picture. I will not weight myself before and after. This isn’t so much about losing weight as it is about just achieving that feeling. If you’ve ever lost a significant amount of weight (over 5-10 lbs.) you know the feeling. It’s incredible.
Believe me, I absolutely hate when runners talk about their “runner’s high” but you do get a sort of high when you’re eating really really healthy. You get a feeling of alertness better than Adderall, your body feels like a machine rather than just a meat vessel, you have the sudden urge to do things, you have more energy, you want to take the stairs for some reason, and you don’t crave the bread, candy, or sugary snacks that you usually do.
The last time I did this in 2015 I lost 8 lbs. in 20 days but that was only following the first 5 rules above. The below picture is the difference between 210 lbs. on the left and about 195 on the right. Fifteen pounds makes a huge difference. I also may have shaved my chest…
I know what you’re thinking – “Wow these awkward mirror selfies are awesome. Keep ’em coming!”
So, if you’re up for it, join me in your Resolution to be healthy this year. Take pictures of your pale stomach and lose some poundage in the process. Or just keep being a cool person and be nice.