It is a normal occurrence for people taking part in celebrating the Holidays to drink more alcohol than they usually would. In many cases, they drink a great deal more than they are accustomed to doing. This is entirely understandable. There’s a festive mood in the atmosphere as people cut loose at the end of the year, going to office parties, get togethers with friends and family celebrations. Unfortunately, the large amounts of drinking during the year-end holidays also typically mean that these people will have a far more difficult time in making a fresh start to the New Year.
They make firm resolutions to be healthier, to lose weight and to get into better physical shape than before, but the overindulgence they engaged in over the Holidays means that they have set the odds squarely against being able to successfully achieve these resolutions. The simple fact is that alcohol has a much greater effect on most people than they realize, both in the day following a night of drinking and over the long run. This was highlighted in a recent opinion piece from The Huffington Post penned by New York Times bestselling author and physician Jeffry Life, M.D. He estimates that the damage done by the single week of drinking between Christmas and New Years is enough to set a person back by a full three months in terms of achieving goals for weight loss, fitness and overall health.
Whereas when we make New Years resolutions we typically get a concept of ourselves as making a fresh start and preparing for an energetic assault on achieving our new goals, in truth those of us who have been drinking in quantity in the final week of the year are often starting out the new year behind from where we were before the holidays begin. It’s not only the direct effects that alcohol has in acting as a poison, dehydrating the body and overloading the liver, but also the fact that people who are already drinking are more likely to break their diets by eating the rich sugary or fatty foods that are so commonly set out to accompany drinks.
The same is true on the smaller scale of a single night’s drinking. On Friday night, for example, someone might overindulge in alcohol and junk food, only to end up spending all of Saturday morning working through a hangover and watching the afternoon fly by while they try to get up to speed. This is instead of getting to bed at a reasonable hour on Friday so that one can wake up feeling refreshed and ready to spend Saturday getting projects done, exercising, socializing or whatever else they choose.
Living Life with the Brakes On
This setback, whether over a course of months as in the case of the aftereffects of holiday bingeing or the daily effects of drinking the night before, can have an overall cumulative effect of depressing a person’s mental and physical health. By drinking gaining weight, one suffers losses in the goal to achieve health and a good physique, as well as finding it difficult or impossible to achieve goals in life. For example, Dr. Life points out that an average person can expect to gain anywhere from 5 to 10 pounds over the holiday week, whereas it can easily take several weeks to regain the energy and motivation to get back to a full workout, let alone the time spent losing this new weight and then trying to make forward progress.
If you saw someone trying to run a race but insisting on carrying sandbags over each shoulder, you might think that he looked a trifle foolish, but is it really any different with alcohol? Is it actually worth it to go through life feeling lethargic and watching the pounds add up steadily over the years, just so that you can have “fun” for a few hours at the end of the week or the year. For that matter, is drinking really “fun” to you anymore, or do you simply do it out of habit? Do you even feel like you could stop drinking.