Part II: The MEDS…Follow These Three Simples Steps.
“Good things come to those who sweat.” Anonymous
The thing about drinking is that it envelopes so many aspects of our lives that it’s hard to imagine life without alcohol. When you first give up drinking, you’ll be amazed at how it will feel like you have absolutely nothing to do.
It’s not that you won’t be able to do all the same things that you used to do before becoming alcohol-conscious, like playing pool, going to watching the game with a group of friends, or just sitting at home and watching reruns of your favorite Family Guy episodes.
Yes. All of those things will still be there.
What will be different is that your desire to do these things just won’t be the same.
For this reason, you’ll find yourself with a lot of free time on your hands that you will need to fill to prevent yourself from want to go out and get and drink.
Of the numerous things you could fill this time with, the one that provides the most value by not only lessening your desire to want to drink again but also helping to improve your overall self-image as it relates to alcohol.
To successfully implement this strategy in your life, there is a simple formula that will allow you to experience the major benefits it offers.
WORKOUT FIRST THING IN THE MORNING (30 MINUTES)
Individuals who are not “morning people” will probably be highly upset at this step, but it is highly important to follow this. Exercising in the morning provides a number of benefits that will make a tremendous difference as you work to become alcohol-conscious.
When you work out first thing in the morning, you jumpstart your body to get ready for the day. Before, when you were drinking, the thought of waking up early in the morning was probably terrifying.
Now that you won’t have that hangover cloud over you, you’ll have more willpower to not hit the snooze button when your alarm goes off and get in that early morning workout that you promised yourself last night.
Thirty minutes is enough time build up a good sweat and get the benefits of that early morning workouts yield. You can stretch this out to 45–60 minutes if you desire, but 30 minutes will usually do the job.
By jumpstarting your metabolism first thing in the morning through exercise, this should shake off the cobwebs of sleep and get your mind going for the day.
This will also often give you more energy through the day, as the vigor of the exercise will work as a natural upper to invigorate your body and get you ready to face the day’s challenge.
WORKOUT RIGHT AFTER WORK IN THE AFTERNOON (30 MINUTES)
I know what you’re thinking. If you worked out in the morning, then why in the hell would you need to do it again in the afternoon?
The reality is that when you first begin your AC (alcohol-conscious) journey, there are a number of habits that you are going to have to break to keep you focused on staying in control. Two of those habits will be the happy hour request after work and the habitual drinking as soon as you get home.
We’ve seen these in movies and experienced them in our lives, as we try to alleviate the stress of the day and give ourselves a break to prepare for tomorrow.
This could potentially have a very strong pull on you when you first stop drinking, as the endorphin — dynorphin cycle of your body will have a tendency to produce chemicals in anticipation of these times of the day.
When this occurs, you will start to fill that little “twinge” in your body that yearns for a drink around 5 pm because your body is so used to it.
As soon as it gets close to that time of the day, if you don’t find something else to replace this feeling, there is a good chance you are going to find it rather challenging to say no when Tom comes in and asks you for the THIRD time if you are coming out with the crew.
By replacing this with daily exercise at this time instead of drinking, not only are you creating a habit to replace this so your mind can begin to make that connection to 5 pm instead of alcohol, but you are also giving yourself a very reasonable out that decreases the chance that others will give you such a hard time for not showing up to the weekly happy hour.
Over the first few months of quitting, one of the most difficult parts may be having to turn down all of your friends’ invitations to come out and have a drink.
If you have more to offer as a reason than I’m not drinking, then you will make it harder for you to give in to their pleadings to join them, as you can’t go work out after throwing back a few drinks at the local pub.
An added bonus to this is that exercise will replace the stress relief that your body previously associated with the cracking of that afternoon Amstel Light or taking that first swig of that vodka and cranberry.
Now, this will be replaced with your firing up the treadmill or picking up that dumbell for your first set.
WORKOUT 5–7 DAYS PER WEEK
The reason that I put emphasis on the number of days per week is related to the constant commitment you are going to need to this when you first start. As with anything new, when you start out there is going to be a bit of a battle for you to stay committed to it.
To decrease the chances of you going back on your commitment, a good strategy is to make it a large part of your week, so you refuse to deviate from it for any reason.
The reason that I say 5–6 days per week is that you’re going to want to do it at least Monday — Friday to ensure that you are not pulled by your co-workers into the happy hour trap for that afternoon.
Some people will try to get by with only three days per week or by taking Friday off. The problem with this is that the pull of your co-workers on those days that you don’t have exercise as an alternative, especially Friday, could easily result in your being talked into just joining for “one drink” or because it’s been a “long week.”
By committing to at least five days, you decrease the chances of that happening.
By adding a sixth or seventh day, you’ll continue to build on the progress you made during the week and can see physical results quicker in regards to your overall fitness…something that will keep you motivated as others will notice as well.
When you commit to such a schedule, not only will it become something you do to relieve stress, but it will become a part of your life that you cannot see yourself going without.
Just as alcohol was something that pulled you to do it every day, you’ll begin to notice that exercise is starting to have that same type of pull.
And just like alcohol was creating a debilitating cycle that was leading nowhere, the habit of daily exercise should create a virtuous cycle that will build upon itself to lead to more and more positive changes overall.
Something that your future self will thank you for tremendously.