Life can be pretty boring without a purpose. Typically, we all get up in the morning and give a similar performance to the scenes we played out the day before.
We get up and brush our teeth, wash away our less than pleasant aromas, go to work, deal with it on a reactive level, come home, maybe make a little dinner, watch a little TV, and get ready to shut ‘er down and start it all over again the following day.
Personally, fitness is just one weapon I use in my arsenal to break up this boring cycle. Three or four times a week I’ll step into a gym, or onto a running trail and tell myself, “Self, you are going to be better than you were the last time we were here.” Then I don’t just “work out”, I train.
To be stronger. To be faster. To be better than I current am.
I admit that I am learning to train harder and push myself a little harder but like everything worthwhile, it’s a process.
Sometimes I fail, sometimes I succeed, but after each challenge I put myself through I learn a little more about whom I am what I am capable of. This way, I am forced to face the results and myself, for better or for worse.
My findings have been the more I challenge myself, the better the person I become. Or at least I have a better understanding of my weakness so not to play to them in the future.
In the past I’ve challenged myself to things like a 24hr fast, with very successful results. I’ve also set goals of strength for my bench press (2- 45lb plates), the Squat (300 lbs), and the Deadlift (300 lbs). So far I’ve hit 1 of 3 targets, but again, it’s a process.
My fasting challenge alone has shifted my weight lifting and nutritional paradigms away from the traditional bodybuilder mindset into a new and more informed view of eating and training.
I have also given myself will power exercises to improve my personal productivity. I’ve boycotted Facebook and MSN messenger for extended periods of time, usually 30 days (some failures, but mostly successes), simply to see if it increased both my productivity and quality of life.
But last week I set up another gauntlet…
On June 14th, while disposing of several Campari and Sodas in the midst of a rather lengthy discussion on the rampant short-term and long-term consequences of alcohol consumption, not only on fat loss goals and muscle building, but on the body in general, I was presented with the coles notes version of the following information:
Here are a summary of alcohol’s effects on fat loss and muscle building:
- A small portion of the alcohol is converted into fat
- Your liver then converts most of the alcohol into acetate.
- The acetate is then released into your bloodstream, and replaces fat as a source of fuel.
- Alcohol increases appetite
Alcohol affects testosterone levels
Not only does alcohol put the brakes on fat burning, it’s also one of the most effective ways to slash your testosterone levels. One fun night of heavy drinking raises levels of the muscle-wasting hormone cortisol and increases the breakdown of testosterone for up to 24 hours. The damaging effects of alcohol on testosterone are made even worse when you exercise before drinking.
Alcohol also affects the body’s ability to break down proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Too much alcohol in the blood can lead to a deficiency in Vitamins B1, B2 & B3, as well as magnesium and zinc. These nutrient deficiencies can eventually cause weakening of the heart muscles, poor skin, arthritis and prostate gland disorder.
The bottom line
While an occasional drink or two every now and then is not going to affect the body negatively, excessive drinking will not only put the brakes on your fat loss efforts, it will also prevent you from building muscle tissue. So the hard no-nonsense truth is that if you’re looking for a leaner, stronger body, alcohol just doesn’t mix.
The bottom line is that alcohol and a leaner, stronger, better looking body just doesn’t mix. Not to mention all of the other side effects on the rest of your organs. For a more detailed and easy to read summary of alcohol’s effects on the body click —-> HERE
With this new knowledge in my hands, I’ve decided to start my first: 30-Day Challenge With ZERO Alcohol.
Now just to be clear, I am obviously not a heavy drinker to begin with. I do however, enjoy the odd glass of red wine in the evening, and when the weekends come I have been known to be seen with more than a couple Heineken or Corona in my hands. I am absolutely a victim to good advertising.
But for the next 30 days you won’t see me with one beer, nor a sip of wine, or even a Campari and soda (sooo very good). It’s all gone for 30 days.
But this decision was not made in haste, because as the start of summer could be seen just over the horizon, I wanted to make sure that I was sacrificing my first four weeks of patio and bbq weather for a good reason, umm the greater good, if you will.
This past weekend I happened to be hanging out with a close friend of mine Sacha Ragueneau who had just won a World Competition in fitness modeling, and is also a successful bar owner in Montreal, Quebec. If there is anyone that could tell me the cost/benefit equation for boycotting alcohol it was Sacha, and he did not disappoint.
Here is Sacha on competition day:
Sacha said after two weeks healthy eating and zero alcohol, “My bed was like a trampoline,” He told me. “every morning I would spring out of bed and have more and more energy every day, honestly Mike it was amazing.” That testimonial was enough for me.
I challenge all of you to either take this challenge with me or at the very least, come back and visit and I will keep you posted on my progress… or utter and total failure.
And FYI- with a weekend of birthday BBQs, summer patio parties and a reunion dinner that just passed, this challenge may have already bit the dust. 😉
I wish you all the best of luck in your own personal challenges, be it physical or emotional. I will update you soon.