The Benefits of a Month on the Wagon, by the Numbers

Do it for your waistline. Do it for your bottom line.

By The Editors
March 11, 2016 9:00 am

Let’s not beat around the juniper bush: we love a good tipple.

Could you imagine forgoing a Super Tuscan while dining on a tender filet? Or denying yourself an ice cold Pacifico with your feet up in Playa? Or a pint of something dark and wholesome after a long day on the slopes?

But all that drinking doesn’t do a body or mind good. And — as our cocktail-napkin-math will indicate — your wallet, either.

If you’re a four-drink-per-nighter, or drinking 14 drinks a week, please read on. The NIH classifies any man who drinks more than the above as putting serious stress on his body, and excessive drinking is the third leading cause of preventable death for adult men in the U.S. That quantity also increases your likelihood of stroke by 39 percent.

The good news is your body’s built to bounce back, so taking a month off is a great way to hit the reset. It’s also a great way to start a lifestyle of moderation: after a month of abstaining, you’ll find it easier and more enjoyable to drink less. Your correspondent likes to hit the reset once every 6-8 months.

Within week one, your brain will work better. Alcohol slows the pace of neurotransmitters in your brain, which is how neurons communicate with the rest of your body, adjusting your mood and memory. Keeping your neurotransmitters clean will ensure clearheadedness. It’ll also ensure you sleep better. Alcohol disrupts your body chemistry and your respiratory system, two essential things for a solid night’s rest. Improve your sleep, and you’ll improve how you feel and your body’s ability to recover from stress and working out.

Within week two, your waistline will shrink. Burning a pint of beer or a shot of liquor takes an hour, and slows your metabolism by about 73 percent while simultaneously kickstarting your appetite for junk food (thank ghrelin and galanin, hormones that make you crave fatty foods). Cut out booze and you cut out pounds from the sauce and the greasy spoons. Your correspondent dropped about five pounds by week three without other significant lifestyle changes. Editor’s note: You’re probably also going to notice a newfound craving for sweets. Try to stick to the healthier side, like dark chocolate and fresh fruit.

At the end of the month, your bank account will look greener. Hooch ain’t cheap. Neither is drinking responsibly: Ubers cost money, especially when you’re going to multiple locations in one night. And those late night eats and greasy breakfasts add up, too. Depending on where you live and how often you go out, this can save you anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000 a month. Save half of that, and put the other towards something you like, like building your vinyl collection or new pants for your slimmer waistline.

This will be hard, but getting rid of bad habits helps you develop good ones. Rather than having a drink after work, go workout, practice meditation or take a class in something you’ve always wanted to take up but haven’t found the time for. You need positive, healthy habits that deflate stress. Plus, you’ll look better, and your needs for liquid confidence will be replaced by actual confidence. Trust.

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