I was flicking through some magazines earlier and couldn’t help but notice all the diet tips and fitness plans.
At this time of year there always seems to be a big demand for advice on how to slim down and tone up.
As I was reading through the countless ‘diet hacks’, I was surprised to find that alcohol rarely got a mention.
There were all kinds of tips about upping your protein intake, lifting heavier weights and cutting out sugary fizzy drinks… but quitting drinking? I didn’t see that suggested anywhere, even though alcohol is a diet disaster! It’s full of empty calories.
So I wanted to put things right.
If you need a bit of motivation to stick to your alcohol-free goals this week, let’s talk all about the beach body benefits of a booze-free lifestyle…
1. You’ll save thousands of calories, making it easier to lose weight
I strongly believe there should be clearer calorie labelling on bottles of wine. I haven’t met many people who truly understand alcohol units, but calories? Most of us get that.
A glass of wine contains around 200 calories. A whole bottle is 600 calories – that’s the equivalent of scoffing three donuts or a McDonald’s Big Mac. It’s no wonder the average wine drinker puts on half a stone a year due to the excess calories.
2. You’ll be more likely to eat healthy food (and stick to your diet!)
When I was feeling hungover, my motivation went out the window. I snacked on pastries, chocolate, crisps and caffeine. Eating salad was rarely on the agenda!
I’m not going to pretend that sobriety has turned me into some kind of saint – I’ve always had a sweet tooth and still do. But in sobriety, I can get away with my chocolate habit because the rest of my diet is now pretty good.
I don’t skip breakfast anymore, I eat a healthy lunch, I drink plenty of water and I cook a proper dinner in the evening. When you’re being fairly healthy, most of the time, it makes a big difference to your waistline.
3. When you do go to the gym, you’ll make it count
As a drinker, I’d sometimes drag myself to the gym despite my hangover. (I was convinced I could sweat the alcohol out.) But all that effort was rarely worth it, because booze is a terrible workout buddy.
Alcohol can dehydrate your body for up to a week. Not only does this make you feel like crap, it also means you’re more prone to musculoskeletal injuries such as cramps, muscle pulls and strains.
Drinking also lowers your rate of protein synthesis, which is needed for building and repairing muscles. So basically, if you want to get results from your workout, alcohol is never going to be your friend.
4. You can wave goodbye to bloating and puffiness
There’s a reason why celebrities like Jennifer Lopez don’t drink – it’s because they don’t want alcohol to ruin their looks. Booze makes your face puffy, bloated and more prone to redness.
If you’re thinking about quitting drinking, take a selfie first. I get all the women I work with to do this and I love seeing the results (you’ll be amazed at the difference). Alcohol is so sneaky – the chances are it’s affecting your appearance more than you think.
5. You’ll get your beauty sleep
Alcohol screws up your sleep cycle, which is why you often wake up at 4am, tired but somehow wide awake.
Lack of sleep doesn’t just affect the bags under your eyes. There’s also a clear link between sleep and obesity. Let’s face it: when you’re tired, you’re more likely to snack and skip the gym.
6. Quitting drinking will get you better results, in all areas!
Take a moment to think about all the time, money and effort you put into trying to look your best. Perhaps you invest in nice clothes, fancy face creams, gym memberships or getting your hair done.
If you care about how you look – and most of us do – why not maximise your results and get your money’s worth?
Without alcohol getting the way, that expensive moisturiser might actually make a difference. Those nice clothes will fit better. And that gym membership might just start paying off 🙂
I have been trying to lose weight and I know stopping drinking would make this so much easier. I love your point about the donuts. I would never, EVER eat 3 donuts in an evening, just the thought of all those calories feels awful! I guess i hadn’t really thought about the calories in my drinks.
Liquid calories are so easy to forget about, right? If you need some help to take a break from drinking, you can download my wine o’clock survival guide (the link for that is just above your comment). You might also be interested in my online stop drinking course, for more support: https://thesoberschool.com/course/
Keep going Em 🙂
Kate thank you for starting this. I just came across your posts recently and I am really really enjoying them. Thank you !!!!!
All completely spot on. I am intrigued by seeing many of my very health conscious friends undertake huge efforts to be fit and healthy, organic food, expensive supplements, drinking health juices, boot camps and gym classes, all over of which I am a little in awe of, because I am quite lazy. But alcohol is never mentioned as a health issue, even among my heaviest drinking friends. Except an occasional not drinking beer or cider, but having spirit with tonic, or white wine as a calorie saver, but even that is rare.
I have friends like this too. We live in such a boozy world, I think people often can’t see alcohol for what it really is – even if they’re super health conscious in every other area. It’s bizarre.
Love this, Kate! I was always wondering why I couldn’t lose weight and feel great (when I was drinking). Now that I’m AF I have the time and energy to eat right and exercise. Alcohol definitely won’t get you to a good place in all areas of health. Thanks for the wonderful post!
It sounds as if alcohol-free living really suits you Abby! Well done 🙂
Sobriety is the ultimate beauty fix. I’m in my late 40s and have been told I look 15 years younger. I’m happy to be the age that I am, am finally wising up. : ) Thanks Kate for another great post. x
Awww, what a lovely compliment! x
That is an excellent point about calorie labeling. I’m in the US, which means EVERYthing is labelled for nutrition info. Only thing I can think of is, there isn’t a daily recommended intake or serving size for alcohol, so it doesn’t have anything to label. Although CERTAINLY they could just list calories and the percentage of a (however many) calorie diet. Even if a movement got started to label alcohol for calories, I’m sure the wealthy industry would be able to push back and squash it.
That’s really interesting. Here there have been some calls for changes or improvements to the way alcohol is labelled, but those discussions never seem to get very far. You can’t even find a list of ingredients on most bottles of wines – I find that quite scary, given all the weird chemicals that go into wine!
Alcohol absolutely WRECKS your skin. If its wine, or God forbid spirits, its dries it out till it looks like sandpaper. If its beer… well just go and google “beer face” on Urban Dictionary and that’s enough to make anyone quit. I always found in my darkest days that it left me open to smoking fags too. And as you age, you simply cant expect your body to bounce back like it once might have done. Please stay healthy and safe over the summer months everyone. I know many will be heading off to the med – Turkey and Spain etc where they have beer and fags for breakfast.
Well I’d never heard of the expression ‘beer face’ before! That is certainly not good!
I wish the US required calorie labels on wine. I have lost 13 pounds in the past 8 weeks and I am looking forward to losing even more
Congratulations – that’s impressive!
I am 6 mo. today and could not agree more with stated above.
As a runner, fitness enthusiasts, I found what worked for me to combat sweet cravings was to set reasonable expectations. First, when I eliminated alcohol, I told myself I could have any treat–regardless of calorie count. (I still lost weight after a lot of Ben and Jerry’s). It was helpful when others were enjoying after-dinner, or weekend booze to participate in something that didn’t make me feel deprived. Then I cut that and moved to a more reasonable diet that matched my fitness/weight goals. I also upped the exercise because I had time. It’s amazing when you’re not drinking and you tell yourself “well, I’m not ready for bed yet, may as well do something” how much space you free up for things you say you want to accomplish. I would recommend increasing water intake though, I found myself dehydrated because I was out of the habit of drinking water. My two cents, for whatever it’s worth.
Thanks Jay, those are great tips. I totally agree about letting yourself have some treats (I also ate a lot of ice cream in early sobriety and still lost weight!) All that free time is a wonderful bonus 🙂
My AF life is filled with better choices…and I choose health. I’ve actually made goals and met them! The booze led to not giving a damn . Almost a year now. Kate Kate Kate, you rock!
That’s wonderful Maggie. I’m so excited to see you hit the one year mark soon!
So far I’ve made it 5 days without any alcohol, this has not occurred in a long time. I’m feeling the benefits already. I’m sleeping better, I’m more alert and I feel energised. Looking forward to losing some weight too.
That’s great Suzy, well done! Keep going 🙂
I am definitely using weight and general health as a way to keep AF- I need all the help I can get! I sometimes feel like I have been on a diet since I was 18 (now 61), which to an extent I have. Sometimes when I was being really stupid I would ‘budget’ for my 600 calories of wine and skip food – and do you know what – I still didn’t lose weight. I am convinced that alcohol totally messes up your metabolism. I am feeling so much better in myself too!
And trying to stick to that 600 calorie budget, when you’ve not eaten, is so hard!! I’m glad you’re feeling better AF Sue 🙂
Well I made it 6 days without alcohol I’m a “one” glass a night drinker that turns into three and I was feeling great but still adjusting to a new sleep pattern without alcohol. I had too much to drink on day 7 and now feel horrible. It’s so hard when all your friends and family drink but I’m determined to pick up and try again today. Thanks for ur motivating blogs they help!
Kate, you sound just like me ie one glass leading into 3 etc
I am building myself up to become AF, spent the day reading lots of tips etc
Back on it today and your be fine I am sure x
I’m glad you’re trying again – it’s hard doing this on your own, I know! If everyone around you is drinking but you really want to make this click, I’d recommend finding a supportive community to keep you on track. My group coaching programme would be a great way of you getting some proper support. You can find some more details here: https://thesoberschool.com/course/
Keep going! 🙂
I was unable to just cut it out. SO VERY TIRED of waking up with a headache over and over. I took Kate’s class, even though I didn’t know if it would help. The support community was new to me. I recommend it highly. I spent 1/2 hour daily.
A year later, so many successes…Better relationships, better health, better decisions. Oddly, I shop less, and am having a ball in a writing course. I guess my values have changed too.
Wow wonderful post! In addition to stopping drinking I’ve been trying to cut down my intake of gluten (wheat mostly) and also unnecessary sugars. It’s really for health reasons, but it does help with appearance. I’m now within 5 pounds of my high school weight and I’m certain quitting alcohol was most of it. If I drank even one glass of wine I always wanted a pastry or pasta the next day, my body demanded carbs! People keep on saying “are you on a diet?” And “how did you get so skinny?” And I just want to say “quit the booze” but that’s not enough to inspire people. With alcohol there is no such thing as moderation, it really ruins my diet and disposition for a couple of days. I noticed it really affects my mood and would always make me glum in the adtermath. I’m so much happier! I had no idea alcohol leads your body to so mucu dehydration that you’re more likely to get injured!
Wow – to be so close to your high school weight is impressive! Good on you Anne for making all these positive changes. And it’s lovely when people notice and want to know your secret! 🙂
When I gave up alcohol almost 150 days ago I thought it would have an impact on my overall looks. Well, I soon realized that it was a fact. Drinking alcohol made me look old, fat and tired!! I love to work out and I was always out-exercising my bad diet ie: alcohol habit!! It’s no wonder I couldn’t shed a pound. Not only is it alcohol calories but the extra calories from all the snacking while drinking and the hangover food the next day. Not to mention your liver is what processes soooo much that now it’s free to do it’s intended job! I can’t tell you how happy I am to hear over and over “you look great, what are you doing?” …vanity? Maybe….but it sure feels great and I don’t intend to ever go back there again! Thank you, Kate!!
We all love feedback like that, right?! I’m glad people are noticing Madeline, that is awesome. And congratulations on your 150 days!
This is so true! I was starting to battle rosacea in the past couple of years. I have been AF for the better part of 2018 (since early March with a 1 week lapse) and my skin is clear, soft, and glowing. I’ve lost a few pounds and body fat, and my workouts are so much better!
That’s fantastic – I’m glad you’re feeling the benefits! Well done Rebecca 🙂
I made the decision to go alcohol free about 3 weeks ago. I can’t believe how I used to fit my life around Fri and sat night drinking. I feel free. Then I found kate yesterday on Instagram. What a great support, making it exciting to not have alcohol in my life. Everyday I have at least one great reason to stay away from it. freedom
Congratulations on your 3 weeks Janice! 🙂
walked in to visit a cousin last weekend haven’t seen for six months (AF 1 year with week off a Xmas – wasn’t worth it – and one day off for birthday) and they were astonished – you look so much younger. What have you done? You look fit! Not sure anyone took the AF as the reason though – we are culturally blind to alcohol’s chronic poisoning. Thanks for the blog, Kate as always. Zina
What lovely feedback! Just goes to show what a difference cutting out alcohol can make 🙂
I totally agree about weight gain from drinking alcohol and your body being bloated..I am definitely going to try the before af and after pictures thanks for giving me a goal for this week Kate
Brilliant, go for it Michelle – you won’t regret it! 🙂
Since starting Kate’s sober school in April I have lost 3 kilos and have not been to the gym once. Also had quite a few chocolate treats to get me through the early days. Now I intend to increase my exercise as my energy levels are so much better alcohol free. Obviously the calories in wine were unnecessary and causing mayhem with my metabolism.
That’s fantastic Linda! 🙂
I am on day 80 and am sleeping so much better but I am not losing weight which is quite disheartening when you hear it drops off of others. Are there any stories of it taking longer for some people?
Everyone is different and it does take longer for some people. Some don’t see any change for several months. I wouldn’t worry about this just yet. Obviously, weight loss is affected by many factors, such as diet and exercise or other health issues – these are all things you might like to reflect on. Good luck!
Wondering if you keep track of the calories you consume each day. I know how easy it can be to replace food for alcohol. It’s worth keeping track for a few days to see if you may be eating more than you need to.
Kate, I love your blogs and even better I love the fact I celebrated 100 days yesterday. It is not easy but I really am enjoying finding the real me after all these years. Learning more about addictive behaviours has been very interesting and has helped me to regain control in other areas of my life as well. Thank you Kate for your inspiring blogs and for everybody out there – keep up the great work 🙂
Kate, you blogs and emails have really inspired me. I have had an unhealthy relationship with alcohol and also prescription pain killers for many years. I think I would be described as a functioning addict as I still work hard at my full time managers job whilst juggling three young boys. I have written my list and I am starting tonight.
keep doing what you are doing, I really can see how much it will help 🙂
Just what I needed today. I am encourgaed to keep going. Thank you Kate.
Kate, i really look forward to your blog posts on Mondays. They give me great motivation for the week ahead. 67 days af and looking and feeling better than ever. Thank you.
7months out from quitting alcohol – I wear dramatically less makeup then before. I had no idea how much I was wearing until I had 2months of sobriety down.
I used to slap on multiple forms of concealers – especially medium and heavy coverage ones. The routine was unconscious because I had years and years of doing it: first a brightening SPF cream ($28), then a dark circles concealing cream ($9-18), then then cream coverage ($15), then special undereye setting power ($20) just UGHHHH… now, just my usual face SPF ($18) and a light liquid concealer ($5) and powder ($8). I even got botox a few times and I’m only in my 30s.
Not drinking was the real anti-aging makeup and skincare Ive been chasing all of this time. Ive been blowing so much money on for years when the solution was to subtract – not add. I was just consuming consuming consuming – alcohol, cosmetic products, bad food impulsively purchased while drunk, skincare products, etc.
7months of sobriety and I look 5-10yrs younger and have lost 20lbs. I lost 10 of those pounds within a few months without even trying…. seriously! It melted off because I wasnt consuming 500-1000 calories of sugary toxins late at night every night.
Ive also saved so much money and regifted some of my cosmetics to makeup junkies (BTW fun makeup junkies not “desperately hiding my bloated discolored face” makeup junkies).
Ladies (and gentlemen), the vanity reasons to quit drinking are massive.