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Last Updated on April 1, 2018

Cut down on drinking! Time for a post-holiday detox

Cut down on drinking! Time for a post-holiday detox

It is all too easy to overindulge during the holidays, one too many toasts over Thanksgiving, an excess of eggnog at Christmas and far too much Champagne to see in the New Year. It is something that most of us are guilty of, for example in a recent survey by Harris Interactive it was found that 96% of people surveyed returned to work hungover after a holiday party and that 40% of us use the holidays as an excuse to drink.

So what can you do once the holidays are over? You may feel that the time is right for a post-holiday detox to rid your system of all the excess.

The Effects of Alcohol

There is no real issue with the consumption of alcohol, in moderation, however as we increase intake over the holidays we can start to see some of the negative effects.

Drinks glasses

    Alcohol can affect how you look through dehydration. In particular, your skin becomes dehydrated, depriving it of nutrients it needs. This can lead to wrinkles and aging as well as unsightly spots.

    Alcohol also contains a lot of calories, there are 7 calories per gram of alcohol which is almost the same caloric value as butter. To put this into perspective, a pint of beer has as many calories as a chocolate bar and a glass of wine is equivalent to an ice cream cone. You can soon find that the extra calories show themselves as unwelcome weight which, along with increased cellulite and bloating, is enough to make most of us want to think twice about having another drink.

    Over time, if you increase your drinking or regularly drink in excess, you can cause permanent damage to your body which can lead to infertility, sexual dysfunction or serious conditions such as liver disease.

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    Your liver is responsible for breaking down harmful substances in your body and when you drink this includes alcohol. Excessive drinking can lead to alcoholic hepatitis, jaundice and scarring of the liver which can cause the liver fail at breaking down harmful substances. These then build up in your body and it can be fatal. Moderate drinking will not do any permanent harm, but you can still help your body and make yourself feel great by giving yourself a break from booze!

    Taking a Break From Drinking

    Something which is popular in Europe is the idea of a ‘dry’ month, this was an idea which was first created in Finland when the government created ‘Sober January’ in 1942 as part of its war effort. Today in the United Kingdom the charity Alcohol Concern runs a campaign called ‘Dry January’ where people are encouraged to give up alcohol for a month.

    There are people who doubt that this is effective, however, the University of Sussex found that six months following January 2014, 72% out of 900 surveyed participants had “kept harmful drinking episodes down” and 4% were still not drinking. It may be a good way to break the habit after all if you feel that it is time for you to review your intake.

    Of course, you don’t have to go for a full month, you will start to notice effects after a 7-10 day detox. After which an ongoing reduction of your drinking will have a major benefit on your health.

    If you have been a little excessive over the holiday period you can plan a short detox to help your body recover from the effects of alcohol.

    The One Week Detox

    Here is a simple set of steps you can take to undergo a short detox program.

    What is detox?

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    A detox – is a process or period of time in which one abstains from or rids the body of toxic or unhealthy substances. It is a time when you will remove alcohol from your diet, in this case for one week. It will give your body time to flush any toxic substances from your body and allow organs such as your liver to recover. It can be especially good following a time like the holidays when you may have indulged just a little too much!

    There are a number of detox programs you can follow and lots of products to help you if you wish. This is a very simple method. You should, of course, seek medical advice before you detox if you are pregnant or unwell.

    Lemon water - great for detox
      1. Set aside a week when you will carry out your detox – make sure your friends and family are aware that you are trying to stop drinking for a week so that they do not encourage you to break your program!
      2. You will be avoiding all alcohol – if you slip and have a drink, make sure it is just one and then carry on. Remember, you are only cheating yourself!
      3. Eat healthy – boost your diet with lots of fruit and vegetables which will supercharge your body with essential vitamins and minerals. You can enjoy raw foods and salads and avoid heavily processed foods. For just one week forgo the takeaways and processed foods, fresh fruit and veg will kick start your immune system.
      4. Drink lots – but ensure it is water or juice! Alcohol will dehydrate your body so look to replace your lost fluid with lots of fresh water or juice. It will help you flush toxins from your body and plump up your skin making you look great! Try slicing a lemon and adding it to a water bottle in your fridge. You will have delicious flavored water to sip all day. Try it with any of your favorite fruit or even cucumber which makes a delicious drink. Avoid coffee and caffeinated drinks where you can.
      5. Enjoy exercise – if you don’t regularly exercise you should start to move your body. If you do exercise, see if you can extend what you are doing. Go slow, if you are unused to physical exercise take it easy at first, a gentle walk or swim is a good start, just slowly start to build up what you are doing to get your body moving.
      6. Try a mental detox too – take time to clear your mind, there are lots of meditation programs you can follow for example, 5 Minutes to find happiness. At least ensure you find some ‘me’ time for you during your detox week. Read a book, enjoy some music, do whatever helps you relax and clear your mind.

      There may be times when you will struggle but if you persevere you will find that the benefits will be worth the effort. Even a short period of detox will make you feel better, your skin should be brighter, and you may have more energy. Your body and especially your liver will certainly thank you!

      The best thing you can do is, keep it simple. Think of a detox as a treat to yourself and your body.

      Keeping the Good Times Flowing

      Once you have completed your detox (and no doubt feel great!) don’t use it as an excuse to immediately open a bottle of champagne and celebrate. Why not build on the good practice and use this, instead, as a great excuse to build on your good practice.

      There is nothing wrong in a social drink, however, try to consider what you are drinking and if you can cut down. It doesn’t have to be hard work. For example, if only for your waistline, why not drink a spritzer instead of a full glass of wine? A 5 oz glass of dry white wine contains approximately 105 calories whereas a 5 oz spritzer made with soda water is just 50 calories – less than half! Importantly you have a longer drink and therefore more time between alcoholic drinks – fewer units per night!

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      Remember that beer has calories not only from the alcohol but also the carbohydrates, a light beer could save approximately 50 calories per bottle. Reduced strength need not affect the flavor of a well-chilled beer!

      Avoid drinks such as coolers made from sugary flavors mixed with vodka or rum. Most contain at least 250 calories and may contain more than 300 calories, plus more than 8 teaspoons of sugar in each serving.  Try a rum and Diet Coke instead.

      If you enjoy a cocktail, why not enjoy some delicious alcohol-free cocktails. You can still be the life and soul of the party even without lots of alcohol.

      Alcohol free cocktail - part of a great detox

        When is a Detox Not Right?

        For most people, a short detox where you abstain from alcohol will be a positive move and it will help you greatly. However, you need to be aware if you are alcohol dependent you should not suddenly stop drinking.

        If you are a regular and heavy drinker your body will be compensating for the depressive effect of alcohol by increasing production of hormones and brain chemicals such as serotonin, epinephrine, and dopamine. If you were to suddenly stop drinking alcohol, your body would become flooded with abnormally high levels of these chemicals, causing your brain to undergo rapid changes in an attempt to maintain normal function. Severe complications include dehydration, vomiting, abnormal heart rhythms.

        How do I Know if I am Alcohol Dependent?

        Sadly, it has never been easier to become alcohol dependent, there is a wide range of alcohol available and social drinking is seen to be more acceptable than ever. Coming home after a hard day at work and reaching for a ‘glass of wine’ can rapidly turn into regularly ‘finishing the bottle’. If you feel that you may be struggling with alcohol, ask yourself some questions:

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        • Do I need to have a drink? – you need alcohol, your desire for a drink has become a powerful need for alcohol.
        • You need to drink more to get the same buzz – having a glass of wine of a bottle of beer just doesn’t ‘hit the spot’ and you need more and more to get the same effect. It is showing that your body is becoming more tolerant of alcohol.
        • You are drinking most days – your drinking has become regular, this could show the signs of an addiction forming
        • You drink alone – whereas there is nothing wrong with enjoying a drink alone if this becomes the norm you should take notice.

        Alcohol consumption is measured in ‘units.’ One unit is equivalent to a measure of spirits (a bar measure as opposed to a home measure), half a pint of lager or a small glass of wine.

        When you are drinking you should take note of how many units you are consuming in one session:

        • 1 – 2 units are referred to as moderate
        • 8 – 9 units is heavy drinking
        • 10+ units is considered to be excessive

        The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism states that men should not exceed 4 drinks per day or a total of 14 per week and women should not exceed 3 drinks a day or a total of 7 per week. The American Heart Association suggest even lower levels.

        If you find that you are at risk of being alcohol dependent you should take professional advice before you attempt to cut down on your alcohol intake to avoid alcohol withdrawal symptoms which can include anxiety, visual and auditory hallucinations, convulsions, whole body tremor, nausea, vomiting, insomnia, profuse sweating, shakiness, convulsions, DTs, hypertension and even heart failure.  Approximately 50% of people with alcohol dependence experience withdrawal symptoms.

        Featured Photo Credit: Feature ImageDrinking GlassesLemon Water, Cocktail via Pixabay

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        Published on September 21, 2018

        How Long Does it Take to Build Muscle and Increase Fat Loss?

        How Long Does it Take to Build Muscle and Increase Fat Loss?

        “Can I look like you in 3 months?”

        The teenager stared at me, waiting eagerly for a response. It’s a normal day as a certified fitness coach and yet again, I had to grab some flying feet and put them down on the ground of reality again.

        “If I would be able to reach this body in 3 months, you think it would’ve taken me 5 years?” I responded smilingly.

        In the same moment I tapped the teenager on the shoulder and we both went to the training floor together. Fast forward to today, he eventually reached his dream body. But it took him a little bit longer than 3 months.

        In this article, I want to give you a broad overview and answer to the commonly asked question: how long does it take to build muscle and increase fat loss?

        Your biggest enemy for building muscle and fat loss

        I remember when I joined my first gym years back. After two weeks of continuous training, I saw absolutely no difference in the mirror.

        I googled “2 weeks body transformation” and was frustrated by seeing all these pictures by savvy marketers.

        We human beings have evolved to seek instant gratification. We can’t wait for things to happen tomorrow. We want them today or even better, yesterday.

        It doesn’t matter if we talk about business or our fitness results. If we truly want to make a long-lasting change, we have to delay our innate need to crave gratification instantly and focus on the big picture.

        In the book called Grit by Angela Duckworth, a predictor for future success in children was the so called ‘Marshmallow Test’.

        The Marshmallow Test works this way. Children are basically given two options:

        1. Eat the marshmallow in front of them right now.
        2. Wait 10 minutes without eating the first marshmallow and get a second marshmallow to eat on top.

        This is an insane test of willpower and the ability to delay gratification for an even bigger payoff, as a 10-year old school child. If the child already mastered that crucial skill at such a young age, it was a strong predictor for future success.

        We all have to learn how to delay gratification better. Most people overestimate what they can do in one month, but totally underestimate what they can do in 10 years.

        What you really need to build muscle fast

        Your ground zero

        It all matters on which point we start off. Because the reality is:

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        Everyone has to start somewhere.

        A former Olympic athlete will have an easier time building muscles and losing fat than an avid couch potato. There are mainly two reasons for this:

        • The pre-selected genetic blueprint of the athlete.
        • Work ethic of a professional.

        While countless of variables play a role in influencing your success in the gym, it all can be traced back to those crucial points. And the saying still holds merit:

        Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard. — Tim Notke

        A mentor of mine told me years ago that you can succeed in life if you just don’t give up.

        You can have average skills, average genetics and average work ethic. As long as you keep improving on your craft, you will succeed.

        Not immediately – but definitely and finally.

        Setting the right expectations

        I’m great at setting unrealistic goals and having the wrong expectations. I wanted to have 100,000 subscribers on my Youtube Channel and at the end of my first year when I started, back in 2015, I ended up with 30.

        This is an embarrassing story, but I hope it gets one point across:

        Your goals need to be realistic if you can’t deal with the setbacks of not reaching them.

        Ending up with 30 subscribers even after pulling frequent all-nighters to get this endeavor rolling was soul-crushing. I contemplated throwing in the towel.

        With the right support from my network and discipline, I managed to keep going. The channel has now grown 100-fold in those 3 years.

        To find out what is realistic, consider the next timeline.

        The muscle growth timeline

        Here’s what results you can expect if your main goal is building lean tissue mass. Warning: Genuine muscle growth without performance enhancing drugs takes a long time.

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        Of course these time periods can vary individually depending on your genetic blueprint and work-ethic. You might see results sooner, or maybe even later.

        The time frame is set to training 2-3 times per week (continuously!).

        Pro tip: Ask a friend or hire a coach to boost your progress tremendously.

        This is what happens when you decide to join a gym, out of my experience training hundreds of clients:

        Month 1-3

        Eat – Sleep – Gym – Repeat.

        Your motivation is at your peak at this point. You will tell your friends and family about your new workout regime. You will notice slight differences in your appearance, which are mainly nonexistent.

        You will experience immense strength gains on your training because your body finally realizes how to use its muscles properly.

        Month 3-6

        This is the time period where most people break. You will be going to the gym consistently, yet the results won’t come just now. It’s the big dip in the whole process.

        Your goal in this phase is to build a habit around your gym visits. You will most likely discontinue to have the all-in mentality as in the first 3 months. You will seek sustainability. Breaking news: It will still be hard.

        But in the end it’s all worth it. Trust me.

        Month 6-12

        “I’ve seen a new vein in my arm!”

        The guy came up to me excited. This is the time where the normal person starts to see considerable results in his training.

        An old friend will talk to him and see a difference in his body shape. Suddenly, his old t-shirt gets too thin. The frequent gym-goer feels amazing.

        Month 12- 24

        Fitness is a trojan horse. While you might think frequent training will only change your body shape, your character will be impacted too.

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        Your friends and family will notice. You’re more confident, assertive and more happy with your self-image. You feel confident and sure in your abilities because you have achieved what you set out to do.

        Breaking news:

        You will still not be satisfied. And that’s a good thing. But don’t forget to enjoy the fruits of your labour.

        They haven’t come easy.

        Month 24+

        “That’s what works for me!”

        If you’ve been going frequently and consistently (twice every week for 2 years), you can pat yourself on the shoulders.

        If you’ve done most things correctly and with a certified coach, you will reach the goal shape at this point. But this is also the point where it can get frustrating.

        Further results will come painstakingly slow at this stage. You increasingly have to work on your weaknesses and constantly alter your training to see further results. Be it applying different repetitions, intensity, workout duration, speed or machines.

        A lot of people will not see results after this stage because the benefits are not worth the work for them. We have to realize that what got us here, will not get us to the next level.

        The fat loss timeline

        If you’re trying to lose fat, I have 2 pieces of news for you:

        1. It will come faster. Fat loss has a shorter timeline.
        2. It will be exactly as hard as building muscles, if not harder.

        Here’s what you can expect if you’re starting to lose weight. Here again: Proper guidance can speed up the process.

        Month 1

        “I’ve lost 10kg in the first week!”

        Your results will come fast. Too fast.

        You will feel exhausted. Most of your weight that you lose will be water. This is the big dip in the whole weight loss process.

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        The shocking news: Most people stop their diet in the first month.

        Month 2-3

        You will reconsider your dieting strategy and opt for more sustainability. You will reintroduce “bad foods” in your diet that you’ve most likely blocked out in the first two weeks or month.

        Because balance (and not quitting your diet) is more important to you at this stage than seeing rapid weight loss. Your life quality will increase at this stage.

        Month 6-12

        At this time frame, you have probably lost more than 10kg. The majority of the people looking to lose weight will be satisfied with their results and shocked by how much of a difference it makes in their appearance.

        You will feel more confident, more energized and more self-assured. You would’ve never guessed that you could make it, that you could finally lose your weight – yet you did!

        And everyone will notice. “What happened to you?!” – your friends will ask you jealously. Old crushes of you will suddenly initiate contact again just to know what you’re “up to this weekend”.

        The fat loss after this stage will come slowly if you haven’t been obese to start with. The goal at this stage is to have created a rock-solid habit out of your gym and eating patterns.

        Then you don’t have to worry about the Yo-Yo effect.

        Conclusion

        “You changed my life!”

        The same teenager took me aside at a Monday evening. He had his first date the weekend prior. Apparently it went well.

        In the whole time frame we worked together, he built up more than 10 kilograms of muscles. It took him more than 2 years. Yet I’m sure if you’d ask him today, he would tell you that it was all worth it.

        Focus on the things that you can control. Losing fat or building muscles might be an overwhelming task to start out with. We have to delay our innate need for instant gratification and focus on the things that we can control.

        Changing our genetic blueprint or the responses our muscles have to the training stimulus is not in our hands. But training at least 2 times per week, eating the right foods and setting the right goals and expectations is.

        Featured photo credit: Arthur Edelman via unsplash.com

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