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  • Writer's pictureTerry Clayton

Why a Dry January 2022?

Updated: Feb 10, 2023

It's kind of a spur of the moment thing. I was reading yesterday about the popularity of Sober October and Dry January. In the back of my head I heard myself think, " I could never do that..." The thought stopped me cold. Why did I just think that?

Over the course of the last year, I have challenged myself to take my physical fitness as well as mindset to the next level. Part of the process was to analyze my "self-talk" identifying both positive and negative self-talk. And I had just identified a negative reinforcing message. Can't have that.....and so here we are... Dry January it is.

For accountability I have shared my personal challenge on social media. In just a couple hours, more than 15 people have responded that they are either joining me or had already committed to it. I am pretty excited and a little nervous too. Roughly 4 weeks. I don't think I have gone without a cocktail for more than 2 weeks let alone a month......And it was likely that was when I was down with a nasty cold! Red wine with a medium rare steak, a good IPA on the boat in summer, or a gin and tonic while on the road for business. I love a good drink to relax, celebrate or if just pairing with a great meal.

So what are the benefits of a month long hiatus from alcohol? Although some benefits require a longer time period I was surprised at all the great things which come about quickly from abstaining. Here they are in no particular order:

Better Sleep - According to sleep expert Jessica Vensel Rundo, MD, having alcohol in your blood during sleep leads to a less restful sleep. You are not likely to experience deep sleep and are more likely to wake up in middle of the night. I can relate to that!

Energy - Although this is also tied to sleep, alcohol will deplete you of energy in other ways as well. Two neurotransmitters critical for vitality are serotonin and dopamine.

Although alcohol will boost these initially, your levels will end up lower later with a correlation to how much alcohol you have consumed. The end result: Alcohol can rob you of motivation, happiness, alertness, and the ability to learn and remember!

Body Weight - For me I think of those tasty IPA's I enjoy. Just one tall IPA can deliver 340 calories! A few IPA's can equal an entire day's worth of calories. Alcohol carries more calories than carbohydrates and is second only to fat in calorie density! Although your body will not store calories directly from alcohol, it will metabolize alcohol first. This leads to the storage and accumulation of other calories in the liver and elsewhere, thus weight gain, especially in the midsection.

Hydration - Put simply, alcohol is a diuretic. The more you drink, the more water your kidneys will release as vasopressin release is suppressed. As you get dehydrated you will feel dizziness, muscle cramps, and fatigued.

Triglycerides - My plasma triglycerides have been on the rise over the last few years. My doctor has pointed out that pairing alcohol with meals including carbohydrates and fats leads to an significant increase in plasma triglycerides. It appears to be more than just your body getting ethanol as an additional source of fuel. Cut out the alcohol and plasma triglycerides should settle down too!

Blood Pressure - It has been well established that alcohol consumption will lead to an elevation in blood pressure. One study estimates that 5-7% of all essential hypertension is due to alcohol consumption.

These are just a few of the short term benefits of Dry January. Should I need additional motivation, I may explore further. I'm curious to see if I will see any changed in weight, blood pressure, and plasma lipids which I will test at the end of January. So grab a glass of water and join me as we kick off 2022 feeling awesome!

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