Ritual, a practice, is what makes you perform day after day, year after year. At Spartan, we’re never about doing a fitness feat once. Selecting actionable, sustainable rituals that power your performance, push your limits and gain results is key to living the Spartan Way. In this series, we share how to build healthy rituals that last so you can optimize (and revolutionize) your life. Think: screw resolutions—this is for the long game. Let’s make rituals instead.
Sponsored by our partner, Ritual Zero Proof
So, you did Dry January and didn’t cheat. Congrats.
But, let’s say cutting out booze entirely isn’t sustainable for you moving forward. That’s fine, as long as you keep tabs on your intake, and abstain during the lead up to a big race or when you’re recovering from injury, according to Marley Oldham Carnes, MS, RDN, CSCS. “Alcohol in any form or quantity stalls training and recovery efforts,” she says.
Serious competitors, and athletes who want to recover optimally (we’re talking to you, Spartan) should eliminate alcohol under these circumstances. Period. When it’s time to cut it out, go big or go home and follow these tips to support your efforts.
Otherwise, moderation is the name of the game. “Remember it is ok to drink in moderation and you aren’t a failure if you do this, but limit yourself and be mindful during these times,” says Oldham Carnes. “Don’t make drinking become a habit.”
Here, get our 7-day plan to instill healthy parameters to help you drink less alcohol overall, so you can keep moderation (and your fitness goals!) forefront as you forge ahead in 2021.
How to Drink Less Alcohol: Tips for Athletes Who Want to Cut Back
The 7-Day Plan to Less Booze
Now, we’re not teetotalers and we certainly don’t expect you to be, either. But, establishing mindful boundaries and concrete rules for yourself around how and when you drink will go far to support your fitness goals and prevent temptation. Follow this week long plan to develop sustainable, actionable habits moving forward and ease you into drinking less.
Day 1 — Make a Game Plan for Tempting Social Events
Moderation sounds great in theory, but what does it actually mean? According to the 2020-2025 U.S. Dietary Guidelines, moderate consumption is limiting intake to two drinks or less per day for men, and one drink or less per day for women.
If you’re doing the math in your head thinking, ‘that’s 14 drinks for men per week and seven per women’, you’re right. But, don’t confuse yourself: moderation does not mean it’s safe for women to slam seven drinks in one go, or men to pound a 12 pack and then some. Yes… even at weddings, parties and to celebrate crushing races. If you do decide to indulge in more than the recommended daily allowance, go in with a mitigation plan. For example, pair each alcoholic beverage with an 8 oz glass of water, says Oldham Carnes. At least this practice will help you stay hydrated and consume less empty calories than a night stacked with beer on beer.
Day 2 — Mix Up a Low ABV Cocktail
Chances are, if you’ve thrown a party at your place, you’re storing random specialty liquors you bought for that one cocktail, that one time. We’re talking about your bottle of bitters, vermouth, absinthe, orange liqueur… you get the picture. While it may be tempting to toss them in lieu of more cabinet space, don’t. Instead, consider upping the ante of your mixology game to full-on fancy. With supporting ingredients, specialty cocktails can scratch your “I want a drink” itch better than a plain old whiskey and coke, leading to less alcohol consumption overall during an evening. (Think: quality, not quantity.)
What’s even better is if you can replace the hard stuff with a non-alcoholic alternative, but keep the specialty liqueurs to craft a low ABV option. Our favorite? Try a margarita with Ritual’s N/A tequila alternative but keep the Triple sec for a little extra oomph.
Day 3-5 — Brush Up on Mocktails
One of the easiest ways to cut back on alcohol is to scour the market for non-alcoholic alternatives. Craft breweries are pumping out delicious N/A beer, and specialty companies like Ritual are concocting N/A liquor alternatives made from sustainable, pure ingredients and all-natural botanicals to provide the same flavor as a cocktail, sans booze setbacks. “Opting for N/A beverages to give yourself that feeling of having an alcoholic beverage reduces the side effects of drinking for better performance,” says Oldham Carnes.
Plus, you can take any traditional cocktail recipe and swap the alcohol for a substitute—these beverages, a.k.a. mocktails, provide a solid go-to for parties or evenings where a nightcap seems necessary. Don’t believe us? Try this Healthy Hot Toddy Recipe and tell us we’re wrong. (Pro Tip: if you go out and the bar is short on N/A alternatives, order seltzer with a twist of lime.)
Day 6 — Check in With Your Mindset
If you approach cutting back on booze with deprivation in mind, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Convincing yourself you’re “missing out on”social fun or alcohol’s flavor are just fallacies. (That’s what self confidence and tasty alternative mocktails are for.) Instead, reframe your mentality around drinking less. Remind yourself how awesome it is to wake up hangover free and how much stronger you feel during training when you skip booze the night before. Also, real friends won’t pressure you to drink. “Know your personnel,” says Oldham Carnes. “Surround yourself with people who are going to build you up and not make peer pressure a problem.” Remember: you are doing this for YOU.
Day 7 — Onboard a Friend
The key to cutting back for the long game is to set realistic goals. “Ask yourself how many drinks are you consuming in a week?,” says Oldham Carnes. “Then cut back that number slowly over time. For example, if you binge drink on the weekend with a 12 pack of beer, set a goal of reducing 12 beers to six beers (or whatever number is realistic for you), then continue to wean down your number of drinks.” To solidify your goals and create a sense of accountability, she recommends seeking help and support in the form of a friend. Decide to create a goal or challenge with a buddy so you can both reduce your intake together. All Spartans know, tough things are easier accomplished in community.
Editor’s Note: If you feel you struggle with substance abuse, please seek advice from a medical professional who can further assist you.