Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Why I no longer drink alcohol

So New Year's Eve was my last day drinking alcohol. So that means that I now have 14 days of sobriety.

There are many reasons I don't drink alcohol anymore, but the main reason is that I want to be the best I can be. Alcohol slows me down, it ruins my buzz. The sugar inhibits me from performing as well as I can, and it's addicting. Someone once told me that sugar molecules are quite similar to cocaine molecules. I don't know if this is true, but I can believe it.

I've always been told, if you want to do well in life, do the things others aren't willing to do. I've been drunk--plenty. I know what it feels like. It's fun, but excelling is funner. Being present is funner. Dancing while high on life, staying up til 2am and waking up ready to run 6 miles is "funner".

I recently read Alan Carr's "The Easy Way to Quit Drinking". Although not as good, in my opinion, as "The Easy Way to Quit Smoking" (which I credit, along with Crossfit in helping me quit smoking 4 months ago), the book still made some excellent points. Namely, that alcohol is an addictive drug...period. And like any addictive drug, it well, over time, it will cause you to become addicted to it--unless you practice excellent discipline to fight off its addictive urges (my opinion in italics).

Over the last many years, I've gotten pretty good at that. I've often gone months at a time without drinking. Then I'd have a bad day, I'd drink a few glasses of wine, and the next day I'd literally have to fight not to do it again. Or it would be a more subtle craving, but it would still be there. It's very seductive, pernicious and covert. And it's bad for you strictly from a carbohydrate level.

Even the Crossfit Journal makes mention of this (carbs being bad): "Excessive consumption of high-glycemic carbohydrates is the primary culprit in nutritionally caused health problems. High glycemic carbohydrates are those that raise blood sugar too rapidly.

What is the Problem with High-Glycemic Carbohydrates?

The problem with high-glycemic carbohydrates is that they give an inordinate insulin response. Insulin is an essential hormone for life, yet acute, chronic elevation of insulin leads to hyperinsulinism, which has been positively linked to obesity, elevated cholesterol levels, blood pressure, mood dysfunction and a Pandora’s box of disease and disability. Research “hyperinsulinism” on the Internet."

I did research hyperinsulinism, and what came up interestingly enough is that alcohol is a big factor in this.

The Crossfit Journal also discusses the benefits of caloric restriction and longevity.

"Current research strongly supports the link between caloric restriction and an increased life expectancy. The incidence of cancers and heart disease sharply decline with a diet that is carefully limited in controlling caloric intake."

Indeed, when I lived in North Carolina a few years back, I joined the Calorie Restriction Society. (Look it up on the internet. They're a group who use themselves as human guinea pigs to attempt to prove what has been proven on lab animals for years--that calorie restriction increases lifespan by about 40-60%). I monitored my calories very carefully and learned to live with chronic hunger. I got skinnier than I am now (which wasn't my goal). But the most important thing I noticed was my energy level SKYROCKETED!! I had no Crossfit at that time, so I just went to Gold's Gym daily. I ran on the treadmill, and was soon doing a 6:30 mile!

I realize as an athlete you cannot maintain the low caloric intake of that diet for long, as you simply burn more calories than you consume, which over time would probably lead to death. But it did teach me exceptional discipline, as the prize I got for doing that was way better than the food I missed out on.

I find the Zone Diet to be similar, in that I am always a little "hungry". I LOVE that. Like I said, it makes me aggressive, energetic and more able. No cake, sweets, sugar, alcohol, bread or bullshit is worth not competing on as high a level as I can compete on.

Why handicap myself? I once went 2 1/2 years without drinking. It was the most productive time in my life. And although I know there are lots of hard-core bad asses out there who still can manage a beer here and again, I simply prefer not to.

And to each, his own, right?


AdventureSeeker said...

Thanks for sharing that Shannon....and VERY WELL DONE!

Trail Runner Con Dios said...

My experience supports quite a bit of what you said and I'll reserve judgement on the rest. :)


Stay the Course and Lead by Example

Michael said...

A Calorie Restriction Society made it onto 60 Minutes on Sunday, January 25. The video is at About 6:15 into it, they cut to a CRS "Happy Hour". But the people do not look happy. :-(