7 Reasons to Consider Giving Sober October a Try

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The effects of alcohol on fitness training
Drinking too much alcohol can affect your training as you prepare to join the military. (Photo by Russell Toof/Regional Health Command Europe)

Drinking alcohol is an activity prevalent among all ranks in the military. For some, it becomes a problem to control, and for many others, it is a binging activity whenever off duty. Consuming alcohol to excess has led many of us to make poor decisions. Well, here is something I saw on social media that may actually be useful: Sober October.

Sober October is one of many monthly challenges you may have seen on social media, but there are many benefits that only a month of abstinence can offer you. Consider this month to build discipline and even mental toughness. In the process, you may find that you feel better, sleep better, save money and even lose weight. 

Here are seven reasons why Sober October is going to be helpful for you. 

1. Save Money

Depending on how much you drink and whether you drink in bars and restaurants, you can spend hundreds of dollars each month on alcohol. Abstinence can add up to thousands of dollars a year that you can add to your wallet by not spending your money on daily drinks. Keep track of your monthly average of alcohol consumption and compare it to this month of October. You may have a moment of reflection that could trigger a whole new you. 

2. Sleep Better

When you drink too much, your sleep and recovery are severely affected, because you simply pass out into a deep sleep but skip the recovery benefit of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. After getting a few nights of good sleep in a row, you will discover a huge difference in how you feel physically, emotionally and hormonally. You will also lower your stress levels.

3. Feel Better

Alcohol is a depressant. If you find yourself unhappy often at some point before, during or after the drinking process, taking a month off from alcohol will make noticeable changes in your energy levels and mood. Plus, hangovers are no fun and start to hurt much more as you age. One thing that curbed my social consumption was one weekend morning when I realized my toddler did not understand the word hangover

4. Look Better

You will be more hydrated so your skin will look better, and you may lose weight as you will also be consuming fewer calories each week. Many reduce their calories by 500-1,000 a day for a few days a week. This can add up, from a few pounds lost in a month to a few pounds lost each week of the month. 

5. Perform Better

If your job is physically demanding or you have regular command-led workouts and physical fitness tests, you will do better because of many of the listed benefits above. You will be more hydrated, well-rested, better able to recover from previous workouts and have more energy to do more physical activity. You will also perform better on academic tests, because your memory will also improve. 

6. Better Health Numbers

Because of the elimination of alcohol from your diet for a month, you may also see results in medical screening. Blood pressure is reduced. You can have improved vision, fewer headaches, and even better kidney and liver function by taking a month off drinking alcohol. 

7. Better Digestion and a Calmer Stomach

Alcohol can cause indigestion, acid reflux and hamper your "gut biome," making it more difficult to absorb the nutrients you need to be a healthy, operating human. 

Overall, Sober October can be a powerful tool to take the challenge and stop or at least reduce the number of alcoholic beverages you consume in your week. Give the social media challenge a try. Once you start doing the math and see the money saved as well as the physical, mental and medical benefits gained from the reduction of drinks, the more open you may be to reducing this habit for life. 

If you need to start taking your life goals seriously, consider this challenge and get some things done that you have been delaying for too long. See a recent article on Alcohol and Advanced Physical Training for even more reasons why you should start this challenge. 

-- Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you're looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to stew@stewsmith.com.

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