Give up all alcohol from Ash Wednesday (February 17) until Easter (April 4)
Many people choose to do a version of ‘wellness’ spring cleaning, whether it’s giving up something post-Mardi Gras (for Lent or not), a belated resolution reboot, or simply an expansion of our continued journey of self-awareness.
And we get it. The idea of going alcohol-free for an extended period may be daunting. Drinking is layered into so much of our culture, and easily becomes engrained as part of our weekly, or sometimes daily routines.
On the plus side, you don’t have to go it alone. This #AlcoholFreeFor40 challenge comes with ample support throughout. And trust us, the rewards are so worth it.
Why Take This Challenge
Let’s be clear, this self-experiment isn’t about saying that alcohol is a bad thing. We’re all familiar with the potential health benefits of moderate alcohol consumption, including boosting our “good” HDL cholesterol and reducing our overall risk of heart disease. (By the way, “moderate” drinking is defined as not more than seven drinks a week for women, and not more than 14 per week for men).
But what we don’t seem to hear as much about are the potential drawbacks of even just slightly-above-“moderate” alcohol consumption that can outweigh potential health benefits.
Drawbacks to even casual drinking include inflammation, where you can see and feel the puffiness and redness in your eyes, your face, your whole body. But that’s just the inflammation that we can see and feel. Inflammation is also happening on a cellular level, the type of inflammation that increases our risk for more significant issues, such as heart disease, liver disease, stroke, arthritis, and certain types of cancer.
Alcohol interferes with our sleep patterns. It may make it easier to fall asleep, but it also makes it harder to stay asleep. It also can hinder our quality of deep sleep. The immediate result: foggy thinking and low energy. And we know that sleep is intricately linked to our weight, so it’s not just the calories from alcohol that are a concern when it comes to weight – this continued pattern of disrupted sleep can also directly contribute to increased abdominal fat and weight gain.
Interestingly, we tend to think of alcohol as something that relaxes us, but if we take it even just a little too far, it can have the exact opposite effect. Alcohol can actually inhibit our ability to manage stress, interfering with our body’s stress response, which can exacerbate any underlying anxiety issues.
Even if you aren’t drinking so much that you’re likely to be at an increased risk for these more serious side effects, for those of us who just drink regularly – one or two drinks a day, for example – it’s likely that we’re feeling less-than-optimal in our daily lives. Our baseline “normal” just isn’t as solid as it could be. Yet it seems normal, because we’re used to it. We may not even realize that, every day, we’re actually a bit sub-par, with a general low-level feeling of sluggishness that we’ve come to live with as “normal”.
So, that’s why we’re proposing this self-experiment of a 40-day alcohol detox.
What to Expect
Here’s just a snapshot of the many benefits that this extended detox will have on your mind, body and spirit.
Within days you’ll notice more energy, improved sleep quality, clearer eyes with less under-eye circles.
Within one week you’ll notice less fluid retention and can start to see brighter skin (conditions like rosacea often improve). You’ll also likely notice fewer cravings, along with better mental clarity and focus.
Within a month you can start to see and feel the changes in weight (particularly if alcohol was contributing a significant bit of excess calories) as well as healthier hair, nails and digestion.
Beyond 40 days: The benefits aren’t limited to just the days of the challenge. Feedback from past participants is that for many, the Alcohol Free for 40 challenge is a reset that stays with them as a part of a broader lifestyle change.
Before You Start
Take the time to establish your baseline metrics. Do this before you stop drinking, or shortly after.
Metrics to capture:
- Record your weight (and body composition if possible)
- Check your blood pressure
- Take a close-up photo of your face so that you can see the details of your eyes and skin.
- Ask your doctor to run the following labs that are indicators of overall health and/or specific markers of inflammation, liver health or alcohol toxicity:CBC (Complete Blood Count)
- CMP (Comprehensive Metabolic Panel)
- Lipid Panel, GGT (Gamma glutamyl transferase)
- Vitamin B12 and Folate Panel
- hs-CRP (high-sensitivity C-reactive protein)
- ESR (sedimentation rate)
- Or sign up with your region and we will do your health analysis for you!
Join for free and coordinate these metrics on your own or pay just $25 to receive in-depth pre- and post-challenge metrics, including body composition analysis, weight, blood pressure, and before-and-after photos for both pre and post-challenge.
And check out the #AlcoholFreeFor40 Facebook group – it’s your forum to ask questions, follow the journey of others, and share your own experiences, challenges, successes, zero-proof cocktail recipes and photos.
Use the #AlcoholFreeFor40 hashtag on social media and visit www.AlcoholFreeFor40.com for full details and links to sign up.
Feedback + Stories
“This past weekend was the 3 year anniversary of my wife being alcohol free! She has an app counter on her phone and she looks at it every day. I think she’s as proud of this change as anything in her life. She hasn’t had one drop. She’s healthier, stronger and happier than ever.”
“I drink on occasion but it’s very rare and usually just to be polite. Maybe a sip of wine. I certainly haven’t had a hangover in years! I have friends who are convinced that something negative happened to serve as the catalyst – but the reality is that it’s all because of the AFF40 challenge!”
“If you only knew how much this challenge changed my life. After doing the 2016 #AlcoholFreeFor40 Challenge myself, my wife joined me for the 2017 Challenge. Fast forward, and she just finished one full year alcohol free! And while I haven’t been a teetotaler, I can count on two hands the number of drinks I’ve had in a year. I’ve totally changed my mental state.”
“Over this past year, we have had significant family and job changes that are positive, but stressful, as to be expected. But I can’t even imagine if we would have tried all of this while still drinking. ”
“When you first started the #AlcoholFreeFor40 Challenge, it seemed like an interesting personal challenge. I did not expect it to have this type of impact. It’s hard to explain; but alcohol is simply not part of my life anymore. So, thank you. Thank you for the motivation and the seed to change. It’s really enlightening to think about tackling big issues with a small challenge. It’s a great life lesson!”
About Ochsner Eat Fit
Eat Fit is a nonprofit initiative of Ochsner Health, designed to help the community live their healthiest, strongest lives possible. The team of Eat Fit dietitians works closely with local restaurants, markets and other foodservice establishments to identify and develop dishes that meet the Eat Fit nutritional criteria. These items are identified directly on the menu with the Eat Fit seal of approval, making the healthy choice the easy choice when dining out.
Free to all restaurants and foodservice partners, Eat Fit encourages nutritious choices whether an individual is looking to lose weight, feel better or look better, as well as help to manage health issues including diabetes, cholesterol and high blood pressure.
With more than 300 partners, Eat Fit has expanded across the state to include Eat Fit Northshore, Eat Fit BR, Eat Fit Acadiana, Eat Fit Shreveport, and Eat Fit Monroe.
The Eat Fit team connects deeply within the Eat Fit communities, serving as a resource for all things wellness. Download the Eat Fit smartphone app to find participating restaurants with full nutrition facts of Eat Fit menu items, as well as recipes, community wellness resources, and to connect with a health professional in your area. And check out the Eat Fit Cookbook, a compilation of 125 recipes from 40 Eat Fit partners, at www.EatFitCookbook.com. Follow Eat Fit on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and visit www.OchsnerEatFit.com for more information about Eat Fit in your region.