Healthy Takes a Backseat to Happy Hour

I knew that the third Deep Eddy’s Ruby Red Vodka and soda was going to put me over the edge, but I drank it anyway. And then followed it with after-dinner port. Make that several after-dinner glasses of port.

It’s not surprising that little was left in me by the time I woke up the next morning. Or that I didn’t make it to my morning workout. Yeah, hangovers are not fun. I’m continuing to poison my system with a recovery Coke — its cool sweetness and slight salt content taste like a miracle tonic (at least, I hope it acts that way).

I don’t usually drink like this.

Science Says Do Without Alcohol 

When I got into running, I started thinking about my weight in terms of performance, not appearance, and I quickly came to realize that losing pounds equaled gaining speed. My marathon PR — shoot, make that ALL my road running PRs — was set at my lowest running weight.

Since my personal motto is “train smarter, not harder,” cutting down on alcoholic beverages was an easy thing to do to lose some unneeded calories. For, oh, probably the last 10 years, I’ve tried not to drink at all during the week. If I am having a cocktail, I try to limit it to just one. It’s amazing how long I can nurse a drink. It’s also incredible how many times certain people will push me to have more. What’s odd are those who really don’t like it when I refuse.

As I’ve grown to consume less alcohol, I’ve become more of a lightweight drinker. Want to stay sober? I need to pair that cocktail with food or start out with a full stomach. Also, I’m in trouble if my water intake doesn’t match the wine inflow. A 1/1 ratio of H20 to vino is imperative to avoid the type of intimate interaction I had last night with the toilet.

These little personal nutritional rules weren’t pulled out of thin air. Research has shown that it makes sense to limit alcohol when eating out; people tend to eat 33 percent more food if they’ve had a cocktail before that meal. Alcohol stimulates hunger sensations, which then lead to eating more. A study published in American Journal of Public Health found a “positive association between alcohol calories and obesity.”

Margarita Rimmed with Salt and Chips
When paired with a tasty cocktail, it’s hard to step away from the chips

Yes, there are definitely benefits to responsible drinking — everybody remember the study that found positive correlation regarding staving off dementia among temperate drinkers? There’s a lower incidence of coronary heart disease with moderate alcohol consumption, though this link is not completely understood.

But if you’re basically looking to trim some calories, the easy way to chop out several hundred a day is to cut out those one or two drinks at happy hour. Many of today’s most popular diets, such as Loren Cordain’s Paleo Diet, Rip Esselstyn’s Engine 2 Diet, and Dallas and Melissa Hartwig’s Whole 30, recommend severely limiting, if not completely eliminating, that alcohol.

Great reference article: “Ideal Body Weight and Athletic Performance,” by Terry Zeigler

So why’d I circumvent my brain last night and overindulge in a big way?

Sometimes, a girl’s just got to cut loose.

I’d had a very powerfully emotional day, riding a roller coaster of highs (a cast read-through of the 2015 Austin performance of Listen to Your Mother) and lows (attending a memorial service for a friend who died too young). The hubby and I had the opportunity to spend the evening with good buddies, longtime friends who shared tasty food and drink, made us laugh, and cheered me up. The drinks just kind of sneakily flowed along over the course of the evening hours. It happens.

And I’m sure it’ll be a while before I pull this stunt again (at least, as long as it takes me to forget this hangover).

Ah, the cool counter feels good against my forehead….

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Published by Leah Nyfeler

I'm a writer, editor, runner, and adventurer who is always looking for the next new story, exciting adventure, and good meal/book/movie. My focus is on helping people find their best, healthiest self through sharing what I know and how I've come to learn it. In addition to my blog "Enjoying the Journey: Observations on the Fit Life" at, my articles have appeared in a variety of print and online magazines. You can hear me as part of the 2015 Austin cast of Listen To Your Mother.

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