Remember when it was cool to complain how crazy hung over you are and how wasted you got last night? Do you have fuzzy memories of waking up with McDonald's wrappers scattered around your bed and you can't quite remember what all happened? Remember a time when you would call your BFF and see if the two of you could piece together last night's debaucherous events? That was probably around high school or college for most of us.
But, habits begun as some fun and a way of getting around a little social awkwardness (ok maybe a Lot of social awkwardness) have a way of continuing. It's easy to slip into a late 20s to 40-something who still finds lots of disposable income ending up in bars and junk food. Sometimes it's fun, maybe. But mostly unhealthy habits just create additional hurdles. We're required to work doubly hard just to undo whatever happened during those fuzzy hours. Really it's not that cool. What's cool is having fun without creating a heap of difficulties that we have to carry around and work hard to undo. What's cool is being healthy! It definitely makes getting older and moving beyond those college years a lot more fun.
A shift happens when you decide to be healthy. You start to feel really good. You go from wanting not to deal, to actually wanting to deal with life, future, goals, your past, and your relationships. Maybe having a great body motivates you. The good news is a great body goes along with living healthy. Our bodies are all great! We just sometimes need to remember that taking care of ourselves is actually more fun than some of those other habits.
Take alcohol as an example. It attacks the liver first when broken down. Your body can't use it for energy right away, so it ends up stored as fat in the cellular lymph. Alcohol is considered a threefold factor in creating cellulite because it attacks three basic defenses of our bodies all at once: digestive, nervous and kidney. And how about those "beer bellies" - just a matter of a few extra alcohol calories stored as fat? Not exactly. Calories in-calories out isn't the whole story here. Rather, the main effect of alcohol is to reduce the amount of fat your body burns for energy. Alcohol gets converted into acetate, which stops fat loss.
A study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition gave eight men 2 drinks of vodka and sugar-free lemonade separated by 30 minutes. Each drink contained just under 90 calories. Fat metabolism was measured before and after consumption of the drink. For several hours after drinking the vodka, whole body lipid oxidation (a measure of how much fat your body is burning) dropped by a massive 73%.
Your body uses whatever you feed it. If you feed it alcohol, your body will burn the acetate before the fat. That means a lot more hours in the gym or on the yoga mat before you are even chipping away at anything. If you've ever been at the gym beside someone who was drinking the night before you can smell the alcohol sweating out of them. Pretty nasty, isn't it?
You may be thinking, "I work hard and have my life together. I like to unwind on the weekends and get a little wasted. So what's wrong with that?" Nothing's wrong with that. Do what you want and what makes you happy. But also spend a little time looking at habits that add a big weight you get stuck carrying around. Why are we so wound up in the first place that make us need to drink so much? It's a good place to start. It can help sometimes with letting go of the old habits.
Thankfully it's cool now to be healthy. Organic shopping, cooking at home and with friends, yoga, hiking, walking, biking are all activities that awesomely cool people do. It's not cool to complain too much about life, job, weight and overall happiness. We all know there is plenty available to do about it. Get to a yoga class, go for a run, ride your bike, eat healthy foods. When you live healthy you feel great - both while you're doing it and the next morning too. You stop fighting against yourself. You have all the tools you need to shape your life how you want it to be.
HuffPost Lifestyle is a daily newsletter that will make you happier and healthier — one email at a time. Learn more