I recently went on a holiday where I spent ten days in different places in France and Italy. I noticed, once more, how these countries have a very different drinking culture compared to England where I live. In most southern European countries it is very much about drinking in small amounts while socialising. Although British drinking culture is also associated to socialising, there appears to be more emphasis on the drinking itself. The result is often having seriously unhealthy side effects with people experiencing hangovers which incapacitate their activities the day after drinking, or some times longer. This post discusses a simple martial arts orientated solution to binge drinking.
One of my students was pointing out, a few nights ago, how he drunk excessively on a Friday night and felt awful throughout the whole weekend. He felt totally frustrated as he was incapable of doing anything physical. I find it strange that people want to drink to this extent knowing they will feel sorry for it. Then, the next time they have a chance, they are back to the same binge drinking.
So I suggested to this student a simple and practical advice which I have been applying to myself since I can remember. Force yourself to train, just turn up to a class and train. Training martial arts when hungover is a very fast way of recovering for the following reasons:
- The need to move fast will have a cardio vascular effect which will help sweating and getting rid of toxins
- The release of adrenaline will sharpen your mind
- Drinking plenty of water at the end of training will re-hydrate your body and make you fill better
Having advised to date a reasonably large number of students I can draw this conclusion: perhaps the first time you train when hungover it will feel very weird but, in my experience, it will have the following long term effects:
- Helping faster recovery from hangovers, e.g. shorter hangovers
- Better functioning in the long term
- Fostering the reduction of drink intake by reminding you, next time you drink, that training the following day is not optional
Here is the story of another student of mine called DB. He was a computer programmer who used to have a simple life style:
- Monday to Friday: work 8-9 hours, go home, cook dinner, eating while watching TV and drinking no less than a bottle of wine or a few cans of beer, every single time.
- Weekends: finding one or two parties around the region, attending them and drinking all night, feeling hungover and sorry the following day.
His perception of his drinking was hardly ever excessive as he rarely felt drunk but he noticed how his physical and mental performance was decreasing. At age 30 he felt like an old man; he realised how sluggish his reaction time was and how bad his physical performance was in terms of speed, power and endurance. When he joined our club he soon realised how people of a similar age, or even much older, could perform so much better than he did. He progressively reduced his alcohol intake to the point he was going totally dry for weeks and get the occasional drink at parties over weekends. His will to gain martial art performance pushed him to reduce his drinking by 80-90% within months. Training martial arts helped him to understand how badly he was treating his body when unaware of the damage he was causing.
So next time you go for a drink or a party make sure you commit to training the very next day, no excuses for hangover or laziness. Repeat several times and let me know the results.