What has alcohol taught me in training and recovery
Updated: Mar 13, 2021
Like I mentioned in my first My Journey post, I got a little carried away with excess drinking throughout the quarantine months. So, when February came around, I made a conscious decision to cut back; I did not need that glass of wine every night. It left me feeling slightly more groggy, with puffy eyes, dark circles, and dehydrated in the morning.
I will admit the first few days were a bit challenging. I liked the act of doing something rather than the drinking in itself. I have always liked polar seltzers, so I stocked up on yummy flavors and treated myself nightly to a cup of hot chocolate☕ 😋.
After a few days, I noticed the difference in how I felt in the morning and in my complexion. I also know that even the smallest amount of alcohol can hinder progress or weight loss at the gym.
For those of you that know me, know that I am also an independent consultant for a Clean-Crafted™ wine company called Scout & Cellar. Clean-Crafted simply means that there aren't any added sugars, chemicals, pesticides; it's the cleanest and simplest form of wine. Needless to say, I ALWAYS have wine in the house.
When Valentine's Day rolled around, I ended up overindulging in wine. While I traditionally don't get a "wine hangover" the following day, I could still tell that my body was dehydrated, and I was lethargic.
Like many of you, I have a fitness tracker, Polar Ignite. I record my workouts, heart rate, activity level, and nightly recharge. I have NEVER been a great sleeper. My circadian rhythm or natural sleep cycle, is usually late into the evening till around 7 or 8am (which not the ideal time if I want to make it to work on time😋). I tend to toss and turn, and will often times find myself awake around 4am.
What I found is that even though I am not a great sleeper my ANS (autonomic nervous system) nightly recharge is typically "OK" or "Good". But when I have alcohol in my system, even 1 glass of wine, my ANS is "Compromissed".
The ANS nightly charge function measures how your body recovers from the days training and stress, which is essential for performance development. According to Polar Research and Technology (2019), "Overall stress and/or inadequate recovery can decrease an individual’s readiness and tolerance for training and increase his/her risk of injury."
There has been extensive research and studies about the ANS and the HRV being used as recovery assessment tools, but this is just the top layer.
While I still enjoy a glass of wine here and there, I continue to make a conscious effort to prioritize my training to optimize recovery and performance.
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