When I was playing, my teammates often asked me for my thoughts on fitness. I’ll blatantly and unapologetically stereotype here. Professional baseball players tend to be looking for abs or big arms. Maybe they’re searching for improved power at the plate or more velocity on the mound, but either way, it’s the same set of questions. Almost all of the inquiries I fielded revolved around or related to these themes.
However, my “advice” scope has substantially widened recently. I have friends and colleagues hitting me up with vast array of health and well-being questions. One of them is a weekend warrior, but not of the athletic variety. Her weekend drinking binges are no joke, and they deprive her of sleep. She hit me with this text.
I want to learn more about what you think on the matter of weekend partying, drinking and aging.
We all know the type; perhaps it describes you. You put in egregiously long hours Monday through Friday and then need to unwind and decompress. But this cycle of working all week, getting smashed all weekend then returning to work a zombie on Monday morning will wreck your health, long term.
You know we stress planned indulgences around here. I can navigate a good bottle of Scotch, and I can expound on the texture of a well-prepared cheesecake with anyone. This post has nothing to do with cutting out those pleasures. Rather, it’s the cycle, the consistency and the undeniable fallout of regular hard running, which will fuck your shit up.
Here’s what happens. You work all week at your office job, perpetually daydreaming of 5:00pm on Friday. It finally comes and you hit happy hour for a bit at a cool little joint like this. A few hours and 3 Monkey Shoulders later, you’re home and showering up to meet your friends for drinks and dinner. When you arrive at the restaurant, you’re starving because you didn’t eat after work and its 9:00pm. You didn’t choose the restaurant, it’s not your fault the menu has mozzarella sticks and nachos as their signature appetizers. You decide to pair with ice cold beer. I don’t blame you. Done with your meal and now mildly inebriated you find yourself a smoky club or bar (you live in an archaic state, sorry). Inhaling copious amounts of tar and sucking down cocktails, your decision making becomes increasingly cloudy. By the end of the evening is 2:45am, you’re numb and only mildly aware of the person sharing your Uber.
You fall into bed, not bothering to wash your face now covered in cigarette residue. You sleep like shit because you’re dehydrated and log about 2 hours total before waking up starving and looking for sugar to soak up that alcohol. Pancakes. Syrup. You crush breakfast, washing it back down with a Gatorade because you think electrolytes will help. Maybe you down some B vitamins, because you’ve heard it will cure your hangover. By the time late afternoon rolls around, you still feel awful, and the only choice is the hair of the dog. You don’t want to waste your weekend, after all.
If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. A recent study published in the British Medical Journal found that people who work more than 48 hours per week were more likely to engage in risky drinking behaviors than people who work fewer hours.
If people are [engaging in] risky drinking, they don’t sleep well, they’re not as socially engaged
Being out at a bar getting collectively wasted may or may not make for a meaningful social connection, independent of how many people you’re surrounded by. But my friend specifically wanted to know about aging. Obviously, while we care deeply about the inexorable progression of time, my friend may have been focused on the appearance of aging. We’ve discussed the importance of sleep for health and well-being. Sleep deprivation, especially on a consistent basis, encourages your body to produce more cortisol, a hormone associated with everything from abdominal fat storage to skin breakouts, bloating to wrinkles. The overconsumption of all those sugars may not be optimal if abs are your aim. The alcohol binge over time may destroy your skin, too.
When alcohol is metabolized, it works as a vasodilator in that it widens the blood vessels that bring blood to the face. This can cause redness as well as puffiness or swelling. When you consume a lot of alcohol over a long period of time, the blood vessels just continue to grow and enlarge. This will eventually lead to a loss of skin tone and/or permanent redness including skin that is blotchy and similar to rosacea. This redness can also turn into broken capillaries or vessels that can burst, especially around the nose and face.
Quickly wrapped, a night of partying isn’t likely to do irreversible harm. Please indulge occasionally. It’s critical for your mental well-being. Hitting the streets hard every weekend and recovering (sort of) during the week, on the other hand, is going to do you no favors in terms of your health or appearance. Seek the healthy balance between relaxing and grinding. Your body will thank you, and maybe you won’t need to lose yourself entirely on the weekend.