Here’s what I know: an intentional nutrition and exercise plan is absolutely essential in order to reach any and every physical/body goal. Surgeries, supplements, and science can come and go and this truth will remain. You cannot quick-fix or magic-pill your way into your ideal bod. You know this, too, because if you’re even similar to me (and the majority of America, I would be willing to bet), you have rallied your cautious-optimism to trump your common-sensibility and ordered the pill or powder that promised 60 days to sexy, or your money back. No shame or hate. It sounds dreamy.

It’s just that regardless of how far developed our society becomes, regardless of rapid radical progression of technology and science and medicine, we have yet to out-engineer the hard work required to change our physical appearance and makeup. I propose we all just accept this inalienable nature of our human condition and get on with it. Here’s what else I know: even with the most disciplined, dedicated diet and the most rigid, rigorous exercise regimen, there are certain, albeit annoying, inexorable laws of nature that must be observed in order to achieve desirable progress within a desirable, reasonable timeframe - and with one’s sanity in tact.

One such annoying nature-law is the hindrance of alcohol consumption on bod-prog. Let’s be real. Drinking is more widely accepted and even culturally promoted today than any other time in history. We survived an international pandemic on bourbon and bubbly (I’ll be the first to admit). We are accustomed to liquor ads that taunt tight six packs and commercials that feature athletes sipping beer between sets. It just is not real. Hear me: I enjoy a skinny marg as much as the next mid-life mom, and I am more than willing to put in a few extra miles in order to enjoy round two without much regret. But I’ve come to find that no amount of calorie-counting (or even eliminating entire food groups), or minutes on the stair-climber (even twice a day) can compensate for the negative effects alcohol is likely to have on your progress.

It has been widely-studied and documented: there is little to no physical benefit to alcohol consumption, no matter how we constantly and creatively try to twist and bend and force it to fit our agenda. I am no scientist. But I am a nutrition freak and self-proclaimed gym rat with a history of lofty body-goals that have propelled me to reach far and wide for goal-achieving success, and it has taken me embarrassingly long to surrender to this basic truth: alcohol is not my beach-bod friend. Sobriety is not the cost everyone with body goals is willing to pay. It never was for me. (If you’re muttering a hand-raised “amen", there are “smartish” ways to consume and still enjoy the buzz). Sober Septembers and dry Januarys would come and go, and I would cheers my friends as they made and broke one commitment after another.

My story goes that I hit a wall - found myself on what felt like a perpetual plateau that I could not break through with my calculated reverse diets and workout change-ups. Eliminating alcohol from my equations was a last-resort. I was ready and willing to go and do and give up whatever (short of my quality of life or thousands of dollars for surgical intervention). It was a simple solution, and my readiness made it a painless execution.

Here’s what I know that I know: I am sleeping better; I am waking up easier; I am maintaining energy, stamina, and focus throughout the day; I am eating cleaner and more intentionally (without a super strict diet); I am killing it in the gym; I am sporting healthier-looking hair and skin, and less bags and circles; I have dropped a size and several pounds (plateau-shamteau), and generally feel amazing. Hashtag worth it.