I’m a binge drinker. But now it’s (nearly) Lent
My fitness drive has, in part at least, been motivated by the desire to drink alcohol
The World Health Organisation has defined binge drinking as six or more standard drinks (about three pints of beer) during one occasion. Or, as I prefer to call it, Saturday night. Photograph: Ablestock
I’m a binge drinker. As soon as you finish your third pint you stagger incoherently into that shameful category.
Bingeing on alcohol conjurers up images of long drinking sessions, hooliganism and alcoholism – but, according to those who spend their working hours watching what people do during their non-working hours, the unwanted label is also appropriate if you enjoy a few pints over a few hours in a local pub.
The World Health Organisation has defined binge drinking as six or more standard drinks (about three pints of beer) during one occasion.
Or, as I prefer to call it, Saturday night.
This article is not a defence of alcohol (if it was, I’d point to the many stupid things I’ve done sober). However, personally, if three pints is enough to make you a binge drinker, then two bus drivers who nod as they pass on the road qualifies as a meaningful conversation.
Still, there are no benefits to excessive drinking. This country has a difficult relationship with alcohol. We seem unable to come to grips with the abuse of alcohol – from young people who wear this misuse as proudly as their sports tops to those who know their drinking is affecting their well-being, and the well-being of those around them, and yet lack the will or the ability to do anything about it.
And there’s no doubt that if I was properly committed to being healthier and fitter I wouldn’t have a corkscrew in my house or know the name of several barmen.
However, at the risk of annoying those who only have boos for booze, I must confess that my fitness and health drive has, in part at least, been motivated by the desire to be able to drink alcohol – without the guilt. There are those who believe water is at its best when it flows down from mountains and glaciers, and those who believe it is at its best when it has passed through a brewery.
We watch what we eat and drink so that, everyone so often, we don’t have to watch what we eat and drink. Or, to put it another way, sometimes I like to eat grapes , sometimes I’m happy to wait for them to be fermented.
Unfortunately, though, alcohol doesn’t make you lean (well, actually it does, but not in the way we’d like) and so for six weeks each year I test the theory that inside is a skinny man trying to get out if only I stopped sedating him with ethanol.
“Dry January” has gained some traction in recent years – where those that overindulged during the Christmas season try to lower their average intake by avoiding bars and off-licences for the first month of the new year (we presume that, Cinderella-style, the champagne turns instantly to water as the clock strikes 12).
I have not had a dry January. In fact, on more than one weekend night I have binged – officially speaking at least.
However, with one notable exception, I haven’t drunk alcohol during Lent in almost 20 years (the exception was a few years ago on the weekend I got married). It’s an annual excuse to give up something – Lent is 46 days, not 40 – that, well, wouldn’t do you any harm to give up (despite what we’ve just said).
When you were a child it was sweets or being mean to a sibling – now alcohol or nicotine are the obvious choices.
Even binge drinkers need a break every now and then.
Height: 1.82m – 6ft
Weight: 92kg – 14st 7lb (minus 2st)
BMI: 27.4 (-3.0)
Fat: 26.0 per cent (-3.6)
Figures in brackets indicate change since March 10th, when Damian started to change his diet and exercise habits, and write this column.