Party Hard

Drink hard: how to keep a lid on it when Dry January’s over

Written by joelsnape

So it occurred to me that, for all my big talk, most of this site is still largely about training properly, and not what happens when it’s time to kick back, enjoy some alcoholic beverages, and whip your shirt in the air like a helicopter. That’s mainly because I assume you probably already know plenty about drinking, and not enough about the other stuff. But: if you’re going to drink, you might as well drink in a way that allows you to have a good time, while not destroying everything you’ve worked so hard to build or incapacitating yourself for days. So this is how to do that. Incidentally, I’m going to assume all the usual advice about having a drink of water between alcoholic drinks isn’t going to work, because I have never, ever seen anyone follow it. Here’s what does work:

Stop drinking beer

Beer is possibly the worst thing you can drink. It’s stuffed with calories, relatively high in carbs, usually triggers a really high insulin response (making you store fat) and is oestrogenic – so it’ll make you grow a belly and, if you’re a man, turn you into a lady. Consider red wine, which at least has resveratrol in it (linked to anti-ageing effects), or Robb Wolf’s Paleo Margarita, which he claims will, thanks to the lime, blunt the insulin response from the relatively decent agave tequila it contains. Or just keep a nice bottle of vodka in the flat – in my experience, I’m much, much less likely to buy beer on the way home if I know there’s some sort of booze option already there, but crucially, when I get home, I never drink the vodka. This probably won’t work if you really like vodka.

Follow The Gentlemen’s Rules

The Gentlemen’s Rules are my own invention, and are by far the most civilised way to put restrictions on your drinking without curbing your ability to have a good time. If you commit to them, you may drink in the following scenarios:

a) A good friend of yours is having a celebration that you can’t honourably skip out on. This does not mean the birthday of someone from the office that you don’t really like, or that someone you do like really wants a drink. It means a proper party.

b) You are cooking something that takes more than an hour of prep. Because let’s be honest, making a Sunday roast without a glass of red is a ridiculous suggestion. Slow-cooked chili does not count.

Only you can decide if you’re honourable enough to stick to these rules, but they’re what I do most of the time.

Use The Two-Card System

A climber friend of mine introduced me to the Two-Card system, which is essentially Gentlemen’s Rules for people who don’t like cooking or hanging out with anyone else. It is essentially this: you start every week with two cards (literal or metaphorical, although if you’ve got a significant other then literal is better), and each of them allows you a night of drinking. Not one drink, or ten drinks, but as many drinks as you have that night. This isn’t a great system if you’re incapable of having a pint without waking up next to a Mariachi band in another country, but it’s one to consider, since it guarantees your body some chance of recovery.

Sign Up For A Fight

The nuclear option. Every time I’ve knocked drink on the head for more than six weeks straight since hitting the legal age to get served in a bar, it has been because I’ve signed up for a marathon, MMA fight or BJJ match. You don’t have to sign up for a fight – in fact, unless you’re good at fighting I’d call it inadvisable – but you should sign up for something that guarantees some form of unpleasantness if you don’t commit all available resources to training for it. Fights are especially good, because they allow me to ask myself, ‘Is my faceless and no doubt monstrous opponent slamming down Jagermeisters right now, or is he practising his leglocks?’ Thus self-chastened, I stand firm.

There you go. I’m not telling you not to drink, because that would be madness. But if you need to get a handle on things, try the above. And stick your own tips in the comments.

HOMEWORK: Drink a bit less, but enjoy it more when you drink. It’s the perfect solution.

About the author


Editor and creator of Live Hard. Fighting enthusiast, steak lover and aficionado of all things self-improvement related.


  • Good tips! It’s also a good idea to avoid your hard drinking friends when you’ve got a goal you are trying to reach. And if all your friends are hard drinking, time to make some new friends!
    Remember what they say, you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.