We’ve made it to the final quarter of the year, and that means two things: spooky season is here and Joe Rogan is taking part in his annual Sober October challenge.
Rogan’s version of Sober October is supercharged in that it involves a challenge in addition to sobriety — though it’s unclear if he’s given up alcohol and marijuana, or if this is more of a California sober situation. Regardless, Rogan and his pals Ari Shaffir, Tom Segura and Bert Kreischer are all attempting to achieve 31 consecutive days of sobriety in addition to completing a daily workout that involves burning 500 calories and completing 100 pushups.
But is he going about this wrong?
Not the quitting alcohol part. There’s mountains of evidence indicating that giving up booze for at least a month provides significant health benefits. After four or five successive days without alcohol, people start sleeping better. Daytime energy levels and hydration start picking up during the second week. And the one month mark sees anxiety and depressive symptoms decrease as the central nervous system begins to repair itself, while the liver, kidney, and digestive systems become healthier.
The big question surrounding Rogan’s Sober October is whether or not it’s too much all at once. Introducing intense workouts with sobriety makes sense on its face — but only following the assumption that adopting multiple positive lifestyle changes should increase health benefits.
But setting good habits and then actually keeping them is hard. Really hard. That’s the whole, famous lore around New Year’s resolutions. And attempting to adopt multiple good habits at once can set people up for failure. The research backs it up.
According to the Fogg Behavior Model, motivation, ability, and a prompt must converge at the same moment for a behavior to occur. When one of those three elements is missing, the behavior fails to materialize. A multifaceted behavioral change increases the level of difficulty and thus the ability required to successfully achieve set goals.
That’s why experts recommend adopting micro habits — like stretching for 15 to 30 seconds before getting dressed or replacing one sweetened drink with water each day. Setting oddly achievable goals builds confidence.
And once the new practice becomes an engrained habit, there are opportunities to incrementally increase the intensity and duration of the new behavior. Over time, those brief morning stretches could turn into a few minutes of stretching and months down the road perhaps even regular yoga.
Admittedly, it’s likely easier for Joe Rogan to burn 500 calories and do 100 pushups a day than it is for most people. He’s an experienced MMA fighter, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, and already works out regularly. That increased ability probably gives him the bandwidth to tackle a fitness goal in addition to sobriety. But for the rest of us? Maybe just stick to one thing — quitting booze for a month is a big enough change for many, especially busy, working parents who don’t have the time to record three-hour, weekly podcasts with a group of bros and smoke cigars while doing it.
All that being said, Sober October is a great movement to highlight. Just don’t feel like you also have to get all swole or simultaneously master a new hobby. Give yourself the freedom to achieve whatever healthy change is doable, and celebrate the wins even if they’re modest.
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