People who base their entire career on fitness—like Shaun T, creator of Insanity, Hip Hop Abs, and Focus T25—seem like they've got it all together all the time. After all, when your job is to stay healthy and in shape, it's easy, right?
The thing is, even fit pros are riding the roller coaster of life, which means their health and fitness habits go through peaks and valleys just like us regular humans. (Just look at Jen Widerstrom, who went on the keto diet because she felt like she went off the rails a bit.)
For Shaun T, twin babies (!!!) and a global tour for his new book T Is for Transformation was just the valley to make him to want to get back on track: "Over the past year, I've had some major dynamic shifts in my life," he says. "I feel like I've reached another milestone and that as we get older (but regardless of your age), it's always great to reset your foundation." Another big milestone coming up: His 40th birthday in May, which inspired a 40-day challenge where you can reset your foundation right along with him.
But Shaun's journey has been longer than 40 days: About a year and a half ago, he decided to stop drinking alcohol until his 40th birthday. "I never had a serious drinking problem," he says, but in both his most recent touring experience and his past days on tour as a dancer or in musicals, he realized that there was a lot of unnecessary drinking going on. "Even though we're all really health-conscious people, every time you sit down at a restaurant, they 'Say do you want a drink?' and you automatically say 'Yes,'" he says. (Interestingly enough, people who work out are also more likely to drink alcohol.)
"I don't think it's that you feel peer pressure, but it's just become part of the culture," he says. "And for people who eat out every day, the glass of wine that you have once a week turns into four. Then you might have a drink with lunch too... I'm working really hard to motivate people to stay as healthy as possible, and I'm still enjoying my life, but eventually, I realized: I don't want to have a glass of wine! I don't want to have a drink that someone buys me just because I'm in town for one day."
It took one particularly bad hangover to seal the deal: "There was one night we went to Budapest, and let me tell you, Budapest is lit," he says. "So that was one night where I thought, 'You know what, Shaun? Get turnt!' (Which for me was like three and a half drinks). We woke up the next morning and had to go to Greece, and I remember my first night in Greece was ruined because I had drunk too much the night before. That's when I started to realize how much drinking was really affecting me." (FYI, here's when alcohol consumption starts affecting your fitness.)
Shaun said he started by testing the waters, doing experiments to see whether just one, two, or more drinks would affect him the next day—and he realized he didn't want to drink at all. When he told his social followers, the reaction was crazy supportive: "There was an amazing response of people who really connected with me who had alcoholism issues, were doing 12-step programs, and who were extremely happy I was going down that road even though it wasn't the same type of situation. People have been following this journey with me and they've been really responsive to any updates I've given them."
The perks of ditching alcohol are so significant, he may not even start drinking again on his birthday: "One of the things I like to tell people is that every day when you wake up, you should try to recalibrate your life," he says. "While I was never a big drinker, the problem is that whenever you put alcohol in your system, you have to recalibrate yourself afterwards, and I felt like I had to spend so much less energy doing that. Now, I no longer have that 45 minutes of, okay, I had a drink last night, I have to get that out of my system. I wake up clear-minded, level-headed, and just gave myself more time back. I wake up already floating instead of trying to make my way back to the top." (See Shaun T's other tips for crushing your health and fitness goals.)
Shaun's husband, Scott, would still drink, and Shaun said he'd still head out with friends who were drinking—and that being the sober one in the group opened his eyes to what it's like for people who don't have the option to drink alcohol, due to addiction issues or otherwise.
"If you want to go out and get turnt, have at it! I'm not judging you," he says. "What I realized is that I didn't want society to take control of my life. I wanted to take control of it, and I wanted to help people understand that it's okay to have a drink if you want to, but you don't need to. You can order water."