Healthy Living

What if I told you there was a single change that has been shown to improve our weight and body composition, blood pressure and cholesterol — and even give us clearer, brighter skin — in just six weeks. Would you want to try it?

Here’s the thing: It’s not a trendy diet, or special powders or pills. It doesn’t involve complicated tracking and counting.

These are simply the benefits we see, year after year, with the annual Alcohol Free For 40 Challenge hosted by our Ochsner Eat Fit team.

While individual results vary, on average, participants experience significant improvement in blood pressure, weight, fat, liver enzymes and total cholesterol, along with increased vitamin B12 levels, in just 40 days.

In fact, the results have been so consistently strong, we’ve worked with a researcher to compile a three-year data summary into a paper for journal publication, currently under review.

And these are just the benefits that we can see and measure objectively.

Benefits we can't see

The benefits that we can’t see are perhaps even more life-changing. Participants report more energy, better sleep and less anxiety, that they’re able to handle life’s stressors a notch better. Some say their families like them more, and that they like themselves better.

So here’s the rundown and how to get involved:

The six-week challenge runs throughout Lent, officially Ash Wednesday through Easter Sunday.

Participants are encouraged to track specific lab markers and physical metrics before and after the challenge, essentially making this their own self-experiment to see how they respond to 40 days booze-free.

Our Ochsner Eat Fit team of registered dietitians aims to make this as seamless as possible by hosting in-person events across the state that compile all of these components into a one-stop spot. Location sites for these pre- and post-challenge metrics include New Orleans, north shore, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Shreveport and Monroe.

Throughout the six-week challenge, our team provides resources, camaraderie and accountability via the Alcohol Free For 40 Facebook group.

Measure, then measure again

• The challenge: Stop drinking alcohol for 40 days — from Ash Wednesday until Easter Sunday.

• pre-challenge metrics will be hosted on-site in six cities on Thursday February 23; post-challenge metrics are scheduled for Thursday April 6.

• How to join: Register at by clicking on the button for your region. Please note, registration closes at midnight on Sunday, Feb. 19.

• What’s included:

• Join for $40 to receive in-depth pre- and post-challenge metrics including labs, body composition analysis, weight, blood pressure and before-and-after photos to get a clear picture of the impact of alcohol on overall wellness (a $400+ value). Participants must sign up for pre-challenge metrics by midnight Feb. 19.

• Get support: Anyone can join the #AlcoholFreeFor40 Facebook group for social support, to ask questions, follow the journey of others, and share personal experiences, challenges and successes.

The bottom line: Think of the Alcohol Free For 40 Challenge as an opportunity to explore what drives our behaviors, understand our reactions to everyday stressors, and to provide us with tools and strategies that we can carry with us far beyond this 40-day self-experiment.