Drinking Days of Old (Part 2)

Celebrating Life, in Chicago, 2016. My q-Life.

Celebrating Life, in Chicago, 2016. My q-Life.

Disclaimer (once again): These next posts aren't meant to push anyone toward one way of thinking, nor are they meant to anger or discourage anyone. These thoughts are purely my own, and they're for you to use as you wish. If you, or someone you know, is struggling with addiction, reach out - seek help.

Last time, I began my post on alcohol - an always-popular topic, with varied opinions (depending on who you ask). Part 1 covered my personal experiences with booze; times in my life where too much alcohol caused me to teeter on the thin line of being in control and being out of control. Today, I'm going to go further, past those experiences, and discuss alcohol from a health standpoint; beginning to focus on finding a healthy balance and using your future as a guide. This combination is what has shifted my perceptions of alcohol, and made me realize that I needed to change my relationship with it. My hope is that by reading this today, you will be able to look at your own life (and your own relationship with alcohol), and decide whether or not you need to make a change (and how to do so).

 

Cheers to Your Health!

Let me be the first to say: I still drink alcohol. By no means am I wanting this post to make me sound like a goodie-goodie; a person who treats her body like a temple 24/7. A couple drinks here and there is fine (as long as you know how to nourish yourself, afterward); however, alcohol seems to always be an "all-or-nothing" sort of thing.

Your "WHY"

We've all been there. It's a Friday night, we're off work and want to celebrate the 'right' way. We hit up the liquor store, or a local patio, and consume drink after drink, until soon, we're feeling it! Our head spins. We feel giddy. Worries (or stressors) begin to leave us.

OR

We've had the day from hell. We get home, put our sweatpants on and instead of pouring ourselves a glass of wine, decide to bring the entire bottle with us, to the couch, and drink until we don't feel as crappy anymore.

We all have our reasons for drinking, and trust me when I say, I've been there. Social gatherings. Drinks. Celebrations. Drinks. Grieving. Drinks. Boredom. Drinks. A weekend at home. Drinks. 

Again, I'm not suggesting that giving up "the drink" is the best option, but I think it's so important for you to seriously consider your relationship with alcohol.

When was the last time you drank? And when was the last time you drank before that? Was it one, or two drinks, with friends? Or did you down an entire bottle (or pack) in a short amount of time? What brought you to drink? Did your body NEED it?

A lot of us get drunk to cope with emotions... all along the spectrum - both positive and negative. Alcohol, even during that short time, can cause us to experience feelings of euphoria, and usually, these are the feelings we desire - the feelings that encourage us to drink to excess time and time again.

And then, there are those of us who drink because we NEED to; it's something we've gotten so used to doing - life just doesn't feel the same without it. Our lives seem duller, darker and days seem to drag on. So, we drink to feel like 'ourselves'.

Addiction and Dependence

If it's not alcohol, it always seems to be something else... with everyone. In a society where feeling your feelings is almost taboo, we're meant to feel like we need to become dependent on something in order to "get by". Alcohol, drugs, sex, food... you name it.

The ironic thing about alcohol (and most drugs, for that matter) is that it is actually a depressant. Drinking alcohol drains our adrenals and actually makes us feel more tired and down. What does this mean? Well, those euphoric feelings we're seeking, every time we drink, start to become harder and harder to achieve, the more we actually drink.

Your Body on Booze

Aside from the mental things we notice, alcohol has severe PHYSICAL effects on our bodies, and to be quite honest, that's the main reason I've cut my drinking down, dramatically.

filling up on water, at an outdoor concert. drinking alcohol in the heat can dehydrate you way faster. my q-life.

filling up on water, at an outdoor concert. drinking alcohol in the heat can dehydrate you way faster. my q-life.

  • Drinking alcohol forces your liver to use your stored antioxidants and Vitamin C, which leaves you mineral deficient. And speaking of minerals, drinking alcohol causes you to pee more, which causes your body to rid itself of your-probably-already-low-levels-of-magnesium. Repeated consumption of alcohol causes your body to use up any of its stored magnesium, which is why many people that drink often have little to no magnesium left in their bodies. What is magnesium good for? It relieves constipation (which if you drink a lot, you probably don't experience), calms nervous system and anxiety, relieves muscle aches and spasms, helps increase energy, promotes good sleep, and much, much more! Click here for one of my favorite magnesium supplements.
  • Alcohol raises your estrogen levels, which if you're a woman, this can worsen things like PCOS, fibroids and endometriosis.
  • Like mentioned earlier, alcohol is actually a depressant and drains your adrenals, causing you to feel more tired and worn out.
  • Alcohol disrupts blood sugar function, and usually, when we drink, we find ourselves making bad food decisions the day we're drinking, as well as the day after.
  • When drinking alcohol, it acts as a diuretic (dehydrates you). Because of this, your liver needs to find water from other sources, and this can be why you sometimes wake up with a headache (and HELLO dehydrated, dull-looking skin)! The liver is one of the pathways of elimination, and therefore, it's very important to make sure it's always working properly, in order to allow your body to expel toxins easily. Read more on the pathways of elimination here.
  • Women break alcohol down more slowly.
  • Often, we find ourselves bloated after drinking.
  • For me, drinking too much alcohol results in crap sleep, stomach aches and waking way earlier than normal (because I need to poop), and let's be honest... morning-after-drinking-poops aren't great!

Finding Balance

Balance is a funny concept; a concept I plan on talking more about, in a future post. While "finding balance" might not always be the case when it comes to our actual lives, balance is completely attainable, when it comes to booze.

80/20

Yes, you can still "be good" and "have fun"! Again, don't let this post fool you into thinking you can't indulge in a drink from time-to-time. As with anything in life, practicing good moderation is key; making sure that the majority of the time, you're doing your best to fuel your body right - treating it like the temple it is. The thing about experiencing fumbles is this: we all have them; allow yourself to experience them. The most important aspect is to rebound as quickly as you can; deciding what you're going to do AFTER that fumble.

What does this look like? Well, it's not having drinks every night. It's taking a break; giving your body (and especially your liver) a break, and opportunity to reset. Taking a look at your week, ahead of time, and deciding on any opportunities you'd like to enjoy a few beverages. Always plan ahead! The 80/20 rule is an easy one to follow; fueling your body well 80% of the time, and then enjoying some indulgences 20%.

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Making Good Decisions

There definitely are better options, when it comes to drinking. From a simple calorie standpoint alone, drinking mixed drinks, heavy beers and creamy drinks are going to be higher in calories (and sugar). Stick to something simple; flavor with fruit (or something natural); remember that added sodas contain more calories (and not-so-great ingredients). *Always make a point to read the label/ingredient list, if you can. So often, especially in alcohol, there are many added fillers, glutens, artificial ingredients and things we don't feel comfortable consuming.

My personal favorites:

  • Truly Spiked & Sparkling is my drink of choice, when hitting up the liquor store, and enjoying a night of grilling out/outside. It's something Ryan and I have both dubbed as our new, summer drink, "The summer of Truly". 100 calories per can, two grams of carbs and one gram of sugar, these drinks taste just like their name: spiked sparkling waters. They are naturally gluten free and come in citrus and berry flavors.
  • White Claw Hard Seltzer comes in at a close second to Truly. Similarly, it is a spiked, sparkling water that contains 100 calories, per can, two grams of carbs and sugars (12 oz. can). They are also naturally gluten free and come in similar flavors.
  • Vodka and water. Tito's is my favorite brand of vodka. Why? Their vodka is distilled from corn, so it's naturally gluten-free, which is great (in my opinion). So many alcohol brands end up adding a bit of mash back into their booze, which can contain gluten, or distill with a glutenous grain, which always scares me. This vodka gives me no yucky side effects and is one I feel 100% about drinking. Another incentive of purchasing these pretty bottles of booze? Tito's gives back to local and national non-profits (they love animals just as much as I do)! With about 65 calories per one ounce, I enjoy mixing my Tito's with eight ounces of water and a few limes. Refreshing, semi-hydrating and low-calorie!
  • Champagne! As you can see in the chart above, champagne is one of the lowest calorie booze options out there. Another added bonus? It's fizzy and screams celebration! Once, when I ordered a glass of champagne at two, in the afternoon, the waiter asked me what I was celebrating... "Living!"
  • A nice glass of red wine is always a treat (and great for the antioxidants)! If you want to easily turn that one glass into two, mix half of your glass of wine with some sparkling water (La Croix is my favorite). Your one glass just turned into two!
  • Unity Kombucha Beer! This is something I first tried in Chicago, a couple years ago, and just found in Minnesota, last night! Unity takes their 30-day brewed kombucha, and mixes it with organic, dried hops and other flavors. Delicious!

When You Drink

Since alcohol is so dehydrating, it's important to add water as part of your 'drinking union'. An easy go-to? After each drink, drink at least a full eight ounces of water, if not more!

Pairing alcohol with some high-quality protein is essential in slowing the rate in which alcohol enters your system. If you know you're going to go out that evening, be sure to fill yourself up with good, protein-filled foods, earlier in the day!

Alcohol-Free

Tweet about me at wrestlepalooza, 2016. my q-life.

Tweet about me at wrestlepalooza, 2016. my q-life.

In the words of probably everyone's mom, "If they asked you to jump off a bridge, would you?" Remember, just because your friends are drinking, or getting wasted, doesn't always mean you have to! I have been one to rock the 'non-alcoholic option' frequently! At a WRESTLEPALOOZA event, a couple years ago, somebody took a photo of me and posted it on Twitter, "Just saw a girl drinking coconut water from a #PBR coozie in Des Moines. Is this OK?" LOL Yep, that one got a lot of retweets. To be honest, it was Boxed Water, not coconut water, but that's besides the point. Sometimes, people give you crap for being different. Just remember, that doesn't mean it's wrong! You do you. Always.

A few of my absolute FAVE alcohol-alternatives include:

  • Kombucha! Now, I know, I know... kombucha technically contains traces of alcohol, because it's fermented. But this bubbly drink is the closest to alcoholic you can get, without getting there. Plus, it contains yummy probiotics that your tummy will just love. Each night, I open myself up a bottle of 'booch, and sip on that! The same feeling as popping open an alcoholic beverage... except it's not.
  • Mocktails! Some of my favorite, summer-time drinks include some Sakara Life Beauty Water, mixed with raspberry La Croix, a little sweetener and maybe some fresh fruit! So many bubbles, no booze!
  • Good 'ole h2o! Seriously, still or sparkling, hydration is fun! Join the club!

After-drink "cocktail"

Having a couple of drinks, here and there, is fine, but being able to nourish yourself afterward is the most important element here. Replenishing your body is so important, in order to make sure you can easily rid it of those toxins. A couple of choice supplements are helpful:

drinking straight from the coconut, in nyc, 2016. my q-life.

drinking straight from the coconut, in nyc, 2016. my q-life.

  • Probiotics, which I recommend taking daily, to begin with. Taking another probiotic, after a few drinks, will help your gut stay happy
  • B vitamins. Taking a B vitamin before drinking, as well as after, will help you recover quicker from dehydration.
  • Milk Thistle is a wonderful liver-cleansing herb. Taking one of these can be helpful, as well.
  • Down a large class of water, and be sure to replenish electrolytes. Coconut water is an excellent beverage!
  • Magnesium is wonderful here, too. Take a magnesium supplement, an epsom salt bath (drink more water), and help your body detox.

Visualizing Your Future Self

While this might sound corny, visualizing is one of my favorite activities; it helps us paint a picture of our future, and gives us an idea of what we need to do to get there.

How old do you want to live to be? Do you want to grow old with someone? Have grandbabies? Travel? Stay active, and independent, for as long as you can?

The choices we make, now, greatly determine how our future will pan out.

When you're struggling with making a change - any change - try to close your eyes, and picture where you want to be in ten years, twenty years, and on... Will you get there, if you continue to do what you do, each and every day? Or will you need to make a change, in order to make sure you get to that place?

Making Your Own Happiness - What Truly Makes You "Alive"

Alcohol. Water. Finding balance. my q-life.

Alcohol. Water. Finding balance. my q-life.

I firmly believe that a 'happy life' is created from all of the moments we experience. Some moments are less than wonderful (like my experiences I shared in my last post). However those moments helped me become a better person; get me to a place where I feel more confident in what I want out of my own life, and how I can obtain that.

For a lot of us, a lot of life's moments can become hazy when too much alcohol is involved. And in my personal opinion, that lessens the enjoyment factor. Find your joy in yourself, your loved ones, your company... and focus on those moments with a clear perspective; that'll really ensure you remember them and hold them dear!

* If you feel like cutting back on alcohol is something you cannot do alone, reach out an seek help. There's nothing wrong in addiction; sometimes, you just need a little assistance in getting help.

Relax, unwind, don't beat yourself up! Spending your entire life worrying isn't going to get you anywhere. Remember to be smart and ask yourself what will help you create your best life. Then, take small steps to get to that point.

xoxo,

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References:

"Alcohol, Diet Friend or Foe." Sakara Life. June 14, 2017. (The S-Life Mag).

"How to Stop Alcohol from Messing with Your Hormones." September 6, 2015. (Floliving). Vitti, Alisa.

"The Effects of Alcohol on your Body." (Healthline). Medically reviewed by Elaine K. Luo, MD on June 9, 2017 — Written by Ann Pietrangelo and Kimberly Holland.

Drinking Days of Old (Part 1)

Disclaimer: These next posts aren't meant to push anyone toward one way of thinking, nor are they meant to anger or discourage anyone. These thoughts are purely my own, and they're for you to use as you wish. If you, or someone you know, is struggling with addiction, reach out - seek help.


One of many instances I went to visit my brother, and drank too many glasses of wine.

One of many instances I went to visit my brother, and drank too many glasses of wine.

Alcohol has been a hot topic, in my life, lately. As a person who is constantly listening to her body, never have I ever drank alcohol and thought, "Hey, this makes me feel pretty fantastic". After having conversations with my boyfriend, and best friends, it seems like this thought is starting to become more prevalent with everyone. Alcohol isn't healthy; in fact, it's very hard on your liver and pathways of elimination. A couple drinks here and there is fine (as long as you know how to nourish yourself, afterward); however, alcohol seems to always be an "all-or-nothing" sort of thing. Today, I'm beginning to share my story with booze; personal thoughts on why I believe it's important for you to consider your relationship with it, if you need to make a change and how to do so. This post will come in multiple parts, just so you don't feel like you're reading a chapter book!

 

 

 

Your Past Determines Your Future... Sometimes

Me, in high school; drinking cream soda.

Me, in high school; drinking cream soda.

Growing up, my parents rarely drank alcohol. In fact, I don't ever remember alcohol being in our fridge, at home, until I was old enough to put it there. I never drank in high school. As a kid too scared to think of the consequences of getting caught, I spent weekends eating pizza, puppy chow and drinking gallons of soda (like all my other friends did). As I moved into my college-years, my drinking increased, but it never really became an issue, either. Instead of hitting up parties, and getting trashed, I'd order drinks with dinner, or buy fancy six-packs of beer, to consume on my couch.

Dependency

I believe that one of the reasons alcohol wasn't usually an issue was because the people I spent a lot of time with, in my college years, didn't drink much. They had parents with "addiction issues", and therefore, they strayed away from booze, because they didn't want to turn into someone similar. The always-ironic thing to me was that these people who didn't want to have the same "addiction" issues as their parents, were the ones who were abusing some sort of other substance (weed, coke, sex, food, etc).

That's the thing - if it wasn't alcohol, it always seemed to be something else... with everyone. In a society where feeling your feelings is almost taboo, we're meant to feel like we need to become dependent on something in order to "get by". Doesn't that sound awful?!

Fortunately for me, alcohol has never really been an issue; mostly because for as long as I've consumed it, it's made me feel like crap. And regardless of how 'fun' it might be consuming it, the after-math is enough to deter me from going overboard.

A Learning Opportunity

Now don't pin me as a saint, or a goodie-two-shoes; I've had my fair share of situations I've gone overboard in. A couple specific instances come to my mind:

I was around 21, and went to a popular bar in Fort Dodge, one summer night, with a few of my best friends. Drink after drink, we laughed and enjoyed the evening together. At around 1am, I figured it was about time to leave. I drove my car there, and I planned on driving my car home. *I never like leaving my car anywhere, or spending the night at anyone's house; I want to be home. As I was saying my goodbyes, my friend looked at me and yelled, "Let's do a jäger-bomb before you leave!"

OKAY, sure! What could happen?! I've always been in control; always been able to handle any situation I was in. One shot before heading home wouldn't be bad...

WRONG! So, wrong! That summer night, at around 1:30am, I drove the 16-miles from Fort Dodge to my house; on the backroads, with my windows rolled down, trying to stay awake. 45-minutes later, I pulled into my garage, said a little prayer and went inside, to bed.

*Definitely not smart, but I was fine! I got home safely. I was in control.

The beginning of the night i drank too much at a wedding.

The beginning of the night i drank too much at a wedding.

I was in a wedding, a couple years ago, where I drank... a lot. I don't remember the entire reception; I blacked out. I do remember driving home, pigging out on rice cakes, and my ex boyfriend criticizing me (the next day). What was all the fuss about, though?! Wedding receptions were a time to get hammered, with your friends, and have so much "fun" you had to rely on photos (or others) to piece together the night... right?!

Relying on others to piece together the night - in this case it was that ex boyfriend who was so furious, as I spoke with him the next day. "You were so drunk, you acted like a fool. You shouldn't have driven home. I followed you home, and you shut the garage door, as soon as you pulled into the garage - not even coming out to tell me goodnight."

*Again, definitely not smart, but I was fine! I got home safely; I wasn't hurt (just embarrassed). I was in control.

Me, once we got to the nightclub.

Me, once we got to the nightclub.

Probably the scariest situation is one that I talk about often, now: the time I was roofied. Now, I suppose I don't KNOW for certain whether I was roofied, or not. But all of the signs add-up. I remember starting the night, and remember waking up in a hotel room, later on in the evening. No recollection of the time in-between (except falling at the night-club and puking in the hotel lobby).

The night started like any other normal evening; drinking at a friends' house. I remember eating an entire pizza, as we drank and got ready to go out. I was looking forward to the night; dancing and having a good time; hoping to have the same experience I had had at this night-club the last time I was there.

Once we got to the night-club, I remember ordering one drink - vodka water (my drink of choice). As I picked it up, we headed onto the dance floor and that's where things get cloudy. I vaguely remember the girls I was with trying to pick me up off the floor, and then ordering me a taxi. "You can get home, right?!" they asked, as they put me into a taxi, in downtown Minneapolis, by myself. I was gone, by this point. The driver asked me dozens of times what my address was. I wasn't yet living in the cities, and needed to get to my brother's house, but the incredibly scary thing was I could not tell him where I needed to go.

Now, I know that I rambled off my old Iowa address, which looking back, was my saving grace (since it was the next-best thing I could have said, aside from my brother's address). This driver couldn't find that actual address, and tried for the next couple of hours. Luckily though, that address took us to a decent part of town, where he dropped me off at a hotel.

I puked twice that night. Never, in my entire life, had I ever puked from drinking. That night, however, was different. Once in the taxi and another in the hotel lobby. A few hours later (around midnight), I awoke, foggy-brained, and astonishingly not concerned or freaked out... at all. I looked at my phone, and saw a text from my brother. "Where are you? Are you coming home soon?"

"CODY! My brother! My best friend in the entire world; my saving grace! Please come pick me up! I'm scared! I'm alone! I have no idea what happened to me!" ... That's what I SHOULD have said. That's what any normal, drunk person would have said. However, again, my brain wasn't there. I didn't know what was going on. I didn't even know how to call my brother, or tell him where I was. Finally, he got me to send him a pinned location, and he picked me up.

We got to his house, and I rushed to bed. I was safe.

The next morning, I woke up in a panic. "WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED?!" I called my mom, in tears. For the first time in my entire life, I was NOT, in any way, in control. And the scariest part was that I couldn't remember a thing. Couldn't remember getting from the club to the hotel; couldn't remember the taxi driver; couldn't remember anything.

When You're Not in Control

As humans, being in control gives us comfort. We know that in any situation, we have the say in what happens. When we're put into a situation where control goes out the window, all hell breaks lose... literally.

I was a complete and utter wreck for the next month, or so, after. And really, who wouldn't be?! "Nobody touched me. I woke up by myself. The taxi driver dropped me off at that hotel, and I just got a room and went to bed. RIGHT?!" I asked myself these questions every second of every day, and couldn't recollect a thing, each time.

Finally, about two weeks after, I called the hotel and asked to talk to the manager, "Excuse me, I'm so sorry to call but... you see, I was roofied a few weeks ago and ended up at your hotel. I just wanted to know if anyone there can help me piece anything together?" The hotel manager picked up the phone and was the only person to really calm my anxiety, "Hi, miss. I was there the night you were brought in. Your taxi driver dropped you off, we got you a room and you fell asleep there." {I clarified that I was by myself} "Yes, miss; you were by yourself. Nobody was with you."

Finally. A sense of calm came upon me. I didn't remember what had happened that night (and I still don't, two years later); but I knew that I was 'okay', and that helped.

Same Song and Dance

A while after this incident happened, I decided to make a Facebook status about it. I wanted people to know that things can happen when you're not 110% careful. I received mixed feedback: some people were super nice; honestly curious to know about my mental well-being, and thankful I was safe. Some thought I had shared "too much"; feeling uncomfortable about my dilemma and not knowing how to handle it. Again, in a society where feeling your feelings is almost taboo, this wasn't something I was "supposed" to share; it was too much information; I wasn't sharing something "good". And then there were the exchanges that caused my heart to outpour with love, and with heartbreak: the individuals that reached out to me, and told me about similar instances that had happened to them. That's the incredibly heavy truth: instances like this happen far too often... with women and men. A "night out" turned bad.

*My boyfriend gave me permission to share this; an unnerving experience that just happened to him, two weeks ago: Ryan flew to Costa Rica, a couple of weeks ago, for a work trip. The same work trip he had taken so many times before; except this time, he was making the trip by himself. After a long day of traveling, he finally arrived at his hotel, grabbed his room key and headed to the hotel bar, for a couple of drinks. After the drinks, he headed to his room, opened the door and that's all he remembers... The next morning, at around 6:30am, I received a call from him, frantic, "Kate, I just woke up and there's blood everywhere. On the floor, on my pillow and my head is bleeding. There's blood everywhere."

As any person would, I panicked, "What? Are you okay? What happened? Can you call down to the desk? Are you still bleeding? Who knows you're there?" Ryan hung up the phone (because he said he was going to be sick) and the panic continued to kick in, "What if he has a concussion? What if he passes out, again, and nobody knows he's there? Who do I call? What do I do?"

As I mentioned earlier, being in control gives us comfort. We know that in any situation, we have the say in what happens. When we're put into a situation where control goes out the window, all hell breaks lose... literally.

Long story short, Ryan is home. He's okay. And we're going to be okay. He had a coworker [in Costa Rica] pick him up and take him to the hospital, where he got four stitches. He came home early, went back to the doctor and found out he suffered a concussion; the doctor thinks he was drugged.

Learning from Your Experiences

Ryan and I have been talking about this experience a lot, lately - his experience, and mine (from two years ago). So many similarities; a "normal night" gone wrong. When frightening things happen to us, I believe that we always have one of two options: to recognize it happened and learn from it, or to wallow for years to come. Now don't get me wrong; wallowing is PERFECTLY acceptable and good to do... just not for the rest of time. Was what happened scary? Of course it was! Could things have ended far worse than they did? You bet! Does that make it creepier? Sure it does! However, once that situation happens, it can be used as a learning opportunity for the future.

Today

Drinking water at an event. definitely not the worst thing ever!

Drinking water at an event. definitely not the worst thing ever!

Today, I'm a lot more cautious than I used to be. I don't drink unless I'm in a situation I'm 110% comfortable in - with people I trust, wholeheartedly. I don't drink to excess. Sometimes, I don't feel like drinking, even when I'm with people I trust, and then I don't drink. I'm aware of my surroundings.

When I take baths, and lean on the back of the tub just right, my head still hurts from where I fell that night, two years ago. When I think about it, I still get anxiety; still not being able to recollect what, exactly happened. However, because of my experience that night, I am able to understand how my boyfriend is feeling, right now.

Now, alcohol just isn't worth it, to me. Not worth the money. Not worth the sickness. Not worth the opportunity for something to easily go wrong, in the blink of an eye.

That's all, for now. In Part 2, I plan to discuss alcohol from a health standpoint, finding balance and focusing on your future. Take care of yourselves; tell those you love that you love them; and go be well.

xoxo,

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