I have a long standing relationship with alcohol going back to high school when my friends and I would sample greedily from our parents liquor cabinets. I went for the southern comfort whiskey and apricot brandy everytime (sorry mom). I drank in college along with my friends, even though I was into bodybuilding and extremely health conscious. I would train hard at the gym but go out for margaritas and beer on the weekends. I only stopped when I was dieting to compete, which ended after 6 weeks in a fit of frustration with a stack of pancakes and a bottle of chardonnay. After college when I started my grown-up job I enjoyed drinking with new friends and made it a regular social activity. As years passed and my career became more demanding I drank probably more than was good for me and for the wrong reasons. I was not addicted to alcohol but I would say I abused it. I used it to get me through things I didn’t want to do-whether it was social obligations, parties or work events. I drank out of fear, insecurity, loneliness and boredom. Never heavily, but just enough to be a little more than enough.
I stopped drinking once for 5 years when I was on a vegetarian diet. I can’t say I felt much different but I did feel out of balance for my body. I needed more protein than I was feeding myself. Grilled chicken and alcohol soon came back into my life.
Areas of the body affected by alcohol consumption: So basically….everything.
When I made big career and diet changes early last year I stopped drinking alcohol again. I was training hard and had changed my lifestyle significantly. I was tired of feeling rundown, dehydrated and tired. I believe that alcohol was affecting my body negatively and for the first time my body was clearly letting me know. I was making such positive changes in the rest of my life that I didn’t want to keep punishing myself physically so I stopped drinking completely. My body reacted very positively; I had more energy, I slept great, my skin glowed, my stomach was flatter than ever and I felt amazing inside. It seemed pretty obvious I was doing the right thing. Over the last few months I’ve tried to re-introduce alcohol back into my life like an old friend. A glass of red wine here and there, a cold beer on a summer night, but 99% of the time I feel like *@&!% after trying to drink just one drink. I can’t even finish it. My head gets stopped up, I get lightheaded, my stomach burns or I feel nauseous. The body never lies. It tells us what works for us and what doesn’t.
Truth be told I love nothing more than standing in my kitchen, chopping fresh garlic for sauce, while listening to Frank Sinatra and sipping a big ol glass of Merlot, but right now my body is saying “NO” and for now, I will abide. Maybe this will change, maybe it won’t. I can make the sauce without the sauce.
Maybe emotionally I don’t need the alcohol anymore. Maybe I am ok to face fear without feeling numb. Maybe now I am able to meet people and be social without altering my personality with alcohol. I don’t know what it is, but I am listening to my one and only true source of wisdom- my inner voice. The voice who speaks to us softly at first and then louder and physically through our bodies when we don’t hear. It was talking to me the whole time, I just never listened.