Reader’s Questions; ALCOHOL?

So can alcohol be part of a healthy and fit lifestyle? 

Well, yes…and no.  It depends on what kind of alcohol you’re talking about, the quantity and the frequency with which you consume it.  There’s a lot of evidence to suggest that one glass of red wine about two nights a week can actually be very beneficial to your long-term heart health due to its high antioxidant content.  Unfortunately that benefit does not increase the more you drink. Quite the opposite, once you’re into your third glass those antioxidant benefits are cancelled out by the negative effects of alcohol, the toxins force our organs, the liver in particular to work overtime to remove them from our bodies.  So while a glass is good, a half bottle is definitely not better :). 

Calorie wise there’s a vast difference too.  A vodka and soda is the most waistline friendly, while the sweet, sugary cocktails like Daquaris, Mojitos, frozen Margaritas and the like, pack a such a GIANT calorie punch that will make your body wish you’d just ordered the little chocolate mousse for dessert.  Except that if you’re drinking those…well you’re probably already eating that too….oh wait, and you ate TWO giant baskets of chips and dip while you were waiting for your food…….then there’s that tub of Hagen Daaz calling to you from the deli on your walk home….

And that right there illustrates the two major issues that I see and have experienced with drinking alcohol regularly. 

Alcohol (as many of us have experienced after a rather ill-advised make out session somewhere in our histories) has the interesting effect of removing our inhibitions.  Now that can be quite entertaining….a delightful rendition of Celine Dion’s “My heart will go on” at the local karaoke anybody? It can be sexy (or just embarrassing depending on who you hooked up with and how publicly you did it!), and it can result in you ordering the Deep-pan, Cheese-crust, Super-sized, Meat Feast Pizza, extra pepperoni, extra cheese, when you had meant to get the salmon salad.  Yeah… going to take more than an extra ten minutes on the treadmill that one.  Because it’s not just the calories of the alcohol that need to be considered, but the calories of the different types of food we’re ALL rather more susceptible too at those times.  Don’t think I’m immune. Far from it……if anything, it’s the fact that I know how sensitive I am to it that makes me so disciplined.

Alcohol is what’s known as a simple sugar when it’s absorbed into the body, meaning that the body reacts to it as though it were candy: pure sugar.  This sets up a cycle of craving, as the body rushes to release insulin to control the sugar overload in our system, which then sends our blood sugar levels crashing down, which makes us crave MORE sugar to bring it back up again. Not helpful for our healthful food plans.  Not only that but all those calories are nutritionally empty. They do nothing good for our body, sadly.  Alcohol also acts as a depressant on our nervous system, so while it can (and does!) make us feel good and sparkly in the short-term that often backfires on us if we’re self-medicating to escape our emotions. 

So do Lacey and I drink?  Yes, VERY occasionally (maybe at a friends wedding, or a celebratory meal), but we both think of ourselves as basically non-drinkers because it is such a rarity.  We had both independently decided prior to meeting each other that regularly drinking alcohol was not something we wanted for ourselves.  I come from a background of substance and food abuse, and didn’t drink alcohol at all for over 3 years to ensure that it didn’t serve as a ‘gateway drug’ for me….. Meaning that my becoming less inhibited could result in me looking for drugs not just a pizza.  In that time, as hard as it was to begin with, I genuinely learnt how to enjoy myself without alcohol. I was terrified that I wouldn’t be ‘fun’, or ‘sexy’ or whatever I associated me being wasted with, but in fact I learnt that I can be those things just by being me (ok, not all the time, but at least when I’ve got my mojo 🙂 ).  I like feeling in control of my life and my body and I love knowing that I don’t need it to have a good time.

For Lacey, it came down to wanting to treat her body as well as she wanted her clients to treat theirs, to live authentically as a fitness professional….and to be the most productive; because it is amazing how much more you get done, and get to ENJOY when the weekend isn’t spent recovering from Friday night!  And finally, the empty calories….well, we BOTH hate them as you probably know if you read this blog regularly!!

FINALLY if you ARE going to drink, always eat something sensible first: please PLEASE don’t ‘save’ up your daily calories to use on alcohol…. I’ve heard it being called “drunkorexia” and it scares me.  All that’s going to do is see you outrageously drunk and probably more than a little sick!  Have a food with some complex carbs…some brown rice, or if you’re headed out from the office, at least a banana and some nuts.  It’ll help your body handle the alcohol and hopefully reduce the chances of you bingeing on KFC a few hours later, or puking or both.  Also try alternating every drink with a water, or soda and lime. Nobody will notice but your liver and your hangover free head will definitely thank you for it.  A hangover is basically caused by dehydration, so drink water throughout the evening and when you get home at night. 

I’m sure everybody reading has different hangover cures, but honestly…that’s not really what I want to promote. Drinking alcohol is a very personal choice; it depends on what our goals are for ourselves; depends on WHY someone wants to drink and the way in which they do it.

It’s definitely a prominent part of many people’s social/work lives and I am not here to judge. I honestly believe that alcohol can be incorporated into a healthy lifestyle if in MODERATION (that buzzword that’s thrown around so much). But speaking for myself, I am much happier and feel much healthier without it, and that’s my truth.

What are your thoughts on including alcohol in a healthful lifestyle?



5 Responses to “Reader’s Questions; ALCOHOL?”

  1. 1 mr pinstripes
    September 24, 2008 at 10:04 pm

    I quit drinking AND eating sugar for almost 3 years straight. I would occasionally eat fried sweet plantains etc. or some funky bar that utilized sugar alcohol or malitol which are more like laxatives and for some reason dont get absorbed by the body and have a zero calorie impact. when i quit this diet, and went back to drinking 20 cock tails a week and eating sweets in between meals i gained 20 lbs in a flash. Everything in moderation, last week i’d say i was avg 3 helpings of sweets a day and 3 drinks. i quit sweets yesterday and limiting my drinks to either shots just to get a buzz if i “need one” or those margaritas at pianos. two of them and you’re happy all night, all for 3 bucks a pop at happy hour.

    I bet i lose 10 lbs by the end of next week just from removing those calories from my diet. we’ll see. (i walk a lot!)

  2. 2 mr pinstripes
    September 24, 2008 at 10:06 pm

    p.s. people still puke?1!? fort real? =p

  3. September 25, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    I love what you wrote Jessica… I have so much to say about this topic as well – It really inspired me! In the future I am going to post something on it too.

    Here’s what I found to frustrate me beyond reason – When I wanted my body to look a certain way I could ABSOLUTELY not get it together when I was drinking regularly… I would YOYO Like CCRRAAZZYYY! – Down 5lbs, UP 10lbs, Done 10lbs, STEADY, UP 5lbs – aahhhhhhh!!!!! I got so sick of not getting the results I deserved, SWEATED soooo HARD for at the gym, I said ENOUGH!

    So I tried to stop drinking and there YOU go! It was the trick for me… I have been able to keep the weight off for almost 3 years now. That’s due to my tremendous workout ethic and discipline with food BUT also – I think cutting drinking out of my life for a good 2 years helped me to find myself. Leading a healthy lifestyle is who I am, it makes me happy. But when I was drinking it fogged everything for me… I couldn’t see it. It was like taking a break from me, ya know? Almost like… escaping or not wanting to take responsibility for my life and my choices…

    Givin it up sounds hard because it is… BUT wow, for me it was ssooo worth it.

  4. 4 Eneb
    September 27, 2008 at 12:14 am

    “Alcohol (as many of us have experienced after a rather ill-advised make out session somewhere in our histories)”

    HA, HA, HA, soooo true!. But it was moments like this , getting Wasted, waking up in unknown places, and making out with suspect characters, that made the 3RD grade such a special time:D


    I don’t know what that picture up there of you has to do with Alcohol, but THANK YOU ALCOHOL topic!

    I don’t drink at all. Not because of health or religious issues I just never started. I’m 26, and I consider myself a pretty open minded person when it comes to life in general but when it comes to my personal wants and interest I tend to be very narrow minded (sometimes it helps me focus/sometimes it isolates me). In the case of alcohol & drugs it was just never something that appealed to me so I never tried it , kinda like penis and ostrich burgers, never tried those either.

  5. October 14, 2008 at 6:52 am

    If the human body is made up of 70% water, then our healthy is related with firstly water quality. Water is consisted of hydrogen and oxygen ions. Its ingredients and mineral compounds directly effect on water quality. Many researchers have been studying on good water and there is no agreed decision. Recently one common decision on good water is alkaline, low ORP value, hexagonal water cluster and rich mineral ingredients as known alkaline reduced water, alkaline ionized water, antioxidant water etc. We know that there are lots of thermal and spa water all over the world which have therapeutic effect on some illness. Alkaline water has also such healing effect depends on its alkalinity, structure of water clusters, quantity of hydrogen ions that gives to water antioxidant characteristic. As a result various scientists believe that alkaline antioxidant water has healing capability on some illness like cancer, aging, constipation, atopy, hyertension, diabetes, etc.

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