May 1, 2019
Can alcohol be a part of your life of moderation? Jen, Annie and Lauren sit down and discuss how alcohol can impact your health and fitness goals and your life, how to assess if it’s time to make a change and how to implement that change if needed. Cheers to moderation!
What you’ll hear in this episode:
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Annie: Welcome to Balance365 Life radio, a podcast that delivers honest conversations about food, fitness, weight, and wellness. I'm your host Annie Brees along with Jennifer Campbell and Lauren Koski. We are personal trainers, nutritionists and founders of Balance365. Together we have coached thousands of women each day and are on a mission to help them feel healthy, happy, and confident in their bodies on their own terms. Join us here every week as we discuss hot topics pertaining to our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing with amazing guests. Enjoy.
Annie: Do you need to give up alcohol to reach your goal? Improve your health? On today's episode, we are talking all about booze. People drink for a variety of reasons. For many, alcohol just tastes good. It can help us unwind, connect socially, and maybe even increase creativity. In my experience. Drinking in moderation can be fine. I absolutely enjoy a glass or two of wine here and there, but maybe you found yourself wondering if cutting back or eliminating alcoholic beverages altogether from your diet would help you reach your health or weight loss goals faster. Or maybe you've noticed that a few drinks on a Wednesday night snowballs into poor sleep, missed workouts, and less than desirable food choices the following day. If that's you, you've got to give this show a listen. Jen, Lauren and I discuss how alcohol impacts our health and questions to help you decide if your intake is helping or harming your lifestyle. Enjoy. Lauren and Jen, we are back together. Lauren, how are you?
Lauren: I am wonderful. How are you?
Annie: I am golden. Coming in hot after a lost a microphone or lost headphone fiasco to laser tag guns, but I recovered them and I'm sweating now but I'm here.
Lauren: That's what's important.
Annie: Yes. Jen, how are you?
Jen: I'm good and I'm so glad to be back because I had to miss our last recording day because of sound issues, which was super frustrating, but our sound girl, her and I worked it out and here I am.
Annie: Yay. Three best friends. Anyway, we're back together. So, we, I just sang on the podcast, you guys. We are talking about alcohol-
Lauren: Leveling up, leveling up.
Annie: Leveling up and alcohol. Both. We're doing both today. We're talking about alcohol because alcohol comes up a fair amount in our community and how does it factor into one's lifestyle and can you have alcohol and still have weight loss goals? Can you have alcohol and still want to improve your health? How does alcohol affect your health? How does, and when I say health, I'm talking about mental, mental, physical, emotional. So we just wanted to, three of us have all had fair amount of experience with alcohol and how much we use at various points of time. And I think it's gonna make for a really great podcast today. You guys excited?
Annie: Awesome. So drinking a moderation can be fun. And I want to start this podcast episode with a little bit of a disclaimer that this podcast is not a substitute for professional help. If you suspect that you have, an abuse or alcohol addiction problem, that we would absolutely refer you out to a professional, whether that be a doctor, a therapist, a counselor, a group, whatever sort of treatment you feel that you need. We're talking about specifically light to moderate drinking and how to assess if maybe you need to change some of those behaviors to reach your goals. Right?
Annie: Jen and Lauren, do you drink, do you drink at all, Lauren?
Lauren: To be honest, lately I have not. I will have a couple of drinks on the weekend if we're going out or doing something. But during the week I don't.
Annie: Jen, what about you?
Jen: I rarely drink either. I used to drink more and I actually, which we can get into in the podcast, but last October I cut back significantly. And so now I just drink just socially probably. And I'm not very social, so. I don't have very many friends. So-
Annie: Kinda introverted. Well I guess I'll, I'll take one for the team here. I drink a fair amount and then it ebbs and flows depending on what's going on in my life. But, it's not uncommon for me to have a glass or two of wine a couple times a week, just with dinner or after dinner or after work or whatever, a little happy hour. So, I guess I'll be the kind of the drinker of the three-
Jen: Right. You'll be the heavy drinker.
Lauren: I used to drink more before I had kids and like Jen said, when I had more of a social life. So, it kind of ebbs and flows too. Like in the summer I usually have more drinks than in the winter because we're out at barbecues and just doing things and out more than I am in the winter.
Jen: Yeah, I would say it's, we're hopefully getting into spring here in Canada and in the summer I tend to drink a bit more than I do in the winter too. There's just something about, I dunno, a deck, sun shining, fire and when I'm with you two.
Annie: I have no clue what you're talking about.
Annie: We do enjoy good, which we can talk about later. But we do enjoy good meals when we're together. And sometimes that's just like-
Jen: We do. It's very nice.
Annie: It's like a treat. It's a luxury. It feels like a luxury.
Jen: Yeah. Totally.
Annie: And I do just want to also clarify, according to at least the United States dietary guidelines advisory committee, moderate drinking for women is up to seven drinks a week with no more than three drinks on any single day. For men that's up to 14 drinks per week with no more than four drinks on any single night. Heavy drinking is eight or more drinks a week for women or 15 or more drinks for men. And then binge drinking is kind of its own separate category and that's the consumption of about two hour window of four or more drinks for women or five or more drinks for men. And Jen, when we were actually, I was sharing the podcast outline with them and Jen was asking about why do men and women have different guidelines?
Annie: And she noted even women are the same size as men. Like me, which I am the, I am the same size as a lot of men in my life. And I actually had to do some research on this. And what I found out was it's men are generally larger and build in general, general quotes, not in my case, but that gives them more blood volume. They also generally have less body fat, but they also have, regardless of their weight, higher enzymes that help them break down alcohol and the concentration of water, I did not know this in the body of an average man is around 61% and a woman has considerably less water content and about 52%. So as a result, a man's body is just naturally equipped to dilute alcohol more efficiently than a woman's body regardless of weight.
Lauren: That's really interesting.
Annie: I know, I thought that too. Because like Jen, I'm like, "Well, I'm the same size. I can go drink for drink, right?" Like, no, I can't. I tried that in college many times. Didn't work out well for me. But also how you can metabolize and how alcohol affects you can also be affected by your age, your sex, as we talked about your race or ethnicity, your physical condition, the amount of food you consumed before drinking, how quickly the alcohol was consumed, the use of drugs or prescription medications and then family history of alcohol problems. So I just wanted to kind of like throw out some like baseline, like what's moderate drinking, what is heavy drinking? What factors go into play with how we metabolize alcohol. Just so we can have, level the playing field, so to speak. Does that make sense?
Jen: Yeah. So, question, Annie, this information is from, where did you say this is?
Annie: This is from, well it's from a variety of sources, but the drinking guidelines was from the United States Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, which actually now that you say that, I'd be curious to know if the guidelines vary from country to country because drinking as a culture is very different in European cities versus American cities.
Jen: So versus like Russia or-
Annie: Yeah, be curious to know.
Jen: I think alcohol consumption is very cultural, which we might get into a bit later too. So I think a lot of people that I know would be surprised to read this and see that they are considered heavy drinkers based on these guidelines. I think they would feel like, "Wait a sec, I'm not a heavy drinker."
Lauren: I am considered, according to these guidelines, a binge drinker, which is weird to say that just because like I don't, I'm not the type that will just have like one wine after dinner. Like I'm a social drinker, so like I'll go have a few and then I won't drink for the rest of the week. And I'm just finding that interesting to read.
Annie: Well and the other thing that I think is important to note is serving size, you know, a serving size, what they're counting as a drink would be five, four to five ounces of wine, a 12 ounce beer, five ounce cocktail. I don't know about you, but when I pour a glass of wine, it isn't never five ounces.
Annie: It is always way more. So-
Jen: I don't even know if that's standard in restaurants. Like, I don't know if a restaurant even ever pours five ounces.
Lauren: It is they're supposed to-
Annie: Right. Because when I go to a restaurant, I'm like, one of us is doing this wrong. I'm pouring a much bigger class than they are serving me at the steak restaurant down the street.
Jen: So from my memory of going out and having wine is that you can order either a six or a nine ounce at restaurants. That's in, where I live.
Lauren: Oh, we don't have that.
Jen: Oh, you don't?
Lauren: No, you can order, like, a tall or a short beer, but you, it's just one serving size of wine or like a drink.
Jen: I, yeah, no, you can order size six or nine ounce, which is six ounce sounds like it's considered larger than your standard serving. But yeah, I kind of live in wine country, a wine region of Canada too. So maybe that's why they have that. Well, yeah, interesting.
Annie: It is. And I mean to be full disclosure, there's nights where I'm like "my serving size is a bottle."
Jen: Yeah. And I mean you have to, everybody has to understand, these are guidelines. They aren't, just like nutrition recommendations are also guidelines. It doesn't mean, you know, you want to roughly make sure you're in the range of the guidelines, but just because Lauren goes out once a month and has four drinks in two hours and sees that those align with binge drinking doesn't mean she is a binge drinker.
Lauren: It doesn't, right. It doesn't make me unhealthy. You know what I mean? Like it's balance, you know?
Jen: Yeah. You gotta, like, you gotta zoom out always and put everything in perspective.
Annie: Well, and I think that hopefully what we'll get into in a little bit here is that we're going to pose some questions to help you determine if your alcohol consumption, your alcohol intake is serving you positively or if it's affecting you negatively. And then what you do with that information is for you to decide because, true to Balance365 form, we believe in body autonomy and that you get a right, the kind of the owner's manual and what works best for you is all that's really in our best interest. We're not here to tell you to cut out alcohol together, although that might be what you decide after listening to this podcast or evaluating your intake or to reduce it or, you know, I think there's, there is some, I don't want to say misinformation, but there's, there's plenty of articles that would say alcohol is good for you and they're a little bit gray.
Annie: I don't think that the general guidelines from, you know, the source that I mentioned earlier, the United States Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee noted that there might be some benefit, but that they wouldn't encourage anyone to start drinking because of it. So, this is really just like a more tools in your toolbox to help you evaluate again as this serving you.
Is this moving you where you want to be? Are you comfortable with this? Is this problematic for you or is this adding to your life in a way that you're enjoying it and you're comfortable with? So, reasons that you might want to reconsider your intake though. We have a couple here and the first one is that you're stressed. And I think we see this a lot. People are stressed out. They're feeling anxious, they're feeling the overwhelm and they pour a glass of wine and it's almost habitual.
Lauren: It's become, like, in the mommy circles, right? It's become a thing. Like I need wine.
Jen: It's actually called, it's called mommy wine culture.
Lauren: Yes, thank you, I couldn't remember the name.
Jen: Yeah. And we've, there's a lot of people have been talking about this in the last year about how alcohol companies or even marketing to moms now in as far as "Here's a way to manage your stress, here's some wine, have some, it's okay." So I have mixed feelings about it. I think it is a slippery slope and based on personal experience, I mentioned earlier that I really peeled back on drinking last October and I was going through a very stressful time. We had moved in August and I had basically done that move by myself with kids and, you know, new city, just everything was new and I was struggling with some anxiety and my consumption just went way up. And then I, here's some, here's some, here's some honesty for you.
Jen: I met you guys in October, remember we met in Detroit and we went out to that concert and I got, like, wasted like just like 19 year old university frat house drunk. And I was, I don't know where it came from, but I was mortified the next morning, like, "Whoa, that was too far!" And, when I got back from that trip, I just really tried to have an honest talk with myself about my consumption going up and up and up and I just was so stressed out that it had become toxic for me. Like it really was a way for me to manage my stress and anxiety and that's a slippery slope. So, and people do this all the time with lots of different things, right? Like, whether they, sometimes with food we talk about that quite a bit.
Jen: And so yeah, I just had an honest talk with myself and I set some boundaries for myself, which is when I, at that point I said, you know what, unless I am socializing, then I don't need to be just drinking wine on a Wednesday night. And, I'm just going to keep it to two drinks. Um, even when I'm socializing for now. That was sort of the guideline I set for myself and now a year and a half has gone by and I feel really good. I feel in control of my consumptions but I don't have that stress and anxiety anymore so it doesn't feel compulsive to me. But yeah, it was just a really good choice for me. It was a really, really good choice.
Annie: And you know, it might be a really great opportunity if you find yourself drinking because you're stressed to explore, expand your toolbox, so to speak, of other ways you can manage your stress. And that might mean taking a shower, going for a walk, meditating, reading, knitting.
Jen: Or going to therapy. So I used that experienced and reflection and to go, you know what? I need to start going to see a therapist and I'd been thinking about it for a long time and just not executing, not executing. And then I use that as sort of a turning point for me. So then I started therapy and you know what I've done in the last 18 months, I cry significantly more. I think, it's because it is great and I just find like I'm, you know, I just went through, I just, I'm a crier and I process my emotions when I'm crying and it's not a negative experience for me. It's really positive for me to cry. So I've noticed since I pulled back on drinking and started going to therapy, I've just learned that how to process my emotions in a more healthy way. And it's been really great.
Lauren: I find crying is a stress reliever for me too, for sure. Like when I'm stressed, like I will just have like a mini breakdown by myself in my roommate and I'm like, "Whoa. Alright."
Jen: Yeah. Like that was just so great.
Lauren: Everything's okay.
Annie: Yeah. I agree. Maybe, I just, I attribute it to therapy as well, but feeling your feelings is quite nice, sometimes even the ugly feelings, even the really uncomfortable feelings. Um, okay. So another reason that you might be drinking, and that you might want to reconsider your drinking is because it's, you're doing it out of habit, which I think I've told this story many times, but I got into a habit of drinking shortly after Blair was born because she was probably eight weeks old or so and really fussy and hard to get to sleep. So I would like spend all this energy and time and mental effort getting this baby to sleep. And the minute she would like go to bed, I would come down and I would just pour a glass of wine and sit in the kitchen and talk with my husband.
Annie: And I realized pretty quickly that there was, there was a habit which we've talked about in our Habits 101 podcast and How to Change a Bad Habit that there's a habit loop there. And in that habit loop is the reminder, the routine, the reward, the three Rs. And the reminder for me to drink to have a glass of wine was putting Blair to sleep. It was like super stressful. I was tired. It was just like, "Oh my God, I just, I can't do anything more right now. I just need this glass of wine." The routine was drinking the glass of the wine and the reward was, is that it kind of felt like it took the edge off. I got to spend some QT with my husband in the kitchen. It was kind of our own little happy hour and once I realized that there was this loop replaying almost nightly, that I could replace the behavior.
Annie: The best way to change a bad habit or an unfavorable habit or a habit that you want to decrease is to replace the routine with something that elicits the same reward. So for me, instead of drinking glass of wine, it was immediately going and taking a shower or going and taking a walk and then coming back and having a Lacroix or a Diet Coke and still sitting in the kitchen with my husband, still having some QT, our own little happy hour. I just replaced the routine with something else that still took the edge off, still gave me a little breather, still take, like, some downtime. Still felt like that reward that I was getting from the wine, but served my goals a little bit better because ultimately I don't want to be, I don't want to drink every night and in order to get the same kind of take the edge off feeling I was having to drink more and more and more.
Annie: So what started out as one glass of wine was quickly becoming three glasses of wine, like, over the course of a couple months. And before you know it, I was like quasi tipsy, putting my other kids to bed and I was like, this isn't something I want to do every single night. Like that's not for me. It was affecting my sleep and I could go on and on about the ways that it was affecting my life negatively. But that was one way that I addressed the habit loop. Just swap in the routine was something that elicits the same reward.
Jen: Sorry, go ahead, Lauren.
Lauren: I think that kind of what you described happens really frequently. So like we were talking about the stress, right? That was part of your story, right, was stress? And then you had the drink to like take the edge off or whatever. But then what happened is that became a habit. And I think that happens really frequently. And so I love that story too. And I tell it all the time too.
Annie: Remember when you were drinking all the time?
Jen: I think that people, so if you haven't listened to our Habits 101 podcast, you
people don't understand how strong habits are, right? They think they just have horrible willpower and I, they just can't make good choices, et cetera, et cetera. But, habits are just like, they're like primal. They're deep in our brain and they're basically, they're practically a survival mechanism, aren't they?
Jen: Because they allow us to do things without wasting time and energy on them, right? So when you form habits, it's really important to identify those three hours. Like, and he said in this can apply to anything, right? So for Annie, her, she was putting her kids to bed and then her brain would like light up and go time for a drink. But sometimes that is time for a chocolate bar or time for some TV. Like it just, and you just, you go through the motions of life because are we just, our brain has so many habits running on repeat and in order to change them, you have to identify them and identify what your reminder is, what your routine is, what the reward is, and then try and transition to a different habit that you'd like to replace it with as Annie did.
Jen: But yeah, so it's not nothing to do with you personally, you know, and your willpower. It's important to acknowledge. I think that this is like, you know, I used to close my kid's door, but them to bed close the door. I'd be walking down the hall and I would start salivating. Like it was like my brain was just like "snack time." Like I wouldn't be hungry, but it just was a deep routine for me to snack at night and so I would just go straight to the kitchen and get some food.
Lauren: So very timely. Last night I watched The Office episode where Jim does that with the Altoid with white with the noise in his computer
Annie: Like Pavlov's dog.
Annie: Same thing, same, same. The other kind of element that also some plays into why you might be drinking and also habits is environment plays a strong strong element and a strong role into drinking. And when I say environment, it could be like your physical location. It could be the people you're spending time with. It could be the time of year, it could be like a restaurant, like where you always, it triggers these same sorts of behaviors. For me in the particular case of putting Blair to bed, part of the environment was that we just always had wine on hand and in fact, we would buy boxed wine because we thought that that was like an easier way to serve us wine and save money in the long run. We'd get more use out of it. We wouldn't let it go bad. What ended up happening was it was just like wine on tap all this time and that element of our environment made it just a little too easy to pour wine all the time or a half a glass of wine and then another half a glass of wine.
Annie: So a simple swap was we just started buying bottles of wine and a bottle of wine for my husband and I is about two glasses each when it's gone, it's gone and trained. Traci Mann actually talked about this in our podcast with her about the small obstacle, like make something, put it in a position, make a small obstacle to whatever you're trying to do. So it's a little bit difficult or a little bit more difficult than it would be otherwise. In my case, the wine was just too accessible. So making it less accessible made the habit harder to implement.
Lauren: Yeah. I think a key when you're thinking about environment in the habit context is to think about, if you are trying to change a habit that you don't want to be doing, just make it a little bit harder to engage in that behavior. And if you are trying to create a new, healthier habit, you want to make it as easy as possible to engage in that behavior.
Jen: So I keep, I don't actually keep wiring in the house as much anymore and, but
when I do have one in the house, I have it in a high cupboard. Same as I keep our treats in a high cupboard, but I have my tea in a low eye level cupboard. And because the habit I want to have is when I'm feeling like something in the evening, I just make myself some te, and so yeah, I just keep the tea really accessible right there. Yeah. So the other thing I wanted to mention around environment is just sort of on a grander scale is Canada used to not have alcohol in, like, grocery stores and places. It was really only accessible. You'd have to go to a liquor store, like a special store that only served alcohol. And when I moved to New Zealand in 2010, New Zealand has alcohol in their grocery stores.
Jen: And I walked, I remember into a grocery store and seeing an aisle of wine and being like, "What?" and just from there, it was just so easy to buy. And then they have like their bargain bin wine that was like $6 a bottle. And so that's another time in my life. I remember when my consumption increased because it was just so accessible to me. Suddenly it wasn't like you have to make a special trip to a special store to get alcohol. Anyways, things have changed in Canada and it's now, now you can get alcohol in many grocery stores, which I know isn't kind of new for us. I know it's not new for you guys. I think when I go to you, you can get it in the gas station, it's just like, you know. And so it's just recognizing that, and we talked about this with Traci Mann, I think it was Traci Mann. Yeah, we talked about this with Dr Mann as well around treats, right? Like you can go to staples or an office depot and there's chocolate bars at the checkout. They're like, you start noticing that all of these foods that people actually struggle with moderating, they're sort of, they're in our environment everywhere, right? Like you don't go to Office Depot and have apples and oranges at the checkout, right? You have, you know, these processed foods. I don't want to demonize any foods, so I don't want anyone to thinking that's what I'm doing. But you know, it's chocolate bars and bags of chips and you know, things that keep for a long time. But so alcohol is kind of the same thing. I think if you are struggling with your alcohol intake, it's just something to take note of.
Jen: Like, "Oh, like it's at the gas stations. It's at the grocery stores? It's for-" Yesterday when I was, we were messaging about this, the three of us, but my kids were at their ski and snowboard lessons yesterday. So we were up on the mountain and I sat down to do some work at the lodge and there's a bar right there. And I was like, "Oh, I should get a glass of wine while I'm working." But it was just that. Then I actually just did that pause as we discussed in the Traci Mann episode. And it was like, "No, you know what, I'm good with the coffee." But I just noticed that all around me there's people coming in from skiing and they're sitting there having a beer and yeah, it was just there and I realized, you know, it was just, it was just, it was just there. Right. And I was going to have some just cause it was there and I just took that second to pause and I was like, "Nah. Yeah."
Annie: That's was exactly my experience with wine in the home. I mean, and you're right, you can get wine in the gas station, at least in Iowa. I think it's different from state to state, who can sell alcohol where and at what times, but-
Lauren: You can get alcohol everywhere in Michigan all the time.
Jen: The other thing that just floored me was when we moved to Australia, you could, like, get in the movie theaters, I was like "What?" And then it's this novelty, right? You just, you want to get it. But now in Canada it is also available in, things sure have changed in the last decade here in Canada. But you can also get it at movie theaters in Canada now too.
Lauren: I remember a few years ago, it was all like a big thing that you can now buy beer at the zoo.
Jen: Oh Wow. That's crazy. So I don't know if this is good or bad, right? Like we all have to be responsible. You know, there's the personal responsibility piece, but then there's also the environment piece. And we know that, we know through, you know, there's tons of research done when you remove things from people's environments. So they've done things, you know, they've done studies in hospitals, they've done studies in big sports arenas and they've manipulated the food and the drinks that are being offered. And it significantly changes what people choose. Right? So even at a sport, I think there was a study on a sports arena where they didn't remove the soda machines, but they cut back on how many soda machines there were and they increased the water machines and suddenly consumption shifted to people drinking more water than soda. And so, I don't know if it was a terrible thing in Canada that you had to go to a liquor store to buy liquor. I don't think it was a terrible thing, but anyways, times are a-changin.
Annie: In addition to like your physical location, another element of environment, which I think I kind of mentioned beforehand, was, it can be people and it can be totally, it could be it could even be like situations like you're at your family's Christmas or your office work party and it may be like, you know, that one office work party a year. Like, you need a gin and tonic, or you need a glass of wine or whatever to make it through with whatever gusto you need.
Annie: And it could be people, you know, I have girlfriends that I don't drink with ever. And then I have girlfriends that we seem to, every time we seem to get together, we always have a glass of wine or whatever.
Jen: Yeah. We had a Balanced 365er talk about that recently. She was talking about how that's what her friends do. They get together and drink on the weekends. So for her to try to cut back on her alcohol consumption was very, very, very hard. Just, you know, the peer pressure I guess around it. And also like, that's what they do. So-
Annie: Yeah. Yeah. And, and you know, again, it's not necessarily that you have to do anything with it, but just creating some awareness like, "hey, this is our pattern. Every time we get together we do x, Y, Z, or every time I'm with this person, you know." And the same could be said for desserts. You know, like every time I go out to dinner with Heather, we always get a dessert or you know, for example or whatever. It's just creating awareness of how your environment affects your habit is really awesome.
Jen: And there's nothing wrong with any of it. It's more about the frequency, right? If you go out to eat every single day with Heather for lunch and you guys are sharing cake every single day for lunch, well then that might be something you examine. If you and Heather go out once a month for lunch. Are we talking about Heather Osby? Different Heather?
Lauren: Hi, Heather!
Annie: Actually, I actually don't, we do go out for lunch, but Heather just came to mind. But yes. Heather and I don't, I don't think we share a dessert though. I don't actually.
Jen: Anyways. Anyways, Heather's a fitness professional that is a good friend of Annie's in Iowa. Anyways, yeah. So it's more about the frequency. Like how often do you do this?
Annie: Are you comfortable with the frequency? If you are, great, if not, then maybe it's time to make some changes. Speaking of making some changes, I do want to, kind of move on. So if you're considering making some changes, you heard all of this and you're like, "Huh, yeah, maybe I should kind of examine my consumption." We would encourage you to gather some information on the situation before you make decisions. And step one can simply be like, take note of how much you're drinking. And as I mentioned, portion size is key here because a serving size of wine is four to five ounces. And in my house that's, like, not happening. So to really be honest about like "how much am I really drinking?" can be your step one. And that could just be like a food journal. It could be like a note in your phone, it could be a tally mark on your cover, I mean, whatever that looks like for you.
Annie: You don't have to track calories, you don't have to track macros, you don't have to do anything with that. You could just, just take note of the quantity. And then step two would be to review the data. And this is where I think a lot of women get tripped up is they, we would encourage women to look at the data as just like, "This is just information. This is just data." It doesn't mean that you're a good person or a bad person or that you are a failure or that you did really well or that you did anything bad. It's just like, like, "Let's just look at it as objectively as possible." And some questions to ask yourself when you're reviewing the data, "Am I drinking more or less than I thought? Are there patterns that we discussed earlier to your drinking? The people, the places, the days of the week?"
Annie: This is really key. Is it bringing "unwanted friends" to the party? Which that could mean binge eating, emotional drama. Like, are you fighting with friends or your spouse or are you short tempered with your kids? Are you enjoying, you know, an extra dinner after you started drinking when you're aren't hungry to begin with because as I've experienced many times, alcohol actually does suppress leptin, which is the hormone that tells your brain when you're full and it negatively affects other brain chemicals that are involved in appetite suppression. So, it's easy to see why like, "Yeah, pizza sounds great!" At 2:00 AM after a couple drinks, college Annie knows that very well, but it really is harder to read hunger and fullness cues after a few drinks.
Jen: We also don't, you know, we typically pair alcohol with higher calorie foods. It's not like, you know, it's not like you go to a party and everyone's having wine and there's veggie tray and salads on display. Like it's usually chips and candy or you know, dips and bread and that kind of thing. And so a Balance365er did recently share this as well. She was talking about how it's not actually the alcohol for her that she thinks she's over consuming. It's that she has a couple of drinks and then she eats, she just mindlessly is eating at the snack table and pretty soon she's gone through like a party size bag of Doritos. Right. And so that's sort of where it can affect your over consumption or if you have weight loss goals or that-
Annie: It can just lower inhibitions. But, I mean, really, as I noted it does make, alcohol makes it harder to read hunger and fullness cues.
Jen: Right. Yeah.
Lauren: For me, it also went beyond that, right, for like the next day, cause I would be tired and crabby and craving more, like, high fat comfort foods.
Jen: Right. So then you want, you get up and you're like, "Oh, Mcdonald's-
Lauren: McDonald's breakfast.
Annie: What is it about fast food the next day? That
Lauren: It's so good.
Annie: Makes you feel better.
Lauren: I don't know.
Annie: Is that just habit? I wonder if there's science behind that. Like a higher fat, higher calorie meal.
Jen: I actually don't crave fast food when I'm hungover, I crave like Booster Juice, like a smoothie, something like-
Annie: Oh, no way.
Lauren: That would never happen.
Jen: For me, that's like, hydrate. I'm just drawn to it.
Lauren: Genetics, like some genetic cause, like, that's honestly what you crave, right? And I honestly would never have that the next day.
Annie: I am honestly disgusted by your hangovers.
Jen: Who are you?
Annie: So yeah. We get, let's circle back to that in just a little bit, but when you're reviewing the data, additional consideration would be how is it affecting you physically? Is it affecting your sleep? Is it affecting your workouts? Do you generally feel good before and after you drink? Do you feel in control of your drinking? If you had to give it up for a week, how would you feel? Would you feel panicked? Would you feel calm, cool, collected about it? And then are you in choice of your drinking or is it your friends and your family controlling how much and how when, and I mean, ultimately, we want to be the ones that are in control of how much we're drinking, that we want to feel like we're in choice. We're not pressured, we don't feel obligated. We don't feel compelled to participate in consuming alcohol if that's ultimately what we don't want. So alcohol and weight loss, like can they go hand in hand? And Lauren, do you want to, do you have any thoughts right off the bat or do you want me to jump right into it?
Lauren: You can jump right in. I think what I was going to say is, probably you're going to get into it.
Annie: Yeah, because It ultimately boils down to calories, calories in, calories out. And a lot of times people might find their calorie intake increases with additional caloric drinks like alcohol, especially if you're mixing them with like Daiquiris and you know, like high calorie mixers.
Jen: Like it would be nothing for a Pina Colada to be like a 400 to 500 calorie drink.
Jen: And like a standard glass of wine I think is about 200 calories. And so, and caloric drinks don't improve or are, you know, they're not, they're not satisfying as we touched on. And so that's why it's easy to over consume them.
Annie: Right. And alcohol does have calories. It has about seven calories per gram of alcohol. So, but usually like Jen said, we're mixing them with other elements that can increase the calories. So it's not that you can't lose weight and have alcohol as part of your diet, it's more how does that intake affect your overall caloric intake over the day, over the week, over the month? And additionally, I do want to share that when alcohol is broken down, that it will burn out, your body will burn alcohol before any other calories consumed are stored, including fat or sugar. So even if you drink and consume more calories, if you drink and consume more calories than you need, you're more likely to store the fat from the wings, you ate or sugars from the monster cookies you ate because your body is getting all the energy from the alcohol.
Annie: And additionally, it's possible the alcohol temporarily inhibits lipid oxidation. So in other words, when alcohol is in your system, it's harder for your body to burn the fat that's already there. So again, with all that said, it's really an issue of calories. And looking at the chain of events, which we kind of touched on, that happens once alcohol is consumed. So if you're having two or three glasses of wine a night and then you indulge in late night snacking, you sleep poorly, then you skip your am workout cause you're tired, you feel crummy because you skipped your workout and you slept like crap. So now you're opting for higher fat, higher carb foods, and then it just sets off this chain of events that affects your entire day. So it's not just like that two or three hour window where you're consuming alcohol. It's, like, now a 24-48 hour thing. Right.
Jen: RIght. I don't have, and I don't have, for me, I don't have the luxury of time anymore. Like when I was younger to recover from being hungover.
Annie: Where you could sleep.
Jen: Yeah. Where I could lay on the couch all day. I just don't have that luxury anymore. So for me, you know, when it comes to any choices we make nutritionally or drinking alcohol or workouts, it really comes down to what is negotiable for you and what is non negotiable, right. And so I knew I wouldn't quit drinking. That wasn't, I wasn't going to just crank the wheel and quit drinking. But I, you know, when I was really honest with myself, I knew that that a lot of my alcohol consumption was actually negotiable for me. It's non negotiable for me to, you know, get together with you two and have a glass of wine. That's just something I really enjoy and I'm not going to do something crazy like cut that out.
Jen: So yeah, but my, you know, my Wednesday night making separate glass of wine, that was negotiable for me. And the more, the other thing too is that, you know, there's no bad foods but you, what we talk about people is, you know, there's kind of foods you want to have more of and then there's foods you maybe want to have less of. And that's simply because if you say you need 2000 calories per day, the more you know, whether it's chips and chocolates and alcohol that you have in a day, it crowds out those other foods that you actually want to have more of like fruits and vegetables and whole grains and lean proteins, like the things that actually support your health and feeling good. Right? And so it's sort of like making sure your ratios are right when it comes to moderation.
Annie: Right. And that goes back to the question I posed earlier. When you're reviewing the data, like okay, over the last seven days I had x amount of drinks. Did you generally feel good? Were you able to do the things that you still wanted to do? Or like we said, are you sleeping poorly? Is it affecting your sleep quality? Is it affecting your mood, is affecting your stress levels? Is it, you know, are you able to get your workouts in like you had planned, are you keeping up with all the other things that you want to do? Like it's just trade offs. It's, you know, you're saying yes to this couple glasses of wine tonight, are you saying no to anything else or vice versa? And are you okay with that?
Jen: Yeah. The other thing to note as far as weight loss, there was a Balance365er who, she really, she had been in Balance365 for several months and she really did not feel her alcohol or, or her weekend intake was a problem. Her, I should say her weekend, caloric intake, her overall, but I feel like the three of us just really kind of knew, like, when she was, she joined Balance365, this particular Balance365er had fat loss goals and you know, we troubleshoot in the group, here's what she's doing, here's her habits, here's what her week looks like, here's what her weekends look like.
And I feel like we knew it was her weekends, but we just, you know, we can't really tell somebody, you can sort of guide them to making their own decisions. But she went through a season of her life that was very, very busy. She's a student, she had to cut back on drinking significantly and she went down two pants sizes, like, immediately. And even though prior to she had been, she didn't think her weekends were a problem. However, she also hadn't been willing to, like, track her alcohol intake or her food consumption on the weekends.
She, I think she was just, there was a blind spot that she wasn't willing to look at it and she just wasn't willing to do, which is fine. Everybody has to go at their own pace. But that was such a wake up call for her to how high her calories were on the weekends. And again, it wasn't, she's, I'm talking about the same person I had mentioned earlier, so it actually wasn't about necessarily about the drinking was that she was eating so much on those nights when she was meeting up with friends and drinking.
Jen: So anyway, so it was a huge wake up call for her to actually how much she was consuming. And so she decided, you know, again, for her, the process of going through what's negotiable, what's not negotiable. "Can I pull back on drinking a little bit? Can I bring the veggie tray to the party instead of the chips? Like, can I use Diet Coke as my mixer instead of regular coke?" Cause you know, there's like an all or something in there too for people if they want to, you know, they don't want to quit drinking. They don't have to, there's lots of changes we can make inside of that behavior to just pull back a bit.
Annie: And it's not in our manifest or ethos to say "Just stop drinking." Like, yeah. I mean the three of us have tried to cut out a variety of things and white knuckled it for a while, but ultimately like, I want to live a life in a body where if I want a glass of wine, I can have a glass of wine and it's my choice and I can enjoy that in moderation and feel no guilt or shame, knowing it's not going to derail me from anything that I'm trying to do ultimately. You know, like that I just, that I have the tools in the toolbox to decide how much quantity and frequency alcohol gets to play in my life or how little it gets to play my life.
Jen: Yeah, totally. And everybody's situation might look a little different. I cut back on alcohol and that was totally fine for me. But you know, there's, you know, I know what wine I like and I'm a quality over quantity kind of person. So I would rather have, you know, the wine that I know I enjoy than like there's these other wines on the market that get more, advertised like skinny wine or whatever it's called. I can't remember what the brand is called but they have a low calorie wine. But it is gross. No, like I'll just pass. Right. So for me I'm like that's a non negotiable for me. But everybody's negotiables and non-negotiables are going to be different and you just have to find out what yours is.
Annie: And so that's why it doesn't make any sense for us to say, "Here are the rules. Do this, this way."
Annie: I mean, it's very person specific and as you can see that among the three of us, Jen doesn't drink at all during the week. And it's not uncommon for me to have a glass or two on Tuesdays and Thursdays when I'm not working in the evenings. And in fact, that's when I do my best Instagram writing.
Lauren: And Lauren will have six once a month-
Annie: And we're all healthy in our own right.
Annie: Alright, well, anything to add on our alcohol podcast?
Jen: I don't think so.
Annie: Alright, this was good fun. This is fun. Next time we record something on alcohol, maybe we should do it in the evening though and we could, like, share a glass of wine. I mean, not share it.
Lauren: I was thinking that when we first started the podcast and I'm like, "Well, it's like 11 o'clock."
Annie: Yeah. But you know, if we were in Switzerland, I feel like that would be totally kosher, so you know, to each their own. Alright, thanks ladies. Good talk.
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