Do I really have to give up my wine? with Ann White
This is one of the Top 5 questions people ask me about fitness and especially weight loss, so I wanted to bring you my friend and client, Ann White, to talk about the slippery slope many people get caught in.
Ann shares her story of how she found herself in a really bad spot due to alcohol. This can happen to anyone… When this event happened, Ann was an active and fit women, with a high level of education, and working as a teacher.
She also shares how she found her way back. This photo was take in 2013 when we met up to do a Tough Mudder, my very first obstacle course race. We lost touch for about a decade but somehow we found each other again, picking up right where we left off.
Full-blown alcoholism is much easier to identify but did you know the thought pattern, “I just need a drink to take the edge off,” can be a problem too?
I love my wine, beer, and vodka too but I’m aware of when it is keeping me from facing my problems, causing me to lack concentration and motivation, bringing on day-after anxiety and depression, and impeding fat loss.
Take a listen!
Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
Registered Mental Health Counseling Intern with the State of Florida (Little bit less than 1/2way to my license
Residential Counselor at a dual diagnosis / co-occurring recovery center
Work with all males 18 and up with a substance use disorder and mental illness such as depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, schizoaffective
8 months of internships as a counselor with identified co-occurring patients at Morton Plant hospital in Clearwater on secured unit
Topic #1 : One of the most frequently asked questions of me as a fitness professional is, “do I have to give up my wine?”
I have a large number of women who have signed up for my program saying something to the effect of, “hopefully your program will help me to not drink so much.” I know they are focusing on the weight loss piece but there is something much more important underlying here.
As a society, there are many behaviors around alcohol that may not be considered “alcoholism” but the way in which we use alcohol isn’t healthy either. This is the most insidious form of misusing alcohol because it is not only socially acceptable but some people may think it is strange that others don’t drink alcohol. I can remember numerous occasions when I have been criticized for not partaking in the consumption of alcohol.
I often use the comparison of eating disorders and disordered eating with alcoholism and misusing alcohol as a coping mechanism… A full-blown eating disorder is way more apparent than disordered eating which can show up in the forms of obsessing over calories in/calories out and the number on the scale which is not only socially acceptable but you may be called weird for being ok with not wanting to count calories or be perfectly content with your weight.
[twittee tweet=”Full-blown alcoholics are told they need therapy but what about the years leading up to full-blown alcoholism? #wine #healthy” content=”Full-blown alcoholics are told they need therapy but what about the years leading up to full-blown alcoholism? ” balloon=”Full-blown alcoholics are told they need therapy but what about the years leading up to full-blown alcoholism? ” position=”topMiddle” theme=”dark” id=”” ]
Topic #2: Warning Signs of Misusing Alcohol
Society accepts alcohol consumption as being a normal part of most holidays and/or celebrations. I personally cannot remember a time when my own family did not use champagne, wine, and now Scotch to celebrate the positive occasions in life. Recently we even toasted to my boyfriend and I starting a process toward a life together.
Alcohol is legalized so its ok for us right?
It becomes and an acceptable form of a relaxation because it is recognized as being a good time watching our parents, provided we did not grow up in a home with someone who had an issue with alcohol misuse. Also, if you went off to college there may have been the occasional, and for some of us, the weekly or weekend binge drinking. Again, this is socially accepted in the college atmosphere of something you go through or just another experience to look back on and laugh about, but it is this mentality that may lead to the addiction or exception of alcohol as part of the “take the edge of” mentality; therefore added to our tool boxes of coping mechanisms. I am just as guilty as anyone else of using alcohol as a coping mechanism, and this in fact is how I started the path to get my degree as a counselor.
Topic #3: Hitting Rock Bottom
In 2004 I hit what they call your “bottom”, professionally, personally, spiritually and environmentally. It started in August of 2003 with unrecognized depression and increased consumption of alcohol about 3-4 times per week I was drinking at the bar, not getting drunk every time but enjoying myself.
I was using alcohol as my coping mechanism, I ran, I ate ok, and I had plenty of friends, but I had no other coping mechanism than alcohol because I didn’t know any better.
I didn’t even realize I was using it in that way I was just having fun with my friends and letting loose trying to meet new people. This all led to my apathy for my job and as my apathy grew my drinking increased. By the end of February 2004 my drinking led to a night out that ended with me incarcerated for a vehicle on vehicle hit and run accident that thankfully no one was hurt and sitting in a jail holding cell for 16 hours was my bottom and my wake-up call. I lost my job as a teacher for unethical behaviors, had community service and stopped drinking for 2 months. I was not an addict, which I discovered over a lot of therapy and self-discovery, but I have a problem that will never go away, like an addict. I have the ability to drink responsibly because I have learned the right coping mechanisms but I could easily become an addict like anyone else.
Topic #4: How Much is Too Much?
With that being said there are some questions you could ask yourself to help determine when your alcohol consumption or use of other substances may be a problem:
Do you usually drink to get High? Or feel good?
Do you sometimes drink Alone?
Have you found yourself Looking forward to drinking?
Have you noticed an increase in Tolerance for alcohol?
If your answering “Yes” to at least two of these questions then you may have a problem. At this point, It would be important to ask yourself:
Is this affecting my social life?
Is this affecting my health?
What are my reasons for drinking?
Topic #5: The Link Between Sugar and Addiction
Topic #6: Other Frequently Abused Substances
I once read an article on mothers abusing adderall… that their to-do lists seemed to complete themselves when they were on it… and that the number of mothers who have prescriptions filled for their children but use the medication themselves was surprising.
What this boils down to is looking at the fact if the medicines you are taking were not prescribe to you or prescribed for the specific reason you are using them, and then you are in fact abusing them. This is what we call the slippery slope. I am not a mother but as an ex-teach, a counselor, and with my own experiences children look-up to their parents and develop their habits whether the parents tell them “do as I say, not as I do.”
Topic #7: What can someone do if they feel like they have a problem?
There are two highly recommended paths to take and that are proven time and time again to work. Seek a professional therapist, counselor, psychologist, and attend AA meetings. When there is a substance use issue there usually is an underlying mental health in-balance, mainly anxiety and/or depression, and this is also a “chicken or the egg” type of answer that sometimes we are not sure which happened first.
AA is a group that has a set of 12-Steps as everyone knows that are more or less guidelines to living a healthy lifestyle in general. The reason it works is because it is anonymous, which means no one will ever know what you shared outside of the meeting or those attended, so you are free to say anything: Just as in therapy. The second reason it works is because of the community they care because they have been where you are in one form or another and they get it. They want you to get better and they will help you, if you let them. Thirdly the know ALL the excuses so they can call you out whenever you are being dishonest whether to others or to yourself.
If you have questions and would like to find more information, click here: