EP #152

Redefining Your Drinking: Molly Watts on the Done with Dieting Podcast

alcoholic minimalist podcast

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In this episode, Molly Watts opens up about her journey to redefine her relationship with alcohol, stemming from a history of family alcohol abuse. Reflecting on her November progress, she acknowledges moments where she didn’t fully stick to her alcohol-free plan but shares strategies for staying on track, including making up for missed days. Watts dives into the complexities of accountability and the societal pressures surrounding alcohol consumption, urging listeners to prioritize their own goals and values. As the holiday season approaches, she offers support and encouragement for maintaining drinking goals, emphasizing the importance of self-awareness and mindfulness in achieving a peaceful relationship with alcohol. Throughout the episode, Watts shares personal insights, challenges societal narratives surrounding alcohol, and invites listeners to join her in building sustainable change through her online program and coaching offerings.

Welcome to the alcohol minimalist podcast. I’m your host Molly watts. If you want to change your drinking habits and create a peaceful relationship with alcohol, you’re in the right place. This podcast explores the strategies I use to overcome a lifetime of family alcohol abuse, more than 30 years of anxiety and worry about my own drinking, and what felt like an unbreakable daily drinking habits. Becoming an alcohol minimalist means removing excess alcohol from your life. So it doesn’t remove you from life. It means being able to take alcohol or leave it without feeling deprived. It means to live peacefully, being able to enjoy a glass of wine without feeling guilty and without needing to finish the bottle. With Science on our side will shatter your past patterns and eliminate your excuses. Changing your relationship with alcohol is possible. I’m here to help you do it. Let’s start now. Well, hello, and welcome or welcome back to the alcohol minimalist podcast. With me your host Molly Watts coming to you from hay it’s a beautiful Oregon cold, pulled and clear. But oh my goodness, we have had just a stunning November. I talked about it last week how I was hoping for a nother repeat on Thanksgiving. And it was on then the whole weekend. And the last couple of days. I see rain now in the forecast. But man, I have no complaints if you can believe it. I have no complaints about November here in Oregon. It’s the last Wednesday of November. So tell me how did no binge November go for you. My no member as far as drinking goes has gone pretty much to plan no binge days, a couple of days that I had that fateful third drink. And I’ve shared many times on the podcast and even earlier this month, that that third drink is usually a poor choice for me. If I decide to have a third drink, I typically feel it the next day in terms of anxiety, it always disrupts my mood, my sleep, and in general, I’m just a little off less productive, I think. And my mood feels a little myth, right? Just kind of not not myself. It’s definitely not the best version of me. And that happened a couple of times this month, I have been working on if you’re not familiar with it, you haven’t been around the show for for the whole year, I have been on a track for 70% alcohol free days. And I have a whole guide you can pick it up on how I’m doing that based on a plan of the 30 day months and the 31 day months and a more sober October and a more dry July. And then of course dry you weary and all of these things add up to being 70% alcohol free. And in November. That is a 30 day month and so I have a lovin are 19 alcohol free days is the plan. Well, on two separate occasions, I had one beer that was not on plan on two days. So I did not stick to my 70% plan for the month of November. And last time that happened I had one extra day in the month of April when I was on vacation. And I made up for it in May. And so I am thinking about whether or not I’m going to be able to make up for it in December this month. And I find myself reluctant to make that plan which is very interesting to me. And yes, it was just one beer and I had this whole conversation in my brain like it was just one beer, it’s not really a big deal to have one beer. That’s not really Off Plan drinking is it. I want you to think about that. How you my brain wanted to try to convince me that just one beer wasn’t really a big deal. It wasn’t Off Plan. It is Off Plan. If I have an alcohol free day plan and I drink a beer it is Off Plan. And why is that important? It’s certainly not anything that I’m going to beat myself up about. All right, I am not but I am curious with my brain. And I want to understand where it is that the thinking needs to change because ultimately what is important to me is prioritizing alcohol free days in my life. Okay? I don’t get to have a mostly alcohol free life without prioritizing alcohol free days. And if I don’t prioritize alcohol free days, if I just decide that having a drink doesn’t really matter, it doesn’t count. It’s no longer even though it’s no longer an alcohol free day. Do you see how slippery of a slope that is in how quickly our behavior changes. And when we are not, you know, it’s what we show up doing consistently over time, that defines who we are and what we do with our lives. And that’s where I want you to, to pay attention. It isn’t whether or not I make it up in December, statistically, I’m still gonna be really like, as close to 70% as anything. And that isn’t the point. The point is what I want my life to be about. It also was very interesting that my brain wanted to like it so that if a if a tree falls in the forest, and no one’s there to hear it, does it make a sound, right? Like this concept with myself of keeping myself accountable to me, right. And that’s what I hope you you hear, I want you to keep yourself accountable to yourself, and what you want to make your life I mean, I am proud of the work I’ve done to change my daily drinking habit to no longer drink on a daily basis, and to stick to low risk limits. And I can, I can do all that, and I can, and but the way I do it is by prioritizing alcohol free days, and I can’t let myself forget that I can’t let my brain want to make even just having a beer to make it mean nothing. Right? It isn’t that it means everything either. But it does mean something, it needs something that I need to be curious about as to why my brain wanted to tell that story, as opposed to reminding myself that having multiple alcohol free days in my life is how I get to be an alcohol minimalist and how I have a mostly alcohol free life. Right. Okay, that was a little bit of a diatribe. Anyway, the one thing that I’ve talked about about you know, when I’ve had that third drink, and this is back to that over drinking, so here we go back to no binge November Sorry, that was, like I said, kind of went off on a tangent, but it’s an important tangent, I think so I hope I hope you got value in or you’ve heard something that might resonate for you in that the times that I decided to go over or drink that third drink, they were both extended periods of times, like it was a bigger day was on Thanksgiving was one of them. And so happily, I didn’t experience that usual third drink consequence, I think probably because again, it was stretched out over a long period of time. And I’m talking about that third drink decision, because for me, that’s when I’ve noticed that the negative after effects on the next day outweigh whatever fun I thought it was having when I decided to have a third drink. But for our accounting in no binge November, I had a great note binge November, because I had no occasions where I had a fourth drink, which for women, a binge is four or more drinks in any one occasion. And for men, it’s five or more drinks in any one occasion. And if you’re using a tracking tool, like Sunnyside or something else, it’s really easy to look back at the month and see how it went. And remember, no matter what the results are, you’re going to use whatever those results are as data. And we’re going to get curious about what happened. And use that data to learn from it. And to show up differently next time. That’s the value, right? The the data isn’t there to make you feel bad, it isn’t to shame you it’s not to, you know, incorporate any type of beat down on yourself. It’s really, truly just data and we have to get scientific about it, we have to get curious and we have to be an observer of what happened. Now, as we’re headed into December, it is the biggest month of the year for alcohol sales. Did you know that. And of course, everybody probably understands why people give it his gifts. There’s extra parties, there’s holiday events, for your work and everything else. And I really want to encourage you to stay the path during December. And if you’re just beginning to work on changing your drinking habits this month might be a really great time to take advantage of just start. Now just start is my mini program. And I know it might feel counterintuitive because you’ve got everything else that’s going on right? But here’s the truth. Every choice is a chance and you’ve got a lot of opportunities for choices and to make better choices with alcohol in December. And if you want a little more support to do that, check out just start. It’s a 30 day mini program. You get the audio version of my book breaking the bottle legacy you can listen to it as you’re driving around in traffic or holiday shopping or whatever. You get email support for 30 days you get access to my for s new belief system video series. And it’s the only place that you can find that by the way, and you get a companion guide 30 Day workbook. Now, this is really the perfect gift to give yourself right and to get started and you’ve got access to it forever, you’re going to get the stuff delivered to you the emails delivered to you with the with worksheets, and, and reading over the course of 30 days. But you can keep those in a file, just store them and you can always go back and reference them. It is really the perfect gift. And it’s only $49. And a little bit of a side note, that price is going up next year in 2024. So this is the last time to get it for $49. Check it out at www dot Molly watts.com/start. I’ve got a couple of prize winners. Remember, if you would like to be eligible for a prize, all you got to do is leave a review of this podcast where ever you’re listening to the podcast, even on YouTube, if you leave comments there. Or if you’ve read my book, please leave a review wherever you’ve picked that up. And you can do that you can get entered, everybody gets entered who leaves a even leaves just a you know, anytime you have to leave words you have to leave comments because that’s the only way you have a name. But if you leave some comments, you’re going to get entered into the drawing. There are two prize winners each week. The first is a random drawing. And the second is the chosen drawing that I choose based on the content of the review. So today, the random prize drawing is at EJ skates. I know who this is. Congratulations. I finally drew your name. And so email me Molly at Molly watts.com. And I will send you out some alcohol minimalist swag, MPs those those those of you that are waiting still for your swag. I promise it’s coming. I promise. I promise I promise I’m getting on top of it this week. The chosen winner this week is at John Patrick 1230 at John Patrick 1230. And at John Patrick 1230 wrote this comment on YouTube. Hi Molly. I use a middlemost approach in most aspects of my life, particularly with material things. I like what you’re sharing here very cool philosophy and approach. For those who are able to practice embrace moderation. For some personalities. Abstinence may be easier than moderation. But for others it may be doable to make a mental shift toward drinking minimally. abstaining can be very effective Once an individual reaches cruising altitude. But I agree with you saying abstaining might not fully address the internal issue. Thank you for sharing your ideas and knowledge, best vibes. Hey, thank you at John Patrick 1230 Best vibes to you as well. Please email me Molly at Molly watts.com and I will send you out your alcohol minimalist swag. All right on to this week’s show. I am sharing another episode where I was a guest on a podcast. I was recently a guest on the done with dieting podcast with Elizabeth Sherman. Elizabeth works with midlife women who are working on looking and feeling better without all the standard diet industry rules. And I was really excited to talk to Elizabeth and her audience because honestly, I think we need to address women very specifically when it comes to alcohol. There are risks that are very specific to women. Increased breast cancer risk is is most notable. And it’s very real. And since COVID binge drinking episodes have increased 41% for women specifically. So it’s very important that women are getting this message. And in this episode, you’ll hear us discuss the prevalence of misinformation. Understanding low risk limits the need for alcohol free days, and why it’s important to form a healthier relationship with alcohol. We also touch on alcohols and neural chemistry because I can’t stay away from that, of course, it’s specific relationship to anxiety, its effects on the brain’s you know, natural homeostasis, and the anxiety of actually addressing our drinking habits. Right. Lastly, we touch on something that’s very relevant for this festive holiday season and that is FOMO. How can we navigate having fun without the fear of missing out and while we are also drinking less. I will link Elizabeth’s website podcast in the show notes. She has a really wonderful tool. It is a guide that is called the eight basic habits that healthy people do and I really think you’re gonna love that. So sign up for it. You can check it out. Again, I’ll link it in the show notes. Here is my conversation on the done with dieting podcast with Elizabeth Sherman. Have a great week everyone. I’ll see you next time. Wonderful to be here. And yeah, absolutely. Getting to Know You getting to know your work and you What you’re talking about on done with dieting, I’m excited to be here and share our philosophies because I do agree with you, we have a lot of things in common. And the people that we speak to I think are similar in terms of what they’re looking to do and hoping to change in their lives. I am someone who works with people who typically have what they consider an unbreakable drinking habit. So not somebody that who would necessarily consider themselves to have a drinking problem, but maybe a habit that they just can’t seem to break, they’re looking to create what I say, a peaceful relationship with alcohol. And my podcast is called the alcohol minimalist. We don’t live in the lanes of black and white thinking and needing to cut things out completely. But we do talk about minimizing alcohol because there are some real health reasons and health considerations for why people would want to reduce their alcohol use. And I talked about that a lot. And I also talked to some degree, I’m an adult child of an alcoholic. So there’s a little bit of us, we talk about that, to some degree, too, on alcohol minimalist, but I’m excited to be here and share some of the work that I do in terms of a talk. And I’m always the fun one to have at the party, right? Because I’m going to come in and tell you why you shouldn’t be drinking the wine that you’re drinking. Yeah, everyone wants you around for sure. Right, exactly. It’s not that bad. I promise that you can absolutely drink your glass of wine. And I am here to tell you why it’s okay. And why you might want to consider not drinking the whole bottle. Yeah, well, it’s so funny. When I meet clients in the grocery store. They like almost feel embarrassed about what’s in their cart, or my clients will come to me and they’ll like profess all of their sins. And I tell them that I’m not their health priest. I love that. Yeah, right. Exactly. I’m nobody’s Big Brother. I’m not watching and I’m here to help people. And I think you talk about this, too. I talk all the time about becoming a better Mind Manager and becoming a better thinker. Because at the end of the day, that’s really what it’s all about. And we need to be willing to question the stories that we have around alcohol, and some of the long held beliefs that probably started when we were kids. And we weren’t even considering drinking alcohol. But we were learning about it right from society, from our family, from our friends. And all of those things feed into an unconscious system that we have, that drives our desire to drink. And we need to be willing to challenge that and bring that thinking into the conscious, which is really what I focus on. Mostly, oh, gosh, that is so important. And I never even really thought about it. Like as a little kid, I would see my dad drinking coffee. And then when he got home from work, he would drink a martini. That was his big thing. And my mom would drink wine. And as little kids, we always want to grow up, right? We want to be like our parents, and we want to be the big kids. And we’re constantly striving. And so I never really thought about how that played into my relationship with alcohol. It’s so interesting. Yeah. Well, it normalizes it, right? And so this is the flip side of that my mother was had a problematic relationship with alcohol had severe alcohol use disorder, we called her an alcoholic back in the day, which created a whole set of beliefs for me about what alcohol and alcohol use in one camp, right? But then there is this very normalization idea my parents did before it became a problem. They definitely had that after work mentality. And it was an every night thing. And I can honestly remember when I started addressing my own alcohol use and changing my own relationship with alcohol, the idea that there were some people in the world that didn’t come home and have a drink after work, like it just wasn’t a part of their daily routine. That was sort of shocking to me. I couldn’t even like What do you mean? Oh, okay. I just assumed Well, yeah, they don’t because they’re totally sober. You know what I mean? They’re just non alcohol users. And then I was like, Oh, wait, you mean like people that I know and are friends of mine. They don’t drink every day after work like I do. Oh, how interesting. I honestly like that’s the programming that I had in my brain. And I honestly believed that I needed to drink when I got home from work. That’s the message that I had in my head. That was what helped me relax and unwind. And that’s how I could relax and unwind. That was the belief system not like I just that I wanted to have a drink when I got home, but I actually needed to. Well, yeah, I mean, that’s such a common response like oh my God, I need a drink or after today I need a drink, right or Let’s go out and have a drink together because the day that we had was just bonkers, whatever. So yeah, the way that we speak about alcohol really informs our thoughts about it or reinforces our thoughts about it. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And those sentences in our brains are so strong, right. And I can remember, like I said, when I really started digging into this habit, because for years and years, I genuinely believed that it was part of just a genetic predisposition, like I desired alcohol more than other people, because I came from an alcoholic background, right. So I had this whole mindset around it. And the habit did feel literally unbreakable to me, like I was able to do most everything else in my life, I was successful in my career, I was successful, I had family, kids, the whole nine yards. And yet, I had this one habit, and because of my relationship, and with my mother, and this whole backstory that I had, there was this constant sense of anxiety around it too, right? So I worried all the time. But at the same time, it felt completely unbreakable. And I remember when I first started doing this work, and I was at work, got into my car, and the first thing that came into my head was, I need a beer. And that was the sentence it was I need. And it was, like I said, the first time that I really was aware of that thought, and I like went, Oh, wow, I don’t actually need one. I want one. But isn’t it interesting that my brains thought process is I need and I could see and feel and sense how that drove the desire to drink, right? It was like, Okay, you think I need a beer and you feel like you have the desire to drink. It’s like, oh, this is how that’s working in my head. And once I started to, like become aware of that thinking, and that unconscious thought that had been there for so so long on the repeat, then I was able to look at it and go, Wait a second, hold on here. We don’t need one, we want one. But do we really want it because that’s not what we want is to feel relaxed. Right? And so once I got into the work and really understood it, it was like, whoa, okay, so I’ve just pretty much trained my brain this way. And now I just got to untrain it. And that’s really the work that I do now with other people. But understanding that and changing that relationship, for me was the one thing that I really needed to change because I had so many stories around alcohol. And so like I said, being an adult child of an alcoholic, it had more magnitude. For me, it was a habit that I felt like I couldn’t break that really needed to be broken. So let’s talk a little bit more about your stories. Like did you hit a rock bottom? Or was it just that sentence in your brain that made you make the shift? Or had you gone through treatment programs are tried to get help on their own beforehand? Absolutely not? No, no way. Never like me. And I say that all the time, there was no rock bottom moment, nothing of the sort. No one on the outside would have ever perceived me as someone who had an alcohol problem. I looked from all accounts like everybody else. What happened to me was that I worked on a passion project business that was focused on very similar to work that you do here, the habits of a happier, longer life. And doing that work, I was really focused on promoting all these positive habits and these habits that were scientifically backed to increase longevity and improve happiness. So I focused on these five habits. And they were really the habits that I watched my dad. So you see, I had these polar opposites, my dad who really embodied optimistic aging, and that was all what I was about. I was hashtag optimistic aging. And I had a podcast and a product and I was doing all this work and really promoting that all the while, like kind of ignoring and not really discussing this, my mom’s very different aging experience because of alcohol abuse. And I didn’t want to address it, because if I did, then I would have to address my own what I call oxymoronic habit, right, because it just didn’t make sense to me, although I was doing all these great. These five very positive, lifelong longevity and health based and happiness based habits. And yet, there was this one habit that I just couldn’t seem to break and that was my daily drinking habit. And it was really that once I learned this, I was actually interviewing a life coach on my other podcast that I got introduced to the work of learning how to to connect my thoughts, my feelings and my actions, and this imposter syndrome, I guess, for lack of a better word just became so powerful for me, like, I just felt. If I don’t address this, if I don’t take care of this, I can’t go on talking about all these positive habits, it just doesn’t feel authentic, because I’m not really talking about this, like I said, the one thing that was really holding me back from living my best life. So that’s kind of what happened. For me, it was a big influence of everything coming together. And me just like really deciding at the beginning of 2019. Like, I have to address this. And I didn’t talk about it. At first, I didn’t know if I was going to be able to because it had been decades that I had been drinking daily, and well beyond the limits of what people would consider. I thought it was moderate, which a lot of people don’t really understand or know, the actual definitions. And that’s part of what I do, too. I dove into the science, I dove into learning, all about self coaching and things like that. And I applied it all, then ultimately became a coach myself, because everything that I learned and I kind of took bits and pieces from everywhere, because not the way that I learned and the way that I applied things. I’m very analytical, very science oriented. So the science and the neuroscience was really important to me. It helped me challenge those long standing beliefs that I had, like the idea that I needed to drink to help me relax and unwind. The science of alcohol doesn’t support that. We tell ourselves that, but it’s not really true. And in fact, when you have a consistent daily drinking habit, you’re actually perpetuating anxiety in yourself in your neuro chemistry. That’s a long winded answer, I apologize. But yes, that’s how I got to where I am now. And I went on to write a book, a post a podcast, and now work with people all over the world, which is really incredible. And help them use the same tools that I eventually used, use self coaching, use science, and really understand what’s going on and be able to change and break unbreakable habits. Yeah, and I think that one thing that really resonated with me something that whenever we talk about our alcohol use to other people, first of all, there’s a lot of shame that goes along with not being able to quote unquote, control your drinking, right. So whenever my clients talk to me about their alcohol use, like nine times out of 10, I feel like they always say, I’m not an alcoholic, or anything, or I sound like an alcoholic with what I’m telling you. And I think that many of us, we have grown up in this society in this culture that drinking is everywhere. It’s such a part of parties and celebrations and like you said, relaxing, and the messages that we see in movies and TV and in commercials, and all of it really influence that. The thought that drinking is okay. And even the science behind it right that we hear one drink a day is good for you, or one drink a day is okay, or all of that stuff. And so let’s talk a little bit about since you brought it up, what is moderation and yeah, giving normalcy to people. Yeah, well, so normalcy is one word. The issue is that there’s a lot of confusion around alcohol, because we have a lot of different warring kind of interested parties, right? So you’ve got the alcohol industry itself, who’s driving a lot of the narrative. And you can imagine what that narratives going to be right? Because they have a vested interest in keeping you drinking. And then there’s the recovery industry, again, a very powerful industry in terms of dollars. And so they have a narrative that they are also pushing and making sure and so that we get a very black and white, kind of very one absolute thinking. So you’re either somebody who can handle their alcohol or you’re not right and then you’re either diseased broken or the classic image of an alcoholic a person with a paper bag laying on a park bench, right? And we have a lot of people in the middle who don’t ever seek help who don’t know who can’t figure out okay, well, is what I’m drinking actually good for me bad for me what? And I do try to break down the science of alcohol on my show and really talk about that because again, there’s a lot of misinformation. If you only go as deep as the headlines, then you would be very understandably, believing that a drink that alcohol is good for me, right? You could almost say most people probably think that red wine is good for your heart. Right? It wouldn’t be foolish for you to have thought that because truly, you’ve been told that you’ve been sent that message. The bottom line is this. And I can feel very secure in saying this, because I have done a lot of research on alcohol, a lot of due diligence, a lot of reading in depth, alcohol studies, there is no amount of alcohol, zero zip nada, that should be considered safe, or that should be considered as somewhat in any way a healthy addition to your life. All right, we have got to understand that no matter what we tell ourselves, there’s no preventative health benefits that alcohol is doing for us that we wouldn’t be better served by doing something else. All right, let’s take that whole argument off the table. Having said that, is there I am not alcohol free. And I don’t, so I’m not completely alcohol free. However, just like other things that I include in my life that have health risks associated with them, right, so you could lump that into food things or not enough cardio exercise or too much stress in your life, right, there’s a lot of things that are happening to us that we want to mitigate. And I believe that alcohol is it falls into that category. It is a known carcinogen, ladies. So we have to pay attention to that, we again cannot delude ourselves into thinking that we’re somehow benefiting our lives by adding alcohol in having said that, there are low risk limits that people can include in their lives, that basically are associated with what it means is that you have a very slight chance, very low chance like a one in 100 chance of developing alcohol use disorder, if you stick to low risk limits, like I said, in terms of preventative health. And if you look at it like on a global health basis, people that stick to these low risk limits, basically also fall into the longest lived peoples. Now, that doesn’t mean that it’s because of the alcohol, okay? It just means that it is observational data that we get when we look at them over the course of their lives. The non drinkers and then the high drinkers, they have higher mortality outcomes than the people with the low risk limits. But again, that could be because they exercise more they have access to better health care, they have better diets, there’s 1000. Other reasons that could be it. But having said that, that’s what is true about low risk limits. What does that mean? Low risk limits are for women 65. And under, no more than one standard drink per day for seven standard drinks in a week. And no more than three standard drinks in any one day. So that would mean that if you were going to have seven drinks over the course of a week, and you decided to have three drinks in one day, then you would obviously be having alcohol three days, multiple days during the week, I talk a lot about blood alcohol content and paying attention. Because really, at the end of the day, that’s what it is about. I say that every time you drink, it’s kind of like your own personal petri dish, which chemistry term because everything is dynamic. So whether you’ve eaten, how much sleep you’ve had, whether you’re female, whether you’re male, how much you weigh, how hot it is outside, all of these things impact our body’s ability to metabolize alcohol. So there’s just never going to be a time when you’re going to really over drink, you’re never going to drink beyond three drinks, and you’re really going to definitively raise your blood alcohol content above 0.055%, which is considered the therapeutic amount of alcohol, anything above that, and you’re asking for negative consequences. In short, yes, the low risk limits are that no more than one standard drink per day. And that is really, again, what moderate drinking is supposed to be no more than one standard drink and people don’t really sometimes know what standard drinks are either, which is another issue. But yes, and no more than three strings in any one day and including multiple alcohol free days in your life would be again a part of that routine as well. Just a quick break to talk with you more about sunny side. Did you know that Sunny Side uses science to help you reach your goals by focusing on three scientifically proven superpowers that you have. Number one, the power of pre commitment. Each week you set an intention for the week ahead. That includes a tracking goal, a drink goal and possibly a dry day goal. Number two, the power of conscious interference. You’ll learn the habit of tracking each day as soon as you finish it, which creates a mindful pause before you start the next day. And number three positivity. We know that this is a big step that can be tough at times, right. And that’s why Sunnyside offers coaching through SMS and email to give you support advice and motivation, you can check out a free 15 day trial at www.sunnyside.co/molly. That’s www.sunnyside.co/molly. So I changed my relationship with alcohol, there were two things that were kind of coming together at the same time. One was my menopause. And for many of you listening, you’re probably experiencing the same thing where once your hormones change, alcohol will have a greater impact on not only anxiety and depression and your moods, but then also your sleep habit, I found that as I got older as I was moving into menopause, I just was not able to get the restful sleep that I really wanted and needed in order to rejuvenate in the next day. And I’ve never really been someone who gets hangovers. So that really hasn’t been a problem. But just being awake in the middle of the night and not feeling rested when I woke up in the morning. And the other thing was that Andrew Huberman from the Huberman lab podcast, had this amazing podcast episode on alcohol. I’ll link to it in the show notes. But yeah, then that was just so scientific. It’s a really long episode, everyone who’s listened to a really long episode, I had to very and very sciency, very sciency, I think I had to listen to it twice and break it up into half hour chunks, because it’s at least two hours, if not two and a half hours. But anyway, that really allowed me to examine my relationship with alcohol. Now thinking about that, I was really scared. And we can talk a little bit about this, that the social impact of changing our relationship with alcohol. So my husband and I really bonded together over wine. We’re going to Italy in just a few weeks now. And by the time that this episode airs, we will have gone and come back. But I am a little worried about how to navigate that because I know that Italy is going to have so much amazing wine, and just navigating that relationship with my husband too. It’s scary when your relationships are built on what you think is alcohol, and then ratcheting back a little bit and wondering, is my relationship with this person going to change? Are they going to still invite me out? Let’s talk a little bit about the fear that goes along with changing your relationship with alcohol. Yeah, I think it’s very normal. I talked with people all the time, my husband and I have the same kind of relationship. And he still has a different relationship with alcohol than I do now. Which fit into my long again, standing beliefs that I couldn’t break my own habit, because what was I going to do every night when he was drinking? And I couldn’t that was the mind, right? That was mine. You can’t drink? Right? So obviously, I think the thought there’s just reminding ourselves that it’s the choice that we’re making that we want, this is what we choose, right? He’s not like you can’t have a glass of wine. You’re choosing not to have a glass of wine, and your connection with your spouse. And there’s so many other wonderful I mean, Good golly, all the other atmosphere of Italy and the food, where the surroundings and everything else, we just have to remind ourselves that our brain loves to tell an old story that is habited and well worn because it’s easier, right? It’s the easiest story that it always wants to hear first. And there’s other perspectives. I say to my savant and my clients. I never like to use the word but because that’s more into that absolute that’s like the either or story, right? It has to be one or the other. Instead, it’s like, man, what else is true? What else is true for me here, have a glass of wine sounds really good. And I really value being able to have a good night’s sleep. Right? So it’s not either or, and we have to really remind ourselves that these are options that we’re choosing and can you still have a sip of wine and taste it? That’s your choice. That’s your decision. And you can also choose to not have a glass of wine and still have a really wonderful time. Right? Do those thoughts still come up? Absolutely. Are they still going to be needing to be challenged? benched. Yes. And we get to remind ourselves that there’s another version of the truth. There’s another version of the story that’s going to help me feel better in this moment. And I’m going to redirect my brain there. And that’s what I’m going to choose to focus on. Because that’s what’s going to help me have a good time in this moment. Yeah, well, and for those of you who are struggling with your sleep, and alcohol, and every one is completely different, but I find that I can probably have one glass of wine, and depending on how close it is to bedtime, and still sleep pretty well. But once I get into those two, maybe you don’t want that you wouldn’t want it. So general rule of thumb for me is, and this is something that I was listening to. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of Dr. Peter Attia, but he’s this longevity doctor. He just wrote this book out live. And he’s been on a few podcasts, and I’ve been listening to him. And his rules of thumb for alcohol are really alcohol minimalistic. So I’m like, Yes, and he’s like a longevity guy. So I’m like, perfect. His things he says are, there’s got to be an insane reason for me to have more than two drinks in any one day. Which is true, there’s got to be an insane reason for me to drink on any more than three days in a week. And there’s gotta be an insane reason for me to have a drink more than closer to three hours to bedtime, his cut off is three hours before bedtime. And so the thing about sleep, and this is something that we should address, I’ve got a couple of really great episodes on sleep on the podcast. Again, it’s a story right? And well proven through history, this whole idea of a nightcap came about because alcohol actually does help you get to sleep faster. So there is some science and some reasoning why people believe and a lot of people still do have a drink before bed, because they really believe that they they need it right? Again, though need word comes in, like I need it to help me get to sleep. And like I said, not completely untrue. The problem is kind of what you alluded to is that alcohol disrupts our sleep patterns and our ability to have the different types of sleep, the deep sleep and REM sleep, the rhythm of that, it disrupts our later patterns. So that’s why you get that three in the morning wake up. And especially for women who are going through menopause, who are probably already battling some of that insomnia from the hormonal disruptions. It’s just compounding it with alcohol. So it’s very real. And so this idea that we need it to help us get to sleep, you may think that it’s actually disrupting your sleep patterns, which when you are chronically sleep deprived, is going to continue to have this cycle. And so you keep creating this cycle, you’ve got to figure out a different sleep hygiene practice, because alcohol is not the one it’s not helping in the long run. Yeah, one thing that’s fascinating is I found that when I stopped drinking so much, because I still do drink alcohol, just like you, I stopped waking up in the middle of the night with intense anxiety for absolutely no reason. You mentioned it earlier. Let’s talk a little bit about the relationship between anxiety and alcohol. Yeah, well, it’s good to say what you just said for no reason, actually, there was a reason. It’s literally the science of alcohol. It is the neuro chemistry, right. So alcohol, we think of it as a chemical depressant, right? It is a chemical depressant. But the reason that it is because it actually suppresses one of our very most important neurotransmitters, and it increases the neurotransmitter the other. So we have GABA and glutamate. And these two neurotransmitters are basically responsible for turning the brain off and turning the brain on. And alcohol impacts both of them. So what we get in that is that as the brain you’re drinking alcohol, basically, altering homeostasis in our brains, right, the neuro chemistry that we would normally have. So why you get that anxiety at three o’clock in the morning is basically because the brain after as alcohol is leaving the system, it is boosting up glutamate and glutamate is rising, rising, rising, which is what causes people to feel that’s turning the brain on, right. So it’s like it’s training the brain on, it’s going to be leading to more if you think about it just being more agitated. Anything else, right, it’s amping the brain up. And so that’s why when we wake up at three o’clock in the morning, and we feel anxious, it’s because literally we have done this to our brains. Because as alcohol leaves the system, the brain can’t quite, it’s trying to turn the brain back on because it feels all that chemical depressant from the GABA system. And so it’s a natural reaction of the brain to try to get itself back to homeostasis, but it just can’t be can’t balance itself out quite as quickly as the alcohols leaving your system. Well, and I think what is really important here is that I probably a lot of listeners right now are thinking but I even Wake up with anxiety on days that I don’t drink. And so understanding that this is just a build up of the alcohol in your body and your body reacting this way, right? Yes, it depends, I mean, would certainly depend on how much you’re drinking, right. But if you’re drinking a half a bottle of wine every day, and then that’s going to be continually Yes, you’ll have that rebound anxiety. But it also, gosh, with menopause, it could be a myriad of other reasons, too, I wouldn’t want to just simply say it could be caffeine, you name it. But certainly sleep protocols. And sleep hygiene is so important for the brain, right? It’s one of those things that we cannot underestimate. And so somebody who is drinking habitually or drinking consistently, and you’re drinking close to bedtime, within that three hour time frame, if you’re drinking more than two glasses of wine, or even one, give it a try, right? See how it feels. If you just cut back and see how it feels. If you move that window back from that time, and see if your sleep starts to improve, it’s not going to improve like automatically in the next few days, but it could over the next 30 days absolutely improved. And once it does, especially for women of a certain age, you get pretty protective of that. Because once you get through, get a good sleep, and you feel better, because when you don’t sleep through the night consistently, it’s not fun. It’s not good. Yeah, I was trying to be sober three nights per week. And on the nights that I would drink wine. I was probably having two or more. I was probably a heavy drinker. So on Wednesdays and Thursdays, I was probably drinking two glasses, maybe three on Thursdays? Definitely three or four on the weekends. Yeah, I’m glad you said heavy drinker, because that’s the thing. When you go over, if you’re drinking more than seven standard drinks in a week, by the guidelines of the CDC and the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, you’re considered a heavy drinker. And if you have any nights throughout the month, ladies, where you would be considered a binge drinking, which would be anything more than three standard drinks in a day. So if you had four drinks on a night, and Lord knows I had plenty of them. If you have one of those in a month, then you’re considered a heavy drinker. Wow. Okay. Yeah. And so like when I realized that I was not a moderate drinker, that I was considered a heavy drinker. That was a huge pill to swallow, and nearly wanting to get it under control at that point. Yeah. And I think also, for me, I never realized how much the anxiety of my constant this worry that I had around alcohol was keeping me holding me back. Like, I just never addressed it. In my own thinking, I never really allowed it to be there. I just accepted it as like, the consequence of somebody who was drinking more than they kind of knew was intellectually good for you. And an adult child of an alcoholic. Like, I just thought, well, this is just my life. This is who I am. This constant anxiety that I have is a natural consequence for a habit that I can’t seem to break, right. But I hadn’t done any of the due diligence yet, I really didn’t understand the science, I really didn’t understand that I was actually a heavy drinker, I just sort of kind of felt like it wasn’t quite more so probably, again, because of the upbringing and having this constant worry of like, I don’t want to become an alcoholic, like my mom. Yeah. But yeah, it’s amazing. And the thing of it is that there is what I really focus on. And what I want people to hear is there is so much benefit, if you’re someone who is, quote, unquote, a heavy drinker, but heavy drinker by clinical standard, like the ones that we’re talking about, but in your mind, you’re a moderate drinker, who is drinking 20 to 30, standard drinks a week, whatever that is even 10 to 20 standard drinks a week, there is so much benefit in reducing that down to these low risk limits. That’s where the biggest benefit is in terms of overall health, risk, consequence, longevity, all of it, right. And so, the narrative, the story that we get is often like you have to be alcohol free, right? It’s like it’s either or, if you’re not sober, then you’re not cutting it. It’s like no, actually, the truth is that if we can just bring it down, and we can keep our mindset on what I’m doing for myself and factoring in multiple alcohol free days a week and really, again, managing it and mitigating it just like you would other things in your life that don’t help you feel your best. It’s really the same principle with alcohol and we just have to be clear that the stories around alcohol are going to persist. You’re going to still have all these things around you making it seem like you’re Drinking is glamorous, that it’s beautiful, the beautiful people are doing it that you’re going to see it all over television, you’re going to see it all over media, you’re going to see all your family and friends potentially still drinking or over drinking. And we just want to get it into a mindset where we’re treating it and using the thoughts that help us included in our lives in a way that we still have a peaceful relationship. But that’s the way that I think about it. And kind of like you said, it’s like, okay, I was over drinking. This is how much I was drinking. And once you cut it back, you’re like, okay, yeah, you know what, that wasn’t serving me that wasn’t helping me sleep that wasn’t helping me feel great. And when you do it, you’re like, Oh, okay. I really noticed you probably can relate. If there’s a day that I decide to include three drinks now I feel it no matter what I feel that the next day, it impacts my sleep. I’m 100% cognizant of it. And it’s not that it never happens, because sometimes it does, but I use it. I like go Oh, okay. Yeah, right. This is why we don’t really like to do that anymore. Okay, so here’s the next question that I think everyone who’s listening is asking themselves, they’re thinking, okay, but after the second glass Zins alcohol decreases our inhibitions, right? Yep. How do I say no, to that third glass? I just want to keep going. Yeah, interesting that you bring that up, because in my group, we talk about it a lot. The third glass is the trickiest. It’s the one that really is going to push people past the point where they don’t want to make the logical adult decision. Right. Yeah. At to say, so is there ever been a time when you had two glasses of wine and chose to stop? And they were like, oh, yeah, of course, they’ve done that. Okay, so then we know, it’s possible, right? That we know you can do it. And I think part of the process that I teach with people is having a plan in place ahead of time. So we get the logical adult prefrontal cortex is the one making the plan, we’re not allowing the plan he made in the moment, when we’ve had the two glasses, we’re really planning ahead. That’s part of it. And I’m not going to tell you I mean, sometimes, yes, alcohol, definitely. But at two drinks, unless you just really haven’t eaten at all, and you’re really haven’t slept at all, you still should have enough cognition to be able to say, Okay, this is the plan I made, get to the third drink, and you’re probably starting to tilt into, and I’ve done it myself, where I’ve had a third drink, and my brain is like, this is really fun. Let’s keep going. And I’m like, Oh, wait, hold on here. No, it’s a practice. And another part of this practice is really asking ourselves all the time, is alcohol, something that I want to include in my life? And what story? Am I telling myself about why I want to have another drink? Is it really true? Right? Yeah. Because that’s probably feeding back into the whole fear of missing out. And it sounds like a really good idea at the time, and everybody else is, and why do I have to be the one that pays attention all that they’re all just thoughts. They’re all just optional thinking that you can choose? Or you can decide? Oh, yeah, you know, what, this is what really aligns with my long term goals. And I know for myself, kind of like you, when I stick to my low risk limits, it’s when I feel my best. It’s just that simple. Yes, it can be challenging, but no, it’s not impossible. Yeah, well, and I think what you said in there, and this is something that I talk about a lot, which is your future self. So once you have your own back, and you’re like, I don’t want to have to pay for this for the next three days, and being aware of it and making the decision on a conscious level and saying, Okay, I can have this third glass of wine. And I know that the risk that comes with it is I’m not going to be able to sleep, I’m not going to be able to potentially do all of the things that I had scheduled for myself tomorrow. And is it worth it? And what I tell my clients is, once you make that decision, you no longer have the right to beat yourself up with the inner critic tomorrow and say, Oh, I shouldn’t have done that. Right. Because that’s the other part of it is beating ourselves up on the other side of it. Yeah, I talk a lot about curiosity and compassion. And we have to be willing to learn from our missteps in my coursework, I call it the Off Plan plan, because you have to have a plan for when you go off plan, because you’re going to you are going to without question you are going to struggle at times and that’s okay to struggle is actually been proven to help us learn when things are challenging for us. So we have to be willing to question all the stories that we’ve held on to and anything that is a self limiting belief, right? I mean, anything that’s going to keep us from becoming who we want to become we have to be willing to question And, and I think that the idea of it is, again, fueled by the recovery industry fueled by this black and white thinking that we have around alcohol, it’s very easy with alcohol to fall into a shame spiral. And we have to just allow that we’re going to put on the brakes, and we’re going to stop ourselves. And we’re really going to put on the hat of the scientific observer and look at ourselves, and be willing to accept it as data, not drama. We’re going to dig in and figure out why it happened. Because that’s how we learn. And that’s how the next time the situation comes up. We’ll have a better idea of how to go about it differently. takes practice and repetition. But I guess what I hope people hear is that it’s not only possible to change habits that don’t serve you, but it’s really worth it. Oh, good. Thank you for being here. Molly. How can folks reach out to you? How do you work with people if they do want to get their alcohol intake under control? Tell us more. Yeah. So you can find me over at www dot Molly watts.com. That’s the easiest place or the alcohol minimalist podcast. And I have making peace with alcohol is my program that is a six month program that people can work with me in terms of group coaching, and coursework and community and you can learn more about it over at Molly watts.com. Awesome. Thanks for being here. You are awesome. Thanks, Elizabeth. All right, everyone. That brings us to the end of our episode. Thank you so much for tuning in, and taking the time to reassess and redefine your relationship with alcohol. With us. My conversation with Molly was incredibly enlightening. And I hope that you’ve taken away some valuable insights and strategies. If you’re interested in learning more about Molly and her podcast and making peace with alcohol and the work that she’s doing. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Check out the show notes for all the links that you need to connect with her. Remember, you’re not alone in this, many of us are reassessing our relationship with alcohol and learning to prioritize our health, anxiety and conscious consumption. And if you know anyone, a friend, family or colleague who you know is reassessing her relationship with alcohol, and you think that she could benefit from our conversation today, please don’t hesitate to share this episode with her. We are all in this together, learning growing and supporting one another. So once again, thank you for joining us today. It’s always a pleasure to share these conversations with you. Have an amazing day and I’ll talk to you next time. Thank you for listening to the alcohol minimalist podcast. Take something you learned from this episode and put it into action this week. Changing your drinking habits and creating a peaceful relationship with alcohol is 100% possible. You can stop worrying Stop feeling guilty about over drinking and become someone who desires alcohol less hum join me in making peace with alcohol. It’s my six month online course and group coaching program designed to help you build sustainable change. Give me six months and I’ll help you create peace.