EP #141

The True Cost of a Daily Drinking Habit

alcoholic minimalist podcast

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In this episode, Molly explores the impact of mindset on drinking habits and encourages listeners to challenge self-limiting beliefs. She provides practical guidelines and tools for mindful drinking, urging individuals to incorporate alcohol-free days into their week and recognize the true costs of daily drinking. The discussion delves into the neurological effects of alcohol, shedding light on its impact on neurotransmitters and mental health. Molly emphasizes the importance of time as a valuable currency and encourages listeners to align their actions with their dreams and goals. The episode concludes with a call to increase awareness and cultivate thoughts that fuel the desire for an alcohol-minimalist lifestyle, urging small steps toward meaningful change.

Hey, it’s Molly from alcohol minimalist. What do you do in this October? I would love to have you join me in my more sober October challenge. What do I mean by more sober October, it simply means that we’re going to add in more alcohol free days than you currently been doing, whether that’s one or two or 31. It’s up to you, you get to set your own goal and that’s why it’s more sober October. You can check it out and learn more at get got sunnyside.co/molly It’s totally free. I’ve got prizes, I’m going to be going live every week to announce the prize winners. And it’s just going to be an awesome event. So I would love to have you join me. You can learn more at get.sunnyside.co/molly and you can get registered today. 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 habit. 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 all my friends. It’s a beautiful Oregon this week, it is literally my favorite time of the year it is this, this edge season in between the end of summer, the beginning of fall, and we are experiencing just beautiful days. 75 degrees. Gorgeous outside, it’s going to be hot again this weekend, evidently and I’m okay with that I am okay with that. I will take a little heat before it before the rain kicks in here. But it’s been gorgeous. And it’s super, it’s just I’m loving it. Hey, I am excited to be back. I’m excited to be here and recording and doing a live, quote unquote Live episode this week. And I’m gonna jump right into it. So I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts earlier and the conversation was around consistency. And why so many of us and this was certainly me for many years, will say that we really want some result. Let’s say it’s to break a daily drinking habit. And when I was living with the anxiety and worry that my daily drinking caused me, I would have told you that I wanted to change that habit more than anything else in the world, I probably would have used those exact words, in fact, but then five o’clock would roll around, I’d have a really tough day at work, I’d be stressed out by my kids. I just liked the taste of beer, or I wanted to be able to celebrate something. I was going out for a networking event, and you name it. And even though I would tell you that I really wanted to drink less alcohol. I didn’t want to drink every day, even though I was constantly worrying about it. In those moments. I simply wanted the drink more. I would have told you that I really wanted change. But the fact is that my results spoke for themselves. The daily choices I was making were keeping me stuck in a habit that didn’t serve me. Why? Because in the moment of choice, I wasn’t focused on all the benefits of minimizing alcohol in my life. I was only choosing between having a drink or not having a drink. I wasn’t choosing better sleep, less anxiety, better health and immunity, better relationships, better productivity. I was focused on the choice of having a drink or not. That was the only choice I was considering. And in the moment. I simply wanted the drink. I was focused on wanting it and the permission giving thoughts supported that feeling of desire, all start tomorrow, I’ve been so good, I deserve it. This one day doesn’t matter. Those lots fueled the choice that the choice of a drinker no drink that I was focused on. I wasn’t thinking about how much I love waking up and feeling really rested. I wasn’t thinking about how drinking less or not at all allowed me to get things done at night, I wasn’t thinking about all the health benefits, reducing alcohol meant in my life, I wasn’t thinking about what feeling at peace with alcohol would really mean to me. The truth is that I wasn’t fueling my desire for these things by directing my thoughts to them, I willfully ignored all of the reasons, all of the benefits all of those positives of drinking less, and chose to listen to my impulsive toddler brain in the moment, and the results of my life, a daily drinking habit that far exceeded the heat the limits of moderate spoke for themselves. Those results, I routinely drank about 30 standard drinks per week, maybe 30 to 40. Despite what I would have told you was my number one heart’s desire, which was to break my daily drinking habit. The results of my life were a daily drinking habit that far exceeded moderate limits by like 400%. By the way, even though I considered myself a moderate drinker. The truth was that even though I want to change so badly, I didn’t want it that badly. I wanted the drink after work more. After work, when I was tired, when I’d had a bad day, instead of focusing on the desire I had for an alcohol, minimalist lifestyle, and all of its incredible benefits. Why was simply choosing and focusing on having a drink versus not having a drink. And that’s where the opportunity and the challenge lies. If you really want to change the habit, you can’t make it simply about wanting to drink or not wanting it, you have to shift that thinking to wanting the results you want in your life. I’d love the results of my alcohol minimalist life. And in the moment, I don’t always love choosing to not drink or stop drinking, they don’t. And that’s okay. Because I now understand that I don’t get these results that I love, without wanting them more than the moment that I’m in. Since it’s been a bit since I’ve mentioned the low risk guidelines that I recommend, I’m going to reiterate them right now here they are. These come from the NIA A, and for healthy women age 65. and younger. Low Risk guidelines are no more than seven standard drinks in a week and no more than three standard drinks in any one day. For men aged 65 and younger, no more than 14 standard drinks in a week and no more than four standard drinks in any one day. I also recommend as do the CDC and the NIH AAA that you incorporate multiple alcohol free days into your week. Currently, I’ve got a goal of being 70% alcohol free, which is a step up for me this year. And if you’d like to have the roadmap of how I’m doing that in terms of how many days each month plus a plan for special event months, like more sober October that is coming up. I will be talking about that more. And there’s a link in the show notes for it but more sober October challenge. And I’ll put all of this in the show notes for the for my 70% alcohol free plan. But you can also come join us in the alcohol minimalist Facebook group. There’s always a link in the notes for that. And we would love to have you there. And I share that in there as well. All of this this podcast that I was listening to about consistency and about the moment in that choice and wanting something more. It led me to what this week’s episode is really all about or this or the full topic I guess. And that’s this what is the true cost of daily drinking? I know that for me, I I wanted to talk about this. Because for many years, like decades, I never really acknowledged what my daily drinking habit was costing me in my life. Scientifically speaking, I really wasn’t aware. Be fair or at least I was misinformed. And I’m sure that’s the case for for many of you that are listening, in terms of believing that my drinking wasn’t putting me at risk for negative health health outcomes. I definitely believed the whole idea that, you know, red wine was good for the heart. And really the only what I also believed was that the only real negative outcome that I associated with drinking was cirrhosis of the liver. And I didn’t worry about that, because I wasn’t that kind of drinker, right? I wasn’t a I wasn’t, quote, unquote, alcoholic. So I really didn’t pay attention to the science around alcohol because I wasn’t an alcoholic, like my mom. And as long as I wasn’t that, then alcohol wasn’t a quote unquote, real problem. And I think so many of us who question our drinking, who worry about it, fall back into this pattern of thinking, and we reassure ourselves that our drinking isn’t that bad. And it’s that mindset, that pattern of thinking that kept me stuck in my daily drinking habit for years. Now, let’s just set the science aside for a minute. In what other ways is your daily drinking habit costing you? Here are three ways that I now realize that my daily drinking habit cost me big time. And now in hindsight, it’s simply a cost that I’m no longer willing to pay. Number one, my daily drinking habit cost me power. What do I mean by that? Well, my daily drinking habit was the one habit in my life that I believed was unbreakable. I allowed that thought to live in me for so long, as it was incredibly disempowering. It was the ultimate self limiting belief, because it kept me from even trying to change. Ask yourself, what you believe is true about your ability to change your drinking, is your brain constantly bring up evidence from the past. If you’ve tried to change your relationship with alcohol in the past and failed, I understand how you feel. Before I learned the behavior map results cycle before I did this work, I simply believed everything I thought about myself and who I was, I believed that I was genetically predisposed to desire alcohol more, I believed that I was weak willed and lacked the strength that was necessary to change. I accepted those thoughts as just the truth about me. And if you feel the same way, I want you to start challenging those old self limiting beliefs. When I started learning all the science of alcohol when I started understanding neuroscience, and not only how my brain worked, but that changing my brain’s physiology, changing the neural pathways was unnecessary and possible. I started challenging all those old self limiting beliefs that were so unhelpful. A just a quick break to talk with you for a minute about Sunnyside. You hear me talk about it on the show often, and it really is my number one recommendation for a mindful drinking app. People use this tool in my groups in my classes, and they tell me all the time, how much they really appreciate the fact that Sunnyside is a very positive reinforcement. And what I mean by that is that when you track your drinks, and let’s just say you planned for one drink, and you ended up having to, if you’re honest and you track that second drink, you’re not going to get a message that shames you in any way or reprimands you, you’re actually going to get positive reinforcement for tracking a drink that you didn’t plan on and some ideas of some suggestions for going and grabbing a snack or getting some water. Sunnyside is like having a coach in your pocket. And I love that you can try it for a 15 day free trial go to www.sunnyside.co/molly to get started today. I was listening to another podcast this week. I listened to a lot of podcasts, listen to a lot of audiobooks. It’s definitely a preferred learning style for me. And this one reminded me of a tool which I love in terms of challenging thoughts you have about yourself. Ask yourself when a thought comes in, is it true? Is it kind and is it helpful? Okay, I love that. Don’t allow a daily drinking habit that or any habit that no longer serves you to steal your power. Alcohol doesn’t have power over you, you are not powerless, you are capable of changing your relationship with alcohol and Don’t waste another day believing otherwise. So that was number one for me. Alcohol my daily drinking habit cost me power. Number two, my daily drinking habit cost me mental health. What do I mean by that? I was just commenting on this in my private Facebook group the other day. Truly, this year, as I’ve added more alcohol free days into my life, I am absolutely aware of the depressant nature of alcohol. And truly notice, especially on the days that I have that patented third drink, I noticed it the day after. But what I never appreciated for years, as I was stuck in my daily drinking habit was how much the worry and anxiety I had around my drinking cost me in terms of my mental health and energy. I want to be clear about this. Changing my relationship with alcohol did not mean that suddenly my life was just rainbows and unicorns, and happy all the time. It did not mean nor does it mean now that I never have a bad day or low energy day. But prior to doing this work, I didn’t understand how much of my life was spent in worry. I never realized how emotionally immature I was, and how I never understood how my thoughts created my feelings. And so my mental health, my default mental health was simply not great. When you add on to that the biochemistry of an excessive daily drinking habit. Of course, my ongoing mental health energy was perpetually low. My daily drinking habit was typically around two to three IPAs per night, which really equated to more like three to four standard drinks per night, which meant that alcohol, a chemical depressant as it was dissipating from my system, my brain was firing off excitatory neurotransmitters in an attempt to turn my brain back on basically reminder and I’ve talked about this plenty of times on the podcast I talked about it more in my in my course. Alcohol impacts the two major neurotransmitters GABA and glutamate. It increases the action of GABA, which is also the formal name is gamma amnio butyric acid, which is an inhibitory neurotransmitter. So it increases the action of GABA, it’s basically turning the brain down or off. And this is what makes you feel more relaxed when you start drinking. Alright, so it increases GABA. As drinking continues, alcohol also decreases the action of glutamate, which is an excitatory neurotransmitter, it’s responsible for turning the brain or on. And this again, when you when you increase the impact of GABA, and you decrease the impact of glutamate, it leads to increasing feelings of calm and being uninhibited. If you kept drinking, it would continue to that you would eventually pass out and become unconscious. And it’s the deal with alcohol. It impacts both of these very important grain chemicals, which in a limited way, right is what leads to those initial feelings of relaxation that people are seeking. But as alcohol starts to wear off, and especially if we go higher than that 0.055% blood alcohol content, our brain tries to restore the normal chemical balance it has its goes try seeking homeostasis. And it does that by both reducing the GABA Okay, those it lessens the calm feelings, and it increases glutamate, so it tries to compensate by counteracting both of those earlier impacts. And together this has the opposite effect compared to when you were drinking. Edit increases anxiety, right? It’s that anxiety. It’s important to remember that many of the anxious thoughts or feelings you experienced after drinking could be caused by these chemical changes in your brain, especially if you are drinking daily. If you are a daily drinker, you are basically perpetuating a baseline for your mental health that is lower and that makes it harder to feel energetic and positive. Can you offset it? Can you compensate in some way? Yes to some degree with positive habits like daily exercise, meditation, etc. But until you experience the true benefits of multiple alcohol free days in your life, you may not recognize my Your mental health is being impacted. i No, I didn’t. And being blind to that, or in denial of it really cost me and kept me stuck. Number three, this is an important one, my daily drinking habit cost me time. Now, I’m not talking about the years that are behind me focusing on the past isn’t productive. And I don’t choose thoughts that feel regret about not making this change sooner. Right. What I didn’t consider ongoing was how much time I wasted each evening. Even as a result of daily drinking. It’s not like I drank so much that I was like, passed out asleep on the couch, although I absolutely did fall asleep watching TV often. But more importantly, once I started drinking, and went past that initial relaxed phase and to a higher blood alcohol content, I lost all motivation to do anything productive. No writing, no reading, no exercising, no creating no talking to my partner, no playing games, no connecting with people, no anything. Right. They call time the ultimate currency because it can’t be replaced or renewed once we’ve used it. And yet, we’re all so used to wasting time on things that don’t align with our dreams and our goals that we barely notice. Like I didn’t for years, how much of my time I was wasting with my daily drinking habit. The beauty of time is that it can be spent on anything. And that is also its ugliest feature. If you are spending a lot of your life drinking right now, I want you to really ask yourself, if that is how you want to spend your most precious currency. Better yet, decide how you want to spend your time instead, I guarantee you that me talking to you on a podcast, having written a book building a course in a community. It didn’t happen if I was still a daily habit drinker. Because I wouldn’t have had the time I didn’t have the time or energy that this project of mine has required. It’s easy when you’re not hitting rock bottom with your drinking, when you’re drinking isn’t that bad. When you drink like most of your family and friends and the people around you to ignore the true costs of your daily drinking. In my book, I quote a statement by Annie grace, where she says all change happens on the other side of awareness. And I hope that sharing this and sharing these costs that I didn’t figure out until after I changed my own daily drinking, I hope that it helps you realize some of the true costs that your daily drinking habit might be costing you. And I hope that by sharing these with you, that it inspires you to ask yourself some questions. And then, you know, ask yourself about the true costs. But then turn your thoughts, chords creating desire for an alcohol, minimalist life. This is the work I do with people all the time. I help them uncover some of the unconscious thinking that’s keeping them stuck. And I help them find those thoughts that fuel the desire for the result of an alcohol minimalist life. It’s a practice. It’s a skill that is buildable, and I would love to help you do the same. You can learn more about what I offer over at www dot Molly watts.com. All right, my friends. It has been awesome to be back here this week. It is awesome to speak with you. I hope that you get something out of this episode. Take it, put it out into the world. Make some small steps towards a bigger win in your life this week. And until next time, choose peace. 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. Check it out at www dot Molly watts.com/join. That’s Molly with a Y and watts with an s.com/join I’m joined Meet today