moderation

How to drink in moderation more often.

Happy New Year!

Holy shit, it's 2017. In three more years it will be 2020. I never really gave much thought to who I'd be or what I'd do when 2017 hit but here I am living the dream, basically doing whatever I want with my life each and every day. It took a ton of work and sacrifice and sometimes I cry but it's helping me see the world and other human beings in ways I never did nor could have if I didn't go to hell and back. Hey! I'm back. It's nice to be here. 

And what am I seeing about human beings? One thing many, if not most, people struggle with is moderation. When I say that, what do you think of? Food? Alcohol? Well, great! Alcohol is what prompted this blog post. In fact, Cedar Ridge Whiskey is the sponsor of it! Thanks, guys! I'm not kidding. I contacted them with this blog post idea and they sent me free DRANKS. Woodchuck isn't a sponsor, I just love that cider and took this photo of those bottles hanging out together.

 

I had this blog idea because it's January and many people are feeling all excited about resolutions. Ok, maybe they aren't excited but at least mindful of them. And those resolutions often involve drinking less. More than once people have asked me why I never talk about alcohol and drugs in my coaching workshops and events. It's because I've never struggled with drinking in moderation. I don't use drugs at all. All the other things I talk about? YES I'VE STRUGGLED WITH THEM. And still do sometimes! Things such as:

Food (for me it's sugar)

Exercise

Relationships

Negative thoughts

Wait. You didn't know you could have an addiction to negative thoughts? Pema Chodron, my favorite teacher for the past 16 years, calls this "critical mind" about ourselves and others. And OH BOY is this one of my biggest growing edges. The harder I am on myself, I mirror that right back out to others. I may not always say it, but I think it. It's something I see and know about myself and work on every day.

Critical mind is at the root of many other addictions, including alcohol and drugs. I think addictions start with negative thoughts about ourselves or life in general. I sort of tested this theory by studying posts on facebook or listening when I'm out with people and they say, "life is shitty, CHEERS!" or "bad day, here's a picture of my wine." Many people use drinking to escape or hide on the regular and not to celebrate once in a while, in moderation. 

That's because as humans, if something uncomfortable happens, we immediately start telling ourselves stories full of cause and blame. Who did what to whom and why and how it wasn't the "right thing to do". We are often the front-and-center stars/victims of our stories. We only focus on what feels bad and how to get out of that feeling. 

Hardly ever do we consider ourselves the source of the problem AND the solution. If we did, our lives would really improve. 

Instead, we swirl about in negative thoughts and the downward spiral feels scary and gross so some people drink or use drugs to numb out from those feelings. The numbed out feeling is better than the hard feelings and they can escape the negative thoughts for a time. Drinking in excess perpetuates this escapism. Drinking in moderation means sitting with those feelings more often than is comfortable for many people.

Folks are often shocked when they ask me how often I drink. A friend recently asked if I had more than a glass of wine a night. I replied, "um. More like one glass a month." She was shocked. I admit I was shocked to hear how much she was drinking given the many responsibilities she has. I don't know how she does it.

Drinking in moderation is something that comes easy to me but maybe it's because I wasn't raised around it. I also didn't get into the partying scene in college or beyond. Maybe it's for other reasons. But like I said, I have plenty of work to do in other areas. And I can relate to the feelings. I just don't use alcohol or drugs to escape the feelings. I do different things. Sometimes I choose healthy things, sometimes I don't.

But I DO enjoy alcohol in moderation and want that for others too. It's fun to celebrate major milestones and holidays and heck, just kick back with a glass now and then. Funnily enough, I never buy red wine and ended up spilling my first glass all over my couch two weeks ago. My handy cleaning skills solved it, no worries!

So how can you practice more moderation, too? For drinking or critical mind or something else? Well, I've found it easiest to practice moderation when I tone down the perfectionist in my head. When I stop blaming other people for circumstances in my life. When I stop running the tape of ways I don't fit or measure up or compare to other people. When I stop trying to get it (life) right. When I get support from professionals like therapists or counselors. When I don't hide my faults from the world. When I exercise and drink water and practice other healthier habits I also feel better.

Which of these do you do or have you tried? Which worked? Which did you quit too quickly? And I don't think cold turkey is realistic for anyone or anything. Even this past summer when I was smoking (gasp!) I was only having one cig a day and eventually decided that was silly and stopped altogether. But it was moderation all along that helped me stop completely.

I'm going to say something bold here: I don't think there's such a thing as the disease of alcoholism. I also don't think it's true for drugs either. Or eating disorders. I've starved myself to the brink and swung way out to my highest weight and back again many times. I know why and what worked to heal it. I've also known thousands of people personally who use and/or are in recovery and I've heard many stories. One of my long-term romantic relationships ended from my partner's relapse. And I've coached hundreds of clients toward changing these things in their lives. 

I DO think all people need more of the right support and resources in their lives. I think they need to learn healthier coping skills. I think they need to nurture more self-awareness. I think they need more love. I think they need more community. I think they need to build healthier self-esteem and self-confidence. I think these things would help most people overcome the addictions that prevent them from practicing moderation in all the things.

Like or comment or share if you're on board or if you think I'm batshit crazy. Let's talk about this and get a conversation going to bring it into the light.

One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.
— Carl Jung

DAY 6: FIBER

This isn't for your grandma. It's for you. Today's tip to 2011 is about an essential part of the human diet, but one that is in short supply in the Standard American Diet (S.A.D.)

Are you a S.A.D. person?
Here's how you know:
  • you shop at a typical "supermarket" and your cart is filled with anything and/or everything canned, frozen or boxed from the center aisles
  • you rarely shop the perimeter of the store, and whole fruits and veggies don't make their way into your cart in large amounts
  • your plate is regularly filled with animal meat/fat
  • you eat alot of highly processed carbs (bagels, pasta, cereal, bread, pizza)
  • your food contains alot of unhealthy fats (saturated, hydrogenated)
Is this you? Don't know? Take 5 minutes away from this post, open your cabinets and do a quick nutritional info check of 5+ things on the shelves. Scan the ingredients list found under the Nutritional Information box on the panel of the boxes, jars, cans, etc in your cabinets. Go ahead. I'll wait.
Basically, if it's in a box, in a can or a jar--it's processed. If it doesn't die, wilt or rot in a few days, it's not a whole food. This is ok in moderation. But what percentage of your daily, weekly, monthly and YEARLY diet is like this?
read FOOD RULES by Michael Pollan to learn more...   

The Standard American diet is linked to the staggering rates of high cholesterol, obesity, heart disease, diabetes and any other number of health-related issues. Think you're just unlucky enough to be sick all the time? Have an aunt or uncle, or spouse who just can't catch a break and is in and out of doctors' offices all the time? What is their diet telling you?
I'm focusing on fiber today because it is one of the biggest black holes in the average American's diet. People snicker and laugh at Metamucil commercials, but those old folks know their shit. Literally.
They know how important it is to have a bowel movement each day, and how crappy you feel (I'm pulling out every poop pun possible) if it doesn't happen. Have you ever stopped to notice yourself? You should be eliminating every day. If you're not, you are not eating enough fiber.
There are two kinds of fiber that you want to know more about. Quite simply, from the Mayo clinic staff:
Fiber is commonly classified into two categories: those that don't dissolve in water (insoluble fiber) and those that do (soluble fiber).
  • Insoluble fiber. This type of fiber promotes the movement of material through your digestive system and increases stool bulk, so it can be of benefit to those who struggle with constipation or irregular stools. Whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts and many vegetables are good sources of insoluble fiber.
  • Soluble fiber. This type of fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like material. It can help lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels. Soluble fiber is found in oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley and psyllium.
Continue reading more about the benefits of fiber from that article by clicking here.
Read up on fiber, do an inventory of your shelves and cabinets, and rethink the choices you're making regarding the nutritional content and delivery of food into and through your system. Are you spending your money on whole foods with plenty of fiber or processed versions of less nutritional products?
Make a few changes and take notes about how your digestion, elimination and moods change in the next two weeks.
Your colon will thank me.