I enjoy drinking. From scotch to a microbrew, a libation always brings the clamor of life down to a dull roar, and allows me to relax in the moment, doing nothing more than the act of having a drink – most of the time with great company, and once in a while taking time for myself by winding down after a crazy day at work with a glass of wine. And in moderation, it may also be good for my health.
But isn’t that the operative word there: moderation. Defined by the mayo clinic for women as one drink per day (men 2 drinks per day), and not to exceed 7 drinks per week, lest you risk:
- Certain cancers, including breast cancer and cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx and esophagus
- Sudden death if you already have cardiovascular disease
- Heart muscle damage (alcoholic cardiomyopathy) leading to heart failure
- High blood pressure
- Liver disease
- Accidental serious injury or death
- Brain damage and other problems in an unborn child
- Alcohol withdrawal syndrome
We all know these things. I knew the warnings when I was in college doing kegstands. But I still did them. And although my kegstand champion days are over, I still struggle to achieve the great balance that is 1. enjoying a drink here and there with friends and 2. drinking far too much and risking my health while adding on pounds.
Let’s take this week as an example:
Out of 7 days, I drank on 4 of them. From sharing a bottle of wine with my bestie while doing dramatic readings of tinder profiles, to experiencing the cocktail program at a hot spot restaurant downtown; those evenings and the ones in between added up to 12 drinks this week.
Here is what I learned from this examination: If I make plans and I know that there will be drinking involved, I can strategically decide to drink two nights per week. But here is the ultimate rub:
“Let’s go grab a drink.” “Want to grab a beer?”
That casual, last minute, why not? experience. I love spontaneity. And this is my downfall on this journey so far. I hear the lightness of the question, the authentic desire to walk over to any of the great vibe bars in my neighborhood and be a part of the community, while enjoying a beverage and talking about life. But since I already made plans, this adds a third drinking day. And this oftentimes happens more than once. So there’s four.
And sure, I can say no. But I don’t want to. And sure, I can order my go-to-when-I’m-detoxing soda-water-with-lime during the dinners or outings that were planned, but I don’t want to.
It comes down what it always does when making decisions on this journey, the ultimate question: how bad do I want this? How badly do I want to get in shape again? How badly do I want to feel all of those great things that come along with being my healthiest self? It definitely feels better than a hangover. And if that’s not enough, this infographic visually comparing wine to a slice of cake and a glass of liqueur to two weiners helps.
Drinking 12 drinks this week is not giving 100%. So here’s what I’m going to do:
I will have four drinks per week. Planned or unplanned. And I have to be on top of it. So for example, if I grab a spontaneous scotch on a Tuesday night, then when I have plans Friday, I know where I’m at and exactly what to do.
And here’s the other thing:
Just like when I was doing a paleo challenge with my crossfit friends, for every drink, I have to do 50 squats. (Not right then and there, that would be a terrible date…”Crap I just had a beer. Hey, can you hang on a minute? Don’t worry I can just do them here next to the bar. Thanks for understanding”).
Because I want to reach my health goal more than I want scotch.
This is going to be hard. BUT I WILL FUCKING DO IT.