Do you remember my fitness mission statement? You know the one about embracing my most authentic sparkle? It is totally okay if you don’t because, I have this beautiful picture below to remind both you and me of it whenever is necessary.
When I wrote this in the spring, my most authentic sparkle was starting to peek through, but I hadn’t fully embraced it for a couple of years. I remembered what my most authentic sparkle used to feel like and I knew it was about to reappear, but I had no idea when. Then one night while dancing The Wobble in between karaoke songs in a green sundress and rainbow sandals I felt my most authentic sparkle breakthrough. I smiled and thought to myself: “This is it, my most authentic sparkle it is finally back and I am even doing The Wobble...wait a minute, I only know how to do The Wobble when I am drunk. Am I drunk? I had two..three..four drinks. Uh-oh I think I am drunk, but it is too late now so I might as well enjoy the rest of the night.”
So enjoy the rest of the night is what I did. There was singing, dancing and memories with friends. It was fun. It also wasn’t the only fun night I had that month with the help of alcohol and that scared me because I know too much alcohol can change my body composition which can lead to the insecurities that made my most authentic sparkle disappear. Through a PN lesson, I admitted my fear to Kaitlyn, who wrote back:
“Your body will change; it is inevitable. Having a drink or a few with friends can add weight. It can also bring enjoyment and fulfillment from being with people you love because you want too. You can spend most of your days eating well and drinking water, and your body can change back to a smaller composition. It does not have to stay one size, and it most likely will not, but you have the tools and habits to change your body how you feel most at peace.”
I took those words to heart and realized I had to treat my drinking the same way I treat my love of bread, ice cream and cake - I must say no to the mediocre things so I can say yes to the good stuff. These days I avoid overly processed pastries and bread so I can truly enjoy the fresh-baked stuff. I don’t eat ice cream unless it is from a local creamery or a carton of Ben & Jerry's. I happily eat those things because I know the majority of the time my eating habits benefit my health and that small indulgence won’t set me back. I just had to learn what that looked like with drinking.
After some reflection I have realized these are the time I really do like drinking:
I attend multiple weddings a year. I am invited to several birthdays. My family celebrates special occasions with a cocktail followed by a nice meal. My social circles gather for parties. Life is too short not to celebrate the good stuff and while I don’t need to drink at every celebration, it is okay for me to drink at some - especially if I can better enjoy my time on the dance floor.
Monthly Girls’ Happy Hour
I meet my friends, Liz and Brooke, monthly for happy hour at a Mexican restaurant halfway between our offices. Our chats over margaritas and chips and salsa have become a ritual I enjoy almost as much as my morning coffee.
Trying something new
Some cocktail creations are really unique - they combine flowers and fruits or citrus and spice. It is rare that a vodka soda sparks my interest, but something I have never had before does. In Denver there are endless craft beers to try. I often do find myself in a social situation at a brewery and if there is something on the menu that looks tasty I am probably going to try it. I also love whiskey tastings and learning more about one of the most flavorful and diverse alcohols around.
That same reflection also helped me realize these are the times I don’t like drinking:
Alone after a stressful day
There was a time when I would pour myself a glass of wine or whiskey at least once a week after a stressful day of work. After testing many different stress management methods during my year of Empowered Nutrition Coaching, I stopped doing this. It wasn’t an intentional decision, but I have realized an alcoholic drink by myself after a bad day does not help me decompress nearly as much as knitting, reading, meditating or cuddling Sheba. There is no need for me to have that drink alone because I have better coping tools.
Not counting coffee at breakfast (because there is no beverage I enjoy more than coffee), as I have gotten more mindful with my eating habits, I have stopped drinking anything but water at meals. I love the way many beverages taste and the way many foods taste, but I can’t seem to focus on both tastes together. I noticed I had a pattern of going to a restaurant, ordering a drink, ignoring my drink while I eat my food and then downing the drink after my meal because I felt bad letting it go to waste. Maybe I wasn’t letting the drink go to waste, but I was wasting calories and money on it.
When it impacts my fitness goals
As my fitness mission states, “I will eat, exercise and relax in ways that bring my body and mind joy. I will continue to seek out challenges that bring me closer to my goals.”
It is true that fun times with my loved ones bring out my most authentic sparkle, but so does pushing my physical limits. I need both these experiences to be my best self, and as fun as it may be, alcohol dehydrates my body and ruins my sleep. When I prepare for physical challenges like doing the DriTri Sprint, hiking a 14er, or running a 10K, alcohol can ruin my progress. As these events get close I refuse to drink any alcohol because the joy I may get from a drink won’t match the feeling of accomplishment I have from completing those goals.
Just like food, there are good and bad things about alcohol. Sometimes it is totally enjoyable and appropriate to indulge in and other times it can cause more harm than good. Becoming aware of what benefits and deterrents I receive from alcohol took more self-reflection that I was comfortable with, but it has also ensured that when I do indulge it is in a way that brings me joy and embraces my most authentic sparkle.