active living

How to fit alcohol into a healthy lifestyle

Is alcohol bad for you?! I think the default answer that pops into our minds is yes but I don’t necessarily believe that’s the case. If we’re consuming a lot of anything then yes, it probably is bad for you. This stands true for not just alcohol but anything; croissants, smoothies, carrots! Obviously eating 10 croissants or having 10 cocktails a day is harder on our bodies than eating a ton of something deemed ‘healthier, like carrots for example, but you get what I’m saying.

Since summer’s almost over you might be having some thoughts about those poolside cocktails, positive or negative! This blog is going to touch on what a healthy limit looks like, alcohol from a caloric point of view, identifying dependency and strategies for cutting back. 

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Healthy Limits 

The key when it comes to alcohol is finding your own unique balance! The balance between indulging in a drink or two at a summer pool party or a patio dinner vs. binge drinking every weekend. The balance between a glass of wine at the end of the evening and an unhealthy habit like dependance or reliance on alcohol. 

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It can be hard to know what a ‘healthy limit’ is. You might guess it’s based on weight and body size. Your own personal limits are based on the rate that your body metabolizes alcohol which is impossible to really measure other than through trial and error. Most people know how many drinks it takes them to feel ‘drunk’ or how many will push them over. This is influenced slightly by body size but also the liver size and the number of specific enzymes your body produces! 

Let’s talk about enzymes for a hot minute. When someone is lactose intolerant they are not producing enough of an enzyme called lactase. Genetics play a similar role for alcohol and some people have different amounts of the ADH and ALDH enzyme (source) . So if you are low in these enzymes you won’t be able to metabolize alcohol as fast and your tolerance will be lower! 

Know that everyone’s limits very! By definition, binge drinking is over the healthy limit for everyone. By definition binge drinking is: 

“a pattern of drinking that brings a person's blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 grams percent or above. This typically happens when men consume 5 or more drinks or women consume 4 or more drinks in about 2 hours.” -The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism  

This might seem vague. Is an unhealthy limit based on your enzymes or what the NIAAA says?! I keep coming back to the importance of knowing what your body can handle. 

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While social media glamorizes drinking with pretty cocktails, healthy/skinny alternatives, and elaborate bath time setups featuring a crisp Sauv Blanc, or a velvety rich Cabernet Sauvignon and a lit candle, drinking still has serious consequences. We’re all aware of what it can lead to so I don’t have to list it down, but I think it’s important to have a gentle reminder that alcohol can be an addictive substance and some very horrible things can come of intoxication. 

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From a Caloric Point of View 

Unfortunately, alcohol does add calories and those calories add up. If you have body goals that revolve around a certain caloric intake then make sure you’re considering the fact that alcohol has 7 calories per gram! This might sound confusing but don’t worry about the science. Basically, 1 ounce of pure spirit is going to have 90-120 calories. Yes, even those ‘0 Carb’ drinks are still probably 90 calories minimum. And the biggest catch..alcohol molecules digest similar to carbohydrate! So even though it might not spike your blood sugar, alcohol still follows the same metabolic pathway as a carbohydrate. Stressful, I know! I’m only telling you ‘cause I love you and I think you deserve to be well informed! 

If you’re looking to make healthy choices opt for something lighter or low calories. You can also make your own and choose soda water and fresh citrus like lemon, lime, orange or grapefruit as your mix. Alternatively, you can use a diet soda or a sweetener like Mio or Crystal Light sometimes I even mix my spirits with kombucha or a probiotic drink for a healthier cocktail. Give sparkling wine and kombucha a try for brunch option with the girls or even Gin and Kombucha.

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One of my favorite spirits happens to be Mezcal which is an agave-based liquor. The flavor profile is very different than Tequila because it is typically smokier. There are also lots of rumors going around saying that Mezcal is healthier because it's viewed as an aperitif which stimulates the appetite. Using mezcal as an aperitif and digestif is nothing new. It helps with digestion, as well as the regulation of blood sugars. Mezcal is also naturally gluten-free.

Alcohol Dependency

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes a nice glass of wine at the end of the night is a perfect way to end a long day. For me, it doesn’t matter if I’m celebrating a super accomplished day or a long and stressful one. The drink isn’t a way to forget or hide, it’s an opportunity to slow down, reflect and enjoy. I could spend this same hour of my evening with a cup of tea, or a bit of CBD. It’s the act of slowing down not the drink that accompanies it. 

When that drinking becomes a habit and that habit becomes a dependency, then the relationship is no longer healthy. 

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • “Am I thinking about this drink all day?”

  • “Would I be upset if I was completely out of this alcohol and couldn’t have my nightly beverage?”

  • “Has weekend drinking become evening drinking?”

  • “Has an evening glass of wine become an evening bottle?”

If you’re feeling uneasy with your answers to any of these questions that’s okay. You are supported. 

Cutting Back

If you feel like your relationship with alcohol isn’t at a healthy stage it may be time to implement some boundaries to help you restabilize that relationship. You 

Helpful Tips:

  • Don’t keep any extra alcohol in the house 

  • Buy only what you need when necessary

  • Gift/regift unwanted bottles 

  • Talk with your spouse about your decision to not drink/drink less. Ask for support. 

  • Visit your local AA meetings 

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Know yourself and your limits

At the end of the day, it’s all about moderation and self-awareness. Drinking a glass of wine is good for you, drinking an entire bottle could do some damage and can lead to an unhealthy lifestyle. Find a healthy balance for yourself based on your body and lifestyle needs. Enjoy those end of the summer cocktails if it suits you and don’t forget to mix in some water and nourish and love up your body the next day! 

Don't hate your self(ie).

In our society today we poke fun at selfies, so much so that if you google "selfie hate" you'll find a community created on Facebook called "I hate selfies" and even a number of articles on this topic. But have you ever stopped to think that maybe when hating on a selfie you could actually be hating on a human, a highlight of that moment in time, or even the simple feeling of happiness. Did you ever think that maybe a selfie is merely one person's way to document a moment in their life where they felt amazing and no one else around to capture it for them?

 

There was a time in my life where I couldn't stand the woman in the mirror. A period in my teenage years were the words "you're fucking ugly" was scribbled over and over in my slam books and photos albums. Not too long ago my perception of my own self was so skewed that I put myself down in front of my own daughters calling myself ugly and fat.

 

My dearest friend Athena, shared this article with me, linked in my profile for you all the read (it's worth it, trust me) Here's an excerpt: How vain we must be to document our human existence! How vapid! But you know what selfies can show you? Yourself. And you are worth looking at. You are worth marveling at. Every day, your body performs a series of complete and total miracles to keep you alive, and then your body does amazing things like creating another human or running a mile or getting to work on time, and to pretend like that isn't noteworthy is absurd. You are worth staring at in the mirror and capturing with whatever medium you have at your fingertips. (read more here:http://bit.ly/sextyourgirlgang)

 

When I workout I'm typically alone, it's my me time, my therapy, my centering moment for my busy day. It's the opportunity I give myself to learn how to deal with some of life's greatest challenges. It's me overcoming all the excuses, all the distractions, and all the reasons I can choose to not live a healthy lifestyle. My exercise is the movement that helps calm my anxiety and silence my depression.

 

And often times in the moment of triumph I'm silently screaming, jumping for joy, giving myself a high five, and overflowing with admiration of what I just accomplished. Because for the longest time of my adolescent and into my adult life I struggled with feeling beautiful, worthy, and loved. So to overcome such a fight, I sometimes feel the right to remember it with a yet another gym selfie, because I should be capable of admiring my self, my mind, and my body of the miracles it performs each and every day!

 

Celebrate your self(ie). Share one with your girlfriend, share one on Instagram, and tag it #rentlesslybeautiful so I can celebrate with you!

 

Here's one of me in bed, unedited, feeling accomplished for writing this post. 

Here's one of me in bed, unedited, feeling accomplished for writing this post. 

DO // Just start

By Encarnacion Photography

By Encarnacion Photography

I frequently get messages from people asking me "how to get started" or "what did you do to start?" I wish the answer was just as simple as "Just Start" and in some truths it is.

My fitness journey was a beginning to an end of years of self hate and depression. At 15 I was diagnosed with depression. In my teens I battled days of highs and lows and thoughts of suicide. As an adult I slowly swept a lot of these emotions under the rug as I started to piece my grown up life together. The moment I became a mother nearly 11 years ago, my body image changed. Naturally I gained weight due to my pregnancy, but months of working out and dieting got me no where near to what I was pre-baby. I gained 15lbs of which I couldn't lose. That feeling of failure began the snowball affect that lead me to the start. After my 2nd daughter was born make changes occurred, but health and fitness became the least of my concerns as a married mother of 2. I had a full time career, a business I owned with my husband, and a social/business life I was trying to maintain. The creative lifestyle of a wedding photographer is one that involves tons of food, wedding cake, wine, and lots of cocktail networking events. Needless to say I lost balance and control of my eating and spiraled into an out of shape, overweight version of myself.

Over the years I covered up this depression fairly well, but there were moments I would be hiding in my closet or in bed crying because I hated myself, I was so disappointed in myself. At the time I didn't know why until I was getting ready with my oldest daughter. She complimented me on how pretty I looked and I immediately snapped back at her telling her I was ugly and fat! The look on her face is one I will never forget. I just crushed her world and truth she knew about the one woman who stood for everything she believed in. The pain in her eyes was exactly what I needed to see in order to realize what was driving me to this unhappiness.

It was then when I reached out to someone I knew who hired a fitness coach. Now I've had trainers in the past, but none that gave me nutritional and fitness guidance. Those two things paired together equal the results you want to achieve. There's no magic pill, no quick fix, no 30 day solution. This entire thing was hard work. I have definitely wanted to give up, quit, and run back to some of my old lifestyle. But I knew that in doing that I would again lose a part of me that I was trying to gain, my self-confidence.

The reasons why people start their fitness journey are always different for the person themselves, but often times the why is what sets the motion for how. For me, I took one step, one leap of faith into the unknown. I started not having a weight loss goal, I set no expectation for myself, except that I wanted to be better than I was yesterday and stronger for tomorrow. So with that mindset I just went for it, I continued to go for it, and now I refuse to quit.

You may ask me how to start, my answer may be as simple as "just start."

 

LIFE // Changing your mindset

Some of the most frequently asked questions I get is: "How did this journey start? How did you shift your thinking and change your mindset?"

My answer: The switch definitely didn’t happen overnight. I was diagnosed with depression at 15 and have had some really rough memories and experiences with trying to find my self worth and create self love for myself. There were definitely happy moments in my life as an adult and moments of low and in some ways because of my career forward lifestyle I was too busy to entertain some of these “low moments”. I became a mother almost 11 years ago and when that happened even more physical changes happened with my body that added to some of the “mental darkness”. I gained stretch marks, my body composition changed even more so, and at that time my mindset was “great I’m a 21 year old with stretch marks, loose skin and loose midsection, and a busy career with no time for my health.” Growing up my family was never healthy eating focused (I’m Filipino) or active lifestyle focused. So working out, eating healthy was never a priority for me. As my life got busier I became more and more unfit and more overwhelmed with life. I don’t think it was until my second daughter was born where it all hit me even more. I buried a lot of the feelings with life an didn’t realize what was the root cause of the unhappiness until a moment and experience I had with my daughter

Finding what made me happy took some trial and error and just working through the emotions. I’m currently married to an amazing man, have a wonderful career, and a thriving business with my husband, but was struggling internally and mentally. When I stopped to reflect what it was that was making me unhappy I realized it was my self image. I hated what I saw in the mirror and that self hate seeped into all areas of confidence in my life. My perspective on work, my marriage, hanging around certain friends, and even being around my kids was so skewed because of how I felt about myself. Lacking the confidence in my own skin really affected my mindset. It was so toxic. 

I think it takes searching high and low in all the wrong places to find what the answer is. And sometimes we run from it because its almost unbelievable or even sounds seems so superficial to say “I’m unhappy with how I look and feel.” I think its because we have so many people in the world who love us despite our own flaws, but because we can’t find the same reasons why people are so attracted to our hearts, the cause of unhappiness is hard to admit.

In some ways I did wake up one day and say I’m fucken over it. I need to change and jumped head first. I hired a fitness/health coach who helped me focus on that area of my life. The moment I started to work on that particular part, all other areas fell into place. It was incredible to see the changes. I focused on tackling an area of my life where I felt I was failing miserable with and slowly over time that began the chain reaction that set the course of my lifestyle changes. There are still moments of self doubt that I have to fight and moments where I’m not as mentally strong, but learning to make the conscious decision to do your best to make the strides forward has helped the daily battles. 

One of the things I tell people is:  stop searching for all the reasons to start, the answer is in the mirror right in front of you. It's important to love yourself enough to care about your health. Do something daily that is active and practice building a strong body, physically and mentally. 

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