In this episode, I go through a list of areas where drinking could be negatively affecting you.
I explain how alcohol gets in the way of your accomplishments and happiness and how it destroys your health, relationships, and wealth if given enough time.
It’s hard to look at the ways drinking costs you, but it can be the biggest gift to face it and embrace it.
Tune in to understand that there is nothing you do or have done that can’t be restored and repaired.
You are listening to the Drink Less Lifestyle podcast with Dr. Sherry Price, episode number 166.
Welcome to Drink Less Lifestyle, a podcast for successful women who want to change their relationship with alcohol. If you want to drink less, feel healthier and start loving life again you’re in the right place. Please remember that the information in this podcast does not constitute medical advice. Now, here’s your host, Dr. Sherry Price.
Well, hello my beautiful friend. I hope you had an amazing holiday if you are here in the United States and celebrated Thanksgiving. And I hope that week did not derail a lot of health goals. My family and I had a special time in Cancun, we had so much fun. I just love that part of Mexico, so much fun, just to get away, to be in the sunshine and to continue our tradition of trading turkey for tacos, so much fun.
So if you spent the last week overindulging or you are worried about overindulging in the month of December, I want to tell you about an upcoming webinar that I am doing that I would love to invite you to. And the webinar is Five Ways to Drink Less Around the Holidays. I will be doing this webinar on Tuesday December 5th at 4:00pm Pacific Time, which is 7:00 pm Eastern Time. And I invite you to this webinar because I think a lot of people need help around the holidays. The holidays are a time of lots of festivities, parties.
And some people actually experience a lot of grief around the holidays due to loss of loved ones or other things that may be going on for you. And so while it can be a time of joy for many people and overjoy, it can also be a time of deep sadness for people. So there are many ways we tend to cope with these emotions, we over-drink, we overeat, we can be over-shopping. And these are ways that we buffer and numb from really feeling the feelings of whatever life is presenting to us.
And so I want to help you during this time to stick to your health goals, and not only that to really up-level yourself. And when you up-level yourself, you really don’t want to rely on alcohol to get through the holidays or to overdo it around alcohol or even overdo it around food. So even though this will be geared to drinking less, it will also be for anybody who has even issues around overeating during this time. And so mark your calendars for December 5th, it’s a Tuesday at 4:00pm Pacific, 7:00 pm Eastern and I look forward to seeing you there.
So today on the podcast, I want to talk about looking really at your drinking habit, whatever that is. If that’s every night, if that’s every other night, if that’s most nights, if that’s just on weekends and you go big and you go hard on weekends. Or maybe it’s when you are out with friends or certain friends or maybe it could be just in your house when you’re home. Whatever your drinking pattern or your drinking habit looks like, I want you to consider what it is costing you.
And we’re going to take the 360 view of this. And of course, when we talk about what it’s costing you, a lot of times the first thing people think about is financially. What does this drinking habit cost me financially? And I have done podcasts on this before where I talked about my favorite bottle of Chardonnay was roughly around 10.99 a bottle. And so I just averaged it to be $10 a bottle and that’s if I drank just one bottle. There were some nights that I dipped into a second bottle.
And oftentimes we would drink together. So that means I’m drinking a whole bottle and then my husband was joining in with me. And so it wasn’t just one bottle a night. But let’s just be conservative and say it’s one bottle a night or maybe it’s beer or spirits or whatever your drink du jour is. Consider what it is costing you financially. And so I knew mine was costing me roughly about 4500 to about $5,000 a year. And when I break that down, $10 for a bottle. And I was doing that six to seven nights a week.
And so what I paid for there was $240 a month which doesn’t sound too bad. But then I was also going out and drinking. And drinks in the San Diego area, $12 would be the minimum for a nice cocktail, maybe even up to $16/17, depending on where we were eating out. And so when I totaled up the amount I spent on alcohol, it was shocking. I certainly didn’t think it would be around the $5,000 per year mark.
And if you’re drinking a bottle of wine a night and it’s $15, just $5 more and you times that by six, you’re at 90 times that by four weeks, that make up a month, that’s $360 a month. And then that comes out pretty close to $4400 a year. So even at the conservative end, if you’re just to say a $10 bottle of wine a night and you multiply that out by 10 years. I had an over-drinking habit for eight to nine years. And so if I multiply that out, $5,000 a year times 10 years, that’s $50,000. That is a lot of cash, $50,000. And we’re just focusing on the alcohol.
We’re not talking about food. We’re not talking about anything else, just on the alcohol. Now, I just think to myself, if I had put that money away in a retirement account or an investment account, and even just made 5% interest, how much money that would grow to over the course of time or even in that same amount of time. So it’s not about whether or not you could afford it or can afford it. I don’t want to get into that issue here.
But I just really want to consider how you are using your money, and if that is the way you want to be using your money. Is that the way you want to be spending your money? I think doing this exercise, it just really highlights how you’re spending your money, if you want to be spending your money this way.
And are there any adjustments you want to make because we can be putting those funds and that money towards other things, other things that build lasting happiness or just other ways you want to spend your money. So from a financial perspective, I think it’s just really good to have a pulse on, hey, what is my drinking habit costing me financially?
Now let’s move into the next category. What is it costing me in terms of my health? And so what I want to share with you in this category is really the facts that we have at this point in time, in 2023 we have a lot of knowledge about how alcohol affects our body. And we know just in the last five years there has been much more research that has come out about how alcohol affects the body.
One of those studies talks directly about the brain and that study that was done talks about how just two drinks a day over time shrinks the brain by 10 to 20%. That is huge. It shrinks the brain. And so when you shrink the brain, of course, you shrink the capacity of the brain or the functions of the brain. So we know alcohol leads to dementia. We know it causes reduced cognition. We know that the hippocampus, which is the center for memory and learning, gets affected. And so we are less able to learn. We are less likely to remember and many of us have experienced loss of memory when we overdrink.
And so these learning and memory problems begin to evolve more and more the more we drink. Also, the more we drink the more impulsive we become. We just say yes to things and we do things very impulsively. And we know that alcohol affects many hormones in the body, melatonin being one. Therefore, we know that alcohol dramatically disrupts our sleeping patterns. Now, while we’re on the topic of the brain, let’s look at the brain and its emotional response and how alcohol affects us emotionally.
We know that people who drink and have a drinking pattern or a chronic habit of drinking, that they are two to threefold increased risk of depression, two to threefold increased risk of having an anxiety disorder which in my mind becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy because when you’re drinking you get numb to those emotions. You don’t feel as depressed because alcohol is a numbing agent.
You might not feel that anxiousness because alcohol is a numbing agent. But then when it starts to wear off the blues come back, the depression comes back, the anxiety comes back. And therefore your brain learns, how I treat this is to actually drink. When it’s actually the substance causing more depression, causing more anxiety. So it becomes this habit cycle that the brain thinks it’s helping itself, but it’s really not.
And I know a lot of people come into EpicYOU saying, “I just need help with getting through this first part where my anxiety is creeping up, my depression is creeping up and I need other tools and other ways to manage this as it’s coming up.” Because the anxiety and depression doesn’t go away when you cut back. It takes time for the brain to recalibrate.
And so you need support during that time so that you don’t run back to the bottle and run back to the drink because alcohol does give you that relief, no doubt, it gives you that relief. However, it keeps you in that cycle longer and longer and makes things worse.
Alright, so moving on from the brain down to the liver, we know that alcohol causes liver damage, scarring, cirrhosis over time. And so, yes, we become concerned with what our liver function tests tell us. When they become elevated, we start to get more worried because that’s a marker of liver damage. Not only that when you chronically ingest alcohol, the liver prioritizes alcohol, so it doesn’t prioritize the other things that the body needs to break down, and one of them is estrogen.
And when estrogen gets recycled through our bodies, particularly as we head through midlife for the ladies, we’re going to find a lot of estrogen dominant symptoms going on for us, weight gain, weepiness, hot flashes. All of those symptoms get more dramatic because our body can’t break down the estrogen that it’s making and so we become estrogen dominant. There’s a whole host of other symptoms that come with that as well.
So the liver is very important, particularly as we age and we need to be breaking down not only estrogen but other hormones and cholesterol and other things that our body needs to break down.
Moving on to our heart, alcohol dramatically affects our heart and negatively impacts it, leading to high blood pressure, heart disease and an increased risk of strokes. More evidence has been coming out about that. And then we know the big cancer. We know that alcohol leads to many different types of cancer, breast, mouth, throat, esophageal, voice box, liver, many others. And in fact the CDC now states that even lower amounts of alcohol, less than one drink a day, increases the risk for cancer. Yes, low amounts of alcohol.
We think low amounts of alcohol are safe when we’re an over-drinker because we’re like, “I just had one glass today. That is a win.” And of course it is a win, but because of the newer data that’s been coming out, the CDC has changed their recommendations and talks about how these even low amounts of alcohol can lead to an increased risk of cancer. Not only that, we know the American Cancer Society changed their guidelines just a few years ago, saying no amount of alcohol is safe and recommends no alcohol for anybody with cancer.
And in addition to that, we know that Canada’s recent guidelines have changed on the guidance of alcohol and health. Their final report states that consumption of three to six standard drinks per week puts one at risk of developing several different types of cancer. And it goes on to say that seven or more drinks per week increases the risk for heart disease and stroke.
So I want to point out the facts is because of this newer literature that’s available, these newer studies that have been done, all of these organizations are updating their guidelines to warn of the risks associated with even smaller amounts of alcohol. Other effects on the body, it weakens our immune system. We know our immune cells are made mostly in our gut. And alcohol also weakens the gut lining, leading to bacterial overgrowth.
It could lead to SIBO, leaky gut, intestinal leakage and increased permeability within the gut, leading to a whole host of other diseases. And we know that also alcohol increases visceral fat. That is the most dangerous kind of fat on the body. And we know that fat is a metabolically active tissue in the body. It’s just not dormant. It doesn’t just lay there. We know that fat and the different types of fat are metabolically active. And visceral fat contains more cortisol.
Alcohol also raises cortisol and we know cortisol is our stress hormone and that elevated stress and elevated cortisol levels leads to more fat storage in the body. So when we have visceral fat, it’s fat that is actually signaling for more fat storage to occur because of the amount of cortisol it contains.
And so we really have to be in tune with how much stress we carry, especially as women. Because women who are stressed out, whether it’s from their jobs or the people that they have to take care of in their life, it could be older adults, it could be their older kids, it could be younger kids. Whenever we become more stressed out, we raise our cortisol and we become more weight loss resistant. We hit weight loss plateaus.
We may be dieting, we may be trying to do all the things, but nothing is working. Maybe you’re counting calories, maybe you’re doing other modalities. But when we have a ton of stress, it signals to the body that we are in fight or flight and so it maintains and holds on to that excess weight and that excess fat.
This is one thing that I talk a lot about in my IF:45 program because women oftentimes will want to lose weight and that’s a strategy for losing weight is intermittent fasting. And so we want to make sure that they’re not hitting a weight loss plateau. So we talk about stress reduction modalities. The same thing in Tone in 10. We have a whole module on how to reduce stress, and same thing inside of EpicYOU.
Because, ladies, as we age, as we go through perimenopause, we become less stress resilient. What does that mean? We are more sensitive to the effects of cortisol. And so while stress may not have bothered you much in your 20s or 30s, once you hit in the mid-40s and up, you become less stress resilient and it becomes imperative to do stress management practices.
So coming back to alcohol, that increases cortisol and that can make one more weight loss resistant because of the effects on cortisol. And some women tell me they find that they put on weight when they drink and they feel more bloated and particularly around the central part of their body, right around their bellies.
And I bring this up now because as we head into a stressful season for a lot of people, they find it stressful in this season. We really want to work on bringing down cortisol levels and help our body not be in that fat storing state, instead, switch to a fat burning state. And again this becomes more and more evident, particularly for women as they age because they become less stress resilient.
Little things that used to not bother me back in the day now bother me a lot more, I’m finding. I could fly off the handle easier or I get more mood swings. And so for me it’s caused me to really make some lifestyle changes in order to navigate that better.
And also with women we generally have a lower body mass compared to men and a lower proportion of body water. Therefore, when we drink we get higher alcohol blood concentrations, and those concentrations extend the duration of alcohol’s impact on our brain, on our organs, on our tissues, leading to more risk of disease, more risk of damage than our male counterparts.
So as women, you see, we are more sensitive to the effects of alcohol, so there is no reason we should think that we could keep up one for one for alcohol, absolutely not. Just by our body composition, our body size, how we hold fat, water, all of that affects how alcohol affects us. And to carry that out even further, it’s found that women are just more susceptible to liver disease, heart disease and the brain alterations compared to our male counterparts.
Okay, so that was a lot, but I really want you to be armed with the facts. I don’t go into this information to make anybody feel bad, it’s really just to say, where are we at with the literature? What do we know about alcohol? How does it affect women differently than men? And I want you to be armed with that information so that you can really make informed decisions for yourself based on facts.
So when you consider these facts, I want you to think about, is my drinking habit or my drinking pattern getting in the way of my best health? Is it getting in the way of me feeling epic in my life? And we can take this even to a vanity thing, because alcohol really affects our skin and our skin composition and our skin texture. So alcohol, you know, is a diuretic and it causes dehydration.
So we don’t have a lot of moisture as we age in our skin, which starts to sag, it starts to show more fine lines and wrinkles. And alcohol actually accelerates that process, not only by being a diuretic and dehydrating but it causes advanced glycation in products. And this takes a toll on our skin, makes our skin look more tired, more dull, less color. And not only that, it also affects collagen production. So we have less collagen being formed and produced as we age and that process is even further accelerated by consuming alcohol.
And in fact, I want to share with you that a lot of women, when I start working with them in my programs and they cut dramatically back on alcohol, they will start to notice, usually within a month’s time, how much better and healthier their face looks. Just the skin on their face starts to come back with some rosy color. They get a more plump looking composition to the skin. And they also start getting compliments from others like, “What did you do? You look so vibrant.”
And I think when other people notice those things, it means it’s not just a small effect. So alcohol really has damaging effects on our skin. And I know for me, I don’t want to age any faster. So I think about, geez, over consumption, I really don’t want to do that just for the sake of my health and my skin. And I’d like to look as young as possible, as long as possible.
Alright, so the next category from health, we’re going to move to relationships. What is alcohol costing you in terms of your relationships? Now, I find people can think either way on this. So I find that some people say, “Yeah, it’s really hurting some of my relationships.” And I’ll get into that component here soon. But some people really think that alcohol enhances their relationships and that if they cut back or not drink at all that some of their relationships will suffer.
Now, I will tell you, I find most of the time that the opposite of that is true. A lot of people fear what their friends will think, maybe what their spouse will think. But I oftentimes will find that most of the time they favor this change in this individual.
I just had somebody I was working with who didn’t really want to give up alcohol, so she just kept cutting back and cutting back and cutting back. Finally, she just said, “You know, I’m just going to take a break for a while. It’s not going to be forever, I’m just going to take it for a while. But I’m really worried about this one friend who invites me out to drink all the time and what will he think?” And it turns out when she told him that she’s like, “I’m just going to take a break from drinking for a while, just not feeling good for me.”
And she explained that she had bigger health goals for herself. He became so supportive. And instead of meeting up for drinks, they would meet up at the gym. She said she had no idea that he was even interested in that, that that could become a thing. And she was so delighted that the relationship actually didn’t go backwards at all or get ruined at all. It actually flourished the relationship more because now they have more activities that they can do together rather than just drink together.
And just think about in your own life, when you hang out with your friends and they want to make a change and it’s healthier. How do you feel for them? Often you’re applauding them, you’re excited for them. You’re like, “Yes, excellent.” And it motivates you sometimes to make a change. They’re like, “She’s doing this, maybe I want to do that.”
So I want you to consider that when you drink less, people look at that as a good thing, not a bad thing. And they may not say it, but I bet you, deep down they’re supporting you and maybe deep down they’re wishing they had that goal too, and they wish they could do it. And then when you start to carry it out, I want you to consider that they’re watching you and you start drinking less and maybe you show up sometimes you don’t drink at all.
And I used to be enamored myself with people who would show up and not want alcohol. I used to be, first of all, confused, but then after the confusion I’d be like, “Wait, let me drop into curiosity and see, how do they navigate a party without alcohol? That’s very interesting to me because I haven’t done that in years, decades.” And then when I started to want to become that woman who can navigate a party without drinking any alcohol, I started to admire them and I started to watch them.
And they became like a role model to me. So I want you to consider that that may be how other people start viewing you because now you stand out, particularly if everybody else around you drinks. And it’s a beautiful thing when you stand out because you stand up for what you believe in and you’re carrying it out. You’re willing to do it. Do you know how many other drinkers that want to cut back will be inspired by that, maybe secretively or maybe they will be outspoken about it? But I think of it as you can start your own drink less club.
You’re drinking less and you’re showing up that way and it gives permission for others around you to drink less as well. It’s like when you go out with a group of friends and then they ask, “Does anybody want dessert?” And we all stare awkwardly at each other, I don’t want to say no. Maybe I want dessert and want to say yes. And we’re all looking at each other and then somebody finally says, “No, I don’t want a dessert.” And then there’s a wave of relief that comes over and you’re like, “Good, because I don’t want dessert either.”
So somebody has to go first and I say do it, go first, be the leader. And when you are the leader, lead yourself through this process. Lead yourself through this process of drinking less, breaking up with alcohol or not even needing it. And when you go through that process, you can teach others or take others with you if they are interested. And if you’re not sure how to go through that process, don’t do it alone. Come join EpicYOU so you can get the tools and the strategies so that you can be successful.
Not only that, you’ll not only be successful, you become so confident around alcohol that you feel like you’re unstoppable. And I want to say it’s not just that you become confident around alcohol, you actually start changing the challenging things in your life. That’s really what we work on in EpicYOU. It’s not really about the alcohol, it’s what’s causing the drive to drink because I guarantee you, you are drinking because of a challenging area in your life.
When you fall into the habit of over-drinking, it’s because it started because you were faced with something challenging in your life and this is how you dealt with it. So let’s get at the pain that’s underneath, driving this drinking. Gabor Maté has many books about addiction. He’s a doctor. He’s dealt with addicts most of his life. He’s done such amazing research in this area and he has a quote that says, don’t ask about the addiction. The quote actually says, not why the addiction, but why the pain?
Because anybody who’s addicted to something has pain that they’re trying to avoid, pain that they’re trying to numb. And so we need to root out the cause of that pain. And that pain could be a little t trauma, it could be a big T Trauma. It could just be a big D Drama or a little d drama. It could just be something in your life that you’re like, “I just wish it wasn’t here or I wish I could solve for this.”
And that’s what we go after because if we don’t, we know alcohol mentally will destroy you given enough time. It will destroy your health. It will destroy your relationships. It will destroy your wealth or take away some of it. And here’s the thing, you get mad at yourself over and over again for doing this thing that you say you don’t want to do. You feel defeated in your life rather than a winner in your own life. And I’ve worked with women on all ends of the spectrum.
I’ve worked with some women who have a very posh lifestyle but something feels off to them or not right or that they should be happier because of everything that they’ve had and everything that they’ve accomplished. But they don’t, because this alcohol thing gets in the way or the thing that they’re drinking to relieve gets in the way. So even if you can afford this expensive habit and waste $5,000 a year, how does that make you feel? Because for a lot of people, what they really want back is the intangibles.
And that’s the next category, what is your drinking costing you in terms of the intangibles, which are your self-esteem, your self-worth, your self-confidence. Feeling proud of yourself when you look in the mirror, knowing that you’re living the life that you want to be leading and living. Other intangibles are your kids seeing you drink too much. How does that make you feel? I know for a lot of women, that’s when they join EpicYOU because they’re like, “I just don’t want my kids to see this side of me and it keeps coming out and I can’t hide it and I’m afraid.”
And I was afraid there too. I talked about the story early on where my six year old poured me a glass of wine and said, “Mommy, this is how you relax.” And I thought, wow, she is watching, she does know. And here I thought I was being discreet about it. And I know other women, their adult children, have said, “Mom, I’m worried about you.” And I’ve worked with some women where their kids will say stuff to them or they said, “Wow, you acted weird in that situation or why did you overshare? Whenever you drink, you reveal too much.”
Our kids are just trying to look out for us and trying to help us with these comments. And I know they can feel like an attack on us when we hear them because that is not the woman or the mother we want to be. And when I work with older women, oftentimes they have grandkids and sometimes they tell me. It breaks their heart because their children don’t feel like they can leave the grandkids with them overnight or by themselves because they’re worried about their affinity for alcohol and so there’s a trust issue.
And so, ladies, I tell you this because I want you to know I’ve seen it all. And as someone who over-drank, I get the shame, the embarrassment and the disappointment. And I get that you’re like, “I don’t want to consider what alcohol is costing me and my drinking issue is costing me.” But I want to tell you, it could be the biggest gift if you really look at it and embrace it. Because here’s something I want you to know. There’s nothing that you do or nothing that you have done that you can’t restore and you can’t repair. And that is excellent news.
It doesn’t matter what happens, you can choose differently going forward. But here are some questions you’ll need to ask yourself first. How much longer or how much more time do you want to spend before you actually solve this problem? Really consider that, how much longer? How much more time do you want to invest in this problem versus investing in solving the problem? And even a bigger question than that, do you think this problem is solvable? Because if you don’t think it’s solvable, you won’t try and I want to tell you, it’s solvable.
People break addictions, people break habits all the time. And so from this podcast we covered all the ways drinking and how it’s costing you. And notice how many of those are additional problems that come from the primary problem of drinking. So how much longer are you willing to deal with all these other problems, low self-esteem, low self-worth, low confidence, money wasted, relationships not at their best? The relationship that you have with yourself is the most precious one.
All these problems, how much longer are you willing to deal with all these other problems when you don’t solve the main problem? Because solving an over-drinking problem is priceless. You really can’t put a price tag on it. Your freedom and your mental health is priceless. When you feel amazing inside and when you can handle and solve your pain, you really are epic and unstoppable.
And this is what I want for you, my friend, to solve this problem. To have this be a thing of the past so you get every aspect of your life back, you get greater financial wealth because you’re not wasting it away. You get greater relationships, you get greater health, and those intangibles come. It breaks my heart when a woman gives up on herself. Even if your life is good, you can take it from good to great.
And if you’re struggling, I really invite you to attend the webinar I will be giving on December 5th at 4:00pm Pacific, 7:00 pm Eastern. I’m going to teach you exactly five ways to drink less and navigate the holidays with success because I want to help you solve this problem. If this is something you are struggling with, let’s end it together, and give you the tools that you need so you can be successful. Okay, my friend, I hope to see you at the webinar and I’ll also see you next week.
If you want to change your relationship with alcohol and with yourself then come check out EpicYOU. It’s where you get individualized help mastering the tools so you can become a woman who can take it or leave it and be in control around alcohol in any situation. EpicYOU is the place for women who want to be healthy, confident and empowered to accomplish their goals and live their best life. Come join us over at epicyou.com/epicyou. That’s epicyou.com/ E-P-I-C-Y-O-U. I can’t wait to see you there.