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My heart is pounding as I begin to type this. Mainly because this is the most open and honest I’ve ever been on my blog. Here we go…
Like many people in college, and beyond college, I drank alcohol. Perhaps sometimes too much. Some nights too much to the point I literally was disgusted with myself the next morning. “Why did I do that? I feel like crap. Omg…I text him that? Oh no…I got in a big argument with my brother…”
One would say, “We’ve all been there.” But we ALL really haven’t.
What kind of behavior is that? Who am I turning in to and why? I am a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist – I cannot be doing this to my body…I don’t want to do this to my body. What kind of example am I giving? I was embarrassed. I felt like I was living some sort of lie. I hit rock bottom, and I hit it hard. It’s funny how much pain we can internally have and all people think of us it what we post on social media. We need to get back to truly expressing how we feel and it being OK with us feeling that way sometimes. Yep, I’ve cried myself to sleep many times. It’s OK to cry. It doesn’t make me weak. It makes me human.
Refraining from alcohol in 2017 gave me clarity and was the best thing I’ve done for my body probably ever.
If you know me, you know I am a total planner. I like orderliness (totally Type A) and I like to have control of the environment around me. Ironic since drinking essentially takes away that said control. However, I did go through another type of disorder in my pre/early teens. In Junior High, I had extreme disordered eating. ((I was never diagnosed with anorexia nor was I bulimic, doctors just called it disordered eating…))
I had these thoughts in my head that I was fat…even though I was 87 pounds.
I get the chills thinking about it. I was obsessing over exercise (I was a long distance runner and before that a gymnast) and hardly ate anything. I would throw away my packed lunch in the bathroom at school. I would eat a large apple and called it a meal & stated I was full. I was nervous to eat in front of other people because I didn’t want them to know I ate. I knew people were whispering about me at school. I remember always being extremely cold and having to take a sweater with me everywhere. I even remember the hair on my arms being extra noticeable because my body was trying to stay warm…like my body was insulating itself…like my body had created a blanket on my skin since there was no fat on me to stay warm. There was an emptiness inside of me, literally in my stomach and my personality. I would come home from school and go straight to my bed to sleep because I was so weak and tired. Everything else is a blur.
To this day, I think it is absolutely absurd I went through that and it is still hard for me to wrap my head around (13 years later). These obsessions and rituals I had around eating fall right in line with disordered eating. My road to recovery began when my Dad – who passed away 6 1/2 years ago – was laying down with me, gently holding my hand and told me, “I don’t want to lose my baby girl.”
Roll forward a few years I was now a healthy, young girl, trying *key word: trying* to be popular in high school and getting ready for collage. (Woo!). Instead of fixating about food like I did in Junior High, I started fixating on alcohol.
Analyzing my years of drinking socially – not everything that came of it is bad. I’ve made great memories with family and friends: wine tasting trips, weddings, family vacations, and more. These times are fun, not solely because of the alcohol, but having a glass of wine is OK and plus, on vacation it helps take the edge off. Drinking smart is what many of us forget. It’s taking it one glass too far and not knowing when to stop when things get concerning. (Gosh, I sound like my mother!) 😉 Love you Mom!!
I was quickly becoming the stereotypical party girl and the girl always down to go out. There was something in my head telling me that if I didn’t drink I wouldn’t be fun or liked. By the end of 2016 I realized I didn’t want my personal brand, my reputation, the Kroll name, to be this any more.
Over the past several years, I have paid close attention to not only my drinking behavior, but those around me who drink. I’ve seen things happen that make me cry, make me scared, and make me say ‘I never want to drink alcohol ever again.’ And no, not the hungover “I never want to drink again.” It’s the “I never want to drink again” that stemmed from alcohol ruining relationships and worst of all sending people to the hospital. That clearly was a big sign for me to start thinking about my actions, and how my actions can benefit those around me. I asked myself, “Why do I even drink?” Take a moment for yourself right now and answer that question. See what you come up with…
A large part of my drinking was just because everyone else was doing it. I think back to when I had my first drink – and it was totally because I wanted to fit in and be “cool.” (Major eye roll). I was not wise enough back then to realize drinking is a personal choice. I really felt the pressure. To top it off, Men’s Health rated my hometown “The Drunkest City in America.” And that is not something to laugh at or be proud of. Another answer to the “Why do I even drink question” is I truly believe I was not happy with my current situation in my life, and I thought alcohol would take some worries away. When in fact it did the opposite, and usually made situations worse.
Throughout the year people have asked me why I gave up drinking and asked what major life event happened to make me do this. No one big life event happened. It has been a collection of life moments. Moments I’ve pieced together and did not like the outcome, whether it impacted me immediately or someone else.
Since I have been a Registered Dietitian (~1.5 years) I have had conversations with many other dietitians who also previously had an eating disorder or disordered eating of some sort. It’s when I started becoming more vulnerable and sharing my life story with others when I realized, wow…several people who have the same interest as me have fought the same battles. I really am not alone in this crazy world. Now that being said, I’m not jumping for joy every time someone else also tells me they have a history of disordered eating…but you know what I mean. There is always going to be someone else who has experienced something similar, and you aren’t the only one going through what you think you’re going through. That is another reason why I wanted to publish this post. I hope this has an impact on at least 1 person. Maybe you’re reading this right now and feel like you can oddly relate to this and are comforted knowing you’re not alone. Maybe you think you need to reevaluate your drinking habits too, or at least define the reason why you choose to drink. Or maybe you know someone who drinks in excess and can be there for them.
We all have our own struggles. I just hope opening up about mine can help someone in some way.
Throughout 2017, I told a few people that I am choosing not to drink for the year and 2 popular responses included, “That’s really admirable” and “Good luck.” It made me feel all warm n’ fuzzy inside when people told me they admired my decision. (And the people who told me good luck – well, I won). However, I did not choose to refrain from alcohol for 365 days for attention or praise. No, no, no. I did not want to make it through the year without a drop of alcohol and have people running to me saying, “Good job, you did it!!”
My personal feelings and a very small part of my life journey is now out here on the Internet for people to read and hopefully take away something from it. I know I will have people judging me. Let’s be real though people will always judge. Trust me, there was a lot of thought, stress, gratitude, tears, and relief in writing this and in the back of my mind I know some one out there is saying something. The fact than I am a stronger and more positive person today washes all of that judgement away. Take a shot of Fireball with your judgement wouldya?
Some of you may be wondering if I am going to drink in 2018. And my answer is yes. BUT…I never again want to feel like I owe someone an explanation for not drinking, and you shouldn’t either. How many times have you been out and people say, “Hey, why aren’t you drinking tonight?!” Insert: peer pressure. What if that individual has some sort of autoimmune disorder that needs to refrain from alcohol? What if that person has some health goals they are trying to achieve? What if someone in their family was a raging alcoholic and they have chosen to not live that lifestyle? What if they flat out just don’t feel like it? People need to know that it’s OKAY to be social and not drink. All of the times I went out in 2017 I don’t think people even realized I wasn’t drinking. (Water with lime and a splash of cran was my super sly trick) 😉
Back to the drinking in 2018 topic. Many of my close friends and family have joked with me that on NYE when the clock strikes 12:00 they’ll be waiting with a glass of champagne ready to go for me! (Which yes I still would appreciate it if that happens tonight) 😉 My decision to continue drinking though is not stemmed from peer pressure or because everyone else is doing it.
It’s my body, it’s my choice.
Here are some of the positive things that happened to me by giving up alcohol…
- I became a wannabe yogi! You could find me at yoga 3-5 times a week – and it felt great. Meeting new people, connecting with my body, and so much more.
- I also became obsessed with indoor cycling…and even became an Instructor at Cyclebar Clovis/Fresno!!!! If you were to ask me in 2016 if I saw myself becoming a cycle instructor in 2017 I would have laughed at you. The choices we make are everything.
- I ate SO well. I didn’t crave greasy foods like you do after a night of drinking.
- I became obsessed with LaCroix. (This is positive right? lol)
- My sleep schedule drastically improved.
- Oddly enough I feel like I became a better listener. I was invested in the people I spent time with instead of just wanting to get drunk together.
- My self care overall skyrocketed. I’ve taken more baths this year than ever before. Drank more green tea, treated myself to pedicures and new clothes, invested in essential oils and other things that make me happy, like house plants and even an Aussie puppy named Bella <3
You might be wondering if my social life existed in 2017. Well – it certainly decreased compared to 2016, but I think that is simply because I had my focus elsewhere. For example, I would stay in because I had an early morning workout or wanted to go to a farmers market and feel rested. I got invited places still, some nights I agreed and some nights I declined. Just like you probably do too. All about the balance…I knew what I was doing for my health and my body and I am so thankful for the challenge I gave myself.
“What if I stop drinking and lose my friends?” (A thought that popped into my head before the challenge began)…
The truest, most valued friendships = people who care LESS whether you have a drink with them or not.
- Know when and how to say no. If you are tired, beat, etc, it’s okay to say no. Your true friends will not be bothered by this. Saying no gives you a higher level of self-care. Never stop putting your greater good first – only YOU know what’s best for you any given day, so always be ready to make that decision day in, and day out!
A list of some of my 2017 goals:
- No alcohol in 2017. No exceptions.
- Exercise at least 5x/week. i.e. Cycling, running, walking Rugby, yoga, etc.
- Now that I have a standing desk, stand at my desk 60-70% of the work day.
- Get 7-8 hours of sleep nightly
- Send hand-written thank you notes when I receive gifts from family & friends.
- Get together with my girlfriends for dinner, movie night, etc. at least 1x/month.
- Spend girl time with mom 1x/week
- Visit Ryan more.
- Spend quality time with Teagan and Meg outside of bars & parties. Club time!
- Be a better listener.
- Read 1 book/month.
- Journal 1x/week, if not more.
One last thing I wanted to share…
My Dad wrote an open letter to myself and my two older brothers in September of 2007, 2 days before my 16th birthday. In his letter he told us “EVERY person will face adversity. How you meet it, what you make of it, what you allow it to take from you and give to you is determined by your mental habits. In short, you have to take the cards in life that are dealt to you.” His moral to us is:
Adversity causes some people to break & others to break records.
I realize I am young – heck, I’m only 26. What I have experienced so far in my life is my own adversity and I am so thankful to have words left behind by my father that continue to motivate me, push me, and challenge me to be the woman he raised me to be. I was in a low place in my life and I realized I needed to push through the adversity and face it head on. Success cannot be achieved without experiencing some adversity.
What has happened in our past has indeed happened. But like this quote says: “My past has not defined me, destroyed me, deterred me, or defeated me; it has only strengthened me.” We all have the ability to make use of our present time and not dwell on past experiences. In 2017, I mindfully enjoyed my work put in to my health, career and friendships knowing it is leading towards a better future. CHEERS to 2018.