Karolina Rzadkowolska took a break from alcohol for Dry January about four years ago and quickly decided never to go back. How do you know if you’re an alcoholic though? With people drinking alcohol more than ever since the pandemic started there are a lot more people asking this question. There is more of a need than ever for people to look at their alcohol consumption. Karolina shares the benefits of quitting alcohol as well as tips for understanding more about your alcohol consumption habits.
She points out the game of whether drinking is a problem compared to who vs binge drinking vs “being the bum under the bridge” is a slippery slope. Actually most people who consume alcohol over drink. Some questions to ask include whether it makes you feel good, whether the habit is serving you and your current goals. It also has many negative physical effects that may be at odds with optimal health.
Making conscious decisions about alcohol is what is important and recognizing what ways you may be using it as a crutch that keeps you from addressing your true needs.
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How Do You Know if You’re An Alcoholic?
- Hiding alcohol
- Not being honest about how much you’re drinking
- Wishing you could drink less alcohol
- Feeling sick or groggy after a night of drinking
- Noticing your alcohol tolerance going up
- Drinking to feel normal
- Drinking despite not really wanting to
- Feeling agitated or sad when you don’t get to drink
Automated transcript, please forgive any errors.
Cheryl McColgan: Well, hello everyone. Welcome back to The Heal Nourish Grow podcast. Today, I am joined by Karolina, and I am not going to attempt her last pale and hers, but she is a health and wellness coach, and as you heard in the bio, she works with people on some alcohol-related stuff, but we’re just gonna have a chat today, and talk about her own personal health journey and sort of how she got into this work, so… Welcome. Carla, can you just give everyone a little background about yourself in your own words, just kind of what your health journey was like and why you started getting into this work?
Karolina Rzadkowolska: Absolutely, Cheryl, thank you so much for the warm welcome. I’m super excited to be here today. I’m talking about a pretty vulnerable weird topic in our society, and that’s awful because honestly, we don’t talk about it very often, and we talk about it in very few instances, one is the time when we are planning on drinking, we’re gonna go to a happy hour with our friends, maybe a dinner party, a winery trip, it’s all very light-hearted, and then we talk about alcohol very seriously, when someone hits from bottom and they have to go to AA and they’re an alcoholic and they have to go to rehab. So how do you know if you’re an alcoholic? It really leaves this huge gap for everyone in the middle to just become analytical and aware of their own alcohol habits without assigning it a label, and so that’s basically where I found myself, I found myself in that middle ground, I drink probably you would say, like a lot when I was in college, I was partying, I had no boundaries around alcohol or my health really, it was just a different time, but I was like a older… By the time I got in my mid and late…
When Alcohol is a Problem
Karolina Rzadkowolska: My mid-20s and late 20s, I totally changed. So many different things in my life. I considered myself a very healthy person, so Monday through Thursday, I eat very well, I worked out, I had my green Jews, I did my yoga, I meditated. And then every single weekend, I still drink. And it was almost as if it was this Mr. Jackal Dr. Hyde behavior were so good during the week that I just couldn’t Wat to let lose on the weekend, and you know what it looked like to me was pretty normal because everyone around me was doing the same thing, everyone around me was having some drinks on Friday, going to sushi, a game night, dare party, wedding, whatever, so it was really felt like the normal behavior around me, but I couldn’t shake the feeling I felt every Monday morning, I woke up feeling literally unwell, I was depressed, I was super just apathetic, anxious and just like, Oh, you know, all of the healthy programs I may join the week was just washed away by the weekend, I felt like I was starting five steps backwards when I woke up on these Monday mornings for years.
Karolina Rzadkowolska: And I was always like, maybe we should take a break from alcohol, maybe I just feel a lot better. But it was always the social event on my calendar, it was always some kind of this thing that I thought I had to drink at, and I literally had no permission or excuse, not on drink, and the only thing I’ve ever heard of people who changed the relationship with alcohol was that story of rock bottom, they were hiding vodka in their closet… Or in their desk at work. And I was just really, really bad. And I was like, Wait a minute, if I change my relationship with alcohol, people started seeing that about me, and so I just kept saying step in this relationship for way longer than I knew I was happy, and that’s the thing that finally changed is I heard about dry January and a few years ago, I think it’s a lot more popular now, a few years ago, I was just trickling into the US, and to me it was a God send… It was like, Oh my gosh, I can take a break from hell cop, and I don’t have to explain it to anyone else, I don’t have to…
Taking a Break From Alcohol
Karolina Rzadkowolska: You have any reasons behind it, or have people think a story about me that isn’t true, like I get to just do this privately and finally have an excuse to take a break, Miceli was the permission that I needed that I never granted myself. So I took a break during that January, and I slowly started to fall in love with the alcohol-free lifestyle, my sleep gets so much better, I start feeling so much more here, I start feeling healthier. Every day I’m proud of myself too. There’s nothing like that guilt or that shame, wake up when you feel like you let yourself down versus waking up like, Oh my God, yesterday’s version of me actually looked out for me today, and it just started to feel so good, but then February comes along and I still don’t believe that I can continue this I’m drinking thing because again, only those people are sober, and so I have this mental block where I think, Okay, normal adults strength. Therefore, if I want to be normal, I must drink. And so I went out for my first dinner with some friends and everyone was drinking, and I just did it too, and so I had a few drinking occasions in that February, not even that much drinking necessarily per occasion, but the contrast was so evident for me, like one or two drinks would completely run my sleep, I didn’t sleep as well.
Karolina Rzadkowolska: I woke up feeling the next day, lethargic, I noticed that a few drinks would even lower my mood, so I was feeling really be during dry January. My mood was elevated, I was feeling wonder all in gratitude at higher levels than I’ve ever felt before, and just a few drinks in and I would feel apathetic, frustrated, exhausted, cranky. And I was like, Oh my God, this is not what I thought it was. And so basically, at that point, I decided to take another break in February, and it’s really kinda carried me to four years later, and every single day and month that went to Allen after that, after that February has gotten better and better and better. Not only as my physical health improved incredibly, my self-esteem and my self-worth has gone up, and it also made this huge shift for me where I really got to know myself better, and I really started to feel a lot more confident about other things that were possible for me, it was like, if I could do this. What else could I do? It was this question, and I used to have this 9-to 5 job and I used to feel kind of stuck in my life, and ever since then, I’ve been on this trajectory to go after my biggest goals, like leaving that job, becoming a certified coach, becoming a six-figure entrepreneur writing a book and working with thousands of people all across the globe, making an impact, things that I never dreamed were possible for me, and it all started because of that break from alcohol
How You Feel When You’re Drinking too Much
Cheryl McColgan: Wow. There’s so much that you said are… That I wanna follow up on. And one of the things that I think I forgot to mention to you, we were kinda doing our pre-call thing, is that my minor from school is actually an addiction study, so I definitely have a big personal interest in this, and that was one of the reasons why, when we got in touch about possibly doing the podcast, and I was really excited to have you, especially since you have the book that just came out. But let’s just back up just a little bit so for people. And obviously, you’ve probably read the same things that I have during this time of the pandemic, that alcohol sales are through the roof, people are drinking more than ever to self-soothe, self-Medicaid, and a lot of people, they might start having this sort of sense that you did about like, Hey, I am kind of drinking more right now, I’m not feeling as well, and they might start to have the same kinds of things, thoughts that you did, because I know that the only paradigm that has been promoted in the psychology role for such a long time is really 88 MO, and that is, as you said, sort of a model that is for or what we think it’s for, for people that are just literally have that physical addiction, which maybe you can go through and talk about some of the signs of true addiction and the main thing that we always send in my other degree psychology, both go together, right, but the thing that we always focus on in psychology is, is it interfering with your daily function? And so for some people, that’s a difficult distinction because they have what’s called a functioning alcoholics, people have heard that term too, so this is all a long way of getting to a question for you, just basically, can you talk a little bit about how people can start to identify if it’s a problem for them, how do you know if you’re an alcoholic, what are some of the signs, what are some of the things you went over, some of the wonderful things that you experienced when you quit, but can you also talk about maybe some of the challenges that you had while you were doing it like social functions that you mentioned, for example, or any other things that come to mind?
Karolina Rzadkowolska: Yeah, something like, you bring all this up because there is definitely a historical way of treating alcohol in our society, and it was grounded in this position is… So there’s history here, right? And so we have this way of dividing people, there’s problem drinkers, and there’s normal drinkers, now, the only problem with that division is it absolutely, there’s no understanding on reality and what do we actually look at statistics of consumption levels. Most people over-drink, literally, the majority of people who drink alcohol on a regular basis over drink, so that it’s kind of like you’re playing again. Okay, well, what’s too much over drinking? We’re all over drinking. Right, so what’s too much and at what point do you draw a line, and I think that line is really, really hard to draw because I’m asking yourself if it’s a problem well compared to what… Compared to who I’m not under a bridge. Like that, boom. So maybe I’m okay, right? There’s always gonna be someone worse than you are not, and so what I love to ask my people who start working with me and other clients that come to me is, Does this…
How Do You Know if You’re An Alcoholic by Current Definition
Karolina Rzadkowolska: Have it make you happy. And therefore, it doesn’t matter how much you drink. You could have one daily gossip of wine every single day and yet you’re feeling really Tulare, it can grow the next day, or you could be drinking a lot binge drinking or something like that, and then you could be asking yourself, Is this habit making me happy? And so when it comes to alcohol use disorder, which is the proper name now, we don’t call it alcoholism anymore, and so that’s again, another thing that the labels, the stigma, the judgment, there’s just so much into it, acoustically, has a varying spectrums of diagnosis. Right, so you can have mild, moderate or severe, and so when we think of severe alcohol use disorder, that’s what we think of the stereotypes, the person who’s literally drinking a handle of Okey single day, but my old is actually… The criteria for Miles is pretty low, so you would think of the majority of drinkers who over-drink, that’s literally over and 60% of normal drinkers abuse alcohol. Hello again, this isn’t the small minority of people, This is so many people. This happens too, like you said, alcohol sales just went up, and what we don’t understand too, is we literally live in a society that glorifies alcohol, I didn’t have a chance to choose whether or not consciously…
Karolina Rzadkowolska: I wanted to have it in my life, my 18-year-old version chose because she wanted to fit in, it is conditioned on us, we see the Sex in the City and the scandal, and so much of this glamorization of alcohol in our society that it literally becomes a habit for most people who adopt that, so I really think it’s this questioning of this intuitive asking of really getting to know yourself and being like, Is this serving me? You sure? When I was in college, but is it serving who I want to become? Right, and so again, this kind of changes that traditional question on its head of whether or not it’s interfering in your life, the thing we don’t understand is alcohol has negative effects on anybody who drinks it, because scientifically it does some things to our brain chemistry, to our bodies. And so you’re not crazy, if you feel that is negative effects, if you feel more tired the next day or if you’re feeling a little bit more lower, alcohol actually lowers your levels of happiness, neurotransmitters in your brain, it hikes up the stress hormones in your brain, any kind of drinking will do that to you, so you again, you’re not crazy for feeling those effects, so I’d love to just normalize this conversation to say that, yeah, there’s not just a certain type of person who’s gonna feel this if you’re really being conscious about the role that alcohol plays in your life, you could feel it at any stage, however, obviously, there are different varying degrees of dependence on alcohol, I think as a society, we all have the emotional dependence because we’ve come to believe that alcohol gives us relaxation or it helps us sleep or maybe it makes us more social, or it makes us more confident, or it’s the only way to unwind on a vacation, there’s some little bit of needs that we think that are being met through alcohol in any format that we’re drinking.
Karolina Rzadkowolska: But then it gets deeper than obviously, right, it could be really fulfilling a need of self-work there, just really feeling a very low depressive state, and alcohol is really becoming a crutch emotionally and deeper and deeper, deeper that I obviously can start to become a physical addiction, now, physical addiction, so hard to be able to diagnose, and if anyone thinks you have one, please see a medical professional, but they’ve actually found that only 10% of heavy drinkers have a physical addiction, so even is this market thing of like, Well… When is it bad enough? Right, so I guess I love to present, is it good enough? And in any format that alcohol is in your life, to just ask yourself that question, that doesn’t mean everyone else to go as in it or not drink, but it’s just this more conscious aware of asking yourself, Is this habit really serving me and is it really helping me, become the person I wanna be. And you don’t have to make a decision out off the bat, what I love to help people with is just trying to break from alcohol that way, if you can kind of compare what their body and their mental state feels like without this toxin in their life, compared to what it feels like with it, and then they get to site which version of themselves they like better, so personally, until I gave myself that experiment, I had no idea and I had complete mess consumption around it, I thought I’d be deprived, stigmatized, labeled all these things I found out the opposite.
Karolina Rzadkowolska: I wanna try it right? At an incredible time, and I have to slowly start to recognize that my well-being matter to me more than fitting in, and that my self-love matter more to me than what I thought other people would think about me as well, and so socializing at first was chilly, the reason why I didn’t make the change a long time ago, but as I started to get out there, one, I started learning that around 52% of Americans wanna drink less or not at all, so when I went out there, I actually started recognizing maybe other people who are drinking actually are looking up to me in this moment and are not judging me the way I think they are, and so I started to get really confident about being all for… Started to feel more like a rebel and a leader instead of someone who’s the odd one out, and so that really helped shape my ability to socialize, I can go totally deeper ’cause I’m totally an introvert. I was really shy growing up, so I also had to learn how to find confidence within myself, but I can tell you 100% share all that, as long as I outsourced my confidence to alcohol, I was actually lowering my confidence over time because I was never building it within…
0:14:20.1 Karolina Rzadkowolska: And I was constantly looking for a drink to be that kind of a crunch, so it’s like this game of practicing something that I’d never practiced before, but I also… ATL got better at it ’cause I put myself out there and I did it.
Quitting Alcohol as a Habit
Cheryl McColgan: Yeah, I love this conversation so much because one of the other things that you said, I can totally tell you’re into yoga as well, because in yoga, we talk a lot about whether things are serving you or not, and particularly habits, and I work with people on habits a lot, and the thing is, a couple of the things that you mentioned about making that shift, I think first it’s a mental shift, but then another thing that I like to talk to people a lot about and help them with when they’re making these big habit changes and I would just love to get your input and further advice in the arena of alcohol for this, but for example, my husband and I did do drag, we’ve got it a few times, but we went to an engagement party, and actually it was funny for the longest time, I had this idea, I was actually… Actually, it wasn’t dry January that year as sobriety. September. And so we did it in September, and we had an engagement party to go to, we went and we did not drink, and we had a lovely time, but it was so interesting how many questions we got about like, Oh, you guys are drinking, or you probably of course, if you’re pregnant is always the first one, and it was just very interesting, it’s also very interesting to observe people in that setting being totally several because as you said, most of us have been conditioned or it’s just…
Cheryl McColgan: When we go to an event, we have a couple of drinks, maybe it’s one, maybe it’s five, it depends on the person, but that’s all pretty kind of normalized, as you pointed out, the thing that I noticed when we have done dry January in that sobriety September is that I think that the alcohol… You mentioned that it gives you a relaxation or whatever… To me, it’s almost more the ritual of wine or alcohol that gives me relaxation, so my observation was in that month that we… In those months that we did those things where he didn’t have any alcohol, that the replacement behavior was, I got out of nice big wine glass, I put theories and sparkling water and just still made it to kind of an event and we’d still like sit down and talk about our day or whatever it was, and I would say you get 90% of the relaxation in the ritual of it as you do in the actual beverage or the actual alcohol. So all that being said, are there other things that you have discovered along the way in your work and maybe with other people, telling you what has helped them, what are some kind of replacement behaviors that people can utilize on their way to…
Cheryl McColgan: Even if they’re not giving it up, maybe moderating their use more or only having special occasions, just reducing, as you said, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing, but it is like noticing what is actually serving you or not, and then moving from there. So any tips or tricks or things that you’ve learned…
How Alcohol Affect the Brain
Karolina Rzadkowolska: Yeah, I’m so glad that you bring that up because it’s such a mind trip, we literally believe fundamentally in our core that alcohol relaxes us and actually scientifically that’s not true alcohol after it gives you this buzz sensation and kind of knows your neuro central, your nervous system it actually, our bodies counter after that depressed by releasing stress hormones, and we release cortisol adrenaline and dinorphinrphin response to alcohol, dinorphin the opposite of endorphins, it makes you feel pretty low and crappy and emotionally kind of low, and so that physically might happen a little after me an hour after alcohol or you might go to sleep, so you don’t notice it, but maybe you’ll wake up in the middle and I think you’ll notice it, or the next day you might have more anxiety, we have a term for anxiety… Right, so physically, they’ve actually been able to tie anxiety and alcohol on a molecular level, right. So physiologically, it really does not relax us, but then why do we have this belief in our culture so much so something you bring up is really, really key, and that they’ve actually done this study where a bunch of people sat down at a restaurant and ordered a glass of wine or a drink or whatever.
Karolina Rzadkowolska: And so I just put these little brain nodes on their brains to be able to capture their brain waves, and they found that as soon as someone ordered to drink, all of a sudden they relax, their brain waves got longer and slower, I ready here is that it was before they actually drink the drink, right. So it was the anticipation of the drink that relaxed them, I think rituals are a huge part of how humans decompress and socialize and find meaning and bonding with each other, so the ritual is often a bigger thing than the actual chemical composition of the drink itself, and so have a change experts always say, Don’t try to will power your way out of habits, replace the replace to have it, that will give you a similar board, and you mentioned something that’s literally the easiest thing you could do. You don’t have to stop drinking, you don’t have to never have a glass of something in your hand when you’re socializing, you can so decompress with a drink after the long day, just change the drink, change the type of drink it is, and these days, there’s literally thousands of alcohol-free beverages on the market, it is an industry that is exploding, there’s drinks with adaptions in them and new tropics and Rishi mushrooms, even just a health tonic, even just to help go to Whole Food, see what they have there.
Karolina Rzadkowolska: You’ll find a zillion drinks that don’t have alcohol them, and you can still have a really nice glass and pour it and have that hour because it’s like… It’s more of the signal to your brain that you have permission to relax, then then the drink itself, and something to note too is obviously outside of just having a cocktail or some other format of a drink, there’s other rituals that you could do. So for example, something I love to do that’s really soothing for me is to watch the sunset, so to actually get outside, maybe go on a walk and really watch the world’s magic, like melt before me in my eyes, it kind of grounds me quickly, it makes my petty daily worries just seems to not matter in that moment, it’s just the beauty of the universe, so getting outside, going on a walk in OG, love to stretching kind of releases so many things and so many good neurotransmitters to make us feel better. And yoga is really great. A lot of my clients also love water therapy, so even in the moment when you’re really craving something like Go take a shower, like a shower or a hot bath, and they’ll find one, you completely remove yourself out to the environment in which you would have drink you know usually you’re probably not drinking in the shower, but you get this really soothing hot water blanket, because a lot of times, I think when we drink, there’s so many different ways and reasons why, but a lot of times when you’re coming home…
Does Alcohol Really Relax You?
Karolina Rzadkowolska: It’s a normal day. You just stress out, you wanna drink to relax. It’s really this need for comfort that we’re looking for, right, and so how many other ways could you give yourself that need without something that has the negative side effects the next day, so there’s just a lot of exploring to do, I think when you go on this journey yourself to find… Well, start really working for you, and it’s not about taking away your treat at all, because often alcohol seem as like, Oh, the one thing I can look forward to at the end of the day or something that just feels special, it’s not about taking it away, it’s about finding something that actually works better, and something to be said too about that anticipation in our brain, and the way that the dopamine works is that, Yes, alcohol, we’ll have this huge spike of dopamine in your brain from the anticipation, and you’ve actually found… The studies have found that it’s really similar to other drugs like cocaine or heroin, the spike is really, really high and then it crashes, so your dopamine levels are then lower afterwards then before you have to drink it…
Karolina Rzadkowolska: And this takes a little bit a while. That’s why you get the big buys at first, and then you kind of feel kind of weird afterwards… Right, maybe 30 minutes later, 40 minutes later. And what they’ve actually found is that because of that big huge spike of dopamine, it actually do sensitize us to naturally… You’re caring doping. And what do I mean by that? Riemann the ones playing with a child, a value left, all these things start to not register as high because they don’t give that high spike of dopamine, so we actually get desensitized to them, and our job Murat actually, our demand receptors are actually retract over all those big sites of does, what that tells me is that our threshold from feeling happiness in other areas of our life starts to diminish, and I think that’s where we get the more clinical explanation of how other things maybe don’t make that person happy anymore, and they only want to drink, it’s literally science. You could put any human in an experiment and give them that amount of alcohol, repeated exposure of times, and that’s what will also happen to their brain as well, and so for me, it’s also a matter of them knowing that and finding, Okay, what really gives me pleasure then what really makes me happy? What really gives me joy? And when I first went on fall free, I was on a kind of like a rampage to find new things I did he that I hadn’t done in a long time before.
Finding Replacement Behaviors to Create New Habits
Karolina Rzadkowolska: I tried new classes, whether they’re work-out classes or just going to the symphony or to the botanical gardens, I really started kind of getting out of my little comfort zone of just having a drink at the end of the day to find all these other ways to give myself pleasure, that were so much more sustainable, so much more long-term, so much more filled with that long-term contentment instead of that immediate gratification that comes in a class. So obviously, there’s a lot of experimenting to do to find what works for you, but just I think understanding the science about alcohol can help even break that illusion that it’s the only thing that relaxes me at the end of the day, that’s just not true, and even with the placebo, in fact, you might find that a long tail does the trick and doesn’t then come with that destructive sleep, or if you have a few drinks and then you don’t wanna work out, you don’t wanna eat. Well, it’s just this domino that makes it harder to do any other healthy things, whereas you can sit down and have the mortal and then you’re like, Okay, now I can do something else, you still have all your energy, you still have all your motivation within you, you didn’t lose it all through the vocalist, ring your brain.
Cheryl McColgan: Yeah, I’m so glad that you brought the neuropsychology and the physiology part of the dopamine up because that is something we actually see and other things as well, obviously other addiction processes, but in sugar too, sugar stimulates dopamine, and there does have this tendency for people… Again, they can be anywhere on the spectrum, as you mentioned, where they’re kind of just a casual drink for all the way up to somebody who really starts to have… And it has impacts their life negatively, but people still have to eat… They can’t stop eating. So it’s always interesting to me, when people do a lower carb lifestyle, I’ll cut out the sugar, kind of balances not only their body but their brain because they get away from those big dopamine hits and they do start to just feel generally happier. So I think it’s just important for people to realize it’s not just alcohol that does that to you, it’s other things as well. So it could be in a positive way. And generally, if you get it from a more natural source like exercise or the sun that I love that example, and you get it from a more natural…
Cheryl McColgan: It’s like say, it’s at a level hundred, whereas when you have these artificial sources like sugar or cocaine or drinking or whatever, then you go into 300 and it’s just not the way that your physiology is meant to do. And so I think, like you said, over time it desensitized people and that’s unfortunately very sad. So actually, in relation to what you were saying about, it makes it harder to do other healthier behaviors, so we talked about you, we talked about meditation, we talked about some of these other healthier behaviors, one of the things I’m kinda curious about… And the people that you’ve worked with, alcohol has a lot of calories and it also lowers inhibitions, and so a lot of the people that I work with are interested in changing their nutrition or losing weight is a big one, and so alcohol can negatively impact that it also turns off that burning for the amount of time that your liver has to process the alcohol, so I’m just curious if any of the people that you worked with experience like sudden weight loss or just other positive effects just from doing something simple, like cutting back on their alcohol.
Creating Keystone Habits
Karolina Rzadkowolska: Yeah, such a good question. And I think it’s like it’s one of those domino effects, it’s called Charles, the of the power of how it calls a keystone habit, or you change this one foundational thing, and it kind of has an effect on so many other areas of your life in really positive ways. So first, it’s just the common sense way, I wake up, I drink a few too many last night, I have absolutely no stamina, I don’t even wanna face the day, I just phone it in, maybe I get take out or fast food, and then I pop on the couch and watch TV later, it’s just like a wash of a day, I just don’t have that motivation to even try… You know what I mean? And I think of the opposite. Are we a feeling amazing. My sleep was really great, I’m starting to get a lot more energy ’cause the alcohol is detoxify ed for my system, and I’m just feeling those positive emotions more… You know What, am I more up to… Do do I wanna eat healthier? Do I crave naturally for healthier foods, do I feel have the energy to maybe go on a workout…
Karolina Rzadkowolska: Right, so there’s just even the common sense explanation, but also alcohol is so sinister when it comes to weight gain, and I think that common knowledge doesn’t really explain it enough for us, and I’m so glad that you have even a deeper understanding of it ’cause… Yes, calories for sure. You’re drinking one, two, three extra drinks a day or a week, or whatever it is, it’s all right. It’s those extra calories, but it’s even more sinister than that a hall, it really affects our metabolism, it slows it down, so they’ve been proven that one to two drinks will slow down your metabolism for three hours, and alcohol is an energy source or whatever nutrient… However you call it, that compared to carbs, protein and fat, it has to be burned first… And you might think this is a good thing, right? Yeah, I’m burning off all that alcohol, but what it means also is that alcohol takes precedence and then you’re not necessarily burning the throat… Right, so all that can stuff get stored, so call release, those are metabolism down, they’ve proven that increases appetite, it even increases the signal that you’re… It decreases or it decreases the signal that you’re full, so you don’t register that you’re full in time, it also slows down protein synthesis that your muscles don’t grow, and it just makes it so much harder to be fit or to even work it off personally.
Alcohol and Weight Gain
Karolina Rzadkowolska: When I went to college, I was a valet answer. So it was a pretty small person. I exercised or worked out was pretty healthy, and I started drinking in college, and by the end of college, gained 35 pounds on top of my frame, and I was like… I didn’t understand why, I was like, I guess this is what… It happens when you get older, I just have no idea. And then I struggle with that way, that extra weight for a whole decade until really… I did so many workouts, I did so many diets, I tried all the different things, but when I went out all free, it was almost effortless, I wasn’t even concerned with my way and it just got so much easier, so many people find that they lose weight between three to six months, so it’s not like this magic wand where even just a month of alcohol and all of a sudden you… Your body will shut all these ponds, but body changes do happen, even if you don’t lose weight, you might be able to change your body composition, like he starts gaining more muscle instead of fat, and some people even find too that maybe they don’t lose weight and they eat more, and an instance, just so someone knows what’s going on, is to be able to handle all those calories from alcohol, you might have been eating way to less to begin with, right.
Karolina Rzadkowolska: So you take the alcohol out and all of a sudden you’re hungry or you wanna eat more, that’s perfectly normal and natural, and it might just be time to revisit, I need to actually eat more healthy stuff during my meals instead of these little bird portions. I was giving myself… Sugar cravings are also really real and are definitely just a rite of passage that happens when you remove alcohol, because like you said, not only his sugar also give you that dopamine spike, but alcohol is literally made out of fermented sugar. Right, so we think we’re being super healthy, that is how ethanol is made, it’s the fermented sugar in a grape or in a potato or in the laces or whatever it is, so our body is missing it, and so if you’re trying to get healthier as you remove alcohol, I would say focus on one thing first, it is the domino habit, it is a keystone habit, just removing that will allow all these other healthier behaviors to come forward to take a… Well, right, maybe you wanna focus on alcohol first for the first month, kind of let yourself be a little bit else with other changes in your life, you know, so it’s not just this weight loss plan, but then as you get…
Does Alcohol Make You Gain Weight?
Karolina Rzadkowolska: Ease into it and really start to find a footing and a foundation in that then the next habit can get looked at, or maybe you out on a little bit more movement into your life or something like that, and so I never like to make it seem like the alcohol-free lifestyle is like a diet plan and that you’re just gonna mark those things, lose all that this week, but it can sometimes be really frustrating to do everything right and then not to see a difference with alcohol still. How’s it happen in your life? Because it affects our bodies in ways that we don’t even know the depths of it, it really does change the way that you metabolize food, your appetite, all this stuff, and so it’s almost like you do all the right things and you still don’t see the changes, and most plants don’t… We talk about alcohol. It’s always like, Yeah, that’s a freebie. Go for it. It doesn’t make a big difference, but it kind of does, so it’s just great to have all the information at your finger test…
Cheryl McColgan: Yeah, and that’s me something that I’ve written about in the past, just because I, again, have a personal interest in both the weight loss side and the addiction side, and I would say for most people, if they’ve got a lot of weight to lose and they’re very serious about it, at the very least, really reducing or restricting alcohol, much like you would restrict certain foods or the amount of food that you need if you wanna lose weight. That can be really important and really useful. And for some people, if you’re drinking a lot, a really easy way to automatically cut a whole bunch of out reach out of your diet, to your point with something that is not really serving you nutritionally at all, it uses for other purposes, like we already talked about, I guess the final thing, before we talk about some of the projects that you’ve had come up recently, is what would you say to someone, what advice would you give them? They think they’re drinking a little too much, they’re not… Let’s see, not an alcohol use heavy… I’m just gonna say I… Caleb understands that you want to use the cycle to DSM.
Cheryl McColgan: Right. They wouldn’t be what somebody’s considered an alcoholic, but they’re drinking more than they’d like it enters their mind that maybe they should reduce it, but they’re worried and they don’t wanna go like they’re thinking, Oh, I could never have an alcohol-free life, maybe I just reduce it what would your advice to that person be, how would you get them started in the realm of exploring what life might look like without alcohol? And again, how do you know if you’re an alcoholic?
How To Start Drinking Less
Karolina Rzadkowolska: That’s such a great question, and I just wanna say that the majority of drinkers are in that boat, right? When you start feeling like that, you start to think like, something’s wrong with me, maybe I’m not doing this right, why can’t I figure out this balance thing… You know what I mean? You start to really assign yourself a lot of blame and shame, and it really becomes so hard to deal with because nobody talks about this, and so I just wanna say, once and for all, if this is happening to the majority of drinkers out there, please take off all that shame and blame, and just then become curious about it, instead of assigning any shame to yourself about drinking more like you set it in a pandemic, it got way worse, this is happening across the board to so many people, and so get curious about it. So I have two recommendations, then the first would be literally to lean in and to learn more about it, and how could you do that? So there is this thing that we call the alcohol-free mindset, or basically the mindset of someone who doesn’t believe that alcohol is requisite for a fun and fulfilling life, and that mindset has to be cultivated because we did not grow up in that mindset, we grew up in the idea that we have to drink to fit in and we have to drink on vacation, we have to drink at dinner and we have to know all the wines to be sophisticated and all this stuff, right.
Karolina Rzadkowolska: So it’s almost like you’re kind of un-learning different things, and so how do you dive into the mindset, you just learn about making sense of the role of alcohol in your life, you know, a lot of times it’s not even necessarily like a huge red flag, like you’re saying, but maybe you’re a parent and maybe you’re starting to ask yourself, Is drinking in front of my kids really something I wanna be doing very often, or maybe they’re becoming teenagers and you’re like, Oh, I wanna be able to talk about them, this with them, but I have to really make sense of the role of alcohol first for myself before I’m able to have a really good conversation with them, that’s not just like, Don’t drink. So there’s so many reasons why someone would arrive to want to lean into this, and I think it’s really the wisest people and the most intuitive people who want to make sense of grace in their life and not just accept it as a habit or status quo behavior that we all humans have to do so… Great, you know that. Now, lean in. And how do you do that? It’s really easy.
Alcohol Use in the Pandemic: How Do You Know if You’re an Alcoholic Now?
Karolina Rzadkowolska: Buy a book. Read to talk about it, right? Listen to a podcast, avarice, perfect segue. Why don’t you just talk about the book a little bit now, moving into more information about this topic and knowing that it doesn’t mark you as someone who has a problem or has to kind of defect or is lacking in self-control, it’s actually an astute thing to do to become an analytical and have some more awareness around it, so by reading a book or listening to podcasts, you start to shift your mindset away from that original one where you think everybody drinks and that’s just the norm versus really having the courage to rethink it, and then the second thing I would suggest is that once you’ve already done a little bit of that and you feel ready for it to take a break, because taking a break is not quitting forever, it’s not saying you’re not ever gonna drink again, it’s honestly just allowing your body to re-balance and to clear away the alcohol in your life so that you can actually feel your natural state, your natural brain state, your natural mental energy, your natural vitality in your body, and you might be really surprised at what you find…
Going Alcohol Free for 100 Days to Change Your Life
Karolina Rzadkowolska: And so a month off is great, 100 days will change your life, but even three days, just starting to build the muscle of what it looks like to not drink than you did. Really, really great. And so once you get to that point where you take a break and say, You have all this data you collected about how your body feels, then you get to make a decision on how to move forward and… So back to the book. So my book is called, You forward it along and a happier more confident you, and it’s really written for that casual drinker, that person who doesn’t identify with a severe problem that really wants to make sense of the role of ALCO in their life. And the first part of the book is really talks about how many benefits you’ll receive from your body, your mind and your soul, so it goes deep into all the health benefits, then all of the mindset ones where you really re-discover more self-love for yourself, more self-esteem or confidence or pride, and then deeper into these really soulful things that we want most in our life, presence, connection, gratitude, appreciation, and the hope that really we can do whatever we want in our lifetimes, and so as a reader is going through all of these benefits, they’re literally getting so excited about what an alcohol-free break could do for that, and so then I don’t just leave them hanging.
Karolina Rzadkowolska: The last part of the book is actually an eight-week guy to take a break from alcohol and really change your mindset around how you view alcohol and start learning how to take care of your needs, your emotional, spiritual, intellectual needs in new healthy way so you really build this beautiful foundation, you learn how to deal with the hang-ups, like socializing or… What to say when someone asks you about it? Or even what to do on a Friday night, and then afterwards towards the end of the book, is at kind of switching its tone and really asking yourself what makes me happy, what do I want most in the world… It’s not a glass of wine, so what is it? Right, and it really almost is like that switch where you take something that was giving you that immediate gratification and you get hungry to discover what is truly going to give you that long-term contentment, so it has different exercises to help you determine… Maybe I wish I was writing more, maybe I wish I was painting again, maybe I wish I was taking more classes or going to a yoga retreat, and start by just leaning into your interests and your passions and what really brings you white to give you a path forward to really find that fulfillment and that sense of purpose that is so much bigger than for men on average, and that really gets to be the point I could tell us what people drink at the end of the day, this is not about alcohol, this is about taking something out that is no longer serving you and giving yourself this beautiful space where you replace it with something that gives you so much more passion, meaning and aliveness in your life, and I think is…
Changing Lives and Writing a Book to Answer How Do You Know if You’re an Alcoholic
Karolina Rzadkowolska: Is that my story? I know where I completely change my careers, I wrote a book, I start traveling the world, I start helping people all over, giving me a real deep sense of impact and contribution, my story is not an anomaly, most of my clients and women I’ve heard of and worked with have very similar stories where they remove the alcohol and all a sudden they get the confidence to launch your business, they get confidence to write a book, they start a movement in their community, but one of my clients literally quit her corporate job and move to Europe ’cause she always wanted to live in France for a year, she’s having the adventure of a lifetime and now she’s gonna write a memoir about it, and she literally credits taking a break from alcohol as giving her that confidence to go after that goal. So it sounds crazy, like How could just removing this one diet food group thing actually make so many changes in your life, but it really shows you that as you go on this journey alone, it just knows our emotions and a number thought… So when you remove it, you also get to know yourself so much better, you get to hear nudges from your intuition about what you really care about, what really matters for you, and you start to have the energy and the action and motivation to actually cultivate that in your life, so it’s no longer something that you’re using alcohol to escape from a life that isn’t serving you, you’re actually making shifts to design the kind of life that you love.
Cheryl McColgan: Yeah, that’s awesome. And so you mentioned the book, I assume it’s available everywhere, books are sold, the… Can you tell everyone, are you active on social media, what’s your website, if they wanna work with you personally, how they might do that… Just all the things about how to get in touch with Karolina.
Karolina Rzadkowolska: Absolutely, thank you so much, Cheryl. If you want a quick way to find that book, you can just go to www dot com, or you can search just or for an Amazon, you’ll find it right away, anywhere books are sold. Obviously as well, if you’re interested in working with me, taking one of my programs, just listening to my podcast as well, you can find all of that at euphoric AF dot com, and then I’m also pretty active on Instagram where you can find me at 4.
Cheryl McColgan: AF, I love the DACA, that’s passionate. Right. But anyway, I just wanna thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and so many tips with the audience, any final things that we haven’t touched on that you just wanna wrap it all up in a big bow with…
Karolina Rzadkowolska: Of course, thank you so much. Your session, amusing house. And I love the just emotional intelligent questions that you have about this topic because it’s just so untamed about in our society and that drives me nuts because then it makes people feel so alone, so if this conversation intrigue you a little bit, if it really got you thinking about your relationship with alcohol, I encourage you to just lean in, you don’t have to make any choices, any grand declarations, anything like that, but if you’re just a little interested or your intuitions may be telling you, Wow, maybe you would have more energy without… This, have it went, Get the book, take a break, maybe if that’s your next step and just be very experimental about it, be curious about it. Right, it’s not again about these black and with choices, but often times, like you said earlier, we start drinking the teenagers, right, and then we came up the habit our whole lives, and the only excuse we ever have to take a break is when we’re pregnant, and that’s creator, because then we never really know what it feels like to live a happy, healthy adult life without this substance in your life, and so just by taking a break, just by experimenting with the alcohol-free lifestyle, you might discover so much about yourself what you really want and really how you feel best in own body, so just to be scared of it, lean in and anywhere you start is good enough, if today’s just one day you don’t drink and drink tomorrow, that’s great, because you’re building this muscle that’s making yourself not as reliant on alcohol every day.
Cheryl McColgan: Such a great point and a great way to start, I always say start small when I’m working with people and have it… So again, Karolina, thank you so much, I’ve loved having you and everyone, you sure to check the show notes so you can go find or find the book and hopefully we’ll chat with you again in the future. Stay in touch.
Karolina Rzadkowolska: Thank you so much.