In 2017, I was living what I thought was my best life.
My businesses were fully functioning machines, I was in love with my partner of 6+ years, I had the most amazing pack of dogs — and since I was childless, plenty of extra money to spend on alcohol and dining out.
My life was a party, and I friggin’ loved it. Yeah, I was overweight and often tired. But that was the price to pay for drinks and dinners with friends, wasn’t it? I worked hard and deserved it, right ? Of course I did. Have another drink, darling.
Halfway through 2017, my “perfect” world turned upside down. My dogs died. My relationship ended. I had heavy metal poisoning. I was drinking A LOT of alcohol. The universe had pushed my reset button, and I wasn’t dealing with it well.
Something major had to change in my life before I lost my friends, my businesses, myself.
To regain control, I made changes in three main areas of my life: food, fitness, and alcohol consumption. I didn’t realize at the time that I was making room for emotional growth and personal improvement.
Let’s start with food. With the help of Dr. Jason Bradley and his team at Epic Functional Medicine Center, I went through a 21-day sugar detox/inflammation reduction diet that focused on lean meats, leafy greens and vegetables, healthy fats — and no alcohol.
As with any project I take on, I dove in head first. I was as hungry for information as I was for food! And what I learned was astounding, especially about protein.
Most people are not getting nearly enough. According to WebMD, 10 to 35 percent of our diets should be protein. On a daily diet of 2,000 calories, this means 50 to 175 grams of protein a day, in increments of 20 to 50 grams at a time.
The bottom of that scale (50 grams a day) is merely what we need to function, not to excel. Livestrong.com actually claims we need .8 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight to build muscle. This would mean 160 grams of protein a day for a 200-pound person.
Personally, I have found that keeping my diet at 30% protein, 35% carbs and 35% fats makes my metabolism soar. Most notably, I keep my sugars at 30g per day or less and do not consume dairy, soy or wheat.
I lost so much weight in two months from changing my food intake that I could hardly get clothes fast enough to fit me. Everytime I thought I was done losing weight, more kept dropping off! I figured the only way to stop the weight loss was to start gaining muscle, so I joined my local Anytime Fitness.
Of course, I also bought Arnold Schwarzenegger’s New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding, and Jim Stoppani’s Encyclopedia of Muscle and Strength. I dove into the world of bodybuilding as vigorously as I had studied about food.
Leaving my ego at the door, I walked into the gym ready to start slow. I settled on a 4-day split for my workout routines: back/biceps, chest/triceps, leg day, shoulders/abs/calves.
I would scour my weightlifting books or the internet, putting together my routine for the month. My goal was to grow like a tree: slow, steady, sturdy and solid — and that I did! Within six months, I was doing 10 pull ups, which was 10 more than my previous record of zero!
About two months into eating healthily and working out, I realized I could no longer reconcile the two lives I was living any longer. Shortly after the 21 day-detox diet, I had begun drinking again and while I was really good at keeping with my healthy eating and going to the gym 4 days per week – the hangovers weren’t making it any easier.
So, I quit. Just like that, not realizing how completely this would change my life. My first year of sobriety from alcohol was, at first, like relearning all of my emotions. And then, BAM! Everything I’d buried or thought I was “rising above” for years, since childhood, suddenly flooded my mind.
Every moment of shame, guilt, fear, anger or anxiety that I’ve EVER felt in my ENTIRE life surfaced. Without alcohol to “cope” or help me delude myself into rationalizing that everything was “fine,” I just sat in the emotions.
I felt them, processed them, and gave them life. Then, I set them free, watching them float away like a balloon into the blue sky. I recognized, then named, my fears in business, and in my relationships with others and myself.
This allowed me to understand the role alcohol served for me all these years. It allowed me to understand that much of my drive for building these businesses, this pack of dogs, this backstock of dry goods in my basement, was a way to protect myself from vulnerability.
As I write this, I am 437 days free from the chains of alcohol. I’ve been eating clean for a year and a half, and lifting weights for nearly as long. I am stronger emotionally, spiritually and physically than ever. I cannot wait to see what 2019 brings.
Here’s to wishing you all a happy, healthy and fulfilling new year! Hugs and kisses from Coach Kelly!