Mom drinking has become the norm for those looking to relieve the overwhelm. Plus everyone does it so it can’t be that bad, can it? If you’re questioning whether you’re having a bit too much, struggling to cut back or just want to feel healthy again, don’t worry mama, you are not alone.
Alison of The Healthy Mom Coach, helps moms who overindulge in alcohol (but also sugar, phones, food, etc). She offers support in a world that seems to shun non-drinkers. Today she tells us her story, why it’s difficult to stop drinking, what JOMO is and also gives some great advice on how to cut back on alcohol.
Breakthrough Session: thehealthymomcoachbts.as.me
Facebook: The Healthy Mom Coach
Carol: Hello, beautiful mamas. It’s Carol from Just Breathe Mama Coach. I’m a coach, EFT and Reiki practitioner. I love helping moms navigate the overwhelm and create a more manageable and joyful life. Now, I know we’re all guilty of this, but have you ever said, “Oh, I just need a glass of wine to help me unwind from such a stressful day.” Then one leads to another and then before you know it you’re waking up with a headache the next morning. You wonder “how often is this actually happening to me?” You’re not alone mama! Trust me on that one. I’m really grateful today to have our next guest with us to talk to us about alcohol and overindulging. This is Alison and Alison is a functional medicine certified health coach specializing in helping moms break free from overindulging.
Carol: As a mom of three boys herself she understands the stresses of managing everyday mom life and teaches other parents how to do so without the typical over-drinking and overeating, one gentle step at a time. She has experienced firsthand the physical and mental effects of neglecting her own wellness and is passionate about helping moms become the best role model for their family. Alison believes that health and wellness should be fun and she infuses humour and levity in her personal life and her work with her clients. Alison works with moms in embracing a happier and healthier lifestyle by exploring supportive lifestyle choices and self-care practices that, step-by-step, make over-drinking and overeating irrelevant so they can be an even better role model for their kids. Amazing. Thank you for being here Alison! We’re really happy to have you.
Alison: Thank you for having me, Carol. I’m really happy to be here.
Carol: Great. So please tell us how you got started. What’s your story that led you to helping moms who want to kick the overindulging?
Alison: Well, okay. So my business is helping moms, supporting moms in overindulging and that could be in any form. It could be in the form of overindulging in wine, like you mentioned, or it could be sugar, food, or even watching too much Netflix. Just helping moms get more grounded in their life so that they can deal with the daily stress and anxiety that moms face. It comes with the territory, let’s face it, right? So my substance of choice was alcohol. And my alcohol, I guess I can call it a journey, started when I was probably around 16 years old in high school. I started dabbling in drinking here and there because that’s what kids were doing at that age, at that time. Then once I went into college I really got into it.
Alison: I joined a sorority and I was binge drinking every weekend. Just looking back on it, I remember when I was younger and having that first drink. I really dealt with a lot of social anxiety and once I had that first drink it was like amazing. It felt like it was a magic magic potion that made me or that social anxiety drift away. It made me feel like I was more outgoing. I was more on the shyer side when I was younger and it just really brought me out of my shell. I was like, “wow, this is amazing.” So I carried that habit, that weekly binge drinking habit.
Alison: Drinking in college was usually like Thursday, Friday, Saturday, sometimes even Sunday and just going to frat parties and hanging out with girlfriends. I carried that through my college years, carried that same habit. I’m calling it a habit because it’s something I developed over that time, every weekend. I ended up getting married and I think I was 27 years old when I got married and my husband and I just carried that on every weekend. It was our time to drink and hang out and to relax and decompress from the busy week. At that time I was working full time, as was my husband. So it was kinda like I had that mentality that, you work really hard all week, you get everything done and then by the time Friday rolls around it’s time to relax, let it hang out, release some of that steam.
Alison: Five, o’clock open that bottle of wine or make that batch of frozen margaritas in the blender or whatever it was that I was making. Every weekend, it was Friday, Saturday, Sunday, just binge drinking. My pattern was being really good on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday with, “Oh, I’m eating really well. I’m working out and I’m taking care of myself.” So it was almost giving myself permission in my mind to do that overindulging on the weekend. It was just making me feel better about the situation.
Alison: Even though I was doing it, I knew that it wasn’t good for me, it wasn’t healthy for me. I had a background in nutrition, that’s what I went to school for and I knew I was doing it. I was not physically addicted to it, but I was emotionally addicted to it.
Alison: And I just continued that pattern because I just thought, this is what everybody does. This is what everybody that I know does. They kick back and relax and drink on the weekend. So that just kept progressing. I ended up having my twins in my early thirties and that really threw me for a loop. My earlier years I was drinking more for fun. I thought it was fun at the time and I thought it was what you did and you relax and blow off steam. When I became a mother that completely shifted my whole perspective on things and I had a hard time with it. It was like a whole identity change and I wasn’t expecting it.
Alison: I had twins first so not only were my husband and I not bringing one baby home, but two babies home that we had no idea what to do with. I remember bringing them home and being like, “okay, now what?” And I mean talk about stress and anxiety really settling in. Then I felt like my drinking continued, but now I was doing it to really just deal with that stress and anxiety of being a mother and how hard it was. I remember when they were babies kind of wishing “oh, I just want them to get older so this gets easier.” Being so sleep deprived and how it was. I felt like it was just so detrimental on my whole wellbeing.
Alison: Then I had another son three years later and it just kept continuing and continuing. When my twins got to be around 11 years old or so, 10 years old, I really started thinking about it and how my drinking was affecting me personally and my health. It was also affecting my kids. I remember being that young mom and thinking, “Oh, I know this isn’t good for me, but I just want to do this so I’m going to keep doing it. But when they get older, I’m going to have to make a change. When they start picking up and realizing what I’m actually doing. I’m going to have to make a change.”
Alison: I remember thinking that, like knowing in the back of my head. And what I learned later on was, I was battling what they call cognitive dissonance for well over 20 years where I knew it was not good for my health, I knew it was not good for my wellbeing, but at the same time, something kept drawing me back to it. I just kept, kept doing it. So when my boys got a little bit older I really started to evaluate things. I had just gotten through a long summer of heavy drinking at our neighborhood pool with all of my friends because that’s what we did every weekend.
Alison: We would just bring the drinks to the pool and just hang out. I thought to myself, “I am just so sick and tired of feeling sick and tired all the time. I am so sick and tired of feeling exhausted all the time.” I was never a good sleeper and always had insomnia. Since I was a teenager I always struggled with sleep. Then I just said, “I don’t know what kind of a mother I’m being right now.” So I think the guilt really set in where I just woke up one day, it was the day after labor day, and I said to myself, “I’m done. I’m not drinking anymore.”
Alison: I stopped. I ended up going to AA for two months to get some support because I didn’t know where to go. I was alcohol free for about six months when I started to teeter and said, “I’m feeling like I have FOMO. I’m missing out. I’m not fitting in with my friends.” All of that. I told my husband, I wanted to try to moderate. I went in moderating and he was very supportive of me and I quickly spiraled back to the same pattern if not drinking even more. And I drank heavily on the weekends again for another year and a half until that second year after that first labor day.
Alison: So that was 2016 and in 2018 I woke up the same day after labor day, after that long summer at the pool of binge drinking, I said to myself, “I am done. I am done. I’m putting myself first. I’m going to care for myself, I’m going to love myself, I’m going to put my health as number one and I’m going to put my sons as number one. I want to be that great role model that I want to be for my kids because they’re noticing.” Going back to a couple months prior to that, I would sit at home Friday night on the couch with my boys and I would sit there with a bottle of red wine while they watched the movie.
Alison: And I would drink an entire bottle of red wine during family movie night. One night I remember saying to myself, “Alison, what are you doing?” So that was just a real wake up call for me. The second time around, when I finally decided to quit for good, I found ‘This Naked Mind.’ I read it and it made a world of a difference for me. I educated myself and immersed myself in learning more about it. In the end it was such an ‘aha’ eye opening moment for me when I realized that it wasn’t anything wrong with me, it was with the addictive substance that I was drinking.
Alison: That whole time when I was in AA, AA practices and it helps tons of people and I think it’s a great program, but what they teach you there is that there’s something wrong with you. That just didn’t jive with me. So what I learned from ‘This Naked Mind’ and what I learned by educating myself, made a world of a difference. I’ve made a complete mindset shift and now I am thankful that I don’t drink and that alcohol is irrelevant to me. So that led me to becoming a coach, to help other moms with a similar issue like I had, because I think it’s just not talked about enough.
Alison: It’s almost like society shuns it. Like, “What do you mean you don’t drink?” They treat it like, it’s such a normal thing and I suffered in silence for so long. I had nobody to talk to about it and I don’t want moms to feel that way because it’s not something that you need to do. It’s not something that you need to overindulge to deal with your things. There’s other ways to handle it. There’s other ways to do it. And that’s why I became a coach to pay it forward and help support moms who are in need like I was.
Carol: Oh, that’s amazing. That is such a great story. And I think a lot of moms can relate to that. I think society, a lot of it has to do with society, doesn’t it? I mean, we are brought up that way, knowing that drinking is normal and it’s part of our everyday lives or our friends lives. It’s at every occasion, like birthday parties, baby showers, everything. I mean, it feels so normal. So when people think they have a problem they don’t really have anywhere to go or anybody to talk to about it because if you talk to somebody about it they’re like, “It’s just alcohol. You’re fine. We all do it.” Kind of thing.
Carol: So that’s amazing. I’m glad that you’re doing what you do because you’re going to be helping lots of people. I’m sure you already are. Why is it so difficult for moms or anyone for that matter to stop drinking, especially without support?
Alison: I think it goes back to what you just mentioned about society. I think that it’s just so commonplace in our society that it’s almost expected that you are going to drink. And when you think about it, alcohol is the only drug that we have to make a reason for not drinking. We have to justify for not taking. And that’s crazy when you think about that, right? If I was to say, “Oh, I am addicted to this other drug,” people would go, “Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh.” But just say alcohol and it’s clearly a drug and it’s clearly supported in society. Marketing and commercials, they all glamorize it like it’s something that you need in your life. That it’s something that makes you sexy or makes you a better mom, which is a huge one.
Alison: I’ve heard so many moms say, “Well, I think it helps me be a better mom.” You really have to break that down and think, well, is it making you be a better mom? How present are you being with your kids when you have a glass or two of wine? You have to take a look at all of that. So I think it’s really hard to go it on your own without getting some sort of support.
Alison: Whether it’s finding a program that works for you or somebody that’s been there before, somebody who’s been there done that and knows how you feel. Because for example, I was that girl that was the party girl, the fun girl that never in a million years thought that I would ever stop drinking. And here I am today telling you that it’s possible. My life is so much more fulfilled now than it ever was in my entire life.
Carol: Incredible. Fantastic. Why is it important for moms to stop drinking or at least cut back on alcohol? Why do you think?
Alison: I think, like I mentioned earlier, moms need to put themselves first more. It’s hard. They have that whole little saying, “Oh, put the oxygen mask on you first, before you take care of anyone else. You’re going to be a better mom.” I fully a hundred percent believe that. If mom isn’t feeling good, if mom isn’t healthy and taking care of herself, then she’s not going to be a good mom or even a good wife. She’s not going to be a good support for her family. She’s not going to feel good. I know for myself, I had worries in the back of my mind constantly. “Oh my gosh, what am I doing? I’m drinking all this alcohol. Someday I might end up with breast cancer. What am I doing?”
Alison: So I think that that’s part of it. Then I also think that the other part of it is just being a positive role model for their kids. I think it’s so important. I realized that because society is really portraying that parents go to all these events, like you said, or hang out with friends and all of our kids are seeing adults with alcoholic beverages in their hands. And they’re realizing, they’re thinking themselves, “Oh, well, I guess we need to have that to have fun in life.”
Alison: Kids are growing up and they’re believing that it’s necessary to have a drink in your hand to have fun. That’s just not the truth. I know how much I suffered silently for over twenty-five years with what I was doing. I would never want my children to feel the way that I felt. And I just think it’s so important. Again, it’s something that’s not really talked about because it’s almost like taboo in society. “Don’t cut down alcohol, don’t do this or that,” but it’s just the reality of it all.
Carol: Yeah that’s so true. Kids have fun the way they are, at such a young age. Once you introduce alcohol, once they’re old enough, they go to that to have fun. Adults do that. “Let’s let’s get together for a barbecue!” Then crack the beers, crack the wine. It’s a shame because you can have fun without it. It’s kind of crummy actually that you depend on it to have fun or you depend on it to alleviate stress or whatever it is. Good thing to think about. How do you support moms who want to change their relationship with alcohol? How do you do that through your coaching programs?
Alison: Well, the approach that I have is called a switch versus seed approach. A switch is something that you would use to immediately make a change in your emotional state when you’re feeling stressed or you’re feeling anxious. Something like “Oh, I’m feeling so anxious about this or my kid’s driving me nuts. What can I do to make myself feel better? Oh, I’m going to grab a glass of wine.” We know that once you have that glass of wine, it temporarily makes you feel better, but that’s only a temporary feeling. After that happens, if you end up overindulging, then what happens after that is you don’t feel so good the next day. So you have to take a look at that and the negative consequences of all of that. So that’s a seed.
Alison: A seed is more like planting something in your life to cultivate it. It’s going to be ongoing and sustain you so you can handle these stressful or anxious situations more readily. That would be possibly putting in some mindfulness practices into your life or healthy, sustained eating, or just really focusing on your sleep or mindset shifts is huge. That’s really what helped me. I work a lot with moms and their mindset and just changing their thinking around alcohol and not only alcohol, but other things in their life that they may be kind of conflicted about. So it’s just more of, I’m giving you some tools to keep in your toolbox so that you have them. I know a lot of moms will feel deprived, “What do you mean you’re taking my alcohol away?”
Alison: “What do you mean I can’t drink anymore?” But that’s not what it is. It’s not about taking things away. We want to give you things. We want to add things to your life that are positive and make you feel like you’re more grounded and balanced. So then at the end of the day, when your decision-making fatigue sets in at five o’clock because of all those decisions you’ve been making all day long as a mom, and you want to reach for that beverage as a, “I just need to relax.” You won’t need it anymore because you’ll be balanced. You’ll be able to have other tools and you’re just going to feel better. It’s just going to turn things into, “You know what? I don’t need that I don’t need to go down that road and I have something to support me.”
Carol: Yeah, that sounds great. Fantastic. What is one of the top questions that you get asked by your clients?
Alison: I would say one of the top questions I get asked by my clients is, “Well, now that you don’t drink, what do you do for fun?” Right? I kind of laugh at that because I’ll be honest, when I drank, I looked at it as that was my fun. And you could have asked me five years ago when I was drinking, “Well, Alison, what do you do for fun? What are your hobbies?” And I would sit there and I would say to you, “Umm hanging out with my husband and having some wine on the porch, hanging out with my girlfriends, going to ladies nights and drinking.” That was all I could think about and that was my fun.
Alison: And to me, was it really fun in the end? No, because I can’t tell you how horrible the next day was, the next few days and how it really affected me. So what do I do for fun now is I choose to do things that don’t have negative consequences. That could be a wide range of things from, I love to read, I love to be outside, I love to go hiking and I love to take long walks with my dogs. I love to go to the beach, I love to play tennis and I love to play with my kids.
Alison: I have three boys, I have twins will be 15 next month and I have another son will be 12 next month. My boys ask me to play with them still. For two teenagers, my heart is so full that want to hang out with me. “Mom, will you come outside and jump on the trampoline with me? Mom, will you come outside and play catch with me so we can play with the dogs?” I mean, that’s my fun and I’m there. I’m a hundred percent fully present and I’m enjoying myself. You know, my kids are just connecting with me. They’re connecting with me and it’s an amazing feeling.
Carol: Oh, that’s so beautiful. So that’s probably one of them is being present, but what are the biggest benefits that you think moms would notice from changing their relationship with alcohol?
Alison: Well, definitely, being more present as we just talked about. Also a hundred percent having more energy. Having better focus, less brain fog. I know for me, I had so much chatter in my brain about alcohol and about how much should I drink? What should I drink? And then when I was trying to moderate, how much should I have? What can I do? And how excited I was for five o’clock to roll around on Friday. I mean, I had so much chatter in my brain. And then once I stopped, it freed up my mind just to have so much more brain space, to do things and think about things I really wanted to think about.
Alison: I have a client now who recently shared with me, I’ve been working with her for a few weeks, but she shared with me that this is like a whole new world for her. She has three younger kids and she feels like she is connecting with them so much more now. That even her middle son who has a little bit of an anxiety issue, she notices that he’s really calmed down and that he’s connecting with her more. It’s just bringing her so much happiness because she never knew that any of this would be possible in her life. And now she’s feeling like, “Wow, this is an amazing thing that I’m doing here. Not only for myself, but for my family.”
Carol: Oh, she must feel like she’s on top of the world right now,
Alison: For sure. And then one quick one I want to share with you that I forgot to mention is sleep. Your sleep gets so much better! As I mentioned, I had insomnia my whole life and when I stopped drinking my sleep got so much better. Because what I didn’t know until I learned about it was alcohol can stay in your system for up to seven to ten days before it completely detoxes. So I was not giving myself a break.
Alison: I took Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday off, but then I’d be drinking Friday, Saturday, Sunday. I was never clearing out my whole brain and letting my self rebalance. So that was a huge ‘aha’ moment for me because I went to a sleep study when I was younger, I took sleep medications, I did cognitive behavioral therapy. I did everything I tried to do right for sleep and nothing ever worked for me. The magic pill for me was just quit drinking. It was amazing.
Carol: Wow. I didn’t know it took so long to eliminate it from your system.
Alison: It definitely varies between people. It can be up to seven to ten days. Some people are five days. I was definitely longer, but like I said, I wasn’t giving myself the break and it just lingers.
Carol: It’s funny because you think it’s out of your system the next day.
Alison: No! One of my clients does say to me that she notices that on day five, after she stops drinking, she gets a really high level of anxiety and she asked me about that. She’s like, “It’s really uncomfortable, I’m so anxious. I don’t know what it is.” And I said to her that’s because the alcohol is finally coming out of your system. A big part of the hangover is your anxiety increases tenfold and she’s feeling that on day five. She’s very aware of that. That’s what happens.
Carol: Wow. So then you have to figure out other ways to deal with the anxiety as opposed to going back to drinking.
Carol: Wow. Do you have any tips or advice to offer mamas who want to take that first step to cutting back or getting rid of alcohol altogether?
Alison: Yes! I would say just start exploring it for yourself. I think the number one thing is to be open-minded about it and to become aware of your situation, aware of your drinking. For example, start to notice, what triggered me? Why did I pick up this drink? And how did I feel when I had the drink? How did I feel half an hour after I had the drink? How did I sleep that night? And how did I feel the next day? Maybe even keep a journal, just log it in to be aware.
Alison: When I was in the midst of it all, although I knew I felt really yucky, I wasn’t really being aware and paying attention to why I was really drinking and where that was all coming from and how I was really feeling step-by-step. So becoming more aware of it, for sure and just keeping track of that.
Alison: Also changing that mindset of FOMO, fear of missing out. I’m not going to fit in, what am I going to do? The FOMO, turn it around. Turn it around to use the acronym JOMO, which is the joy of missing out. That’s where I am now because I have the joy of missing out on having a hangover the next day. I don’t have to lay on the couch all day long like I used to. Not integrate myself with my sons because I’m too tired to do anything. Like I have the joy of missing out now in some situations because that’s what works for me. So I would say, start with that. The awareness is the big part of it.
Alison: Just being aware of it, why you’re drinking and what you’re using it for and that sort of thing. And then of course in the end, get some support, reach out to people, don’t be shy. It’s hard because it’s a society where it makes you feel shameful that you have to admit that you have an issue with alcohol. That’s why so many people have issues because they’re afraid to speak up. But it’s okay, reach out. There are so many people there to support you. There’s so many online communities, there’s so many different groups. So please, don’t afraid to reach out. Not every process is going to work for everyone, but I think at some point somebody finally lands into something that works for them and that’s my advice. Don’t be afraid to reach out.
Carol: Right. It sounds like it can change your life. So thank you. Thank you for all of that. That was so informative! And mamas, if you’d like to find out more, you can visit her website at thehealthymomcoach.com. Also check out her Facebook page, The Healthy Mom Coach and her Instagram page @thehealthymomcoach.alison and Alison has one ‘L’ but I will post all of those for you. I’ll also post a link for you to schedule a breakthrough session if anyone’s interested. I just want to thank you again for all that wonderful information that you shared with us and for being with us today.
Alison: Thank you, Carol. It was a pleasure.
If you’re looking for other ways to improve your health and wellness check out this article about meditation here.
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