PRP 231 | Grey Drinking

 

Are you a grey drinker? That doesn’t mean that you’re an alcoholic. That just means that maybe you’re spending too much time drinking. Alcohol doesn’t need to be involved in everything you do. So if you think you’re a grey drinker, then this episode is for you. Join Juliet Clark as she talks to author, speaker, and wellness consultant, Carrie Schell. Listen in to find out more about Carrie’s latest book, The Grey Drinking Reset. Also, learn more about her 10-day reset program, which can help you with your drinking habits. Find out more today!

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The Grey Drinking Reset

Is It Time To Take A Look At Your Relationship With Alcohol?

I’m excited about our guest. I will tell you why in a moment. I want to remind you to go over and grab Breakthrough Author Magazine. You can find it at www.BreakthroughAuthorMagazine.com. Also, don’t forget that we have the challenge coming up in October 2023. If you want to find out more about Author Platform building and be able to start getting your plan together for 2023 and how you are going to build it, stay tuned because we are going to talk more and more about this.

I hope you guys will participate and have fun with it and maybe find out that if you break it down into small pieces, it’s not as overwhelming as it seems. Super Brand Publishing over on YouTube. Follow us and subscribe. I’m excited about our guest because I actually wrote the foreword for her book. We are going to talk a lot on the show about why this happened and what happened to generate this book that’s upcoming and inspired me to share some of my story about this topic.

Our guest is Carrie Schell. She is a midwife, a personal trainer, a yoga instructor, a Doctoral candidate, a speaker, and an author. She’s dedicated her life’s worth to health and wellness. She is an addiction specialist who has helped others in their recovery. Carrie realized like millions of other women, was a gray drinker, not an alcoholic but her relationship with alcohol was unhealthy in what we call the gray area.

On her personal journey to create her own life balance, Carrie created the innovative 10 Day Reset program and wrote her latest book, The Grey Drinking Reset: A Four-Week Journey to Wellness. Designed to help women who are gray drinkers create healthier lifestyles, bringing more happiness and clarity and, ultimately, allowing space for women to become happier and feel better and live a fuller life.

Carrie also hosts wellness retreats for women to connect and reset their wellness journey in Costa Rica, where she lives. I want to throw this out there before we jump into the interview. Did you know that women report a 41% increase in heavy drinking since COVID? This is what I’ve seen as well, and some of the people who have come to me for the topic that we are going to talk about with Carrie. Think about that perspective here, 41% increase in heavy drinking. That’s five or more drinks at one time. That’s a lot of alcohol. Women metabolize alcohol differently than men, and it is far more damaging for us women. Stay tuned. You are going to enjoy this interview.

Welcome, Carrie. It’s great to have you. I’m excited to talk about this topic.

I’m excited too. Thank you so much for having me.

A little bit about the intro. Carrie’s book is about gray drinking. The reason I was excited when she brought me this project is during COVID and after COVID, we’ve probably had 3 or 4 women come to me and say, “This is what I want to do. This is my mission,” but they haven’t stepped into it the way you did. That was what was so exciting. You were not only excited about it but you said, “How do I get going with this?” We talked about a type-A personality. This started to be a much smaller project. I asked her to write a lead magnet, and when she gave me the first fifteen days of it, it was a full-blown book. Talk about a chronic overachiever.

PRP 231 | Grey Drinking

The Grey Drinking Reset: A 30-Day Journey to Wellness

When you are passionate about something, it just flows. When you are in that state of flow, it feels effortless. You can sit and put the time and energy into it.

We transformed this into, “I want to start a business. How do I get started?” We were going to go with a lead magnet and a challenge, which we are still doing but in the meantime, she wrote this beautiful book that is all about getting yourself going into this, the healing aspects. Tell us a little bit about your own gray drinking journey. I don’t think that a lot of women out there realize that they are gray drinking.

A little backing up a bit. I was the Director of health and wellness at a residential addiction facility. I was doing amazing work there with an innovative program that was based on yoga, meditation, and physical activity and had tremendous success. The killers, I would go home from a long intense, and you can imagine how intense that work is. I would unwind by having a glass of wine.

Flash forward, no longer working at the center but now it’s years later and COVID hits. Personally, my family was in a transition from leaving our home in Canada and moving to Costa Rica. A lot was going on. The isolation, all of those emotions, and everything that came with COVID, the anxiety, the fear, the uncertainty, the isolation, whatever you have, and I realized I was drinking more.

When I started to step back and assess, I realized that my relationship was unhealthy. I was at the point where I was taking mental notes to make sure I had wine on hand at the end of the day. Back to the type-A personality, I would have my to-do list. I honestly can remember some days. In that first summer, on my list was to drink so much water, many liters of water or gallons for the Americans. I would be chugging what I needed to complete to allow me to get the glass of wine.

It was feeling like I was doing all the right things. I’m working out, the house is great, my professional life is going well, and the relationships are stable but I was still relying on alcohol, and not to the point where it was, as I said, detrimental in my life. I wasn’t hitting rock bottom whatsoever. That’s what’s tricky about gray drinking is that you have it together but you are still relying on alcohol. That’s where the whole gray thing comes in it. You are not an alcoholic but you know mentally, emotionally, and spiritually that it’s not okay any longer.

A grey drinker is not an alcoholic. A grey drinker is someone who knows that it's no longer okay to drink. Click To Tweet

Especially this was so transparent during COVID because people didn’t have other things to do. They didn’t have a distraction. I personally remember that during COVID, that first week, I ate. I hadn’t drunk in 31 years. I was cooking and eating. I was doing a lot of hiking and then watched Tiger King. I truly woke up the next morning after binging the Tiger King. I was like, “I’ve hit rock bottom,” like tigers and mullets.

Another thing that you bring up is that where we may have been drinking socially out for lunch with girlfriends, at dinner parties, on weekends or after work. We’re now doing that in our home, so it was changing the nature of it where we became comfortable. I didn’t have to be a social drinker, and I wasn’t even associating that with maybe this isn’t the best situation where I was totally comfortable having a glass or 2 or 3 of wine at night on my onus. That was not even an issue. It also changed the dynamic of our drinking. I think COVID did.

As we saw as drug use escalated, many things really escalated. Personally, I’ve switched from the Tiger King over to, “I have a PhD in Pioneer History now.”

You could go build that cabin.

I could go, not only build that cabin. When we took a road trip up to South Dakota, and I threw Wyoming. I’m like, “Wait, stop this marker here.” My family was like, “It’s a marker.”

“You’ve got to get out, mom.”

We all coped in our different ways. Let’s talk about the way you feel when you go through this detox. For me, I had withdrawals. There was no doubt about it. When I stopped many years ago, I had withdrawals for probably two weeks, I would say. A lot of us use it to sleep. Alcohol disrupts your sleep pattern. If you find yourself stopping drinking, you are probably going to have problems sleeping for a few weeks because you have used that to sleep.

You may have problems getting to sleep but a lot of people who are drinking also find that they probably wake up at night. At some point, they will wake up and might have difficulty getting back to sleep. Although you may have trouble falling off, you may find improvements in the quality of your sleep the further you go without the alcohol. You will experience some physical challenges, as you say, withdrawal.

You will find improvement in the quality of your sleep the further you go without alcohol. Click To Tweet

Those cravings, those yearnings, and wanting that alcohol, and feeling almost a desperation and panic of, “How am I going to get through the evening without the alcohol or how am I going to do this function, this meeting or deal with whatever it may be,” because alcohol can fit into any situation. It can fit into every positive and negative situation as a comfort. Whatever the case may be, we rationalize its role being there.

There are a lot of challenges but there are some good ones. I know we’ve discussed that you have started feeling better. You are less bloated, and you lose weight. You may not feel hung over as a gray drinker but you feel foggy. You are not as crisp and fresh in the morning. A lot of positive benefits physically will start to happen within that first week to two weeks. They will be quite dramatic and very beneficial.

Let’s talk about that weight because women are constantly, “I’m trying to diet. I’m doing this.” We don’t even realize, let’s say, you stop at three glasses of wine a day. That’s about 300 to 400 calories, isn’t it?

It’s about 250 to 300 per glass.

Let’s round it up and say 1,000 calories a day. What I experienced was when I got into about week three, I woke up one morning, and I had lost 10 pounds. I hadn’t lost weight until then but it was almost like my body had let go of something. Your cells are taking all this in as well as these extra calories a day. If you’ve ever seen someone who’s a big drinker, they have very poofy skin. Your skin starts looking amazing, too.

A lot of heavy drinkers will get the capillaries, the rosacea, and everything in their noses. You will see that it is impacting their actual internal systems. Plus, during those weeks, you are cleansing. All those toxins are being released. The alcohol that was basically almost like a magnet to attract those toxins and not let them be flushed through our system is now being flushed away. That aids the weight loss too.

That got me going into more fitness too because I was like, “I’m 10 pounds slimmer. I’m going to go walk or run.” For me, I started bike riding to work. Now I could get up in the morning, and I worked at Chiat/Day. If I didn’t have a travel day, I could ride right along the beach path from Manhattan Beach to Venice. That prompted more exercise and free time because believe it or not. If you live in Los Angeles, you are going to believe this. On Monday and Friday, the traffic is so bad. If I took the bike path, I would have been home earlier than I would have been in a car.

Part of that is physical activity. The release of all of those positive hormones is tremendous. Through the process, you are going to be going through some emotional challenges. Physical activity with the release of endorphins and serotonin helps to balance off and help us keep a positive emotional framework while we are going through some challenges that we are going to experience.

PRP 231 | Grey Drinking

Grey Drinking: Physical activities help release your positive hormones, and that’s tremendous when you’re dealing with alcohol withdrawal.

 

Issues are going to come up. Why are we going to alcohol to assist us to relax? How is this impacting my relationship with a partner? It’s definitely going to have implications for your social relationships because now the amount that everyone drinks have been raised, and that benchmark is higher. Even though all of us are drinking too much because we are all doing it, it’s the new norm.

For one person to stand up and say to their friendship group, “I’m drinking too much,” what do you think the initial reaction is? Everyone is going to say, “You do not. Don’t worry. You don’t have a problem. You don’t drink more than we do, and we don’t have a problem.” That one voice standing up and saying, “I have a problem,” actually turns a mirror onto everyone else where whether they outwardly acknowledge it or not, they are going to start those questions of themselves. “Am I drinking too much? Shoot, I have been wondering if I am.” It starts a whole snowball effect in all of your relationships.

I’m going to point out that, sometimes, you will find some negativity there. When I first quit drinking, I was the designated driver but I was still going out to places with my friends, and people were very uncomfortable that I wasn’t drinking, and they were. It ended after about three months, I quit hanging out with those girls a lot because you go out and you realize when everybody else is wasted, and you are not, it’s not as fun. People act stupid. You sit back and go, “I never realized that person was such a jackass.”

That can happen even in those relationships where maybe it’s not a party setting. I certainly have friends who I adore but I realize that whenever we are together, alcohol is involved. We go out on the boat, and we drink. We sit, have a bonfire, and have drinks. We have dinner. We have drinks. We have lunch. We have drinks. It doesn’t expand beyond that in terms of the drinking was always the activity, and the other things were the things we did so that we could drink.

As opposed to, “Let’s go on a hike and just have a hike and enjoy.” You start to realize that you don’t need alcohol to relax. You don’t need alcohol to have a good time. Your conversations are deeper and more meaningful when you are not having alcohol. We trick ourselves into thinking, “It’s so much better. I can relax, chat more, and let myself go when I’ve had a few drinks.” On a very different level, that’s not intimate and doesn’t represent our true selves and intentions. There’s always that little veil there of alcohol.

The other thing that I noticed a lot when I quit is my tolerance for drama went down. When you get a bunch of people that drink together, and that’s their hobby because what you described is what I had in my world that drinking had become our hobby.

It’s everywhere. We are inundated. Social media and advertising has done a tremendous job at putting forth an image that if you are with it, beautiful, intelligent, and successful, then alcohol has a role in that. That you are all having your drinks. That you all celebrate with your drinks. To be that kind of person that they market and target, people have this notion that if you are with it, you are going to have a drink. As you said earlier, people also perceive, “You are the one not drinking. You must be a drag. You must not be fun.” It’s just, “No, I’m still the same person.”

“I’m maybe a little bit better person now.”

It speaks more of their fears than our own.

It absolutely does. Back to the drama thing, I always found there was always a little bit of drama around the drinking because people did things that they normally wouldn’t have done had they been sober. I got to the point where my drama tolerance was like, “Don’t do it.”

What you come to see as important isn’t in any way wrapped up in that drama that doesn’t even need to happen, for sure.

What else can we expect to see when we go through it? Everybody, there’s a 10-Day Reset, which I will have Carrie tell you where you can find. The 10-Day Reset that’s the just-get-it-out-of-your-system detox. There are going to be feelings that come up because there has been a reason that you have been using this for suppression and anxiety. There are a lot of different reasons that people drink but that’s the reason that anxiety has been coming to the surface. Instead of dealing with that, you haven’t been. Talk about that a little bit because it’s going to come to the service and it’s a turning point to whether you are going to stop and deal with it or whether you are going to continue drinking.

The 10-Day Reset, whole reasoning rationale behind the 10-Day Reset is that if you are like me when you first were hearing gray drinking, and you went, “Is that me?” You started this internal question, “Am I drinking too much? Am I drinking too frequently? Shoot, I think often. Maybe I should stop or tell myself that tonight when I go out, I’m only going to have one drink.” You self-rationalize that away and go on and have more.

If you are feeling that you may need a change, the 10-Day Reset is a great way to take ten days to honor and support yourself, clear the alcohol out of your system, clear the fog, and lift the veil so that you can, at the end of the ten days, make an informed choice as to, “Am I feeling better? Do I want to continue this?” If I want to continue, you are going to have to go deeper into a 30-day where we go into topics more. We journal about different harder topics. We explore all aspects of relationships.

PRP 231 | Grey Drinking

Grey Drinking: If you’re feeling the need to change your drinking habits, the 10-day reset is a great way to clear your system of alcohol. Then at the end of the 10 days, you can make a choice whether or not you’re feeling better.

 

The 10-day is helping you get through those days and manage the 10 days. We will go deeper beyond that when we do the work together in the 30 days. I feel that honoring yourself to have that clarity, to make an informed decision now that you are feeling better you are thinking about things differently, will set you up for success if you want to continue on. The irony is a lot of things because, as humans, we are sometimes crazy.

We diet. We lose 5 pounds or 10 pounds. We reached our goal, so we celebrated by having cake. We do the 10 Day Reset and are like, “I knew I didn’t have a problem. I went through ten days and opened a bottle of wine.” As opposed to continuing to honor ourselves and do what is supporting us and making us feel so good, we do a counterintuitive behavior that is causing harm. Again, that’s why the ten days hopefully will inspire you that you are feeling better and you will want to continue on.

Talk about the sugar cravings a little bit because that’s the one thing that I still battle with 30 years later. I’m a sugar whore. Last summer, we had The Domino Diet book, Karie Cassell’s book. Working with her, from the book and hearing the things she had to say, I quit sugar for four months. No sugar. It was amazing because I got off of it. I went on a three-day sugar binge.

People don’t think about this. If I have been imbibing drinks for however long, and you mentioned a 41% increase in heavy drinking, that’s five or more drinks at one time. That’s a lot of sugar that your body is becoming dependent upon. When you let that go, how do you replace that? How do you cope with that?

A lot of it is you get through it by getting through it. You do it day by day, and you are right. There’s not going to be a quick fix. What you need to do is say to yourself, “I can get through one day. I can get through one day without sugar,” and set yourself up for success. Don’t go by the crowd. Don’t buy the cookies. It’s easier said than done.

I remember someone saying to me, “It takes a lot of effort to smoke. You’ve got to go to the store. You’ve got to buy the cigarettes. You’ve got to take that cellophane wrap off. You’ve got to open the foil.” There are steps, and even though they may seem like you could do them in two minutes, you are going through lots of steps to satisfy that cigarette craving.

The same with sugar. Some of us will definitely want to replace it with refined sugar. Set yourself up for success, and do not buy refined sugar. Have some fruit. Fruit will satisfy those cravings but it will also have fiber, so it’s not going to be an insulin dump into your system. It will have a low sugar release into your system. We won’t get and tell the details, but have fruit if you are in that position. Set yourself up for success. Drink lots of water. Start to get physically active.

As I said, like you, type-A personalities, chances are you are working out or you are physically active but use it in a different way. Don’t use it to reward yourself to do behaviors that you know are counterproductive. Use physical activity to help you cultivate a mind, body, and spirit approach to your life that’s going to set you up for success, as opposed to how I used to do.

If I work out, then I can eat the pizza. If I work out, then I can have a few glasses of wine. If I work out, I will have the cake. It’s not a thing we do to do something that’s not healthy for us, so changing that whole mindset. The other thing a lot of people do is jump into caffeine. You have to be mindful. That’s why initially when we do our 30-day work together, we are going into being mindful about what we eat in the first week.

People might think that’s counterintuitive. Why are we talking about our eating habits when this is about stopping drinking? A lot of our drinking happens when we are eating and being social. It’s also how you are being mindful of, “What am I putting into my body? How often? When I’m craving something, what am I going for? What am I noticing when I crave, when I want it? What’s that associated with?” It brings up a lot of issues that are married to our drinking habits.

I’ve learned over the years too sugar-craving is protein.

I’m glad you brought that up because everyone reading, if you are craving sugar, that’s actually your body telling you that you need some protein. Whether you get that through animal proteins, you get it through dairy. You get it through nuts or legumes. Take some protein in. If you still find that you are craving sugar, then go for fruit. Go for something healthy that can support you.

If you are craving sugar, that's actually your body telling you, you need some protein. Click To Tweet

I carry nuts everywhere.

I love nuts. Me, too.

I love nuts too. Your book is coming out in October 2023.

Yes.

Tell us about how can we connect with you now and start working on that 10 Day Reset?

The 10-day Reset, you can either go to TheTenDayReset.com or you can go to CarrieSchell.com. It’s available. It’s a free downloadable PDF, so I encourage you to take the challenge and give yourself that opportunity. It will be challenging because if you are a gray drinker, you will begin to realize how it colors most of your life.

Initially, you may need to step back from a dinner party or a lunch. If you know that it’s going to be too challenging, that’s okay. It may be too challenging. Just own it and acknowledge it. I’m not out for dealing with the questions or the BS about people telling me I don’t have a problem. I feel I have a problem. I feel I want to change, and I’m going to do this. If that means stepping back, then step back.

If you feel like, “I’m going to go and tell everyone. I’m doing this because I want to change my relationship with alcohol,” then attend the dinner party and be that person or you don’t have to tell anyone at all. Just have a glass of water with a slice of lime, and there you go. It’s your own personal decision.

Back when I was married, during the holiday dinners, I had to step away from my father-in-law because they always put me next to him, and he drank straight gin like, “I can’t do this.” Take care of yourself and step up and say something. Don’t put it on the other person. Just say, “I’m feeling a little bit uncomfortable about this,” and step away because you are not being offensive. You are taking care of you.

Carrie, thank you. I look forward to getting the book out. I wrote the foreword for this book, so I shared a little bit of my own gray. I might have actually been an alcoholic. I probably was an alcoholic, so I shared a little bit of my story there. Hopefully, it’s helpful for women. One of the things I mentioned, you didn’t get a chance to hear that intro, Carrie, is that for women, alcohol is so much more detrimental to our bodies than it is to men. It raises our risk for a lot of cancer. We have to be careful about what we do.

If you are curious, you can always hop over to The Grey Drinking Reset quiz. We have a little quiz we put together. Answer some questions, and we will send you some feedback. Hopefully, that will help you on this journey. Thank you so much, and thank you for the foreword. It’s beautiful. It’s honest, and women respond to that. In the book, I’ve tried to share my own journaling, so it’s very relatable. Your story is, mine is, and hopefully, we can help lots of women develop healthy relationships.

That sounds good. Thank you so much.

Thank you.

 

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About Carrie Schell

PRP 231 | Grey DrinkingCarrie Schell is on a mission. A mission to help women realize their full potential and that includes giving up alcohol. Carrie has been a health and wellness practitioner for _____ years. Her focus in recent years has been drug and alcohol rehab. During COVID, she saw a disturbing trend of more women drinking.

Drinking affects women differently than men. Due to anatomical differences, women often have higher blood- alcohol levels than men who drink the same amount. Liver damage is more prevalent in women than men and brain function is has a higher rate of cognitive decline. Women also experience a higher instance of heart damage and breast cancer risk than men who drink.

Drinking affects women differently than men. Due to anatomical differences, women often have higher blood- alcohol levels than men who drink the same amount. Liver damage is more prevalent in women than men and brain function is has a higher rate of cognitive decline. Women also experience a higher instance of heart damage and breast cancer risk than men who drink.

Approximately 18% of child- bearing age women (18-44) binge drink. This is called grey drinking. The reasons women drink can run from quelling anxiety to social pressures to drink. For whatever reason a woman drinks too much, Carrie wants to create a space where women can acknowledge that they are grey drinking and stop.

Carrie has worked with many women who realize that there are healthier alternatives to drinking. Yoga, meditation, and journalling are among the top ways that Carrie works with her clients to build healthier routines. Carrie has created The Grey Reset: A 30 Day Journey to Wellness and the corresponding course to support women who understand the damage they are doing to their bodies, relationships, and spiritual growth with their drinking habits.

Part of Carrie’s passion for this project comes from her own experience with alcohol. She describes this in her back cover book copy:

Over the years, I have had many times when I thought that I was drinking too much or that I should really take a break from drinking. I tried several times to stop drinking. I have even gone for a couple weeks or months without drinking (although, even during those times of “not drinking,” I would sneak in a glass of wine here and there and feel super proud of myself that I had such restraint).

But sure enough, while on my self-imposed drinking hiatus, I’d think, “Why am I being so restrictive? I don’t need to be so all-or-nothing about alcohol. I can have a glass of wine with dinner.” Or I’d rationalize my drinking with, “In Europe they have a glass of wine with lunch and dinner. If I were in Europe I wouldn’t even be second guessing how much wine I drink. Our views on alcohol are so uptight in North American.”

So I’d start drinking again.

 

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