Alcohol and Wellness: Is it Cancelling Out Your Hard Work?
Discover the secrets to holistic health and transformative wellness in our latest blog post! Vitaminis founder Leslie had an amazing interview with Katie Tomaszewski, a passionate advocate in these fields. Check out the abbreviated transcript of their conversation for some wellness inspiration!
Katie Tomaszewski: I've always been interested in health, wellness, and fitness. I studied Health Sciences as my undergrad and I intended to work as a registered dietitian. I had my daughter as I was finishing up school so that put a little bit of a pause on moving forward in that direction because it would have required me to travel for a year and do an internship. I started teaching Pilates and I fell in love with the wellness world through Pilates. My undergrad was a little more on the clinical side. This was more of what I think I was hoping to do so I started teaching Pilates for several years and then I started coaching. I started coaching a program called Drynamics after taking a break from Alcotor to grow my business. I was trying to grow in a different direction that people just weren't interested in. They were very interested in me not drinking so I decided to bring a group together and take us on a journey - a 15-week break that first group was 10 groups ago. So we just kept going. It's been a great experience.
I'm very fascinated by the biohacking world and have participated in different biohacking things as a big cold exposure person. That's another form of biohacking but something that I've noticed and this is in my own self as well being super interested and wellness Nutrition Fitness hacking and then also consuming five bottles of wine per week. It's an interesting thing because these practices are first of all time, secondly expensive and then we're going and sort of Interrupting the cellular healing and the optimization that we're doing by taking in this.
When you look at culture, in America. Our culture is marketing. Right? It's what we're being sold and told and we have big alcohol as a multi-billion dollar industry and all the big owners of big alcohol kind of look like the United States Senate. It's a lot of white-haired men and they profit from us drinking. It's just the way that it is and so there's excellent marketing. It's tied into a lot of cultural things and then because we're such a drinking culture here not everyone by the way, it feels like everyone's drinking but really only about 50% of the population really does drink. They're just kind of the dominant cultural influence. When we're drinking we're experiencing all of our exciting moments in life, we're going out in our 20s. We're graduating college. We're getting married and all the while we're holding any amount of alcohol is a Class 1 carcinogen that is neurotoxic. It's kind of like is there a good amount of cigarettes? What's a good amount of arsenic? It just doesn't exist. There are amounts that we can tolerate better and certainly, if we're not using them chronically, if you're having alcohol one unit a month your body's going to manage that differently than if you're having a unit every single day. There's no necessarily healthy or… good amount, but there are certain populations. I would say that we should take a closer look at alcohol use because they're going to be more susceptible to having problems like any family history of cancer in the GI tract, throat, stomach, or colon, rectal alcohol use greatly increases the risk of cancer alcohol use is tied with breast cancer. So any family history of breast cancer, you want to be looking at your alcohol use if you have an autoimmune. We're seeing a lot of these posts also on Long Haul COVID-19 alcohol. The dietitian said the nutritionist is highly inflammatory to the system.
Social media is a very confronting place to be. I would notice if I use alcohol I would try to post something and take it down or I couldn't figure out what to write and it would only happen for that period of time - it's like this is interesting. It's almost like being PMS or something like that like things are going to be different like you're still there. You're living your life. You're doing things but might not be the best day to make big decisions or something like that. So it's not crippling to the end of the Earth. If you're in a constant state of detox, if you're having alcohol, let's say on the weekends, you have a few drinks every weekend you are in a constant state of detox. You do that for 15 years, you start to believe you have an anxiety disorder or you start to believe you're manic depressive or whatever it is. You actually are showing those symptoms, but it's interesting when you take alcohol away.
You're not helping yourself when you have a drink. So what happens when we take the good bugs away is that they're replaced with yeasty bugs. The yeasty bugs are what make us crave Comfort Foods. After you have a big night of drinking you want a burger and waffles like it's never enough. It's based on all the other things you're learning in this Symposium how having a drinking lifestyle is going to make you more likely to have other things in your diet that aren't supporting you having a rich healthy gut as well. So that's the first level but the second one, which is arguably I don't know. A leaky gut, is a very thin cell wall that keeps our inner track of what we're eating and consuming out of our blood system, and alcohol supports those tight junctures at the cells that are holding it together. It creates gaps. So actual particles are coming into your bloodstream causing inflammation, which is the root of all flares and then the other thing that it does is it blocks the absorption of key nutrients.
Leslie Danford: Is there a healthy type of alcohol? I think recently I heard tequila - I don't know. Is there any better version if you are going to consume it?
Katie Tomaszewski: It's funny that you brought up tequila because one of my good friends is a biohacking maniac borderline like you need this is too much like we know the term orthorexic, right? You've heard that before that's when you're obsessed with health. That is unhealthy and I agree. It's not a good place to be. So yes take everything.
The way that you're going to take it and it's a journey and you don't have to be perfect. But what I will say that I don't love is that there's a lot of alcohol on the market that's reporting itself as a healthy alcohol. Sadly. There is no benefit that the drug ethanol that is in alcohol is what's causing all of the issues that I mentioned before so you're not gonna get a beverage without ethanol it's always going to have ethanol. By the way, the same thing is as Rocket Fuel. It's just a very small amount of it.
So what can be healthy though is what's around the ethanol. So if you're drinking, they have the liquor store those bottles of blue cream. Who knows what the heck it is? That's probably less healthy than a Vodka Red Bull and is probably less healthy than let's say just having the spirit straight or having a wine that's been sprayed with less pesticides and things like that like the liquid around the ethanol could be less damaging for you.
If you're somebody who has a beverage or two once a month your body can manage that. If you're somebody who has no problem drinking once a month, you probably don't even drink once a month. You probably drink once a year, most people drink on a regular basis when they drink and that's the issue with alcohol. It's the chronic use of alcohol. It almost goes to that path. It's either one or the other. It's kind of hard to stay in that middle ground. What would be?
Most of the time that I want to drink it's because I'm perceiving that somebody else will be happier. If I drink and I want to make people comfortable and that kind of thing and that's just some, kind of patriarchal garbage that I'm trying not to be a part of.
Leslie Danford: How do you work with clients? Tell us about Drynamics. What kind of people find their way to you? What usually drives somebody to find you and then how do you help them?
Katie Tomaszewski: I'm strong on my choice. I'm not gonna drink tonight or I'm not going to have cake or whatever. The thing is that it's your choice and I don't care what my sister says or my mother or my friend and then you get there, right?
Katie Tomaszewski: You have every good intention, but that one glance in our nervous system is relational. We pick up on stuff before anyone says anything. You see your friend walk in the room, how they feel they don't have to tell you, and so your nervous system picks up on this signal that you're not in. You're not connecting in the way that the community wants you to and that is so disregulating. That is so challenging to face that often. That's the reason that we pick up the drink and are just facing that really challenging moment. So the people that I work with - I should say this is not a recovery program.
Leslie Danford: How do people interact with you over those 30 - 90 days? Is it conversations every day? Emails?
Katie Tomaszewski: While we're all on Zoom and we have three live call times a week. We have a drynamic support group, which is about strategy and the basics of how you get through this. If you've never taken a break from alcohol you need just the nuts and bolts. How do I make it without drinking? Then we have weekly breath-work and meditation group and that's where we also just dig into what's feeling good. Where are your blind spots? What are you realizing? Then you capstone that experience with breath-work in meditation and you're learning a lot of techniques to take with you not just through your drinking journey but through your journey everywhere because the likelihood of you drinking realizing you're drinking is because of people pleasing and not having the skills to stand up to that is probably true in other relationships.
You take skills out with you in the world everywhere and some people go sober, some people come through dynamics and they're like didn't know how good I could feel. It is my goal to get away from alcohol for the next year. Others come and experience it and they get through a transitional space and decide to drink after but they have a different awareness of everything.
Leslie Danford: What have you seen people achieve by making these changes in their lives?Katie Tomaszewski: I mean I've seen people change careers, have babies, and even get through deaths in their family in a completely different way. Dramatic changes. I have one person who joined and I was so nervous because I met her actually at a cold exposure thing and she was kind of bragging about her hangover, which is super common. Right “My God, It was so drunk yesterday and I just stayed under the radar, and we were at a workshop over the weekend.” I came out and said what I do and she got very curious. I was actually very nervous for her to come in because it was like the last day of sign up and I didn't have a lot of time to think about it. We just did a cold exposure workshop. I thought her head was not in the right place - like taking advantage of her and she ended up doing it and she has not had alcohol since. It's been almost two years and it has changed everything in her life. Her partner now doesn't drink like it's contagious. She's completely changed her career. It’s amazing!