Today, we're talking about living an alcohol-free life with Karolina Rzadkowolska, an alcohol-free empowerment expert. We are unpacking the realities and myths around alcohol consumption, its impact on our physical and mental health, and whether it is actually serving you.
You will learn about effective strategies to change drinking habits, cope with social situations, and relieve stress without alcohol. Karolina will help us explore the concept of aligning our lifestyle choices with our personal goals and how giving up alcohol can lead to greater self-discovery and purpose.
Karolina helps intuitive women ditch alcohol and discover their greater purpose. She’s worked with thousands of clients through her programs to transform drinking habits and unlock health, happiness, and potential. She is the bestselling author of the book, Euphoric: Ditch Alcohol and Gain a Happier, More Confident You and her work has been featured in the Huffington Post, The Sunday Post, Popsugar, Real Simple, Elite Daily, and multiple TV shows.
Karolina’s passionate about helping you discover what really makes you happy outside of a beverage and design a life you love.
Click here to apply for coaching!
Today you’ll learn all about:
[2:29] Karolina's journey to an alcohol-free, 'euphoric' life
[9:17] What opened up for Karolina when she became alcohol-free
[14:07] Debunking alcohol health myths and discussing its actual effects
[21:05] Misconceptions about alcohol as a stress reliever; alternative stress relief methods
[27:56] Allan is grateful to Philip for his refreshing approach to nutrition coaching and how it has impacted his fitness
[28:43] Tools and strategies for changing drinking habits
[31:07] Effects of alcohol on fitness goals, hormones, metabolism, gut health
[37:12] Aligning lifestyle choices with personal goals
[45:57] Managing social situations when not drinking
[48:44] Communicating decisions about alcohol to friends, family, or colleagues
[51:58] One question Karolina wished Philip had asked
[52:27] Where listeners can learn more about Karolina and her work
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Is this serving me in my life anymore? You know, maybe it did have a place and a time in my life and college or in my 20s or 30s. But is this really helping me today become the version of myself that I want to become? And there's no better way to discover that than just by experimenting with a break yourself.Philip Pape:
Welcome to the Wits& Weights podcast. I'm your host, Philip pape, and this twice a week podcast is dedicated to helping you achieve physical self mastery by getting stronger. Optimizing your nutrition and upgrading your body composition will uncover science backed strategies for movement, metabolism, muscle and mindset with a skeptical eye on the fitness industry so you can look and feel your absolute best. Let's dive right in. Wits& Weights community Welcome to another episode of the Wits & Weights Podcast. Today we're talking about living an alcohol free life with Karolina John Kowalska an alcohol free empowerment expert. We are unpacking the realities and the myths around alcohol consumption. Its impact on our physical and mental health and whether it's actually serving you, you'll learn about effective strategies for changing your drinking habits. Managing social dynamics when you're not drinking, and exploring alternatives to alcohol for stress relief. Karolina will help us explore the concept of aligning our lifestyle choices with our personal goals and how giving up alcohol can lead to greater self discovery and purpose. Karolina helps intuitive women ditch alcohol and discover their greatest purpose. She's worked with 1000s of clients through her programs to change their drinking habits and unleash a new level of health, happiness and potential to go after their biggest dreams. She's the best selling author of the book euphoric ditch alcohol and gain a happier more confident you. And her work has been featured in the Huffington Post the Sunday post Pop Sugar, real simple, Elite Daily and multiple TV shows. Karolina is passionate about helping you discover what really makes you happy outside of a beverage and design a life you love. She would love to hear from you at euphoric a f.com. There Lena, welcome to the show.Karolina Rzadkowolska:
Thank you for the warm welcome. I'm so excited to be here.Philip Pape:
Yeah, me as well. We were talking before we recorded that this is a kind of a unique topic for me and my audience. Because the only time we usually talk about alcohol is in the context of how many calories they have or like, make sure you track and watch what you drink and maybe alternatives and substitutions. Although we do talk about the mind altering effects that then can lead to other certain decision making. You know, I want to talk about your personal background in this because you wrote that you used to think of alcohol as a ticket to having fun feeling glamorous and a treat I deserved after a long hard day, which I think many people can relate to that statement. So what was the turning point for you when you realize alcohol is not serving you anymore?Karolina Rzadkowolska:
Absolutely. And I love to talk to health conscious people because it's oftentimes that one incongruency right, we can do everything healthy and an alcohol just gets this pass. And I you know, found myself there and to my mid 30s I had partied very hard when I was in college. So that's kind of where I picked it up. Right I picked up drinking as a habit. But you know does almost doesn't matter what you do or where you are every adult at some point, for the most part picks up drinking into their habits, whether it's at work or through college or high school or whatnot. Anyway, I was so overpowering, then over drinking then. But as I grew up, I got more into health and mindfulness. And so drinking became something I compartmentalize. So I would do all the healthy things all week I would you know, drink my green juices go to yoga classes eat adjustables try to read at night. But alcohol still played a very heavy role every weekend where basically I thought I was unwinding. I thought I was letting off some steam hanging out with friends socializing. Yeah, every single Monday morning, I woke up feeling like a shell of myself. I felt like I made progress during my healthy week and then took five steps backward every single weekend. I felt lower mentally, emotionally, I felt like this depression, I felt not very motivated to go after my goals. And I just thought that I had to get stricter and stricter with how much I was drinking. So I was on this constant quest to drink less. And I had a lot of lot of rules around that. And this cycle repeats itself for over seven to eight years of just living in this like constant I want to drink less. I want to be healthier, and yet somehow this thing keeps happening to me every weekend. I was tired of it. Honestly, my drinking wasn't what you would call traditionally problematic with a rock bottom story. I literally was drinking lessons I was in college, but it was still because I was so aligned with a healthy lifestyle. And as I got older one or two drinks would literally give me a hangover or a headache that next day it's like it didn't even matter how little I drank. I still felt worse for where the next day. And I think that's something that we don't often admit to ourselves like nobody actually wakes up the next day after drinking feeling like a million dollars. Right like alcohol has certain biological and toxic properties that our body has to detox and absorb and process through And it changes how we feel the next day. And I wasn't like I was feeling that, but I just didn't think any other people were I thought I was just someone who just couldn't figure out this alcohol thing in my life. And finally, I heard of dry January. And to me that was like this release and this permission that I finally gave myself to explore what a break from alcohol could do. Because this whole drinking less wasn't working, it was still giving me so much strain and stress, so much mental gymnastics, you know, like, what's the rule today? You know, how am I going to let myself down when I actually do break it nine times out of 10. But dry January was like this, okay, I can actually just get some space away from alcohol. And I never thought I could do that before. Because it always seemed like there was the social pressure to drink, you know? And it's like, well, what are you going to say to people, if you're not going to drink, you know, don't interact, admit that I have a problem, but start going to these meetings. And so I kept, like, putting it off putting it off thinking I wasn't allowed to really do it until I heard of dry January. And that was like the first time I could publicly just be like, Hey, I'm doing this and taking a break from alcohol. And it allowed me to fall in love with a completely new lifestyle. You know, every single morning, I woke up with so much more energy, so much deeper sleep, I mean, asleep got so much better was incredible. I also started waking up feeling so much more proud of myself so much more self love, where the decisions I made the day before were setting me up to succeed the next day. And not like I was five steps behind, right, I was waking up on the right side of the bed, instead of the wrong side of the bed, I started to cultivate new discoveries into what made me happy. And I noticed that my mood was actually really elevating just naturally, I was enjoying hiking more and just being with family and friends, like my mood was going up. And February comes along. And I don't yet believe that I'm allowed to remain a person who doesn't drink like I've just like, well, socially, people are going to expect it. So I drink a few times in February. And the contrast is so big, you know, wandering for drinks completely ruins my sleep. But what I really noticed is how much it ruins my mood. I literally have a drink or two. And then an hour later, my get frustrated, cranky, I'm picking fights with my husband. And that was like the wake up call I really needed because to me, I thought I was drinking to have fun. I thought I was drinking for the pleasurable quality, I thought I was doing it to elevate my mood. And when I saw so starkly that it was literally ruining my mood. And I was so much happier in January without it. That's when my mindset really shifted. So I committed to another break at that point, which actually turned into five plus years later that I'm here at today that I remain a non drinker. And everything in my life has snowballed and changed so much not only did my physical health change my emotional health, my spiritual health, but I also recognize why I was really drinking like the existential reason, I couldn't wait for the weekend, every week, my job couldn't go fast enough in order to get off and I couldn't wait to finally unwind with some alcohol. And I didn't realize how unfulfilled I was with my work week. And so instead of putting up with that, and using alcohol to numb that I literally changed everything, I decided to launch a business and to leave my day job and to do what I'm so passionate about. So I feel fulfillment every single day. And so instead of that immediate gratification, I was going for at the end of a workday or the end of the Friday or whatever I now feel that like long term fulfillment on a daily basis, which is what I'm so passionate about sharing people.Philip Pape:
I mean, you you've sold me just with your story. That's such, and you've answered all my questions already. But no, not really. I love so many of the parallels here. There's definitely parallels with other things that are people find triggering to them, whether it's food or something else that that kind of is tied into something else that we're covering up. And you mentioned, you didn't have to go through this rock bottom to get there unnecessarily. But I like that you did the experiment with the dry January that gave you the contrast. Because what sticks out to me is the the need for community here oftentimes, right, the relatedness to other people that there's such peer pressure, if you want to call it with with alcohol, whereas other things like foods, I don't know candy, for example, if you want to stop eating, can you know he's gonna get on you for that, right? But it's like, Oh, you don't drink? Why not? Right? Like, I bet you get that question a lot. So some things you said about compartmentalizing it. And I don't know if you use the word but I'm using the word rationalizing, right we do that lying to ourselves. Let's admit that. The interesting thing is, I know what you're saying as far as the symptoms, and I think everyone has different versions of those, right? Like, I know that if I had surgery recently, I couldn't drink for like two weeks. I occasion we'll have one drink a week, but just even not having had it at all. You could see the differences. Even though I'm dealing with all this other stuff. You could just sense this greater sense of clarity and other symptoms that mysteriously go away. Okay, so I want to focus on the positive first and then get into some of the other things you mentioned. Because by removing something that that's fine, you've now added in opportunities to your life, right? What opened up for you now that you became alcohol free?Karolina Rzadkowolska:
Yeah, so sure, great question. Um, you know, I was So living in such a place of mediocrity before, and all of that was just fine. Like, I was living a just fine life. I had my job. I had my marriage. I had my, you know, vacations twice, once a year for two weeks, right? And I really didn't believe that I was allowed to paint outside of those lines. And I think going alcohol free was like, first it was just the little things like, Okay, I'm not drinking this Friday. So what do I do on a Friday night, you know, like, I literally drink every weekend for a decade, like, you know, that was my source of fun. And so I had to kind of rediscover what pleasure and fun looked like in my life. So I started exploring new activities, I started going out and doing things I wouldn't normally do. I did paddleboard yoga, I went to writers workshops, I went to Zumba classes, just totally getting outside of my comfort zone. And I think that really brought me in touch with all the mental time and energy you also released from not drinking alcohol started really getting me in touch with my deeper creativity, my deeper intuition and my deeper passions. And when I really got so strongly motivated to recognize how incredibly life changing was to change my relationship with alcohol, I knew I wanted to share it with other people. And the past, though alcohol and just my past, limiting beliefs would have told me you're not an entrepreneur, you can never write a book. In fact, I had tried to write a book for over a decade, I used to write a lot when I was a kid and adolescent, I would write little poems, short stories, journal a lot. And as soon as I start drinking in college, my writing just completely dries up. But the desire to write doesn't go away. So I keep having these new year's resolutions every year. This is the year I'm going to write a book, right? I've always wanted to be an author. And I would write maybe the first week of January, and then it was completely like strapped to the side. And I never worked on it. Alcohol didn't give me the creativity or the discipline. In order to do that, it was so much easier to open a bottle of wine than write the next great American novel, right. And so I continued to choose what was easy and my comfort zone over and over and over instead of pushing myself. So just allowing myself to push myself outside of my comfort zone, find these new senses of creativity and passion, but also kind of change some of these limiting stories because I never thought I would be happy without alcohol. I kept telling myself a story. That's not like I needed it, like I was dependent on it in some kind of addictive or biochemical way. But that like I just it, it brings pleasure to my life. It's fun, I'm never gonna have fun without it. And that limiting story made me feel so stuck. And so I never thought I would be so happy without alcohol. But I was. And so I was like, Well wait a minute, maybe some of those other stories. I'm telling myself like, I couldn't be an entrepreneur or I couldn't quit my job, or I couldn't write a book or also be yes. So started expanding my sense of possibility so much. And I just got such a fire of confidence. Courage, like we just talked about, everyone really assumes you're going to drink and most people do drink. And so when you go alcohol free, you build your courage muscle like no other just the simple fact of saying no, thank you, or explaining it to people or whatever, like you're the odd one out in that moment. And that courage muscle that you're building, to align your life, to your values to what works for your well being and not just doing what you know, other people are doing to try to fit in or to please anyone else. It builds so much strength and courage within yourself. And so I think it's like this confluence of gifts that you get when you go alcohol free. Not only do you get that clarity, do you get that time and energy back, I got that confidence, that courage that also rediscovery of what my real passions were, instead of just outsourcing fun to a beverage. And I just got so excited to say like, why couldn't I go after my dream life. And my story is not an anomaly. Most of the clients I work with, and a lot of women I've heard from who've just read my book and stuff, they ditch alcohol, and it's like that fire within them is completely ignited to go after their deeper passions. I know people who've written books themselves, launch, businesses started nonprofits move somewhere beautiful, because they've always wanted to live there. It's just an incredible way of activating that deeper desire within what we want. Instead of settling for the status quo that we have.Philip Pape:
I love the vision and the dream you paint, which is where I wanted to go first because then we kind of reverse engineer back to it. And I'm gonna ask a little bit about science along the way, if it's something you want to get into, but you talked about the courage, muscle, unlocking the fire, having time, energy, clarity, all of these things, which is amazing. And I wonder if some people are listening thinking, Hmm, is that the thing that is that what at least one of the things in my life besides others, they may be aware of? That if I just stopped as an experiment to see what would happen, would all of a sudden unlock? Why do you think that is? So that's the big question is, I guess, physiologically or otherwise, because you said you weren't really addicted or it wasn't a dependence. Is that true? Really, or maybe you were a little bit?Karolina Rzadkowolska:
I will definitely argue for emotional dependence. And I will say that most people in my study also have that same emotional dependence. Right. And I think most of us are kind of brainwashed into having an alcohol regularly in our lives, you know, and usually it's a lot more than just the one drink a week like it is for you. Right? It's like a few drinks on Friday, Saturday, Sunday time. thing. So that emotional like I outsource so much alcohol, I also grew up really shy and I'm introverted. So to me alcohol was the secret to confidence and being able to socialize with people. So there's a lot of things I outsource to alcohol that emotional way. And that's what I love doing with my clients is that a lot of times it isn't this deep, like I'm talking addiction as in like, if you remove alcohol, the person is gonna get sick, right? You're gonna need to go to the hospital. What it's emotional, though, it's all these just mindset associations we've formed over time. And all of those can be broken. All of those can be reframed and rewired into something different. And when someone finally feels for example, competent on their own to socialize, and they don't need a drink, what a powerhouse they've just unlocked. You know what I mean? But going back to your question about the science, why do I think this is so one really big reason is literally what alcohol does to our neuro chemistry. And I didn't know any of this when I was drinking. So it's just was a huge mind, you know, mind blown kind of moment when I started learning more about it, but I could, once I knew about it, see it when I like reflected back on drinking. So first of all, Alcohol is a depressant, it will slow down our central nervous system, and really kind of slow down ourselves and our processing and stuff. And some people obviously enjoy that kind of numbing effect that happens when alcohol is in the way. But what happens that I didn't know is that our body is a miracle, right? We have these counteractive systems in our body. And so when this depressant is introduced, the body actually knows to release stimulants in response to it. And so the body releases cortisol, adrenaline and dine orphan dine orphan, something that is basically the opposite of endorphins, it makes us feel very low and depressed. In response to alcohol. Most of the time this is released about or maybe like, you'll feel it once the alcohol effect wears off. So it just depends on how much you drink. If you drink just one drink, you'll probably feel it like an hour later. If you drink all night, though, you might feel it in the morning, right? If you wake up at 4am. Like with a jolt, like how many people have had that kind of wake up call after drinking. It's literally like cortisol has just been totally released in your brain in your body. You might feel it the next day by just having anxiety or just being overly worried and just feeling just kind of behind on things as well. And these what's really interesting about these stress hormones is that while alcohol, the actual, you know, toxin of ethanol can be processed in our body quite fast or not quite fast, but depends on how old you are. Within a you know, a day or two new stress hormones can actually live in our body a lot longer. So when I was drinking every weekend, but like not drinking during the week, I actually was never experiencing my true mental state, I was always at the effect of those stress hormones like circulating my body for longer. So we have the heightened stress hormones when we're drinking but then also what alcohol does is lower a lot of our happiness neurotransmitters. So our GABA, serotonin and dopamine go down. In fact, because alcohol does this high spike of dopamine in the brain, our brain is like this is a natural, right. So over time, it actually actually retracts the receptors that catch dopamine. So people who drink regularly have lower levels of dopamine, serotonin and GABA in their brains. Again, this is just all the time, not just the second after drinking or anything like that. So you have the heightened stress hormones, the lowered happiness neurotransmitters. And to me what that looked like in my life was just apathy. Like on a general day of the week, I just felt apathetic, pretty bored, a little stress, like that was just my feeling right. And then on a Friday, I could get excited to have a drink to have that one little spike of dopamine I was so looking forward to when I ditched alcohol and allowed my neuro chemistry to rebalance, I noticed the stress hormones start to go down, those neurotransmitters start to go up and the littlest things start to make me feel so much more joy and happiness. They even have a word for it called the pink cloud. Now that intense search and the intensity of that might wane a little as you get used to it. But like the feelings I have just wellbeing and joy are so much heightened as a non drinker than as a drinker. So I think that's a huge component to it. When we look at the science, there's a lot more obviously, we know good sleep I know for anyone interested in health is so important. Just one glass of wine has been proven to reduce our REM sleep cycles from around the five to six tonight, we could get down to just one or two. I didn't know that either. Right. So here I am. I'm a pretty big sleep fanatic. I was always making sure to clock in those eight hours. I was getting the eight hours but my sleep was so fragmented, so poor the quality that it didn't understand how why I was so exhausted why I was always feeling so lethargic and stuff. And there's all these things that happen on a biological level. Like we could probably write a whole book just about that on alcohol of what it's doing. You know, it's it's a toxin, your body has to work overtime to process it's also slowing down your metabolism at that same time because it has to process alcohol first. So all the things we ate that day aren't getting processed because we have to probably can't store alcohol on the body like that. So there's so much going on, I think on a biological neurochemical level, even molecularly they've tied anxiety to an alcohol in our cells molecularly and it's so Interesting that we're learning more and more about this. And so it just starts to, you know, really get the questioning not to say that everyone's got to quit drinking, and it's this horrible thing. But it kind of allows us to have permission to not have to have the rock bottom or severe, severe problem to just be like, wait a minute, is this serving me and my life anymore? You know, maybe it did have a place and a time in my life and college or in my 20s or 30s. But is this really helping me today become the version of myself that I want to become? And there's no better way to discover that than just by experimenting with a break yourself?Philip Pape:
So much in there. That was just that was a way more comprehensive answer than I expected. And I love that because I immediately slipped my mind merely started going to the spiraling right everything we do spirals into other things in our life, both positively and negatively. And for those listening who care about body composition, health, emotional health, mental health, everything, just imagine, think of what Karolina talked about when you're messing with your, you know, cortisol, your adrenaline, when these hormonal effects lasts for days beyond the drinking, I mean, think about that, right? Most things are short term days beyond the drinking, it is true that alcohol gets processed first. So now you're blunting the benefits you're getting from all your protein that you're trying to consume for your you know, diet, and then the apathy and the poor sleep and we know that poor sleep causes a slower metabolism and causes greater hunger and that also leads to ill health effects. So at the end of the day, my question for for people listening, and this is for you, as well you get this a lot. Karolina is why what rationalizations remain? And how do we attack those because I hear a couple right? One is that there are so called benefits of alcohol, whether it's the resveratrol and red wine, you know, antioxidants, all this and I used to believe those as well. I used to have my red wine every day with dinner, and I was never a big drinker, like you would still, frequency wise it was enough. And now I understand that there are really no upsides at all. According to the evidence, there's really no upside to alcohol. And so that's one rationalization the other is stress relief, right? Like, I've had clients who were trying to eliminate calories or trying to clean things up. And it's like, well, I have to have the alcohol will really do you is it a non negotiable for and then they get rid of it? And all of a sudden, oh, my goodness, everything else got easier? I wonder why. So talk about all of those remaining rationalizations and how we can dispel those, and then we can move to like, Alright, what do we do now?Karolina Rzadkowolska:
Yeah, and there's that social element too, right? So there's that belief that we have to be drinkers. So you know, with the with the first one, the health benefits, you know, honestly, we were kind of duped. And it has a really similar history to like what happened with cigarettes. In the last like five to seven to even 10 years or so there's just been so many conclusive studies that show there is no health effect of alcohol, and any previous health effects that were tied were done by flawed studies. And so once you kind of weed those out and clean up that data, there's just there is only life loss, only degenerative diseases, only more risk for cancer and cardiovascular, you'd have to drink drink, I think 18 bottles of wine to get any of that reservatrol antioxidant effects that you want, right? And they actually can pinpoint it, there was a doctor back in 1991, who was the first person to say that alcohol is good for your heart. And that is literally you could look and go back and see that in 80s. More Americans drink soda with dinner than wine, which obviously soda isn't the best either. But you know, it's just so interesting to see, compared to this huge consumption level, that's changed in the last 30 years, because alcohol essentially became a health beverage, right. And so I think that is really, really just a good, not just a wake up call, but like, we can drink, we can have alcohol, you can have all the things in your life that might not be so good for you. But we need to know we need to be a form what that's doing to us. And so I think, to call alcohol health beverage for so long, and to say so many benefits, and this and this and this, that was wrong. And thank God, now we're getting the new information. And then people can choose what they want to from that, for example, Canada just lowered its drinking limits to literally zero or if you want to, you know, have a little risk, it's two drinks a week. I mean, think how different that is from you know, what we were saying seven or even 14 drinks a week, like that is a lot of alcohol in the system, especially for a woman Anything over that seven drinks is actually considered heavy, risky drinking. So obviously, we have those studies and that you know that that's a that's a learning curve, because for so long, we've been taught that it is good for us or so. So there's a lot of you can research, you know, for women, especially the breast cancer risk goes up by 15% by just drinking two drinks a week. And you know, for me that two drinks a week would have been nothing, right. So it's like, what's the point? And then you mentioned obviously, distressed response. So this is obviously a big one, you know, it actually becomes a habit where our brain literally gets the cue of, Okay, it's time to drink. And we understand that there's going to be this reward of that stress release, and you know, becomes a ritual in our lives. I actually think the ritual is beautiful in the sense that we work all day we're so productive. We're always on we're taking care of all the things we have so many responsibilities, and you get home and you pour a glass and you finally allow it all to melt away. And just to relax, I think that is actually beautiful. It's just the ethanol in that drink isn't really relaxing you like you think they once did that study. So we talked about the cortisol earlier, but they once did this study, where they put brain notes on people who just left work. And so everyone's a little stressed out, they're able to see their brainwaves. It's all a little wonky. And they go to a bar restaurant, and everybody orders a drink. And all of a sudden the brainwaves relax, they're nice and smooth. And the kicker here is, is that nobody actually received and drink thePhilip Pape:
drug, they just ordered it got it. Right.Karolina Rzadkowolska:
Like, we can see the power of habit and the power of ritual on our brain to anticipate that relaxation. And honestly, one of the easiest ways to make a switch in order to still have the ritual without the negative side effects is mocktails, and alcohol free beverages. There's so many on the market these days, there's ones made, especially for people who are health conscious or athletic, like athletic brewing, for example, that literally have the same taste and or quality of an adult beverage, but don't have any of the ethanol or negative side effects. And I have to say that like most people find that that placebo effect like that works like a charm. And it also really helps in the social occasions, because you know, we do have this huge ritual around drinking, we come together at birthday parties at weddings at funerals, I mean, literally any Wednesday of the week, for game night, whatever it is, alcohol is going to be around. And it's like, you know, you mentioned earlier with someone care if you stop eating candy, you know, hopefully not. But for some reason, we're so fixated about what's in our cup, you know, and I think that like we can kind of start tearing that pressure down. And by having a more inclusive society where alcohol free drinks are to be more normalized. Okay, you have the beer in your cup, I have the alcohol free beer, who cares, right? We're all socializing. We're all bonding. And so I think that's also a really beautiful way not only to get that stress relief, there's so many other ways, obviously, you know, we can incorporate some more you in yoga, or some breath work or meditation, or my favorite is just taking a walk at sunset, because it doesn't matter what problems I have in my life. Like that all seems super petty when I'm watching the beautiful, like grandeur of the universe explode in front of me during a sunset. So there's obviously a lot of other structural release techniques. But we have to be willing to experiment, you know, we have to be willing to ask ourselves, What if alcohol actually isn't the best way to decompress my body? Because it's not doing that on a biological level whatsoever? What if I try these other things while I take a break and kind of learn and go from there, and then that social element to you know, I think we just the more people who are starting to not stand up and say alcohol is bad, but just to encourage a world where not everybody has to drink at every occasion where it's perfectly okay to choose the alcohol free option. We're starting to change that expectation too. And you know, it starts one person at a time it starts with a ripple effect. You know, like I had a friend group that would totally question why someone wasn't drinking a few years ago, no one would do that my friend group now everyone's kind of aware enough to say everyone can choose their own way.Unknown:
Hi, this is Al and I just want to give a shout out to Philip Pape Wits & Weights for his nutritional coaching. His coaching is based upon science research, intellect and wisdom. His coaching is safe, supportive, connecting and it actually has helped reset my compass in terms of how I direct my health, the action steps I do and really really has helped me regain trust and belief in what my body can do and how my body can change.Philip Pape:
I tell you after this interview I am definitely going to be talking more about this on this platform and others because I do think it's really important as a health issue as well as a social issue and I know what you're talking about with rituals when I'm when I'm in a fat loss phase I cut out alcohol together anyway just because I don't want the wasted calories so to speak. And I will actually have a diet Root Beer sometimes in the evening as like my go to because it has that flavor and yeah it's soda but it's not it's fine because it's not alcohol and I get that it basically replaces it without any harm my wife's not much of a drinker so it's I kind of don't have that pressure when I when we go to like family dinners or whatnot. But I found that Guinness alcohol free Guinness is delicious right and like it used to be the old duels as the only option so we because what came to mind earlier for at least a lot of men and maybe I'm stereotyping is like the craft beer industry and the the distilleries and all that have become really sophisticated and cool now right you see it in the marketing it's a big piece of of the modern man he did all that kind of idea. So even for men and women mocktails and new drinks are a great option. What are what are your favorites for those like what is their present a particular recommendations you have when people do that when they go out to just a random restaurant with friends?Karolina Rzadkowolska:
Yeah, so someone's health conscious. You know, almost all of the alcohol free beers are like once you remove alcohol, this calorie counts go down so low they even have like 10 Calorie IPAs and zero calorie alcohol free beers as well. So it's just incredible. But for the beers like you know, I thought like growing is a great one groovy in Denver is a great one. What is it called BrewDog is a good one as well. And it's just really exciting. I think what happens is that there's so much in the space, like every month, a new drink company comes out. So to me, I used to I lived in San Diego for a long time, I was so wrapped up in that craft beer culture and the wine culture as well. And to me, like part of the fun is the discovery, the experimentation exploring different options. And I think there's more happening in the alcohol free space than in the alcohol space. So if like, you'd like to try new drinks and see what's new on the market and stuff, you're gonna have a lot of fun, and you're not going to run out of drinks to try in this new arena. Wild as I think is also really great. That is an alcohol free wine that doesn't add back sugar or any juice. So it's also super low calorie, and it's not overly sweet, which I love as well. So that's a really great option.Philip Pape:
If you said, Well, I know what you like that one.Karolina Rzadkowolska:
We also have, you know, just new drinks that aren't trying to be you know, an alcohol free substitute. But like these nootropics or adaptogen drinks, like you Forex for example. And I also say to like just go to your health food store, like there's literally hundreds and 1000s of drinks on the market that aren't, you know, that have some kind of more health quality that aren't alcohol. And that ritual really takes care of that like that.Philip Pape:
So you mentioned nootropics. So you mean there's like ashwagandha drinks you can buy and things like that? Oh, yeah, I'm not even aware of that. I shouldn't be as a nutrition person. But I just, it's just been kind of a, I think this is probably true for a lot of people correct me if I'm wrong, it's almost like a non existent space in your brain because you drink like you're not looking for the alcohol free stuff. So you don't realize this whole world out there. But I imagine it does take a lot of innovation to come up with something that's tolerable and tasty. At least that's the assumption right? In that space. Yeah, IKarolina Rzadkowolska:
mean, there's a lot of innovation happening. And a lot of like the beer they say is almost like on par to par, the wine industry is still working on, like really making it better. But it's really exciting to see everything that's coming out in the last few years or so and exploding. And I think really changing the younger generations perceptions as for alcohol as well, which is pretty amazing.Philip Pape:
Now, do you get we touched a little bit on the health effects? Do you get into some of the more details behind alcohol and its effect on fitness outcomes at all, like fat loss, muscle gain, athletic performance and things like that?Karolina Rzadkowolska:
Yeah, absolutely. So first of all, like I, I will just tell you my personal story, I was a ballerina growing up. So I always had a smaller frame and was athletic or so. And then I went to college, and I can I started you know, drinking a lot and eating things like pizza rolls. And I was wondering, by the time I was 21, why I like literally inflated, like, lots of lots of pounds. And so ever since that, that age 22 Or so I literally was on this quest to lose weight. And so literally the whole decade of my 20s I was spending, I would try all the diets, I would try cutting this out doing that, you know, and nothing really seemed to budge, or at least it was a lot of hard work if it did even a little. And so then I ditch alcohol and immediately lose like a few handfuls of pounds just effortlessly. I'm like what, like I was trying so hard to happen here. And that's what really caused me to look into it. So there's a lot of factors, obviously, we understand the calories, everyone understands that you're, you're drinking the calories. And I got that too. But here's some of those secret things that I didn't know about. So first of all, alcohol increases our appetite actually signals to the brain to numb that signal that tells us we're full. So you know when you're having a few drinks and you're munching on some pretzels are you craving that fast food, you know, it actually signals that you're to the brain you're not full keep eating and also increases your hunger levels because it depletes our nutrients. So I don't know about you, but I don't eat kale for the taste for me. It's because I'm trying to absorb those healthy nutrients. And alcohol actually blocks our absorption of almost every vitamin and most minerals too, meaning they're just getting flushed out of our body and not absorbed. That also makes us hungrier, right. So it does, its blocking that we just touched upon it earlier. But because our body can't store alcohol, it means it's one of the first macronutrients that has to be processed. So because your body's focused on processing alcohol, the fat, the protein, the carbs, they're getting saved for later, which could be in a muffin top right. And that's because it was like that, like typical habit. You know, this is what I was adding to my week of trying to be healthy. But this like Boulder, I was literally pushing up hill every week what was happening. Alcohol also really affects our aerobic fitness. So it increases our heart rate but without any related physical exertion. So it actually makes the heart have to work harder to pump the oxygen through the blood and increases heart rate blood pressure and the inflammation I believe does increase cholesterol, because when you remove alcohol studies have proven that cholesterol does go down. Mine went down by 50 points. So aerobic fitnessPhilip Pape:
was just a short the heart rate. Those are longer term. It's kind of a cumulative thing or will you see an immediate impact like the next day?Karolina Rzadkowolska:
You will definitely if you have like an aura ring or some kind of other tracker you'll definitely See your heart rate up immediately. And obviously to in the long term as well, it's just like it habitually raises in stuff. And so the aerobic fitness goes down, you're not able to do your best, you know, PRs or runs because your heart literally isn't as efficient into pumping that blood and having that lower resting heart rate. And then it also decreases our testosterone and increases our estrogen. So for any kind of muscle building, or muscle protein synthesis, it's depleting that testosterone that we need to gain that muscle. So those are just some of the things that I was like, Whoa, I had no idea all that was happening. No wonder it was an uphill battle to try to get fit when I was still drinking. And you know, the thing is, is like, we can just ask ourselves, you know, for someone who has more than one than they have two, or three or four, are they really that motivated to do all their health and fitness goals the next day, and if they are, are they almost doing it out of a punishment and a very negative energy, right, because I remember going to that hot yoga class to thinking I needed to sweat out those toxins and having just the worst headache and pain because I put myself through that. So it's just amazing to see both intuitively but also the science underneath it. Like it's so much easier to live a healthy lifestyle when alcohol is not in the picture. And I think just waking up every day in a better mood from both the neurochemical level, the sleep, being fantastic, all those things, it just sets us up to also then do the habits and the practices and the routines that instill a healthier lifestyle.Philip Pape:
I agree. And it's not like you need alcohol, see, I mean, you need food, you need food. And so it limits not limits you but you know, you have to choose from within that choice set. It's funny, MIT talk about how it makes you feel the morning, because if I drink during the week, and and by the way, I'm probably going to start just drinking less, if at all, based on talking to you. So this is fantastic. If I drink during the week, it's the day before my recovery day, right? So it doesn't interfere with my lifting. And I'll even advise clients to have to drink like to time it in that way. Which which logically means I know there's a negative effect. And we all know there's negative effects, you know, just intuitively, but it's it's great to hear it viscerally explain like that, that it affects appetite, hunger management, deplete your nutrients, you know, and then raises all these blood markers, because that is counterintuitive to what we're trying to do here. So, okay, then we talked about stress we talked about, you know why it's not truly a stress management tool. How about when you work with clients, when we work with primarily women right to change their relationship with alcohol helped them understand why it does or doesn't, why it doesn't serve their goals? What does that process look like?Karolina Rzadkowolska:
Absolutely. So, you know, first having that awareness that like that, that possibility, yeah. And I think that that's where I was living for a long time was that possibility that life would be better without alcohol, but like this, how do I ever make that a reality like everyone drinks, it's just part of the social fabric and all those kinds of things. So just imagining I mean, I remember imagining what it would be like to be a Buddhist monk. Why? Because like, this Buddhist monk wasn't drinking, he was spending time and contemplation and meditation, like he was just living these healthy rituals every day. And I fantasized about that because it was so far removed from my like, social life or just a normal Western social life. Because I didn't think I could live this healthy lifestyle and, you know, really have boundaries around drinking, unless I was like, you know, living this kind of fantasy. So if anyone ever yearns for that kind of healthier lifestyle, that's already kind of a clue that, you know, maybe that alcohol is playing into those negative side effects and just, you know, lowering your mood, and so forth. And the thing is, is that we have to recognize if you look at it from a really objective level, like imagine I'm an alien, I just come to this planet, I'm learning about our practices. I noticed that, okay, these teenagers, they're maybe 1718 21, whatever they're getting, like this rite of passage around alcohol, right? Like, they, these adolescents, they don't drink. But then as these teenagers come in, they drink and alcohol is positioned as this tool to be cooler and more rebellious and independent act like an adult. And then it's ingrained into the social fabric, every single event for the rest of their lives. Like what a sneaky marketing ploy on the alcohol industry. It's like this rite of passage, we get into it, and we have the habit for the rest of our lives. And so it's just kind of like, so fascinating to question that to question what is the role of the alcohol industry? What is the role, like, Who benefits when all these people on this planet are drinking? And what beliefs have I come to have in my life, whether I got them from my own experiences, whether I got them from TV, I mean, you can put on any TV show marketing to teenagers and they'll be so much alcohol and that show, whether I saw it on Sex in the City or in James Bond movies, what like the least have I absorbed the alcohol either gives me benefits, pleasure or comfort, or gives me some kind of status to right because there's that rule, I'm the fine wine connoisseur, I know my varietals, right, that's status. We're looking for an alcohol that has nothing to do with alcohol itself. So we get these beliefs that really we formed over time about what alcohol does for us and the positive and how I work with women is to help them change those beliefs. help them actually mine them and debunk them and discover that alcohol is not serving any of those things that you think it's doing. And let's find your own power to feel the feelings you want to feel. I always say it's not the drink someone wants, it's the feeling they believe a drink will give them. So how can we achieve that feeling without the drink and give the power back to the person. So for example, I mean, just make it super clear, because I know this is a little nebulous. i At first started drinking, because I thought it made me more confident, super introverted and shy, I was growing up, and then I start drinking alcohol and oh my god, it's this magical elixir. Now I'm an extrovert. Now I'm the life of the party. Now I can make friends so easily. And so in my mind, slowly, maybe not consciously, but subconsciously, I attained this belief that alcohol makes me more confident. And I believe that so strongly, like I don't like going to an event and without a drink, you know, I look for the first drink I can get, I continue to reinforce it that I need alcohol to be confident. The thing is, is that it's not making me more confident over time. It's actually deteriorating my confidence. So first of all, there's actually times I've embarrassed myself on alcohol, right. And there's just the little things like having wine stains on your teeth, or seeing something a little out of character are just waking up a shame the next day of drinking a little too much than you want it to. But there's also this other subconscious phenomenon of every single time I reach for a drink when I'm socializing. To be more confident. I'm telling my subconscious, Karolina, you're not interesting. Nobody wants to talk to you, I have nothing good to say, but here, have this drink, and you'll be so much better. And just telling myself that I'm not worthy as myself as I am. And so by the time I'm 31, I'm reevaluating the relationship I have with alcohol, my confidence is so low alcohol never was raising it over time, right? It was this little bandaid that just really didn't work. And I have to really kind of nixed this belief that alcohol makes me more confident it actually makes me insecure. It's lowered my self esteem over time, it's maybe not be able to trust myself completely. And so yes, do I have to work on confidence is this a new skill that I have to build in my alcohol free lifestyle? Sure, because I never practiced it before. A lot of people who drink regularly, literally haven't practiced socializing without alcohol, ever, unless it's like at work or something, you know, because it's just so instilled into us. So I learned to practice it, I learned to put myself out there, I gained the competence first to just get comfortable in my skin. And recognize I don't need a drink to be confident, that's something I can build within myself. So now, instead of telling my subconscious, I need something outside of me, in order to feel confident, I have now built that within myself and feel so much more strong and self love. Because of that. I've nixed that belief out of my subconscious. And now I believe something completely different. Alcohol was making me insecure, it's only myself that will make me feel more confident. Now we probably have like 20 to 30, big beliefs like that in our subconscious around alcohol. So each one of them needs that kind of a process to change the mindset. But here's what's brilliant about it is that once you completely change those beliefs and that mindset, the desire goes away. Because if you subconsciously don't believe there's any benefit, or comfort or pleasure, or whatever you were attaching to alcohol in the positive, this of the desire goes away. I mean, I used to smoke cigarettes in college, as a lot of people do. You couldn't pay me today smoke a cigarette, like That's gross, right. And that's almost a kind of feeling we can get to with alcohol. If we do this mindset process of it's not something you can't have or aren't allowed to have. It's something you don't want.Philip Pape:
Yeah, there's a lot there to that there's a lot of reframing going on, which I love. And one of the parent maybe a parallel to that is how, when someone starts to change up the way the for their goals, let's say it's more protein, and you know more vegetables, because they need the fiber and so on, they're not cutting things out. They're just adding things in, you know, to the positive. And all of a sudden, they realize their body feels great. And they realize it was because you know, once they start reintroducing these things that they've cut out inadvertently, that it starts to make them feel this way again, and they don't need them anymore. When he talks about the 20 big ideas or 20, big social constructs. Where does that come from? First of all, is this. Is this just your own list you've developed over time? Or is it based on some research or evidence? And then I'm assuming not everybody has issues with every all 20? Or do they? You know, is it usually a few that you want to prioritize or target?Karolina Rzadkowolska:
Absolutely super unique to people. And these are just like the most common ones I've heard. I've heard time and time and time and time again. So number one is like alcohol relaxes me, right? And not only do we because we think it happens through our personal experience, but we have advertisements and all this stuff telling us to pour a glass after you know worker so you know and then there's so many other ones like normal adults must drink or I would be a problem. If I didn't drink like I would be labeled with a problem. All the way to alcohol makes vacations more fun or alcohol makes Friday nights more exciting. You know, there's just so many different ones, but they're oftentimes related to how alcohol either brings us down in the sense of like decompression relaxation. Alcohol brings us up, it excites me, it makes things more fun, nice something to look forward to, or something to do with the social element, which either could be, you know, everyone else is doing it, or it makes me more confident or eases my social nerves or something like that. So there's, there's lots of different variety of them. But usually those are the three kind of schools of where they come from, you know, in some beliefs also come like really deeply, deeply negative beliefs we have about ourselves as well. And we're using alcohol to numb those and not have to work through and process them. But in that moment, we also do think that alcohol helps us solve our pain. So even that is another belief. Alcohol helps me solve pain, right? So a lot of these things can be super subconscious, we wouldn't actually verbally say a lot of these things. So I just like to ask people, why do you like to drink? And from there, we can oftentimes kind of distill out what those beliefs are.Philip Pape:
Yeah, so and then as far as the social situations, you talked about alternatives, but what what's the general advice for people listening, who just maybe tonight they're thinking of going out? And drinking is going to be there? Like, what what? What are the steps that they should go through mentally, potentially, to start changing their behavior in the way that would serve them better? Yeah,Karolina Rzadkowolska:
absolutely. So anyone who's already embarking on a healthy lifestyle, like you're choosing to do things differently than maybe the general populace, because you value your health so much. And I'm guessing it makes you feel very proud, I'm guessing you're proud of your workouts, you're proud of your eating habits, you're proud of the steps you're taking to live your life aligned with your health. And if we can see not drinking in the same light, that it's not something that we're doing that makes us the odd one out or the weirdo, we're actually the one who is aligning their life to their health and values. There's a study that came out that showed that over 52% of Americans actually wished that they drank less or not at all. And so we all have that desire or not, at least a lot of us do. And yet it's not getting acted upon. So when you go out and are the only one not drinking with your friends, or family or whoever, you have to know that secretly, at least half of the people there wish that they were doing what you were doing, you know, it's kind of like imagine if you were to go out with a friend and they ordered a fast food meal and you got the healthy salad. The person who got the fast food meal is a little like, oh, I probably should have done that, you know, I'm a little jealous or a little, you know, whatever about them. So like, you can actually go from being what's called the odd one out into the leader, you know, into the role model into the Inspire. And there's so many incredible role models out there who don't drink that you would never even question about him. For example, Tony Robbins doesn't drink. No one's gonna go around to Tony Robbins asking him why he's not drinking, or come on. Just join us, buddy. Like he would laugh that off so fast. And you can find examples of that of just these movers and shakers and people who really align their life, not only to their values, but also to their goals and dreams, where it's just like, why would we? Why is there room or time for alcohol, it makes absolutely no sense. And then you can use that same pride that you use to achieve your other goals or you know, healthy living standards. And kind of you don't have to proclaim it like a preacher with a pulpit or something. But you just kind of live with that energy. So instead of being kind of embarrassed or intimidated by this idea that you're not drinking out with public, you're like wearing it with pride, you know, and that curiosity. And you never know that ripple effect you could create in your social circles, because trust me, you're not the only one questioning it.Philip Pape:
You speak so much to me, and probably a lot of the listeners I love I love the idea of pride and excitement and owning it out there. Because the courage to be an outlier. It's something that concept we talk about a lot to the point where you realize that being an outlier in society, in almost anything probably means you're doing something right. Because that way, and that secretly, many people want to be in the same shoes. So we talk about support systems for health, right when people try to sabotage your goals, and oftentimes it's out of insecurity because they really want to be like you Why aren't you staying with the tribe staying with the crowd? So when when when it does come time to do this? What about the closest people to you, right, your friends, family, who are still drinking? And you just you have to have some conversation potentially? Or is it more of a matter of like you said, walking around with chest high pride, just making the decision, and not really having to explain yourself so much as just saying, like, here's the choice I'm making. What are your thoughts around the verbal verbalizing thatKarolina Rzadkowolska:
well, obviously it depends on what you know, unique personal relationship you have with each person, but something so easy to say is I'm taking a break and I feel amazing. Who's gonna argue with that? Oh, here have a drink and start feeling shitty again. Great. It's like we don't have to make it this huge permanent thing at first and because we didn't we mean we might not know where it's gonna go. Right. You know, it's kind of hard to determine. You know, sometimes it's scary to say something more like Final like, Oh, I'm not drinking anymore. I quit because you don't know where it's going to turn out either. So explaining that you're taking a break and you're feeling amazing or you're taking a break to improve your health. I mean, those are all the truth and all very inspiring. And it can can also come have like, you know, take the pressure off other people, as you're getting into it, though, you know, like, I lead with the benefits. So for example, my closest relationship was with my husband. And we definitely shared drinking together, it was kind of our pastime, it was date night, it was what we did on the weekends, you know, and so to just one day be like, I'm never drinking again, would have probably been a little like, okay, so instead, obviously, I took a break, and I started sharing breadcrumbs with them, I was like, you know, what, oh, my gosh, I slept so well, without drinking the night before. Or oh, my God, I'm feeling so much happier. Or, like, I feel so much more motivated to go hiking with you. And maybe even showing him more love and more quality time. So that when it came down to like, whether or not I was gonna go back to alcohol, purity, totally got it. You know, he already saw how much better this was for me, and how much positive you know, examples I was sharing with him about how much better I feel. And ultimately, he wanted me to be happy, right. And in those places, where the person maybe is, like you said, a little bit more insecure, or just not reacting as positively. You know, first of all, we hold that mirror up to the other person. So it might be that there are a little insecure about their own drinking habits. But it also could be deeper, it could be like they might be they're scared that they're going to lose you, especially if that was such a like time, like a past time together. And for that, especially for like romantic relationships, I think it's really important to still devote the quality time and the bonding together, just find new ways of doing it. So for example, instead of date night at the brewery, my husband and I signed up for a half marathon and did Friday night runs together, like what a cool way to bond and elevate our relationship to the next level and it didn't like tear us apart are so much closer.Philip Pape:
So great. So great. I love it. And honestly, your advice can apply to anything that you are, you know, making a choice to improve your health with I imagine, you know, I'm I'm in strength training, and I feel amazing, you know, I'm taking a break, and I feel amazing. So I love that. And then alternative activities and alternative drinks and all these things are definitely the way to go. So to respect your time is there. I do like to ask this of all guests, is there any question you wish I'd asked? And what is your answer?Karolina Rzadkowolska:
Oh, sure. Well, if this was a lot for anyone and you want to like kind of process it and you know, mull it over and get some really good guidance, do check out my book euphoric, a euphoric ditch alcohol, again, a happier, more confident you because basically, almost everything we talked about is in that book, and you'll get a lot of tips and guidance and a weekly plan to even follow to take a break from alcohol. So just be sure to check thatPhilip Pape:
out. Check the book out, and I was gonna my final question is gonna be where can listeners learn more about you? Do you want them to go to the book or somewhere else?Karolina Rzadkowolska:
Yeah, so you can go to euphoric af.com. And that's my main website. We have our programs, we run group programs, we also have retreats around the world, which is really fun. And I also certify new alcohol free women who are passionate about sharing this with other people and helping other people change their lives. So if anyone's looking for a career change, or just something to motivate them to help other people too, that's an incredible option. And then you can find my book at you know, euphoric and Amazon or euphoric book.com And then I'm also pretty active on Instagram. So if you want to shoot me a question or you know, share anything with me, please feel free to and that you've worked on it. Yes.Philip Pape:
And great content on there for those watching or listening. Definitely put those links in the show notes and check them out. This was really enlightening super vibe I love when I have guests on where I personally learned a lot because I know the listeners gonna learn a lot and take action from this and improve their lives for the better. So Karolina, thank you so much for coming on the show.Karolina Rzadkowolska:
Thank you. It's such a pleasure.Philip Pape:
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