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Tania
The Challenge: No Alcohol for 30 Days

Drinking is such a common part of Kiwi life that often when I make the decision to stop it for a little while, people think something is wrong with me. Or I’m pregnant. (Full disclosure: I’m not pregnant.) I don’t drink as much as I used to in my younger days so not drinking for 30 days didn’t hold as much challenge as it had in the past. Regardless, I was at the point of having a quiet glass of wine most nights, and more than a few on the weekends. Because life is for enjoying right! But I don’t like being dependent. And some nights it felt like I HAD to have a glass of wine to unwind. Or to celebrate. Wine works wonderfully on both occasions. So I decided to stop. Just for 30 days, to give my body a rest. I didn’t miraculously lose weight, get clear skin or become a millionaire from all those dollars I saved. But I did learn a thing or two which I wanted to share with you.

1. The reaction from some people is interesting. By me not drinking, does that make you feel something about your own drinking? Do you need me by your side, enabling you? I felt really clear about what I was doing. My why was a little more unclear, which is what some people seemed to struggle with. If I couldn’t give them a clear reason, they couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t be drinking. But why does drinking need to be the norm? Why do you need an explanation for not drinking? Why can’t it be the other way around?

2. You may not be going downhill, but maybe you aren’t going uphill as fast as you could be. My head was definitely clearer in the mornings. I wasn’t drinking to hangover levels before I stopped, but I would wake up with perhaps a little ache in my temples. Or just feel a little lethargic. Without the alcohol in my life, my head just felt better. Clearer, stronger, faster and ready to take on the world.

3. Weekend afternoon drinking seems like the perfect treat to enjoy on my days off. But as someone who has two jobs + a side-hustle, a Sunday afternoon could be used to write a blog post, work on our upcoming think.eat.move workshop or a dozen other things. Or even something as simple as a bush walk or a hike up Rangitoto.

My thirty days is up, and I am back drinking again. And I am enjoying it. But I feel like having a drink is more of a decision that I’ve made rather than an automatic reaction. I actually consider whether I want/need another glass of wine. Which means I’m appreciating it more and being more mindful. But more to come on the mindfulness soon. I’m not telling you that you should enjoy a drink, but I would recommend taking a step back and thinking about why you’re drinking and how it is really making you feel. And if you’re not sure of the answers to those questions, maybe take a few days off the alcohol and see how you feel. At least you’ll be approaching the questions with a clearer head.
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Bess

No one enjoys being challenged in the area of excess do they!? I’m sorry to say I might be adding to the cacophony, however, do take your time to read on as it may explain some missing energy + vitality in your life.

The following are some honest facts about our internal powerhouse, the liver. And just before you roll your eyes at the healthy kid who probably has never overindulged in her life (incorrect judgement!), I’ve had liver inflammation/damage that has caused me to become a little bit serious about the following.

So here we go…

The Liver. What does it do?lemon-detox-diet

Your liver is one of your most important organs as it has a support role in each system inside you (digestion, hormone production, etc). It filters everything that we eat, drink and inhale and can convert all this energy into a storage form (glycogen) for later use. It’s a great system. And it can cope with a lot of what we throw at it. You definitely don’t need to subscribe to any special well-marketed detox magic diets, your liver can do all the detoxing that your body needs!

Makes sense that we should put useful things through the liver system as opposed to detrimental things yes? So how…

How we hurt it

The liver works pretty darn hard and is quite easy to clog. The stresses that we put into it don’t help, these even include environmental stresses such as pollutants + toxins. Another article for another day (and not by me!), but it is suggested that the toxic cigarettes that we still see around us might not just be affecting the lungs.

Psychological stress is a biggie, more and more research regarding stress impacts show direct relations between psychological stress + “hepatic disease” or, liver problems. In the brain’s ‘liver’ control area, stress can impair blood flow to the liver (not ideal) + subsequently the workload placed on the liver. Stress also produces cortisol + adrenaline and this causes the liver to release glucose into the bloodstream, spiking blood glucose levels. Basically, you are not fighting ninjas or running from prehistoric wildlife, you are likely sitting at your work desk with body systems working at 200%.

Another huge impactor on liver health is indeed, our favourite fermented friend, alcohol. The annoying truth is that it’s toxic for our body, so it gets sent straight to the detox room, the liver. The liver can cope with a small amount of alcohol. However, only a small amount at any given time. So if you drink more than the liver can deal with, drink too regularly or too quickly your liver cells struggle to process it. AND they put other jobs, such as detoxing + filtering EVERYTHING ELSE that enters your body, on the backburner.

Hmmmm.. Are you struggling with never-ending lethargy? Sluggish feelings? Hormonal mood swings? Weight gain? Tenderness near your stomach/chest? Plus alcohol is a diuretic, dehydrating us. It forces the liver to get water from elsewhere – generally another body system. Having headaches? Regular issues with constipation? I’m suggesting that if alcohol (alongside stress + caffeine excess) might be causing great pressure on one of your most important organs.

I haven’t even mentioned processed + high trans fats foods yet… I’ll leave you to mull over this information before overloading you with that!

How we heal it

Like most living things, being well looked after is the best way to heal + strengthen the liver. Your lovely liver is vital for your well-being.

Stressed? Maybe it’s time to decrease the coffee (an adrenaline promotor!) and get some herbal teas and fresh water through your body. Perhaps a new hobby in 2016? Perhaps it’s time to add some yoga, stretching, swimming, deep breathing + REST to your life. Mental + physical rest please my friends!

Maybe drinking too much? Moderate alcohol is essential for your liver health. I recommend less than 4 nights per week that have alcohol in them and no more than 4 standard drinks in one session. Maybe 2016 is the time to break some habits.

Liver Loving foods

The best way to look after this guy is to feed it properly, with real foods. Here’s some to get you started:
– Beets + green tea both have antioxidants + increase efficient liver function.
– Avocados have properties that help the filtering process in the liver.
– Lemons + grapefruit are awesome for vitamin C, a powerful vitamin in liver health. Grapefruit can also help to flush carcinogens from the liver system.
– Leafy greens, walnuts, garlic + turmeric are all foods with detoxing, cleansing + support roles in the function of your liver.

Take a moment to consider the health of your liver, keep it happy + healthy and you’ll find it does the same for you.

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