Assess you alcohol intake. Drinking alcohol plays a major role in your overall health. The American Cancer Society suggest that no amount is safe and there are plenty of studies that will concur. Alcohol affects everything from our hormones, sleep, diet, mood, and overall functioning. It’s worth doing some research to discover the real effects drinking can have (even if you only have a few drinks per week). It’s okay to think about alcohol in the same way that you think about eating candy bars. How will having one more negatively impact your health goals? Is drinking getting into the way of living your best life? Is drinking making your anxiety worse? You don’t have to be clinically diagnosed with alcoholism to stop drinking or cut back. There is no shame in learning more about alcohol and the role it plays in your life.
As a part of my series about “5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Samantha Perkins.
Samantha Perkins is the author of Alive AF-One Anxious Mom’s Journey to Becoming Alcohol Free. Samantha is passionate about sharing her anxiety remedies and universal truths she has discovered about living without alcohol. She is especially interested in uncovering the ubiquitous role that alcohol plays in our everyday lives — in everything from parenting, mental health, relationships and career choices.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the story about how you first got involved in fitness and wellness?
Thanks so much for having me! Well, I guess I started once I arrived at adulthood and it wasn’t what I thought it would be. I had done all of the things. I went to college, got a good job, got married, bought a house, had kids, etc. But when I woke up every morning I felt pretty dull. I wasn’t happy and my anxiety, that I’d had since adolescence, was worsening every day.
So I began a quest to try “better myself.” I used all the tools that were given to me via social media outlets, magazines, books, etc. I started eating organic, added kale to my diet, exercised daily, read self help books, took Epsom salt baths, swished coconut oil, prioritized sleep, and the list goes on. The problem was, in addition to doing all of these things, I continued to drink my nightly alcohol (wine or beer). At the time, I didn’t know the effects that alcohol has on your overall physical and mental health. Drinking was sabotaging my wellness.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
One of my wellness musts is writing and journaling. I’ve always loved writing but when I stopped drinking I found it to be one of my greatest outlets for coping. One night I was scrolling through Instagram and I saw someone that I follow by the name of Anna David post “Do you want to write a book? If so, swipe up.” I swiped up and it took me to a form to fill out to see if I was a good candidate for a one year writing program that would teach me everything I would need to know about how to write a book. Before I knew it I filled out the form and enrolled in the class. My book came out on Jan. 1st 2021! The class worked!
Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?
I guess the mistake that is the most humorous was my belief that I could swish coconut oil and that all of my problems would go away. I would wake up most days feeling slightly hungover and get to work on all of the healthy things I did. I would drink a green smoothie, go for a run, try to eat as little as possible since I had taken in so many calories with last night’s drinks, and then start the cycle all over again. No health practices are going to work to their potential if you start them off with a hangover!
Can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the fitness and wellness field? In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?
I don’t consider myself an authority in anything other than myself and my body. But I think I add value to the fitness and wellness field because I am talking about something that people rarely address as part of their overall physical and mental health. We are taught a lot about what drinks have the fewest calories and what exercises can help us earn those extra drinks but in my experience I rarely ever heard anyone talking about how drinking alcohol will impact your health goals. The chemicals in alcohol disrupt many of our body’s functions making it difficult to gain those benefits from wellness that we all seek. Sleep, mood, physical performance, and more are all affected by drinking. So I’m talking about it. I am sharing my story of discovering how alcohol was no longer working for me despite the fact that I was never diagnosed with alcoholism and that I wasn’t an alcoholic. I’m helping people assess their alcohol intake in the same ways that other health and fitness professionals help us assess sugar intake.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Annie Grace and Holly Whitikar are two amazing women that have changed the way that I will think about alcohol forever. They taught me what alcohol actually is (ethanol), how it works, why I have believed it to be such an important part of living, and why it was no longer working for me despite that I wasn’t yet an “addict.” They have both done extensive research and shared their findings in their books This Naked Mind and Quit Like a Woman.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, exercise more, and get better sleep , etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the 3 main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?
Great question!! Over the last decade there has been a massive amount of information shared on how to live well. We are bombarded with diets, exercises, programs, classes, and events telling us that there is one right way to be well and that we should follow that way. In addition to this influx of information everyone is looking for something fast. When we are looking for something fast and we listen to someone who tells us to do it “this way” we eliminate the very basics to health which is listen to our own bodies and do what feels good.
In my opinion the three main blockages are 1) We overly trust someone else who may not have our own personal health goals at the root of their service (for example, maybe they are trying to sell us something that we really don’t need). 2) We are overwhelmed with information about what to do and what not to do that even starting something feels undoable. 3) We have dismissed the very basics of health in search of something easy and quick.
Can you please share your “5 Non-Intuitive Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”? (Please share a story or an example for each, and feel free to share ideas for mental, emotional and physical health.)
- Assess you alcohol intake. Drinking alcohol plays a major role in your overall health. The American Cancer Society suggest that no amount is safe and there are plenty of studies that will concur. Alcohol affects everything from our hormones, sleep, diet, mood, and overall functioning. It’s worth doing some research to discover the real effects drinking can have (even if you only have a few drinks per week). It’s okay to think about alcohol in the same way that you think about eating candy bars. How will having one more negatively impact your health goals? Is drinking getting into the way of living your best life? Is drinking making your anxiety worse? You don’t have to be clinically diagnosed with alcoholism to stop drinking or cut back. There is no shame in learning more about alcohol and the role it plays in your life.
- Ditch people pleasing. Sometimes our health goals really aren’t our health goals. Maybe they are the goals of those people that sold you that shake. Maybe they are the goals of your personal trainer. Maybe they are the goals of your fitness instructor. Maybe they are the goals of your therapist. Maybe you don’t feel like pushing or skipping dessert or doing 10 more reps but you do it anyway because you are worried what someone might think of you or you don’t want to let anyone down. This can lead to exhaustion and burnout. I’ve personally sat in many of exercise classes where I was told to let it burn so I could earn that glass of wine. That message wasn’t helpful. It’s a great idea to seek help when on your fitness or wellness journey but don’t lose yourself along the way. Your body knows exactly what you need and the more you communicate that with your coach, instructor, fitness specialist, doctor, etc., the more quickly you will reach your goals. You are the authority on yourself. Don’t let people pleasing sabotage your true needs.
- Choose growth and development. There is a quote that says “The Only Way Out Is Through.” You can’t exercise or diet your way out of past trauma, abuse, or any unhealthy situation. You must do that work in order to be well. We may have lingering misunderstandings from our childhood that we have brought with us into adulthood. These need to be resolved, healed, worked through, and managed before we can really feel well physically and emotionally. This work isn’t easy, fun, or quick but it will have the most sustaining and lasting benefits. In other words, get your therapy too.
- Have fun. I bought a mountain bike this past year. I’d never really thought of myself as a biker but I wanted a new and fun challenge. When I am riding my bike I’m paying attention to rocks and roots. I’m making sure that I don’t fall off a cliff. I am trying to keep up with my kids. It’s challenging but really exciting too. When its over I’ve gotten in a really great workout for my body, mind, and spirit. I’m not thinking about trying to get in a certain amount of time or reps or work a certain muscle group, I’m just riding my bike and having fun. This is how exercise can be really rewarding. Go for a walk with a podcast, swim with your kids in the pool, chase after your toddler, dance in your living room. We’ve gotten so far away from just moving our bodies for the sake of moving our bodies that we forgot that those things bring us positive health benefits too.
- As an expert, this might be obvious to you, but I think it would be instructive to articulate this for the public. Aside from weight loss, what are 3 benefits of daily exercise? Can you explain? I really wish weight loss was never ever associated with exercise. In my opinion, it’s the least important benefit. It’s also why I think so many people don’t exercise. This culture has rammed exercise and weight loss down our throats creating so many issues for people around exercise (body image, fear, restriction, failure, etc). There are so many amazing benefits to moving your body (especially if you can do that movement outside). For starters, the most important benefit to exercise is improvement of mental health. Your body releases feel good chemicals when you exercise (and even more if you do it outside or with music). The more often you release these chemicals, the better your overall mental health will be. Next, you can improve your heart health. Your heart is a muscle that needs some attention. When your heart pumps it gets worked just like your other muscles. Exercise can decrease heart disease and chronic heart issues. Finally, exercise can improve quality of sleep. When you move your body the chemicals that are released can do all sorts of good things. Not only will it relax your mind but you will feel more tired after using physical exertion making it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep (especially if you’ve eliminated alcohol-a big sleep disruptor). When you sleep better you feel more energized which could lead to feeling like moving your body which will lead to improved sleep. See how it all works together?
For someone who is looking to add exercise to their daily routine, which 3 exercises would you recommend that are absolutely critical? Walking (preferably outside)
Meditating (exercise for your mind)-I started by using an app called insight timer and prefer guided meditations.
Some kind of strength conditioning that will strengthen your body, mind, and soul. I love Barre3 but never underestimate the power of doing a few downward dogs.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?
I listed This Naked Mind and Quit Like A Woman above. One day I was feeling very hungover after a vacation weekend that was meant to be restful. It was a Monday and I could barely function because of the anxiety that was triggered by the alcohol that I drank. It was a very low point and I had a hunch that even though that I wasn’t an alcoholic, alcohol was having a significant impact on my health. I googled the words “cool people that don’t drink” and a blog popped up called Hip Sobriety. I read every single word on the blog and then ordered the books that Holly, the author suggested. This Naked Mind was first on the list and it changed my entire life.
It’s also important to note that Make Your Mess Your Memoir had a huge impact on my ability to write and publish a book. It’s a memoir/how to and the author, Anna David, is full of knowledge and tips!
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
My movement would focus on helping our culture find ways to have fun without alcohol. I know that life is way better without booze because I have been living alcohol free for over three years now. When I stopped drinking I became fully alive and I have never once looked back. It’s hard, however, to fight against the mainstream messaging that tells us that we need alcohol to have fun, to parent, to cope, to relieve stress, etc. I really want that to change. When my children become adults I want them to be able to list off 50 fun things that they can do before alcohol ever makes the list.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
It’s a quote that Holly Whitikar shared from Stephanie Snyder. It was made in reference to yoga but I find it so applicable to everyday life lessons. “What’s the difference between a beginner, an intermediate, and an advanced student? The beginner knows they know nothing, the intermediate thinks they know everything, and the advanced knows they still know nothing.”
When I arrived at adulthood I was an intermediate. I thought I knew things and that I had learned all that I was going to learn. I thought I had most of the answers. Turns out, I did not. I had stopped growing and learning and trying new things and it halted the richness of life and my experiences. I never want to be an intermediate again. I want to learn and grow for the rest of my life.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
Well, Holly Whitaker of course. Had she not been brave enough to share her story for strangers to read on the internet, my life would look very different right. I wouldn’t be writing this.
What is the best way our readers can follow you online?
Instagram @samanthaperkins_aliveaf or on my blog spaliveaf.com
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!