Blame It On The Alcohol?

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Did you know that women who exercise more are also prone to drinking more? You would think it’d be opposite but it turns out many of us work out junkies are sort of addicted to a feeling of euphoria that comes with both a great sweat session and a great buzz.

I always assume that most of my blog buddies in the online world and friends in real life that like to sweat it up drink less than I do. But perhaps I’m wrong.

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The latest issue of Women’s Health has a feature story on this issue and at least to me, it was a compelling read. Not surprisingly, the report also says the same ladies are more prone to eating disorders, risky sex and skin cancer.

Since joining the world of healthy living blogs, I’ve noticed how many of my fellow ladies have suffered from eating issues — myself included. But, how many would be willing to write about struggles with drinking? Hardly any because that is taboo. You’d be too afraid to be labeled some sort of an alcoholic, right? From my own pathway in the world of eating disorders, I know that drinking sometimes  goes right along with binge eating, restriction & more. I was part of an intense outpatient program for eating disorders at a hospital for four months at one point and the girls in my group confirmed that for me. It’s the “feeling.”

Back in my younger days, I definitely drank too much. I’m 23 here.

The issue notes that part of it could just be that drinkers know they have the will power and capability to get up the next day and “run it off.” I’ve had many a Saturday when I did just that. I’ve jokingly/seriously said that best cure for a hangover is a workout. While that’s true, it’s not a very good justification for drinking too much.

“There are people who are sensation seekers. They engage in activities that produce intense sensations and can be quickly  bored by things that don’t produce these feelings.” Ana M. Abrantes, Ph.d., assistant professor at Brown University’s Alpert Medical School.

I’m not prepared to admit that the only reason I do and love so much running is because of an “intense sensation.” I mean, I love running because it clears my mind, provides inspiration, keeps me healthy and helps me have goals and stay disciplined.

I always prefer this feeling to the other kind.

But, I do think people like me — probably a lot of long distance runners — likely tend to have a more sensation-based personality. We are “feeling” people and when we can’t attain a “feeling” naturally, we look for ways to find it.

There have many times when I was dog tired but needed to rally for something so I literally laced up my shoes in a fog of yawns and just started running. It provided the endorphin energy power I needed to get my mind on track for whatever activity was next. Problem solved, right? But how many times have I been jokingly called “crazy” or accused of being too concerned with exercising? Less now than I used to but it happens.

So is there a problem with this sensation-based lifestyle? Maybe, maybe not. Do runners and workout junkies lead more destructive lifestyles than our less movement focused friends? 

In addition to enjoying an amazing run and a the relaxation of a couple of Blue Moons, I am also a thrill seeker of sorts. I have gone skydiving and bungee jumping, moved to new places without giving it much thought, hopped a plane to India without knowing much about who would be picking up or where I’d be staying.  I don’t just want to go overseas, I want to go to the Congo and Lebanon –  more dangerous parts of the world.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with enjoying a few adult beverages from time to time. I like the fact that exercise is a necessary part of my life. I like the community, the camaraderie, the inspiration and the self-discipline it instills in me. I like that I’m a deep thinker, a sensitive soul and a person who truly experiences the highs and lows of life. I feel things to my core — and that makes me who I am. 

But I think Women’s Health is right. Many dedicated exercisers — especially women — are more prone to drinking more than they should. That’s not such a bad thing — but it’s something to watch out for. I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on this issue.

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