I'm sitting in a coffee shop feeling REALLY apprehensive about this post...
It’s time to address the drunk purple elephant in the room…
Alcohol. Specifically, alcohol and the performer’s lifestyle.
Before I get too deep though, I want to throw some disclaimers out there (just to be safe… in case of charging drunk purple elephants):
OK! Now that we’re all clear we need to back up a bit to my story so you can see WHY this is such an important topic and why the taboo around it’s discussion needs to be broken. And I’ll start with honesty (though it scares me to do so)...
I started experimenting with alcohol before it was legal for me (sorry mom!) But really, being a young student in college that wasn’t unexpected. As an undergrad in musical theater living in NYC, life was sort of turned up to the max for me. I was at the extremes of any spectrum at all times. When I sang, it was overdone (hence how I ended up pre-nodular AND with a fold hemorrhage…). When I acted, it was either melodrama or just BLAH. When I tried to lose weight, it was binge and purge. When I partied, it was great fun until the next day when I had to deal with the consequences.
The summer between undergrad and grad school I wanted to lose weight, so I joined Weight Watchers, and kicked it’s butt! I lost 50 pounds! Yahoo!
Except... not so much with the yahoo...
My meetings in NYC at the time very much celebrated any sort of weight loss. The leaders didn’t necessarily look at what the REAL problems were for people. (Ex. I had them look at my journal one week when I didn’t lose weight and they said it was the Snickers bar I had once during that week… not the multiple glasses of wine per night…Snickers was more points!)
Looking back, my obvious issue was that I would survive only on veggies (no points!) with a smattering of fat and protein throughout the day and LOTS of black coffee with Splenda (my best friend at the time) and end up with like 15-20 extra points at night (I had 32 or something like that for the WHOLE DAY). Wine was about 3 points…. So guess what I used to make up the extra points…
And I worked out A LOT. Too much. So I got those extra points too…
Fast forward and I’m keeping the weight off, but I’m managing most of a bottle of wine PER NIGHT. Now, the problem was that alcohol was:
Fast forward again - CANCER!
I find out after a routine doctors appointment that I had a pre-cancerous lesion. But like, stage 4 pre-cancerous. Like, if we don’t fix this NOW you will officially have cancer. There’s no wiggle room.
I was only 22 or 23. VERY not ready to deal with this. But also, I just have to go in and do the procedure and everything is hunky dory! Right?
So I go in to get it dealt with. And while I’m literally ON THE TABLE ready for them to do the procedure they start making me sign PAPERWORK saying that I am cool with the fact that this could result in my being INFERTILE.
No. Nope nope nopey nope nope. I knew I always wanted kids. I was dating a wonderful man (now my husband) who might be the one to help out in that department. And I had to make the obvious choice (to live) and potentially give that up...
As I was walking back to the subway afterwards I broke down crying on the streets of NYC and realized something had to change. My accompanist mentioned a performer he knew (Farah Alvin... check her out) who was also a health coach specifically dealing in women’s health. I signed right the f*** up.
We got me off the Splenda and eating real sugars. We got me out of Weight Watchers (not that it’s a bad thing overall, just not great for me). We got protein into me. We got good fats into me. We got good whole grains into me. I ended up gaining back some of the weight but I was still within my healthy range and WAAAAAY saner.
But above all - she listened. I talked to her about the alcohol. And the issues I was having with NYC. And slowly, over time, I accepted that things needed to change. I couldn’t be a healthy person in that city anymore.
I needed space and a slower pace...
Stay tuned! Part 2 comes out in two days...
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