This Naked Mind
“We need to stop asking ourselves if we have a problem with alcohol and start to get curious about how much better our lives could be.” – Annie Grace
This is the second blog entry where I am straight out recommending a book. The first time was several weeks ago, Younger Next Year. You can read about my thoughts on that book here. To celebrate my 1 year of being Alcohol Free as of April 6, 2021, I would like to share my thoughts on this book, This Naked Mind
I promise you I will not make a habit of this but this book has really changed our lives. With Catherine’s early onset Alzheimer’s I have always thought it would be a good idea for her to stop drinking but no where could I find it to be a recommendation. Contrary to that I would run across the benefits of red wine so I would put that thought on the back burner. On top of that, when suggested to her, she would remind me that I would have to join her. They made perfectly good sense to me. I could not ask her to do something I was not willing to do myself.
So we continued our nomadic lifestyle with her Prosecco or two at dinner and my beer, Jack Daniels and Sprite or Gin and Tonic right by her side. Some days the drinks would start right after our late morning runs or walks but at this point who is keeping count.The first time I ran across this book, This Naked Mind, was in mid February of 2020. Since I have a subscription with Audible, for a small fee, I get one book a month. I found it a great way to listen to a book while working out or on a plane, train or automobile. This way I can kill two birds with one stone.
From time to time, I like to do what I call “unscientific studies.” One of them had to do with alcohol consumption and joint pain. As we were looking forward to January 2020, I ran across an article about “Dry January” and decided to give it a try.
It wasn’t like I abused Alcohol, but since we ate out all the time, I found myself having a beer/wine or two with dinner each night. No big deal, I thought. Being a pilot for all those years and being on call the majority of the time, I didn’t drink much, if at all. There was an eight-hour “bottle to throttle” policy, so not knowing when you might have to fly didn’t leave much time to partake. Also UPS, like all airlines, have a very strict alcohol-and drug-testing program.
When we first started our nomadic lifestyle, I did drink more than I cared to admit. That didn’t last long since I also saw that it had a negative effect on our cash burn rate.
In case you haven’t heard of it, the premise of Dry January is that if you can go for a month without alcohol, then you can go for the rest of your life. I wasn’t sure if that was going to be my goal, but I was willing to give it a try for a month.
Surprisingly enough, it a had very positive effects on my running performance. Not much in terms of speed, but more so with the level of effort I had to exert to maintain the same slow pace we were running. The most amazing finding was that I had far less joint pain than I had ever experienced in my twenty years of running as an adult. I mentioned it to others, some in the medical field, and they all responded that it was quite obvious since alcohol is a contributing factor to inflammation. Just one more thing to consider when it comes to pain management.
Not drinking was the proverbial no-brainer for Catherine. We all know that alcohol kills brain cells, so to keep as many healthy brain cells as possible, she usually had only one glass of Prosecco with dinner each night— any more than that was like someone else having five or more drinks in terms of mental impairment.
Dry January took me back to my flying days. As Catherine’s caretaker, I thought it would be wise for me to always have my full mental capacity to better care for her. No one wants a pilot or surgeon who has had a drink or two just before surgery or flight—even if it was just to help them numb their knee pain.
I was not sold on the idea so I went back to my one or two drinks habit since they are not easily broken. I did notice that just about every one we ran across were drinkers, as I put it. Occasionally you would run across the down right drunks and the few that could really hold their liquor. I guess you could call them functional alcoholics.
The people that would really intrigue me were the folks that would abstain in a social setting. By now we were back on a Windstar Cruise in the Caribbean so there were plenty of opportunities to have a few drinks before during and after dinner.
Over the years I remember striking up a conversation with those that abstained from alcohol. I do love to do my unscientific surveys. Some were recovering alcoholics with being Alcohol Free, (AF), as their badge of honor. A few just did not get into alcohol, as they would put it. For some strange reason it did intrigue me. No one really touted the benefits so I just filed it away.
While we were in St. Kitts, this is where I listened to this book called This Naked Mind: Control Alcohol, Find Freedom, Discover Happiness & Change Your Life by Annie Grace while we ran and walked whenever we could. I had listened to numerous books during our travels, but this was the first one that I actually listened to twice.
My thought process was that, with the success of Dry January and with us going back to the States where Covid is prevalent, I needed to boost my immune system just in case I did become infected. As a Black man over sixty with a history of heart trouble, I already had three strikes against me, when it came to being prone to die from the virus. So, as an early sixty-fifth birthday present to myself, I was inspired to give up alcohol for good.
The book dissected the hypothetical pros and the real life cons of Alcohol. There is a whole chapter where the author goes over the ill effects of Alcohol on each and every organ of the body which I found to be fascinating. When I had my yearly cardiology appointment last July I mentioned to my cardiologist the fact that my blood pressure was now normal and that I could no longer needed to take one of the medications he prescribed. He said that made sense since I had stopped drinking. I have to ask myself why no one suggested that I stop drinking instead of just prescribing blood pressure medications.
There also was a chapter on how advertising has tricked us into believing it is actually beneficial to have the one or two drinks with dinner. They did not need to provide proof to make that claim. No wonder alcohol related deaths account for 5 percent of all deaths worldwide each year.
Bottom line I do remember that there were in fact times I could not remember exactly how I got back to wherever we were staying at the time. I am sure some of you know exactly what I am talking about. However, we can all somewhat recall how much fun we had that particular night so all was good.
I am not saying this lifestyle just like putting everything in storage and running all over the world is for everyone but if you read or listen to this book it just might be for you. As I often say to each their own.
In closing one thing to consider, just because you decide to be AF does not mean you have or had a problem. Just maybe you will realize, like I did, Alcohol no longer does anything FOR you.