Alcohol and Weight Loss

by | Aug 1, 2023

I’m actually assuming that that title either drew you in or repelled you. However, I do want to say, everything that I’m going to cover here today is going to be helpful for weight loss with or without alcohol. 

I know many people don’t drink at all. Perhaps the fact that I titled it alcohol and weight loss made you think this was not for you. I’m going to make it worth your time, I promise. Everything that I’m going to tell you will apply to anything that you would like to change. Whether it’s overeating, binge eating, being unsure what to eat, not knowing if you’re eating too much or too little at the wrong times, all of that stuff. 

Weight loss is composed of a lot of different factors.  I did something very similar to this topic inside my membership program called the Society. This is not the exact same presentation. I like to reuse things when I can, this is going to be similar, but with some additional takeaways. 

I do like to identify what is actionable, what can you take action on? So be listening for something that resonates with you. Take what is useful. Leave the rest. 

I want to say I’m not anti-alcohol. 

I mean I could make this really quick and say, if you want to lose weight, stop drinking, and defendants. You’re welcome. Goodbye. It could be so easy just to say don’t do it, but I don’t know if that’s very helpful. It’s like telling me not to ever eat peanut M&Ms. Well, that seems kind of draconian, so I don’t want to do that. 

I think we would all agree, it would be very hard to find lots of beneficial things that happen when we drink alcohol. You could argue about resveratrol, and all of the studies they’ve done with X amount of red wine or what have you. 

At the end of the day, I think we would all agree, if I’m drinking alcohol, I’m drinking something that my body probably perceives as a toxin. When I do drink alcohol, my body will be focused on getting rid of the alcohol. And that means I’m also not going to be burning fat while I drink alcohol. 

There are some very factual things about drinking alcohol and there’s lots of strategies you could probably figure out to drink more water and all of that stuff. I just want to talk about if you want to lose weight and you want to figure out the alcohol piece, or if you want to lose weight and you just want to figure out the food piece. This is what we’re talking about. 

When I say I’m not anti alcohol, I’m not. I’m not judging if you drink or don’t drink. I think we’ve all realized that we probably judge ourselves more or harder than other people judge us. You might already be judging yourself. You might already be thinking, I shouldn’t drink. I shouldn’t drink so much. I need to stop drinking. Drinking is a problem for me. If I didn’t drink, I’d lose weight. What is wrong with me? Maybe you’re already having that conversation with yourself. 

I want to help you figure it all out for yourself. Something that works for you. I have four pieces to the puzzle here to make it so simple. 

1) Audit. 

Not like an IRS audit, because that doesn’t sound very fun. We think about auditing like taking a magnifying glass or a microscope and pulling everything apart. I think auditing in a way just so that we have rational facts here. Auditing your intake of alcohol. 

I am going to talk all about alcohol. If alcohol is not your thing, then auditing your intake of XYZ. Whether it is just food in general or specific kinds of food, but audit your intake. 

I did pose a question inside my free Facebook group, Food, Fitness, Fat Loss for Real Life. My question was, how many calories do you think that you take in every single week from alcohol? It was interesting that 90% of the people who answered the question, were all very quick to be like zero calories. Somebody who was like, Oh, shit, I probably take in 500 1000 2000 calories from alcohol. I don’t want to go down that road. I’m not answering this question.

Auditing your intake, you can do this in a number of different ways. It could be;

  • How many drinks a day do you have? 
  • How many calories a day do you think you take in from alcohol?
  • Per week?
  • Per month?

Get some actual factual data. 

If you’re somebody who drinks beer, for example, and you’re drinking out of a can or a bottle that is easy to quantify wine. When we’re pouring wine it gets a little fuzzy. We say it’s a glass of wine, but neglect to say it was a 10 ounce pour. So sometimes we can have some fuzzy math. 

I think in terms of auditing, because this is a self audit, that you have to be honest. This honesty is going to trickle all the way down through the four parts, and not in a bad way. I’m not twisting your arm behind your back and being like, be honest, what are you doing? 

This is for you to have your own come to Jesus moment where you’re like, Okay;

  • What’s really going on?
  • What is the reality?
  • Is this even a problem? 

I think we want to figure out auditing your intake. 

Then I would also take a look at 

  • What are your thoughts about the intake? 
  • What are your thoughts about drinking? 
  • Thoughts about yourself drinking?

Be honest about it,

If you do have a lot of negative thoughts, you’re human. I’d get them out of your head, and I put them on paper so that we can start to see what’s going on. 

If you walk around with a lot of thoughts like 

  • I shouldn’t drink so much.
  • I drink too much, or drinking is a problem.
  • I’d be at my goal weight if it wasn’t for alcohol.

I think we just want to take that out of our head and put it on paper as part of this auditing process. 

If I walk around with a thought all day. I shouldn’t be drinking so much. It’s probably going to make me feel like;

  • I don’t have willpower. 
  • I don’t have discipline. 
  • I don’t care about myself.
  • I’m doing things almost against my own will. 

That’s where that level of coaching can only come from when we have real honest conversations with what’s going on in our head.

Of the four parts, the audit is maybe the hardest part. If you want to take five minutes and just put some things on paper. Whether it’s how many drinks or how many calories approximately I’m taking in. Sometimes we need to see the number to see if this is a problem or not. 

Then once you have done your audit, however long or short. Whatever pieces of information you actually have….

2) Do you want to change it or something about it? 

That’s just a question. 

  • Do you want to change it? 
  • Does this work for you? 
  • Is there something you would want to change? 

Only you can answer that.

This is about weight loss? At the end of the day I know for a fact you can lose weight and still drink alcohol. You can, however there’s the big but factor. Our weight loss is dependent on total calories taken in. You can’t override that. I can’t have an intake of 4000, 5000, 6000 calories every day of the weekend and not think it’s going to impact my results. So audit and then do you want to change.

Ask yourself the question, what do you want to change? Changing doesn’t mean going from I drink alcohol to I don’t drink alcohol. It doesn’t have to be that. You could decide to do this a number of different ways. 

  • Do you want to cut back? 
  • Do you want to only drink on certain days? 
  • Do you only want to drink certain kinds of drinks? 

We’ll get more into strategies at the end. 

3) Commit.

I would commit to planning your drinking in advance. Not at the time, like, Oh, I feel like having a drink or I had a bad day, I need a drink. Planning your drinks ahead of time is just like planning for food ahead of time. Planning your dinner in advance. I’m not even talking about meal prep. 

I’m just talking about:

  • Am I drinking today? 
  • When am I drinking? 
  • How much am I drinking? 

And having a plan just means I’ve made a decision ahead of time. 

The things I talk about and teach in terms of flexible eating, are the same for flexible drinking. That’s all we’re doing if you’re going to keep alcohol in your life. Let’s plan ahead rather than I’m not drinking until Friday night and now it’s Wednesday and someone says, Hey, meet me at a bar or my husband opens a bottle of wine or whatever. What are you going to do? That’s what you need to know in advance. 

I would plan on your alcohol the same way you would plan whether you’re having dessert, or you’re having pizza, or you’re having birthday cake. You know, the party is Saturday. What is your plan? That is all and sticking to your plan. 

When you make a plan, and you stick to a plan, guess what? You rack up points. In the virtual pinball game of life, you rack up points with your own self confidence. Every time you stick to your plan, you’re reaffirming and reassuring your brain, we made the decision already. This is what we’re doing. This is how it’s going. 

As much as that looks good, I certainly would like a drink, I’ve decided I’m not drinking today. I can drink tomorrow, I can make a plan for it another time. The world is not running out of alcohol. 

What’s interesting about alcohol is that it is very socially acceptable. It’s almost socially unacceptable to not drink. That’s part of it for anybody who is social. Anybody who has the habit of drinking, has grown up in a society, or friends and family, where alcohol is part of dinner or part of every weekend. It is challenging to not drink it.

I’ll give you an example. If we were sitting at a restaurant and one of our friends is going to order every every flavor of sangria they have or they’re going to have a cocktail, try a different cocktail, have another cocktail, or maybe it’s craft beer and they’re going to try this beer in that beer and this beer, nobody raises an eyebrow. But if I sat at the table, and I’m like the key lime pie. Waitress comes back, I’m gonna have the brownie sundae. Waitress comes back, I’m gonna have the cherries jubilee or whatever. People would be like, what the f*ck? What’s wrong with you? Why do you keep ordering all these different desserts? But when it’s alcohol, nobody raises their eyebrows. It’s just socially acceptable. 

I’m just bringing it to your attention. It’s so socially acceptable, that when you choose not to drink people are gonna be like; 

  • What’s wrong? 
  • Are you sick? 
  • Are you pregnant? 
  • Are you an alcoholic? 
  • What’s wrong with you? 
  • Why aren’t you drinking? 
  • I don’t want to drink alone. I want you to drink with me. 

It takes time and practice and the ability to say no, thank you. 

We’ll get into the strategies, but I just want to just address the big pink elephant in the room. It’s hard to not drink if everybody’s drinking because it’s very socially acceptable. Everybody’s doing it. Just like your mom always said, if everybody jumped off a bridge, would you jump off too? And the answer is yeah, I would. I don’t want to be left alone. I don’t want to be the odd man out. I don’t want to be the weirdo who’s not drinking But if your goal is weight loss, or your goal is to feel good, and to have uninterrupted sleep, and to feel healthy and to be hydrated and to be fit, maybe you’re going to want to put some rules around your drinking. 

You are going to want to plan ahead. You’re just not going to say yes every time someone wants to fill up your glass or hand you another beer or make you another cocktail, right? It does come to a point where it doesn’t feel good, if you do pay the price the day after. 

4) Strategies. 

We can talk all about the downside of drinking or the upside of drinking. We can find a case for you to stay on course. We could find a case for you to make changes, but what are those changes really going to be? Especially when we do agree, drinking is very socially acceptable. If you’re used to going to restaurants or going to bars, meeting friends, having girls night out or going on dates or just sitting home alone watching Hallmark Channel or whatever you’re doing in your life, drinking may be a part of it. If you want to change that, you’re probably going to need some strategy. 

A couple of things in terms of having a drink. This idea that I am not used to not having a drink in my hand. You could do something as simple as a non alcoholic beer or non alcoholic,canned cocktail. There are lots of options these days. They’re everywhere, it’s the new thing. 

If you know you’re going to a party and you want to have a non alcoholic type of seltzer or whatever they’re creating, try those out and see how they work for you. Or you could just decide if I have seltzer water, my favorite diet sodas, something to drink so that I’m feeling like I know what to do with my hands. I’m not just standing there with my hand in my pocket. 

Many of my friends pour their seltzer water or non alcoholic cocktail or diet soda or whatever it is into a wine glass. Nobody knows if I have a wine glass with some kind of seltzer water or diet Sprite or something like that. Nobody knows. And frankly, nobody really cares. I think people care about themselves. 

If you’re not drinking, and I noticed you’re not drinking, maybe I would feel bad that I’m drinking. Maybe I would start to be like, I shouldn’t drink either. Or I wonder what she’s doing. 

At the end of the day, you have to do what’s best for you. That’s what it comes down to. 

Besides the actual physical strategies of what can I drink instead? Do I use a special glass? Maybe some of it is also learning how to say no. Learning how to say no, thank you. Learning how to uphold what it is that you actually want for yourself. Not like you need to stick up for yourself and you’re being bullied, but maybe you are. 

It can feel very much like we’re a kid again, and we need to go along to get along. We don’t want to stand out. We don’t want to be the only one. We don’t want to have to explain ourselves. This is very normal, right? If you think about it sort of tribal behavior. 

Back in the caveman days, if you were the only person not gnawing the bison leg or whatever they’re doing, then you were the odd man out. You don’t want to be outside of the cave. You don’t want to be not in the group. You don’t want to be not with the cool kids. It’s very normal. Your brain perceives that as a problem. That you’ll die essentially. 

If I’m not taken care of, and I’m not part of the group. I’m outside of the group. I am alone. That feels hard. I’m here to assure you, the big part about Unf*ck Your Weight Loss is to sort of see it for what it is. We are not in cave times. We’re tribal, yes, but not to the point where it really is life or death for you. It might feel like that. You could have a physical reaction to being different, saying no, you’re taking the path that other people don’t take. But if drinking is not in alignment with your goals, who you are or who you want to be or where you’d like to go in the future, then it is okay to say no thank you or to slow down. 

Another strategy, if you still want to drink, is that you’ve planned ahead how many drinks you are going to have but also knowing Okay, here’s my rule. If I have a drink, once it’s finished, I make myself an eight ounce glass of water or seltzer water or diet soda, something non alcoholic before I get my next drink. We start putting in just some easy to follow rules. That way I stay hydrated. I don’t get overly buzzed or drunk because obviously, the more we drink and the more impaired we get, the worse our decision making becomes.

People like alcohol because it lowers our inhibitions. Then we’re more likely to say yes to more alcohol. Then we probably say yes to food, and yes to all kinds of things that maybe we wouldn’t do. Nothing good comes from overdrinking. 

I really implore you to not get overwhelmed with a bazillion strategies but maybe there’s just one thing that you can take action on this coming weekend or the next party or the next vacation. Creating sort of a different ritual for yourself. Especially if you’re used to drinking more often when you come home from work, when you come home after a long weekend, or you’re with certain people or certain types of things. 

I know people who do enjoy alcohol, do enjoy craft beer or making cocktails, part of it is the ritual. I know for me, I don’t drink that much anymore, but I like wine. There is something about your favorite wine glass and you’re getting out whatever favorite wine opener you have. And looking at the bottle and you know, maybe looking at the cork or swirling that first sip in the wine glass. See if the wine has legs or whatever vernacular you’d like to use to describe your drinking experience. There is something to be said about that ritual.

Can you create another ritual? Can you get yourself a special water bottle? Can you put into place some other way for you to relax? At the very least you just notice, as soon as I get the bottle opener, as soon as I buy that six pack of beer at the liquor store I start to notice my mouth waters a little bit. I get a little bit more relaxed. I start to really look forward to this. I feel better already.

Starting to notice some of the pre drinking rituals that we have can help you just understand;

  • Do you need to relax? 
  • Do you feel stressed out? 
  • Bored?
  • Lonely? 
  • Upset? 
  • Are you in physical pain? 
  • Are you in emotional pain? 
  • What is going on for you that drinking is helping helping with? 

What is drinking masking for you?

I want to point out that I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a favorite wine glass there. I said it. I do have a favorite wine class. I’ve probably had it for like 20 years. 

Other strategies you could look at, and I just touched on it. 

The one that we like probably the least is to figure out what you’re feeling. Especially if you notice that you’re drinking more than you want to drink. 

  • Is it that you have social anxiety? 
  • Is it that you have a stressful job? 
  • You haven’t really figured out how to properly distress and feel better? 
  • Do you feel lonely?
  • Tired? 
  • Angry?
  • Resentful?
  • What are you feeling?
  • Can you start to pinpoint any kind of trigger? 
  • Do you want to drink every time you go to so and so’s house? 
  • Do you need to drink every time you go out with a certain group of people? 

I think it’s just interesting to take note, even if you’re not changing anything right now. 

Most people as they go through their weight loss journey, start to notice that it is more than just calories. Calories in, calories out. If it was that easy everybody would lose weight and keep it off. 

I think when we embark on a weight loss plan/program or we’ve decided that we’ve made the decision that we are going to lose weight, inevitably at some point, you are going to bump up against feelings. The feelings that come when you have the urge to drink, or the urge to eat. Although we don’t need to do anything with our feelings. We don’t need to get rid of them. We’re not weak for having feelings, but we don’t have to act on them. 

We can feel however we want. It’s momentary. Whether it lasts a couple minutes or an hour or all day. Me feeling aggravated or sad or resentful or whatever I’m feeling is not who I am. Right? This is not a permanent thing. Like, oh, she has blond hair, blue eyes and is resentful, although that may be true.

Noticing your feelings is not dangerous. 

When we can notice our feelings, feel our feelings, and not act on them. Me drinking alcohol isn’t going to solve my feelings. It’s not going to solve whatever it is. I frequently ask myself as I think about wanting to eat something, what would this solve for me right now. If I went downstairs to go rummaging around the cabinets, or walk into the pantry or open the refrigerator to find something to eat? Having that cookie or whatever? What is that going to solve? Nothing. If I’m truly hungry, then I should probably actually have a meal. 

I think getting honest with yourself about this and not making it bad or wrong to have feelings, but simply to notice them and figure out how would I feel this feeling if I didn’t go pour myself a drink? If I didn’t sit down on the couch with cookies? How would I just sit here and feel these feelings? If that feels terrible, it feels terrible to feel terrible, and you don’t know what to do with it. 

Something that helps my clients is just to have a list of the things I could do instead of drinking alcohol. If I constantly come home every day and open the bottle of wine or make a cocktail, pour a beer, and that’s been the thing I do. What could I do instead, just to break that up?

Put together a list of things you like to do.

  • Can you go for a walk? 
  • Can you call a friend? 
  • Can you organize your shoe closet? 
  • Can you make dinner? 
  • Can you answer an email? 
  • Can you tend to your garden? 
  • Can you walk your dog? 
  • Can you play with a pet? 
  • Can you talk to somebody in your house?
  • Can you read a book?
  • Can you paint your fingernails? 

What are other options?

Give yourself lots of different things that you could do instead, especially when you start to notice. These things are for if you’re drinking at home. Obviously, if I go to a restaurant and I start painting my nails, or walking around the restaurant to avoid drinking, that’s not going to work. Making a list of things you can do at home instead of drinking is probably helpful.

You can also create a list of things you could do on vacation. Things you could do on a long Weekend or every weekend or being around certain people. If you’re not sure what to do, make a list of things you could do. Put it in writing. It just helps your brain understand. There are lots of different options. It doesn’t take away from us feeling our feelings.

I know a lot of us women, we do other things. We scroll our phone, we do online shopping. We fill up these carts and loose carts, it stores the Amazon cart things I’d never buy. That’s fine. I’m not opposed to that. As long as it’s not creating more problems for you. As long as you don’t push purchase every single time. Now you have a financial problem and a weight problem.

Other types of things that you can do as a strategy when you’re trying to drink less or drink differently or not drink at all. And here it is. I’m going to say it. You’re ready. Don’t bring it in the house. It’s just that simple and that complicated all at once. 

I’ll give an example. Peanut M&Ms everywhere, every end cap, every grocery aisle, CVS, Walmart, everywhere I go, the movie theater, airplane stores, airplane stores, the stores at the airport, airplane stores. They’re everywhere. But here’s where they’re not, in my house. If I bring peanut M&Ms into my house, there’s only one reason to bring them in. It’s not for decoration. It’s not that I’m gonna hang them on the wall. It’s not for my cat. I could say there for my kids, but they’re for me. And so I do better in life when I don’t bring those things into the house. 

Do I never bring them in? Of course not. I’m a human being with the human brain, and I do stupid sh*t all the time that I have to coach myself through. I put my hand on a lot of bags of M&Ms. I do. Then I take my hand off and walk away. Because I can have those anytime I want. But just to have them in the house is like the sirens calling in Greek mythology. You’re being beckoned to eat them. 

You could do the same thing with alcohol. If you’re trying to not drink, then have you considered not bringing alcohol into your house. I know, it’s a big one. You will feel uncomfortable not having it. You wanted it, you thought about going to the liquor store, and then you could decide I’m not going to have alcohol in my house. If I want to drink, I’m only going to drink at a restaurant or at a party. Then I’m going to put rules around that. That might be really helpful, especially if you are finding yourself drinking not just in social occasions, but drinking at home, and the calories are starting to add up. You’re noticing it’s 500 calories a night, and you want to lose weight, it could be something to look at.

Not saying you can’t drink and lose weight. I think it is just doing that audit and deciding, seeing where you’re at. Making the decision of what you really want. There is no right or wrong here. I want to be as helpful as I can to you. 

Pick something you can take action on even if you’re not ready to stop drinking. Maybe you just start to see and note;

  • How much am I really drinking?
  • Is it a problem? 
  • Do I want to not think it’s a problem? 

Let’s just start there and let me know how you’re doing.


Bonnie Lefrak is a Life & Body Transformation Expert and Founder of Selfmade, a program designed to help you tackle the physical aspects of health and weight loss as well as the beliefs and thoughts that drive our habits and behaviors. It is her goal to help women create certainty in their own lives, their own results, and their own abilities.

Weight loss is not about the one “right” diet – it is about MUCH more than that. Weight loss is not about the one “right” workout. Weight loss is not about being positive and putting a big smile on.

Weight loss is about FEELINGS. All of them. Not trying to bury them or hide from them but knowing and allowing the full human experience. Weight loss is not about grinding hustling and will powering your way to some end line. Transformation (when done well) is done from the inside out.

By addressing both the physical and mental aspects of dieting and weight loss, she has coached thousands of women ages 30-55+ from all over and helped them ditch the mindsets that are holding them back, achieve permanent weight loss, and get the bangin’ body of their dreams.

Bonnie is an expert at Demystifying weight loss. She helps you u****k your diet brain. She is on a mission to help women love themselves, to find PEACE in the process of losing weight, taking care of themselves, and leveraging the power they do have to become who and want they want right now.

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