Conversation with Beth Leipholtz

This week, Liv talks to Beth Leipholtz, of Life to Be Continued. Beth is a beautiful, smart, and inspiring woman.   She describes herself as follows:

Hey there! My name is Beth and I stumbled into the world of sobriety at 20 years old. Chances are you stumbled across this blog by reading about something sobriety-related. While that’s not all I write about, it’s definitely my focus. My greatest hope is that you find something here that can bring you comfort, peace of mind, and let you know you’re never, ever alone.

Kitchen Table Conversation

Liv: Let’s kick off with a food question: What have you had for breakfast today?

A Quest protein bar! I never used to eat breakfast but once I started working out in the mornings, I began to realize how necessary it was to fuel my body.

Beth’s Recovery Journey

Liv: Moving to your journey. In your blog post describing the last night of drinking, you recollect waking up in the hospital, but nothing about how you got there. Can you describe the moment of clarity you had which led to you getting sober?

I wish I had a clear moment that lead to getting sober. But the reality is that for the first month or so of sobriety, I only stayed sober because my parents forced me to. It wasn’t until about a month into treatment that I came to realize that I enjoyed waking up in the morning without a hangover and without having to apologize to people for my actions the night before. That was when recovery really started for me because that was when I began to embrace what sobriety could provide.

Liv: You got sober at 20 years old. What an achievement. Can you tell me about some of the challenges you faced getting sober so young?

The biggest challenge for me was the fact that I was only halfway through college when I got sober. Though I could have chosen not to return to school after treatment, I wanted to. I couldn’t imagine my life without my college degree, and I adored the school I went to. I knew that going back to school could be dangerous since it was the place where I most often drank and the people I drank with were there. In some ways, I was right. It was always a little bit tough to be in places that reminded me of drinking. But overall I found that people were very supportive of my decision to get sober and they did what they could to make sure my sobriety was respected while also making an effort to spend time with me.

I also had a difficult time on my 21st birthday, as I always imagined it would be a day that I would go out with friends and celebrate. When my 21st rolled around, I was actually studying abroad in Chile. I had a bit of a pity party throughout the day, wishing I could be like other people my age. Luckily the other girls in my study abroad group sensed this and threw me a sober birthday party, which was beyond meaningful to me. It’s how I will always remember that day.

Liv: You described the first year of sobriety as the most difficult in your life, but that you wouldn’t change it because you learned so much about yourself. What did you learn?

Where to begin…getting sober taught me that I am capable of more than I thought I was. In the first few weeks of sobriety, I didn’t think I would stay sober. I didn’t WANT to stay sober. But as time passed I found that I enjoyed sobriety, and it became something I cared about, so I put forth the effort to do what I didn’t think I wanted to do – stay sober.

Getting sober also changed my perception of alcoholism. If you’d have told me when I was young that I would grow up to be an alcoholic, I’d have laughed. I had a preconceived notion of what an alcoholic was, and I wouldn’t have thought I could come close to being one. But through my own journey I have learned that addiction doesn’t discriminate and can appear differently in different people. You don’t have to lose everything to be considered an addict. If you’re lucky, you get help before that occurs.

Lastly, I’ve learned that what I often see as mistakes or obstacles can really be blessings. I thought my life was over when my parents made me get help. I didn’t think I would ever see a silver lining, let alone call alcoholism the best thing that ever happened to me. But it really was, because it got me exactly where I am today, and that’s a spot I love being.

Liv: What did you gain?

I gained self-respect. I always respected myself growing up, but when my drinking took off, I lost that self-respect quickly. In getting sober, I have found it again. I am proud of myself for getting to the point I am at today, and I respect myself for the way I’ve gotten here.

Physical Recovery

Liv: Moving on to your physical recovery, can you tell how your relationship with food has changed in recovery?

I think the biggest thing is that I am no longer drunk eating. When I was drunk, I loved to eat. I would sometimes eat an entire medium pizza on my own, and then feel great shame over that fact. For some reason alcohol just made me hungry, and I lacked self-control when I drank, so I just ate whatever I wanted.  Today I eat when I am hungry, and I have the ability to stop eating when I am full.

Liv: Let’s talk about Crossfit! I have been following your Crossfit journey on Facebook and it is inspiring! I really admire your dedication. Tell me what you gain from Crossfit, other than the physical benefits?

I’ve gained so much more than just physical benefits from Crossfit. I’ve gained a truly incredible support network in the people at my box. Though I have only known them five months, I consider some my best friends. Some of them know far more about me than others who have been in my life for longer. There is just an immediate connection between people when you do something intense together.

I’ve also gained self-confidence. There have been so many times in class when I didn’t think I could do something, and I went on to prove myself wrong. I am just finally coming around to the idea that I can do difficult movements or heavy weights, and I don’t have to doubt myself first. I can be confident in my abilities and skip over the doubt.

Liv: I read your article for the Echo Press, in which you talk about some of the challenges you have faced with Crossfit. What has been your greatest mental challenge with your Crossfit journey?

My biggest mental challenge continues to be the way I see myself. Though my self-image has improved since being involved with Crossfit, I still tend to be hard on myself. I rarely think I am at the same level as those around me, even though I often am. I sometimes catch myself feeling the way I was when I began Crossfit, which was unhappy and not confident. I have to continually remind myself of how far I have come because my self-image is such a work in progress.

Liv: Penultimate question: what is your favourite meal/dish?

Hmmm, I’m not much for cooking…I like being cooked for though! I’d have to say my favourite dish is homemade chicken pot pie.

Liv: Last, what are your top five recovery tools?

  1. Gratitude lists
  2. Online recovery network
  3. Writing/journaling
  4. Being open with the people in my life
  5. Being comfortable feeling emotions, even the negative ones

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