“I can’t remember ever actually feeling this good”
I never really believed I had a problem with alcohol, however, I was aware that alcohol was creating some problems in my life. I had a good job, was happily married with 3 great kids, some great friends and overall, life was pretty good. I would tend to have a drink on a Thursday, Friday and Saturday – sometimes a little more when life was feeling a bit more challenging. Then there would be weekends where I would probably go a little too heavy. I had completed 1-month challenges such as Dry January or Stoptober in the past, and had really noticed the benefits during these periods, but I always ended up back into my normal habits.
Tired of being tired
I was becoming aware that having a few too many drinks on a Friday would start to have a detrimental effect on the whole weekend, feeling hungover Saturday, then anxious and lethargic though the whole weekend. It just started to feel such a waste, almost as if I was trading my whole weekend for a Friday night bottle of wine and a couple of Whiskies. It didn’t feel like a good trade. More worryingly, perhaps as I was getting older, I started to notice that on a Monday at work, I wouldn’t feel at my best, small challenges started to feel like big challenges. I was starting to feel anxiety building and I knew within myself I could be better, do better and most importantly wanted to feel better!
I had already started to work a little more on my wellbeing, listening to various podcasts, starting to try to exercise more often, completing couch to 5k so I could then join Parkrun with my Wife on a Saturday morning, mainly geared towards wanting to shift some of my excess weight I had always struggled with, wanting to improve my sleep and wanting to generally feel better.
I had seen adverts for One Year No Beer, read through them with a certain level of scepticism although really interested in some of case studies shared. I then heard an interview with Andy Ramage, co-founder of OYNB, on a Feel Better Live More Podcast, by Dr Charterjee which sold it to me. One line stood out, along the lines of “If you could take a pill, that would help you to lose weight, reduce blood pressure, lower your heart beat, reduce cholesterol, reduce any anxiety or stress, help your mental wellbeing, improve your sleep, overall health and overall just make you feel great, with no lasting side effects and it was free! It would be the most popular pill in the world!” I took that pill…it worked!
I looked at the OYNB website to try to get an understanding of the support. I didn’t sign up straight away, but I kept returning to that page. On New Year’s Day, feeling hungover, but inspired with feelings of New Year’s Resolution possibilities, I took the plunge and paid my money. Initially it did feel hard to pay however, on the flip side this helped me to feel a little more committed and in the end it turned out to be the best money I ever spent, especially as I have saved way more through not drinking since. I decided to go for 90 days, as that was a real step up from the previous individual months I had completed, but not quite as scary as going for a full year!
My alcohol-free challenge
My initial goals were to go 90-days without alcohol, lose some weight and feel better. Boy did this come by the bucket load!
What I really initially loved about OYNB, was the daily e-mails. A simple e-mail with a video, including either a quick task, piece of information or something to reflect on. It was these simple steps that really helped me through the initial months. It gave me a plan to stop drinking, helping me to understand my own habits and ultimately giving me a much greater awareness around how to change my relationship with alcohol. This was the biggest difference from the previous 1-month challenges I had done previously as this was not just about willpower, this was around a real education and support to make a positive change to help you with you longer term relationship with alcohol.
The first few weeks were probably the toughest, breaking old habits, forming new ones, however, this got better in time, with more easier days and a lot fewer harder days. A lot of my friends couldn’t believe that I was going to attempt this, it just seemed like a crazy thing to do!
The alcohol-free benefits
After 90 days I had seen so many benefits that it just felt obvious to then extend to the whole year. I was delighted to pay the money this time, I felt I owed OYNB so much and the extra cost was actually really cheap! I knew through an App that I had set up that I had actually saved well over £1000 through not drinking, so I was till way in profit!
The outcomes I have seen have been really amazing. Overall, I am a much more relaxed person, calm, content and willing to try new ideas and activities. I’ve started to cycle every Friday with some lifelong friends, I went paddle boarding, I’ve signed up to attempt the Yorkshire Three Peaks and a half marathon. All activities I wouldn’t have had the inclination or ability to have done before OYNB.
I am way more patient with my children (and I thought I was already a pretty good dad), I am way more present with my wife, all leading to even better relationships. I have gained a renewed vigour and enthusiasm for my work, I have pretty much zero anxiety anymore and the quality of my sleep is just ridiculously good! I have also experienced a drop in my average heart rate, I no longer suffer from dry skin and my restless leg syndrome has disappeared! Most importantly, I find joy and humour in the simple things in life again.
Then to cap it all off I just achieved my own personal goal for weight loss, reaching my own ideal weight and losing almost 5 stone in the process. I have been trying to lose weight for almost 20 years, and stopping drinking was the gateway I needed to shift the weight and feel great!
My feelings on the experience
OYNB has without doubt been the reason why I have been able to completely stop drinking. The fact that the programme really helps you to understand what alcohol is, how it affects us and how to understand this whole area better to make great supported decisions and actions to stop drinking. It has allowed me to open up so much more in terms of possibilities. It's the no alcohol that has then enabled me to work more on my self-development, self-care, exercise regime, set new stretching goals both in work, home and fitness. At the age of 45, I can’t remember ever actually feeling this good.
For me I really feasted upon the daily e-mails and updates, however, then you have the OYNB Tribe. The OYNB Facebook Tribe are insanely supportive. Having so many positive role models to continue to help inspire, provide advice, provide support, is the real game changer for longer term help and support and they value they/we provide cannot be underestimated or undervalued!
As I write this, I am Day 194 of my 365 challenge. My mindset has completely changed from “I want a drink” to “Why would I want to drink?” I didn’t think this would happen, I always thought I would want to have a drink, but through understanding, information, seeing and feeling changes within myself, my mindset has completely flipped. Once I have achieved my 365, I’m not saying I will never drink again, I’m just thinking I have way more enjoyment and fun when I’m not drinking.
I have already recommended OYNB to many friends, why not give something a go when the worst that could happen is that you lose about 2% of your life’s time drinking time. The best that could happen could be beyond your own imagination.